Azeri journalist Khadija Ismayilova not allowed to come and pick up her award in Stockholm

November 24, 2017

The Right Livelihood Foundation stated on Friday 24 November that its 2017 prize winner from Azerbaijan, Khadija Ismayilova, would not be able to attend the 1 December award ceremony in Stockholm because of a travel ban linked to a suspended sentence she is serving. Khadija Ismayilova says that she is under the travel ban “because I criticize the government when it steals the people’s money.” Lawyers Colin Gonsalves from India and Yetnebersh Nigussie of Ethiopia share the cash award of 3 million kronor ($374,000) with Ismayilova. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/10/04/2017-right-livelihood-laureates-announcement-in-video/]

Ismayilova, Azerbaijan’s top investigative journalist, was convicted of tax evasion in 2015 in what was largely viewed as a payback for her work. She was released from prison six months later after a higher court commuted her 7 ½-year sentence and converted it into a suspended one. She is not legally allowed to travel outside the country while she is still serving the sentence. Ismayilova petitioned the court several times after her release to be allowed to travel outside the country but all of her requests have been denied.

[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/12/18/azerbaijan-khadija-ismayilova-remains-in-jail-but-council-of-europe-takes-exceptional-step/]

http://www.tampabay.com/azeri-alternative-nobel-winner-barred-from-going-to-sweden-ap_worldd47dff8c0bb546d0a4570fdc94ad292a


Side event on human rights defenders working on Business and Human Rights issues

November 23, 2017

This side event will take place during the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights. The event will bring together multiple stakeholders to discuss how to remedy, redress and prevent attacks against human rights defenders working on business and human rights.


Human rights defenders in Zimbabwe rejoice but realize still long away to go

November 23, 2017

With Mugabe’s departure there is light at the end of the tunnel but there is a lot of cleaning up to do. Two recent opinion pieces make the point:

'Mugabe’s departure offers Zimbabwe an opportunity to make a break from its past,' writes Deprose Muchena (Zinyange Auntony, AFP)
‘Mugabe’s departure offers Zimbabwe an opportunity to make a break from its past,’ (Zinyange Auntony, AFP)

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s regional director for Southern Africa, wrote a piece in the Mail & Guardian of 23 November 2017 under title From reconciliation to repression: Mugabe’s painful legacy“.

Muchena traces first Robert Mugabe’s political career that saw early successes ultimately wiped out by a litany of human rights abuses.

Mugabe started well in his early years as leader of Zimbabwe following the transition from British colonial rule. He oversaw heavy investment in Zimbabwe’s social services. Areas including health and education saw dramatic improvements, with the country still enjoying one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. The results of this significant investment in education are there for everyone to see. But Mugabe later undermined his own legacy. During his 37 years in power, he presided over the brutal repression of political opponents, established a culture of impunity for himself and his cronies, and his government implemented a series of policies that have had disastrous consequences for Zimbabweans…Mugabe began his political life fighting against injustice. Imprisoned, and later exiled for his political activities, he was one of more than 900 prisoners of conscience in Zimbabwe adopted by Amnesty International between 1965 and 1979.

After independence political opponents, (repression of Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe Africa People’s Union, military crackdown across Matabeleland and Midlands provinces) ……With nobody held accountable for the killings, a dangerous precedent of impunity was set early on in Mugabe’s reign. It was one he went on to exploit time and again.

Throughout his presidency, general elections were characterised by spikes of serious human rights violations and abuses by state security agents and Zanu-PF activists. Opposition supporters suffered torture, harassment, intimidation and death…A wave of violence unleashed by the army against those suspected of voting for the MDC ensured that Mugabe won by a comfortable margin after the second round of votes was counted.

