Posts Tagged ‘France’

New SG for Amnesty International: Agnès Callamard

March 30, 2021

On 29 March 2021 Amnesty International announced the appointment of Dr. Agnès Callamard, a leading international human rights expert, as its new Secretary General, effective immediately. 

Dr. Callamard has recently been the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. In that role, she led ground-breaking investigations including into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/09/09/agnes-callamard-calls-overturned-verdict-in-khashoggi-case-parody-of-justice/]

As Secretary General, Dr. Callamard will be the Chief Executive of Amnesty’s International Secretariat and the principal spokesperson of the global Amnesty movement, which has some 10 million supporters, and offices in more than 70 countries.

At a time when human rights are under unprecedented threat around the world, Dr. Callamard will lead, excite and rally the entire Amnesty movement to meet these challenges head-on,” said Sarah Beamish, Chair of the International Board, in announcing the appointment.  “The combination of her intellectual acuity, her deep global human rights experience, and her courageous voice makes her highly qualified to front our movement. We are delighted she has accepted this challenge to take us boldly into our next phase.

Where governments and corporations seek to silence those who speak out against their abuses, to obfuscate the truth, and to undermine or reject human rights norms, the rigorous investigations and uncompromising campaigns of Amnesty International are more vital than ever.” Agnès Callamard

  “I am honoured to take up the post of Secretary General and work alongside Amnesty’s supporters around the world so that together we defend and demand respect for all human rights for all,” Dr Callamard said. 

Dr. Callamard, a French national, has built a highly distinguished career in the international human rights and humanitarian sectors, working across NGOs, academia, and the United Nations. Alongside her role as a United Nations independent human rights expert, she held the role of Director of the Global Freedom of Expression Project at Columbia University. Previously, she has been the Executive Director of the Freedom of Expression organization ARTICLE 19 and was the founder and Executive Director of HAP International (the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership).

Dr. Callamard worked with Amnesty International from 1995-2001, including as Chef de Cabinet for then-Secretary General Pierre Sané.  She has led human rights investigations in more than 30 countries and published extensively on human rights, women’s rights, freedom of expression, refugee movements, and the methodology of human rights investigations.

See also 7 April interview: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/7/leaders-of-the-world-have-failed-us-qa-with-agnes-callamard

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/03/dr-agnes-callamard-appointed-as-secretary-general-of-amnesty-international/

Two Italians don’t want a French Legion d’Honneur if el-Sissi has one

December 15, 2020

PAOLO SANTALUCIA and NICOLE WINFIELD – based on an Associated Press item of 14 December 2020 – report that two prominent Italians announced they were returning their Legion of Honor awards to France to protest that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was given the prize despite his government’s human rights abuses.

Corrado Augias, a long-time journalist for La Repubblica daily and one-time European Parliamentarian for Italy’s center-left, returned his prize to the French Embassy on Monday. Giovanna Melandri, a former Italian culture minister and the president of Rome’s Maxxi contemporary art museum, announced she would follow suit.

Both cited Egypt’s role in the 2016 kidnapping, torture and killing of an Italian doctoral research student in Cairo, as well as the regime’s other human rights violations.

French President Emmanuel Macron last week awarded the Egyptian President the highest French honor during a closed-door ceremony Sept. 7 that only became public after the Egyptian presidency published photos of it.

Also last week, Rome prosecutors formally placed four high-ranking members of Egypt’s security forces under investigation over the death of Giulio Regeni, whose 2016 killing strained relations between Rome and Cairo and galvanized Italy’s human rights community. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/04/25/monday-25-april-what-will-happen-in-egypt/]

Speaking outside the French Embassy, Augias said he returned his 2007 prize out of “a sense of indignation,” given that the award was bestowed on el-Sissi at the same time that Rome prosecutors were detailing the torture that Regeni suffered to a parliamentary committee. “The two things together were too strong,” he told reporters. “I couldn’t refrain from reacting.

