Posts Tagged ‘human rights monitoring’

New Zealand funds much-needed human rights monitoring in the Pacific

August 22, 2019

Susan Randolph – Photo: RNZ Pacific / Mackenzie Smith

New Zealand is supporting a new rollout of human rights monitoring in the Pacific. Funding of $US400,000 will allow the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) to expand its programmes in the region. The non-profit organisation which is holding workshops in Auckland this week said it would use the money to build data sets on economic and social rights in the Pacific. Its development lead Anne-Marie Brook said it was the first time they had accepted money from a government and a clause had to be inserted into its contract with New Zealand’s Foreign Ministry to safeguard HRMI’s independence.

[see also:https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/07/pacific-human-rights-defenders-can-do-more-to-deal-with-extractive-industries/]

Because human rights are so politically sensitive, it’s really clear that human rights needs to be measured independently of government because governments often face conflicts of interest,” she said. HRMI’s data on the Pacific is porous and often anecdotal, according to its economic and social rights lead Susan Randolph. The funding would allow more comprehensive data to be collected to help Pacific governments and civil society groups tackle human rights abuses, she said.

In Tuvalu, where the country’s first human rights institution was set up only late last year, the Chief Ombudsman Sa’aga Talu Teafa said they were still figuring out the best approach. “It’s very young, we call it very young. That’s why we are here to learn and to know what other institutions or what other human rights defenders are doing regarding human rights implementation,” he said.

It’s the same in Samoa, where recently the Ombudsman’s office, finding no data on violence, had to come up with its own to produce a report.

Tuvalu Chief Ombudsman, Sa'aga Talu Teafahome.

Tuvalu Chief Ombudsman, Sa’aga Talu Teafahome. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Mackenzie Smith

New Zealand Human Rights Commission’s Pasifika advisor Tuiloma Lina-Jodi Vaine Samu said the Pacific had a history of resistance to human rights monitoring because of faith-based systems. “Our religions, our faiths, our churches, are very, very important to us. But so are our traditional, cultural, ancestral beliefs as well,” she said. “At hui like this we are able to come together, fono, and talk about these issues, these mindsets, so that we can advance human rights forward.”

https://www.newsie.co.nz/news/160079-nz-funds-human-rights-monitoring-pacific.html

New agreement UNEP & OHCHR aims to better protect environmental human rights defenders

August 19, 2019

UN Colombia – A wide range of human rights activists have been targeted in Colombia, especially those living in rural areas. Human and environmental rights campaigners are one focus of a new UNEP/OHCHR agreement.

On 16 August 2019 the UN environment agency (UNEP) and the UN human rights office (OHCHR) signed a landmark new agreement aimed at better protecting vulnerable human and environmental rights defenders and their families, while increasing protection for people and the places where they live, across the world.  The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) will strengthen cooperation with OHCHR, as threats to individuals and communities defending their environmental and land rights intensify. Reports suggest that an average of more than three rights defenders were killed every week last year.

“A healthy environment is vital to fulfilling our aspiration to ensure people everywhere live a life of dignity”, said UNEP Executive Director, Inger Andersen. “We must curb the emerging trend of intimidation and criminalisation of land and environmental defenders, and the use of anti-protest and anti-terrorism laws to criminalise the exercise of rights that should be constitutionally protected.”  “UNEP and the UN Human Rights Office are committed to bringing environmental protection closer to the people by assisting state and non-state actors to promote, protect and respect environmental and human rights. In doing so, we will move towards a more sustainable and just planet,” she added.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said: “Our planet is being recklessly destroyed, and we urgently need stronger global partnerships to take action to save it…We call on leaders and governments to recognise that climate change and environmental degradation severely undermine the human rights of their people, particularly those in vulnerable situations – including the generations of tomorrow.” 

A key part of the new protection agreement is to monitor threats to environmental human rights defenders more closely, develop better defenders’ networks, urge more effective accountability for perpetrators of violence and intimidation, and promote “meaningful and informed participation by defenders and civil society, in environmental decision-making.

Ms. Bachelet said every State needed to be encouraged “to develop and enforce national legal frameworks which uphold the clear linkages between a healthy environment and the ability to enjoy all other human rights, including the rights to health, water, food – and even the right to life…We also strongly encourage greater recognition that the actions and advocacy of environmental human rights defenders are deeply beneficial to all societies.”

[see also the 2014 post: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/06/11/binding-un-treaty-needed-for-protection-of-environmental-human-rights-defenders/%5D

https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/08/1044361

New website: Keep the Volume up for Rights Defenders in Turkey

July 11, 2019

Three human rights organizations, Association Monitoring Equal Rights, Netherlands Helsinki Committee and Truth Justice Memory Center, have created the website “Keep the Volume up for Rights Defenders in Turkey.” Sharing up-to-date information on the trials of rights defenders in Turkey, the website will also share the recent development under the title of “News”.