An increasing reliance on security services to suppress dissenting voices in and outside his party became a hallmark of Mugabe’s rule. Human rights defenders, journalists, those with dissenting views and opposition party activists were locked up on politically motivated charges or under draconian laws. Some were tortured or “disappeared”. Much early progress made on economic, social and cultural rights was wiped out by a series of disastrous government policy decisions. Carried out in 2005, Operation Murambatsvina — a Shona word for “drive out trash” — was one of the most devastating forced evictions in Zimbabwean history…

Although land reform was clearly needed and resulted in some legitimate large-scale redistribution, it was also used as a system of patronage. It rewarded Mugabe’s supporters with land but denied it to those considered supporters of opposition parties. Escaping repression and a shrinking economy, three million Zimbabweans have left the country since 2000…

 

Mugabe’s departure offers Zimbabwe an opportunity to make a break from its past. Zimbabwe’s future lies in renouncing impunity, addressing the human rights violations of the past, ensuring reparations for the victims and respecting the rule of law. The next generation of leaders must commit to upholding the Constitution and live up to Zimbabwe’s international and regional human rights obligations.

———————–

Supporters of Zimbabwe’s former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa await his arrival in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 22, 2017. PHILIMON BULAWAYO/ REUTERS

Mandipa Ndlovu says that “during Mugabe’s reign, over one-third of the population (4-million people) was forced to relocate to abroad to seek better opportunities for them and their families, as well as escape the iron-fisted rule of the former president. The end of an era marked the beginning of a newfound hope that released dormant life in the Zimbabwean community both in the country and around the world.

That long-time Mugabe ally, Emmerson Mnangagwa, will become the new president.. has been welcomed in regards to change for the southern African country, but must be engaged with from a nuanced position regarding the sustainability of human rights and good governance in the country…Zimbabweans are past bitterness and anger, we just want recognition and acknowledgement of past wrongs. This is the only way the country can move forward.

The fact is that Britain’s and the West’s policy was that of turning a blind eye to the black Zimbabwean persecutions of 1980 to 1987 and only reacted with economic sanctions when white-occupied farms were invaded in 2000. Moreover, the legacy of colonialism up until this point had remained one which the Zimbabwean people now realise was exploitative. This, for many Zimbabweans, highlights the interests of which demographic of the Zimbabwean population they seek to strengthen. This lack of historical recognition remains a sticking point to the black population of Zimbabwe, who have both lived through and experienced the effect of economic sanctions placed on the country as a result of Mugabe’s rule. One which needs to be rectified…

It would therefore be a disservice to the future of human rights to disregard the need to address this. Zimbabweans need to have these fears allayed through the initiation of both restorative and distributive justice in order to legitimise real change. In this, however, it is imperative to note that Zimbabweans are past bitterness and anger, we just want recognition and acknowledgement of past wrongs. This is the only way the country can move forward.

.. We have not forgotten people such as Itai Dzamara, whose whereabouts still need to be accounted for. It is not enough to remove the face of fear and violence when the potential for the re-engagement with the system still exists under untainted structures of governance. It is imperative that the narrative of ‘Operation Restore Legacy’ under the new regime does not gloss over the grief of loss (material, physical and in time) as linked to trauma and its subsequent memory..

In the new Zimbabwe, there should not be room to romanticise about the past and its legacies. The culture that tip-toes around the acceptability of violence within the public sphere for the perpetuation of political gain must be thwarted. This can be particularly translated to the politics of grief in reconciling the “violence” narrative…Regardless of what reforms are dormant in Mnangagwa’s hat as he ascends to the presidency, the sentiments of cooperation and the respect of human rights expressed in his press statement on November 21 will go a long way in legitimising bodies. These are the ideals to which the Zimbabwean people must continue to hold him and his administration to account.

