Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

Reprisals at the UN: more calls for action – no action

June 23, 2017

The UN and States must take visible and sustained action against acts of intimidation and reprisal against those engaging or seeking to engage with the UN“, says the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) in two reports issued on 22 June 2017.  Unfortunately, the NGO community (the main victims of the practice of reprisals) finds it difficult to come up with new ideas on how counter the trend while States continue to block the participation and input by human rights defenders. [ see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/03/13/zero-tolerance-for-states-that-take-reprisals-against-hrds-lets-up-the-ante/and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/reprisals/]

ISHR’s latest report to the UN Secretary-General demonstrates again the need for the UN and States to act to prevent and ensure accountability for intimidation and reprisals against those cooperating or seeking to cooperate with the UN, and lays out a series of recommendations in that regard. The report documents a disturbing pattern of reprisals against human rights defenders seeking to cooperate with the UN. It includes alleged cases of travel bans in Bahrain in the context of the Universal Period Review this May; disappearances and detention of defenders and lawyers, as well as intimidation of their families in China; and restrictions imposed on NGOs in Egypt.The report welcomes recent positive steps such as the appointment of Assistant Secretary General Andrew Gilmour as the first high-level official on reprisals against those cooperating with the UN on human rights, but highlights that more needs to be done. ‘In the overwhelming majority of cases, steps taken by the State to prevent, investigate or ensure accountability for reprisals have been inadequate or non-existent, and in many States there has been a high-level of impunity’ said ISHR’s Programme Coordinator and Legal Counsel, Tess McEvoy. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/10/05/assistant-secretary-general-andrew-gilmour-appointed-as-the-uns-focal-point-to-combat-reprisals-against-human-rights-defenders/]

The primary duty to prevent and remedy reprisals lies with States. However the UN itself also has a duty to step up. ‘Where States fail to adequately investigate and ensure accountability in relation to credible allegations of intimidation and reprisals, the UN should ensure an international, independent investigation into the case‘, said McEvoy. In the report ISHR called on UN bodies to take a more proactive role in combating reprisals and intimidation, and among other things, urged:

  • The Human Rights Council President and Bureau to clearly outlines steps the Council will take on receipt of information about credible risks of reprisals.
  • Treaty bodies to fully adopt and implement the San Jose guidelines.
  • The Assistant Secretary-General to ensure that rights holders and victims are kept regularly appraised of the status of their case.

     

    On the same day ISHR published a statement to the 35th session of the Human Rights Council, ISHR calling for a stronger focus on the implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations and the development of processes to ensure civil society can freely engage without fear of intimidation and reprisal. ‘Civil society is not only necessary for developing recommendations, but is essential for the working towards the implementation of these recommendations. The role of civil society must therefore be protected and enhanced’, said ISHR.

    While recommendations received are often accepted at ‘Geneva level’, implementation of these recommendations on the ground remains patchy. Item 6 on the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council provides a opportunity for dialogue on implementation.

    Alleged cases of intimidation and reprisals of human rights defenders engaging or seeking to engage in the UPR have escalated. ISHR received reports of cases in Egypt, India and Venezuela in the past year. Ongoing reprisals in Bahrain  are particularly concerning, including the imposition of travel bans on 27 defenders during the 27th UPR pre-session – including Sayed Hadi Al Musawi – as well as the interrogation of Abtisam Alsayegh in relation to her UN engagement. ISHR’s statement reiterated calls for States to ask advance questions, and make recommendations about the prevention, investigation, prosecution and remediation of reprisals.

    Reprisals against human rights defenders for their engagement with the UPR remain worryingly prevalent,’ said McEvoy. Given civil socity’s fundamental role in the UPR, we call on the President, Bureau and Secretariat to establish an institutionalised reprisals mechanism to prevent, investigate, remedy and promote accountability for reprisals associated with the UPR’, McEvoy continued. These calls form part of ISHR’s broader strategy to strengthen the UPR  which can be accessed hereContact: Tess McEvoy, Programme Coordinator and Legal Counsel, and focal point for ISHR’s UPR advocacy, on: t.mcevoy@ishr.ch.

    http://www.ishr.ch/news/report-sg-un-and-states-must-do-more-prevent-and-ensure-accountability-reprisals-0

Breaking news: three Human Rights Defenders selected as Finalists for the 2017 Martin Ennals Award.

