Each article in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights has its human story

November 15, 2018

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – celebrating its 70th anniversary – has 30 articles. True Heroes Films (THF) made for the UN 30 short video stories to show the impact of the Declaration around the world. Go to:  or YouTube. The series runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. Everyday a new one!


Norwegian Human Rights Fund celebrates 30th anniversary with video and conference

November 14, 2018

This video is published in the context of the Norwegian Human Rights Fund’s (NHRF) 30 years anniversary on 13 November 2018. A well-deserved celebration for 30 years service to the worldwide human rights community and especially the human rights defenders. 

Support to human rights in a context of shrinking space, rise of populist regimes and hostile environment lie as a backdrop in the year we celebrate both the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What are the consequences for the movement and what are the ground realities for human rights work and defenders working in the frontline in these changing realities? What strategies are used to support and respond to juridical harassment, restriction in freedom of association and expression, threats, criminalization and killings of human rights defenders? What new tools can be used in our work and what kind of support and strategies are needed looking ahead? This conference gathers international experts and human rights defenders from a variety of local, national and international contexts, to give us their advice and reflections on how to continue and improve support to human rights work in changing and challenging times. The conference seeks to highlight and celebrate the indispensable work that human rights defenders – individuals, groups and organizations – do every day to promote equality, dignity, justice, peace, sustainable development and freedom in their local communities as well as across the world.
See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/03/24/i-defend-rights-shifting-the-narrative-about-human-rights-defenders/
Det Norske Menneskerettighetsfond

Right Livelihood Award urges freedom for 3 Saudi laureates

November 14, 2018

The Right Livelihood Award — known as the “Alternative Nobel” — appealed on Wednesday 14 November to Saudi Arabia to free three jailed human rights defenders who are the recipients of this year’s award The foundation also urged that the kingdom stop “harassing and killing those who fight” for democracy. Ole von Uexkull, foundation head, said the three jailed Saudi men had “acted through peaceful means” in their activism.

In September, the three Saudi activists — Abdullah al-Hamid, Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani and Waleed Abu al-Khair were announced as the winners together with two Latin American anti-corruption crusaders — Thelma Aldana of Guatemala and Colombia’s Ivan Velasquez. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/09/24/laureates-of-the-2018-right-livelihood-award-announced/ ]

The foundation said two family members and Yahya Assiri, another Saudi rights activist, will attend the award ceremony planned in Stockholm next week.

http://www.startribune.com/alternative-nobel-urges-freedom-for-3-saudi-activists/500464501/

 


Shelter City Netherlands: New call for temporary relocation in 2019

November 13, 2018

Justice and Peace Netherlands is launching a new call for human rights defenders at risk to participate in the Shelter City initiative around March 2019. The deadline to apply is 30 November 2018.  Shelter City offers human rights defenders (HRDs) at riska possibility for rest and respite by letting them escape temporarily from a threatening situation. The initiative can benefit human rights defenders that are threatened or under intense pressure due to their work. Shelter City is an initiative coordinated by Justice and Peace Netherlands together with  municipalities in the Netherlands, local partners, and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/05/23/two-dutch-calls-for-human-rights-defenders-in-need/]

How does Shelter City work? Through temporary relocation, human rights defenders will be offered a shelter for 3 months in one of the Shelter Cities in the Netherlands, during which they can rest, continue their work in safety, build up capacity (including a one-week compulsory training on security), extend their network and raise awareness about the situation in their country. Activities can include meetings with NGOs and public authorities, public lectures, rest or leisure, treatment for work-related problems, continuing working on human rights in their country, raising awareness of human rights among the Dutch public or participating in local initiatives organised by the municipality and/or the host organisation. At the end of the programme, participants are expected to return with new tools and energy to carry out their work at home. A monthly stipend, accommodation, health insurance, visa and return flight tickets to The Netherlands are provided.

Who can apply for Shelter City? For the purposes of Shelter City, the term HRD is intended to refer to the broad range of activists, journalists, scholars, writers, artists, political figures, lawyers, civil rights defenders, independent media professionals, civil society members, and others working to advance human rights and democracy peacefully around the world.
Applicants must fulfil the following conditions:

In order to be eligible to the Shelter City programme, HRDs must meet the following conditions:

  1. They implement a non-violent approach in their work;
  2. They are threatened or otherwise under pressure due to their work.;
  3. They should be able to be relocated for a period of maximum 3 months. Limited spots are available for people who are not able to stay for the full 3 months;
  4. They are willing and able to return to their country of origin after 3 months;
  5. They are willing to speak publicly about their experience or about human rights in their country to the extent that their security situation allows.
  6. They have a conversational level* of English (limited spots are available for French or Spanish speaking HRDs);
  7. They are willing and able to come to The Netherlands without accompaniment;
  8. They are willing to begin their stay in The Netherlands around March 2019.


