Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights Defenders’

Third annual Sporting Chance Forum in Paris is over

December 14, 2018

The third annual Sporting Chance Forum brought together some 300 delegates from a broad range of stakeholders to drive progress toward a world of sport that fully respects human rights.  Representatives of affected groups, sports bodies, governments, trade unions, sponsors, NGOs, broadcasters, NHRIs, and intergovernmental organisations gathered in Paris at UNESCO under the backdrop of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Reports follow in early 2019.Hosted this year by the new Centre for Sport and Human Rights, UNESCO and Institute for Human Rights and Business, the Forum covered a diversity of geographies and issues including a special spotlight on survivors of sexual abuse, athletes’ rights, worker safety, fan monitoring, media freedom, child rights, and community wellbeing.

There was also a special session  dedicated to Human Rights of Defenders, Activists, and Journalists with the following speakers:

  • Lene Wendland (Chief, Human Rights and Economic and Social Issues Section, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)
  • Maryam Shojaei (Founder, My Fundamental Right)
  • Andreas Graf (Human Rights Manager, FIFA)
  • Courtney Radsch (Advocacy Director, Committee to Protect Journalists)
  • Moderated by: Piara Powar (Executive Director, FARE Network)

FIFA was one of the participants and reported as follows on its upcoming participation: FIFA is actively supporting the development of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights and we are glad to participate at the Sporting Chance Forum to share our experiences and best practices, and learn from stakeholders and other experts that are also dedicated to promoting human rights in sport. Since 2016, FIFA has strengthened and systematised its human rights work following guidance from the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Examples include:

  • Inclusion of an article on human rights in the FIFA Statutes in 2016 (see article 3)
  • Development of a Human Rights Policy in 2017 in accordance with principle 16 of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and international best practice
  • Systematic human rights due diligence checks and integration of human rights in the bidding and hosting requirements for its tournaments
  • Set up of an independent Human Rights Advisory Board which provides FIFA with independent expert advice on its efforts to implement article 3 of its statutes, with members from the UN system, NGOs, trade unions, FIFA sponsors and other relevant organisations, as well as regular consultation and cooperation with a large number of additional stakeholders.
  • Launch of a complaints mechanism for human rights defenders and media representatives who consider their rights to have been violated while performing work related to FIFA tournaments.

See also my recent post: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/12/mary-harvey-her-goal-is-now-human-rights/

https://www.sporthumanrights.org

https://www.fifa.com/governance/news/y=2018/m=12/news=fifa-participates-at-the-sporting-chance-forum-in-paris.html

 

Protection International: A collective approach to the right to defend human rights

December 13, 2018

On 13 December 2018 Protection International launched its latest publication and flagship item of its global campaign #CommunitiesareHRDs.

With the recent 20th anniversary of the UN declaration on Human Rights Defenders, this publication brings to attention the indispensable work carried out by communities of human rights defenders across the globe. Human rights defenders do not usually work alone, but in groups, in association with others, in social movements, building collective networks and supporting each other. Nevertheless, the tendency of protection mechanisms is to choose an individual HRD, a practice which can limit the impact of measures to a very narrow number of defenders and also undermine the collective dimension of human rights defence work.

The publication identifies a number of problems which stem from the individualisation of HRDs, highlighting that most protection programmes, both at international and national level, are based on sets of measures intended to provide security to a given individual, but fail to provide structural policy changes that are indispensable for the effective protection of all those defending rights.

The publication also provides ideas of key measures and actions that should be taken into account when developing collective protection strategies with communities or groups of HRDs. For protection to be effective, sustainable and reach a greater number of human rights defenders, we shift towards a more collective mindset.

https://indd.adobe.com/view/13d2cdbb-fb92-4648-ac56-2f73e7df19ac

First time major companies say that human rights defenders are essential for profitable business

December 13, 2018

Ana Zbona, Project Manager of Civic Freedoms and Human Rights Defenders at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre writes about a primeur in her area: for the first time major companies have said that that human rights defenders and civic freedoms essential for profitable business,

Image: Companies supporting the statement

The statement is the first of its kind, with supporters including Unilever, Adidas, Primark, ABN AMRO, Anglo American, Leber Jeweler, Domini and the Investors Alliance on Human Rights. It stresses that when human rights defenders are under attack, so is sustainable and profitable business….Human rights defenders, civil society organizations, international organizations and progressive governments have been insisting for years that if civic freedoms which allow citizens to propose solutions to social problems, and to push governments to respect and protect human rights, are eroded, so are any prospects for sustainable development and just and inclusive economic growth. Now, these voices have been joined by a group of well-known brands and investors who are vocal about how they, too, depend on the rule of law, accountable governance, stable investment environments and respect for human rights. Read the statement here.

