Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights Defenders’

Many NGOs join to demand release of human rights defenders in Algeria

May 23, 2022

38 NGOs, including HRW and AI, ask Algeria to end the repression of human rights and the “immediate” release of detainees. They have launched a campaign calling on Algeria to end the repression of Human Rights and demand the immediate release of people detained in the country for exercising their freedom of expression. “The campaign calls on all relevant individuals, organizations and parties to contribute to collectively demanding an end to the criminalization of the exercise of fundamental freedoms in Algeria using the label At least 300 people have been arrested since the beginning of 2022, and until April 17, in the country for exercising their right to free expression, peaceful assembly or association, according to human rights defender Zaki Hannache. “The arrests and sentences of peaceful activists, independent trade unionists, journalists and human rights defenders have not decreased, even after the protest movement was closed,” they said in a statement. The organizations have given the example of the hunger strike of the Algerian activist, Hadi Lassouli, to protest against his arbitrary imprisonment, as well as the case of Hakim Debazi, who died in custody on April 24 after being placed in preventive detention on April 22. February for social media posts. “Those suspected of criminal responsibility for serious human rights violations must be brought to justice in trials with due guarantees, and the authorities must provide victims with access to justice and effective reparations,” they have requested. This awareness campaign will be carried out until the anniversary of the death of Kamel Eddine Fejar, a human rights defender who died in custody on May 28, 2019 after a 50-day hunger strike. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, was “concerned” last March at the increase in fundamental restrictions in the country, including an increase in arrests and detentions of human rights defenders, as well as members of civil society and political opponents. “I call on the government to change course and take all necessary measures to guarantee the rights of its people to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” she said in a statement from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

https://www.indonewyork.com/breaking/38-ngos-including-hrw-and-ai-ask-algeria-to-end-the-repression-of-human-h30616.html

Davos’ annual meeting starts on 22 May under human rights cloud

May 22, 2022
Agnès Callamard at a press conference

Agnès Callamard at a press conference © Amnesty International

Ahead of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos that starts today, Sunday 22 May 2022, Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said: 

This year’s Davos conference takes place amid a gathering storm of human rights crises. Russia’s mounting war crimes in Ukraine, the terrifying rollback on abortion rights in the US, the still-neglected climate emergency, the ongoing failure to secure universal vaccine access – these are just a few examples of what happens when human rights are sacrificed for power and profit.  

“Many of the political and business leaders attending Davos are directly responsible for these catastrophes, whether through their explicit pursuit of anti-human rights agendas or through their contemptible inaction and failure to implement solutions.  

“The Davos guestlist includes some of the richest and most powerful people in the world, and they have a moral obligation to put respect for human rights at the top of the agenda. They must use their vast wealth and influence to change the status quo and end the rampant inequality which has been the root cause of so much recent suffering.

The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting will take place in Davos, Switzerland, between 22 and 26 May.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/global-rich-and-powerful-meet-davos-amid-gathering-storm-human-rights-crises

Oslo Freedom Forum 2022 starts on 23 May

May 22, 2022

Every year, champions of human rights bring their stories to the Oslo Freedom Forum to shed light on the struggle for freedom around the world.

The theme for the 2022 Oslo Freedom Forum, CHAMPION OF CHANGE, celebrates both activists, who are themselves champions, and their causes. This theme represents a strong, scalable call to action, inviting you to act and advocate on behalf of activists and in support of human rights. At the Oslo Freedom Forum, we realize that everyone has the potential to effect change — either as a champion on an individual level, or as part of a larger movement.

