Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights Defenders’

EU human rights committee condemns India’s arrest of human rights defenders

June 1, 2020

Maria Arena is the chairperson of the Subcommittee of Human Rights of the European Parliament member of Socialist and Democrats parliamentary group. Photo: Reporter

20 May 2020 the chairperson of the Subcommittee of Human Rights of the European Parliament sent a letter to Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, condemning the arrest of human rights defenders under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

In her letter, Maria Arena said the European body has been closely following the arrests of human rights defenders Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha by the National Investigative Agency in India.

Academic and Dalit author Teltumbde and human rights defender Navlakha had surrendered to the police last month after exhausting their possible legal remedies.

Nine other defenders have been in jail since 2018 in the Bhima Koregaon case, where the charges relate to caste violence around an Ambedkarite event and an alleged Maoist plot to foment armed revolution and possibly assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In 2018, the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had issued a statement against terror charges being invoked against the activists.

It is particularly alarming to note that human rights defenders cannot conduct advocacy activities, notably in favor of India’s poorest and most marginalised communities, without becoming subject to intimidation and harassment,” Arena said in her letter.

Equally worrying is the fact that terrorism charges, including under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) have been used to silence them,” she noted pointing out that by United Nations Special Procedures, this clearly represents a violation of international human rights standards.

The letter further stated that to date, the European Parliament had noted that various forms of legitimate peaceful protests against laws, policies and governmental actions, including the Citizenship Amendment Act, had been portrayed as terrorist activities under this legislation, resulting in a number of arrests. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/07/india-attacks-on-human-rights-defenders-abound-under-unlawful-activities-prevention-act/]

This is notably the case for human rights activists such as Safoora Zargar, Gulfisha Fatima, Khalid Saifi, Meeran Haider, Shifa-Ur-Rehman, Dr Kafeel Khan, Asif Iqbal and Sharjeel Imam, who were recently arrested by the police,” the letter noted.

Against this background, there are also increased fears that the legislation might confer discretionary powers upon state agencies. India, she said, should do much more to ensure a safe and conducive environment for civil society working in the country and consider enacting a law on the protection and promotion of human rights defenders.

In a similar vein, ProtectDefenders on May 26 2020 reports “Increasing attacks against human rights defenders in India and Guatemala”. …..

Over the past month, ProtectDefenders.eu has received a considerable and growing number of reports regarding attacks, threats, and alerts affecting human rights defenders in India. This information alerts to the numerous acts of police and judicial harassment in the repression of legitimate activities in favor of human rights. Among other incidents, police harassment and arbitrary detention of human rights defenders were reported in Manipur State, in relation to statements made to criticise the management of the current COVID-19 pandemic by local authorities.

Safoora Zargar, a 27-years old student and woman human rights defender unjustly detained since 10 April, is one of the OMCT’s campaign #FacesOfHope

For the OMCT campaign see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/25/faces-of-hope-campaign-human-rights-defenders-imprisoned-worldwide/

Moreover, the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah terming the detentions of several Indian human rights activists ‘arbitrary’. It says the activists have been arrested for “their participation in peaceful protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA)” in the last few months.

The letter highlights the cases of Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, student activists who have been associated with the anti-CAA protests in Delhi and were arrested recently by the Delhi police.

https://www.geo.tv/latest/290529-eu-human-rights-subcommittee-condemns-indias-arrest-of-human-rights-activists

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/europe-flags-rights-concern/cid/1777254

https://thewire.in/rights/ifhr-anti-caa-activists-arrests-release

4 June: Virtual Discussion with Human Rights Defenders During COVID-19

May 29, 2020

Live discussion with 3 human rights defenders from across the globe

This event is part of the ‘Mural of Change’ campaign by Justice and Peace. 

Today, more than ever before, we need to bring awareness to human rights, justice and environmental action. For this reason, we from Justice and Peace Netherlands have brought to you the ‘Mural of Change’ – a vibrant graffiti mural in The Hague representing known and unknown human rights defenders from around the world. The mural created by the graffiti-art duo Karski & Beyond is a visual statement and a call to action, as it comes in the unprecedented times of COVID-19 pandemic.  [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/19/mural-of-human-rights-defenders-vitaly-safarov-greta-thunberg-and-berta-caceres-unveiled-at-hague-university/]

As part of our campaign to spread the message of change and action for human rights, we invite you to join our virtual event ‘Standing Side By Side With Human Rights Defenders’. During this event you will have the opportunity to meet three human rights defenders that took part in Shelter City. They will share with you the challenges they have been facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic; how their countries and the countries in their regions have responded to the spread of the virus; and how we can support them in their work. You will also have the chance to get in a conversation with them and ask your own questions.