April 26, 2017

Today, 26 April 2017, the Martin Ennals Foundation announced that the following 3 human rights defenders have been selected as the Finalists for the  2017 Martin Ennals Award. This award is considered to be the main of award of the whole international human rights movement as the Jury (see below) is composed of leading human rights NGOs.

FreeThe5KH (Cambodia)

FreeThe5KH are five Human Rights Defenders who have been in pre-trial detention for almost one year. This is linked to their work with the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC). International bodies like the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and UN Special Rapporteurs have repeatedly called for their immediate and unconditional release, and a stop to judicial harassment of human rights defenders in Cambodia based on their legitimate human rights work. This comes in the context of an increasingly severe crackdown on civil society and the political opposition in Cambodia.

On behalf of the Khmer Five, Thun Saray, President of (ADHOC) comments: “It is an immense honour for the five HRDs to be selected as finalists. 28 April will mark their one year in arbitrary detention on the basis of their legitimate human rights work. The increased attacks against HRDs and activists has had a tremendous impact on those working to promote and protect human rights in Cambodia. This Award is symbol of encouragement for every courageous Cambodian, who continues to speak out against injustices and human rights violations. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to everyone that has supported the nomination.

Karla Avelar (El Salvador)

Karla Avelar, a transgender woman in El Salvador, grew up on the streets of San Salvador, suffering discrimination, violence, exploitation, and rape. She was imprisoned when she defended herself, and then regularly abused by fellow prisoners with the knowledge and even participation of the prison authorities. These terrible experiences have forged her into a powerful advocate. With three others, she founded COMCAVIS TRANS, which was created to represent, defend, and promote the human rights of LGBTI persons, with a focus on those living with HIV, as she does. She works to change legislation and the authorities’ practices, by holding them publicly to account. Notably her advocacy helped prompt the authorities to segregate LGBTI prisoners for their own safety, and allow for the standard HIV treatments provided by the Ministry of Health.

She said,” I want to thank Martin Ennals, the jury, and those who nominated me for this important award. Although today I am in danger, and sure that my struggle is risky, my eagerness for justice and equity motivates me. I will continue to push the State to accept reforms and legislation proposed by civil society to allow the LGBTI community to fully enjoy their human rights.”

Mohamed Zaree (Egypt)

Mohamed Zaree is the Egypt Country Director for the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), responsible for CIHRS’s legal research, media outreach and national advocacy. CIHRS’s work was influential in the Arab world particularly Egypt, which resulted in death threats to its director. This forced the CIHRS executive director and regional staff to move abroad to continue their work. Mohamed chose to stay and is now banned from travel. He is a legal scholar coordinating research to challenge laws designed to limit NGOs activities working on human rights, such as freedom of expression and assembly. He is widely seen a unifying figure bringing together the human rights community in Egypt to advocate with a common approach.

He stated “Our hopes were high following the Egyptian revolution in 2011; we don’t know how the situation has instead deteriorated to such an extent. Today, we are battling human rights violations that are worse than before 2011, and challenging the normalization and acceptance of these atrocities. Killing almost 1000 citizens in few hours, arresting almost 40,000 others, innocents dying in Egyptian prisons; is not the norm and we will not allow it to become so. We human rights defenders are fighting these abuses at risk of indefinite imprisonment. 

The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is a unique collaboration among ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations to give protection to human rights defenders worldwide. The Jury is composed of the following NGOs:

  • Amnesty International,
  • Human Rights Watch,
  • Human Rights First,
  • FIDH – Int’l Federation for Human Rights,
  • World Organisation Against Torture,
  • Front Line Defenders,
  • International Commission of Jurists,
  • EWDE Germany,
  • International Service for Human Rights,
  • HURIDOCS

The Award will be presented on October 10th 2017 at a ceremony hosted by the City of Geneva.