For some of my earlier posts on Zimbabwe: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/zimbabwe/

Sources:

https://mg.co.za/article/2017-11-23-from-reconciliation-to-repression-mugabes-painful-legacy

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/mandipha-ndlovu/is-there-a-future-of-sustainable-peace-and-human-rights-for-zimbabwe_a_23286098/


Celebrities come out to support Taner Kılıç, Amnesty Turkey’s chair, on trial today

November 22, 2017

Taner Kılıç, Amnesty Turkey’s Chair, has been behind bars for nearly six months
As the trial of ‘Istanbul 10’ and the Chair of Amnesty Turkey resumes today 22 November 2017, more than 70 persons signed an open letter calling for the case against the 11 human rights activists to be dropped. As quite a few celebrities make missteps in the human rights area [see recently: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/11/10/helen-hunt-joins-list-of-celebrities-that-show-insensitivity-on-human-rights/ ], it is heartening to see names such as Ai Weiwei, Edward Snowden, Anish Kapoor, Catherine Deneuve, Angélique Kidjo, Indira Varma, Tim Farron, Bianca Jagger, Canon Mark Oakley, Hilary Benn, Juliet Stevenson, and Sting among the signatories.In the AI UK letter (see full text and list of signatories below), the group say they’re “proud” to add their voices to “the global demand to end this gross injustice”.

[Amnesty’s Turkey Chair, Taner Kılıç, was arrested on 6 June, jail three days later and remains in detention. Meanwhile, ten other activists, including İdil Eser, the Director of Amnesty Turkey, were detained a month later. Seven of them were remanded in Turkey’s high-security Silivri Prison for almost four months, with one remanded in Ankara’s Sincan Prison. The eight were held for almost four months and released last month at their first hearing. They are all accused of “membership of a terrorist organisation”.] See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/10/12/many-birthday-parties-for-jailed-human-rights-defender-in-turkey/ 

OPEN LETTER AHEAD OF TRIAL OF TANER KILIC AND ISTANBUL 10

On Wednesday the trial of 11 human rights defenders including including Taner Kılıç, and İdil Eser the chair and director of Amnesty International Turkey, will resume in Istanbul. 

The 11 face outlandish “terrorism” charges in what can only be described as a politically-motivated prosecution aimed at silencing critical voices within the country. If convicted they could face jail terms of up to 15 years. This sends a chilling message not just to people in Turkey but around the world. 

With many people unfairly imprisoned as part of the crackdown following the bloody coup attempt in Turkey – including journalists, lawyers and civil society leaders – some may ask: why focus on these 11 people? The answer is simple: when human rights defenders are silenced, all our rights are put at risk. They are the ones that stand up for us. Now we must stand up for them.

We are proud to add our voices to the global demand to end this gross injustice and to immediately and unconditionally release Taner Kılıç from jail.

The Turkish authorities must know that the eyes of the world will be on Istanbul’s central court for this trial. We will not stay silent. Defending human rights is not a crime. 

Signed:

Edward Snowden, human rights activist
Catherine Deneuve, actor 
Ai Weiwei, artist
Angélique Kidjo, musician
Anish Kapoor, artist
Peter Gabriel, musician
Francois Morel, actor 
Elif Shafak, author
Bianca Jagger, human rights activist
Juliet Stevenson, actor
Indira Varma, actor 
Mogens Lykketoft MP, ex-President of the UN General Assembly
Nacho Sanchez Amor, OSCE Human Rights Committee Chair
Mirosław Wyrzykowski, Constitutional judge, Poland
Dr. Shashi Tharoor MP (former UN Under-Secretary General)
Ryan Gage, actor
Pasha Bocarie, actor 
Nazanin Boniadi, actor 
HK, musician
Sting, musician
Anti-Flag, musicians
C 215, artist 
Lucas Belvaux, film maker 
Laurent Gaudé, writer 
El Moustach/Hicham Gaoua, artist  
Said Salhi, Vice president of LADDH (Algeria)
Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General
Ken Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
Claude Rolin MP (Belgium)
Tanita Tikaram, musician
Mohamed Fahmy, journalist
Peter Greste, journalist
Mark Oakley, Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral
Peter Tatchell, human rights defender
Natacha Régnier, actor  
Franck Pavloff, writer 
Emily Loizeau, musician 
Romain Goupil, film director 
Nicolas Lambert, comedian 
Clotilde Courau, comedian 
David Lammy MP
Caroline Lucas MP
Stephen McCabe MP
Tom Brake MP
Catherine West MP
Carol Monaghan MP
Joan Ryan MP
Christopher Stephens MP
Clive Lewis MP
Jo Stevens MP
Kerry McCarthy MP
Richard Burden MP
Kevin Brennan MP
Jim Cunningham MP
Rosie Cooper MP
Eleanor Smith MP
Wes Streeting MP
Stephen Doughty MP
Daniel Zeichner MP
Stephen Kinnock MP
Geraint Davies MP
Marie Rimmer MP
Grahame Morris MP
Antoinette Sandbach MP
Madeleine Moon MP
Tonia Antoniazzi MP
Preet Gill MP
Phillipa Whitford MP
Sarah Wollaston MP
Gareth Thomas MP
Emma Dent Coad MP
Hilary Benn MP
Tommy Sheppard MP
Olivier Py, France 
Paul Rondin, France
Monika Płatek, President of the Polish Association for Legal Education
Adam Bodnar, former board of United Nations Fund for Victims of Torture
Mikołaj Pietrzak, former Chair of the Human Rights Council of the Polish Bar Council
Krzysztof Śmiszek, co-founder of Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/ai-weiwei-catherine-deneuve-bianca-jagger-and-peter-greste-among-those-calling-end