The 2022 Oslo Freedom Forum, is from May 23-25 in Oslo at the Oslo Konserthus. You can also follow it as a stream: https://oslofreedomforum.com/?mc_cid=17de5f8b1f&mc_eid=f80cec329e

The 2022 mainstage program includes keynote speakers, who will be shedding light on the struggle for freedom around the world, including:

  • The three women who are leading the democratic movement in Belarus: Maria KolesnikovaSviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, and Veronica Tsepkalo, first stood on stage together in 2020 in Belarus, when Aleksandr Lukashenko brazenly stole the country’s elections. They will reunite with us, to provide an update on the Belarusian people’s remarkable multi-year protest, and explain how we can help.
  • Carine Kanimba, daughter of imprisoned “Hotel Rwanda” hero — who saved more than a thousand people during the Rwandan genocide — will share her extremely risky quest to liberate her father, who was was kidnapped by the state in 2020, and is now serving a life sentence in prison for criticizing the Kagame regime. Despite being wiretapped and targeted by Pegasus spyware, Carine continues to speak out to bring justice to her father.
  • At the young age of 26, Zarifa Ghafari became the unlikely mayor of Maidan Shar, a town in Afghanistan filled with Taliban support. Hatred toward her as a woman leader led to the assassination of her father in 2020. Last summer, with her life at risk after the fall of Kabul, she made a daring escape in the footwell of a car, evading Taliban fighters. Today she lives in exile, where she continues to advocate for human rights in Afghanistan, committed to the cause of freedom in her country. 
  • Jewher Ilham’s father, Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, has been held under a life sentence since 2014, imprisoned in a concentration camp in China’s Xinjiang region. Jewher has been speaking truth to power, shedding light on China’s forced labor police by testifying before US Congress, publishing op-eds, receiving numerous international awards on behalf of her father, and writing two books on the subject. 
  • In 2012, Syrian activist and Georgetown student Omar Alshogre was detained along with his cousin for demonstrating against the Syrian regime. He spent more than three years in Assad’s infamous jail system, where he endured and survived unspeakable torture. At the age of 20, his mother helped smuggle him out to freedom. His story is a bedrock piece of evidence in the international case to hold the Assad regime accountable for crimes against humanity.
  • One of the 100 most influential women defining the last century according to TIME Magazine, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman, also known as the “mother of the revolution,” “the iron woman,” “Lady of the Arab Spring,” as well as one of the Most Rebellious Women in History, is a notoriously true powerhouse. She is a human rights activist, journalist, politician, and founder of her own international foundation.

BIG question: what to do with long-term detention of Human Rights defenders?

May 21, 2022

Event on 1 June 2022, 12:00-14:00: “Don’t forget about us: Strategies for resisting long-term detention of Human Rights Defenders”. Location: Cassese Room,  Villa Moynier, 120B Rue de Lausanne, Geneva (and online)

Figure of a person in a prison hallway

Logo Ennals

In 2021, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders published a report on cases of long-term detention of activists, which were estimated to number hundreds or thousands worldwide. This report confirms the terrible treatment and conditions many defenders bear in prison. However, while an objective of long-term detention may be to discourage defenders, many cases result in perennial campaigns and increased publicity for the defenders themselves.

How can governments, civil society and international mechanisms work together to keep the pressure on long-term detention cases? What strategies have proven successful in improving respect for defenders’ rights and physical integrity while imprisoned?

This event is co-organized by Geneva Human Rights Platform and the Martin Ennals Awards, which has a long experience with its laureates being detained. This year, two of its three winners are in prison! See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/04/20/save-the-date-and-come-to-the-mea-ceremony-2022-or-watch-online/

Opening

  • Gloria Gaggioli, Director, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Moderation

  • Brian Dooley, Senior advisor on human rights, Human Rights First

Panelists

  • Maryam Al-Khawaja, Human Rights defender and daughter of Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja, detained in Bahrain since 2011
  • Quynh Vi Tran, Journalist and colleague of Pham Doan Trang, detained in Vietnam since 2020
  • Fr. Xavier Soreng SJ, Lecturer, Ranchi Social Sciences Institute, on behalf of Father Stan Swamy (1937-2021), India
  • Gerald Staberock, Secretary-General, World Organisation Against Torture
  • Tor Hodefield, Vuka! Coalition Coordinator, CIVICUS

Registration

This event will take place in a hybrid format:

  • Register here to attend the event at Villa Moynier (places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis) until 26 May 2022
  • Register here to join online via Zoom.

https://www.geneva-academy.ch/event/all-events/detail/336-don-t-forget-about-us-strategies-for-resisting-long-term-detention-of-human-rights-defenders

Better “business and human rights” starts with better understanding

May 17, 2022

Andrés Zaragoza in Open Global Rights of 16 May 2022 hits the nail by arguing that “If we want to constructively engage companies, business associations or investors on human rights issues, we must recognize who our interlocutor is.

