Archive for the 'Human Rights Defenders' Category

The right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment (R2E) – further steps and historical decision in the Case of Torres Strait Islanders

November 9, 2022

Following the Human Rights Council and General Assembly resolutions recognising the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment (R2E), adopted in 2021 and 2022 respectively (HRC/RES/48/13 and A/RES/76/300), people have started to consider appropriate next steps in advancing the legal recognition, implementation, and monitoring of this right. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/10/11/new-right-to-healthy-environment-ngos-urge-action/

A blog post of the Universal Rights Group on 7 November 2022 reports on meeting on 18 October hosted by the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica in Geneva, UNEP, and the Universal Rights Group bringing together over 20 human rights experts from Geneva Permanent Missions in a non-attributable setting designed to promote open and forward-looking debate on appropriate next steps. The discussion was informed by an ‘options paper’ prepared by the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Dr David Boyd, detailing three possible ways to advance the R2E, which he argued can and should be carried out concurrently.

In the meantime, a more operational development was the historic decision, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee found on Friday 23 September that Australia’s failure to adequately adapt to climate change violates the human rights of Torres Strait Islanders.   

Karin M Frodé, Andrea Olivares Jones and Joanna Kyriakakis reported on the case:

The Committee, which oversees the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) received a complaint by eight Torres Strait Islanders and six of their children in 2019. The group called for the Committee to recognise that the Australian Government had violated their human rights by failing to reduce carbon emissions, and introduce measures to adapt to climate change.

The Committee’s decision makes clear that inadequate responses to climate change can result in the violation of human rights. It is a landmark victory worth celebrating as part of a broader trend in climate change litigation which has seen human rights arguments put forward to hold both states (ie, the NetherlandsPakistan and Belgium) and corporations (ie, Shell and other Carbon Majors) accountable. It is also an example of a rise in cases where Indigenous actors are central. 

The Committee’s decision: The Committee found that Australia has violated the Torres Strait Islanders’ rights to private life, home and family and their enjoyment of culture. In doing so, the Committee noted Australia’s efforts to construct a seawall, but found it to be an inadequate response to the alarming threats that had been raised by Torres Strait Islanders since the 1990s, due to its delay initiating the project ([8.12], [8.14]).

While decisions by UN bodies are not automatically binding in Australian law, they are persuasive opinions by independent experts that outline Australia’s international obligations and analyse whether they are complied with. The relationship between climate change impacts and human rights is an emerging area, so the clarity that decisions such as in the present case bring is critical. This decision is therefore important not only to the complainants but for other climate justice advocates. 

The present decision follows other climate related decisions by human rights bodies. In Teitiota, a case brought against New Zealand, the same Committee made important observations about state obligations and climate change in the context of asylum seekers and refugees, though it stopped short of finding a violation. Another complaint brought by young climate activists against five states for climate inaction before the Committee on the Rights of the Child, focused on child-centric impacts of climate change. Although dismissed for technical reasons, that decision made important findings that children fall within the jurisdiction of states where transboundary harm originates, following the approach of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/03/02/human-rights-high-commissioner-bachelet-urges-support-for-environmental-defenders/

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/09/australia-violated-torres-strait-islanders-rights-enjoy-culture-and-family

Independent Commission of Inquiry hears Palestinian complaints

November 9, 2022
Members of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry attend a press briefing at the UN headquarters in New York

Members of the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in Israel, Navanethem Pillay, Miloon Kothari and Chris Sidoti attend a press briefing at the United Nations headquarters in New York, U.S., October 27, 2022. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

On 7 November 2022 Emma Farge reported for Reuters how a Palestinian human rights group told a U.N. panel on Monday 7 November it had been subject to threats and “mafia methods” during a campaign of harassment organised by Israel to silence groups documenting alleged Israeli rights violations.

The independent Commission of Inquiry, established by the Human Rights Council, the U.N. top human rights body, last year, plans five days of hearings which it says will be impartial and examine the allegations of both Israelis and Palestinians. Israel dismissed the process overseen by the panel as a sham while it declined comment on the specific allegations.

