Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights Defenders’

Side event on human rights defenders working on Business and Human Rights issues

November 23, 2017

This side event will take place during the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights. The event will bring together multiple stakeholders to discuss how to remedy, redress and prevent attacks against human rights defenders working on business and human rights.

Breaking news: UN adopts key Resolution on Human Rights Defenders

November 21, 2017

Norway, which chaired the negotiations, managed to get 76 countries to co-sponsor the draft resolution, which was developed in close consultation with civil society.  In view of the importance of the resolution I attached the full text which also has the list of co-sponsoring countries.

The resolution condemns the criminalization, curtailing and killing of human rights defenders. It calls for the release of all those who have been imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of speech and other fundamental freedoms. This is the first time that UN Member States have unanimously agreed to send such a clear and powerful message on the need to protect human rights defenders.  In order to build on this important development, the UN will convene a high-level meeting on the situation of human rights defenders, and the UN Secretary-General has been requested to strengthen the UN’s role in protecting human rights defenders. All this in the context of the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders next year.

source: https://www.regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/resolution-hr-defenders/id2579366/

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Human Rights Defenders UN Consensus Resolution 2017

Final text as adopted in 3C on 20 November 2017

76 cosponsors: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brasil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Canada, Czech Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor Leste, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay and Vanuatu:

draft resolution

Twentieth anniversary and promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs
of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

The General Assembly,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Guided also by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,[1] the International Covenants on Human Rights[2] and other relevant instruments,

Recalling its resolution 53/144 of 9 December 1998, by which it adopted by consensus the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, commonly referred to as the Declaration on human rights defenders,

Recalling also all its other previous resolutions on this subject, including its resolutions 66/164 of 19 December 2011, 68/181 of 18 December 2013 and 70/161 of 17 December 2015, and Human Rights Council resolutions 22/6 of 21 March 2013,[3] 31/32 of 24 March 2016[4] and 34/5 of 23 March 2017,[5]

Reiterating that all human rights and fundamental freedoms are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated and should be promoted and implemented in a fair and equitable manner, without prejudice to the implementation of each of those rights and freedoms,

Reaffirming that States have the primary responsibility and are under the obligation to respect, promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons,

Stressing, in this regard, that all human rights and fundamental freedoms apply to all persons equally, including human rights defenders[6] in the context of the Declaration, and that these rights and freedoms must be respected, protected and fulfilled without discrimination,

Reaffirming the importance of the Declaration and its implementation, and that promoting respect and support for the activities of human rights defenders is essential to the overall enjoyment of human rights,

Underscoring the positive, important and legitimate role of human rights defenders in promoting and advocating the realization of all human rights, at the local, national, regional and international levels, including by engaging with Governments and contributing to the efforts in the implementation of the obligations and commitments of States in this regard,

Welcoming the steps taken by some States to create a safe and enabling environment for the promotion, protection and defence of human rights, and recognizing in this regard the positive efforts by authorities, national human rights institutions where they exist and civil society towards the development and enactment of relevant national policies, laws, programmes and practices,

Recognizing the substantial role that human rights defenders can play in supporting efforts to strengthen conflict prevention, peace and sustainable development, including environmental protection, through dialogue, openness, participation and justice, including by monitoring, reporting on and contributing to the promotion and protection of all civil, political, economic social and cultural rights, and other rights, including the right to development, and in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,[7]

Gravely concerned by the considerable and increasing number of allegations and communications of a serious nature received by special procedures of the Human Rights Council and other mechanisms on the threats, risks and dangers faced by human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, online and offline, and the prevalence of impunity for violations and abuses against them in many countries, where they face threats, harassment and attacks and suffer insecurity, including through restrictions on, inter alia, the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, association or peaceful assembly, and the right to privacy, or through abuse of criminal or civil proceedings, or acts of intimidation and reprisal intended to prevent their cooperation with the United Nations and other international bodies in the field of human rights,