Piripkura, doc on Brazilian indigenous peoples, wins Amsterdam Human Rights Award at IDFA

November 22, 2017

Brazil’s “Piripkura” has won the Amsterdam Human Rights Award at this year’s International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). Recognition for a devastating chronicle, the award comes with a cash prize of €25,000. The jury said of the film: “With this poignant, exceptional story, the filmmakers tackle a broad series of issues that should be high up on the international human rights agenda. The filmic quality of this documentary left us no choice but to award the Amsterdam Human Rights Award to ‘Piripkura.’”The film was produced by Brazil’s Zeza Filmes with Maria Farinha Filmes and Grifa Filmes as associate producers.

 

“Piripkura,” is a a modern-day ethnographic documentary with distinct differences from its scholarly predecessors. Ethnographic filmmaking started with voyeuristic or educational intentions, as an attempt to show the world something it had never seen. Perhaps it says something about the modern world that these films are now made in the spirit of conservation.

[The film follows Jair Candor, an official with Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency FUNAI, as he ventures into one of the Amazon’s protected indigenous lands, Piripkura. Only three Piripkura tribe-members are still alive today, and only two in their native land. The third, Rita, was forced to flee the lands when logging companies sent in mercenaries to kill the tribespeople, and thus lift government protections of the area. Rita accompanies Candor on his initial visits to confirm the continued existence of Pakyî and Tamandua, the last remaining Piripkura, an undertaking which must be done to sustain the areas protected status. Beyond the inherent dangers of living in the Amazon; corporate farms, fires, logging companies and massive budget cuts to aid agencies are constant threats to the two men.]

More information, and ways to help, can be found at: https://www.survivalinternational.org/about/funai

http://variety.com/2017/film/festivals/idfa-brazilian-doc-piripkura-amsterdam-human-rights-award-1202619003/


Breaking news: UN adopts key Resolution on Human Rights Defenders

November 21, 2017

Norway, which chaired the negotiations, managed to get 76 countries to co-sponsor the draft resolution, which was developed in close consultation with civil society.  In view of the importance of the resolution I attached the full text which also has the list of co-sponsoring countries.