..Building trust and a common narrative to engage in a constructive conversation is extremely difficult. Some would argue that a trusting relationship between civil society and private companies is not only impossible but also not desirable; that good faith is nowhere to be found in business sectors where human rights abuses can and do take place.

It has already been 10 years since the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights…..The enactment of legislation at the regional and national levels requiring companies to carry out human rights due diligence, such as the newly proposed EU Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence, as well as negotiations on a binding international treaty on business and human rights, creates a window of opportunity for NGOs to be creative, ambitious, and innovative in testing new advocacy strategies to change corporate conduct and advance human rights.

Despite an understandably dogged legacy of mistrust between civil society and corporations, there is a momentum for human rights organizations to engage productively with businesses, responsible investors, and other private actors that hold increasing market power, leverage, and are subject to new human rights legislation. As we write, global corporations are becoming increasingly relevant actors in international conflicts. In other words, businesses could become powerful allies in advancing human rights’ agendas with governments or in regards to public opinion.  

It’s no mystery that businesses and civil society speak different languages and engage from radically distinct perspectives when referring to human rights issues.

It is true that corporate activism is on the rise, with some companies supporting important causes and campaigns such as LGBTQ+ rights, anti-racism, equality, and non-discrimination. However, companies are not founded for promoting and protecting human rights, even if we may wish it otherwise. Instead, corporations see human rights issues through the lens of their productive and business models. This does not mean that workers or companies do not care about human rights. They do care, especially in certain sectors and business cultures. 

As civil society, we need to identify and understand how to best engage our strategic targets and audiences. If we want to constructively engage companies, business associations or investors on human rights issues, we must recognize who our interlocutor is. Businesses’ core activity is the starting point to analyse any human rights issue: their business, people, customers, and supply chain

Businesses tend to focus on risk identification and mitigation. There is growing recognition that human rights defenders can play a vital role in sounding the alarm on problems within an organization’s operations or supply chain. Generally, ‘UN speak’ does not work with businesses. Civil society should avoid jargon when engaging with business circles. Business representatives seek examples and clarity on which human rights issues are of concern and how they are relevant to their operations. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/21/davos-businesses-need-strong-human-rights-defenders/

Civil society should not automatically feel good about the fact that a company has a person with “human rights” written in their title. Unfortunately, this often means that a position was created for compliance or reputational management purposes, to deal discreetly with human rights issues, or engage (read: manage) civil society relations. By contrast, companies that take human rights seriously embed the topic across functions and departments, working towards including human rights within the company’s ethos. 

To achieve change, civil society should make every effort to better understand the complexity of a particular company, its economic sector, activity, internal governance, corporate values, and culture. Each company has its own systems and structure, progressing through their human rights journey differently. 

On a micro level, the individual background, connections, and motivations of the human rights personnel within the company have great bearing on how issues are pushed through a company. At the systemic level, NGOs must understand the functioning of international business, economics, investment and trade.  

Lessons learnt and scars taken 

..Civil society should understand and use the market. As companies need to comply with human rights and sustainability regulations, NGOs and defenders can become key in risk assessment or due diligence processes, influencing directly the behavior of companies. We need to know the “enemy” and know ourselves. As civil society, we should build our technical capacity to understand and leverage international business, economics, investment and trade. We will not change business dynamics if we do not understand them.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/02/18/business-network-on-civic-freedoms-and-human-rights-defenders-launches-new-website/

https://www.openglobalrights.org/what-it-takes-to-bridge-the-divide-between-the-business-sector-and-human-rights/

Sad symbolic number reached in Mexico: 100,000 disappeared.

May 17, 2022

The 100,000 officially registered disappearances in Mexico illustrate a long-standing pattern of impunity in the country, indicating the tragedy continues daily, UN human rights experts warned.