SPEAKERS:

  • Genesis Davila, Human rights lawyer from Venezuela
  • Shibolo Awali, Lawyer and LGBTI rights defender from Uganda
  • Asha Kowtal, Dalit women’s rights defender from India

This discussion will be moderated by Tessa de Ryck, Security Training Coordinator for HRDs at Justice and Peace. The event will be in English.

https://www.crowdcast.io/e/xd56xkt9/register

Internet of things (IoT) connectivity for Natalia

May 28, 2020

Swedish operator Tele2 is to provide IoT connectivity to the Civil Rights Defenders’ Natalia Project, allowing those in the program who feel under threat to use a specially issued wearable device to send a distress signal with a GPS location to nearby local contacts, as well as to the Civil Rights Defenders headquarters in Stockholm. [The Internet of things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction]. In the future, Tele2 will provide IoT connectivity to every unit in the Natalia Project, including roaming on more than 450 networks worldwide

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/04/24/the-natalia-gps-alarm-bracelet-wins-golden-egg-awards-in-stockholm/

The Natalia Bracelet is named in honor of Natalia Estemirova, a human rights activist who was abducted and murdered in Chechnya in 2009.

Phyllis Omido, a Kenyan environmental human rights defender who participates in the Natalia Project, said the scheme has freed her from fear as she knows that someone is watching over her, adding that no tangible change can be achieved when one constantly lives in fear of retribution. 

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/tele2-provides-iot-connectivity-for-civil-rights-defenders-security-alarms–1340142

Zimbabwean Human rights defender sets up torture fund

May 28, 2020

On 28 May 2020 Bulawayo News reported that Kwekwe-based human rights defender Nkosilathi Moyo said he was putting together a war chest to assist victims of State-sponsored violence.

Moyo launched his fight for democracy in 2015 when he travelled to the Netherlands and met European Union’s human rights ambassadors lobbying them to support human rights defenders in Zimbabwe. During the visit he also met Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and lobbied her to support efforts to improve democracy back home.

Speaking to Southern Eye on Monday, Moyo said the recent events that saw MDC Alliance’s Harare West MP Joanah Mamombe, youth leaders Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, and Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe gender secretary Moreblessing Nyambara tortured at the hands of suspected State security agents, had motivated him to set up the fund.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, I established the community human rights defenders academy which trained more than 80 defenders in Midlands province, empowering them with skills to enhance human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe.”

Now in light of the upsurge in violations against activists with the height of that madness being abduction of an MP Joanah Mamombe and others, I have been jolted to act. So far I have written to foreign embassies in Harare, international donors and other development partners to solicit for a financial facility that would support victims of human rights violations. We have also started putting together resources with local partners for the same cause,” Moyo said.

In the past, Moyo through his organisation Zimbabwe Youths in Politics, raised awareness on good governance and tenets of democracy mostly among rural dwellers.

[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/02/04/zimbabwe-death-threats-against-human-rights-defenders-nkosilathi-moyo-and-jasper-maposa/]

What we are realising is that autocratic regimes take advantage of poverty among political activists to suppress them and violate their rights at will. But with the kind of funding we are putting together, that will not be the case. Activists need to be supported to meet medical bills, legal representation costs, programming of their activities and compensation to their families in extreme cases. So that is the motivation of our current efforts. We should not wait for the worst to happen, then we start running around to look for resources. A ready fund must be there,” Moyo said.

https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-186130.html

4 June 2020 Webinar on business and human rights in the context of COVID-19

May 27, 2020

Having just posted a report on the prolifiration of intergovernmental responses to the Corona virus pandemic [https://wp.me/pQKto-4ob], it perhaps good to point to the webinar that Business & human rights is organising on 4 June 2020 on Risks and Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

This webinar will have a focus on the risks and protection of HRDs, particularly labour rights and land/environmental defenders and ensuring their participation in the post-pandemic recovery.

Date & Time: 4 June, 4.15 – 5.15 (ICT) / 10.15 – 11.15 (BST)

It will have two parts: a closed and an open session. The closed session – happening on Jitsi – will be a safe space for civil society organisations, human rights defenders, including labour rights and land and environmental defenders, labour unions, and journalists to jointly define practical recommendations on what governments and companies can do to address human rights situation, particularly of labour, land, environmental defenders and civic freedoms, in the context of COVID-19. This part of the webinar is invite-only.

The second part – happening on Zoom – will be an open session, will be an opportunity for civil society, defenders, and journalists to interact with government and business representatives and discuss how companies, governments and civil society can work together to ensure all stakeholders are able to shape recovery efforts, and make sure they are human rights compliant. Anyone is free to join us in the public session by RSVP-ing below.