Mindful that domestic law and administrative provisions and their application should not hinder, but enable the work of human rights defenders, including by avoiding any criminalization, stigmatization, impediments, obstructions or restrictions thereof contrary to the obligations and commitments of States under international human rights law,

Underscoring that the legal framework within which human rights defenders work peacefully to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms is that of national legislation consistent with the Charter and international human rights law,

Stressing that, in the exercise of the rights and freedoms referred to in the Declaration, human rights defenders, acting individually and in association with others, shall be subject only to such limitations as are in accordance with applicable international obligations and are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society;

Gravely concerned that national security and counter-terrorism legislation and other measures, such as laws regulating civil society organizations, are in some instances misused to target human rights defenders or have hindered their work and endangered their safety in a manner contrary to international law,

Recognizing the pressing importance to address, and to take concrete steps to prevent and stop, the use of legislation to hinder or limit unduly the ability of human rights defenders to exercise their work, including by reviewing and, where necessary, amending relevant legislation and its implementation in order to ensure compliance with international human rights law,

Strongly reaffirming that everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels, as laid out in the Declaration, and, in view of the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration, encouraging leaders in all sectors of society and in their respective communities, including political, military, social and religious leaders and leaders in business and the media, to express public support for human rights defenders in society, including women human rights defenders, and in cases of threat, harassment, violence, discrimination, racism and other violations and abuses committed against them, including killings, to take a clear stance in rejection of such practices and offences,

