Archive for the 'MEA' Category

Save the date and come to the MEA ceremony 2022 or watch online

April 20, 2022

The Martin Ennals Award Laureates 2022 are leading architects of the human rights movement. Get inspired by their courage and unique contributions at the Award Ceremony on 2 June 2022

After a postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, registration for the Award Ceremony in person is now open. June 2nd, 18h00 at the Salle Communale de Plainpalais, Rue de Carouge 52, 1205 Geneva.

The Award Ceremony will also be live streamed on the MEA website and social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. sign up

MEET THE LAUREATES of 2022

Dr. Daouda Diallo. Burkina Faso

A fearless activist, Dr. Daouda Diallo documents human rights abuses committed in the cross- fires of Burkina Faso’s violent conflict.

Pham Doan Trang. Vietnam

A leading journalist and champion of freedom of expression, Pham Doan Trang inspires others to speak up.

Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja, Bahrain

A champion of human rights and justice, Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja galvanized a new generation of activists in the Gulf region.

THE SPEAKERS include:

Catherine Sommer, Master of Ceremony, Journalist and Producer

Alfonso Gomez. Member of the executive – City of Geneva

Nada-Al Nashif

Haute-Commissaire adjointe des Nations Unies aux droits de l’homme

Fr. Xavier Soreng SJ

Watch the press conference below to get to know the three 2022 Laureates selected by the Jury.

Breaking news: MEA laureate Yu Wensheng released

March 3, 2022

On 1 March 2022, EFE reported that Chinese human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng, sentenced to 4 years in 2020 for “inciting subversion of state power,” was released Tuesday from prison in the eastern city of Nanjing, according to a Twitter post by his wife Xu Yan. Yu Wensheng was on a train bound for Beijing according to his wife, who awaits him at a hotel in the capital.

Could it be that campaigns help? See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/02/17/campaign-to-free-chinese-human-rights-lawyer-yu-wensheng/ and https://mailchi.mp/3165601cacf1/749qlxejj6-33417?e=d1945ebb90

Yu, winner of the Martin Ennals Award in 2021 for championing human rights, had been in prison since his arrest in January 2018 while taking his son to school. See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/02/11/breaking-news-yu-wensheng-chinese-human-rights-lawyer-is-martin-ennals-laureate-2021/

During the few meetings with his lawyer, Yu has claimed to have suffered torture and mistreatment during his confinement that may have caused him to lose part of the mobility of his right hand.

Campaign to free Chinese human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng

February 17, 2022

ISHR, the Martin Ennals Foundation and eight other major human rights groups urge in a joint statement the Chinese government to ensure lawyer Yu Wensheng is able to leave Nanjing Prison on March 1st, and freely reunite with his family in Beijing.

The signatory organisations also called in the joint statement for sustained attention on the growing risks and threats his wife, Xu Yan, faces for advocating for his rights and release. 

A Laureate of the 2021 Martin Ennals Award, Yu Wensheng is a leading figure among human rights lawyers in China. He has fearlessly taken on a number of sensitive cases and issues, joining litigations on air pollution advocating for a constitutional government. See also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/69fc7057-b583-40c3-b6fa-b8603531248e

For this, the authorities revoked his legal license on 16 January, 2018. Three days later, he was forcibly disappeared, a day after publishing an open letter calling for constitutional reform. He was put on trial in secret on 9 May 2019, but his wife, Xu Yan, was only informed of his four-years jail sentence in June 2020.

Yu Wensheng is expected to leave prison in Nanjing on 1 March 2022, after being detained for 50 months, which should mark the end of his sentence for ‘inciting subversion of State power’. As early as May 2019, UN experts concluded his detention was arbitrary and called on the government to release him. Ever since, a number of government and UN experts have called for his release.

The signatories of the joint statement express grave concern that Yu Wensheng may be put under a de facto home arrest, severely restricted in his movements and communication, and unable to reunite with his family in Beijing.