For further information, please contact: Michael Khambatta +41 79 474 8208 khambatta[at]martinennalsaward.org or visit www.martinennalsaward.org

Right Livelihood has to go to Egypt to hand Mozn Hassan her 2016 award

February 2, 2017

Right Livelihood Award Logo

 

Egyptian human rights defender Mozn Hassan, who shared the 2016 Right Livelihood Award with her organisation Nazra for Feminist Studies, will receive her award in Cairo on 25-26 March 2017. Hassan was unable to attend the award ceremony in Stockholm on 25 November 2016 due to a travel ban imposed on her by the Egyptian authorities. Since then, the judiciary has initiated a move to freeze Hassan’s and Nazra’s assets, which five UN experts have condemned.

Monika Griefahn, the Foundation’s Board Chair, said: “In a show of solidarity with Hassan and other Egyptian civil society activists who have been prevented from travelling freely abroad, the Foundation will send a high-level delegation to Cairo to present her with the Right Livelihood Award instead.” The delegation will include European Parliamentarians, fellow Laureates and the Foundation’s Board members.

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/11/10/travel-bans-against-human-rights-defenders-remain-popular-in-the-middle-east/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/09/22/right-livelihood-awards-2016-to-syrian-egyptian-russian-and-turkish-human-rights-defenders/

This is also a reminder of the nominations deadline for the 2017 Right Livelihood Award which is 1 March 2017! The Right Livelihood Award accepts proposals from everyone through an open nomination process.

Source: February 2017The Right Livelihood Award

International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders: Agents of change under pressure

December 1, 2016

On 29 November 2006, Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) from around the globe gathered in Colombo, Sri Lanka and declared this day as theirs. November 29th therefore became the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, and is now celebrated all over the world in recognition of the courageous work that they do to defend their own and other women’s rights.

There are too many activities that could be reported in the context of this anniversary [see earlier posts on WHRDs https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/women-human-rights-defenders/] but here a few (seven) links that could have escaped your attention: Read the rest of this entry »

Right Livelihood Awards 2016 to Syrian, Egyptian, Russian and Turkish human rights defenders

September 22, 2016

 

Right Livelihood logoThe Laureates of this year’s Right Livelihood Award have been announced today – 22 September 2016 – in Stockholm, Sweden:

SYRIA CIVIL DEFENCE (Syria)

Syria Civil Defence (The White Helmets), ‘for their outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians from the destruction of the Syrian civil war’. It is the first time that a Right Livelihood Award goes to a Laureate from Syria.…for their outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians from the destruction of the Syrian civil war.

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Egypt court freezes assets of rights defenders and NGOs

September 18, 2016

Human rights activist Gamal Eid says the case is politically motivated revenge [Asmaa Waguih/Reuters]

An Egyptian court has approved a freeze on the assets of five prominent human rights activists and three non-governmental organisations in a case related to accepting foreign funds without government authorization. Saturday’s decision paves the way for criminal proceedings against the defendants, who have been accused of “pursuing acts harmful to national interests”. They face life sentences of up to 25 years each if found guilty. The rulings can be appealed.

Gamal Eid, a vocal critic of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, is among those affected by the order of the Cairo Criminal Court. “We know from the start the case is political and the aim is revenge against NGOs that expose the state’s abuses,” said Eid, the head of the Cairo-based Arab Network for Human Rights Information.

The assets of Hossam Bahgat, the founder and former director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, will also be frozen. The court also froze the assets of three organisations and their directors; the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and its director Bahey el-Din Hassan, the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre and its director Mostafa al-Hassan, and the Egyptian Right to Education Centre and its director Abdelhafiz Tayel. Bahgat, Eid, and nine others are also banned from travel in connection to the case that has been going on since 2011.

Amnesty International described the court order as a “shameless ploy to silence human rights activism”. Egyptian rights activists say they are facing the worst assault in their history amid a wider campaign to erase freedoms won in a 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. Independent United Nations experts said in April that Egypt is closing down domestic NGOs and putting travel bans on their staff in order to obstruct scrutiny of human rights issues. See earlier posts: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/egypt/

Source: Egypt court freezes assets of rights defenders and NGOs – News from Al Jazeera

Shackled Freedoms : what space for human rights defenders in the EuroMed?

