Posts Tagged ‘annual report 2021’

Norwegian Human Rights Fund: annual report 2021

May 13, 2022

The NHRF stated that 2021 has been another challenging year with numerous obstacles for human rights defenders, such as restrictive legislations, harassment, threats and attacks…
Many of our grantee partners risk their wellbeing, their security and their lives for the important work they do. They are on the front line for all of us. We particularly remember those who lost their lives this
year in the struggle for human rights. We promise to continue to work in their spirit.
For more annual reports 2021, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/annual-report-2021/

In 2021, the NHRF has supported 106 organisations in 11 countries. We hope that this annual report will give you an inspiring insight into their work in 2021. In our new 2021-25 strategy, the three strategic areas are:

1) Fight against impunity and for access to justice,

2) Dismantling discrimination, inequality and marginalization and

3) Protecting human rights defenders and the right to defend rights.

To reach our goals we work through direct financial support to human rights work, networking and capacity building and through communications, advocacy and strategic alliance building.

Voices from the ground must be heard where decisions are made. People sometimes say that they want to be ‘the voice of the voiceless’. We do not see our job as being someone’s voice. We see our task as creating and facilitating the spaces for human rights defenders to use their own voices.
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

We want to thank our donors, cooperation partners, the UN special rapporteurs we
work with, our board, our advisory board and all our followers and supporters, for the solidarity and encouragement you have provided in 2021!..Together we will prove that another
world is indeed possible.

International Service for Human Rights: annual report 2022 (2021)

May 8, 2022

The last 18 months have been deeply challenging from a human rights perspective, with the COVID pandemic exposing and exacerbating inequalities, human rights defenders continuing to face deadly threats and choking restrictions to their work, and some governments working to undermine the accessibility and effectiveness of human rights mechanisms and multilateral processes.  But it’s also been a period over which sparks have been lit on key issues which we must now nurture and ensure fires of progress that long burn bright. 

ISHR invites you to discover our latest annual report, outlining our key impacts during the last year and our vision for 2022 and the years ahead.

What did we achieve in 2021?

Here are just a few examples of our collective impact:  Together with human rights defenders fighting racism, we celebrated the establishment of a historic expert mechanism to advance racial justice and equality in law enforcement, as well as a commission to inquire into the root causes of conflict and violence against the Palestinian people. Together with defenders promoting women’s rights, we were inspired by the widespread mobilisation and calls for accountability in cases of sexual harassment and assault, as well as the release from arbitrary detention of a number of prominent women human rights defenders. Together with defenders working on the environment and the climate crisis, we commended the landmark recognition under international human rights law of the right to a healthy and sustainable environment, as well as the mandating of a new UN Special Rapporteur on Climate Change. Together with defenders working to make governments accountable, we rejoiced in seeing an increased number and diversity of persons prepared to speak up and take action against widespread and systemic violations in States including China, Egypt, Nicaragua, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, while in other States in Africa, Asia and Latin America progress was made in the legal recognition and protection of defenders. See more achievements by clicking on the two videos below and visiting our website!

For other annual reports of 2021, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/annual-report-2021/

Announcing the launch of its 2022 Annual Report

3 May 2022 – World Press Freedom Day: a lot to report

May 7, 2022

This day is one on which the world stands still to think about press freedom and journalists who are persecuted. I want to start with some quotes from an excellent piece in the Economist on 2 May by Indian reporter Rana Ayyub who wonders whether plaudits such as “brave” normalise their persecution:

When a journalist is killed or incarcerated or assassinated, obituaries scream bravado, editorials claim courage. Have such plaudits normalised the persecution of journalists? Why does a journalist have to be brave to report facts as they are? Why does she need to be persecuted for her story to reach the world? Consider Gauri Lankesh, Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jamal Khashoggi—all journalists with a profile, all brazenly killed in broad daylight. Their murders dominated the front pages of international publications. But their killers, men in power, remain unquestioned not just by the authorities but often by publishers and editors who develop a comfortable amnesia when meeting those in power. They do not want to lose access to them.