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) on 17 May 2022 expressed grave concern about the growing numbers registered by Mexico’s National Register of Disappeared Persons

There are now over 100,000 people in Mexico’s national register of the “disappeared.” The UN says organized crime is among the leading causes of missing people in the country. Human rights organizations and relatives of the missing have called on the government to step up investigations and conduct searches more effectively

In the last two years the numbers have spiked from about 73,000 people to more than 100,000 — mostly men.

Mexico has seen spiralling violence since the war on drugs began in 2006, with over 350,000 people having died since then. Last year, the country of more than 129 million people saw 94 murders a day on average.

It’s incredible that disappearances are still on the rise,” Virginia Garay, whose son went missing in 2018 in the state of Nayarit, told news agency Reuters. “The government is not doing enough to find them,” said Garay, who works in a group called Warriors Searching for Our Treasures that seeks to locate missing loved ones.

Civil society groups that help try and locate missing people stress that many families do not report disappearances because of distrust in the authorities. The actual figure of missing people is therefore believed to be much higher than the official data.

Organized crime has become a central perpetrator of disappearance in Mexico, with varying degrees of participation, acquiescence or omission by public servants,” a report by the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, released last month, said.

“State parties are directly responsible for enforced disappearances committed by public officials, but may also be accountable for disappearances committed by criminal organizations,” the report added.

The missing people include human rights defenders, some of whom went missing because of their own involvement in the fight against disappearances.

According to the UN committee, over 30 journalists have also disappeared in Mexico between 2003 and 2021. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/01/31/more-killings-of-journalists-in-mexico-in-2022/

https://www.ohchr.org/en/statements/2022/05/mexico-dark-landmark-100000-disappearances-reflects-pattern-impunity-un-experts

https://www.dw.com/en/mexicos-number-of-disappeared-people-rises-above-100000/a-61820055

Call for applications: funding from USAID for human rights

May 16, 2022

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau for Development, Democracy, and Innovation, Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DDI/DRG) Center is inviting applications for the Justice, Rights, and Security (JRS) Annual Program Statement (APS). Deadline: 11 May 2023

The purpose of the JRS APS is to empower USAID and its Missions to seek solutions to JRS-related challenges, to engage new and underutilized partners, to solve problems not adequately addressed by other USAID investments, and to offer USAID Missions and USAID/Washington Offices a mechanism through which such work can be innovatively accomplished with dedicated support and expertise from USAID Washington DRG Center’s JRS team.

Objectives
  • Promote Justice, including the following objectives:
    • To ensure the independent, efficient, and open administration of justice.
    • To enhance the quality and accessibility of justice.
    • To guarantee impartial application of the law and due process.
    • To improve justice seeker experiences and outcomes.
    • To strengthen effective checks and balances and accountable institutions as foundations of democratic governance.
  • Protect Rights, including the following objectives:
    • To improve enabling environments for the protection and advancement of human rights.
    • To facilitate, develop, and implement effective remedies to address human rights violations and abuses to ensure non-recurrence.
    • To promote equal and equitable enjoyment of human rights by all.
    • To empower people to know, use, and shape the law in their daily lives to protect and advance human rights.
    • To facilitate the work of all types of human rights defenders and activists.
  • Promote Security, including the following objectives:
    • To constrain the arbitrary exercise of power and tempering the use of force by civilian law enforcement.
    • To strengthen the accountability, professionalism, capacity, and integrity of police and other civilian law enforcement actors.
    • To safeguard all members of society from crime and violence, including gender-based violence, so they may live safely and recognize their full potential.
Both U.S. and Non-U.S. Non-Profit Organizations NGOs) are eligible to apply for this APS

NGOs condemn arbitrary arrest of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong

May 15, 2022

NOGs (such as Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Foundation) have condemned the arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen, as well as the lawyer Joseph Zen, the singer Denise Ho and the scholar Hui Po-Keung, for having maintained contacts with foreign forces in Hong Kong.

HRW Senior China researcher Maya Wang, said that “the arrest of a 90-year-old cardinal is the latest example of the city’s human rights freefall in recent years.

The four, along with former lawmaker Cyd Ho, who is already in jail, were part of the 612 Humanitarian Aid Fund, which provided medical, legal and psychological help to protesters arrested during the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Kong.