Melandri said in a Facebook post Monday that she too would return the honor she received in 2003, saying it was sad but necessary to make clear that “honor” should mean something.

I hope that this gesture can help open a frank and friendly confrontation in our two countries on which values ​​should be that we want to defend, strengthen and continue to ‘honor’ in a democratic Europe and a globalized world,” she wrote.

El-Sissi’s state visit had sparked protests by human rights activists incensed that France was welcoming el-Sissi despite the heaviest crackdown on dissent in Egypt’s modern history. At the time, it wasn’t known that Macron had awarded el-Sissi the highest distinction of the Legion of Honor order of merit, the Grand-Croix, or Grand-Cross. The award ceremony was held without the press before dinner at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris. The event was not listed on Macron’s official agenda. The French presidency said such a ceremony is usually part of the protocol during state visits.

The French ambassador to Italy, Christian Masset, said he respected Augias and defended the government’s human rights record.

France is on the front lines for human rights and makes no compromises,” he tweeted after Augias returned his prize. “Many cases were discussed during President el-Sissi’s visit to Paris, in the most appropriate and efficient way.

The Legion of Honor has been given to French war heroes, writers, artists and businessmen. But it has also been given to leaders with questionable human rights records, including Syrian President Bashar Assad (though he returned it in 2018) and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

France has on occasion also stripped people of the honor, including Harvey Weinstein in 2017, in the wake of the #MeToo sexual misconduct accusations against him.

https://www.startribune.com/italians-return-french-legion-awards-after-el-sissi-gets-one/600001488/

European Court of Human Rights finds France violated freedom of expression of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists

June 13, 2020

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that France violated the freedom of expression of pro-Palestinian activists who were convicted of campaigning for a boycott of Israeli products and pressuring that country to end the occupation of Palestine.

The ruling refers to a 2009 French justice conviction against 11 activists from the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement for “economic discrimination” for protesting and distributing leaflets against Israeli products in a supermarket in eastern France.

BDS has called for boycotts against Israeli companies, universities and cultural institutions in what it says is a non-violent campaign against Israeli abuses in Palestine, while Israel claims that the movement masks attempts to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state.

This important court ruling is a decisive victory for freedom of expression, for human rights defenders and for the BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality,” said Rita Ahmad of the Palestinian-led movement. Most of the international community considers Israeli settlement in the West Bank illegal.

The ECHR ruling orders the French government to pay € 101,000 in general damages to the activists, as the criminal conviction “had no relevant and sufficient basis” and violated the freedom of expression of the protesters. The French government has three months to appeal the decision

Israel promotes a number of legislative initiatives against BDS abroad, particularly in the United States and Europe. The United States House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution last year condemning the boycott of Israel as detrimental to peace efforts. The German Parliament passed a resolution last year describing the movement’s methods as “anti-Semitic” and reminiscent of Nazi-era calls to boycott Jews. BDS activists deny the charges of anti-Semitism and say discrimination laws have been used to unfairly attack them. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/09/25/revoking-of-kamila-shamsies-dortmund-book-award-is-fiercely-contested/

Amnesty International expressed hope that the ruling “will send a clear message to all European states that they must stop the prosecution of peaceful activists.

https://www.explica.co/europes-top-human-rights-court-supports-boycott-movement-against-israel/

https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/06/12/european-court-rules-against-france-in-israel-boycott-activist-case/

