Archive for the 'Al-Hassani' Category

Two High Commissioners issue rare joint statement re Covid-19

March 17, 2020

On 12 March 2020 Michelle Bachelet and Filippo Grandi – the UN High Commissioners for respectively Human Rights and Refugees – issued a rare joint statement entiteled: “The coronavirus outbreak is a test of our systems, values and humanity“:

If ever we needed reminding that we live in an interconnected world, the novel coronavirus has brought that home. No country can tackle this alone, and no part of our societies can be disregarded if we are to effectively rise to this global challenge. Covid-19 is a test not only of our health-care systems and mechanisms for responding to infectious diseases, but also of our ability to work together as a community of nations in the face of a common challenge. It is a test of the extent to which the benefits of decades of social and economic progress have reached those living on the margins of our societies, farthest from the levers of power.

The coming weeks and months will challenge national crisis planning and civil protection systems – and will certainly expose shortcomings in sanitation, housing and other factors that shape health outcomes. Our response to this epidemic must encompass – and in fact, focus on – those whom society often neglects or relegates to a lesser status. Otherwise, it will fail.

The health of every person is linked to the health of the most marginalised members of the community. Preventing the spread of this virus requires outreach to all, and ensuring equitable access to treatment. This means overcoming existing barriers to affordable, accessible health care, and tackling long-ingrained differential treatment based on income, gender, geography, race and ethnicity, religion or social status. Overcoming systemic biases that overlook the rights and needs of women and girls, or – for example – limit access and participation by minority groups, will be crucial to the effective prevention and treatment of Covid-19.

People living in institutions – the elderly or those in detention – are likely to be more vulnerable to infection and must be specifically addressed in crisis planning and response. Migrants and refugees – regardless of their formal status – must be an integral part of national systems and plans for tackling the virus. Many of these women, men and children find themselves in places where health services are overstretched or inaccessible. They may be confined to camps and settlements, or living in urban slums where overcrowding, and poorly resourced sanitation, increases the risk of exposure.

International support is urgently needed to help host countries step up services – both for migrants and local communities – and include them in national surveillance, prevention and response arrangements. Failure to do so will endanger the health of all – and risk heightening hostility and stigma. It is also vital that any tightening of border controls, travel restrictions or limitations on freedom of movement do not prevent people who may be fleeing from war or persecution from accessing safety and protection.

Beyond these very immediate challenges, the path of the coronavirus will also undoubtedly test our principles, values and shared humanity. Spreading rapidly around the world, with uncertainty surrounding the number of infections and with a vaccine still many months away, the virus is stirring deep fears and anxieties in individuals and societies. Some unscrupulous people will undoubtedly seek to take advantage of this, manipulating genuine fears and heightening concerns. When fear and uncertainty kick in, scapegoats are never far away. We have already seen anger and hostility directed at some people of east Asian origin. If left unchecked, the urge to blame and exclude may soon extend to other groups – minorities, the marginalized or anyone labelled “foreigner”.

People on the move, including refugees, may be particularly targeted. Yet the coronavirus itself does not discriminate; those infected to date include holidaymakers, international business people and even national ministers, and are located in dozens of countries, spanning all continents. Panic and discrimination never solved a crisis. Political leaders must take the lead, earning trust through transparent and timely information, working together for the common good, and empowering people to participate in protecting health. Ceding space to rumour, fear mongering and hysteria will not only hamper the response but may have broader implications for human rights, the functioning of accountable, democratic institutions.

No country today can wall itself off from the impact of the coronavirus, both in the literal sense and – as falling stock markets and closed schools demonstrate – economically and socially. An international response that ensures that developing countries are equipped to diagnose, treat and prevent this disease will be crucial to safeguarding the health of billions of people. The World Health Organization is providing expertise, surveillance, systems, case investigation, contact tracing, and research and vaccine development. It is a lesson that international solidarity and multilateral systems are more vital than ever.

In the long term, we must accelerate the work of building equitable and accessible public healthcare. And how we respond to this crisis now will undoubtedly shape those efforts for decades to come.