The resolution condemns the criminalization, curtailing and killing of human rights defenders. It calls for the release of all those who have been imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of speech and other fundamental freedoms. This is the first time that UN Member States have unanimously agreed to send such a clear and powerful message on the need to protect human rights defenders.  In order to build on this important development, the UN will convene a high-level meeting on the situation of human rights defenders, and the UN Secretary-General has been requested to strengthen the UN’s role in protecting human rights defenders. All this in the context of the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders next year.

source: https://www.regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/resolution-hr-defenders/id2579366/

—————————

Human Rights Defenders UN Consensus Resolution 2017

Final text as adopted in 3C on 20 November 2017

76 cosponsors: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brasil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Canada, Czech Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor Leste, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay and Vanuatu:

draft resolution

Twentieth anniversary and promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs
of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

The General Assembly,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Guided also by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,[1] the International Covenants on Human Rights[2] and other relevant instruments,

Recalling its resolution 53/144 of 9 December 1998, by which it adopted by consensus the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, commonly referred to as the Declaration on human rights defenders,

Recalling also all its other previous resolutions on this subject, including its resolutions 66/164 of 19 December 2011, 68/181 of 18 December 2013 and 70/161 of 17 December 2015, and Human Rights Council resolutions 22/6 of 21 March 2013,[3] 31/32 of 24 March 2016[4] and 34/5 of 23 March 2017,[5]

Reiterating that all human rights and fundamental freedoms are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated and should be promoted and implemented in a fair and equitable manner, without prejudice to the implementation of each of those rights and freedoms,

Reaffirming that States have the primary responsibility and are under the obligation to respect, promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons,

Stressing, in this regard, that all human rights and fundamental freedoms apply to all persons equally, including human rights defenders[6] in the context of the Declaration, and that these rights and freedoms must be respected, protected and fulfilled without discrimination,

Reaffirming the importance of the Declaration and its implementation, and that promoting respect and support for the activities of human rights defenders is essential to the overall enjoyment of human rights,

Underscoring the positive, important and legitimate role of human rights defenders in promoting and advocating the realization of all human rights, at the local, national, regional and international levels, including by engaging with Governments and contributing to the efforts in the implementation of the obligations and commitments of States in this regard,

Welcoming the steps taken by some States to create a safe and enabling environment for the promotion, protection and defence of human rights, and recognizing in this regard the positive efforts by authorities, national human rights institutions where they exist and civil society towards the development and enactment of relevant national policies, laws, programmes and practices,

Recognizing the substantial role that human rights defenders can play in supporting efforts to strengthen conflict prevention, peace and sustainable development, including environmental protection, through dialogue, openness, participation and justice, including by monitoring, reporting on and contributing to the promotion and protection of all civil, political, economic social and cultural rights, and other rights, including the right to development, and in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,[7]

Gravely concerned by the considerable and increasing number of allegations and communications of a serious nature received by special procedures of the Human Rights Council and other mechanisms on the threats, risks and dangers faced by human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, online and offline, and the prevalence of impunity for violations and abuses against them in many countries, where they face threats, harassment and attacks and suffer insecurity, including through restrictions on, inter alia, the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, association or peaceful assembly, and the right to privacy, or through abuse of criminal or civil proceedings, or acts of intimidation and reprisal intended to prevent their cooperation with the United Nations and other international bodies in the field of human rights,

Mindful that domestic law and administrative provisions and their application should not hinder, but enable the work of human rights defenders, including by avoiding any criminalization, stigmatization, impediments, obstructions or restrictions thereof contrary to the obligations and commitments of States under international human rights law,

Underscoring that the legal framework within which human rights defenders work peacefully to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms is that of national legislation consistent with the Charter and international human rights law,

Stressing that, in the exercise of the rights and freedoms referred to in the Declaration, human rights defenders, acting individually and in association with others, shall be subject only to such limitations as are in accordance with applicable international obligations and are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society;

Gravely concerned that national security and counter-terrorism legislation and other measures, such as laws regulating civil society organizations, are in some instances misused to target human rights defenders or have hindered their work and endangered their safety in a manner contrary to international law,

Recognizing the pressing importance to address, and to take concrete steps to prevent and stop, the use of legislation to hinder or limit unduly the ability of human rights defenders to exercise their work, including by reviewing and, where necessary, amending relevant legislation and its implementation in order to ensure compliance with international human rights law,