Sudanese woman human rights defender laureate of Martine Anstett Prize 2020

April 21, 2020

Tahani Abbas Khartoum- Ahmed Younes
On Tuesday 12 March 2020 Asharq al-Awsat reported – somewhat garbled – that Tahani Abbas, a Sudanese human rights activist, was awarded “the Martin Institute Prize in Switzerland.” The newspaper surely meant: the Martine Anstett Prize for Human Rights (see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/martine-anstett-human-rights-prize).
Ms. Abbas told Asharq Al-Awsat that she was proud to receive the prize and because it embodies the distant world’s perception of the Sudanese people’s struggle and shows that the world is watching out for human rights. She went on to say that “personally, the award credits me with a strong role with regards to defending human rights and makes me feel that our efforts and positions in the defense of human rights are appreciated and did not go in vain.” In her acceptance speech, Abbas stressed that all Sudanese women qualify to stand in her place and receive the prize, adding that “I am only a miniature and symbolic example that personifies that struggle of all the women of Sudan. I am an extension of Sudan’s feminist struggle, which is deeply ingrained in its history since before the era of the Kandakes or Nubian Queens, passing through Mendi, daughter of the Sultan Ajabna, and reaching the icon of the Sudanese revolution, Alaa Salah.”

Despite the admiration of observers and the organizers of the prize for the role of Sudanese women in the revolution, Abbas demonstrated her anger at what she calls “women’s weak political participation of after the revolution”. However, she says “Despite being denied political participation after the success of the revolution, our struggle will not stop.”  Abbas has been an active human rights defender since 2009 and is a member of many Sudanese feminist and human rights groups. She is a member of the executive committee of the Regional Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders of North Africa and the Middle East, a member of the executive committee of the No to the Oppression of Sudanese Women Initiative, the My Fair Home campaign which is concerned with domestic workers, the I am Sudanese, which is concerned with nationality and a member of the Sudanese Alliance to End Child Marriage.

In her assessment of the human rights situation in Sudan after the revolution, she says that it has improved a lot as per international standards. She said: ”The reports of international human rights organizations demonstrate this, and, locally, we feel that, as human rights defenders, we have achieved some victories.”

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/10/16/martine-anstett-honored-with-own-human-rights-award/

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/2176746/sudanese-female-activist-wins-martin-institute-prize-human-rights-defenders

New Amnesty report on human rights defenders helping migrants

March 4, 2020

Amnesty accuses European law enforcement agencies of using trafficking and terrorism laws
Human rights group Amnesty has warned that concerned citizens across Europe are facing prosecution for offering help and assistance to refugees and migrants.

In a new report published on 3 March 2020, Amnesty International said European law enforcement authorities and prosecutors are “misusing already flawed” laws intended to prevent people smuggling and terrorism to target members of the public who offer migrants shelter and warm clothing, or attempt to rescue them at sea. Amnesty examined several cases that took place in Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain, Switzerland and the UK between 2017 and last year, during which human rights defenders who attempted to help refugees and migrants were targeted under legislation intended to tackle organised immigration crime networks. Amnesty’s report comes as world media attention has once again turned to the Mediterranean migrant crisis after Turkey opened its border with Greece to thousands of Syrian refugees.

In one such case, Frenchman Pierre Mumber was charged with “facilitating irregular entry” into France when he was caught offering tea and warm clothing to four west African asylum seekers before being acquitted on appeal. The report also notes that Swiss citizens have faced prosecution for providing migrants and refugees with shelter or helping them access services and protection. Elsewhere, the agency revealed that people in Italy who have worked to rescue migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean on unseaworthy vessels have been subjected to smear campaigns and criminal investigations. See also:

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/18/international-migrants-day-the-story-of-the-ocean-viking/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/02/un-experts-consider-human-rights-defenders-in-italy-under-threat/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/02/12/luventa10-sea-rescue-group-gets-ai-germanys-human-rights-award/

Commenting on the contents of the report, Elisa De Pieri, Regional Researcher at Amnesty International, said: “The increased focus on limiting and deterring arrivals in Europe has meant that making refugees or migrants feel safer or welcomed is seen as a threat. “The failure of European states to fulfil the basic needs of refugees and migrants means it is often left to ordinary people to provide essential services and support. “By punishing the people who step up to fill the gaps, European governments are putting people on the move at even greater risk.”