  1. Stresses that the right of everyone to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms without retaliation or fear thereof is an essential element in building and maintaining sustainable, open and democratic societies;
  2. Calls upon all States to take all measures necessary to ensure the rights and safety of all persons, including human rights defenders, who exercise, inter alia, the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association, which are essential for the promotion and protection of human rights;
  3. Welcomes the work and takes note of the report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights defenders,[8] and also takes note of the report of the Secretary-General on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights;[9]
  4. Urges States to acknowledge through public statements, policies, programmes or laws the important and legitimate role of individuals, groups and organs of society, including human rights defenders, in the promotion of all human rights, democracy and the rule of law as essential components of ensuring their recognition and protection, including by duly investigating and condemning publicly all cases of violence and discrimination against human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, underlining that such practices can never be justified;
  5. Encourages partnerships and collaboration between States, national human rights institutions, civil society and other stakeholders in promoting, protecting and realizing all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including through consultative bodies, focal points within the public administration, national human rights mechanisms for reporting or follow-up, or measures aimed at enhancing the recognition in society of the valuable role played by human rights defenders, while fully recognizing the importance of the independent voice of human rights defenders and other civil society actors;
  6. Underlines the value of national human rights institutions, established and operating in accordance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles),[10] in the continued engagement with human rights defenders and in the monitoring of existing legislation and consistently informing the State about its impact on the activities of human rights defenders, including by making relevant and concrete recommendations;
  7. Strongly condemns the violence against and the targeting, criminalization, intimidation, torture, disappearance and killing of any individuals, including human rights defenders, for reporting and seeking information on human rights violations and abuses, and stresses the need to combat impunity by ensuring that those responsible for violations and abuses against human rights defenders, including against their legal representatives, associates and family members, are promptly brought to justice through impartial investigations;
  8. Condemns all acts of intimidation and reprisal by State and non-State actors against individuals, groups and organs of society, including against human rights defenders and their legal representatives, associates and family members, who seek to cooperate, are cooperating or have cooperated with subregional, regional and international bodies, including the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms, in the field of human rights, and strongly calls upon all States to give effect to the right of everyone, individually and in association with others, to unhindered access to and communication with international bodies, including the United Nations, its special procedures, the universal periodic review mechanism and the treaty bodies, as well as regional human rights mechanisms;
  9. Calls upon States to take concrete steps to prevent and put an end to arbitrary arrest and detention, including of human rights defenders, and in this regard strongly urges the release of persons detained or imprisoned, in violation of the obligations and commitments of States under international human rights law, for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, including in relation to cooperation with the United Nations or other international mechanisms in the area of human rights;
  10. Strongly reaffirms the urgent need to respect, protect, facilitate and promote the work of those promoting and defending economic, social and cultural rights, as a vital factor contributing towards the realization of those rights, including as they relate to environmental, land and indigenous issues, business activity as well as development, including through corporate accountability;
  11. Continues to express particular concern about systemic and structural discrimination and violence faced by women human rights defenders of all ages, and reiterates its strong call upon States to take appropriate, robust and practical steps to protect women human rights defenders and to integrate a gender perspective into their efforts to create a safe and enabling environment for the defence of human rights, as called for by the General Assembly in its resolution 68/181;
  12. Urges non-State actors, including transnational corporations and other business enterprises, to respect, promote and strive for the protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons, including human rights defenders, and underlines the need to ensure human rights due diligence and the accountability of, and the provision of adequate remedies by, transnational corporations and other business enterprises, while also urging States to adopt relevant policies and laws in this regard, including to hold all companies to account for involvement in threats or attacks against human rights defenders;
  13. Welcomes the steps taken by some States to promote and give effect to the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,[11] as well as by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and some regional organizations in making the Declaration available and known to all stakeholders at the national and local levels, in their respective languages, and underlines the need to promote and give full and appropriate effect to the Declaration;
  14. Decides to devote a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly at its seventy-third session in 2018, within existing resources, to the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration, with a view to giving impetus to its promotion in all regions, and requests the President of the General Assembly to conduct consultations with Member States in order to determine the scope and modalities for that meeting;
  15. Encourages all parts of the international community, in view of the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration, including States, national human rights institutions, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, in cooperation with relevant parts of the United Nations system, relevant regional organizations and civil society actors, to initiate and take part in awareness-raising activities at the local, national, regional and international levels, to promote and support the Declaration and its implementation, invites all stakeholders to report thereon to the Office of the High Commissioner, and requests this Office to make a compilation thereof available for the General Assembly high-level plenary meeting referred to in paragraph 14 above;
  16. Requests the Secretary-General, in view of the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration, to undertake a comprehensive assessment and analysis of progress, achievements and challenges related to the ways in which the Office of the High Commissioner, as well as other relevant United Nations offices, departments and specialized agencies, including at the country level, within their respective mandates, give and can give due consideration to the Declaration and take into account the reports of the Special Rapporteur, in their work, and assist States in strengthening the role and security of human rights defenders as called for by the General Assembly in its resolutions 62/152 of 18 December 2007, 64/163 of 18 December 2009, 66/164, 68/181 and 70/161, recognizing that technical assistance and capacity-building are to be provided in consultation with, and with the consent of, the Member States concerned;
  17. Further requests the Secretary-General to undertake his assessment and analysis in cooperation with the Special Rapporteur and in consultation with States, other relevant special procedures mandate holders, relevant treaty bodies, relevant United Nations offices, departments and specialized agencies, including at the country level, as well as national human rights institutions and civil society, and to present the results of this assessment and analysis in a report to the General Assembly at the 73rd session[12], containing conclusions and recommendations for effective technical assistance and capacity-building, including good practices thereof and examples of positive impact or change as well as challenges related to the provision of support to States in the implementation of relevant human rights obligations and commitments, recognizing that technical assistance and capacity-building are to be provided in consultation with, and with the consent of, the Member States concerned;
  18. Requests all concerned United Nations system entities and organizations, within their mandates, to provide all possible assistance and support to the Special Rapporteur for the effective fulfilment of his mandate, including in the context of country visits and through suggestions on ways and means of ensuring the protection of human rights defenders;
  19. Requests the Special Rapporteur to continue to report annually on his activities to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, in accordance with the mandate;
  20. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

[1] Resolution 217 A (III).

[2] Resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.

[3] See Official Records of the General Assembly, Sixty-eighth Session, Supplement No. 53 (A/68/53), chap. IV, sect. A.

[4] Ibid., Seventy-first Session (A/71/53), chap. IV, sect. A.