Note that additional factors will be taken into considerationin the final round of selection, such as the added value of a stay in The Netherlands as well as gender, geographic, and thematic balance. Please note that we can only accept HRDs currently residing in a third country under exceptional circumstances.
An independent commission will select the participants.

Apply for Shelter City 2019: <https://eu.jotform.com/JPNL/apply>

For more information, sheltercity@justiceandpeace.nl

 


Reminder: for verification of YouTube videos there is a Citizen Evidence Lab tool

November 13, 2018

With the avalanche of fake news and the BBC doing an interesting series on this topic, it is good to remind you that there is a too that can help human rights defenders to check the veracity of YouTube videos. It was published on 8 July 2014.
During crises or disasters, YouTube is widely used to share footage—including a host of videos that are old or, in some cases, staged or faked. An enormous challenge for human rights workers, journalists or first responders alike is to separate fact from fiction. Now, there’s a website that can help with this. The Citizen Evidence Lab (http://citizenevidence.org/) is the first dedicated verification resource for human rights workers, providing tools for speedy checks on YouTube videos as well as for more advanced assessment. (Video produced by Gaby Sferra)
https://www.bollyinside.com/citizen-evidence-lab-how-to-authenticate-youtube-videos-bollyinside/

Now also Amnesty International strips Aung San Suu Kyi of her award

November 13, 2018

Myanmar"s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi departs after her speech at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit
Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

On 12 November 2018 Amnesty International announced that it is stripping Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi of its highest honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award. [for more on this award see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/ambassador-of-conscience-award]

The politician and Nobel peace prize winner received the honour in 2009, when she was living under house arrest. The rights group said it was profoundly dismayed at her failure to speak out for the Rohingya minority, some 700,000 of whom have fled a military crackdown. This is the latest honour in a string of awards Ms Suu Kyi, 73, has lost. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/09/03/myanmar-time-for-aung-san-suu-kyi-to-return-at-least-some-of-her-many-human-rights-awards/]

We are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defence of human rights,” Amnesty’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo wrote in a letter to the Myanmar leader.

One by one, awards, fellowships and even an honorary citizenship have been revoked for a civilian leader who stubbornly denies crimes against humanity have taken place on her watch. [see e.g., https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/22/aung-san-suu-kyi-to-be-stripped-of-freedom-of-edinburgh-award]

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-46179292


New human rights ranking for businesses shows dismal progress for most firms

November 13, 2018


Designers try their hands at human rights issues in seven countries: Sudan, Nicaragua, Colombia, Russia, Kenya, Mexico and Burundi

November 9, 2018

Seven designers work with human rights activists to develop tools for change

We Are Human Rights is a project spearheaded by Dutch designer Bernhard Lenger. He paired seven designers with human rights defenders from around the world and asked them to work together to develop tools for change. The results, which were showcased in an exhibition for Dutch Design Week 2o18, tackled issues ranging from illegal settlements in Nicaragua to the criminalisation of homosexuality in Burundi. Lenger first launched We Are Human Rights at Dutch Design Week in 2017. In an interview with Dezeen at the time, he said that designers can’t solve real-world problems on their own. “We are only a small cogwheel in an enormous machine,” he said.

“We are investigating new opportunities for design, to identify where designers can play an important role in our world,” said Lenger. “With these seven projects we are showing a variety of how design and international topics can come together, but also want to invite governments and private organisations to work together with us,” .

Each team was given three months to devise a solution to one particular issue.

The first project, How I Became an Ally from Not Giving a Shit, is by Rotterdam-based designer Daeun Lim. It is a digital platform that connects those who are interested in human rights activism in Kenya.

We Are Human Rights projects
Dauen Lim’s project is a digital platform that connects those who are interested in human rights activism in Kenya
We Are Human Rights projects

And in the Philippines the killing of human rights defenders also continues with Benjamin Ramos

November 8, 2018

FOR THE PEOPLE. Benjamin Ramos is hailed for his work as a lawyer for marginalized sectors. Photo from the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers' Facebook page

Benjamin Ramos is hailed for his work as a lawyer for marginalized sectors. Photo from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers’ Facebook page

On Wednesday, 7 November many NGOs condemned the murder of human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos, which comes amid continuous violence against human rights defenders in the Philippines.  Ramos, the secretary-general of the Negros Occidental arm of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), was shot dead by riding-in-tandem assailants on Tuesday night, 6 November in Kabankalan City. A known human rights defender, Ramos represented political prisoners, farmers, and other members of marginalized sectors in his career as a pro-bono lawyer. Among those he worked with were the Mabinay 6, including youth leader and University of the Philippines Cebu alumna Myles Albasin. They were arrested in March 2017 in Mabinay, Negros Oriental, following an alleged clash with government troops.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed concern that Ramos’ death is the latest in the “growing incidents of injustices reported.’ We call on the government to act with urgency in pinning down the perpetrators of this violence and proceed with active measures that would protect the safety of human rights defenders who continue to serve this country’s most vulnerable and marginalized,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.