Click to access EUR0118282020ENGLISH.PDF

Amnesty accuses European police of targeting ‘human rights defenders’ who help refugees and migrants

4th Annual Global Women’s March is on 18 January 2020

January 1, 2020

2020 women's march BELatina

On January 21st of 2017, millions of women and allies around the world took to the streets to make themselves seen and heard, demonstrating to advance women’s human rights. Now, nearly three years later, the Women’s March movement has announced that on 18 January, 2020, feminists and women’s human rights defenders will march yet again in the 4th Annual Global Women’s March.

Common Dreams also reported that women and men alike marched in France, Spain, Uganda, and other countries in November 2019 to demand that their elected officials work to end violence against women. In Spain, tens of thousands of people marched to recognize the day. But as the New York Times reported, the country’s far-right Vox Party—which, though still a minority party, doubled its representation in Parliament in recent elections—used the opportunity to affirm its opposition to a law aimed at protecting women from gender-based violence. Women gathered at City Hall in Madrid shouted, “This is shameful!” as Vox secretary-general Javier Ortega Smith spoke out against the law and called for national attention to men who are killed by their partners.

Women during a protest on the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in Nantes, France, on November 25, 2019. (Photo: Estelle Ruiz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Women during a protest on the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in Nantes, France, on November 25, 2019. (Photo: Estelle Ruiz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

As part of the global effort, the International Labor Organization (ILO) called for ratification of its new Convention, adopted in June, to recognize the right of all people to be free from harassment and violence in their workplaces. “This commitment now needs to be turned into concrete, practical action,” the ILO wrote. “Violence and harassment in the world of work has enormous human, social and economic costs. Violence and harassment constitutes one of the greatest threats to decent work. No more excuses. Let’s work together and make the promise of Convention No. 190 a reality for all.”

It’s Official! The 4th Annual Global Women’s March is in January of 2020

COP25: climate defenders also needed to be shielded

November 28, 2019

Tomorrow, 29 November, 2019, young people will gather at locations around the world for a Fridays for Future Global Climate Strike. On 2 December, United Nations delegates, world leaders, business executives, and activists will meet at the 25th Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) in Madrid to discuss ways to protect the environment. Participants in these events should also discuss ways to protect the protectors: the individuals and groups targeted around the world for their efforts on behalf of the planet.

In memoriam Louis Joinet: a great human rights defender who deserves more recognition outside France

September 25, 2019

Louis Joinet (born in Nevers on He was a French magistrate, independent expert to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and very active in the NGO human rights world in particular with regard to the dictatorships in Latin America (he was named illustrious citizen of Montevideo).

He co-founded the Union of the Judiciary (Syndicat de la magistrature) in 1968.  At the beginning of his career, he was interested in the early stages of computer sciences in order to evaluate the impact of these technologies on the law. He represented France in the Council of Europe. His report will gave birth to the Data Protection Act. He then participated actively in the drafting of the law relating to computers, files and freedoms of 6 January 1978. He was an adviser on human rights to the succesive Prime Ministers of François Mitterrand between 1981 and 1993.

In the UN context he was the author, in 1997, of the principles against impunity of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights , also known as the “Joinet Principles” , which are part of the principles of transitional justice. .

He published his memoirs in 2013 (Mes raisons d’État : mémoires d’un épris de justice, Éditions La Découverte). One of the characters of the French television series Sanctuaire , broadcast in 2015, which addresses in particular the role of France in the attempt to negotiate, in the mid-1980s between ETA and Spain, is inspired by Louis Joinet  (“Avec “Sanctuaire” j’ai voulu faire un film sur une gauche qui se perd” [archive], teleobs.nouvelobs.com, 2 mars 2015).

His wife Germaine Joinet, doctor and activist in various associations, died in 2008.

 

Ciné-ONU and the Goethe Institute screened  “Un certain monsieur Joinet” (52 mn) on 24 October 2012 at the Goethe Institute in Brussels. According to Amnesty International, “the documentary gives an insight into the fifty years of struggle by Louis Joinet for human rights, from the war in Algeria to Pinochet’s Chile, from enforced disappearances to the fight against impunity”.  Language: French with English subtitles. Directed by: Frantz Vaillant. Only the trailer is on the internet and information on how to get hold of the full film is missing.

