Posts Tagged ‘Dialogue on Human Rights’

EU says no impunity for perpetrators of recent violence in Bangladesh

March 2, 2015

On 27 February bdnews24.com in Bangladesh reported that the EU delegation said – at the end of three sub-groups meetings with the government – that victims of violence must get justice. The meetings discussed issues of governance, human rights and migration, trade and development cooperation under the framework of the 2001 Cooperation Agreement.

Victims of violence deserve proper justice,” the EU said, pointing out that human rights’ is the “corner stone” of the EU-Bangladesh relations.

The EU delegation said the discussions between the Dhaka and Brussels were “open and constructive”. They exchanged views on a wide range of issues.

In particular, the need to protect the fundamental democratic rights of the people of Bangladesh was discussed, in view of the recent incidents of violence…The EU delegation also addressed the need to strengthen cooperation on democracy, governance and human rights, in particular, the implementation of the international human rights standards relating to the judiciary and freedom of expression.

Recent developments on rule of law, good governance, transparency, accountability for extrajudicial killings, freedom of the media, freedom of assembly and civil society were some of the issues of “mutual interest and concern” they discussed.

The focus of one sub-group meeting was labour rights, the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord, the situation of the Rohingyas, women and children’s rights, the death penalty and migration issues. The EU reiterated the importance of protecting human rights defenders. Bangladesh’s membership of the UN Human Rights Council should be an opportunity to work more closely with the EU on promoting and protecting human rights.

The EU and Bangladesh agreed to continue their dialogue on these issues.

via EU wants troublemakers punished – bdnews24.com.

MEA Laureate Mutabar continues to press for diplomatic action on Uzbekistan

November 7, 2014

Mutabar Tadjibayeva, MEA Laureate 2008 and now living in exile in Paris has as President of International Human Rights Association “Fiery Hearts Club” wrote an Open Letter in advance of the meeting between the French and Uzbek Ministers of Foreign Affairs in France. Here follows the full text of the letter:

Mr. Laurent Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs
37, Quai d’Orsay
F – 75351 PARIS

Members of the French Senate and National Assembly
Palais du Luxembourg
15, rue de Vaugirard
75291 PARIS Cedex 06

Dear Minister Laurent Fabius, Dear Members of the Senate and National Assembly:

In advance of your meeting with Mr. Abdulaziz Kamilov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan, we write to encourage you to urge the Uzbek government to sincerely address the serious, systematic and ongoing human rights violations of the Uzbek people, including the situation of civil society activists, religious prisoners, transparency and openness in France-Uzbekistan dialogue, the recent undemocratic initiatives of president Karimov to amend the Uzbek Constitution, and state-orchestrated forced labour of children and adults during annual cotton harvesting season.

The situation of civil society

In your meeting with Mr. Kamilov we urge you to raise the situation of imprisoned civil society activists who make up one of the most vulnerable categories of inmates in the Uzbek penitentiary system. The number of imprisoned civil society activists has remained almost unchanged for many years because of two reasons: there are not so many independent civil society activists operating in Uzbekistan because of the government’s continued repressive policy and ongoing persecutions against the activists, and in place of one released imprisoned activist the government tends to send to jail two more civil society activists. Different independent observers and international rights groups mention from 15 to 30 civil society activists who remain in prison.

Our organization has studied well the cases of at least the following civil society activists who were sent to jail under trumped up criminal cases and who are serving their lengthy prison terms: Murod, Juraev, Solijon Abdurakhmonov, Azam Farmonov, Mehriniso Hamdamova, Zulkhumor Hamdamova, Isroiljon Kholdorov, Nosim Isakov, Gaybullo Jalilov, Abdurasul Khudoynazarov, Erkin Kuziev, Ganikhon Mamatkhonov, Zafarjon Rakhimov, Yuldash Rasulov, Dilmurod Saidov and Akzam Turgunov. Whereabouts of journalist Jamshid Karimov who has been kept forcedly in a psychiatric clinic for five years and then released in 2011 is unknown. Soon after his release from the psychiatric clinic he has disappeared. His colleagues suggest he has been forcedly placed into the psychiatric clinic again.

We urge you to raise the issue of the above mentioned political prisoners in your talks with the Uzbek Minister and call on the Uzbek government to immediately release those civil society activists from prison out of urgent humanitarian concerns. But specifically we urge you to request immediate release of the following imprisoned civil society activists who are elderly and experiencing dire health problems: Murod Juraev, Dilmurod Saidov, Solijon Abdurakhmonov, Agzam Turgunov, Ganihon Mamatkhonov and Mehriniso Hamdamova. In February several human rights defenders from Uzbekistan were allowed by the authorities to visit Murod Juraev, Dilmurod Saidov, Solijon Abdurakhmonov and Agzam Turgunov in prison. The visits have confirmed their poor health conditions and lack of access to proper medical treatment in prison. The fact that the Uzbek activists were allowed by the authorities to visit the imprisoned colleagues is unprecedented but we don’t yet what underlying reasons have pushed the Uzbek authorities to do so. Nevertheless we can accept this fact as a good sign.