Strongly reaffirming that everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels, as laid out in the Declaration, and, in view of the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration, encouraging leaders in all sectors of society and in their respective communities, including political, military, social and religious leaders and leaders in business and the media, to express public support for human rights defenders in society, including women human rights defenders, and in cases of threat, harassment, violence, discrimination, racism and other violations and abuses committed against them, including killings, to take a clear stance in rejection of such practices and offences,

  1. Stresses that the right of everyone to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms without retaliation or fear thereof is an essential element in building and maintaining sustainable, open and democratic societies;
  2. Calls upon all States to take all measures necessary to ensure the rights and safety of all persons, including human rights defenders, who exercise, inter alia, the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association, which are essential for the promotion and protection of human rights;
  3. Welcomes the work and takes note of the report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights defenders,[8] and also takes note of the report of the Secretary-General on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights;[9]
  4. Urges States to acknowledge through public statements, policies, programmes or laws the important and legitimate role of individuals, groups and organs of society, including human rights defenders, in the promotion of all human rights, democracy and the rule of law as essential components of ensuring their recognition and protection, including by duly investigating and condemning publicly all cases of violence and discrimination against human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, underlining that such practices can never be justified;
  5. Encourages partnerships and collaboration between States, national human rights institutions, civil society and other stakeholders in promoting, protecting and realizing all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including through consultative bodies, focal points within the public administration, national human rights mechanisms for reporting or follow-up, or measures aimed at enhancing the recognition in society of the valuable role played by human rights defenders, while fully recognizing the importance of the independent voice of human rights defenders and other civil society actors;
  6. Underlines the value of national human rights institutions, established and operating in accordance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles),[10] in the continued engagement with human rights defenders and in the monitoring of existing legislation and consistently informing the State about its impact on the activities of human rights defenders, including by making relevant and concrete recommendations;
  7. Strongly condemns the violence against and the targeting, criminalization, intimidation, torture, disappearance and killing of any individuals, including human rights defenders, for reporting and seeking information on human rights violations and abuses, and stresses the need to combat impunity by ensuring that those responsible for violations and abuses against human rights defenders, including against their legal representatives, associates and family members, are promptly brought to justice through impartial investigations;
  8. Condemns all acts of intimidation and reprisal by State and non-State actors against individuals, groups and organs of society, including against human rights defenders and their legal representatives, associates and family members, who seek to cooperate, are cooperating or have cooperated with subregional, regional and international bodies, including the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms, in the field of human rights, and strongly calls upon all States to give effect to the right of everyone, individually and in association with others, to unhindered access to and communication with international bodies, including the United Nations, its special procedures, the universal periodic review mechanism and the treaty bodies, as well as regional human rights mechanisms;
  9. Calls upon States to take concrete steps to prevent and put an end to arbitrary arrest and detention, including of human rights defenders, and in this regard strongly urges the release of persons detained or imprisoned, in violation of the obligations and commitments of States under international human rights law, for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, including in relation to cooperation with the United Nations or other international mechanisms in the area of human rights;
  10. Strongly reaffirms the urgent need to respect, protect, facilitate and promote the work of those promoting and defending economic, social and cultural rights, as a vital factor contributing towards the realization of those rights, including as they relate to environmental, land and indigenous issues, business activity as well as development, including through corporate accountability;
