Posts Tagged ‘defamation’

Malaysian Home Minister: Human rights defenders are “wolves in sheep’s clothing”

August 21, 2017

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has criticised human rights defenders today, accusing them of defending criminals instead. While launching his book on the Prevention of Crime Act (POCA) 1959 today, the deputy prime minister reportedly alleged critics of the law often masquerade as human rights defenders. “They defend crime syndicates. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing,” he was quoted saying by news portal Malaysiakini. “They claim to defend human rights, but in court, they defend criminals accused by the authorities.”
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has put forth a definition of human rights defenders, two days after the deputy prime minister called them “wolves in sheep’s clothing who protect criminals”. Suhakam chairman Razali Ismail said such individuals were people who work towards the realisation of rights and freedoms contained in the Federal Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments through non-violent means. “The efforts of human rights defenders contribute to positive societal change and play an important role in the establishment of the rule of law. “They certainly cannot be said to be defending crime syndicates and criminals,” he said in a statement today.

Source: Home Minister: Human rights defenders siding with criminals in court | Malaysia | Malay Mail Online

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/home-minister-human-rights-activists-defend-criminals#uREoQ0H4g4AhbZYU.99

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/08/17/suhakam-human-rights-defenders-do-not-protect-criminals/

DW Freedom of Speech Award goes to Turkish ′Hürriyet′ journalist Sedat Ergin

June 10, 2016

The Deutsche Welle (DW) Freedom of Speech Award 2016 goes to Turkish ‘Hürriyet’ journalist Sedat Ergin. The DW prize is awarded annually to journalists who stand out in their fight for human rights and free speech. The award ceremony will on 13 June 2016 at the Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany. Read the rest of this entry »

What Wikileaks reveal about Saudi Arabia’s methods against human rights defenders

June 23, 2015

On 22 June Ms. Samar Badawi, via the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia [MHRSA], tells how the government fabricated stories to explain to the USA its travel ban on human rights defender Waleed AbuAlkhair. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/saudi-arabian-human-rights-lawyer-waleed-abu-al-khair-wins-ludovic-trarieux-prize/]
He already was portrayed as an atheist, working for foreign agendas, receiving foreign funding, etc. Now, in one of the leaked WikiLeaks cables of the Saudi Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Interior tries to justify its preventing Waleed AbuAlKhair from traveling to attend the Democratic Leaders Program sponsored by the US State Department. After the Saudi ambassador in Washington received a call from the US Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Saudi Ministry of Interior fabricated a story that Waleed is facing a family suit because of his marriage and his conversion from Sunni to Shiite Islam. None of this was mentioned in court, when he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for demanding constitutional monarchy, and the establishment of two human rights organizations.
for more information: samar.badawi1@gmail.com

Chief Registrar of Kenya promises action on 15,000 human rights complaints

March 4, 2015

Judiciary chief registrar Anne Amadi gestures while she appeared before PAC to shed light on the spending of the judiciary on June 10, 2014.pic\file

Judiciary chief registrar Anne Amadi on June 10, 2014.pic\file
If true, the news in The Star of 3 March 2015 is good news for human rights defenders in Kenya. The chief registrar Anne Amadi said that the judiciary is set to prosecute more than 15,000 cases on human rights violations across the country, adding that the backlog and delay of cases over the years have greatly affected administration of justice, especially affecting human rights defenders.

It is very unfortunate that the judiciary has never had clear policy frameworks to urgently deal with cases surrounding human rights violations and defenders,” Amadi said. Importantly, she added that the State has for years viewed human rights defenders’ pleas as criticisms and unpatriotic, hence used threats and physical surveillance to intimidate the human rights champions.

Amadi was speaking during the launch of a report on the situation of human rights defenders in Busia, Kwale and Marsabit counties.

Judiciary to prosecute 15,000 human rights cases, says Amadi | The Star.

Russia: The Supreme Court rejects a lawsuit filed against “Memorial”

February 9, 2015

On  6 February 2015, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, an OMCT-FIDH joint programme, welcomed the decision of 28 January of the Russian Supreme Court to reject the complaint filed by the Ministry of Justice against the Society “Memorial”.