Denise Ho, Margaret Ng, and others affiliated with Stand News, an independent pro-democracy online publication, were previously arrested by national security police in December 2021 under allegations of publishing “seditious” and “inflammatory” materials. Denise Ho formerly served on the board of Stand News, but stepped down in November 2021. Meanwhile, the 612 Humanitarian Support Fund ceased operations in October 2021 after national security police and Chinese state-backed media requested information on its beneficiaries and donors.

Maya Wang has specified that Hong Kong has “long been a regional leader in openness and respect for the rule of law, but now competes for the first places in Asia for repression and political prisoners.”

The people of Hong Kong have been unequivocal in their demand for human rights, and governments around the world should be unequivocal in their response to that call,” concluded the HRW researcher.

https://mailchi.mp/hrf.org/hong-kong-hrf-condemns-arbitrary-arrest-of-denise-ho-and-colleagues?e=f80cec329e

Floribert Chebeya: DR Congo policeman sentenced to death for murder

May 13, 2022
Floribet Chebeya
Floribert Chebeya, murdered in 2010, received regular threats in his 20-year career

On 12 May 2022 – via the BBC – came the welcome news that finally a Congolese military court has sentenced a high-ranking policeman to death for his role in the 2010 murder of human rights activist Floribert Chebeya, which caused national outrage. See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/02/12/dr-congo-should-reopen-inquiry-into-murder-of-floribert-chebeya/

Commissioner of police Christian Ngoy Kenga Kenga was found guilty of murder, desertion and misappropriation of weapons and ammunition. Mr Chebeya’s body was found bound and gagged in his car in Kinshasa.

There is a moratorium on capital punishments in DR Congo. However, the death penalty has not been abolished and military courts continue to hand down such sentences.

Another policeman, Jacques Migabo, was also sentenced to 12 years during the trial. He admitted to having strangled Mr Chebeya and his driver, Fidèle Bazana.

Police commissioner Paul Mwilambwe, who had been a key witness in the trial, was acquitted, UN-sponsored Radio Okapi says.

Mr Mwilambwe, who had been a fugitive since the murder and was only repatriated last year, named ex-President Joseph Kabila and the former head of police General John Numbi, as having ordered the killing. Neither Mr Kabila nor Gen Numbi have commented publicly, but a military court has charged the general with the murder of Mr Chebeya and his driver. He has fled the country and his current whereabouts are not known.

Kenga, Migabo and Mr Mwilambwe were initially sentenced to death in 2011, with Kenga arrested in 2020 in the southern city of Lubumbashi before the case was re-opened last September. Floribert Chebeya led the Congolese charity Voice of the Voiceless, and as a prominent critic of the government received regular death threats during his career of more than 20 years. See also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/BA601D45-292F-61CB-530A-17FE52D5F974

He went to the police headquarters to meet the then head of the national police force, Gen Numbi, on the day he was killed. His driver Mr Bazana also went missing that day with authorities later pronouncing him dead.

See also: https://www.news24.com/news24/africa/news/widow-of-slain-drc-human-rights-defender-urges-drc-to-try-alleged-mastermind-who-fled-20220516

https://au.news.yahoo.com/floribet-chebeya-dr-congo-policeman-112444817.html

Call for applications for the Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism

May 10, 2022

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism was launched on 16 October 2020 as a tribute to the Maltese anti-corruption investigative journalist and blogger who was assassinated in a car bomb attack in 2017. [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/ea7f958d-a957-4495-9ab4-9550741a8a58]

The Prize, with the support of the European Parliament, will be awarded annually to in-depth journalism pieces undertaken by EU-based professional journalists. The Prize is open to individual professional journalists or teams of professional journalists of any nationality. Applications may be submitted by authors themselves or by professional media organisations and associations on their behalf.

Applications must be submitted via the online platform by  31 July 2022, 12 AM (CEST).

The Prize aims to recognise outstanding in-depth journalism work on topics that are relevant for the European Union (EU) as a whole or some of its Member States, and contribute to the promotion of principles and values of the EU, as enshrined in the European Charter of Human Rights

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/pt/press-room/20220502IPR28408/premio-de-jornalismo-d-caruana-galizia-convite-a-apresentacao-de-candidaturas