Human rights lawyers have endured such restrictions upon leaving prison on grounds of a supplemental sentence of ‘deprivation of political rights’, in a phenomenon known as ‘non-release release’. In September 2019, UN experts condemned the use of this practice against lawyer Jiang Tianyong as ‘gratuitously punitive and legally unjustified’.

IThe signatory organisations urge the Chinese authorities to: 

  • Ensure that Yu Wensheng is able to reunite with his family in Beijing on 1 March, to exercise his rights to move and communicate freely, and that he is not subjected to surveillance and harassment. He must also be able to resume his legal work without restrictions;
  • Put an end to the surveillance and harassment of Yu Wensheng’s family; 
  • Guarantee in all circumstances that all lawyers in China, including human rights lawyers, are able to carry out their legitimate professional duties without fear of reprisals and free of restrictions.

You can add your own voice by filling out the form in: https://ishr.ch/latest-updates/on-march-1st-chinese-lawyer-yu-wensheng-must-be-fully-free/

Read the full statement https://ishr.ch/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Joint-NGO-statement-on-YWS_English-1.pdf

https://mailchi.mp/ishr/749qlxejj6-33409?e=d1945ebb90

FIFDH dedicates its 20th edition to Pham Doan Trang and Ida Leblanc

February 15, 2022

The Geneva Human Rights Film Festival of 2020 (FIFDH – The Festival) dedicates its 20th edition to human rights defenders Pham Doan Trang and Ida Leblanc

Journalist and blogger Pham Doan Trang has been in detention since October 2020 and was recently sentenced to 9 years in prison for “propaganda against the state”. The 43-year-old was accused by the Hanoi regime of “defaming the Vietnamese government and inventing fake news“. In one of the world’s most repressive countries towards civil society, where freedom of the press is non-existent, Pham Doan Trang – RSF 2019 Prize – has founded numerous independent media and publishing houses – including Nha Xuat Ban Tu Do or Law Magazine – and the NGO Green Trees, making her the target of a government that does not tolerate dissent. Despite intimidation, torture and repeated arrests, Pham Doan Trang is fighting to end systematic abuse of both human rights and freedom of the press in Vietnam. She won several awards including recently the Martin Ennals Award 2022. See: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/fe8bf320-1d78-11e8-aacf-35c4dd34b7ba

Trinidad and Tobago is home to more than 10,000 domestic workers, most of them without any social protection. Ida Leblanc fights daily for them to obtain rights similar to those of all workers, notably as General Secretary of the National Union of Domestic Employees (NUDE), which she founded. In 2011, the International Labour Organisation adopted the Convention on Domestic Workers thanks to Ida Leblanc’s active campaigning. Though the government of Trinidad and Tobago has never implemented the Convention, tireless Ida Leblanc remains undeterred.

She successfully campaigned for the decriminalisation of the Minimum Wage Act, giving unions the right to hear cases of non-compliance with the Act in the Labour Court. She has spearheaded many victories on behalf of low-income workers in cases of unfair dismissal, lay-offs and breaches of the Maternity Protection and Minimum Wage Acts.

She is the winner of this year’s Martine Anstett 2022 Prize, [see https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/696be661-30ac-4c6a-84d1-989aab323b65]

https://fifdh.org/en/the-festival/news/article/the-fifdh-dedicates-its-20th-edition-to-pham-doan-trang-and-ida-leblanc

For this year’s programme see: https://genevasolutions.news/peace-humanitarian/geneva-s-human-rights-film-festival-poised-for-emotional-return-to-the-big-screen
 

Martin Ennals Foundation seeking a part-time Communications Officer

February 14, 2022

On 8 February 2022, the Martin Ennals Foundation published an opening for a communication officer.

