Posts Tagged ‘fact-finding mission’

‘Bertxit’: ..Bert Verstappen leaves HURIDOCS after 32 years

September 27, 2019

The SIM team in 1984, Bert Verstappen on the right

It is usually not a compliment when somebody is described as ‘furniture’. But Bert Verstappen, senior documentalist at HURIDOCS, is the exception. And the furniture in mind is an expensive, solid oak Dutch cupboard where all valuables are kept. Bert Verstappen – an historian by education – started working as a conscientious objector doing alternative service in the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights (SIM) in approximately 1983, soon after I became the founding director.

He proved his value immediately by working on themes such as documenting human rights violations and together we started a long term research project on the practice of fact finding by NGOs, which resulted in the first-of-its-kind publication of Human Rights Missions, a  Study of the Fact‑Finding Practice of Non‑governmental Organizations, published in 1986 by Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (ISBN: 90 247 3355 3). Morever, as SIM had become the initial ‘secretariat’ of the new HURIDOCS network created in 1982, Bert gave a lot of support to the fledgling unit. In 1987 HURIDOCS moved to Oslo and Bert moved with it, learned Norwegian very quickly and kept the flame burning for many years. He moved to Geneva with HURIDOCS after the big Crete conference in 1992.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bert (l.) 1993 in Geneva with Theo van Boven and Oldrich Andrysek

There he continued to coordinate the work of different task forces and co-authored essential HURIDOCS publications. He was involved in many capacity building projects, providing expertise mainly from the documentation angle.  As from 1 October 2019 he goes into retirement but will remain involved in some HURIDOCS projects on a part-time basis until the end of the year, ensuring a “soft bertxit”.

The development of new tools deeply changed HURIDOCS’ work throughout the years. We renew ourselves constantly. I have committed my career to this exciting challenge because I want to feel useful to human right defenders. Their courage is a source of inspiration for all of us” says Bert Verstappen on the HURIDOCS website

If you want to know more about the history of HURIDOCS in which Bert has played such an important role, see:

“We were breaking new ground”

and about the organnisation today: https://www.huridocs.org/who-we-are/

U.N. High Commissioner says Sri Lanka increasingly authoritarian

September 2, 2013

On Saturday 31 August 2013 United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said at the end of her long awaited one-week-long fact-finding mission that the Sri Lankan state is becoming more authoritarian. “The war between government troops and Tamil rebels may have ended, but in the meantime democracy has been undermined and the rule of law eroded,” the U.N. commissioner for human rights told a news conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She visited the former Tamil rebel-held areas in northern Sri Lanka, and met civil society groups, politicians and aid workers before meeting President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers, Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Economic Affairs Minister Basil Rajapaksa.” I am deeply concerned that Sri Lanka, despite the opportunity provided by the end of the war to construct a new vibrant, all-embracing state, is showing signs of heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction,” Pillay said. The U.N. envoy said that some people she visited in the northeastern part of the country previously held by the rebels had been later visited by military and police officers and questioned again. “This type of surveillance and harassment appears to be getting worse in Sri Lanka, which is a country where critical voices are quite often attacked or even permanently silenced,” she said. Pillay visited Sri Lanka on the invitation of the Sri Lankan government, but some of the members of the government have criticized her and openly ridiculed her, with one of the Cabinet ministers saying he was willing to marry her.Pillay also expressed concern about media freedom, incomplete investigations into disappearances and abductions, attacks on civil protests, issues of sexual harassment of women and harassment of human rights defenders. She is due to submit a report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva next month. Cabinet Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that the government had invited her to the country genuinely and would await the report to be submitted next month.

via U.N. human rights chief says Sri Lanka increasingly authoritarian – Wire Lifestyle – The Sacramento Bee.

the full version of her very substantive speech can be found at: 

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/full-speech-un-high-commissioner-for-human-rights-navi-pillay-at-the-press-conference-on-her-mission-to-sri-lanka/

 

New fact-finding report on Zimbabwe by Observatory for human rights defenders

November 26, 2012

Today, 26 November 2012, The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has published the report “Zimbabwe: Ongoing risks for human rights defenders in the context of political deadlock and pre-electoral period”.

 

The report analyses multiple forms of harassment facing human rights defenders while they try to do their work, including police summons, disruption of assemblies and protests, police violence, propaganda and slandering, threats of organization closure, and deterrence from participating in international and regional meetings. They remain the target of arbitrary arrests and detentions. Most of these violations are instigated by the police, members of the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), militias and traditional leaders. The Censorship Board and the Provincial Governors also take a stance against anyone deemed to run counter the interests of Zanu-PF.

Almost four years after the conclusion of the GPA, and despite the repeated calls from the international community, the situation of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe remains extremely perilous”, deplored Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. “Besides the need for radical change in the authorities’ methods, it is of vital importance that the reforming process be completed in conformity to international and regional human rights standards. In particular, the first step is that a new Constitution has to enter into force as soon as possible in order to ensure that human rights are effectively guaranteed”, she added.

 

It is time that the Zimbabwean authorities stop resorting to legislation that restrict fundamental freedoms as well as encouraging and condoning serious violations of the rights of human rights defenders, including arbitrary arrests or acts of torture”, added Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General. “Accordingly, the authorities must take all the necessary steps to ensure that human rights defenders are able to operate efficiently and without hindrances in the country, as well as to put an end to the climate of impunity that still prevails within the society”, he concluded.

 

The full report is available in English at the following links: http://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/obsrapportzim2012eng.pdf

http://www.omct.org/files/2012/11/22036/zimbabwe_mission_report.pdf