If our response to coronavirus is grounded in the principles of public trust, transparency, respect and empathy for the most vulnerable, we will not only uphold the intrinsic rights of every human being. We will be using and building the most effective tools to ensure we can ride out this crisis and learn lessons for the future.

https://www.unhcr.org/news/latest/2020/3/5e69eea54/coronavirus-outbreak-test-systems-values-humanity.html

Profile: Bose Agbonmerele, woman human rights defender from Nigeria

July 7, 2016

On 20 June 2016 the ISHR Monitor contained the following portrait of Ms Bose Agbonmerele Iro-Nsi, the founder and team leader of the Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP) in Nigeria. WRAHP is an NGO that works to promote community and women’s rights, reproductive health and children’s development.

Ms Bose Agbonmerele of the Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP) in Nigeria.

As an advocate, Bose focuses on access to justice for women suffering domestic violence, child abuse, and cultural practises that are detrimental to health and contravene fundamental rights of both women and children – an example includes female genital mutilation. Bose seeks to create awareness of existing laws that address domestic violence, and educates vulnerable communities on their rights contained in those laws.

‘WRAHP previously received between 2 and 4 cases of women who had suffered domestic violence each month. Since engaging with the media and speaking publically on the common violation of women and children’s rights, WRAHP now receives about 5 cases and large numbers of calls every day from women in distress.’

Challenges and risks

Cultural norms and practise endorse a system of patriarchy in Nigeria. This means that raising children in an environment rife with domestic violence perpetuates a vicious cycle. Bose highlights the importance of focusing on building awareness within the family, as well within religious institutions and churches – which can then create further awareness about Gender based violence.

‘Gender based violence constitutes a further challenge. Domestic violence is often viewed as a personal domestic dispute, which results in law enforcement agencies turning a blind eye. This further drives a system of impunity among the community. Moreover, the stigma associated with calling the police on your own family member and the lack of independence of women puts them at risk of destitution.’

Bose also identified gaps and loopholes in Nigerian laws and policies that need strengthening. She identified 2 major limitations in the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, which addresses, among other violations, female genital mutilation and acid attacks. This law is restricted to the capital of Nigeria and often imposes fines for offences that should result in more significant penalties.

Some community elders have claimed that WRAHP’s work is intrusive to their culture and traditions. As a result Bose has suffered intimidation. However, she has maintained a holistic approach to raising awareness, including amongst men who might oppose her views.

Engagement with the international community

Bose explained that her experience in Geneva at ISHR Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme (HRDAP) has broadened her knowledge of UN mechanisms and her perspective about civil society engagement. Going forward Bose intends to incorporate the international networks she has made in Geneva into her existing regional networks. She also intends to engage with Special Procedures mandate holders to increase awareness about the human rights situation in Nigeria.

‘One of the positive aspects of my experience at HRDAP was the opportunity to share experiences with other participants. I learnt about the diverse issues which other human rights advocates face. The organisation of the programme and activities have been great.’

The change Bose would like to see

Through her brief experience at the UN, Bose has noticed the use of the phrase “intimate partner violence”. She believes the use of this phrase in addressing domestic violence overlooks other serious aspects of domestic violence. This term focuses only on partners, disregarding child abuse, parental abuse of children, and violence at the hands of extended family. Bose would like to see a more robust policy addressing all aspects of domestic violence.

Goals and objectives

Bose believes that it is crucial to understand successful strategies used by defenders working on other issues and defenders in different regions. Bose is grateful to have had the opportunity to interact with defenders working on different thematic groups, including LGBTI and business Human Rights issues. She believes that all activists share the same common goal and working together and learning from each other will help to improve advocacy success rates. Bose would like to continue engaging foreign missions to bolster her national advocacy.

In the long run, Bose would like to see herself as a regional and international advocate sharing her experiences on an international platform. She was impressed with the participation of young people in HRDAP and says she would like to encourage other young people to participate in advocacy training sessions in Nigeria.

‘I just can’t recommend HRDAP enough to other people.’

Source: Defender profile: Bose Agbonmerele Iro-Nsi, woman human rights defender from Nigeria | ISHR

Honoring some of the many women human rights defenders on International Women’s Day

March 9, 2014

Yesterday, 7 March 2014, saw many expressions of solidarity with women human rights defenders at the occasion of International Women’s Day.