“Journalists are the new enemy of the state; we are going through one of the toughest phases in the history of the profession. We document the truth at a time marked both by a voracious demand for news and by the persecution of minorities, genocide and war crimes. We witness savage attacks on minorities in India, Myanmar, China, Palestine or Ukraine even as bumbling editors still frame arguments and narratives through the prism of “‘both sides”. For example attacks on Palestinians, even during Ramadan, are often referred to as “clashes”. Despite one side having grenades thrown at them, and pelting stones in defence, the lens of the mainstream media remains firmly aligned with the oppressor. In India attacks on Muslims by Hindu nationalists often are reported as “riots” or “clashes”, too. The distinction between oppressor and oppressed can be blurred as convenient“….

Journalism was never a nine-to-five profession. We knew it was an unconventional calling, and one where we might not leave the office for days, or where our families might have no communication from us as we report on crucial investigations, wars and undercover operations. Journalism schools taught us the ethics of our profession, but they did not warn us about nervous breakdowns, or about spending more time in courtrooms than newsrooms. We owe it to the next generation of journalists to create a safer environment in which to work. They should fear only the distortion of truth, never reporting the truth itself.

At the Global Conference for World Press Freedom Day, May 2-5 in Uruguay, DW Akademie hosted a panel on digital authoritarianism. International media experts (Nanjala Nyabola, Laís Martins, Vladimir Cortés Roshdestvensky and Annie Zaman) discussed fighting disinformation and censorship.

Digital authoritarianism – when governments assert power and control information using digital tools and the internet – disrupts journalism and can endanger reporters and human rights defenders.

 UNESCO Logo World Press Freedom Day Conference 2022, Uruguay

Regardless of recognition of press freedom under international legislations and under state constitutional provisions, the attack on journalists and ultimately on access to information remains a growing concern. According to the UN, 55 journalists were killed in 2021, while 62 of them were killed in 2020. A number of global networks of journalists have led the work of advocating press freedom and provide a platform for journalists to fight such state and non-state actors in unison.

Mid-day.com lists some of the major networks: https://www.mid-day.com/amp/lifestyle/culture/article/press-freedom-day-five-global-journalist-networks-that-advocate-press-freedom-23225560

Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI)

The NWMI is a network of over 600 women journalists across India providing a space or a forum for women in Indian media to come together and share information, exchange ideas, discuss media ethics and promote gender equality in media. The collective aims to provide a holistic system to support women journalists in terms of space, resources and access to justice in case of rights violations. It also works for getting recognition, fair pay and decent working conditions for women independent journalists in the country. https://nwmindia.org/

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

IFJ is a Paris-based organisation representing as many as 6,00,000 media professionals across 140 countries. The collective works to strengthen labour rights of journalists and advocates for their fair pay, decent working conditions and gender equality in media recruitment at a global level. One can access records and data documented by IFJ through their campaigns focusing on violence against journalists, impunity to the perpetrators and countries where media freedom is curbed through state laws or private entities.

https://www.ifj.org/who/about-ifj.html

Reporters Sans Frontiers or Reporters without Borders (RSF)

With 115 correspondents across the world, RWB is a non-profit organisation started by four journalists and headquartered in Paris. RWB is known for its annual Press Freedom Index, one of the most credible indicators of the status of media freedom in over 180 countries of the world. In addition to this, RWB also tracks censorship activities and various kinds of abuse that journalists are subjected to and communicates the information in five different languages. RWB works in cooperation with international rights based organisations to further recommendations to the state in order to provide legal and material resources for journalists and advocate their safety as media personnel.

https://rsf.org/en/who-are-we

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

CPJ is known for its Global Impunity Index analysing the state impunity provided to murderers of journalists in democracies as well as in war-torn countries. As an independent and non-profit organisation based in New York City, CPJ documents attacks on journalists and the subsequent press freedom violations and works with the state actors to provide rapid response assistance, legal support and other resources to journalists in danger.

https://cpj.org/news/

Article 19

Article 19 mainly works to improve access to information, protect the civic spaces to discuss and dissent and strengthen human rights in the digital space too. Its key areas of work include information, censorship, gender and sexuality, freedom of religion and belief, equality and hate speech and media freedom among others. In line with its objectives to create a safe space for free flow of information, the organisation channelises its resources for the protection of journalists and human rights defenders. Article 19’s annual Global Expression Report and GxR metric provides a detailed picture of the condition of freedom of expression across the world. https://www.article19.org/about-us/

