Posts Tagged ‘human rights investigators’

US NGOs react furiously to visa restrictions imposed on ICC investigators by Trump administration

March 16, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new visa restrictions in a press briefing on Friday. (Photo: U.S. State Department)

Human rights defenders expressed outrage on Friday after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed that the Trump administration is revoking or denying visas for any International Criminal Court (ICC) personnel who try to investigate or prosecute U.S. officials or key allies for potential war crimes. The move, Pompeo confirmed is a direct response to ongoing efforts by the ICC to probe allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity tied to the war in Afghanistan. There was an immediate and almost unanimous outcry by the key human rights NGOs in the USA:

Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU‘s Human Rights Program (the ACLU currently represents Khaled El Masri, Suleiman Salim, and Mohamed Ben Soud, who were all detained and tortured in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008): “This is an unprecedented attempt to skirt international accountability for well-documented war crimes that haunt our clients to this day,” Dakwar said. “It reeks of the very totalitarian practices that are characteristic of the worst human rights abusers, and is a blatant effort to intimidate and retaliate against judges, prosecutors, and advocates seeking justice for victims of serious human rights abuses.”

Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch, called it “an outrageous effort to bully the court and deter scrutiny of U.S. conduct.” He encouraged ICC member countries to “publicly make clear that they will remain undaunted in their support for the ICC and will not tolerate U.S. obstruction.”

Daniel Balson, advocacy director at Amnesty International USA, noted that this is just “the latest attack on international justice and international institutions by an administration hellbent on rolling back human rights protections.” Visa bans, as Balson pointed out, are “powerful tools typically reserved for the most serious of human rights abusers.” But rather than targeting global criminals, the Trump administration has set its sights on the ICC—an impartial judicial body that aims to promote accountability under international law by probing and prosecuting crimes of aggression, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.

The move is “is highly indicative of [the administration’s] culture of disregard for rights abuses,” said Balson. “Throwing roadblocks in front of the ICC’s investigation undermines justice not only for abuses committed in Afghanistan, but also for the millions of victims and survivors throughout the world who have experienced the most serious crimes under international law.

Pompeo’s announcement came after John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser and a longtime critic of the ICC, threatened to impose sanctions on court officials in September if they continued to pursue an investigation of potential crimes by U.S. civilians or military personnel in Afghanistan….”These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies’ consent,” Pompeo added. “Implementation of this policy has already begun.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/03/15/blatant-effort-intimidate-and-retaliate-pompeo-imposes-visa-ban-icc-staff-probing-us

See also later development: https://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCAKCN1R328X-OCATP

Friedhelm Weinberg reflects on HURIDOCS highlights in 2018

December 26, 2018

For those who like to reflect on what was achieved in 2018, here the self-report of one of the smaller, specialized NGOs, HURIDOCS:

At HURIDOCS, we work with  human rights organisations to preserve documentation for memory, advance accountability for abuses and bring key information on human rights at our fingertips. As we are nearing the end of 2018, I want to look back at some of the highlights that shaped our year.

Personally, I have been thrilled to see how much more human rights information we supported to become truly open, across the globe. Next to sustaining our flagship collaborations – the African Human Rights Case Law Analyser, SUMMA and RightDocs – we have supported more than ten collections to be launched this year alone. Together, these collections cover more than 10,000 documents of precedent decisions, resolutions and reports.

This includes pioneering work on digital rights with CYRILLA, economic and social rights with Resourcing Rights, minority issues with minorityforum.info – to only name a few. This is only possible thanks to the excellent collaborations with our partners that curate the collections, and our team that has developed Uwazi to be a flexible and adaptable tool. Together, we make human rights information accessible, as a fundament for activists and advocates to press for change.

Similarly, we have worked with partner organisations to strengthen their capacity to document and investigate human rights violations. Much of this work is sensitive, so it is not prudent for us to celebrate it here, but you can see a glance of just how important it is by reading about our recently completed work with Migrant Forum Asia (MFA), a network of more than 50 local organisations in Asia and the Gulf, on the Hamsa database and accompanying mobile application. This is a comprehensive solution for recording, managing, analysing, and sharing information on labour migration rights. Hamsa currently covers more than 4,500 cases, which were recorded by the MFA network.

Next year, we will also see even more of this work, as our newest tool, Uwazi Reveal, matures through our collaborations with our partners. Their realities and unique contexts shape the development of the tool as a community-sustained resource…

Friedhelm Weinberg

Congo Rebels Execute Human-Rights Worker in Katanga

August 14, 2013

Business Week reports on 14 August that rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Katanga province murdered a human-rights investigator who criticized their movement for committing abuses against civilians. Armed men from the secessionist Kata Katanga group [whose name means “cut out Katanga” in the Swahili language] forced their way into the victim’s house on 7 August  before killing him,  according to Scott Campbell, the director of the UN’s joint human-rights office in Congo. The UN mission, known as Monusco, wouldn’t release the victim’s name or organization for security reasons, Campbell said. “Monusco is gravely concerned by the arbitrary execution” of the activist, it said in a separate e-mailed statement that also called on Congolese authorities to protect human-rights defenders and their families.  Almost 370,000 people have been displaced in the province as of July, mainly because of the violence, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

via Congo Rebels Execute Human-Rights Worker in Katanga Province – Businessweek.

 

1 year of Human Rights Channel on YouTube: 90 countries. 1,892 videos

May 27, 2013

Twelve months ago, Witness and its partners at Storyful launched the first dedicated space on YouTube for verified citizen video on human rights issues. Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 4.54.46 PM Read the rest of this entry »