[5] Ibid., Seventy-second Session (A/72/53), chap. IV, sect. A.

 [6] The term human rights defenders applies consistent with the purposes, principles and provisions of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

[7] Resolution 70/1.

[8] A/72/170.

[9] A/HRC/36/31.

[10] Resolution 48/134, annex.

[11] Resolution 53/144, annex.

[12] Including a presentation for the high level plenary meeting referred to in paragraph 14 above

Jiang Tianyong, Chinese defender of defenders, sentenced to 2 years jail

November 21, 2017

Jiang Tianyong, 46, who had taken on many high-profile cases including those of Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetan protesters and victims of the 2008 contaminated milk powder scandal, before being disbarred in 2009, received a two year jail sentence. He was convicted on the spurious grounds of “inciting subversion” on Tuesday. Jiang’s sentence is the most high-profile jailing since Xi confirmed his status as China’s most powerful leader in a generation at a Communist Party congress last month. Jiang’s family has been unable to contact him since his sudden disappearance last November en route from Beijing to Changsha, where he had gone to inquire about detained human rights lawyer Xie Yang.

Jiang Tianyong has long been infiltrated and influenced by anti-China forces and gradually formed the idea of overthrowing the existing political system of the country,” the judge said. The court said he had gone abroad for training on how to accomplish the goal and “applied for financial support from foreign anti-China forces”.

German Ambassador to China Michael Clauss expressed “serious concerns about the lawfulness of the legal proceedings”, saying in a statement the trial’s circumstances “certainly called into question the fairness of the verdict”. Germany will “continue to take an active interest in his fate,” he added.

The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights, Michel Forst, has said he feared Jiang’s previous disappearance was in part retaliation for the lawyer’s assistance to UN experts.

Jiang’s sentence was “a textbook example of the Chinese authorities’ systematic persecution of those who are brave enough to defend human rights in China today,” said Amnesty International China researcher William Nee. It was likely to have a “chilling effect” on other activists, since the evidence used against him was so minimal: critical social media comments, attendance of overseas trainings, and showing moral support to other human rights defenders facing trials.

Jiang’s wife, Jin Bianling, said none of the lawyers she had hired were allowed to see him and she only learned in August that the court had appointed one. “I contacted him continuously, but as soon as he heard I was Jiang Tianyong’s wife, he would immediately hang up the phone,” Jin, who fled to the US in 2013, told AFP by telephone. Four wives of lawyers detained in the 709 crackdown who came to show support were harassed by plainclothes agents and also denied entry in Changsha. “When I heard all the charges they listed against him, I felt my husband was very righteous. They made me greatly admire him,” she said. “I think history will remember what my husband has done.”

http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/chinese-human-rights-lawyers-jailed-for-two-years/article/508131

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/22/chinese-activist-jiang-tianyong-subversion-trial-dismissed-as-sham

Human Rights Defenders slowly gaining recognition in climate talks

November 20, 2017

Overview of recent campaigning for human rights defenders in Vietnam

November 18, 2017

The NOW! campaign, founded by 14 human rights organizations, calls for the immediate release of 165 prisoners of conscience in Vietnam. The campaign has established a comprehensive online database containing information about Vietnam’s prisoners of conscience. According to the database, Vietnam’s prisoners of conscience included bloggers, journalists, environmentalists, students, farmers, and workers who were arrested for their peaceful activism. Together, these men and women are serving 955 years and one month in prison, followed by 204 years under house arrest. Most of them were charged with violating article 79 of the criminal law, “plotting to overthrow the government”, and article 88, “conducting propaganda against the state”. But Civil Rights Defenders, one of the members of the NOW! campaign, said that the number of prisoners of conscience could be higher. [see also earlier post: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/01/14/assaults-on-human-rights-defenders-on-the-rise-in-vietnam/]

A letter signed by 17 civil society organizations urged leaders who attended the 2017 summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Vietnam to raise the issue of human rights violations committed by state forces. The letter informed APEC leaders that Vietnam has detained at least 25 peaceful activists and bloggers since last year. “This crackdown is contrary to the goal of “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future” which is the stated theme of this year’s APEC gathering. Arbitrary detention, censorship, and state-sponsored violence against activists and human rights defenders are not only an affront to our common humanity but a grave violation of international human rights laws and standards. We believe it is in the strong interest of APEC and of the international community to speak out against the widespread and systematic violations of human rights violations in Vietnam.”