Norwegian Human Rights Fund publishes its theory of change

May 20, 2020

Perhaps the home-bound period of the pandemic is a good time to reflect more deeply on the way we work. The Norwegain Human Rights Fund has done this [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/07/29/nhrf-seeks-a-theory-of-change-consultant/] and now reports the first result:

The development of the theory of changewas a participatory process involving the NHRF Secretariat, its Board, NHRF local consultants, and a selection of grantee partners. It is a living document that represents our theory of how change is created and driven forward. It articulates expected outcomes and their preconditions that, together, form pathways of change that lead to the overall goal. We understand these processes to be non-linear, interconnected, interdependent, mutually reinforcing, and occurring simultaneously or separately. The theory of change will guide our work as a partner and grantmaker by informing the support we provide to human rights work to achieve the defined outcomes and overall goal. It is one of the key elements used in our monitoring, evaluation, and learning processes. We will regularly review and refine the theory of change as we assess if our interventions are bringing about change and if the pathways of change are accurate and realistic.

Download our Theory of Change

https://nhrf.no/what-we-are/theory-of-change

Calls for Nominations for Roger Baldwin Award

May 19, 2020

The winner will be selected by a distinguished jury, and will receive a trip to the United States to engage in advocacy, subject to Covid-19-related travel restrictions, as well as a $30,000 prize. Nominations can be made by an individual or an organization. Nominees will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • The nominee’s work is unique or particularly distinctive;
  • The nominee’s work has been effective in advancing human rights in a country other than the United States;
  • The nominee faces risk or insecurity as a result of their work; and
  • The nominee would benefit significantly from receiving the Baldwin Award, in the form of enhanced protection, or in any other way.

For further information about the award or the nomination process, please contact Emilee Cutright at CutrightE@humanrightsfirst.org or (202) 370-3307.

https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/baldwin-award

Arctivism Projects: human rights and artists collaborating

May 18, 2020

Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa issues press statement

May 13, 2020

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

On 1 May 2020 the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals in Africa, Rémy Ngoy Lumbu, expresses concern following reports of reprisals against human rights defenders and civil society in Africa and the adverse effects that national responses of States Parties to combat the COVID-19 pandemic have on their work. [please note that Africa has a regional rapporteur, not to be confused with the UN Secial Rapporteur on HRDs, Mary Lawlor (https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/07/mary-lawlor-takes-up-post-as-un-special-rapporteur-for-human-rights-defenders/)]:

In the context of this COVID-19 global pandemic, the role of human rights defenders has become ever more important to safeguard the fundamental human rights enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter). The Rapporteur notes, in particular, serious violations of the freedom of assembly and association, as enshrined in the African Charter and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

The Rapporteur deplores the fact that, notwithstanding the press releases of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 17 and 24 March 2020 encouraging States to ensure compliance with the provisions of the African Charter and advocating for effective and human rights-based responses to curb the spread of the COVID-19  pandemic in Africa, several human rights defenders continue to be detained in overcrowded or unsanitary prisons and other detention centres without being charged, and this makes them especially vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.

The Special Rapporteur stresses the obligation of States Parties to ensure that measures adopted within the framework of COVID-19 national responses are not used as an opportunity to discriminate against, stigmatize or target particular individuals or groups, including civil society organizations and human rights defenders.

The Special Rapporteur would like to remind that efforts deployed by States Parties to curb the spread of COVID-19 in their respective territories should not result in the silencing of human rights defenders and should comply with the provisions of the African Charter. The Special Rapporteur would also like to call on human rights defenders to continue, with determination, their activities to promote and protect human rights in compliance with the laws and regulations adopted in the context of this global threat.

The Special Rapporteur urges States Parties to:

  1. Ensure that national responses to the COVID-19 pandemic do not lead to the targeting or undue interference with the work of human rights defenders;
  2. Refrain from using COVID-19 related emergency declarations to justify the adoption of repressive measures against specific groups such as human rights defenders;
  3. Also refrain from adopting measures that restrict civic space and contribute to creating a hostile environment for human rights defenders;
  4. Ensure that human rights defenders can communicate freely without fear of reprisal;
  5. Take all necessary measures enabling human rights defenders to conduct their core activities, in particular, those providing support to the most vulnerable populations, while complying with the health measures necessary to combat COVID-19; and
  6. Promptly release human rights defenders detained without charge.

https://www.achpr.org/pressrelease/detail?id=496

TRANET-Africa reports attacks increasing on youth human rights defenders

May 12, 2020