The Martin Ennals Foundation is a small organization run by a highly motivated staff, Board and Jury. At different points in the year, its work will be fast-paced, intense and challenging. The Communications Officer and Programme Officer work closely together. An entry-level position to support both communications and programmatic activities will be opened in 2022. Several interns complete the team. The Communications Officer reports to the Director of the Foundation. The Communications Officer will also have frequent contact with members of the Board, with colleagues of the Jury organisations, and with MEA winners themselves. The Communications Officer will oversee service providers to the Foundation.

JOB DESCRIPTION: The Communications Officer is responsible for formulating and leading the MEF communications strategy in support of the organisation’s mission, which includes corporate communication elements and the delivery of a high-quality outreach campaign for the annual MEA ceremony. The Communications Officer provide supervision to the Programs and Communications Associate and interns. The Communications Officer’s tasks include:

  • Designing and delivering MEA’s corporate communications, regularly adapting social media activity, our website and newsletter to Foundation activities and current events.
  • Designing and delivering an outreach strategy for the annual MEA ceremony:
    • Overseeing the production of bespoke films about MEA winners
    • Collaborating with the City of Geneva in the production of marketing material for the MEA campaign (posters, flags, banners, etc.
    • Overseeing the production and dissemination of digital social media assets (both visual and editorial content)
    • Organizing a press conference to announce the winners of the Award
    • Producing and disseminating press material and other written and audio-visual products on our website and social media channels
  • Enhancing the impact of MEF’s advocacy activities with targeted communications strategies.
  • Monitoring and evaluating the performance of the Foundation’s communication strategy and its contributions to our annual objectives.

Requirements:

  • 7-10 years of relevant work experience in a communication function;
  • Familiarity with traditional media, media monitoring and media relations;
  • Strong background in digital communications (professional knowledge with WordPress, Mailchimp, Hootsuite, Canva, Tweedeck and Google analytics an asset);
  • Fluency or professional proficiency in both English and French;
  • A degree or work experience in journalism, communications, political science, international relations, law, or relevant subject;
  • Ability to work across organizations and collaborate easily with colleagues;
  • Ability to multi-task and coordinate the delivery of tasks by junior colleagues, service providers, or peers;
  • Ability to cope with pressure and challenging work periods. Self-starters, entrepreneurs, determined and creative types are welcome to apply.

Conditions of the position

  • Indefinite term contract at 40%
  • A competitive salary
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • 25 days’ vacation pro-rata
  • Preferred start date: mid-March

To apply, please send your CV, a cover letter, and an example of your work to info@martinennalsaward.org by end of day, Sunday March 6th 2022.

Aktham Naisse no more

February 7, 2022

Aktham Naisse was a Syrian lawyer and human rights activist. He was president of the Committees for the Defence of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights (CDDL-HR), which he helped found in 1989.

He was first arrested in February 1982, when he was held for four months and tortured. In 1989 the CDDL-HR formed an underground publication, Sawt al-Dimuqratiyya (The voice of democracy). In 1991 the group called for free elections, leading to Naisse’s arrest in December 1991. In 1992 he was tried and sentenced to 9 years imprisonment in Sednaya prison. Released in July 1998, Naisse was not subsequently permitted to practice law.

In August 2003 Naisse was questioned and threatened by military security. The committee posted a public letter on the Internet, calling for the lifting of the state of emergency. On 8 March 2004 they led around 700 demonstrators in a peaceful sit-in in front of the Syrian parliament building in Damascus. Naisse and one hundred others presented the parliament with a petition against the state of emergency, signed by over 7,000 people.

On 13 April 2004 Naisse was arrested and returned to Sednaya prison. There he suffered a stroke, leaving him partially paralysed. He began a hunger strike, and was released on bail pending trial on 16 August 2004. After international appeals on his behalf, the court acquitted him on 26 June 2005.

Naisse won the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Award in October 2004and the 2005 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. [https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/96EB3030-144D-204E-3C6C-31CD4CA4501C]

Burkina Faso: Coup Puts Rights at Risk – Diallo asks military to respect international law

January 29, 2022

Burkina Faso military officers responsible for the January 2022 coup should ensure the protection of human rights and a swift transition to democratic rule, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should give priority to the humane treatment of people in custody, respect freedoms of the media and rights defenders, and ensure that counterterrorism operations respect basic rights. ..  

