Posts Tagged ‘closure’

Taliban dissolves ‘unnecessary’ Human Rights Commision

May 20, 2022

Patrick Slater, from the Vermont Law School, reports in Jurist.org of 18 May 2022 that the Taliban authorities in Afghanistan announced that the country’s Human Rights Commission will be dissolved, calling it “unnecessary.”

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) was the national human rights institution of Afghanistan, dedicated to the promotion, protection, and monitoring of human rights and the investigation of human rights abuses.

The Kabul-based Commission was established on the basis of a decree of the Chairman of the Interim Administration on June 6, 2002, pursuant to the Bonn Agreement (5 December 2001); United Nations General Assembly resolution 48/134 of 1993 endorsing the Paris Principles on national human rights institutions, and article 58 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The much-honoured Sima Samar was the Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/4AEEBC97-C788-49F5-8DE1-33F7855D2192] and as of 2019, its chairperson was Shaharzad Akbar [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/46068051-7f6e-403a-9663-8286238d7d2e]

Following the Taliban capture of the country in 2021, the AIHRC has been unable to carry out its work, due to confiscation of he human rights commission’s “buildings, vehicles and computers”

Along with the Commission, four other departments were dissolved. The Taliban faces a $500 million budget deficit, and the dissolution of these agencies was deemed necessary to avert a financial disaster. In addition to the Human Rights Commission, key agencies such as the National Security Council and the High Council for National Reconciliation have been dissolved.

For other posts on Afghan human rights defenders, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/afghanistan/

https://www.jurist.org/news/2022/05/taliban-authorities-dissolve-afghanistan-human-rights-agency/

Major NGO offices in Russia now closed

April 9, 2022

On 8 April 2022, the Russian government closed the offices of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and several other NGOs such as Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, Friedrich Ebert Foundation. This decision has been taken “in connection with the discovered violations of the Russian legislation.

On 11 March, Russia’s media regulator had already blocked access to Amnesty International’s Russian-language website.

Human Rights Watch had maintained an office in Russia for 30 years. The action was announced just days after an appeals court upheld the liquidation of Russia’s human rights giant, Memorial. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/11/12/it-had-to-happen-russian-authorities-move-to-shut-down-memorial/]

Human Rights Watch has been working on and in Russia since the Soviet era, and we will continue to do so,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “This new iron curtain will not stop our ongoing efforts to defend the rights of all Russians and to protect civilians in Ukraine.”

Reacting to the news, Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said: “Amnesty’s closing down in Russia is only the latest in a long list of organizations that have been punished for defending human rights and speaking the truth to the Russian authorities. In a country where scores of activists and dissidents have been imprisoned, killed or exiled, where independent media has been smeared, blocked or forced to self-censor, and where civil society organizations have been outlawed or liquidated, you must be doing something right if the Kremlin tries to shut you up.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/04/08/russia-government-shuts-down-human-rights-watch-office

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2022/04/08/moscow-shutting-down-amnesty-human-rights-watch-in-russia-a77290

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information has shut down

January 11, 2022

On 10 Jan 2022 one of Egypt’s last independent human rights organisations has closed down, according to a statement by the group, citing government persecution. See: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/C6490073-ED93-793A-C5DB-3C931BB470D3

Egypt’s government has engaged in a widespread crackdown on dissent for years that has stifled many of the country’s civil society groups and jailed thousands

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information [ANRI], an Egyptian organisation, was founded in 2003 by a team of lawyers and activists. It documented violations against citizens, journalists and political prisoners in Egypt and the region. It also followed the increasing government intimidation and targeting of human rights workers and others. But laws that made many of ANHRI’s operations illegal have forced the organisation to shut down, Executive Director Gamal Eid said in the statement on Monday. See e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/31/egyptian-human-rights-defender-gamal-eid-assaulted/. As a lawyer, Eid represented some of the most prominent secular detainees. A court ordered his assets frozen and has banned him from travelling since 2016.

He said the group’s workers had been arrested, intimidated and physically assaulted by security forces.

We continue to be lawyers who have a conscience, and as individual, independent human rights defenders will work side by side with the few remaining independent human rights organisations, independent human rights defenders and the entire movement calling for democracy,” he wrote.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/1/10/egypt-leading-rights-group-closes-citing-government-persecution

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/egyptian-rights-group-closes-cites-government-persecution/2022/01/10/7348be54-7226-11ec-a26d-1c21c16b1c93_story.html

Russia’s Supreme Court orders closure emblematic Memorial

December 29, 2021

As feared in November (see blog post below) Russia’s Supreme Court on Tuesday 28 December 2021 ordered the closure of Memorial International, one of the country’s most respected human rights organizations, wiping out three decades of work to expose the abuses and atrocities of the Stalinist era. Memorial is the winner of at least 7 international human rights awards: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/BD12D9CE-37AA-7A35-9A32-F37A0EA8C407

The court ruled that Memorial International had fallen afoul of Russia’s “foreign agent” law. But the group said the real reason for the shutdown was that authorities did not approve of its work.

The ruling is the latest blow to Russia’s hollowed-out civil society organizations, which have gradually fallen victim to Putin’s authoritarian regime.

Videos posted on social media showed Memorial supporters shouting, “Shame, shame!” in the court’s hallways and at the entrance to the building shortly after the ruling. Seven people were detained outside the courthouse following the proceedings, according to independent monitoring group OVD-Info. The organization said three of them are believed to be instigators whose sole aim was to cause havoc, not support Memorial.

Memorial International’s lawyer, Tatiana Glushkova, confirmed the ruling to CNN and said the group would appeal the decision. “The real reason for Memorial’s closure is that the prosecutor’s office doesn’t like Memorial’s work rehabilitating the victims of Soviet terror,” Glushkova told CNN.

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia requested Memorial International be liquidated in November. The group was accused of repeatedly breaking the law for failing to mark all its publications with a compulsory “foreign agent” warning. The Justice Ministry had designated the group a foreign agent in 2016, using a law targeting organizations receiving international funding.

Memorial’s representatives argued there were no legal grounds for the group’s closure, and critics say the Russian government targeted Memorial for political reasons.

Oleg Orlov, a member of Memorial International’s board, said the court’s decision was “purely ideological” and “a demonstrative, blatant, illegal decision.”

“Allegedly, we do not assess the Soviet Union and Soviet history the right way. But this is our assessment, we have the right to do it,” Orlov told CNN.

Memorial was founded in the late 1980s to document political repressions carried out under the Soviet Union, building a database of victims of the Great Terror and gulag camps. The Memorial Human Rights Centre, a sister organisation that campaigns for the rights of political prisoners and other causes, is also facing liquidation for “justifying terrorism and extremism”. One of the group’s co-founders was Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, who went on to be the first honorary chairman of the Memorial Society.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/28/russian-court-memorial-human-rights-group-closure

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/-erasing-history—russia-closes-top-rights-group–capping-year-of-crackdowns/47222634

On 22 March 2022: https://www.rferl.org/a/memorial-appeal-denied/31765088.html

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 »