In the opening session, the commission heard from representatives of Palestinian organisations shuttered by Israel in August and designated as “terrorist” entities. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/10/23/assault-by-israel-on-palestinian-human-rights-ngos/

Shawan Jabarin, General Director of human rights group Al-Haq, denied the terrorism charge and called the closure an “arbitrary decision“, saying Israeli security forces had used “mafia methods” against it in a years-long harassment campaign. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2011/11/30/israel-refuses-to-let-hrd-shawan-jabarin-travel-to-receive-award-in-denmark/

They used all means, I can say. They used financial means; they used a smear campaign; they used threats,” he said, saying his office was sealed with a metal door on Aug. 18.

Asked to detail the threats mentioned to the panel, Jabarin told Reuters after the hearing that he had received a phone call from somebody he identified as being from “Shabak”, or the Israel Security Agency, two days after the raid. They threatened him with detention, interrogation or “other means” if he continued his work, he added.

https://www.reuters.com/world/un-hearings-probing-alleged-israeli-rights-abuses-open-geneva-2022-11-07/

Capacity Building for Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) Living in Exile – applications open for 2023 course

November 9, 2022

IDREAM:  Capacity Building for Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) Living in Exile

CVT is accepting applications from Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) living in exile to participate in a dynamic capacity development and mentoring fellowship called “IDREAM.”

IDREAM (Incubator for Defenders Remaining in Exile to Advance Movements) is a collaborative and global capacity development project designed to help address the unique needs of HRDs living in exile. IDREAM will provide training and networking activities with the goals of: advancing advocacy efforts, promoting HRD’s psychosocial resilience and well-being, and improving exiled HRD’s physical and digital security. At the end of the selection process, 10 partner HRDs living in exile around the world will be invited to join IDREAM. The project’s main capacity building activities will take place from approximately April 2023 through November 2024. HRDs selected for IDREAM will receive up to $31,000 in financial assistance to support their work in the project.

The Call for Applications is available in English, French, Mandarin, Arabic, and Spanish. All activities of the IDREAM project will take place in English, and applicants must be proficient in English.

IDREAM invites interested HRDs living in exile outside of their home country or internally displaced within their home country to apply online for this fellowship before the deadline at 11:00 pm CST on 30 November 2022.

Applicants are highly encouraged to read all background materials including the Call for Applications below, the Guidelines and Instructions for Applicants and Questions for Applicants.

For earlier course see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/02/08/idream-project-training-support-to-displaced-or-exiled-human-rights-defenders/

GUIDELINES AND INSTRUCTIONS:

To apply to IDREAM, click “APPLY HERE.”

https://www.cvt.org/HRDapp

Human rights defender Şebnem Korur Fincancı in Turkey now also jailed

October 31, 2022
Şebnem Korur Fincancı
Şebnem Korur Fincancı © 2022 TİHV

On 28 October 2022 HRW reports on the continuing crackdown on human rights defenders in Turkey, where Şebnem Korur Fincancı is the latest human rights defender to be jailed as authorities pursue a bogus investigation against her for “spreading terrorist propaganda.” Korur Fincancı is head of the Turkish Medical Association, former head of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, and a retired professor of forensic pathology. Her work was central to the creation of the United Nations’ “Istanbul Protocol,” a landmark manual on how to identify and document signs of torture. She has also worked on the exhumation of mass graves and forensic documentation of war crimes in different countries. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/11/05/turkish-human-rights-defender-and-forensic-doctor-sebnem-korur-fincanci-honoured/

Korur Fincancı’s arrest and pre-trial detention followed an interview she gave to pro-Kurdish TV on October 19. Responding to allegations that the Turkish military had used chemical weapons against the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Korur Fincancı said the video footage she had seen suggested use of toxic gases affecting the nervous system and that there should be a full investigation. Turkish pro-government media and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Korur Fincancı and the Turkish Medical Association of slandering the Turkish military. Prosecutors and courts rapidly responded by ordering her investigation and detention.