  11. Continues to express particular concern about systemic and structural discrimination and violence faced by women human rights defenders of all ages, and reiterates its strong call upon States to take appropriate, robust and practical steps to protect women human rights defenders and to integrate a gender perspective into their efforts to create a safe and enabling environment for the defence of human rights, as called for by the General Assembly in its resolution 68/181;
  12. Urges non-State actors, including transnational corporations and other business enterprises, to respect, promote and strive for the protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons, including human rights defenders, and underlines the need to ensure human rights due diligence and the accountability of, and the provision of adequate remedies by, transnational corporations and other business enterprises, while also urging States to adopt relevant policies and laws in this regard, including to hold all companies to account for involvement in threats or attacks against human rights defenders;
  13. Welcomes the steps taken by some States to promote and give effect to the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,[11] as well as by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and some regional organizations in making the Declaration available and known to all stakeholders at the national and local levels, in their respective languages, and underlines the need to promote and give full and appropriate effect to the Declaration;
  14. Decides to devote a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly at its seventy-third session in 2018, within existing resources, to the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration, with a view to giving impetus to its promotion in all regions, and requests the President of the General Assembly to conduct consultations with Member States in order to determine the scope and modalities for that meeting;
  15. Encourages all parts of the international community, in view of the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration, including States, national human rights institutions, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, in cooperation with relevant parts of the United Nations system, relevant regional organizations and civil society actors, to initiate and take part in awareness-raising activities at the local, national, regional and international levels, to promote and support the Declaration and its implementation, invites all stakeholders to report thereon to the Office of the High Commissioner, and requests this Office to make a compilation thereof available for the General Assembly high-level plenary meeting referred to in paragraph 14 above;
  16. Requests the Secretary-General, in view of the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration, to undertake a comprehensive assessment and analysis of progress, achievements and challenges related to the ways in which the Office of the High Commissioner, as well as other relevant United Nations offices, departments and specialized agencies, including at the country level, within their respective mandates, give and can give due consideration to the Declaration and take into account the reports of the Special Rapporteur, in their work, and assist States in strengthening the role and security of human rights defenders as called for by the General Assembly in its resolutions 62/152 of 18 December 2007, 64/163 of 18 December 2009, 66/164, 68/181 and 70/161, recognizing that technical assistance and capacity-building are to be provided in consultation with, and with the consent of, the Member States concerned;
  17. Further requests the Secretary-General to undertake his assessment and analysis in cooperation with the Special Rapporteur and in consultation with States, other relevant special procedures mandate holders, relevant treaty bodies, relevant United Nations offices, departments and specialized agencies, including at the country level, as well as national human rights institutions and civil society, and to present the results of this assessment and analysis in a report to the General Assembly at the 73rd session[12], containing conclusions and recommendations for effective technical assistance and capacity-building, including good practices thereof and examples of positive impact or change as well as challenges related to the provision of support to States in the implementation of relevant human rights obligations and commitments, recognizing that technical assistance and capacity-building are to be provided in consultation with, and with the consent of, the Member States concerned;
  18. Requests all concerned United Nations system entities and organizations, within their mandates, to provide all possible assistance and support to the Special Rapporteur for the effective fulfilment of his mandate, including in the context of country visits and through suggestions on ways and means of ensuring the protection of human rights defenders;
  19. Requests the Special Rapporteur to continue to report annually on his activities to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, in accordance with the mandate;
  20. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