Media Defence

Media Defence’s focus lies on providing legal advice, support and resources to journalists, independent journalists and citizen journalists, who are under threat for their reportage and enable them to carry out reporting on issues of larger public interest. An international human rights organisation, in addition to documenting cases, it also intervenes to provide legal recourse to the journalists undergoing trial. https://www.mediadefence.org/legal-resources/

And of course – marking World Press Freedom Day, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published their 2022 World Press Freedom Index that indicates a two-fold increase in polarization exacerbated by information disorder — that is, media polarization fuelling divisions within countries, as well as polarization between countries at the international level. See: https://rsf.org/en/index

Within democratic societies, divisions are growing as a result of the spread of opinion media following the ‘Fox News model’ and the spread of disinformation circuits that are amplified by the way social media functions,” the watchdog said in a statement.

At the same time, the disparity between open societies and autocratic governments that dominate their media and online platforms while waging propaganda campaigns against democracies is eroding democratic institutions around the world. Therefore, the polarization on different levels is fuelling increased tensions, according to RSF.

Assessing the state of journalism in 180 countries and territories worldwide, the World Press Freedom Index showed how the crisis in the world reflects on the media.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/03/world-press-freedom-day-2020-a-small-selection-of-cases/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/04/world-press-freedom-day-2020-a-few-more-links/

https://www.economist.com/by-invitation/2022/05/02/rana-ayyub-says-we-should-stop-calling-journalists-brave

https://www.dw.com/en/world-press-freedom-day-panel-how-to-counter-digital-authoritarianism/a-61554434

https://www.mid-day.com/amp/lifestyle/culture/article/press-freedom-day-five-global-journalist-networks-that-advocate-press-freedom-23225560

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16279-2022-world-press-freedom-index-warns-on-news-chaos-media-polarization

State of human rights in Pakistan 2021

May 7, 2022

On 2 May 2022 – for the 30th year – the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has put forward its review of the state of human rights in the country and the measures that should be taken to reduce human rights violations in the country. The main takeaway from the report is that there were blatant and unrelenting attempts to crack down on dissent, with at least nine journalists having faced harassment in an attempt to silence them in their work. As happens every year, violence against women took every possible form: from rape to domestic abuse to horrific murders to honour killings. The report has noted that 478 honour killings were reported in the country in 2021, although the number is almost certainly much higher with many never reaching the press, and over 5000 cases of rapes were reported by the media. Overall, violence in the country appeared to have increased quite dramatically. The HRCP has especially noted the case of Nazim Jokhio, and the mob lynching of Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara in Sialkot. These are but just a few examples of the disturbing trend of increased violence in the country. Just a few months back, research had revealed how many of these cases of violence are perpetrated by young people. The past few years we have watched in horror as Pakistani society has increasingly grown more violent — bringing nightmare-inducing optics straight to our phones. This is a direct result of the extremist tendency prevalent in society, an inevitable consequence of consistent state policies.

The report has also noted the way the previous government used ordinances to push through laws, some of them highly detrimental to freedom of expression. The HRCP has also noted that religion was used multiple times over the years to try and stop various acts of legislation from being passed. One of the most difficult issues human rights defenders in Pakistan have faced over a number of years has been that of missing persons or enforced disappearances. In 2021, says the HRCP, the highest number of enforced disappearances was reported to have been in Balochistan, with the government having failed to resolve concerns of families of the missing despite sit-ins in Islamabad.