Korur Fincancı’s arrest is the latest in a pattern of politically motivated cases as the Erdoğan government continues its crackdown on critics and opponents. Just this week, police also detained 10 Kurdish journalists on top of 16 incarcerated in June. The Turkish authorities show all the signs of being determined to silence the voices of experts like Korur Fincancı as well as the journalists who report their words.

Authorities also appear focused on a broader plan of reshaping and taking over professional bodies that have been critical of government policies. On October 27, Turkey’s justice minister announced a plan to restructure both the Turkish Medical Association, from which Korur Fincancı will be removed as head, and the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects. Mücella Yapıcı, a prominent member of the latter, was convicted and jailed in April along with rights defender Osman Kavala and six others for her alleged role in the 2013 Gezi Park protests.

In the run-up to the 2023 presidential and parliamentary elections, the Turkish government is likely to continue to misuse criminal charges and detention against individuals it wants to silence and attempt to seize institutions outside its control.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/10/28/turkey-jails-another-human-rights-defender

Call for nominations for the Arthur Svensson prize

October 20, 2022

Representatives and employees of trade unions throughout the world are free to nominate candidates for next year’s  Arthur Svensson international prize for trade union rights. 

For more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/5c06a870-6053-11e9-aa6c-87381bf77969

The nominees will be judged on to what extent the person or organization has promoted union rights and/or union organizing in the world. More on the award here – https://www.svenssonstiftelsen.com/about

Deadline 1/1/2023.

For nominations please use this form – https://www.svenssonstiftelsen.com/nominate 

Nominations can also be sent with attachments to espen.loken@industrienergi.no

Applications for Frank Jennings Fellowship at Front Line Defenders now open

October 17, 2022

The Frank Jennings Fellowship 2021/2022 [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/03/29/new-frank-jennings-fellowship-with-front-line/] is now open for applications.

The Fellow will spend three and a half months in the Front Line Defenders office in Dublin where they will be trained in relation to Human Rights Defenders; the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders; the Mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur; the procedures and methodology of the mandate; the role of Front Line Defenders and other national and international organisations in the support and protection of Human Rights Defenders. The Fellow will then enter an internship programme at the OHCHR and will move to Geneva for a period of six months before returning to Front Line Defenders for a further three months.

The successful candidate will have excellent drafting skills and a proven ability of synthesising and condensing large amounts of information into succinct briefings. They will also have excellent administrative skills. They will have some knowledge of the UN system and international and human rights law. They must have native or native-level English and fluency in Spanish (please note we can’t make exceptions to the language requirements). They will be a recent university graduate (see note below).

Basic Terms of reference – Front Line Defenders Dublin

  • Provide support to Front Line Defenders’ Protection Coordinators including dealing with routine queries and correspondence with human rights defenders;
  • Cooperate closely with the Regional Fellows and Protection Coordinators in drafting urgent appeals on behalf of human rights defenders at risk around the world:
  • Input HRD-related information on the Front Line Defenders database;
  • Undertake clerical tasks such as data entry, collating, emailing and maintenance of the database;
  • Support follow-up on cases taken up by Front Line Defenders or other specific projects relating to Human Rights Defenders as requested;
  • Draft as requested, minutes, briefings, reports, appeals;

Basic Terms of Reference – Geneva SR

  • Gather information on the situation of human rights defenders around the world (with a particular focus on themes of concern identified by the SR);
  • In coordination with other thematic mechanisms and with geographic desk officers, and under the supervision of the HRD assistant to the SR, draft urgent appeals and communications to Governments concerning human rights violations against human rights defenders;
  • Support follow-up of cases;
  • Analyse replies received from Governments and prepare summaries for inclusion in the annual Human Rights Council (HRC) report;
  • Assist in the drafting of annual reports to the HRC and the General Assembly;
    Assist in the preparation of background materials for official missions by the Special Rapporteur;
  • Assist in liaising with non-governmental organizations for the smooth implementation of the mandate, as needed.