[Since its foundation in the final years of the Soviet Union, the network “Memorial”, consisting in a number of independent NGOs under the same society, is known for exposing Soviet-era repression, commemorating victims of violations and monitoring the current human rights situation in the Russian Federation and other post-Soviet countries.]

The complaint filed by the Justice Ministry, was a clear attempt to harass and discredit the Society “Memorial”, undermine its tremendous human rights work and expeditiously lead to its closure. It followed years of harassment, in the form of defamation through slandering media campaigns and acts of vandalism targeting the group’s headquarters in Moscow.Russian civil society organisations are facing a deep and systematic clampdownsaid OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock.OMCT-LOGO

[Human Rights Center “Memorial” is currently fighting a separate battle against an official move to label it a “foreign agent” under the controversial law targeting NGOs that receive foreign funding. Moreover, under a newly proposed piece of legislation, currently debated in the State Duma of the Russian Federation, foreign organisations would face being labelled as “undesirable” and closure and local NGOs engaged in cooperation with such bodies would face criminal charges.]

While the decision of the Supreme Court dismissing the complaint against the Society “Memorial” should be welcomed, we remain deeply concerned by the constant threats to human rights defenders in the Russian Federation in the context of an ever increasing repressive legal framework and frequent attacks targeting human rights defenders”, said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.

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The Observatory recalls in this context the recent brutal attack on lawyer Mourad Magomedov, who works with the Human Rights Centre Memorial in Daghestan, by five unknown men in Makhachkala, Dagestan.

Russian Federation: The Supreme Court rejects the lawsuit filed against the renowned Historical, Educational, Human Rights and Charitable Society “Memorial” (Society “Memorial”) / February 6, 2015 / Statements / Human rights defenders / OMCT.

2014 Annual Report Observatory: Land Rights defenders are the forgotten victims of unbridled development

December 2, 2014

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The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (joint programme of OMCT and FIDH) has, since 2013, launched more than 500 urgent interventions on more than 60 countries. Its 2014 Annual Report came out today in the context of the 3rd UN Forum on Business and Human Rights and focuses on “land rights defenders” who are increasingly the target of repressive measures. The pressure on land has become unbearable and mobilisation for the respect of the economic, social and cultural rights of affected communities has become a high risk activity.

Between 2011 and 2014, the Observatory documented 43 assassination cases targeting land rights defenders and the judicial harassment of 123 defenders, sometimes together with their arbitrary detention. These figures only reflect a small fraction of the real picture. All regions in the world are concerned, Asia and Latin America being the most affected. The Observatory found that authors of repression are often the police, the military, private security agents and “henchmen”. Their objective being to silence dissenting voices likely to slow down investment projects.
In addition to violence, numerous States also use judicial harassment and arbitrary detention to intimidate defenders. Thanks to laws that violate fundamental freedoms or in violation of their own laws, they jail any person deemed to be a nuisance. “Terrorism”, “misleading propaganda”, “infringement to State security”, “public unrest”, there are many abusive charges which can result in heavy prison terms.
Land rights defenders are often powerless when they face physical attacks and arbitrary arrests. According to the Observatory, 95% of violations against them remain unpunished today. Judicial bodies in countries where such violations occur are characterised by a lack of independence, resources and expertise. Regarding the possibility of prosecuting business corporations responsible for human rights violations, the legal battle – if any – is often lengthy, perilous, unequal and costly.
At the heart of the problem lies the issue of the participation of individuals and communities affected by the development policies and investment projects. The Observatory calls for meaningful consultations that ensure the direct participation of populations affected by the projects and the recognition of land rights defenders as the legitimate spokespersons in order to prevent conflicts and put an end to serious human rights violations. Furthermore, it is necessary to strengthen the capacity and independence of domestic judicial systems, including in States hosting the headquarters of business corporations, in order to allow defenders to access justice and seek redress in the event of human rights violations.
The Observatory also recommends to strengthen international law in order to trigger effectively the responsibility of business corporations when the latter commit human rights violations and to guarantee the adequate protection of land rights.
The full report under the title “We are not afraid”: https://wearenotafraid.org/en/