There is also an interview with him from 2012:

https://www.lemonde.fr/disparitions/article/2019/09/23/la-mort-de-louis-joinet-cofondateur-du-syndicat-de-la-magistrature_6012734_3382.html

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Joinet

https://www.unbrussels.org/invitation-to-the-screening-of-un-certain-monsieur-joinet/

Carmignac Photojournalism Award for covering human rights violations – in 2019: the Amazon

September 15, 2019

Grajaú, Brazil—A deforested area in the southern Maranhão state seen from a helicopter belonging to IBAMA, Brazil’s national environmental agency [Photo: © Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac]

The Carmignac Photojournalism Award is an annual prize given to investigative photojournalists covering human rights violations [see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/carmignac-photojournalism-award]. Each year, a team of environmental and political leaders selects a region to focus on and then selects a recipient, who uses the foundation’s $55,000 prize money to shoot the project they proposed. The annual award, now in its 10th year, focuses on a different region and associated human rights topic each year. For 2019 the jury chose to call for project proposals around deforestation and the Amazon. Evan Nicole Brown writing in Fact Company of 12 September 2019 notes that “in an ironic twist, the recipient of the prize money was announced as the rain forest was being obscured by plumes of smoke from the unprecedented fires.

The winner, Tommaso Protti, is an Italian-born photographer who has lived in Brazil for the past five years. ..the prize money supported the production of his photojournalism work, which began in January of this year and wrapped up in July. His reportage, developed in tandem with British journalist Sam Cowie, was revealed at the Visa pour l’Image festival in France on September 4.

……

“There’s a big problem with impunity inside the region because of the state—it leads directly to killing the environment and indigenous leaders,” Protti says. “The people there don’t have the protection [like most of us] experiencing climate collapse. The majority of the people I’ve met try to make a living with what the forest offers them.”

Kayapó Indigenous Land—Kayapo children play behind a waterfall in the Kubenkrãnken indigenous village, in southern Pará state. The Kayapo have only been in contact with nonindigenous society since the 1960s. Their land serves as a crucial barrier to deforestation advancing from the south. [Photo: © Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac]

Poor environmental health in the Amazon is, in part, responsible for poverty and violence in surrounding favelas too. Rural agricultural workers, who depend on the forest for a living, have been forced to leave the Amazon now that it is less dense and farming has been modernized. The only place left for them to go are Brazil’s cities, resulting in a crowding of favelas and the tension that results from a government pushing disparate communities into close proximity.

One of Protti’s selected photographs depicts members of the Guajajara forest guard beating an indigenous man accused of collaborating with illegal loggers. Over the course of his time photographing the rain forest and its native people, Protti was able to observe how seasonal changes affect the Amazon’s health, during the dry season (July through October) and the rainy season too. The joint work between Protti and Cowie explores the humanitarian crises plaguing the region—from Venezuelan refugee groups to agrarian and religious conflicts—and the ongoing deforestation too. “It’s a really complex award from my point of view. [The Amazon] is a national treasure,” Protti says about his win. “It’s nothing new, fires happen every year . . . but at the same time, the fires are consequences of the social [situation].”

Protti’s photographs and the accompanying reportage will be presented in London and at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) in Paris starting December 4. They will also be included, concurrently, in a monograph copublished with Reliefs Éditions.

https://www.fastcompany.com/90399868/a-photographers-race-to-document-the-destruction-of-the-amazon-rain-forest

Interview with Cédric Herrou, migrants rights defender who is the central person in the film Libre

July 18, 2019

ISHR had the chance to meet with Cédric Herrou for the Geneva premiere of movie ‘Libre’ where director Michel Toesca follows him in his endeavours in France‘s Roya Valley. During our interview, Herrou, a migrant rights defender and president of association ‘Défends Ta Citoyenneté’, shared his testimony, challenges, aspirations and calls to action.  The interview was published on 22 March 2019.