From missing persons to the Gujjar and Korangi nullah evictions to sectarian violence to violence against transgender persons — the HRCP’s State of Human Rights 2021 is a timely reminder to the current government that it must do better on all these counts and more. It is on the Shehbaz Sharif led government to ensure that media freedom is upheld, there are no more arbitrary anti-journalism laws, and journalists are not harassed for doing their jobs. The incumbent government must not make the mistake of taking human rights issues lightly during its tenure. This report card on human rights by the HRCP comes out every year but each successive government has failed to take suggestions from rights activists seriously. It is hoped that with a change in government there will finally be a change in how citizens’ rights are treated and that all citizens from all communities and regions in the country can feel safe and less vulnerable to injustice and state or non-state violence.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/02/12/asma-jahangir-memorial-lecture-at-second-anniversary-of-her-death/

The Chair of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) is Hina Jilani.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/954916-state-of-human-rights
https://www.latestly.com/agency-news/world-news-address-human-rights-violations-seriously-hina-jilani-to-pak-government-3654179.html

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) 2021 Annual Report

May 1, 2022

In the face of the multiple crises of our time, ECCHR continues to stand for human rights and climate justice. To outline the scope of our aims, Joshua Castellino, a member of the ECCHR Advisory Board, authored a piece for its Annual Report that clearly emphasizes how we must think collectively about the future. For us, “collectively” means that our actions as human rights lawyers are to be guided by global solidarity and cooperation.

In her series Contagion – Colour on the Front Line (whose pieces she and the Autograph Gallery allowed us to reproduce in this report), Aida Silvestri uses cocoa, tea, tobacco, sugar and coffee to draw a connection between colonial exploitation and those who were carelessly exposed to danger during the pandemic while providing largely low-paid services with almost no protection.

This post follows other references to annual reports 2021: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/annual-report-2021/

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2021 ProtectDefenders.eu Annual Report

April 20, 2022

“The Human Rights Movement at a Crossroad”

On 14 April 2022, ProtectDefenders.eu published its 2021 annual report:

Throughout 2021, the EU human rights defenders mechanism, ProtectDefenders.eu, has delivered life-saving support and multi-faceted assistance to nearly 8,700 of the most at-risk human rights defenders and grassroots human rights organisations around the world – 23% more than in 2020. The EU HRD mechanism’s strategic, flexible, and efficient support has mitigated the ravages suffered by the human rights defence community last year, amid the pervasive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the most critical global and geopolitical environment for human rights defence work reported since the creation of ProtectDefenders.eu in 2015.

Despite this extremely adverse situation, ProtectDefenders.eu has continued to mobilise protective support to individuals at risk, and to provide comprehensive assistance to organisations and movements confronting security threats. The support of ProtectDefenders.eu has helped human rights defenders and grassroots human rights groups to strengthen their resilience and protection globally, particularly in the most difficult contexts, making a significant contribution to their ability to continue their work.

Last year, the activities of the EU HRD mechanism have been impacted by an unprecedented increase in requests for urgent materially protective support from defenders and communities: ProtectDefenders.eu has had to respond to, among other severe crises, the dismantling and repression of civil society in Belarus, the consequences of the coup d’état in Myanmar on civil society and HRDs, and the collapse of Afghanistan as the Taliban took over its government. Thus, significant efforts were made to reach these most difficult countries and the most at-risk groups of defenders, who have absorbed an unprecedented level of the support delivered by the EU HRD mechanism. See also; https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/28/the-eu-human-rights-defenders-mechanism-a-short-overview/

In a quickly evolving context, creative and flexible solutions and adaptations have been implemented, and this year the consolidation of the ProtectDefenders.eu consortium has given rise to new spaces to explore the privileged positioning of the EU HRD mechanism in the international community in support of defenders. This is illustrated by the launch of the first HRD resettlement stream by the government of Canada in partnership with ProtectDefenders.eu, the articulation of a comprehensive response in Afghanistan through new programmes in partnership with the EU, and the steps taken towards a more comprehensive and collective approach to advocacy on issues of common interest.

ProtectDefenders.eu has continued to provide a comprehensive, holistic and effective emergency protection for HRDs at the greatest risk, including 24/7 support, and to invest in the resilience and capacity of human rights organisations to continue their work in adverse environments – notably through lifeline and core-funding grant-making to local actors, including communities defending rights. ProtectDefenders.eu has also ensured that international temporary relocation capacities remain operational and accessible for HRDs and members of their families, and has taken a significant step in strengthening regional relocation structures through the Shelter Initiatives program. Furthermore, and despite the prevailing limitations created by the pandemic, capacity-building activities have continued to provide access to knowledge about reinforced protection strategies for the community of defenders. Similarly, ProtectDefenders.eu has strengthened its support to individual HRDs and NGOs through its reactive and protective advocacy work to HRDs at risk through urgent interventions, reports, and related proactive steps, mobilising the international community in an effort that has led to multiple success stories throughout the world.


