Archive for the 'human rights' Category

Where is Dong Guangping?

November 23, 2022

Disappeared Chinese human rights defender must be allowed to reunite with his family in Canada

After 31 months in hiding in Vietnam, on August 24, 2022 Chinese human rights defender Dong Guangping was arrested by Vietnamese police.  There has been no news of his fate since then. His wife and daughter, who live in Toronto, are fearful that he has been handed over to Chinese authorities. In China he would face a grave risk of once again being jailed for his human rights activism. He has previously served three prison terms there, simply because he believes in human rights and refuses to remain silent in the face of grave violations in the country.

Dong Guangping had been recognized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and accepted for resettlement to Canada as a refugee in 2015. He was in Thailand with his wife and daughter at that time. However, Thai police unlawfully handed him over to Chinese authorities before he was able to travel to Canada.  See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/12/08/thailand-returns-recognized-refugees-to-china-and-falsely-claims-they-did-not-know-about-their-status/

He was sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison in China. After he was released in 2019, Dong Guangping wanted to reunite with his wife and daughter in Canada. However, as China refused to issue him a passport, he was not allowed to leave the country through official channels. He first tried unsuccessfully to reach safety by swimming to a nearby Taiwanese island. In January 2020, he clandestinely crossed the border into Vietnam.

With backing from the Canadian government, Dong Guangping and his family had been hopeful that he would soon be allowed by Vietnamese officials to leave the country and travel to Canada. His arrest was unexpected and his subsequent disappearance has come as a crushing blow.

You can express Your Concern to the Embassies Please write, phone or send an email to Vietnam’s and China’s Ambassadors to Canada:

  • expressing your concern about Dong Guangping’s arrest in Vietnam on August 24, 2022 and the fact that there has been no news of his whereabouts or wellbeing since then;
  • asking them to immediately disclose where Dong Guangping is at this time and that Canadian officials be granted access to him; and
  • requesting that Dong Guangping be allowed to travel to Canada without any further delay, to join his wife and daughter.

His Excellency Cong Peiwu
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Canada

515 St. Patrick Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 5H3

Tel: 613-789-3434

Email: chineseembassy.ca@gmail.com

His Excellency Pham Cao Phong
Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam in Canada

55 Mackay Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1M 2B2

Geneva: the base from where Qatar pursued its World Cup bid

November 11, 2022

With the football World Cup starting soon, Swissinfo published a timely overview of Qatar’s sports washing efforts, led from its hub in Geneva,: Sportswashing the World Cup from Geneva, published on 10 November 2022

Qatar chose Geneva to launch a massive public relations campaign in a bid to secure the World Cup and impose its narrative on sports. From there, the emirate could access FIFA, United Nation institutions, heads of state and diplomats…Perched just a few hundred metres above Geneva’s exclusive Nautique sailing club in the posh Cologny neighbourhood, the sprawling residence of the Qatari ambassador to the United Nations maintains a near-level view across Lake Geneva of the UN’s European headquarters.

The acquisition of the 550-square-metre home set on over two hectares of land came a year before then-FIFA boss Sepp Blatter announced, to the surprise of many, that Qatar had won the bid for the 2022 football World Cup. Zurich-based.

..

Advantages of autocracy: The United States and the United Kingdom, which had bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups together with Korea, Japan and Australia, had long been rumoured to be among the favourites. But intense lobbying by Qatar, FIFA’s arguable penchant for supporting authoritarian rule over democracy to get the job done, and hosting in a region where the sport could still grow, all ran in the emirate’s favour. Jérôme Valcke, FIFA’s former secretary-general, admitted in 2013 that “less democracy is sometimes better for organising a World Cup”. He has since been convicted in Switzerland for accepting bribes. Subsequently, investigations in the US and Switzerland culminated in 2015 with the revelation of a massive corruption scandal at FIFA, followed by arrests of high-ranking officials and an end to Blatter’s term.

Despite winning the bid, Qatar’s reputation as a credible and transparent sports host was severely damaged. Its reputation only worsened as the country eagerly embarked on a quest to make the World Cup bid a reality. Reports by human rights groups of abuses and deaths of migrant workers building the infrastructure for the World Cup became a growing liability to the upbeat narrative the country was eager to project. 

Even before the bid, Qatar, aware of its poor international image, looked to ramp up support among sport organisations, heads of state and diplomats. It chose Geneva as a location to lead a vast public relations campaign.

This three-part investigation shows the lengths to which the emirate went to whitewash its reputation, and the role Geneva played in this marketing stunt.:

More Qatar’s Swiss hub for foreign policy This content was published on Nov 10, 2022 In choosing Geneva as a hub to implement its foreign policy, Qatar gained access to NGOs, the UN and FIFA

More ICSS: Sports at the service of state security  This content was published on Nov 10, 2022 From the start, the agenda of the International Centre for Sports Security was tainted by a lack of transparency and links to Qatar.

More Promoting integrity without transparency This content was published on Nov 10, 2022 The Sports Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) is another mitigated Qatari effort to boost its reputation.

See also earlier: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/12/if-qatar-has-to-share-world-cup-2022-fifas-ethical-standards-must-apply/

Vacancy: Legal Advisor in Business and Human Rights

November 11, 2022

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to enforcing civil and human rights worldwide. They initiate, lead and support legal interventions to hold state and non-state actors accountable for human rights abuses.