Ganikhon Mamatkhonov, another elderly human rights activist, who was convicted under trumped up criminal charges in 2009 to 4,5 years was expected to leave the prison on March 10, 2014 because his prison term ended. But on the eve of his release the prison administration has accused him of disobeying orders and rules of prison administration and put into a solitary confinement. Mamatkhonov has experienced heart attack three times, the last time it happened during his detention. We think the Uzbek authorities have deliberately accused Mamatkhonov of disobeying prison orders and rules and sent him to a solitary confinement in order to prolong his prison sentence. This is a popular method used by the Uzbek authorities to keep “unwanted” inmates in prison under prolonged sentences. For instance, an opposition activist Murod Juraev was convicted to 12 years in prison in 1995, but his sentences ever since been prolonged up to four years each time in 2006, 2009 and 2012. An inmate accused of disobeying prison orders and rules becomes automatically non eligible for annual amnesty acts. Mehriniso Hamdamova is a women religious scholar and activist convicted to 7 years in prison in April 2010. She has hysteromyoma and needs an urgent surgery. This type of surgery and post-surgery medical treatment can’t be provided in prison.

During your talks with Minister Kamilov we urge you to call on the Uzbek authorities to immediately release the above mentioned small group of political prisoners out of humanitarian concerns. We also take this opportunity to stress that the Uzbek authorities keep sending more civil society activists to prison under clearly trumped up charges. In 2013 Bobomurod Razzakov of “Ezgulik” Human Rights Society was sent to prison. In March 2014 two members of “Erk” political opposition party Fakhriddin Tilloev and Nuriddin Jumaniyozov were convicted to 8 years and 3 months in prison.

Religious prisoners

Under religious prisoners or prisoners of conscience we understand those inmates who are convicted for religious extremism, fundamentalism, terrorism, crimes against the constitutional system. Today religious prisoners are the most vulnerable massive group of inmates in Uzbekistan. Numerous accounts of independent observers point out that the vast majority of the religious prisoners were convicted to lengthy prison terms as a result of self-incriminating confessions extracted under torture and similar ill-treatment. Among them there are many family members and close relatives.

The government policy against religious extremism targets in most cases peaceful religious practice and is based on a primitive maxim that if there is one religious extremist in the family, then all members are automatically labeled as extremists. For most religious prisoners torture and similar ill-treatment continues even when after they are convicted and sent to prison facilities for serving their sentences. They rarely fall under annual amnesties, in most cases the authorities accuse them of disobeying prison orders and rules and prolong their sentences. Independent observers think there are from 6.000 to 10.000 religious prisoners but this data can’t be corroborated because the penitentiary system in Uzbekistan is completely closed. The issue of religious prisoners and gross human rights violations they are facing does rarely become a subject of discussions between Uzbekistan and its international interlocutors because of its sensitive character but we think France should be concerned with this issue as well if the bloc cares about the security situation and human rights in this Central Asian nation.

France – Uzbekistan dialogue

In its dialogue with the Uzbek government France should be careful to be dragged too much to different ends affected by the various views among the EU member-states. This trend could continuously affect the implementation of the EU strategy towards Uzbekistan because of the lack of precise set of benchmarks which makes independent monitoring / evaluation difficult. Moreover, we are afraid that the whole process of the dialogue between France as well as the EU and Uzbekistan has mostly been an “insiders’ game” and elite driven, neither France and the EU nor the Uzbek government have consulted members of the civil society organizations (CSOs) in Uzbekistan. Lack of public information over France’s and the EU’s strategy and relations with Uzbekistan logically leads into a virtually non-existent public awareness of it in Uzbekistan. Information on the France and the EU – Uzbekistan dialogue is kept behind closed doors meetings.

While pointing to human rights, democracy, good governance and rule of law as one of the first priority issues, senior EU officials (e.g. the EUSR and his staff) are at the same time careful in avoiding “double standards” by singling out less criticism on human rights record in Uzbekistan. This, however, from local viewpoint means that in terms of democracy and human rights even longer patience is needed as the strategy does neither pressure the Uzbek regime nor advises to ease the social tension by adopting new practices. Such an attitude merely allows Tashkent choosing among priorities what fits to their own policy path, Thus Tashkent can continue playing

its own regular role in a new framework as well: each time an important international interlocutor (e.g. the UN or EU) adopts a set of specific recommendations addressed to the Uzbek government, the Uzbek authorities respond by adopting a National Action Plan on the implementation of the recommendations. No practice changes in the end.

In advance of elections Uzbek president aims at amending the Constitution again

In advance of expected parliamentary and presidential elections in December 2014 and March 2015 Uzbek president Karimov has initiated amendments to articles 32, 78, 93, 98, 103 and 117 of the Constitution. The government controlled mass media reported about the president’s initiative on March 14, 2014 but the substance of suggested amendments to the constitutions was missing in publications. However quick analysis of the suggested amendments demonstrate that the president is most probably aiming at amending the constitution to allow himself to be appointed as a life-time president through a referendum.
Moreover, he has already used such tactic of entrenching himself in the power in the past several times during presidential elections and referendums he has himself orchestrated in the past. There is also a bad precedent in the Central Asian region – Nazarbaev of neighboring Kazakhstan has appointed himself a life-time leader through similar constitutional amendments without any hesitation several years ago.