This coordinated implementation, coupled with a holistic and complementary approach between partners, actions, strategies, and programmes, continues to step up the practical support available to HRDs at risk and local human rights NGOs in a timely and comprehensive manner; the vast majority of HRDs accessing ProtectDefenders.eu’s support have reported enhanced security and protection, and highly positive outcomes. Although the extreme situation in 2021 has pushed the mandate and resources of the EU HRD mechanism to the limit, ProtectDefenders.eu has managed to maintain and generate a consistently noticeable and positive impact on the HRD community at highest risk.

The 2021 ProtectDefenders.eu Annual Report is introduced by Victoria Fyodorova, a woman human rights defender from Belarus, Jamila Afghani, a WHRD from Afghanistan, Josep Borrell, Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, and Maria Arena, Chair of the European Parliament’s subcommittee on Human Rights.

Click to read and download the 2021 ProtectDefenders.eu Annual Report

EU’s Report on Human rights 2021

April 20, 2022

On 19 April 2022 the EU published its 2021 report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World.l

INTRODUCTION: In 2021, in a context characterised by a prevailing global pandemic and a sustained trend of rising authoritarianism, the EU stepped up its work to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law across the world and strengthened its tools.

On the eve of the Human Rights Day on 10 December 2021, the EU launched the Global Europe Human Rights and Democracy programme [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/12/17/eu-launches-a-e1-5-billion-6-year-plan-to-promote-human-rights-and-its-defenders/].

This annual report on human rights and democracy monitors the implementation of the EU Action Plan by presenting the progress achieved to date.

One landmark achievement is the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EUGHRSR). In 2021, the EU adopted restrictive measures targeting persons and entities from China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Libya, South Sudan, Eritrea and Russia, involved in serious human rights violations and abuses. The EU imposed sanctions in the case of Alexei Navalny’s arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as sanctions against the Wagner group and its members. In December, the Council adopted a decision prolonging for one year the existing sanctions.

Throughout the year, the EU took the lead in UN human rights fora on initiatives aimed at addressing human rights violations and abuses in Afghanistan, Belarus, Burundi, DPRK, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Myanmar. The first EU strategic dialogue with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in October 2021 was an opportunity to share updates on global human rights issues, to discuss priorities and to build a stronger partnership for more effective multilateralism and rules-based international cooperation. As a staunch advocate of multilateralism, the EU also remains vigilant in the defence and advancement of universal human rights and the integrity and functionality of the global human rights system.

Pursuing its political priority towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, the EU reinforced its ambition through the implementation of the EU Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in the EU External Action 2021-2025 (GAP III). The EU remained committed to preventing and combatting all forms of gender-based violence and engaged as an Action Coalition leader in the Generation Equality Forum, as well as in the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies.

In 2021, the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child5 was also adopted. It was developed with contributions from over 10,000 children and proposed new actions to support children and contribute to the protection and promotion of their rights.

In 2021, the EU further expanded its concrete support to civil society organisations and human rights defenders, especially environmental, land and indigenous peoples’ rights defenders, women human rights defenders and labour rights defenders, who remained under severe pressure around the world. The 23rd EU-NGO Human Rights Forum organised on 7-8 December 2021 focused on ‘Rebuilding better: a human-rights based recovery from the pandemic’. The EU Human Rights Defenders Mechanism ProtectDefenders.eu (EUR 35 million for 2015-2022) has supported nearly 53,000 human rights defenders at risk and their families since its launch in 2015. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/02/28/eu-by-far-biggest-funder-of-human-rights-defenders/]

In a global context of democratic backsliding, supporting democratic electoral processes remained a cornerstone of EU engagement worldwide. Despite the restrictions linked to the pandemic and political and security circumstances, in the second half of 2021 the EU successfully deployed Election Observation Missions to Zambia, Kosovo, Iraq, Venezuela, Honduras, and The Gambia.