Whilst in Geneva, OHCHR internship regulations will apply.

Honorarium: €1400 per month Dublin and €1700 per month Geneva.

Please note that in order to comply with OHCHR internship regulations, applicants will need to be currently enrolled in university or have graduated from university no more than one year previous to beginning the OHCHR internship.

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/frank-jennings-fellowship-dublin-and-geneva

Report on the 51st session of the Human Rights Council

October 14, 2022

The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and 12 other NGOs gave a joint assessment of the 51st session of the Human Rights Council which was held from Monday 12 September to Friday 7 October 2022. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/09/20/human-rights-defenders-at-the-51st-session-of-the-un-human-rights-council/]

We welcome that for the first time, the Council heard from two representatives of directly impacted communities from the podium in the enhanced interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner and the International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement: Collette Flanagan of Mothers against Police Brutality (MAPB) whose son was killed by United States‘ police in 2013; and Jurema Werneck, director of Amnesty International in Brazil. As highlighted in the HC’s report, States are continuing to deny the existence and impact of systemic racism, especially institutional racism. Our view is that States actively protect the interests of police institutions in order to maintain the status quo which is designed to oppress Africans and people of African descent.  We call on States to fully implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), to fully cooperate with the International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the context of Law Enforcement including accepting country visits, implement the recommendations from their report and the High Commissioner’s Agenda towards Transformative Change for Racial justice and Equality.

We welcome the ‘from rhetoric to reality: a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance’ resolution. The resolution, interalia,  strongly condemns the discriminatory treatment, unlawful deportations, excessive use of force and deaths of African migrants and migrants of African descent, including refugees and asylum-seekers, at the hands of law enforcement officials engaged in migration and border governance. It calls on States to ensure accountability and reparations for human rights violations at borders and to adopt a racial justice approach, including by adopting policies to address structural racism in the management of international migration. It reiterates that the Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans and colonialism were grave violations of international law that require States to make reparations proportionate to the harms committed and to ensure that structures in the society that are perpetuating the injustices of the past are transformed, including law enforcement and administration of justice and to dispense reparatory justice to remedy historical racial injustices…..

We welcome the resolution on the “human rights implications of new and emerging technologies in the military domain” and its request for a study examining these implications. The adoption of the resolution adds to the growing attention that UN human rights mechanisms are paying to the negative human rights impacts of arms, including new technologies that can be weaponised.  It is undoubtable that concerns relating to the military domain should not be seen as only relevant to disarmament fora. In response to comments from some States on whether international humanitarian law (IHL) falls within the remit of HRC, we recall that international human rights law and IHL are complementary and mutually reinforcing, as the HRC itself has reiterated on several occasions in past resolutions. We welcome the inclusion of paragraph on the responsibility to respect human rights of business enterprises, and in this regard, we recall the Information Note by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights on the Arms Industry (“Responsible business conduct in the arms sector: Ensuring business practice in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”) published in August 2022. While we welcome the reference in the resolution to the role of human rights defenders and civil society organisations in raising awareness about the human rights impacts of the use of new and emerging technologies in the military domain, we regret that it does not include a specific mention of the risks that the use of these technologies can pose for human rights defenders and civil society organisations.

We welcome the resolution on arbitrary detention and especially the inclusion of a new paragraph on the necessity to fully implement the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The resolution recognises the role of HRDs, peaceful protesters, journalists and media workers in safeguarding the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of liberty and calls upon States to make sure that they are not arbitrarily detained as a result of their activities. We further commend the main sponsor, France, for having rejected any language that could have weakened the resolution, especially on the right to legal assistance.

