Posts Tagged ‘ESC rights’

Killing of land rights defender John Waweru in Nairobi decried

April 13, 2016

The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya (NCHRD-K) and DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) expressed their outrage over the killing of human rights defender John Waweru on Monday 11 April 2016 in Zimmerman, Nairobi. John Waweru was the director of Githunguri Constituency Ranching Company and a committed human rights defender working towards the promotion and protection of economic and social rights. He was at the forefront of advocacy against forced evictions of individuals residing on contested land in Kiambu County.

The killing of John Waweru comes cynically shortly after the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the protection of human rights defenders addressing economic, social and cultural rights in March 2016 [see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/human-rights-council-adoption-landmark-resolution-protection-defenders-economic-social-cultural-rights/]

The NCHRD-K and DefendDefenders recall other cases against human rights defenders in Kenya, such as:

Joel Ogada, a human rights defender in Kilifi County who has been a leading advocate for land rights against the neighbouring Salt farms has faced three criminal charges, one of which resulted in him being sentenced to two years in prison after appeal. He was released in September 2015 and barely six months after his release, in March 2016, he was rearrested and charged with attempting to kill.

In 2013, Hassan Guyo, the Programme Director for Strategies for Northern Development (SND), an organisation that promotes human rights for women and children and works on refugee and human trafficking issues in Moyale was killed by security forces.

In 2009, HRDs Oscar Kingara and Paul Oulu of Oscar Foundation were shot dead in Nairobi.

In all of these matters, no one has been held to account and police investigations have been inconclusive.

For more information, contact Hassan Shire  Executive Director, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project: executiveATdefenddefenders.org.

www.defenddefenders.org

Resolution on protection of defenders of economic, social and cultural rights adopted by Human Rights Council !!

March 25, 2016

 

On 24 March 2016 the ISHR reported that the UN Human Rights Council has adopted the landmark resolution on the protection of human rights defenders working to promote economic, social and cultural rights (see my post of 23 March: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/norwegian-resolution-un-human-rights-council-defenders-amendments/).

The Norwegian-led resolution was adopted by a vote of 33 Member States of the Human Rights Council to just 6 against. Eight States in the 47-seat Council abstained. Over 150 NGOs from all over the world united to call on Member States of the Council to adopt the resolution and reject a series of 30 hostile amendments proposed by Russia, China, Egypt, Cuba and Pakistan, designed to undermine the protection of defenders and to deny their legitimacy and very existence.

The 6 States that voted ‘No’ on the resolution were not surprisingly Burundi, China, Cuba, Nigeria, Russia and Venezuela. States that abstained were Bolivia, El Salvador, Kenya, Namibia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Viet Nam. Interesting and positive to note that some of the States that had supported hostile amendments (including Ecuador, Indonesia and India) in the end voted in favour of the resolution.

[The resolution affirms the legitimate and essential role of human rights defenders in promoting, protecting and contributing to the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights – including indigenous rights and the right to development – and condemns restrictions and attacks against them by both States and business enterprises. It also underscores the fact that exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and public participation can be essential to the promotion, protection and realisation of ESC rights, and that restrictions or violations of these democratic rights may lead and amount to violations of the ESC rights for which defenders are advocating.

The resolution also provides invaluable guidance to States and business as to obligations and good practices in the protection of defenders. For States, such obligations and good practices include developing specific human rights defender protection laws and mechanisms, investigating and ensuring accountability for attacks and reprisals against them, and facilitating access to information and participation in policy and decision-making processes. For businesses, the resolution reinforces the obligation to respect and not interfere with the work of defenders, and to consult closely with defenders to identify, avoid, mitigate and remedy human rights risks and violations associated with business activities and development projects.]

We particularly recognise the principled leadership of Norway in leading the development of this timely resolution,’ Mr Ineichen of the ISHR said.ISHR-logo-colour-high

The systematic but ultimately unsuccessful efforts by a small group of States to undermine the human rights defender resolution paradoxically demonstrate the vital importance and potential impact of this resolution,‘ said ISHR Director Phil Lynch.

 

Source: Human Rights Council adopts historic resolution on protection of defenders of economic, social and cultural rights | ISHR

Norwegian Resolution on Human Rights Defenders in the UN Human Rights Council: will it survive hostile amendments?

March 23, 2016

Some readers will have doubt about the importance passing Resolutions in the UN, even on the noble topic of the protection of human rights defenders. However, that this is not seen as a sinecure is clear from the diplomatic battles fought every time [see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/un-general-assembly-adopts-resolution-on-human-rights-defenders-with-increased-majority/]. Tomorrow (Thursday 24 March) another such clash is expected. Here are the issues:

It is usually Norway that leads the negotiations on the resolution on human rights defenders as is the case this year at the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council. The resolution this year takes account of the severe risks that human rights defenders face when defending economic, social and cultural rights, including as they relate to environmental, land and development issues, corporate responsibility, anti-corruption, transparency and accountability issues. The draft resolution calls on States to take effective and practical steps to address the continuing violations of the rights of defenders.

During the first week of this session of the Human Rights Council, Norwegian State Secretary Tore Hattrem stated that “Threats and attacks against human rights defenders who are exercising their right to freedom of speech to advocate economic, social and cultural rights, severely hamper the realisation of these rights”. Also Ambassador Steffen Kongstad raised this important topic during the interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, stating that “Threats and attacks against human rights defenders may hamper the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, undermining social cohesion, and ultimately stability and development”.

The resolution has been discussed in several open informal consultations in Geneva, taking into account a number of suggestions from different countries. Norway formally tabled the resolution on 16 March full text see website. There are currently around 50 countries from all regional groups that will  co-sponsor the resolution. Still, this is far from won as earlier this week a number of countries (including the serial offenders Russia, China, Egypt, Cuba and Pakistan) have put forward 31 adverse amendments to the text. These amendments include proposals which have the purpose or would have the effect of:

 

Profile of Arul, a Human Rights Defender from Malaysia

March 22, 2016

Arutchelvan Subramaniams, known as Arul, is a grassroots human rights defender from Malaysia. He works primarily for the protection of economic, social and cultural rights – including housing rights for the urban poor, the rights of farmers, plantation and industrial workers, as well as the rights of indigenous communities. The ISHR published this profile on 21 March 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

A lot more on the protection of Defenders of economic social and cultural rights

March 16, 2016

On 7 March 2016 the ISHR held a joint side event on the protection needs of human rights defenders working on economic, cultural and social (ESC) rights [http://wp.me/pQKto-1ZJ]. Here a report and some more:

Panellists spoke about the crucial work of ESC rights defenders in their countries, including defenders in Ethiopia protesting illegal land grabs to prevent the displacement of communities; defenders in Malaysia working towards inclusive and sustainable development and to oppose corruption; and defenders in Guatemala working to protect indigenous rights and ensuring that companies consult with affected communities.

Read the rest of this entry »