Posts Tagged ‘digest of human rights awards and laureates’

Emirates’ claim to improve its legal system are nonsense

June 7, 2022

Human Rights Watch on 5 June 2022 published a detailed piece showing that wide-ranging legal changes introduced by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in late 2021 fail to address the long-standing and systematic restrictions on citizens’ and residents’ civil and political rights. The new laws maintain previous provisions and include new ones that pose grave threats to fundamental human rights.

As reported by the state news agency WAM in November, the legal changes include amendments to over 40 laws including on crime and punishment, cybercrimes, and drugs, aiming “to strengthen economic, investment and commercial opportunities, in addition to maximizing social stability, security and ensuring the rights of both individuals and institutions.” While the changes allow for a moderate broadening of personal freedoms, the new legal framework retains severe restrictions on the rights to free expression, association, and assembly.

While the UAE government and its state-controlled media outlets trumpeted these new legislative changes as a massive step forward for economic and social freedoms, they will further entrench government-imposed repression,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The UAE government has chosen to squander an opportunity to improve freedoms across the board and instead has doubled down on repression.”

Human Rights Watch conducted a comprehensive legal analysis of two of the new laws, the crime and punishment law and the cybercrimes law, to identify any changes related to the rights to free expression and free assembly. Both laws went into effect in January 2022.

The laws continue to prohibit criticism of rulers and speech that is deemed to create or encourage social unrest, imposing severe penalties for vaguely defined charges. They maintain provisions that criminalize defamation and both verbal and written insults, whether published or made in private, as prosecutable offences. New provisions criminalize “false” and “misleading” information, sharing information with foreign groups or countries, and “offending foreign states.” Protests and demonstrations would still be prohibited.

UAE authorities have also spied on international journalists, activists, and even world leaders using sophisticated Israeli and EU-produced spyware, or with the help of former US intelligence officials. Some of those whose communications and devices were targeted by the government surveillance and who are residents of the UAE, were subsequently arrested and abused in detention. Among them is the prominent Emirati human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/08/29/apple-tackles-iphone-one-tap-spyware-flaws-after-mea-laureate-discovers-hacking-attempt/]. A UAE court sentenced Mansoor to 10 years in prison in May 2018 following a grossly unfair trial, partly based on private email exchanges and WhatsApp conversations. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/11/05/massive-call-in-support-of-ahmed-mansoor-at-his-50th-birthday-how-can-emirates-remain-deaf/ and https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/074ACCD4-A327-4A21-B056-440C4C378A1A

The UAE authorities should take immediate steps to bring the penal code and cybercrime law into line with international and regional standards on free speech and individual freedoms, Human Rights Watch said. The UAE has not ratified the ICCPR, article 19 of which outlines the right to freedom of opinion and expression. But it is a state party to the Arab Charter on Human Rights. Article 32 of the Arab Charter ensures the right to information, freedom of opinion and freedom of expression, and article 24 guarantees the right to freedom of political activity, the right to form and join associations, and the right to freedom of assembly and association.

The UAE cannot market itself as a reformist and tolerant state while introducing new laws that increase its already alarming levels of repression and censorship,” Page said….

The piece further provides a detailed analysis of penal and Cybercrimes Law.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/06/05/uae-sweeping-legal-reforms-deepen-repression

SHIFT’s new Chair is former High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

May 20, 2022

Shift, the centre of expertise on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, announced the appointment of HRH Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein as the new Chair of its Board of Trustees. He served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014-2018, as well as Jordan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, and as the first president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), among other leadership roles.

He is currently the CEO and President of the International Peace Institute and the Perry World House Professor of Practice of Law and Human Rights at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. He is also a member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights, first established by Nelson Mandela in 2007. He has been recognized globally and received 5 human rights awards, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/8ec8e85a-66ba-404c-b82e-720ebf044549]  

Prince Zeid succeeds Shift’s late founding Chair, Professor John Ruggie, author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. [See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/09/28/in-memoriam-john-ruggie-father-of-business-and-human-rights/]

On taking up the role of Shift’s Chair, Prince Zeid said:  