September 7, 2016

 

cover-en-shackled-freedomThe recent report SHACKLED FREEDOMS : WHAT SPACE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE EUROMED? depicts the obstacles and repression against civil society in the region and showcases first-hand accounts from Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Syria, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories among others. The report also features recommendations by CSOs for joint action and seeks to influence EU policies to that effect. The report also focuses on the impact of security and anti-terrorist policies and lists the growing arsenal of repressive measures – both in law and practice – that civil society organizations (CSOs) face on a daily basis: judicial harassment, surveillance, arbitrary arrests, torture and assassination.

Despite legal safeguards and the human rights “shared values” rhetoric in the EU, EuroMed Rights argues that European civil society is under increasing pressure. Austerity measures and anti-terrorism laws are increasingly used to legitimise practices that go against individual freedoms and rights of assembly, association and expression, such as in France, Spain or the UK, for instance. The report – published on 7 September 2016 – is the result of a seminar organised in April 2016 as an open dialogue between EU representatives, South Mediterranean activists and Brussels-based CSOs.

 DOWNLOAD THE REPORT


 

Source: Shackled Freedoms : What Space for Civil Society in the EuroMed? – EuroMed Rights – Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network

Scholars at Risk gives its “Courage to Think Defender Award” to Egypt’s detained scholars and students

June 9, 2016

Today, 9 June 2016, Egypt‘s wrongfully detained scholars and students received the 2016 Courage to Think Defender Award during the SAR Global Congress in Montreal, Canada. This is in recognition for their commitment to exercising the right to think, share and question ideas despite tremendous risks. SAR selected student representatives to accept the award in order to recognize their efforts to conduct research and advocacy on behalf of threatened scholars and students around the world. “The students are vital to raising awareness around cases of imprisoned scholars and students like these, and to promoting academic freedom globally and locally,” said Clare Robinson, Advocacy Director at SAR.

Over the past several years, SAR has observed an overwhelming crackdown on Egypt’s higher education community, including the reported use of violence, wrongful prosecutions and imprisonment, professional retaliation and travel restrictions against scholars and students across the country. According to data obtained by the Egyptian NGO, Association for Free Thought and Expression, over 2,000 university students and professors have been detained by security forces since July 2013.

SAR has presented the award only twice before, in 2011 to Aryeh Neier for his long career dedicated to free inquiry and expression including as the chair of the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Foundations, and in 2015 to Dean Habib Kazdaghli of Manouba University in Tunisia for defending his university from extremist pressures after the Arab Spring, including in the face of prosecution and death threats.

[Scholars at Risk: Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of higher education institutions and individuals working to protect threatened scholars, promote academic freedom and prevent attacks on higher education communities around the world since 2000. SAR protects scholars suffering grave threats to their lives, liberty and well-being by arranging positions of sanctuary for those forced to flee, and advocating for scholars facing prosecution, imprisonment or other restrictions through the Scholars-in-Prison Project. SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project identifies and reports attacks on higher education to protect vulnerable scholars and students, hold perpetrators accountable and prevent future violations. Institutions or individuals interested in learning more about SAR and its activities should visit http://www.scholarsatrisk.org or email scholarsatrisk@nyu.edu]

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/scholars-at-risk-publishes-first-academic-freedom-monitoring-report-free2think/

Egyptian regime should be investigating those who torture, not those who draft anti-torture laws

June 8, 2016

On 8 June 2016 Human Rights Watch asked the Egyptian authorities to stop persecuting a lawyer and two judges who engaged in the suspicious activity of proposing an anti-torture law!!!

Negad al-Borai with Raouf and Abd el-Gabbar
Negad al-Borai with judges Hesham Raouf  and Assem Abd el-Gabbar who drafted the anti-torture law proposal to bring Egyptian law in line with the United Nations Convention . © 2015 Private

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Monday 25 April: what will happen in Egypt?

April 25, 2016

Brian Dooley, Director of Human Rights First’s Human Rights Defenders Program, wrote in the Huffington Post that today, Monday 25 April 2016, could be a watershed day for Egypt‘s military leader. This day is a national holiday Egypt which marks the 1982 withdrawal of Israeli troops from Sinai. President Sisi‘s agreement to hand over the two uninhabited islands of Tiran and Sanafir in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia may put a spark into the constantly simmering discontent in the human rights movement.

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