Posts Tagged ‘closure’

Equatorial Guinea to close down a human rights NGO

July 17, 2019

Human rights groups have condemned a decision by the government of Equatorial Guinea to close down a prominent rights NGO, the Center for Studies and Initiatives for the Development of Equatorial Guinea (CEID). The country’s Minister of the Interior and Local Corporations published a decree on 5 July, 2019 revoking official authorisation granted to the CEID, one of the few independent NGOs that expose human rights violations in Equatorial Guinea. The resolution dissolving the civil society organisation (CSO) accuses the organisation of violating its own constitution and engaging in political activities.

The dissolution of the CEID is a new low for human rights in a country that has failed for decades to respect fundamental freedoms,” said Paul Mulindwa, Advocacy and Policy Officer for CIVICUS. “The organisation’s closure is aimed at silencing independent and peaceful voices committed to defending human rights in Equatorial Guinea,”.

The CEID’s closure follows physical assaults, arbitrary arrests and judicial persecution of the organisation’s Vice President Alfredo Okenve. The move is intended to silence independent and peaceful voices committed to defending human rights in Equatorial Guinea, and has a chilling effect on human rights defenders and CSOs in the country. See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/17/equatorial-guinean-human-rights-defender-alfredo-okenve-gets-house-arrest-instead-of-award-ceremony/

The repressive environment in Equatorial Guinea is fueled by the use of violence against human rights defenders, the militarisation of the state and politics, high levels of impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of human rights violations and the use of restrictive legislation – such as law No 1/1999 on the Regime of NGOs – to restrict CSO operations. The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, rates civic space – the space for civil society – in Equatorial Guinea as closed.

CIVICUS calls on the government of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to publicly rescind the resolution, respect its international human rights obligations including commitments made recently to the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review process and create an enabling environment for civil society organisation and human rights defenders.

https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/news/3959-government-s-closure-of-prominent-human-rights-ngo-another-blow-for-fundamental-freedoms-in-equatorial-guinea

UN Human Rights Office in Burundi formally closed

March 5, 2019

As foreseen in December 2018 [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/07/final-step-burundi-closes-down-un-office/] the UN office in Burundi was closed formally on Thursday 28 February at the insistence of the Government.

It is with deep regret that we have had to close our office in Burundi after a 23-year presence in the country,” High Commissioner Bachelet said. “Since the UN Human Rights Office in Burundi was established in 1995, for many years we worked with the Government on peacebuilding, security sector reform, justice sector reform and helped build institutional and civil society capacity on a whole host of human rights issues.”..“Unfortunately, many of these human rights gains have been seriously jeopardized since 2015”…

Our reports on the human rights situation in Burundi have always been developed in a constructive spirit, intended to support the promotion and protection of human rights in the country. But I am disappointed by Burundi’s lack of cooperation in recent years with UN human rights mechanisms – which even went so far as to include threats to prosecute members of the independent international Commission of Inquiry established by the UN Human Rights Council,” High Commissioner Bachelet said.

Bachelet paid tribute to the many human rights defenders and civil society actors in Burundi who have worked with inspiring dedication, perseverance, courage and expertise through many political and social crises in the country, while noting with concern that in recent years, many of them have been detained or forced into exile.

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24254&LangID=E

Profile of Paul Mambrasar: defender of indigenous Papuans

December 28, 2015

OMCT, in its series “10 December – 10 Defenders”, carried the story of Paul Mambrasar from West Papua, the least populous province of Indonesia, where is torture used to crush and silence. Home to the world’s largest gold and third-largest copper mines, West Papua has abundant natural resources including timber and palm oil that make it a coveted region. This has generated continuing conflict and made it one of Asia’s sorest spots in terms of human rights violations. From the 1960s on, Indonesia has maintained heavy military presence, resorting to extrajudicial killings, torture and abuse to crack down on activists in an attempt to crush the Papuan independence movement, whether peaceful or violent, leaving locals deeply resentful and suspicious of the national Government.OMCT-LOGO

Indigenous Papuans marginalized in their homeland, suffer state violence and stigma, while their natural resources are exploited by others and compromise their ancestral way of living. The on-going conflict with separatists merely exacerbates discrimination against Papuans, who have been repressed by decades of institutional racism and Indonesian occupation. This is the vicious cycle of violence that Paul has to deal with in his daily fight for the respect of the human rights. “Torture worsens the distrust West Papuans have in the State which, by failing to uphold the rule of law, merely fuels more separatist sentiments,” sums up Paul, Secretary of the Institute of Human Rights Studies and Advocacy (Elsham), a non-governmental organization defending human rights in Wet Papua.

