Posts Tagged ‘Frontline’

Haiti: not a good place for HRDs

August 27, 2013

Via Front Line some good and bad news on Haiti, the country of one the finalists for the MEA 2013: Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

On 22 August 2013, the criminal charges of arson and conspiracy against human rights lawyer Mr Patrice Florvilus were dropped when the original plaintiff stated he would withdraw his complaint. Patrice Florvilus is the Executive Director of Défense des Opprimées/Opprimés – DOP, an organisation which provides legal assistance, in particular to social movements and residents of displacement camps.  For more information on this case, please see the urgent appeal issued by Front Line Defenders on 21 August 2013 .

But…on 23 August 2013, the home of human rights defender Ms Malya Villard Apollon was attacked by a group of armed men, who fired gunshots at the gate. Malya Villard Apollon is the co-director of the Commission of Women Victims for Victims (KOFAVIV), a grassroots women’s organisation working in the poorest areas of Port-au-Prince to prevent and redress sexual assault, care for survivors and build a movement for human rights in Haiti.  The attack took place in the early hours of 23 August 2013, at 1.30 am. The armed men fired gunshots at the gate of Malya Villard Apollon’s home, damaging the gate and the doorbell. The human rights defender called the police who rushed to her home, but by the time they arrived the group had fled the scene. However, the armed men returned shortly thereafter, and upon seeing the police they fired at them. Despite chasing the attackers, the police was unable to apprehend them. This attack is the latest in a series of escalating threats and acts of intimidation against Malya Villard Apollon and other members of KOFAVIV. While they have received threats for a number of years, threats and acts of intimidation have intensified since Malya Villard Apollon was nominated as one of the CNN Heroes in 2012. Her dog has been poisoned, unknown individuals have visited her home and office inquiring about her whereabouts, and both Malya Villard Apollon’s as well as KOFAVIV co-director Marie Eramithe Delva’s children have been followed and have been the subject of attempted kidnappings.


Helping the police in Kenya can cost you dearly – human rights defender John Abok experienced it

June 30, 2013

On 27 June 2013, human rights defender John Abok was arrested and held in police custody over allegations of impersonation. Read the rest of this entry »

Russian HRD Vitaly Ponomarev of Memorial Receives Death threats

January 21, 2013

On 12 January 2013, human rights defender Mr Vitaly Ponomarev received several anonymous death threats through electronic mail. Vitaly Ponomarev is the head of the Central Asia programme of Human Rights Centre (HRC) Memorial, which was founded in 1999 and has a major focus on documenting human rights violations in Central Asian states, particularly Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, in close cooperation with local human right defenders.

The messages received on 12 January, in Russian and Uzbek languages and originating from an IP address in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, threatened Vitaly Ponomarev with death if he moved to the south of Kyrgyzstan, and also issued death threats against his family members living in Moscow. HRC Memorial has lodged a complaint to the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation and requested an investigation to be launched into the threats. The messages follow

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the publication on web site of Memorial on 27 December 2012, of a report containing information about reported torture by Uzbekistan’s security services against Uzbek citizens on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Front Line Defenders believes that the death threats issued against Vitaly Ponomarev are directly linked to his work.

Oman: arbitrary arrest of Said Jaddad

January 16, 2013

One does near much about Oman and the impression could be that it is doing relatively well (the position of women is acknowledged to be good; there is a governmental Human Rights Commission and limited democracy) but after reports in 2012 by AI, HRW and Freedom House amongst others, Frontline now, 14 January 2013, reports the arbitrary arrest of human rights defender and blogger Said Jaddad by the Special Division of Muscat Police Station, where he is currently being detained. Said Jaddad’s work includes the documenting of human rights violations as well as writing critical blog posts about human rights violations in Oman.Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

On 14 January, Said Jaddad received a call from the Special Division of Muscat Police Station, requesting that he present himself to the Station. No legal basis was provided for this request. Upon his arrival, the HRD was detained. He has been denied visitation rights and access to a lawyer, while no formal charges have yet been presented. Furthermore, Said Jaddad, who reportedly suffers from heart problems, has not been provided with medical attention. He has previously been subjected to interrogation by police, on each occasion he was requested to sign an undertaking to cease working in the field of human rights, which he rejected. In February 2011, the human rights defender was threatened if he did not cease his contact with international non-governmental organisations. Said Jaddad has also been officially banned from publishing in the Omani media, including in newspapers, such as Al Zaman and Ru’aya.

Front Line Defenders expresses serious concern at the arbitrary detention of Said Jaddad, and at his physical and psychological integrity, in particular given his reported medical condition. Front Line Defenders believes Said Jaddad’s detention to be solely motivated by his human rights work and views this act as part of an ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders in Oman, including continued acts of judicial harassment. For further information on this situation, please see Front Line Defenders’ appeal dated 15 June 2012 .