Download document (PDF | 3.31 MB | Report of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy)Download document (PDF | 3 MB | Country Updates)

US State Department’s report 2021 is out

April 14, 2022

On 12 April, 2022, the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices was made public. The Human Rights Reports 2021 cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements. The U.S. Department of State submits reports on all countries receiving assistance and all United Nations member states to the U.S. Congress in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Trade Act of 1974. For nearly five decades, the United States has issued the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, – in 2021, covering 198 countries and territories.  The preface states that: “The Biden Administration has put human rights at the center of U.S. domestic and foreign policy.  We have also recognized our nation has not always succeeded in protecting the dignity and rights of all Americans, despite the proclamations of freedom, equality, and justice in our founding documents.  It is through the continued U.S. commitment to advance human rights, both domestically and internationally, that we best honor the generations of Americans who are Black, Brown, or other people of color, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, LGBTQI+ persons, immigrants, women and girls, and other historically marginalized groups whose advocacy for their rights and for others has pushed America toward a “more perfect union.

President Biden has called the defense of democracy and human rights the defining challenge of our time.  By convening the first Summit for Democracy in December 2021 – bringing together representatives from 100 governments as well as civil society and the private sector – he sparked global attention and vigor toward democratic renewal and respect for human rights.  Participating governments made significant commitments to revitalize democracy at home and abroad at the first Summit on which we expect meaningful progress during the current Year of Action and before the time of a second Summit.

The reports paint a clear picture of where human rights and democracy are under threat.  They highlight where governments have unjustly jailed, tortured, or even killed political opponents, activists, human rights defenders, or journalists, including in Russia, the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, and Syria.  They document abuses of peaceful protestors demanding democracy and fundamental freedoms in countries such as Burma, Belarus, Cuba, Hong Kong, and Sudan.  They highlight worrying cases of transnational repression – where governments reach across borders to harass, intimidate, or murder dissidents and their loved ones – as exemplified in the dangerous forced diversion by Belarus of an international commercial flight for the sole purpose of arresting a critical independent journalist.

But they also contain signs of progress and glimmers of hope, as the indomitable will to live freely can never be extinguished.  In Iraq, people cast their votes to shape the future of their country in more credible and transparent parliamentary elections than in 2018.  In Botswana, a court advanced the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons by upholding the decriminalization of same-sex relations.  In Turkmenistan, all imprisoned Jehovah’s Witnesses conscientious objectors to military service were pardoned, a win for freedom of religion or belief.  The stability, security, and health of any country depends on the ability of its people to freely exercise their human rights – to feel safe and included in their communities while expressing their views or gender, loving who they love, organizing with their coworkers, peacefully assembling, living by their conscience, and using their voices and reporting from independent media to hold governments accountable.  There is much progress to be made, here in the United States and globally.  But I know that by working together in the Year of Action and using resources like the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, we can come closer to building a world where respect for human rights is truly universal.

In a reaction on the report human rights activists focused on China said theat they want the State Department to reboot the report’s format to address documentation blind spots and connect it to policy and initiatives to stop the violations and provide accountability for victims.

“It’s a descriptive, objective document but largely of human rights developments that had been already extensively reported by the media, by NGOs, and by human rights bodies within the UN and in many cases at greater detail and length. … It is essentially a recap,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of the New York City-based nonprofit Human Rights in China. “Since it appears to take quite a bit of resources to produce each year, I’d say that going forward, they reference and aggregate some of the developments within three very important, bigger trends like digital authoritarianism, [foreign] influence operations, and [China’s] growing extraterritorial reach.” [from https://www.politico.com/news/2022/04/13/china-activists-state-dept-human-rights-00024876]

https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/embed/#?secret=ICAePzAuB5#?secret=IVCGC9q7rK

Annual Report Amnesty 2021 is out

March 29, 2022

The human rights organisation looks back on 2021, “a year of dashed hopes“. According to Amnesty International, the digital sphere is increasingly becoming a space for activism — and repression.