The unanimous endorsement of the Guiding Principles in 2011 represented a watershed moment in changing the understanding of companies’ responsibility for the negative impacts that business activities can have on people. For a decade now, Shift has worked relentlessly to embed the ethos of the UNGPs in the way business gets done, with the focus where it must always be – on delivering better outcomes for the most vulnerable workers and communities. I am delighted to take up the role of Chair of Shift’s Trustees at a time when we see so much growth in the appetite and need for the organization’s work and leadership, not least as regulators, legislators, investors and financiers become more attuned to their own roles in incentivizing rights-respecting business practices, including as an essential component of a Just Transition to carbon neutral economies. I look forward to working with the Board and the management team to seize these growing opportunities to deliver on the promise of the UN Guiding Principles.”

For the past three years, Shift has worked closely with Prince Zeid in strategic partnerships to advise global sports bodies––including the International Olympic Committee and the Féderation Internationale de l’Automobile ––on their responsibility to respect human rights under the UN Guiding Principles.

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/

Polish Border NGO Granica receives 2022 Zabel award

May 20, 2022

Human Rights First announced that it will present Grupa Granica with the William D. Zabel Human Rights Award 2022 in recognition of its commitment to human rights at the Poland-Belarus border.

For more about this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/984CA015-FE02-4992-8AED-4EB1AEC7D0EE

Grupa Granica are front-line human rights defenders working at a flashpoint for human rights and freedom of migration,” said Michael Breen, president and CEO of Human Rights First. “We hope that Human Rights First’s presentation of the William D. Zabel Award provides additional recognition to the importance of their work and helps to stem this humanitarian and geopolitical crisis.

Formed in 2021 in response to the humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border, Grupa Granica is an informal network of Polish NGOs, activists, and inhabitants of the border region that provides humanitarian, medical, and legal aid to migrants stranded in the forests there.  They monitor the situation on the ground, provide assistance to people searching for missing family members, document human rights violations and educate Polish society on the situation at the border.

Our network was formed in August last year in response to the humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border. It consists of local inhabitants, activists, NGO staff, doctors, lawyers, interpreters, psychologists, public figures and many others working hand in hand to save the lives of migrants stranded at the border,” says Marta Górczyńska of Grupa Granica.  “This prestigious award sends a clear message to the public that despite the recent attempts by the Polish authorities, providing humanitarian aid and defending human rights must never be criminalized. We hope it will also make it more difficult for the international community to turn a blind eye to the violations at the border.”

The 2022 award will be officially presented to Grupa Granica on June 8. 

For last year’s, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/05/27/william-zabel-human-rights-award-2021-to-philippines-ngo-karapatan/

https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/human-rights-first-present-poland-s-grupa-granica-2022-william-d-zabel-human-rights

Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech Award 2022 to two Ukrainian journalists

May 10, 2022

DW Freedom of Speech Award 2022

Ukrainian visual journalist and novelist Mstyslav Chernov and photojournalist Evgeniy Maloletka are this year’s DW Freedom of Speech Award laureates. For more on this and other awards for press freedom, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/b9e2c660-8e41-11ea-b31d-31ce896d8282

Mstyslav Chernov and Evgeniy Maloletka have a way of reporting that is painful to read and watch, but what really hurts is the truth that their reporting conveys: Russia brutally attacking Ukraine, and thereby Ukrainian civilians, under a fabricated pretense. While there are nuances to every story, there is no way facts can be negotiated. This is exactly what the Kremlin is doing: Distorting facts, spreading misinformation,” said DW Director General Peter Limbourg. “

The journalists, who both remain in Ukraine to continue their coverage of the war, welcomed the news about receiving the DW Freedom of Speech Award as an acknowledgment of their work. The award ceremony will be held on June 20 as part of the DW Global Media Forum.

AP journalist and novelist Mstyslav Chernov and freelance photojournalist Evgeniy Maloletka are both from eastern Ukraine. Previously, their reports and footage from the conflicts in Crimea and eastern Ukraine have been published in various international media, including BBC, Deutsche Welle, The New York Times, Washington Post, Der Spiegel and others. As a war reporter in several conflict zones such as Iraq or Syria, Chernov has been wounded multiple times. Before the war, Maloletka had also been working on a project about the Hutsul community in western Ukraine, their traditions and daily life, and on the impact of the conflict in the Donbas. Evgeniy Maloletka is a freelance photojournalist based in Kyiv.

