Posts Tagged ‘attacks’

International Service for Human Rights publishes Annual Report

May 16, 2017

The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) has also published its annual report on 2016 (a bit confusingly called Annual Report 2017 as it also contains plans for 2017). Several chapters contain substantive information on the excellent work done for human rights defenders:

Agents of change | Empowering defenders to achieve impact (p 10)

Model Law | Groundbreaking new tool to protect defenders  (p 14)

Strange bedfellows | The role of business in protecting civil society space (p 18)

Reprisals | Ending attacks against those who cooperate with the UN (p 21)

Defending diversity | The struggle for LGBTI dignity and rights.

https://www.ishr.ch/news/supporting-defenders-achieving-change-2017-annual-report

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders wraps up his first mandate

February 22, 2017

The UN Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, has published his report (A/HRC/34/52) which covers the period of his first mandate:June 2014 and March 2017 [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/mmichel-forst-2015-hrd-rapporteurichel-forst/  ].

In his report Michel Forst, provides a detailed summary of the activities he carried out during his first mandate, including statistics and trends based on the communications that he sent to States, his visits to a number of countries, the dialogues established with the authorities of various States, and the close cooperation developed with key stakeholders in the protection of human rights worldwide. The Special Rapporteur also presents the work in progress and the challenges and issues on which he plans to focus during his next mandate. The report includes suggestions for diversifying working methods, broadening the scope of cooperation with other key actors, and enhancing the visibility and accessibility of his mandate. Human rights defenders and the promotion of their work and their protection will remain at the core of the Special Rapporteur’s work.

After spending the past three years travelling around the world and documenting the situation of human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur is more appalled than ever to see attacks against them multiplying everywhere, assailing bloggers, indigenous peoples, journalists, community leaders, whistle-blowers and community volunteers. Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur has become convinced that the incidents in question are not isolated acts but concerted attacks against those who try to embody the ideal of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in a world free from fear and want. The Special Rapporteur is concerned by the lack of response to observations that have been made repeatedly since the establishment of the mandate.

We must be bolder and more creative in order to face up to threats that weigh heavily on civil society as a whole and on every individual fighting for fundamental rights and freedoms. The Special Rapporteur has also noted that intolerance thrives in part because people know little about their rights or the role of those who protect them. In that regard, it is more vital than ever to make the language of human rights accessible to all in order to ensure that civil society continues to enforce accountability.

As defenders face unprecedented attacks intended to undermine the legitimacy, credibility and sincerity of their commitment, it seems essential to quickly establish links between the specific actions undertaken by the Special Rapporteur and the pledges made at the United Nations when he was appointed in 2014. As populist, nationalist and fundamentalist movements of all kinds multiply, the Special Rapporteur remains convinced that more can be done under his mandate and that his office must continue to serve as a watchdog, a warning mechanism and a crucial resource for thousands of people. [Here he echoes sentiments expressed by others and referred to in this blog, see e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/12/12/we-must-find-new-ways-to-protect-human-rights-defenders-and-to-counter-the-anti-human-rights-mood/ and the links to other such articles at the end of the post]

The report also identifies those areas in which, in view of the possible renewal of his mandate, the Special Rapporteur intends to become more involved so that his work remains relevant and responds as effectively as possible to defenders’ expectations.

I refer as source here not directly to the UN but draw attention to an excellent documentary service provided by RELIEFWEB:

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders (A/HRC/34/52) – World | ReliefWeb

Attacks on HRDs and Journalists in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and South Sudan

January 26, 2016

At the end of 2015, a violent series of attacks against HRDs took place in the sub-region. In Djibouti, Ethiopia, and South Sudan, state authorities have repeatedly attempted to silence journalists, human rights activists, and NGOs through detentions, physical attacks, and office raids. “2015 was an extremely difficult year for HRDs across the East and Horn of Africa, who are facing increasing challenges and worsening attacks in the sub-region,” said Hassan Shire, Executive Director of DefendDefenders. “DefendDefenders reiterates its commitment to support the work of HRDs and journalists in their struggle to promote human rights and civil liberties.”