Despite promises and pledges to the contrary, at almost every turn, leaders and corporations opted for a non-transformative path, choosing to entrench rather than overturn the systemic inequalities behind the pandemic. Yet, people the world over have made it abundantly clear that a more just world, grounded in human rights, is what they want

Agnès Callamard SG AI

Here is how Deutsche Welle summarized it:

Every year, Amnesty International looks at developments around the world and compiles an analysis of the most important global trends in human and civil rights. In its latest annual report, Amnesty Middle East and North Africa research and advocacy director Philip Luth says: “2021 was a year of really quite significant promises. … The reality was completely otherwise.”

There had been hope that the world might emerge from the pandemic equitably, Luther told DW, but richer countries in particular have prevented the widespread manufacture and distribution of vaccines. The annual report cites the facts: Fewer than 8% of the 1.2 billion people in Africa were fully vaccinated at the end of 2021 — the lowest rate in the world and far from the WHO’s 40% vaccination target…..The study also found that many governments have used the pandemic to suppress opposition and civil society. “It’s across regions and that’s one of the reasons we highlighted it in our global analysis,” Luther said. “Some governments very specifically used the smoke screen of the pandemic to restrict freedom of expression.” Examples of countries where protests have been broken up and human rights defenders are at risk include Cambodia, Russia, China and others.

According to Amnesty and other international organizations, the pandemic is also having an effect on civil society. “There are various strategies that are making it increasingly difficult for civil society to operate in different regions of the world,” Silke Pfeiffer, head of the department for human rights and peace at the Christian-affiliated aid organization Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World), told DW. “This is quite specifically directed at individual activists, who are discriminated against, threatened, persecuted and in some cases murdered.” In many countries, Pfeiffer said, governments cultivate a hostile environment. “It becomes increasingly difficult for civil society organizations to work,” she said. “That goes as far as the closure of NGOs; we see that again and again.” To cite just one example: In late March, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega had 25 nongovernmental organizations closed. One of them is the Nicaraguan partner organization to Brot für die Welt.

Governments and NGOs are increasingly doing their work online. Luther describes the development as a “double-edged sword.” Authorities clandestinely use technology in ways that have a negative impact on people’s human rights, he said: “Governments in many cases were also then trying to shut down and disrupt tools that enable civil society to better communicate with each other and spread information.”

Amnesty International’s annual report cites multiple examples of this: the internet shutdown from August 4, 2019, to February 5, 2021, in the India-controlled regions of Jammu and Kashmir; the use of facial recognition technology at protests in Moscow; and the use of Israel’s Pegasus spyware against journalists, opposition figures and human rights activists. Pfeiffer said the internet was an important way for civil society to organize and mobilize. But she added that, around the world, “governments and other actors have completely upgraded digitally and are now also taking very strong action against freedom on the internet — through censorship, by shutting down internet services, through mass surveillance.”

Across the world, Amnesty noted, people took to the streets to fight for their rights and the rights of others in 2021 — in Russia, India, Colombia, Sudan, Lebanon and at least 75 other countries. in the words of AI Secretary General: “The palpable and persistent resistance offered by people’s movements the world over is a beacon of hope. Uncowed and undaunted, theirs is a clarion call for a more equal world. If governments won’t build back better – if they seemingly are intent on building back broken – then we are left with little option. We must fight their every attempt to muzzle our voices and we must stand up to their every betrayal. It is why, in the coming weeks, we are launching a global campaign of solidarity with people’s movements, a campaign demanding respect for the right to protest. We must build and harness global solidarity, even if our leaders won’t.”

She also said:

Global trends to stifle independent and critical voices gathered steam in 2021 as governments deployed a widening gamut of tools and tactics. Human rights defenders, NGOs, media outlets and opposition leaders were the targets of unlawful detention, torture and enforced disappearance, many under the smokescreen of the pandemic.

At least 67 countries introduced new laws in 2021 to restrict freedom of expression, association or assembly. In the USA, at least 36 states introduced more than 80 pieces of draft legislation limiting freedom of assembly, whilst the UK government proposed the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would drastically curtail the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, including by expanding police powers.