Nine human rights groups launched the #StopTheCrackdownVN campaign decrying the crackdown of bloggers and activists in recent months and the harsh prison terms handed out to critics of the state. Don Le, a writer and member of Viet Tan political party, explained how the notorious articles 79 and 88 of the law are used by authorities to silence citizens: The law also allows authorities to filter, block or temporarily shutdown networks on the basis of any information that may be seen to “incite” mass gatherings that disturb national security and order. Given the Vietnamese government’s broad interpretation of national security, we might expect to see more attacks and shutdowns aimed at independent media and bloggers and arrests of peaceful community mobilisers.

But Vietnam is not easily impressed as the recent case of reprisals shows: Front Line Defenders reports that three human rights defenders were briefly arrested after meeting the EU Delegation in Hanoi. [On 16 November 2017, human rights defenders Pham Doan Trang, Bui Thi Minh Hang and Nguyen Quang were arrested by police after attending a meeting with the European Union Delegation in Hanoi to discuss human rights issues ahead of the EU – Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue, scheduled for 1 December 2017. After being kept incommunicado without access to legal representation, the human rights defenders were released. They remain under surveillance.] From Line adds that: Authorities in Vietnam have a habit of tightening the grip over human rights defenders and civil society ahead of international meetings. During the APEC Summit in Danang between 6 and 10 November 2017, and afterwards, during the state visits of U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, several human rights defenders and activists were kept under house arrest and heavy surveillance. Reports also state that human rights defenders were harassed by policemen in plainclothes to prevent them from meeting with international officials or organising demonstrations.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement in July 2017 expressing concern about the detention and persecution of citizen journalists: We urge the Vietnamese authorities to immediately release all those detained in connection with their exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, and to amend the overly broad ill-defined laws that are used – under the pretext of national security – to crack down on dissent.

UN Rapporteurs urge ASEAN summit to address regional human rights concerns

November 11, 2017

Four UN human rights experts*(including Michel Forst, the Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders) have called on states to address pressing human rights issues during the 31st ASEAN Summit being held from 10-14 November in the Philippines. Recognising the important work of the many active civil society organisations across the region, the experts expressed concern about “a worrying deterioration in the environment in which they operate.

Human rights defenders, social activists, lawyers, journalists, independent media and even parliamentarians trying to speak out and protect the rights of others, increasingly face a multitude of risks ranging from judicial harassment and prosecution to threats, disappearances and killings,” said the experts. They observed rising numbers of cases of serious human rights violations affecting among others, people working on women’s rights, environmental and land issues and lawyers dealing with drug cases.

The experts called on the 10 ASEAN Member States to amend or repeal existing legislation and to reconsider draft laws that are being or could be applied to criminalize or restrict the vital work of civil society.  “We condemn the public vilification, harassment, arrests and killings of members of civil society, and call on Member States to rigorously uphold their duty to ensure the freedom and protection of those exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” the experts said. “Independent media, members of civil society and human rights defenders should be viewed as partners and as an essential element of democracy.

 

This summit should be seen as an opportunity to make real progress on these issues and to show the world that the Member States of ASEAN are fully committed to securing the human rights of all in the region,” the group said.