We welcome the adoption of the safety of journalists resolution. It has now been a decade since the first resolution on this topic, and the HRC has since created an elaborate and robust set of international standards to protect journalists. This iteration of the resolution adds new strong commitments on multiple new and emerging issues affecting journalists, from strategic lawsuits against public participation to extraterritorial attacks. It also strengthens language on investigations into attacks against journalists, calling on authorities to exhaust lines of enquiry that determine whether such attacks are linked to their journalistic work. We now urge States to implement these commitments to their full extent.

We welcome the approval by consensus by the Council of the resolution on terrorism and human rights, that has been updated with important paragraphs related to the centrality of the rule of law and human rights to counter terrorism, international human rights obligations in transfers of terrorist suspects, profiling of individuals, detention, the right to a fair trial and other due process guarantees, the right to privacy and freedom of expression, and in relation to children rights and civil society. We regret that paragraphs stemming from security based concerns have increased even though they are unrelated to the competence of the Council to promote human rights.

We warmly welcome the adoption of the resolution on the human rights situation in the Russian Federation, mandating a Special Rapporteur on Russia for the first time. …The Russian Federation’s growing repressive policies, combined with the country’s exclusion from the Council of Europe – victims of new human rights violations committed by the Russian Federation from 17 September lost protection under the European Convention on Human Rights– and its diplomatic isolation from those States which have been supportive of human rights and civil society in Russia, have made it increasingly difficult for Russian human rights defenders, activists, and civil society organisations to engage with the international community. Russian civil society had been vocal in calling for a Special Rapporteur’s mandate, strongly believing it will help to create a bridge between the United Nations and Russian civil society and the wider general public in Russia at an acute moment of widespread domestic human rights violations, both ensuring their voice is heard at an international level, and that the United Nations can further develop its understanding and analysis of the deterioration in Russia’s domestic human rights situation and the implications that has had – and continues to have – for Russia’s foreign policy decisions.

We welcome the extension and strengthening of the OHCHR capacity to collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve evidence and information and to develop strategies for future accountability, as well as to extend the mandate for enhanced monitoring and reporting by the OHCHR on Sri Lanka. Given the complete lack of any credible avenues for accountability at the national level, the OHCHR’s Sri Lanka Accountability Project remains the only hope of justice, more than thirteen years after the war, for thousands of victims of war time atrocities and their families.

We welcome the UN Secretary General’s report on missing people in Syria; and urge States to support and implement the report’s findings, in line with resolution A/HRC/51/L.18 which underscored “the report’s finding that any measure towards addressing the continuing tragedy of missing persons in the Syrian Arab Republic requires a coherent and holistic approach going beyond current efforts, which must be inclusive and centered on victims”. Addressing the issue of missing persons in Syria requires a “new international institution” mandated to clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing persons, to “work in cooperation and complementarity with existing mechanisms”, the body having “a structural element that ensures that victims, survivors and their families […] may participate in a full and meaningful manner in its operationalization and work” as recommended in the study of the Secretary General.

The Council has taken a vitally important step in renewing the mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela and of the reporting mandate of OHCHR for a further two years. In its most recent report, A/HRC/51/43, the Fact-Finding Mission deepened its investigation of alleged crimes against humanity, making clear that alleged perpetrators remain in power. The ongoing accountability drive through the work of the Mission allied with the work of OHCHR, is key to providing victims of violations with hope for justice. It is also key to the prevention of ongoing violations, particularly in the context of upcoming elections, and of encouraging political processes that respect human rights.

We regret that the Council failed to respond adequately to several human rights situations including Afghanistan, China, Philippines, and Yemen.

We welcome the extension and strengthening of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan. However, this in no way makes up for the Council’s repeated failure to respond to the calls from Afghan human rights defenders, especially women human rights defenders, and civil society for an independent accountability mechanism with a mandate and resources to investigate the full scope of violations abuses that continue to be committed in Afghanistan by all parties and to preserve evidence of these violations for future accountability. It is particularly concerning that despite the overwhelming evidence of gross violations and abuses in Afghanistan that the Council failed to muster consensus on even the bare minimum.