However, see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/11/13/new-human-rights-ranking-for-businesses-shows-dismal-progress-for-most-firms/

https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/human-rights-defenders-and-civic-freedoms-essential-for-profitable-business-say-major-companies

Mary Harvey: her goal is now human rights

December 12, 2018

Human Rights Day 2018: just an anthology

December 10, 2018

There is so much going on on this day – International Human Rights Day – that I can only give a cursory overview of some highlights in 2018 like I did in previous years [see e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/12/09/sampling-international-human-rights-day-2016-be-a-human-rights-defender/, and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/11/human-rights-day-2017-in-asia-mind-the-gap/]. Here is my selection of 10: Read the rest of this entry »

Global Statement on the 20th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders

December 7, 2018

Twenty years after the adoption the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, there are huge gaps in its implementation, with persistent attacks on HRDs and their organisations continuing unabated. In all types of political systems, democratic and otherwise across the world, the settings in which human rights defenders work is becoming more contested and volatile. Currently signed by over 900 organisations, this global statement can be  used as an advocacy tool to inform specific governments and business about the current state of human rights defenders. HERE THE TEXT OF THE STATEMENT:

Human rights groups globally call for end to killing of activists in record numbers

  • Human rights activists are being violently attacked and killed in record numbers 20 years after historic UN declaration adopted to protect them.
  • More than 900 organisations sign global statement raising concern about crisis for rights campaigners and calling for greater protection of activists
  • December 9 is 20th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders
  • More than 3,500 human rights campaigners have been killed since then, mostly at the hands of governments, businesses and armed groups

Exactly twenty years after the United Nations adopted a historic declaration to protect human rights defenders, activists are being violent attacked and killed globally in unprecedented numbers.

This crisis for rights campaigners has prompted more than 900 organisations working on human rights to endorse a global statement raising serious concerns about the glaring gaps between the provisions in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the treatment of those on the frontlines of the fight for human rights.

The statement comes as the world commemorates the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders on December 9.

The Declaration is an inspirational text that upholds the rights of all human rights defenders (HRDs) to promote, protect and defend human rights, from the individual to global spheres. It affirms the responsibility and duty of states to protect defenders against violence, threats, retaliation and arbitrary actions resulting from the exercise of their fundamental rights.

“Twenty years after the adoption of the Declaration on HRDs, HRDs across the world are exposed to excesses by state and non-state actors. There are glaring gaps in the recognition of the work of HRDs and in protecting them. A lot more needs to be done to ensure HRDs are able to do their work without fear of intimidation, threats or violence.” Said David Kode, CIVICUS’s Advocacy and Campaigns Lead.  

The global statement is a collective call to governments, identified as the primary perpetrators of violence against HRDs, to respect the Declaration’s provisions, recognise rights activists as key players in the development of societies and create an enabling environment for them to engage in their activism without fear of intimidation, threats and violence.

As the international community commemorates this milestone, we are reminded of the dangerous environment in which many HRDs operate. Over the past two decades, more than 3,500 rights activists have been killed for their work. Last year alone, more than 300 were murdered in some 27 countries. Despite the fact that these heinous crimes are preceded by threats, which are often reported to the authorities, in almost all cases, pleas for help and protection are routinely ignored. The high levels of impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of these acts are enhanced by the fact that culprits are often not prosecuted even when they are known to the authorities.

HRDs continue to be subjected to judicial persecution and are charged with serious crimes such as terrorism, secession, treason, engendering state security and drug trafficking for their part in pro-democracy and human rights campaigns. Most of these charges carry hefty penalties and, in most cases, trials are flawed.

Rights defenders are also subjected to acts of intimidation and smear campaigns and, in a time of heightened geopolitical tensions and bolstered government counter-terror programmes, are labeled “agents of foreign powers,” and “enemies of the state.” The objective is to discredit their work and force them to self-censor or leave their base communities.

Many HRDs have been abducted and simply disappeared with no official information on their whereabouts. Others have fled to other countries to avoid state reprisals. While activists are targeted for violence and attacks by states, increasingly they also face specific and heightened risks because they challenge business interests.  

“It is time for states to ensure that they fully commit to their international human rights obligations. Women human rights defenders, environmental, land rights and indigenous activists as well as those defending the rights of excluded communities continue to bear the brunt of attacks and restrictions by state and non-state actors.” Kode continued.

As leaders of civil society organisations working across different nations and regions at all levels, the statements’ signatories have called on governments as primary duty bearers to guarantee that human rights defenders can carry out their work safely, without fear of intimidation or the threats of violence. The group has urged businesses to respect the rights of people to express their views and protest, in accordance with UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

READ THE FULL STATEMENT and add the name of your organization!