(*) The UN experts are: Ms. Annalisa Ciampi, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions;  Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders;  Ms. Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22380&LangID=E

Mexican Graciela Pérez Rodriguez to receive 2017 Human Rights Tulip

November 10, 2017

The 2017 Human Rights Tulip has been awarded to Mexican human rights defender Graciela Pérez Rodriguez. Foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra will present her with the prize on Friday 8 December in The Hague, two days ahead of Human Rights Day. The Human Rights Tulip is an annual prize awarded by the Dutch government to human rights defenders who take an innovative approach to promoting human rights. The prize consists of a bronze sculpture and €100,000, which is intended to enable recipients to further develop their work. See: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/tulip-award

Graciela Pérez Rodriguez defends the rights of family members of disappeared persons in Mexico. Through her work she attempts to break through the taboos surrounding this issue. The human rights defender is herself searching for her disappeared daughter, brother and three nephews. Graciela Pérez Rodriguez, a non-professional who has immersed herself in forensic science, is a founding member of the Forensic Citizen Science project. This national collective of disappeared persons’ family members in various Mexican states helped establish the Mexican National Citizen Registry of Disappeared Persons and a DNA database run by and for citizens, which facilitates the identification of victims’ remains at a late stage.

Despite the difficult circumstances in which she works, Graciela remains committed to searching for disappeared persons in Mexico,’ Mr Zijlstra said. ‘Human rights defenders like Graciela are indispensable in the fight for a better world. It takes pressure from the inside to achieve real change.’ Disappearances are a serious problem in Mexico. Between January and August this year over 2,400 people were reported missing. In mid-October the Mexican Congress passed a new law to combat disappearances, which provides for longer prison sentences and a committee tasked with finding disappeared persons. The Dutch government sees this law as an important step forward in dealing with this problem.

see also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/mexico/

https://www.government.nl/latest/news/2017/11/09/graciela-perez-rodriguez-to-receive-2017-human-rights-tulip

African human rights defenders were trained in Banjul on effective monitoring

November 10, 2017

 

Human rights defenders from across Africa were in The Gambia undergoing a three-day training to consolidate their knowledge and skills on relevant human rights instruments for effective monitoring at the continental and international levels. The training on international and regional human rights mechanisms, was held from 25 – 29 October 2017, was organised by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, CIVICUS, ISHR, ACHPR and the United Nations Human Rights Council. The training was held on the margins of the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 61st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and 36th African Human Rights Book Fair.

The training was designed to sharpen the knowledge and skills on the procedures for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. It was divided into three main parts: the international and the regional systems and mechanisms for the two days, and freedom of association and assembly, the SDGs, and human rights monitoring. Hannah Forster of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS – http://www.acdhrs.org) said: “This, we believe, will enable us to better understand opportunities available as we engage governments in the fulfillment of their mandates to promote and protect human rights and it will equip us with the knowledge and skills to lobby our governments to domesticate and implement their commitments while assisting participants to frame a strategy as they seek redress for violations of human rights”.

 

Source: African human rights defenders train on effective monitoring – The Point Newspaper, Banjul, The Gambia

Helen Hunt joins list of celebrities that show insensitivity on human rights

November 10, 2017

Celebrity support for human rights can do much good but there are still too many who simply do not study the issue before accepting. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/02/28/and-the-nominees-are-oscars-for-human-rights/]. Two days ago Brian Rohan of Associated Press, reported that actress Helen Hunt just added her name to the list of ignoramuses (“Egyptian activists pan US actress Helen Hunt in open letter”  – 7 November, 2017).

5  November 2017: image taken from video, showing actress Helen Hunt speaking during a government-organized youth conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (AP Photo /CAPITAL BROADCAST CENTER)
Egyptian activists condemned American actress Helen Hunt on Tuesday for her participation in a government-organized youth conference they say is whitewashing authorities’ appalling human rights record and suppression of free speech. The open letter by Mona Seif and other well-known human rights advocates gained nearly 300 signatures by Tuesday afternoon. They included Mohamed Zaree, who last month won the Martin Ennals Award, and Aida Seif el-Dawla, whose Nadeem Center treats victims of torture and trauma and was shuttered by the government earlier this year.