We deplore that this Council was unable to endorse the proposal for a debate on Xinjiang, after the UN identified possible crimes against humanity committed by the Chinese government against Uyghurs and Turkic peoples. Dialogue is a pillar of multilateralism, and is fundamental, even on the hardest issues. Despite the leadership of the core group and all 18 States who voted in favour, this Council looked the other way. We strongly condemn the 19 countries who blocked this proposal, and regret all the abstentions that enabled it. We particularly regret that leading OIC States Indonesia and Qatar, as well as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, the UAE, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Sudan, Gabon, Cameroon and Eritrea, decided to abandon Uyghurs and Muslim minorities in China. We command Somalia for being the only Muslim Council member to stand up for Muslim minorities. Uyghur and international human rights groups won’t give up efforts to hold China accountable. We urgently call on current and future Council members to support efforts to prevent the continuation of atrocity crimes in Xinjiang, and uphold this Council’s credibility and moral authority. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/10/05/uyghur-issue-at-the-un-human-rights-council-will-there-be-even-a-debate/]

We are deeply disappointed that despite the High Commissioner’s clear recommendation and demands by victims and their families as well as civil society from the Philippines, the Council has failed to put forward a resolution mandating the High Commissioner to continue monitoring and reporting on the situation, allowing the Philippines to use the rhetoric of cooperation and the UN Joint Programme for Human Rights to window-dress its appalling human rights record without any tangible progress or scrutiny.

We are dismayed by an Item 10 resolution that will not allow for reporting to the HRC on the human rights situation in Yemen.   Despite a truce that now looks in danger of collapsing, the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Yemen has not ended.  …Lasting peace in Yemen requires a sustained commitment by the international community to ensure accountability and redress for the millions of victims in Yemen. We call on UN member states to give meaning to the pledges they have made and begin to work toward the establishment of an international independent investigative mechanism on Yemen.

On 10 October 2022 a Blog post of the Universal Rights NGO gave the following quick summary of this session of the Human Rights Council

With Ms. Michelle Bachelet’s mandate as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights having come to an end on 31 August 2022, and the incoming UN High Commissioner, Mr. Volker Türk, not taking up his official functions until 17 October 2022, Ms. Nada Al-Nashif, opened, as Acting High Commissioner, by presenting a global update on the situation of human rights around the world.

Four new Special Procedures mandate-holders were appointed to the following mandates: the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (India), the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (Colombia), the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers (United States of America), and one member of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (from Eastern European States).

9 expert members were elected to the Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee (from Algeria, Angola, China, Qatar, Slovenia, Spain, Uruguay, Bahamas, Brazil).

42 texts (39 resolutions, one decision, and one statement by the President) were considered by the Council. This represents a 52% increase in the number of adopted texts compared to one-year prior (HRC48). Of the 41 adopted texts, 30 were adopted by consensus (73%), and 11 by a recorded vote (27%).

The Council rejected a draft decision to hold a debate on the situation of human rights in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China by vote (17 votes in favour, 19 against, and 11 abstentions).

Following the adoption by vote of a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation (17 votes in favour, 6 against, and 24 abstentions), the Council created a new Special Procedure mandate on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation for a period of one year, and requested the mandate holder to make recommendations and to present a comprehensive report to the Council at its 54th session and to the General Assembly at its 78th session, while calling upon the Russian authorities to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur.

The Council further extended the mandates of 8 thematic Special Procedures (i.e., the Independent Expert on older persons; the Special Rapporteurs on the right to development, on contemporary forms of slavery, on the rights to water and sanitation, on Indigenous Peoples, and on the right to health, as well as the Working Groups on arbitrary detention, and on mercenaries), and 7 country-specific mechanisms (i.e., the Special Rapporteurs on Afghanistan, and on Burundi; the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia; the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the International Team of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic; and the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia).

25 written amendments were tabled by States ahead of the consideration of texts by the Council but 14 were withdrawn by the main sponsor prior to voting. The remaining 11 amendments were rejected by a vote. Additionally, one oral amendment was brought forward by China during voting proceedings.