Global trends to stifle independent and critical voices gathered steam in 2021 as governments deployed a widening gamut of tools and tactics. Human rights defenders, NGOs, media outlets and opposition leaders were the targets of unlawful detention, torture and enforced disappearance, many under the smokescreen of the pandemic.

At least 67 countries introduced new laws in 2021 to restrict freedom of expression, association or assembly. In the USA, at least 36 states introduced more than 80 pieces of draft legislation limiting freedom of assembly, whilst the UK government proposed the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would drastically curtail the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, including by expanding police powers.

https://www.dw.com/en/amnesty-international-2021-was-the-year-of-broken-promises/a-61285728

Civil Rights Defenders’ Emergency Fund gives insight over 2021

March 18, 2022

Zinaida Muradova, Head of Rapid Response at Civil Rights Defenders

Defending human rights has become increasingly dangerous in many parts of the world. Many of those who do, face numerous risks and threats on a daily basis. When a threat towards a human rights defender escalates, Civil Rights Defenders’ Emergency Fund provides rapid assistance to strengthen the defender’s security as quickly as possible. 

On 7 March 2022 it provided a breakdown of its use. The fund can, for example, provide legal aid or temporarily relocate people who suffer persecution, as well as provide preemptive efforts such as security trainings and digital security solutions. In 2021, the fund supported a total of 1421 human rights defenders in 30 countries. 

Emergency support doubled in 2021

In 2021, Civil Rights Defender’ Emergency Fund has received and processed the largest number of applications since the inception of the fund in 2012. We have supported a total of 1.421 Human Rights Defenders (HRD:s) and/or members of their families at risk through a total of 171 grants in 30 countries. The number of applications and granted support have thus both doubled compared to 2020.  

The world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place for human rights defenders, which is a significant explaining factor behind this increase. The CRD Emergency Fund has seen and reacted to the global backsliding of democracy and a number of emerging conflicts in 2021. The aftermath of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the military coup in Burma, the spring protests in Colombia, the witch-hunt on civil society in Belarus, the civil war in Ethiopia and the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan are only a few of the conflicts that have deteriorated the security situation for human rights defenders in 2021. Many human rights defenders cannot continue their work for human rights and democracy without the support of the outside world.

Although the number of applications has doubled, so has the number of Emergency Fund applications granted. This increase is much thanks to the additional resources that Civil Rights Defenders has been able to put into processing fund applications. 

We are humbled to have been able to support so many human rights defenders in 2021. The need for emergency support is greater than ever, with the war in Ukraine the number of applicants is likely to keep increasing in the immediate future”, says Zinaida Muradova.

Emergency support to Burma and Asia has significantly increased in 2021, although the majority of human rights defenders who received emergency support continued to be from Africa. Additionally, the Emergency Fund continued to expand its global reach in five more regions – Eurasia, Europe, Africa, Latin America and MENA. In total, support was provided to human rights defenders in 30 countries during the course of 2021. 

Further advancing gender sensitivity 

The Emergency Fund continued to build on gender work started in 2019 to ensure a good gender balance and representation amongst the beneficiaries of support. We have been working to increase the accessibility of the mechanism for the most vulnerable groups. We see an improvement in gender balance, for example the percentage of non-conforming people supported doubled compared to 2020.

An increasing demand for legal aid and psychological support  

Despite the Covid 19 pandemic and continued strict restrictions on travel around the world, temporary relocations, where human rights defenders can reside safely for a short period, remained by far the most requested type of support in 2021. The majority of relocations were related to the major crises in countries mentioned above. Requests for preventive security measures to improve home, office or digital security, such as installing security cameras or digital security software, remained to be in high demand as well. Many HRD:s needed so called combined interventions, meaning a combination of several of the above mentioned support types. 

In 2021 The Emergency Fund has seen a noteworthy increase in requests for humanitarian and psychological support. Many HRDs also request legal aid due to an increasing trend of arbitrary arrests and charges.

Democracy and human rights cannot be achieved without human rights defenders. Through the Emergency Fund we ensure that they feel safe enough to continue their work which ultimately helps ensure that the fight for democracy can continue worldwide”, says Zinaida Muradova. 

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/12/11/civil-rights-defender-of-the-year-award-2020-goes-to-naw-ohn-hla/