The report “20 days in Mariupol: The team that documented city’s agony” offers a unique account of Mariupol under Russian siege, with Chernov and Maloletka being the last journalists in the city before their evacuation. They documented the city’s first deaths at the city hospital of Mariupol and the attack on the maternity ward with pregnant women and children in it, as well as numerous bombings. During this work, the journalists themselves were under constant attack and took great risks only to find a steady connection to upload their footage of the siege, bringing it to the attention of the international community. They were evacuated by Ukrainian soldiers to avoid them falling into the hands of Russians, who had been hunting them down.

AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Julie Pace: “Mstyslav and Evgeniy were the world’s eyes and ears in Mariupol, producing courageous and compelling reporting as the only international journalists inside the besieged city. The harrowing realities of Russia’s war would have remained unseen without their bravery. We are extremely proud of their work.

See also: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/9/pulitzer-prize-board-honours-courage-of-ukrainian-journalists

https://www.dw.com/en/dw-freedom-of-speech-award-2022-goes-to-ukrainian-journalists-mstyslav-chernov-and-evgeniy-maloletka/a-61638608

2022 Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent

May 10, 2022

On 3 May 2022 the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) announced the three recipients of the 2022 Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent.

The 2022 laureates are: professional basketball player and human rights advocate Enes Kanter Freedom, Iranian artist project PaykanArtCar, and Ukrainian-born Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova. This year’s laureates will receive their awards on Wednesday, May 25, during the 2022 Oslo Freedom Forum.

Enes Kanter Freedom is a professional basketball player and vocal advocate for human rights. Since the start of the 2021 NBA season, he has used his global platform to consistently raise awareness of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s human rights abuses. Using his basketball shoes as the canvas for his messages, he wore multiple artistic designs highlighting issues such as the Uyghur genocide, the occupation of Tibet, slave labor at the Nike shoe factories, and the intolerance of China’s dictator. As a result of his creative dissent, he is now banned from China and was dropped by both the Boston Celtics and the Houston Rockets, despite being only 29 years old and in the prime of his career. Freedom’s perseverance has captured the attention of international media and informed millions of sports fans about the global struggle for individual rights in places like Tibet and the Uyghur region. At a time when professional athletes display incessant hypocrisy, unlimited greed, and double standards, Freedom emerges as the moral conscience of professional basketball. Freedom first came to international attention as an outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, making him a target of Turkey’s government — he was deemed a “terrorist” by the regime, stripped of his passport, and was publicly disowned by his family. In late 2021, he changed his name and added “Freedom” as his official last name. See: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/525e5018-7f56-4009-85b8-3f3cce9a8810

The PaykanArtCar unites the talents of contemporary Iranian artists in the diaspora with a beloved symbol of Iranian national pride — the Paykan automobile — to advocate for human rights in Iran. The car used was once gifted by Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran to the Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu, and was purchased at an auction to serve as the canvas for artwork by Iranian artists in exile. Each year, PaykanArtCar commissions an exceptional Iranian artist-in-exile to use the car to capture the Iranian struggle for human dignity and basic freedoms. The inaugural PaykanArtCar was designed by Alireza Shojaian and features a historic Persian design with a provocative message about the brutality and ruthlessness faced by the marginalized and oppressed LGBTQ+ community inside Iran. The PaykanArtCar represents brave, creative dissent against the human rights abuses of Iran’s theocratic dictatorial regime. The PaykanArtCar will travel to Norway to be present at the Oslo Freedom Forum as part of Human Rights Foundation’s Art in Protest exhibit and will be parked at the event venue. The second edition of PaykanArtCar will be painted by a female Iranian artist and will advocate for women’s rights in Iran.