31 of the texts adopted by the Council (79%) had Programme Budget Implications (PBI) and required new appropriations not included in previous Programme Budgets. 

https://ishr.ch/latest-updates/hrc51-civil-society-presents-key-takeaways-from-human-rights-council/

https://www.universal-rights.org/urg-human-rights-council-reports/report-on-the-51st-session-of-the-human-rights-council/

The 2022 “Human Rights Defenders Movement at a Crossroad” video report published

October 11, 2022

In September 2022, more than thirty human rights defenders from all over the world took the floor in a moment of a global backlash against the grass-roots movement for human rights and democracy. See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/04/20/2021-protectdefenders-eu-annual-report/

The conference “The Human Rights Defenders’ Movement at a Crossroad“ featured the testimonies and experiences of a great diversity of grassroots activists coming from all backgrounds, including Yvette Mushigo (Synergie des Femmes pour la Paix et la Réconciliation des Peuples des Grands Lacs d’Afrique, DRC); Ukei Muratalieva (Nazik Kyz, Kyrgyzstan); Rocío Walkiria Santos Reyes (CEHPRODEC, Honduras); Yasmine Shurbaji (Families for Freedom, Syria); and Monika Maritjie Kailey (Komunitas Masyarakat Adat Marafenfen, Aru Islands, Indonesia).

With the participation of the United Nations Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor; the French Ambassador at Large for Human Rights, Delphine Borione; the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Rapporteur on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders and Justice Operators, Commissioner Joel Hernández García; the Human Development, Migration, Governance, and Peace Unit Acting Director at the European Commission, Chiara Adamo.

“We call on the EU and the Member States to ensure the effective, timely, relevant and comprehensive implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders”.

Read the keynote by Cristina Palabay (KARAPATAN Alliance, The Philippines)

Look around this room and you will see so many different nationalities full of patient, committed, resilient people working to defend human rights. That is hope” – UNSR on HRDs, Mary Lawlor.

You can see all the photos of the conference “The Human Rights Defenders Movement at a Crossroad” in the gallery here.

https://mailchi.mp/protectdefenders/bulletin-pdeu-conference-2022?e=ccacd47b1a

Angela Merkel wins UNHCR’s Nansen Award for protecting refugees at height of Syria crisis

October 11, 2022

Angela Merkel, the former Federal Chancellor of Germany, accepted the 2022 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award at a special ceremony in Geneva on Monday night, 10 October, saying the prize was in honour of “the countless people who lent a hand” when large numbers of refugees arrived in Europe in 2015 and 2016.  

She has won several other human rights awards: see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/582C2D4E-FDD9-9C1D-40F3-64DE01C2F46E

Merkel had been selected as the latest recipient of the Nansen Refugee Award for her efforts to welcome more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers into Germany between 2015 and 2016, at the height of the conflict in Syria and amid deadly violence in countries around the world. The selection committee hailed Merkel’s “leadership, courage and compassion in ensuring the protection of hundreds of thousands of desperate people” as well as her efforts to find “viable long-term solutions” for those seeking safety.

By helping more than a million refugees to survive and rebuild, Angela Merkel displayed great moral and political courage,” Grandi the UN high commissioner for refugees, said. Presenting the award to Angela Merkel, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told the former Chancellor: “You demonstrated indeed vision, courage and fortitude. And you demonstrated a moral compass which not only guided your work and the actions of your country, but it showed the way for so many of us in Europe and in the world.”

Speaking at the time, the then chancellor said it was a situation “which put our European values to the test as seldom before. It was no more and no less than a humanitarian imperative.”