In Djibouti, civic space is heavily restricted and on 21 December 2015, during a public gathering in Bouljougo, 27 people were killed and over 150 wounded by government forces, according to the Djiboutian human rights NGO Ligue Djiboutienne des Droits Humains (LDDH). The government responded to the NGO’s advocacy on the massacre with further attacks, and later on 21 December, the organisation’s General Secretary, Said Houssein Robleh, was shot by police forces in the throat and collarbone. [This was the second attack in December on Robleh. On 10 December 2015, Robleh was seriously beaten by the Djiboutian Chief of Police.] Upon leaving the hospital, Said Hossein Robleh and Omar Ali Ewado, one of the leaders of LDDH who had come to collect him, were arrested by Djiboutian authorities. Robleh was released shortly after, however Ewado was taken by the National Gendarmerie and held incommunicado for several days. After his appearance in court on 3 January, he was transferred to Gabode Central Prison without access to his family. He is being charged with public defamation for inciting hatred and spreading false news related to the 21 December massacre and the prosecution is seeking a 12-month sentence. On Sunday 17 January 2016, he was condemned to 3 months imprisonment. Additionally, police raided the offices of LDDH on 29 December, and the organisation archives and computer equipment was confiscated.

In Ethiopia, numerous HRDs and journalists have been targeted in the wake of the Oromo protests, which have resulted in the deaths of at least 140 protestors exercising their right to freedom to assembly. Getachew Shiferaw, Editor-in-Chief of Negere Ethiopia, was arrested on 25 December 2015 and is currently being held in the notorious Maekelawi Prison. The following day he appeared in court and a judge gave police permission to hold him for an additional “28 days for interrogation”. Fikadu Mirkana, news anchor at Oromia Radio and TV, was arrested on 19 December 2015 and is still being held. It has been reported to DefendDefenders that these arrests were the result of their coverage of the protests. In addition, two field investigators working for the Human Rights Council (HRCO), a leading Ethiopian human rights NGO, were arrested and questioned by police. At least one of the investigators was researching the Oromo protests and subsequent crackdown. They have both since been released.

In South Sudan, Joseph Afendy, Editor of El Tabeer, was arrested on 30 December 2015 for writing an article critical of the SPLM a week before. He was reportedly detained at National Security Service in Juba but has not had access to a lawyer or his family. It remains unclear if he is facing any charges. South Sudan is one of the most dangerous countries in the sub-region for journalists attempting to cover the brutal civil war.

https://www.defenddefenders.org/2016/01/djibouti-ethiopia-and-south-sudan-defenddefenders-condemns-attacks-and-arrests-of-hrds-and-journalists/

http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20160117-djibouti-prison-ligue-droits-humains-omar-ali-ewado-balbala-fidh

 

Alberto Solis Castro explains the unbalanced power of government and businesses in Mexico

November 24, 2015

On 2 November the ISHR carries an interview with Alberto Solis Castro, a human rights defender concerned with the indigenous communities in Mexico.

Read the rest of this entry »

Investigate Attacks Against Human Rights Defender Igor Sazhin and others in Russia

February 25, 2014

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Skyline_Parkway_Motel_Burned.jpg

(Photo Credit: SchuminWeb via Wikimedia Commons)

In ForceChange Avram Reisman posts an appeal to be signed asking President Putin of Russia to investigate attacks against human rights defenders. The background is that in early February 2014, human rights defender Igor Sazhin’s apartment was attacked by an unknown assailant. Video from Sazhin’s apartment building shows that the man set the rug outside his family’s apartment ablaze after dousing it with fuel. Despite Sizhan filing a complaint with the police immediately afterward, the police claim the attempted arson was not a crime and refuse to investigate. Sazhin is a founding member of the Komi Human Rights Commission, which has been consistently targeted by the ultra-nationalist group Northern Frontier. In May 2013, Northern Frontier attacked a meeting of the Human Rights Commission. In addition, they have posted the names and addresses of many local human rights defenders, including Sazhin.