[1] Resolution 217 A (III).

[2] Resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.

[3] See Official Records of the General Assembly, Sixty-eighth Session, Supplement No. 53 (A/68/53), chap. IV, sect. A.

[4] Ibid., Seventy-first Session (A/71/53), chap. IV, sect. A.

[5] Ibid., Seventy-second Session (A/72/53), chap. IV, sect. A.

 [6] The term human rights defenders applies consistent with the purposes, principles and provisions of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

[7] Resolution 70/1.

[8] A/72/170.

[9] A/HRC/36/31.

[10] Resolution 48/134, annex.

[11] Resolution 53/144, annex.

[12] Including a presentation for the high level plenary meeting referred to in paragraph 14 above


Mo Ibrahim Prize for Excellence in African leadership 2017 awarded to former Cape Verde President

November 21, 2017

Mauritius the best governed country in Africa-Mo Ibrahim

Mauritius for the fifth year in a row, finished top of the Ibrahim index of African Governance. The Index, by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, supports good governance and leadership in Africa. The four categories of governance as assessed by the Index are: Safety & Rule of Law, Participation & Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development. Somalia was at the bottom of the table.

This year’s Ibrahim Prize for Excellence in African leadership (2017) was awarded to former Cape Verde President Pedro Verona Pires. The prize is awarded to a democratically elected former African head of state that has served their term in office within the limits set by the country’s constitution, has left office in the last three years, and has demonstrated excellence in office. The winner of the award receives US$5 million over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life thereafter. For more the award see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/ibrahim-prize-for-achievement-in-african-leadership

http://www.africanews.com/2017/11/20/mauritius-the-best-governed-country-in-africa-mo-ibrahim/


Jiang Tianyong, Chinese defender of defenders, sentenced to 2 years jail

November 21, 2017

Jiang Tianyong, 46, who had taken on many high-profile cases including those of Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetan protesters and victims of the 2008 contaminated milk powder scandal, before being disbarred in 2009, received a two year jail sentence. He was convicted on the spurious grounds of “inciting subversion” on Tuesday. Jiang’s sentence is the most high-profile jailing since Xi confirmed his status as China’s most powerful leader in a generation at a Communist Party congress last month. Jiang’s family has been unable to contact him since his sudden disappearance last November en route from Beijing to Changsha, where he had gone to inquire about detained human rights lawyer Xie Yang.

Jiang Tianyong has long been infiltrated and influenced by anti-China forces and gradually formed the idea of overthrowing the existing political system of the country,” the judge said. The court said he had gone abroad for training on how to accomplish the goal and “applied for financial support from foreign anti-China forces”.

German Ambassador to China Michael Clauss expressed “serious concerns about the lawfulness of the legal proceedings”, saying in a statement the trial’s circumstances “certainly called into question the fairness of the verdict”. Germany will “continue to take an active interest in his fate,” he added.

The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights, Michel Forst, has said he feared Jiang’s previous disappearance was in part retaliation for the lawyer’s assistance to UN experts.

Jiang’s sentence was “a textbook example of the Chinese authorities’ systematic persecution of those who are brave enough to defend human rights in China today,” said Amnesty International China researcher William Nee. It was likely to have a “chilling effect” on other activists, since the evidence used against him was so minimal: critical social media comments, attendance of overseas trainings, and showing moral support to other human rights defenders facing trials.

Jiang’s wife, Jin Bianling, said none of the lawyers she had hired were allowed to see him and she only learned in August that the court had appointed one. “I contacted him continuously, but as soon as he heard I was Jiang Tianyong’s wife, he would immediately hang up the phone,” Jin, who fled to the US in 2013, told AFP by telephone. Four wives of lawyers detained in the 709 crackdown who came to show support were harassed by plainclothes agents and also denied entry in Changsha. “When I heard all the charges they listed against him, I felt my husband was very righteous. They made me greatly admire him,” she said. “I think history will remember what my husband has done.”

http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/chinese-human-rights-lawyers-jailed-for-two-years/article/508131

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/22/chinese-activist-jiang-tianyong-subversion-trial-dismissed-as-sham


Human Rights Defenders slowly gaining recognition in climate talks

November 20, 2017


Supporting film festivals on human rights in 2018

November 19, 2017

Movies that Matter presented the ten festivals that it recently decided to support. This month, it offered grants to a new round of projects. Among others, two debuting festivals that will receive the start-up grant: for the first time a human rights film festival will take place in Timor-Leste in 2018. To bring the cinema to the people, the Timor-Leste Human Rights Film Festival will use a portable set-up to screen their selection of films at multiple sites. A new film festival will also arrive in South Africa: Shining Lights onto Langa. The festival introduces people to the Sunshine Cinema, a solar powered mobile cinema that converts solar energy into social impact. It brings people together with the intent to uplift grassroots movements and create networks of social change.

Additionally, the support goes to  three film festivals that pay direct attention to LGTBQI+ rights in Turkey, Pakistan and Myanmar. Other supported cinema projects include those in Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Palestine, Turkey and Peru.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/03/01/small-grant-programme-for-human-rights-film-festivals-deadline-17-april/

Read more about all projects that were supported this year

https://www.moviesthatmatter.nl/nieuwsbrief_internationaal/18/international-support-november-2017