“The Burkina Faso military coup occurred in a country with weak democratic institutions amid a brutal armed conflict and a growing humanitarian crisis,” said Corinne Dufka, Sahel director at Human Rights Watch. “The military authorities now in control need to act urgently to protect people’s rights and ensure they don’t make a bad human rights situation even worse.”

During a January 24 news conference, the self-proclaimed Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration led by Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, announced the suspension of the constitution, the dissolution of the government and national assembly, and a nationwide curfew. The movement’s spokesperson said elections would be held “within a reasonable time frame” and pledged to respect Burkina Faso’s international commitments, notably including human rights.

The coup leaders claimed the coup took place “without bloodshed.” However, there is uncertainty about the safety of President Kaboré and his close associates, amid reports of potential injuries and deaths during the military takeover. The MPSR should publicly account for the whereabouts and condition of government officials in custody and allow the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the national human rights commission, and independent human rights monitors to visit Kaboré and any other detainees. All those detained should be promptly brought before a judge and charged or be released.

The coup occurred within the context of a marked deterioration in the country’s human rights and security situation over the past year as attacks and atrocities by armed Islamist groups surged and the humanitarian situation worsened. Burkina Faso was already struggling to ensure justice for hundreds of unlawful killings by all sides, and to uphold the civil and political rights of its population.

During 2021, armed Islamist groups killed at least 250 civilians and scores of security force members during attacks in several provinces. Since 2018, Human Rights Watch has documented that government security forces and pro-government militias allegedly summarily executed hundreds of suspects, mostly in the country’s northern regions. Virtually none of these attacks have resulted in investigations and prosecutions.

Burkinabé rights defender, Dr. Daouda Diallo, secretary-general of the Collective Against Impunity and Stigmatization (CISC), and laureate of the 2022 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, told Human Rights Watch that he hoped the military authorities would “address Burkina Faso’s deepening social divisions, and ensure crucially needed protection for all civilians at risk from conflict, while scrupulously respecting international humanitarian law.”  See also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/ca7f1556-8f73-4b48-b868-b93a3df9b4e1

The military authorities should also ensure respect for freedom of expression. In late 2021 and early 2022, the government shut down internet services in a move to quell protesters who had taken to the streets to demand an end to the violence and to protest rising food prices. A 2019 law criminalizing some aspects of reporting on security force operations dampened media freedom, with journalists reluctant to report on allegations of abuses by pro-government forces. Further, in 2021, the government implemented a de facto ban on visits by journalists to internally displaced camps. After taking power, the MPSR issued a warning against the communication of “false news.”..

Military takeovers in Africa in the past year occurred in Chad, Guinea, Mali, and Sudan. Coup leaders have often taken advantage of social unrest, grievances about corruption, and the failure of governments to respect basic rights, uphold constitutional obligations, and carry out promised reforms. Democratically elected governments need to look beyond elections as a marker of democratic progress, and focus on upholding human rights, strengthening the rule of law, and building credible, independent institutions, Human Rights Watch said…

“Burkina Faso’s military leadership should not allow the political upheaval created by the coup to lead to a vacuum in the protection of basic rights,” Dufka said. “The military authorities need to maintain discipline within the security forces and ensure that the human rights of all Burkinabé are respected, including their right to vote freely in elections.”