Chechen President Kadyrov tries to intimidate Joint Mobile Group

March 6, 2014

Igor Kalyapin – as President of the Joint Mobile Group [JMG] – is recipient of the 2013 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders [http://www.martinennalsaward.org which contains an excellent short film on his work] as well as the 2011 Front Line Defenders new MEA_logo with textFrontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - croppedAward [http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/16876].   In spite of this, he is continually subjected to a defamation campaign, the most recent incident taking place on 25 February 2014, at a meeting of the Civil Chamber of the Chechen Republic, where the Head of the Republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, accused Igor Kalyapin of being a “traitor of the nation” and a man who defends “bandits and drug addicts” and “promotes his personal interests”.

On 25 February 2014, Ramzan Kadyrov further accused the human rights defender of using human rights work to make a career. Kadyrov stated that there are ‘real’ human rights defenders in Chechnya and that the Republic does not need ‘Kalyapins’. This statement was broadcast by the state TV channel Vainakh. Kadyrov went on to list cases which are being investigated by Igor Kalyapin and the JMG (such as Islam Umarpashaev and Ruslan Kutaev – more information on these cases on: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/.)

Humberto Prado Sifontes in Venezuela falsely accused by Minister

April 10, 2013

On 8 April 2013, the Minister for the Prison Services, Ms Iris Valera, accused prominent human rights defender, Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes, of instigating violence within the country’s prisons ahead of upcoming elections on 14 April. Humberto Prado Sifontes is the Director of the Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones – OVP (Venezuelan Prisons Observatory) which documents cases of violations against persons in detention in Venezuela.

At a press conference at her office,the Minister stated that on 3 April Humberto Prado Sifontes had met with the families of prisoners in the Comunidad Penitenciaria de Coro. The Minister accused the human rights defender of planning protest actions within prisons all over the country, beginning with hunger strikes before escalating to blood strikes, where prisoners self-mutilate in order to bring attention to their situation. She alleged that Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes quickly departed from the Plaza and went to the Diocesan of the Archbishop when he noticed the presence of officials from the Ministry of Prison Services who were there to investigate what was going on. She claimed to have found evidence for these plans in the notebooks of a prisoner. Minister Valera also linked the human rights defender to two unrelated incidents; one in which five women tried to smuggle grenades into the same prison, and a foiled escape attempt at the Metropolitan Prison Yare II in Caracas. Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes was in fact in Coro to participate in two conferences organised by the University of Falcón. When the families of the prisoners heard of his presence in the State, they arranged to meet him in order to give him photographic and video evidence of torture in the prison.

In 2009 Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes was the winner of the Canadian Embassy in Venezuela’s first human rights award. Front Line Defenders has previously issued appeals to protect him in his peaceful and legitimate work on behalf of prisoner’s human rights in Venezuela. Given the political climate in the run-up to elections in Venezuela, Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned that statements such as those made by the Minister could lead to reprisals against the human rights defender, up to and including physical attack.  Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

‘Cry Emirates’: Abu Dhabi goes after Human Rights Defenders

July 18, 2011

Today, Monday 18 July, the trial against five pro-democratic activists re-opens in Abu Dhabi’s Federal Supreme Court. The five activists are Ahmed Mansoor, an engineer, blogger and member of Human Rights Watch Middle East advisory committee and ANHRI’s (Arab Network for Human Rights Information); Nasser bin Ghaith, an economist, university lecturer and advocate of political reform; and three online activists Fahad Salim Dalk, Ahmed Abdul Khaleq and Hassan Ali al-Khamis. They are all accused of “publicly insulting” the UAE president and other top officials (as Article 176 of the UAE Penal Code makes it a crime to publicly insult the country’s top officials, its flag or national emblem; offenders can be sentenced to five years imprisonment). The UAE government is obviously using defamation as a pretext to prosecute activists for peacefully expressing their opinions.

The four NGOs are:  Amnesty International, ANHRI, Front Line and Human Rights Watch. They have called jointly on UAE authorities to release immediately the five activists and drop all charges against them.