HRD Eloísa Barrios In Venezuela under threat following the killing of another member of her family

January 12, 2013

Following the killing, on 15 December 2012, of the ninth member of her family since 1998, the NGO Front Line Defenders is extremely concerned for the safety of human rights defender Eloísa Barrios and her family. Eloísa Barrios has previously submitted petitions to the Inter-American Commission (IACHR) and Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), on 16 March 2004 and 30 December 2005, requesting protection measures for the family as a result of persecution, allegedly by members of the Police of Aragua State.eloisa_barrios_cropped_0

Eloísa Barrios,together with local NGOs, has publicly denounced human rights violations in Aragua State. She has also actively promoted the committees of victims and families of victims in Aragua, and in particular has mobilised mothers of those extrajudicially killed by the state police and accompanied them through the process of filing complaints, the court process and speaking out in social media. Eloísa Barrios has been vocal in speaking out about the Venezuelan State’s failure to effectively protect her family from extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations and has reported an increase in the threats made against her and her family after she denounced the killings before the Inter-American system. She has been threatened by state police officials in retaliation for the constant complaints to the 20th Prosecutor’s Office of the Public Ministry in Aragua concerning her son’s detention on three occasions and ill-treatment in custody. In January 2012 the human rights defender moved from her home as a result of the intimidation.

Since 1998 nine members of the Barrios family have been murdered and several others have been detained and subjected to illegal and arbitrary searches of their homes, suffered threats against their lives and personal integrity, and been forced to move from their place of residence.

The IACHR and the IACtHR have followed the case through all available mechanisms after concluding that Venezuela has violated the rights to life, physical integrity and freedom of several members of the Barrios family, including some minors, however the State has failed to comply with the recommendations of either institution and the Barrios family continue to be at risk.Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

Human Rights Defenders have a team in the Euro 2012

June 21, 2012

Front Line Defenders has launched a new campaign during the Euro 2012 football tournament to focus attention on the treatment of human rights defenders in some UEFA countries, where they face imprisonment, attack, harassment, detention and prosecution because of their human rights work.

Visit to view the campaign and to take action to support these brave human rights defenders by sending solidarity postcards, After the Euro 2012 tournament, the site will switch over to focus on the 2012 Olympics and each day of the Olympic fortnight there will be a focus on a defender from an Olympic nation.

Bahrain defends itself at the UN: the usual verbage

May 22, 2012

At the session of the Universal Periodic Review on Bahrain in Geneva this week, a large number of countries (such as France, the UK and USA) and NGOs (such as Human Rights Watch and Frontline) confronted the government of Bahrain with its flagrant shortcomings in respecting its human rights obligations and in implementing the recommendations of its own investigation.

The Bahraini Human Rights Minister, Salah Bin Ali Mohamed Abdulrahman, in response said “radical measures and progressive steps” had been taken to overcome the “sad and unfortunate events” of March 2011. Some of the recommendations required legislative amendments and this “may take some time,” he said. The minister told the meeting Bahrain held no prisoners on charges relating to freedom of expression. “Any such charges have been withdrawn. The only cases (remaining) are criminal cases” ..and …”These cases are being looked at by the judiciary therefore the government cannot interfere”.

No further questions your honor….

Bahrain again: Court postpones decision – Al-Khawaja in critical condition

April 3, 2012

In my post of 1 April I wondered whether the would be justice for the Bahraini HRD on hunger strike, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja. Now we know that the Court of Cassation on Monday did not order the requested release but announced that the decision will be read on April 23. His deteriorating health condition simply cannot wait until that date. The Government remains responsible for the consequences.

Will Bahrain’s highest court do justice tomorrow for HRD Al-Khawaja?

April 1, 2012

A leading Bahraini human rights defender, Al-Khawaja’s appeal is set to be heard in Bahrain’s Court of Cassation on 2 April. He is currently serving a life sentence for his role in anti-government protests last year. The activist is at risk of death after 50 days on hunger strike (according to his lawyer, he has lost 16 kg since his hunger strike began on 8 February). Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, 52, is a former protection co-ordinator with Frontline, an NGO on the Jury of the MEA. He was arrested in April last year for being one of the leaders of anti-government protests and was sentenced to life imprisonment in a grossly unfair trial by a military court last June.  “Bahrain must ensure that Al-Khawaja is released immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther of  Amnesty International, another member of the MEA Jury. He added: “The continued imprisonment of Al-Khawaja demonstrates that the Bahraini authorities are not serious about fulfilling their promises to release people imprisoned for exercising their right to free spHe has not used or advocated violence in his participation in the anti-government protests, and no such evidence was shown by the authorities during the trial.

Activists in Bahrain have repeatedly called for ’s release. Demonstrators in Manama attempted to stage a sit-in at a main highway on Monday, but were quickly dispersed by riot police.  Al-Khawaja, who is married with four daughters, is also a citizen of Denmark, where he lived in exile for decades. He returned to Bahrain after the government announced a general amnesty in 2001. Danish diplomats have visited him in prison several times and confirmed his deteriorating health.