Paul’s challenging working environment is the result of decades of quasi-institutionalized abuses resulting in many layers of deep-felt and pervasive grievances of West Papuans against the Indonesian Government. He is, however, gradually managing to build networks in his country, also thanks to support from organizations such as OMCT, and gradually drawing attention to the regular violations committed.

Discrimination and marginalization of Papuan have therefore worsened the situation. Government policies have also contributed to the problem. The arrival of migrants, fostered by transmigration programmes, has upset the demographics and social and cultural heritage of the people of West Papua and exacerbated competition over land and resources. Compounded with the socially and environmentally destructive development projects pushed in the region by Indonesia, this has caused widespread social disruption and environmental damage, forcing Papuan tribal groups to relocate, according to researchers from Yale Law School cited by Elsham in a 2003 Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights session.

Unreported exactions keep occurring as foreign eyes and independent international observers are barred from West Papua. It is therefore only thanks to the work of local organizations and human rights defenders such as Paul, who runs Elsham’s office in West Papua and attends international advocacy meetings at the Human Rights Council in Geneva communicating regularly with donors, that the world can know what is happening there.

“Impunity has allowed the security force, the police and the army, free access to inflict fear and terror through torture and other physical abuses,” Paul explains his motivation. “In order for torture to end the Indonesia State must take a strong action to punish those involved in its practice.”

Despite these odds and the many challenges of his job including being under Indonesian intelligence surveillance as an “independence sympathizer”, Paul, 51, trusts that the human rights conditions in West Papua will improve.

[When the Dutch Government granted independence to Indonesia in 1949, Papua was not part of it. At the end of the Dutch colonial rule, Papua was first administered, and then absorbed, by Indonesia in 1969, following a sham “referendum” requested by the United Nations. This so‑called “Act of Free Choice” was in fact a vote by just over a thousand selected Papuans (out of a population of 800,000 at the time) who had been pressured to agree to integration within Indonesia. This vote has been the bone of contention between Papuans and the Republic of Indonesian. Papuans have ever since agitated for independence, and have been conducting a still ongoing, low-level guerrilla warfare against Indonesian forces, in turn engaged in bloody repression and unpunished human rights violations. Papuans – who are Melanesian and whose ancestors arrived in the New Guinea region tens of thousands of years ago – do not identify culturally with the Asians. They see their Papuan identity and indigenous culture based on customary subsistence-based agriculture threatened by the arrival of migrants who, in turn, see the traditional Papuan way of life as backward.]

In this context see also the CNN report on the closure of NGO offices: http://freewestpapua.org/2015/12/13/indonesian-government-forces-all-ngos-to-leave-west-papua/

— by Lori Brumat in Geneva

Source: Indonesia: Meet Paul: Restoring the human rights of indigenous Papuans amid on-going conflict / December 10, 2015 / Links / Human rights defenders / OMCT

DRC: Human Rights Defender shot and NGO office closed

May 30, 2014

The Democratic Republic of Congo remains a terrible place for human rights defenders. These two recent events reported by Front Line make it abundantly clear:

1. Attempted murder of human rights defender Mr Leonard Lusimba 

On 22 May 2014, human rights defender Mr Leonard Lusimba was shot in an attempted killing by a member of the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo – FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo). He underwent surgery on 25 May, and a second operation will be necessary in the coming days. Leonard Lusimba is the regional representative of Collectif d’Actions pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme – CADDHOM, an organisation which, since the 1990s, has worked to promote human rights and peace education in different regions of the DRC, in particular in the Eastern provinces of the country where a number of armed groups are still active.