We think the EU should be concerned seriously with such trends in the political life of Uzbekistan which further entrenches an authoritarian system in the country and further increases political uncertainty with security situation in this Central Asian nation.

Forced labor

Despite continuous international protests and criticism the Uzbek authorities keep on practicing massive state-orchestrated forced labour of children and adults during annual cotton harvest season. In the fall of 2014 as well the Uzbek authorities forced more than million of different groups of citizens, including schoolchildren, students, teachers, personnel of medical facilities, owners of small and medium businesses, to harvest cotton in abusive conditions under the threat of punishment. As in the previous years during 2014 cotton harvest season independent observers have again documented over 10 cases of death in the cotton fields of the people forced to this type of labor mainly because of failing technical and labor security standards, incidents and lack of proper medical treatment. The Uzbek authorities kept harassing local activists and journalists who tried to report on the issue.

We appreciate your attention to these matters and welcome the opportunity to discuss them with you.

Sincerely,
Mutabar Tadjibayeva
President of International Human Rights
Association “Fiery Hearts Club”

EU asked to press Laos on human rights in today dialogue

May 19, 2014

Interesting to note that this piece found its way into the Tourism Section of the Thai newspaper Phuket Wan [“This is the first site on the island dedicated especially to tourism, property, restaurants and nightlife, and jobs”of 19 May 2014. “The European Union EU must make the strengthening of bilateral relations with Laos contingent upon the Lao governments ability to make tangible progress in addressing key human rights issues, FIDH and it member organisation, the Lao Movement for Human Rights, said .” The paper then summarizes the briefing paper titled ‘Laos: The government’s failure to reform and address serious human rights issues call for EU action‘, released ahead of the 5th Laos-EU Working Group on Human Rights and Governance, held in Brussels today. [Foremost issues: rampant land grabbing and restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, association, and religion as well as a credible investigation re human rights defender Sombath Somphone.

via EU Asked to Push for Improved Human Rights in Laos – Phuket Wan

Pressure on Venezuela to stop intimidation of human right defenders

February 15, 2014

A good example of the interaction of the work of international [human rights] organisations and local media is this piece from El Universal in Venezuela under the title: “Front Line Defenders reject intimidation of human right advocates”. It mentions:

  • Front Line Defenders called for prompt and unbiased investigation into the arbitrary detention and assault of human rights activist Inti Rodríguez and defamation of Humberto Prado, a representative of non-governmental organization Venezuelan Prison Watch .
  • The UN requests inquiry into involvement of armed gangs in violent events.
  • The European Union calls for peaceful dialogue in Venezuela
  • USA asks Maduro’s government to respect freedom of expression.

via Front Line Defenders reject intimidation of human right advocates – Daily News.

WORLD HUMAN RIGHTS FORUM initiated by Brasil and to be continued in Morocco and Argentina

January 20, 2014

 

For those who think that large international human rights meetings tend to take place in the ‘western’, you should check out the programme and website of the WORLD HUMAN RIGHTS FORUM which was held in Brasilia from 10 – 13 December 2013: http://www.fmdh.sdh.gov.br/index.php/en/program [representatives from 74 countries, more than 500 different activities and over 9.000 participants].

One such activity was the seminar “Comparative experiences for the protection of human rights defenders at the international level” chaired by Luciana García, director of the Department of Defence of Human Rights, from the Brazilian Human Rights Secretariat. Luis Enrique Eguren, President of Protection International, shared the table (picture above) with experts from other organisations, such as: Andrea Rocca of Front Line Defenders, Laura Tresca of Article 19, and Michelle Morais de sa Silva, General Coordinator for Accompaniment in Projects of International Cooperation.

The WFHR is an initiative of the Human Rights Secretariat of the Presidency of the Brazilian Republic, whose main objective is to promote a space for the public debate on Human Rights in which the progress and challenges are addressed with respect for the differences and social participation, with the aims of reducing inequalities and fighting against human rights violations…The Minister Maria do Rosário, from the Human Rights Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil: “We organise this forum in Brazil because we think governments must always be opened to dialogue with civil society, precisely because this strengthens democracy …..We learn with Mandela that it is ourselves who must be the actors for the promotion of peace”.

At the closing ceremony of the World Human Rights Forum it was announced which countries will host the next events: Morocco in 2014 and Argentina in 2015.

via PI INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE WORLD HUMAN RIGHTS FORUM CELEBRATED IN BRASILIA | | Protection InternationalProtection International.

Memorandum for the African Union-European Union Dialogue on Human Rights

November 20, 2013

On 19 November Human Rights Watch published a lengthy Memorandum on priorities it wants the African Union & the European Union to address in their upcoming Dialogue on Human Rights. In view of its length I give only

HRW_logo

the headings and a reference to the full document, except of course for the section specifically dealing with Human Rights Defenders.