The open letter asks President Putin to denounce any violent political actions as deplorable; without this official response, human rights defenders across Russia will be in implicitly acceptable targets for ultra-nationalists.

Investigate Attacks Against Human Rights Defender – ForceChange.

Office of NGO ‘Alternative’ in Ivory Coast attacked again

January 28, 2014

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped reports that on 25 January 2014 the office of LGBTI rights organisation Alternative in Côte d’Ivoire was attacked for the fourth time, and a security guard was hospitalised.  The attack is the fourth such attack in one week, and follows previous threats.  During the attack on the offices, laptops and desktop PCs were stolen and everything else in the office destroyed, including the electricity supply lines and emergency food supplies for people living with AIDS. It is reported that although members of the organisation called on the nearby police to help, the police did not come.

[On 20 January 2013, a mob attacked the home of human rights defender Mr Claver Touré, executive director of Alternative. For more information  http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/24748]

Raid on the offices of LGBTI rights organisation in Zimbabwe

June 11, 2013

On 6 June 2013 five unknown assailants wielding hammers forced entry into the Harare offices of human rights organisation Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ). GALZ is an association founded in 1990 that advocates social tolerance for sexual minorities and the repeal of homophobic legislation in Zimbabwe.  On the morning of the raid, the assailants gained entry by disguising one of their group as a mentally challenged person and driving in whilst this member threatened the security personnel at the gate with a hammer. Upon entry, the assailants forced all staff present into the Guard Room and locked them there whilst they ransacked the offices, gathering laptops, mobile phones and bags which contain sensitive information about the work of the organisation and individual members. It is believed that the incident was not a normal robbery, but an attack carried out under orders, as the assailants frequently made contact over the phone with an unknown person called ‘Machacha‘ from an unknown ‘security wing’. In a statement, GALZ said “GALZ is not taking this incident as a random act of attempted robbery but that of deliberate attack by the youth militia, acting on the orders of someone superior.” [President Robert Mugabe has in the past made some extremely homophobic comments] 

Perhaps surprisingly but mercifully, the police arrived swiftly and arrested the assailants, who have now been taken for further questioning at Harare Central Police Station. No members of staff were injured during the raid, and most of the equipment which the assailants had gathered has been returned to GALZ.Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

Front Line Defenders welcomes the swift action of the Zimbabwean police, but remains concerned about the motives behind the raid, which are possibly related to the peaceful and legitimate work that GALZ carries out in defence of human rights, particularly LGBTI rights, in Zimbabwe.

Justice for Colombia reports threats against human rights defenders

February 5, 2013

Friday, 1 February 2013 Diego Martinez, national executive secretary, and Jeison Pava of the Permanent Committee for Human Rights (CPDH), have suffered threats in the last weeks. On 16th January, an anonymous call was made to the CPDH head office in Bogota, asking after Mr. Pava, his timetable and when he would be coming and going from the office. On the receptionist’s refusal to relay this information, the caller insulted her and said “We need that head” referring to Mr. Pava. On 28th January, Mr. Martinez’ bodyguard was detained by units of the National Police. Mr. Martinez informed the police officers that this would leave him without security, however the police officers continued their operation. The police then also asked Mr. Martinez to come with them, despite having committed no crime, but he refused. One of the police officers refused to identify himself, and when Mr. Martinez went to lodge a complaint at the police station, they point-blank refused to receive his report. The same police unit has since returned to the CPDH headquarters, threatening Mr. Martinez against denouncing the crime.

On 4th July 2012, Martinez and Pava were described as military targets. Other members of the CPDH human rights organization have also been threatened in recent months, including Harry Caicedo, director of the CPDH branch in Charco, Narino, whose house was shot at in the night on 13th January, following an arson attack months before. CPDH has been requesting security measures since August 2010 and in May 2012 was granted “precautionary measures” by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. In December 2012 the government finally provided the requested security. CPDH has expressed concern that, only one month on, in Mr. Martinez’ case, state forces removed the protection they are obligated to provide.

via Justice for Colombia news: Threats and hostilities against CPDH human rights defenders.