Marina Ovsyannikova is a Ukrainian-born Russian journalist and activist, who staged a live protest against the war in Ukraine during a news broadcast of Russian state TV. Ovsyannikova was a longtime editor at Russia’s Channel One, where her job was to assist those engaged in disinformation to be distributed to the Russian people. After thinking through ways in which she could protest, she chose to interrupt a live broadcast, holding a sign calling for “no war.” Following her demonstration on live TV and a subsequent anti-war video, Ovsyannikova was held overnight in a police station, denied access to a lawyer, and ultimately fined 30,000 roubles — she disappeared without contact for more than 12 hours. The Kremlin denounced her protest as “hooliganism,” and Ovsyannikova faces up to 15 years in prison under Russia’s disinformation laws. In a recent article, she expressed profound regret for her years as a participant in “the Russian propaganda machine” where her job was to create “aggressive Kremlin propaganda – propaganda that constantly sought to deflect attention from the truth, and to blur all moral standards,” she says: “I cannot undo what I have done. I can only do everything I possibly can to help destroy this machine and end this war.”

For more on the Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/438F3F5D-2CC8-914C-E104-CE20A25F0726

New “Kofi Annan Courage in Cartooning Award” to Ukrainian and Hungarian press cartoonists

May 10, 2022

Geneva Solutions of 3 May 2022 reported on the first issue of the Kofi Annan Courage in Cartooning Award. This is in fact a merger of two pre-existing awards for cartoonists [for more info, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/f60cb3d4-c79a-43aa-9b5c-351c56c02ae1]

The conflict in Ukraine with all these absurd symbols (Vladimir Kazanevsky for Nebelspalter)

Ukrainian Vladimir Kazanevsky and Hungarian Gabor Papai were announced as the winners of the Kofi Annan Courage in Cartooning Award at a ceremony at the Maison de la Paix in Geneva and presented by the Freedom Cartoonists Foundation. Jury : Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch (president), Sami Kanaan, City of Geneva and cartoonists Ann Telnaes (USA), Kak (France) and Chappatte (Switzerland). The portraits below were done by True Heroes Films (THF)

Vladimir Kazanevsky

Vladimir Kazanevsky, Ukraine’s leading cartoonist, was working in his studio early in the morning of 24 February when he heard loud explosions near the airport in Kyiv. He and his wife fled to western Ukraine, along with a huge wave of families fleeing the bombings. From there they went to Presov, a town in Slovakia with a community of artists.

Deprived of his drawing materials, catalogues and books, which he had to leave behind in Kyiv, Kazanevsky continues to draw relentlessly: Putin in action, on a tank or on the bow of the Titanic. “Autocrats and dictators are afraid of our cartoons, and they are right, because our drawings are powerful weapons,” he says.

Fiercely determined to continue the fight against Russian aggression, the 71-year-old sees his work as an act of resistance. An act of defence of freedom of expression against war propaganda.

Gábor Pápai

For several years, Hungarian cartoonist Gàbor Pàpai and his newspaper Népszava – the only opposition daily still alive in Budapest – have been the subject of attacks and legal proceedings by the authorities – even though Hungary is part of the European Union.

This cartoon, “The Chronicle” by Gábor Pápai, published in Hungary’s daily newspaper Népszava on 28 April shows the Hungarian National Public Health Centre’s chief doctor looking at Jesus on the cross and suggesting that many people who had deceased from the coronavirus had already been likely to die because they had suffered from pre-existing conditions.

It was intended to ridicule Hungary’s chief health figure for having tried to minimise the number of deaths solely attributable to the coronavirus in Hungary and, by extension, to mock the government’s handling of the crisis.

“Its depiction and use of Jesus on a cross sparked an outcry from the representatives of the Christian Democrat Party, an ally of the ruling Fidesz, to the point that the Secretary of State for persecuted Christian communities, Tristan Azbej, accused Gábor Pápai of blasphemy and threatened to sue him or Népszava,” as Reporters Without Borders, who came to the defense of Papai, explains.

The Catholic religion, the fight against Covid or simply Hungarian history are all pretexts for prosecution in a country ranked 92nd in the world press freedom index by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). This shameful ranking has been deteriorating ever since Viktor Orbán became Prime Minister, putting all independent media in great difficulty. Some, like Népszava, are directly threatened with extinction. Gàbor Pàpai, far from being intimidated, continues to critically observe and draw all political actors in Hungary.