NUPL, in a statement, said “beastly attacks by treacherous cowards cannot go on.” Not a few of our members have been attacked and killed before while literally practicing their profession and advocacies in the courts, in rallies, in picket lines, in urban poor communities, and in fact-finding missions,” NUPL said.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), meanwhile, tagged the incident as “a blow to the human rights movement in the country” which has suffered from threats, including from President Rodrigo Duterte himself. We demand an impartial investigation into Ramos’ murder and the many other attacks against lawyers in the Philippines and that the authorities bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Carlos Conde of HRW Asia Division.

I condemn the murder of a fellow member of the Bar. I am outraged at the thought that his advocacy could have caused his own murder or might justify it. His murder is inexcusable and must be investigated, and the perpetrators, brought to justice,” Chel Diokno national chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG)said in a statement.

In 2017 alone, Ireland-based Front Line Defenders recorded 60 deaths in the Philippines. Since 2001, there have been at least 613 documented killings. To see some of my earlier posts on the Philippines, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/philippines/

Facing death threats, human rights groups have repeatedly called on the government to recognize their role in society by passing the human rights defenders’ protection bill

https://www.rappler.com/nation/216116-groups-condemn-lawyer-benjamin-ramos-murder-attack-against-human-rights-movement


General Assembly 2018: Human Rights Defenders were a main dish on 23 October

November 7, 2018

On 26 October 2018, the ISHR reported on how the General Assembly addressed the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Special Rapporteur Michel Forst delivered a detailed reflection and assessment of global protection efforts in his report to the General Assembly this week.

On 23/24 October, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, called the international community to action, urging open and frank dialogue and solidarity to address oppression. He addressed the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee and engaged in a dialogue on his report to the General Assembly.

In light of the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, his report focused on effective implementation strategies, incorporating both a reflection of progress made over the past two decades and an overview of recommendations on how to improve systems and mechanisms moving forward. ‘The past 20 years have been an era of struggle for human rights. Victories have been hard fought and challenges have proliferated,’ the Special Rapporteur said in his report. ‘The celebration of this milestone must be tempered by a recognition of the sacrifices of human rights defenders, their families and their communities.’

After surveying 140 States, the Special Rapporteur addressed the following key matters: the evolution of the use of the term ‘human rights defenders’, mechanisms and practices to support them and legal/ administrative frameworks to protect them. “20 years ago, the Declaration laid the groundwork for the protection of human rights defenders and amplified the importance of their inclusion as a stakeholder in human rights initiatives, but there is still work to be done,” said ISHR’s Legal Counsel Tess McEvoy.

Several States voiced their support for the report and the mandate, including Spain, Iceland, Canada, Australia, EU, Poland, Ireland, Switzerland, Mexico, Liechtenstein, Estonia, Czech Republic, Colombia, France, Slovenia, Norway, US, Belgium and the United Arab Emirates.

The United States referenced the Secretary General’s report on reprisals highlighting attacks and intimidation against defenders in more than 38 countries, saying they are ‘alarmed and monitoring all allegations.’ The US then proceeded to list over 20 specific names of individuals from 14 different countries who are victims of such reprisals. These include:

Both China and Iran criticised the report on the basis that defenders, activists and social leaders do not deserve ‘special treatment’ regardless of the risks these individuals face. Cuba rejected any attempts to paint political prisoners as human rights defenders. The Russian Federation challenged the notion of ‘State obligation’ on the basis that the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders is a non-binding document. In response to the Russian Federation’s point on the non-obligatory nature of the Declaration of Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur swiftly reminded States that while the Declaration is non-binding it reaffirms other legally binding human rights obligations.

The Special Rapporteur concluded with a call to action at the upcoming Human Rights Defenders World Summit in Paris, where a statement will be prepared, including for presentation at the upcoming high-level event on defenders at the General Assembly.

The Special Rapporteur also referenced a document—outlining the results of his global survey on defenders in 140 countries—which he hoped would be published on the OHCHR website without further delay. He invited supporters of the mandate to inform OHCHR of the need to disseminate the report via the OHCHR website.

The Special Rapporteur referenced the study being prepared by the UN Secretary-General in efforts to protect global defenders. The report of this study will be shared with States in the coming weeks. The Special Rapporteur also voiced concern about the lack of NGO access to the UN and asked members of the Committee on NGOs to invite him in to engage with the Committee.

The Special Rapporteur concluded by saying that his report to the Human Rights Council in March 2019 will focus on the situation of women defenders.

https://www.ishr.ch/news/ga73-un-expert-defenders-reflects-20-years-struggle-progress-and-remaining-challenges

For earlier posts on the anniversary: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/20th-anniversary-un-declaration-on-hrds/