The ISHR picked the following cases as examples that stand out:

You can find many more cases via the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition [http://www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.org/] which brings together women activists and those committed to the advancement of women human rights and those working on gender issues, to advocate for better protection of women human rights defenders.

via Honouring women human rights defenders on International Women’s Day! | ISHR.

Martin Ennals Award films on You Tube and VIMEO

April 25, 2013

The Martin Ennals Award has from the beginning used film images to portray the work of human rights defenders. Most you can find through http://www.martinennalsaward.org or on:

YOU TUBE: http://www.youtube.com/user/martinennalsaward (the most recent ones but others to follow)

and

VIMEO: https://vimeo.com/martinennalsaward/videos (29 of them)

and the best is to subscribe to these channels so that they alert you when there is something new.

Martin Ennals Award ceremony 2011 now on-line: martinennalsawrd.org

October 16, 2011

Last Thursday, 13 October, the ceremony for Kasha, the Ugandan 2011 laureate of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, took place in Geneva, again in the beautiful Victoria Hall. There was a large audience of 600 people. Moreover, the 2010 MEA laureate, Muhannad al-Hassani from Syria, also made a surprise appearance. The True Heroes Foundation made a 8-minute summary of highlights of the ceremony and this overview gives an excellent impression of the whole evening. Please go to our newly designed website: http://www.martinennalsaward.org. 

Confirmed: MEA Laureate 2010 Muhannad al-Hassani freed

June 3, 2011

It is now official: MEA Laureate Muhannad Al-Hassani (or al-Hasani), who spent the last 22 months in jail, was released today 3 June. He was among a large number of other ‘political prisoners’ which the Syrian regime has been releasing over the last days. He thanks all of you who have continued to support him while he was in detention.

Syrian Human Rights defender Anwar Al – Bunni released from prison on Monday 23 May 2011

May 23, 2011

Anwar Al-Bunni

Anwar Al-Bunni winner of the 2008 Front Line Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk has been released today. He finished serving his sentence on the 17th of May 2011 but was taken initially to a branch of the security apparatus before being finally released today. Anwar Al-Bunni was originally sentenced to a five year prison sentence because of his courageous work defending human rights defenders and opposition activists facing charges before the State Security Court, now slated to be abolished by a regime under pressure from the protests. He had also set up a human rights centre in Damascus to support the work of human rights defenders and publicly denounced the use of torture in Syrian prisons. This is very similar to the work and condemnation of Muhannad Al-Hassani the 2010 MEA Laureate which is still in prison.

The good news re Al-Bunni is tempered by the consideration that he was not released before he had served his time and that the Syrian regime still holds hundreds of human rights defenders in detention or under threat.

Syria: will al-Hassani finally be freed?

March 26, 2011

As you will know, on Wednesday 16 March a group of about 150 protestors – including relatives of the 21 political prisoners whose release the protest was designed to secure – gathered outside the Interior Ministry in Damascus to present a petition calling for the prisoners’ release. The 21 include MEA 2010 Laureate Muhannad al-Hassani, the president of the Syrian Human Rights Organization.

Forty of the protestors were seized and interrogated by the security services; several were detained on the usual charges of bringing the State is disrepute. Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a news release, “Like many of the political prisoners whose release they were calling for, protestors appear to have been arrested simply for the peaceful expression of their views. The Syrian authorities must immediately release all those arrested in the last two days for merely attending peaceful protests, and stop these attacks on freedom of expression and assembly.”

Today- Saturday 26 March – it was reported that under pressure from the various on-going demonstrations, the Government would have decided to release 200 political prisoners. Is this true? Will al-Hassani finally be allowed to return to his family and his human rights work?

Haitham Maleh, the lawyer of MEA Laureate Al-Hassani, amnestied in Syria

March 8, 2011

Finally some good news on the Syrian human rights front: Haitham Maleh, the lawyer of MEA Laureate 2010 Muhannad Al-Hassani and an outstanding human rights defender in his own right, has just been ‘freed’ under a Presidential Amnesty. It may take a few days before he is home. Also he is still not free to leave the country. Still, it shows there is hope for the other human rights defenders in detention in Syria.

Don’t forget the two MEA Laureates in detention

December 23, 2010

Two MEA Laureates are in detention currently. Please do not forget them and send a postcard to the authorities. You can order the cards from the MEA Secretariat, info@martinennalsaward.org. Happy new Year to you all