Read more about the 2022 laureates

https://genevasolutions.news/global-news/ukrainian-and-hungarian-press-cartoonists-collect-award-in-geneva-view-a-gallery-of-their-wo

https://www.kofiannanfoundation.org/articles/world-press-freedom-day-2022/

RFK Human Rights Award 2022 goes to two Cameroonians

May 9, 2022
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Logo (PRNewsfoto/RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights)

On 5 May 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights announced Cameroonian human rights defenders Maximilienne C. Ngo Mbe and Felix Agbor Nkongho (Balla) as the 2022 recipients of its annual Human Rights Award. A ceremony honouring the two laureates will take place Tuesday, 7 in Washington, D.C.

For more on the RFK Human Rights Award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/69FD28C0-FE07-4D28-A5E2-2C8077584068.

A Cameroonian human rights defender with over 30 years of experience, Ngo Mbe is Executive Director of the Central African Human Rights Defenders Network (REDHAC). Since 2010, she has led REDHAC in its efforts to promote civic space and protect fundamental freedoms throughout Central Africa through investigations of human rights abuses, advocacy before regional human rights bodies, monitoring of democratic processes, and demanding state accountability. She was previously named an International Woman of Courage in 2021 by the U.S. Department of State [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/03/09/state-department-hands-out-21-international-women-of-courage-awards-2021/] and received the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law in 2016.

Receiving the RFK Human Rights Award 2022 still feels like a dream,” said Ngo Mbe. “I am humbled by this recognition and dedicate it to my family, my colleagues at REDHAC, the members of the REDHAC Board of Directors, in particular Me Alice Nkom, and the Human Rights Defenders who have been my source of strength over the years. I look forward to working alongside Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights as we continue our struggle for justice, human rights, and peace in Cameroon and Central Africa.

Nkongho is a Cameroonian lawyer and human rights defender. He is the director of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) and a leading advocate for human rights of Cameroonians in the conflict-stricken Anglophone region. Nkongho’s work focuses on the promotion of democracy, good governance, access to justice, and rule of law. His reputation as a devoted human rights defender is evidenced by his tireless work for human rights in Cameroon and throughout Africa, despite state sanctioned pushback, including his arbitrary detention in 2017. In 2019 he won the African Human Rights Defenders Shield Award.

When I got news of the award, I was staring at portraits of my late parents and crying tears of joy. This is the best gift I could ever offer them, and I am sure they will be celebrating in heaven,” said Nkongho. “I am truly honored, and I sincerely thank Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights for considering me worthy of this award. It is dedicated to all those who advocate for the promotion and protection of human rights, to all the human rights defenders who continue to put their lives and liberty on the line to fight against injustice.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/10/29/haitian-guerline-jozef-wins-robert-f-kennedy-human-rights-award-2021/

https://rfkhumanrights.org/awards/human-rights-award-2022.

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/robert-f-kennedy-human-rights-announces-2022-human-rights-award-laureates-301541320.html

EU finally moves on law to protect media from legal abuse (SLAPPs)

April 28, 2022

I have devoted posts to this important issue before [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/strategic-lawsuits-against-public-participation-slapps/]. Let us not forget that Daphne Caruana Galizia was facing 40 lawsuits when she was murdered. See: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/70b0bee4-9af2-40c6-a11e-5b9ad159b96f

Andrew Rettman writing in the EUObserver of 27 April 2022

Independent media should have less to fear in future from malicious lawsuits, after the EU Commission put forward a new law to shield them.

Billionaires, big corporations, and autocrats have, in recent years, resorted ever more frequently to so-called strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) in order to try to gag adversaries.

But if EU states and MEPs back the commission’s proposed anti-SLAPP directive, then judges will soon get a fresh mandate to throw out bogus cases — and compensate their victims.

With these measures we are helping to protect those who take risks and speak up when the public interest is at stake,” EU values commissioner Věra Jourová said in Brussels.

We promised to defend better journalists and human rights defenders,” she said. “The new law does that,” Jourová said.

The directive lists criteria which individual judges can, using their discretion on a case-by-case basis, use to decide whether litigation is genuine or abusive.

These include seeking disproportionately huge financial damages or launching multiple cases at the same time, for instance.