ECCHR is looking for a candidate with an interdisciplinary profile and at least two years of relevant work experience. A deep understanding of the Business and Human Rights field and the political and legal debates around the German supply chain law is essential.

A deep understanding of Business and Human Rights discussions, especially possible
interventions and legal mechanisms under human rights due diligence and supply chain laws,
in particular the German supply chain law. Excellent written and spoken German and English skills are required, Spanish or French are a plusThe position is ideally to be filled by January 2023 and is limited to May 31st 2024.

Please send your written application in German or English until by email only in one attachment by 15, November 2022 to:

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, E-Mail: info@ecchr.eu
European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights
Zossener Str. 55-58, Aufgang D
10961 Berlin
http://www.ecchr.eu
E-Mail: info@ecchr.eu

Nigerian Mubarak Bala subject of BBC documentary

November 11, 2022

A recent BBC documentary is about the challenges faced by humanists and atheists in Nigeria. The film was released this week and focuses on Mubarak Bala, reporting on the events that took place in the run-up to his unjust and disproportionate sentencing in April 2022.Mubarak, who is the President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, is currently serving a 24-year prison sentence, in connection with a series of Facebook posts that some deemed to be ‘blasphemous’ and ‘likely to cause a public disturbance’. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/08/27/mubarak-bala-wins-humanist-international-2021-freedom-of-thought-award/

Leo Igwe, Humanists International Board Member & Founding member of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, has been spearheading the campaign for his release since he was first arrested in April 2020.: “The launch of the documentary marks more than 30 months since Mubarak was separated from his family. I’m so proud of his wife, Amina, for the strength she has shown, but you can see in her interview how hard this has been for her. Perhaps the most chilling part of the documentary is when the lawyer who brought about the complaint against Mubarak simply cannot hide his pleasure at the outcome of the sentence, despite the devastating impact on the family. He says: “I really feel bad for the wife and the little son” but the smile on his face tells a very different story.”

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

Today: the people of Ukraine win this year’s European Union Prize

October 19, 2022

The European Parliament on Wednesday 19 October awarded “the people of Ukraine” its annual Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought amid the ongoing war with Russia. For more on this award and its previous laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/BDE3E41A-8706-42F1-A6C5-ECBBC4CDB449

This award is for those Ukrainians fighting on the ground. For those who have been forced to flee. For those who have lost relatives and friends. For all those who stand up and fight for what they believe in. I know that the brave people of Ukraine will not give up and neither will we,” said Roberta Metsola, the European Parliament’s head.

EU Commission chief Ursula von Der Leyen congratulated the people of Ukraine and said: “Their spirit and determination to fight for the values we hold dear is an inspiration to us all.”

At (the EU Council) we’ll focus on continuing our assistance; we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” European Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter.

Last year: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/10/21/alexei-navalny-wins-eus-sakharov-prize/

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20221017IPR43706/the-ukrainian-people-awarded-the-european-parliament-s-2022-sakharov-prize

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/ukrainian-people-awarded-eus-sakharov-prize-for-freedom-of-thought/2715666

Short message from the new High Commissioner for Human Rights: Volker Turk

October 18, 2022

On 17 October 2022 Volker Türk begun his mandate as the 8th UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/09/15/new-high-commissioner-for-human-rights-volker-turk-the-man-for-an-impossible-job/

40-year-old murder case of Dutch IKON journalists in El Salvador sees arrests, finally

October 17, 2022

On Sunday 16 October 2022 the NYT carried the news from the investigative program Zembla in the Netherlands, saying that two suspects were arrested on Friday for the murder of four Dutch journalists in El Salvador in 1982. The arrests are the first in the 40-year-old murder case. For my on personal involvement in the case, see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/09/25/murder-of-dutch-ikon-journalists-in-1982-in-el-salvador-revisted/

The arrested suspects, Defense Minister General Guillermo García and Colonel Francisco Antonio Morán, will be arraigned on Monday before a judge in Chalatenango. El Salvador has also requested the U.S. to extradite Colonel Mario Reyes Mena, another suspect in the case who is believed to be the main person responsible for the murders.

The case concerns the murder of four Dutch journalists who worked for the now-defunct public broadcaster IKON: Koos Koster, Jan Kuiper, Joop Willemsen and Hans ter Laag. They traveled to El Salvador in 1982 to report on families living in the guerrilla zone during the country’s 12-year civil war. They were ambushed and shot on March 17, 1982 by the Salvadoran army.

A 1993 UN Commission of Inquiry marked Colonel Reyes Mena as “responsible for planning the ambush and assassination,” according to Zembla. That same year, an amnesty law was passed in El Salvador, which meant that Reyes Mena could not be prosecuted in that country. The criminal investigation into the murders of the four Dutch journalists was launched in 2013 and El Salvador’s amnesty law was lifted in 2016. The result was that perpetrators of crimes during the Salvadoran Civil War can now be prosecuted.

Reyes Mena, now in his 80s, was discovered to be living in the U.S. in 2018. “The case has already been investigated, I have never been charged. You are part of a communist plan to retaliate,” Reyes Mena told Zembla journalists who confronted him about the murders.

According to Zembla, a Dutch justice is being dispatched to the Central American country to speak with the arrested suspects.

https://nltimes.nl/2022/10/16/two-arrests-made-40-year-old-murder-case-dutch-ikon-journalists-el-salvador