[Over recent years, numerous Congolese human rights defenders have been killed as a result of targeted attacks. In the rare cases where serious investigations have been undertaken, they have often failed to lead to results, favouring impunity.]

2. Closure of the office of human rights organisation Solidarity for Social Advancement and Peace 

On 21 May 2014, the Congolese human rights organisation Solidarité pour la Promotion Sociale et la Paix – SOPROP (Solidarity for Social Development and Peace) was closed by the Direction Générale des Impôts – DGI in relation to an investigation into allegations of tax fraud. The DGI declared that it needed time to reach a compromise with SOPROP, and proposed a settlement to SOPROP of 20% of the amount it allegedly owed in unpaid taxes. SOPROP rejected the proposal on the grounds that there was no basis for the amount originally demanded. The same day, SOPROP brought a complaint to the local Prosecutor’s Office, which identified irregularities in the procedure and ordered that the medical centre be reopened. The office, however, remains sealed, and it is unknown when it will be reopened

[SOPROP is an organisation which, since its foundation in 1994, has supported victims of torture and other violence through medical, social and legal assistance. The organisation is also known for its activities in human rights education, particularly in schools, as well as for its investigations into human rights violations and corruption. In 2011, SOPROP had published a report on the corrupt practices of state companies in Kinshasa, which highlighted agencies of the DGI, amongst others.]

For previous posts on DRC: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/congo-drc/

Egypt and its laws on NGOs: concrete example of abuse

June 6, 2013

In a recent post I discussed problems surrounding the new law on NGOs in Egypt. In case there was any doubt on the need for a new and IMPROVED legal regime, see here what Front Line Defenders reported yesterday, 5 June:

43 NGO staff members were condemned to prison termsFrontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped Read the rest of this entry »

Crime pays in Colombia: Human rights organisation GIDH closes offices

May 30, 2013

The Grupo Interdisciplinario por los Derechos Humanos GIDH (Interdisciplinary Group for Human Rights), based in Medellín, Colombia, has announced that it has been forced to close its offices based on information that threats received by the organisation in the last months would be realised within the next hours. GIDH is a not-for-profit organisation working with victims of state violence. Front Line Defenders Read the rest of this entry »

Sudan sets tone for ‘legal’ repression of Human Rights Defenders in 2013

January 2, 2013

The new year starts with a report on Sudan where the Government is confirming a worrying trend – observed already in 2012 by several NGOs in a growing number of countries including recently Russia  – of hitting dissident voices and Human Rights Defenders with more sophisticated but equally effective measures such as stopping foreign funding or using this kind of funding as a reason to simply close the institution or revoke its license.

Based on information in the Sudan Tribune of 25 and 31 December, and Bakhita Radio of 1 January 2013 this is what happened to the Sudanese Studies Center (SSC) on Monday 25 December and hardly a week later the Al Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment and Human Development (KACE), which were forced to close.

Sudan’s ministry of information cites activities aiming to overthrow the regime and financial support from outside the country. Aiming to promote peace, democracy and diversity, KACE organized workshops on the Darfur and South Kordofan crises, elections, and South Sudan and Abyei referendums as well as projects on violence against women and youth. Many of its different activities are indeed funded by foreign embassies in Khartoum, and international foundations. KACE is also working on a project about the reform of school curriculum funded by the National Endowment for Democracy and another one related to the civil society participation in public affairs supported by the Open Society Institute.

Albaqir Alafif (director of KACE) and Haydar Ibrahim Ali  and Abdallah Abu Al-Reesh (respectively the founder and director of the SSC) have denied the government accusations against their centers saying this support is free of any political agenda and aims to promote the different activities of the organizations.

To show that the ‘old’, crude methods of repression are still functioning, Sudanese security on Monday arrested the executive director of Sudanese Studies Center Abdallah Abu Al-Reesh, following a gathering of Sudanese activists outside the National Human Rights Commission in Khartoum to deliver a memo against its closure. Abdallah’s family said security agents came in the early morning of Monday and conducted him to unknown destination. His family members said they are concerned for his health as they refused to allow him to bring his medications.