The letter follows a flurry of online criticism against this week’s “World Youth Forum,” hosted under the patronage of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, 62, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Hunt, 54, was a keynote speaker at the opening ceremony. The event’s official Twitter hashtag #WeNeedToTalk has become a battleground for opposing viewpoints, with critics overwhelming the thread with images of Egyptian police beating and chasing down youths during el-Sissi’s rule alongside portraits of young jailed activists.

This isn’t just any forum that you chose to endorse,” the letter to Hunt read. “This is a youth forum with the slogan ‘We Need To Talk’ called for by a dictator who cannot stand any form of opposition or real criticism. He jails journalists for doing their jobs, youth for expressing their opinions, writers for writing fiction that violates ‘public morality,’ gays for coming out, supporters of LGBTQ for daring to support diversity, and he has blocked more than 400 different websites and media platforms.

Human rights defenders and their organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented enforced disappearances, widespread torture and a recent arrest campaign targeting people authorities believe are gay. The authorities have blocked hundreds of independent news and critical websites.[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/egypt/]

The forum, which lasts until Nov. 10, has been broadcast nearly all day long on state and private television since its opening ceremony Sunday night. It has been widely promoted with slick television ads in Egypt, where several major Western PR firms advise and work for the government. A giant billboard hovers over Cairo’s Tahrir Square, epicenter of the youth-led 2011 uprising.

Hunt, an Academy Award-winning actress who now directs films, delivered a speech Sunday in which she criticized the U.S. justice system for its high incarceration rates and voiced support for the online anti-sexual harassment movement #MeToo. That, however, did not deflect criticism from Seif and other Egyptian feminists. “Unbelievable Hypocrisy! @Helenhunt speaks of “Women Rights” in a PR circus for a general who justified forced virginity tests,” Seif tweeted, referring to the military’s “virginity tests” conducted on a group of women protesters detained in 2011. El-Sissi, who was the chief of military intelligence at the time, was quoted then as saying the tests were necessary to head off possible allegations that the women were sexually assaulted by soldiers.

Others accused Hunt, the most famous Western celebrity at the event, of selling out to el-Sissi, pointing out a string of websites that advertise her as a for-hire speaker with fees between $50,000 to $1 million. Hunt did not respond to a social media request to discuss her efforts in Egypt.

http://ktul.com/news/entertainment/egyptian-activists-pan-us-actress-helen-hunt-in-open-letter

https://egyptianstreets.com/2017/11/08/egyptian-rights-activists-slam-us-actress-helen-hunt-in-open-letter/

Don’t Shoot the Messenger – also valid in Africa

November 6, 2017

In a new report launched at the 61st session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) finds that amid growing restrictions on civic space in the sub-region, journalists play a critical role in exposing human rights violations and providing vital information and analysis of current events. Simply documenting and sharing information can simultaneously place them at risk and at the forefront of human rights defence.
In “Don’t Shoot the Messenger! Journalists as Human Rights Defenders in the East and Horn of Africa”, DefendDefenders examines the challenges journalists face, and provides an overview of the various strategies they have used to circumvent and continue their work amid these restrictions. Overall trends, legal frameworks, and case studies from 11 countries in the East and Horn of Africa provide an understanding of the capacity, risks, and needs of journalists reporting on human rights issues. Over 60 journalists, bloggers, and media professionals from the sub-region were interviewed, in addition to significant input from civil society organisations dedicated to free expression and the protection of journalists.
Central to the report is the question of whether journalists, by nature of their work, should be considered HRDs. Nearly all journalists interviewed for this report considered themselves to be HRDs, but many had doubts over whether this also applied to all their colleagues. Some interviewees claimed to actively seek out human rights stories, especially in conflict situations, while others also advocated for freedom of expression, often from exile.
Journalists are increasingly faced with new threats to their work and security, including harassment, arbitrary detentions, and imprisonments and prosecutions under spurious laws, both online and offline. These threats intensify amid violent conflicts and political crises, and often force journalists into exile, where they face new challenges. The report offers concrete solutions to online and offline challenges and makes key recommendations to governments and civil society to ensure that a free media environment in the region is protected and promoted.
Download “Don’t Shoot the Messenger!” here.