For more the Nansen Refugee Award and similar awards for refugee work see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/CC584D13-474F-4BB3-A585-B448A42BB673

Also honoured during the ceremony in Geneva’s Haute école d’art et de design (HEAD) were the four regional winners for 2022. For Africa, the leader of the Mbera Fire Brigade in Mauritania, Ahmedou Ag Albohary, accepted the award in recognition of the refugee volunteers’ bravery in fighting bushfires and protecting the local environment, while former midwife Vicenta González was honoured for nearly 50 years of service to displaced and vulnerable people in Costa Rica.

https://www.unhcr.org/news/stories/2022/10/6345384a4/merkel-says-nansen-prize-honours-welcome-refugees.html

Criticizing Kremlin leads to treason charges

October 8, 2022
Opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza in Moscow.
Opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza in Moscow. © 2021 AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

On 7 October 2022 Human Rights Watch criticised sharply the Russian charge of high treason against an opposition politician, Vladimir Kara-Murza. It is “a blatant attempt to quash any criticism of the Kremlin and deter contact with the international community“, Human Rights Watch said. 

This is the third baseless criminal charge against Kara-Murza since he was detained in April 2022. He has already been indicted for spreading “fake news” about the Russian Armed Forces because he publicly criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and for alleged involvement with an “undesirable” foreign organization. He now risks an additional sentence of up 20 years if convicted on high treason charges. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/04/14/human-rights-defender-vladimir-kara-murza-arrested-in-russia/]

Vladimir Kara-Murza is a longstanding proponent of democratic values and has been a vocal opponent of Vladimir  Putin and Russia’s war on Ukraine,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “It is painfully obvious that the Kremlin sees Kara-Murza as a direct and imminent threat.  These charges against him and his prolonged detention are a travesty of justice. Russian authorities should immediately and unconditionally free Kara-Murza and drop all charges against him.” See also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/34e43b60-3236-11ea-b4d5-37ffeeddd006

Vadim Prokhorov, Kara-Murza’s lawyer, said the high treason charges relate to Kara-Murza’s  public criticism of the Russian authorities in international forums.

Kara-Murza has called for sanctions against the Kremlin and has spoken in person before national political bodies throughout Europe and in the United States, and at many international and intergovernmental forums, including at the United Nations. He was a key figure advocating for the US Magnitsky Act that gave rise to the Global Magnitsky sanctions regime for serious human rights violations.

Kara-Murza was also a close friend of the murdered Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. He survived two near-fatal poisonings, in 2015 and 2017, which Bellingcat investigative journalists reported was most likely orchestrated by the Russian Federal Security Service and which the Russian authorities have failed to investigate. 

Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine started in February, the Russian authorities have expanded their repressive toolbox. In March, Russian authorities criminalized calls for sanctions against Russia, and in July also criminalized “confidential cooperation” with foreign states, international or foreign organizations as well as public calls for action that are “against national interests.”

These new provisions cannot be applied retroactively to the years of advocacy by Kara-Murza, Human Rights Watch said, and so he is being charged with high treason under Russia’s criminal code, which was expanded in November 2012. The definition was expanded to include consultations or any other assistance to a foreign state or international or foreign organizations…

Russia’s rules on prosecution and trial of treason cases also breach human rights safeguards, in particular fair trial guarantees. For example, the criminal case materials in such proceedings are classified so that the defense team may not have access to key pieces of evidence, and the trial takes place behind closed doors, preventing public scrutiny.

Ivan Safronov, a journalist, was recently convicted of high treason and sentenced to 22 years in maximum security prison and given a substantial fine for his journalistic investigations of defense contracts, spotlighting how treason cases are handled.  He was tried behind closed doors, key evidence obtained by fellow journalists was not accepted by the court, and his defense team came under immense pressure. Two of his lawyers had to flee the country, and a third was detained on accusations of spreading false information and remains in detention.

“Sadly, it is unrealistic to expect that fair trial standards will be observed in Kara-Murza’s case,” Williamson said. “By jailing leaders like him, Russian authorities are attempting to instill fear in the Russian people and eradicate any opportunity for civil society to mobilize and oppose the Kremlin and its war.” 

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/10/07/russia-first-treason-charges-criticizing-kremlin