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/01/27/burkina-faso-coup-puts-rights-risk

Breaking News: 3 laureates of the Martin Ennals Award 2022 announced today

January 19, 2022

This morning, 19 January 2022, at a virtual press conference in Geneva three driving forces of the human rights movement were announced as the Laureates of the 2022 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. For more on the Martin Ennals Award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/043F9D13-640A-412C-90E8-99952CA56DCE

Pham Doan Trang is a leading journalist, editor and democracy advocate in Vietnam, where
the Communist Party has left little room for opposition voices to flourish. She directed several
independent media outlets to raise awareness amongst Vietnam’s citizens of their fundamental
rights galvanising many other journalists and human rights defenders to speak up. She was one
of the most hunted activists in her country before being arrested in October 2020. On 14
December 2021, Pham Doan Trang was sentenced to nine years in prison for “conducting
propaganda against the state”. There are growing concerns about her health. [see also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/fe8bf320-1d78-11e8-aacf-35c4dd34b7ba]

Dr. Daouda Diallo is a trained pharmacist-turned-human rights activist in Burkina Faso. The
founder of the civil society coalition CISC, he dedicatedly documents human rights violations in
a country rocked by violent crossfires between government forces, local paramilitary groups
and Islamist factions. He carries the torch for justice and accountability to victims of the violence
and their families. Dr. Diallo’s message of unity amongst different ethnic groups and faiths.

Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja is a charismatic architect of Bahrain’s human rights movement and
a leader of the 2011 protests calling for democracy and greater freedom in the Gulf region. Al-
Khawaja is not only an activist, but also a social entrepreneur who founded some of the first
human rights research and defence organizations in the region, which still exist today. He
inspires future generations in Bahrain to continue to fight despite his now decade-long
imprisonment. See also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/4d45e316-c636-4d02-852d-7bfc2b08b78d

You can relive the conference here: https://youtu.be/UgvIli5X-T8

It was also announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Award Ceremony is postponed until 2 June 2022. “As a city of human rights, Geneva is committed to supporting international cooperation
on critical issues. Throughout the pandemic, many organizations have persisted in their human rights
missions, demonstrating tremendous resilience. In this spirit, we are proud to co-organise another
edition of the Martin Ennals Award
”, said Member of the City Executive Alfonso Gomez. (https://www.martinennalsaward.org/committed-to-a-better-world/)

AS Chair of the Martin Ennals Award Jury, I mentioned that the Jury had selected “three galvanizers of the human rights movement and that courage is the connecting dot between them ”.

https://www.martinennalsaward.org/and-the-martin-ennals-laureates-2022-are/

Follow the Announcement of the Martin Ennals Laureates 2022 on 19 January

January 17, 2022
Webinar banner

The 2022 Martin Ennals Award Laureate Announcement will be live-streamed at a press conference, announcing the 2022 Laureates on Wednesday 19 January at 11am CET. More on this awards and it laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/043F9D13-640A-412C-90E8-99952CA56DCE

Media requests can be shared at media@martinennalsaward.org. To register, follow link below:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_C–uTIoFQAumucPTbGOeeQ

You can follow the livestreaming on the MEF website for general audience: https://youtu.be/UgvIli5X-T8

Xu Yan, the wife of Yu Wensheng, sets up a legal aid firm

November 8, 2021

The wife of Yu Wensheng, a jailed human rights lawyer, has set up a legal firm to help persons struggling with China’s justice system. Xu Yan’s husband is currently serving a four-year sentence on the charges of ‘incitement to subvert state authority.’ “My husband will be allowed to return home in around four months, but his law licence will be cancelled. This will have a significant impact on his profession as well as our family,” Yan was quoted as saying by Radio Free Asia. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/06/24/martin-ennals-foundation-reaches-out-today/] Notably, he had received the Martin Ennals Award 2021 for his work as a human rights defender earlier this year. [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/69fc7057-b583-40c3-b6fa-b8603531248e]

According to Radio Free Asia, the Martin Ennals Foundation labelled Yu “one of the best-known and most intrepid human rights campaigners” in China, noting that he had been subjected to arbitrary arrest, a secret trial, and the revocation of his law licence.

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/china/china-jailed-human-rights-lawyers-wife-establishes-legal-firm-to-help-people.html

https://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/271623682/china-jailed-human-rights-lawyer-wife-sets-up-legal-consultancy-to-help-people