20 Human Rights Defenders under attack: one for each year of the Declaration

December 6, 2018

This 9th of December 2018 marks exactly twenty years since nations around the world adopted the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Twenty years later, human rights defenders continue to face onerous challenges.

Under Attack: Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) Around the World

The CIVICUS map [go to: https://www.civicus.org/index.php/involved/support-campaigns/stand-up-for-human-rights-defenders#] profiles 20 HRDs who are currently in jail or facing judicial persecution for promoting human rights. Read more about who they are and support their campaigns. CIVICUS encourages you to share details of other activists we have not included by emailing them.

Human Rights Defenders in Kenya honored with national awards

December 3, 2018

Kenya is one of the few countries with a fully developed system of national awards for human rights defenders. They are organized by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Kenya and the Working Group on Human Defenders. A ceremony was held on 1 December 2018 at the residence of the Belgium ambassador.

A panel of eminent Kenyans chaired by former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has honoured rights activist Okiya Omtatah with a Lifetime Achivement award. Omtatah also scooped the Popular Vote award in the annual ceremony.

Anastacia Nambo and Is’shaq Abubakar were awarded the 2018 Human Rights Defender of the year award:

Ms Nambo from Mombasa is a mother, a preacher and an avid advocate of environmental rights. She started her human rights work in 2009 when the Metal Refinery was established in the Uhuru Owino slums. The adverse effects of the metal refinery led to active advocacy and lobbying by Nambo and her community. Threats and attacks. Their struggle bore fruit in 2014 when the refinery was closed. She has endured verbal attacks, threats through texts and attempts to break into her home and had to seek refuge in Uganda.

Is’shaq, a public relations manager working with indigenous communities in Lamu, is a human rights defender on environmental rights issues. He co-founded Save Lamu, an umbrella of CBOs established in Lamu in the onset of the Lapsset project. Save Lamu teaches the community on the environmental impact of the Lapset project and seeks legal redress for the locals. His work has earned him threats and police harassment which he has overcome through strategic partnerships with mainstream organisations like the NCHRD, Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR). Receiving his award, he said it will legitimise his work and encourage other human rights advocates in Lamu.

Christine Kandie won the Upcoming Human Rights Defender of the Year award. Kandie fights for the land rights of Endorois women and is the programme’s officer for the Endorois Welfare Council (EWC). She represented her community at the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) session in 2011.

The objective of the awards is to honour extraordinary work of human rights defenders who face a myriad of challenges in their calling.  “The award ceremony is a special occasion for these courageous individuals who do excellent work within our community,” said National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Executive Director Kanau Ngugi.

Read more at: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001304811/human-rights-guardians-feted-ahead-of-day-of-human-rights-celebrations

UN Experts consider human rights defenders in Italy under threat

December 2, 2018

In Europe it is not just in Hungary where human rights defenders are under pressure [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/07/26/some-facts-about-refugee-flows-which-hungary-seems-not-to-know/]. On 21 November 2018 a group of UN experts  – including Michel Forst, the UN Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders – expressed concern that amidst Italy’s proposed tightening of immigration rules HRDs are the subject of smear campaigns.

Since coming into power in June 2018, the new Italian Government has implemented the anti-migrant and exclusionary measures it campaigned upon. “Removing protection measures from potentially thousands of migrants and limiting their ability to regularise their stay in Italy will increase their vulnerability to attacks and exploitation. They will be at greater risk from traffickers and other criminal groups, and many will have no means to meet their basic needs through lawful means”.

While acknowledging the challenges Italy faces due to the absence of an effective European-wide system of solidarity, the UN experts said this did not justify violations of human rights. “The government must adhere to the values enshrined in the Italian constitution, and the international commitments it signed up to,” they said in an appeal to the government to reconsider the legislative changes.

During the most recent electoral campaign, some politicians fuelled a public discourse unashamedly embracing racist and xenophobic anti-immigrant and anti-foreigner rhetoric. Such speech incites hatred and discrimination,” the experts said. ……“We are also concerned about the continuing smear campaigns against civil society organisations engaged in search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the criminalisation of the work of migrant rights defenders, which have become more widespread in Italy,”.

The UN experts urge the Italian government to combat incitement to hatred and discrimination, racism and xenophobia. “Perpetrators of hate crimes must be held accountable and justice provided to the victims. Italian authorities should implement the national and relevant European legal framework and provide the needed responses to hate crime and the use of hate speech.”

The experts have contacted the government about their concerns and await a reply.

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23908&LangID=E

The human rights defenders in AI’s 2018 Write For Rights Campaign

November 25, 2018