The anti-SLAPP law applies to non-EU or “third” countries, giving European judges leeway to annul vexatious judgments against EU nationals if they are doled out in London, for example.

It is delimited to civil cases “with cross-border implication”. This is because EU competences do not cover national and criminal media laws in member states under the terms of Europe’s treaties. It means a Polish journalist or LGBTI rights activist, for example, who is sued by a Polish entity would normally not be covered.

But the “cross-border” element has been drafted by Jourová’s lawyers in a canny way so that if their case arguably had relevance beyond their national borders then the EU law would kick in.

EUobserver has faced three lawsuits in the past three years that were designated as SLAPPs by leading pro-free media NGOs.

The first saw a Luxembourg-based firm sue us in Belgium about an article on disinformation in Malta — an archetypal example of a “cross-border” lawsuit falling under the directive.

The second saw a Belgian firm sue EUobserver in Belgium, but as the story covered VIP-jet leasing security for EU and Nato heads of state from all over Europe this would also be covered under the cross-border clause.

The final one, which is ongoing, involves a Belarusian firm suing EUobserver in Belgium over an article about alleged money-laundering in Cyprus, but this would also likely fall under both the “third-country” and “cross-border” provisions, NGO experts told this website Wednesday in a flash analysis.

The commission “did the best it could do”, given its jurisdiction, Julie Majerczak, from the Paris-based NGO Reporters Without Borders, said. “It’s not perfect, but it’s a big step forward — two years ago we were nowhere on this,” she added…

There were at least 438 SLAPP cases in 24 member states in 2021 targeting 978 people or entities, the commission noted. Journalists in Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, and Slovenia were being routinely targeted, Reporters Without Borders said. Journalists in Italy and environmental activists in France and Spain were also notable victims, it added.

https://euobserver.com/rule-of-law/154815

https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/europe/116496/brussels_unveils_groundbreaking_proposal_to_prevent_and_penalise_slapp_lawsuits_#.Ymqx_5LP1TZ

https://eutoday.net/news/human-rights/2022/slapps-european-commission-seeks-to-tackle-abusive-lawsuits-against-journalists-and-human-rights-defenders

Civil Rights Defender of the Year 2022 to LGBTI defenders Xheni Karaj and Frank Mugisha

April 21, 2022

On 21 April 2022 LGBTI+ activists and human rights defenders Frank Mugisha from Uganda and Xheni Karaj from Albania were awarded the Civil Rights Defender of the year award 2022.  For more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/F2D9088D-2A4E-4FFF-8EC8-7AF252D5B5E7.  

“Xheni Karaj, from Albania, and Frank Mugisha, from Uganda, are two of the world’s most courageous LGBTI+ activists and human rights defenders. Despite working in environments where homophobia is widespread, they continue fighting with impressive resilience, for every individual’s right to have their own sexual orientation and gender identity. They have both been instrumental in building LGBTI+ movements in their countries and inspire LGBTI+ activists all over the Balkan region and the African continent,” the Civil Rights Defenders Board of Directors writes in the motivation for the award.  

The right to one’s own sexuality and gender identity is a human right, but violence and discrimination against people from the LGBTI+ community is still a problem globally. Xheni Karaj, founder and Executive Director of Aleanca LGBT in Albania and Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) are working for LGBTI+ and human rights in countries where violence, discrimination, and homophobia is widespread. Due to the situation in both Uganda and Albania, many LGBTI+ people keep their sexual identity hidden out of fear for the consequences they might face if coming out in public. Through education, advocacy, and building a community for LGBTI+ persons, Frank Mugisha and Xheni Karaj are contributing to improving the lives of thousands. Their commitment to LGBTI+ rights has played a huge part in the progress for human rights in their regions.   

I am excited and happy about the award. This prize shows that LGBTI+ rights are part of universal human rights. For us, it is a recognition that we are involved in advancing human rights work,” says Frank Mugisha. 

“The award made us all feel very happy and appreciated and motivates us to continue with the good work we are doing. To get this acknowledgment also helps me realise that we are making a revolution in Albania. From being invisible, we have showed people that we exist. That we are proud of ourselves, and we should have the right to be free and tell our stories,” says Xheni Karaj.