In the “About Us” part of the sessizkalma.org website, the objective and content of the website are explained in following words:

Human rights defenders from different corners of society – lawyers, teachers, journalists, scientists, union activists – face serious pressures in doing their work in Turkey. Their aim is to protect fellow citizens from unjust and inhumane policies; they speak up and act when people’s human rights are being infringed upon. Yet in Turkey rights defenders are increasingly being intimidated, detained and imprisoned.

“Their struggle deserves more visibility and national and international solidarity. …

“We created this online resource to bring together updates and information on the situation in Turkey. It is meant for all those interested to support or understand human rights defence in Turkey better: civil society, journalists, international organisations and citizens who care about the Rule of Law and democracy in Turkey.

“We are monitoring court cases where Defenders are prosecuted. You will find a calendar for important trial dates, overview and news on individual cases, our statements well as information on possibilities for actions. We also provide other Defenders with important resources as well as a list emergency support options for when you, as a human rights advocate, need assistance.”

http://bianet.org/english/human-rights/210315-keep-the-volume-up-for-rights-defenders-in-turkey-website-opens

TrialWatch officially launched by Clooneys

April 25, 2019

As announced earlier this year [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/15/star-power-for-good-george-and-amal-clooney-at-least-try-to-tackle-controversial-issues/] on 25 April 2019 the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ), together with partners Microsoft Corporation, Columbia Law School, the American Bar Association, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), launched their TrialWatch® initiative at an inaugural TrialWatch Conference and launch event.

Clooney Foundation For Justice Logo

Courts around the world are increasingly being used to silence dissidents and target the vulnerable. But so far there has been no systematic response to this,” said Amal Clooney, Co-President, Clooney Foundation for Justice. “The Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch program is a global initiative to monitor trials, expose abuses, and advocate for victims, so that injustice can be addressed, one case at a time.”

TrialWatch is an initiative focused on monitoring and responding to trials around the world that pose a high risk of human rights violations. TrialWatch aims to be the first comprehensive global program scrutinizing criminal trials around the world. CFJ will recruit and train trial monitors, including non-lawyers, who can observe and report on criminal trials around the world, and use a specialised app to record the proceedings. The Clooney Foundation for Justice will then work to expose injustice and rally support to secure justice for defendants whose rights have been violated. For each trial monitored, CFJ will work with an eminent legal expert to produce a Fairness Report assessing and grading the fairness of the trial against human rights standards, and, where necessary and possible, will be followed up with legal advocacy to assist a defendant in pursuing remedies in regional or international human rights courts. Ultimately, the data that is gathered will populate a global justice index that measures states’ performance in this area.

TrialWatch will focus on trials involving journalists, LGBTQ persons, women and girls, religious minorities, and human rights defenders. In recent months, TrialWatch monitors have observed proceedings in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. The cases have involved journalists being prosecuted under a wide variety of laws, including cyber laws, administrative laws, and terrorism laws, in six countries. TrialWatch has covered a trial of individuals being prosecuted under anti-LGBTQ laws in sub-Saharan Africa and proceedings involving a journalist detained under India’s National Security Act for criticizing the government on social media. TrialWatch monitors are also monitoring the trial of a lawyer in Eurasia, who is being prosecuted in connection with his work on behalf of human rights defenders and the trial of a journalist in Nigeria, who is being prosecuted for writing about internal government documents and refusing to reveal his source. Fairness reports are being produced to assess each of these trials, and many more trials will be monitored on an ongoing basis around the world.

CFJ has partnered with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to develop an online training course for monitors. This course was developed by CFJ and approved by OHCHR.

——

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/clooney-foundation-justice-convenes-human-rights-leaders-mark-103100664.html?

Israel bars human rights lawyers from the USA

May 4, 2018

Two U.S. human rights lawyers were detained Sunday 29 April 2018 for 14 hours at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport before being deported back to the United States. Columbia University’s professor of law, gender and sexuality studies Katherine Franke and Center for Constitutional Rights’ executive director Vincent Warren were repeatedly questioned about their associations with groups critical of Israel. They were part of a delegation of American human rights defenders heading to Israel and Palestine to learn about the human rights situation and meet with local activists. They arrived back in New York City early Monday. Hear the interview with Vincent Warren and Katherine Franke via:

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

“Writing Human Rights and Getting It Wrong” – revealing piece by Alex de Waal

June 10, 2016

Alex de Waal {https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_de_Waal} published on 6 June 2016 a long piece entitled “Writing Human Rights and Getting It Wrong” in the Boston Review. There is no way I can give you a summary but reading the whole article is certain worth the time. It is bound to be controversial – especially within the international human rights movement – and stands out by being critical and mostly self-critical about the role of human rights monitors. The focus of the narrative is on Africa (Sudan, Rwanda) and genocide but the former HRW staff reaches out to the general questions of context and impartiality that human rights defenders struggle with, still today.  READ IT!

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Syrian citizen-journalist Abdalaziz Alhamza’s talk at the 2016 Oslo Freedom Forum

June 8, 2016

Abdalaziz Alhamza and his team of citizen journalists risk their lives to smuggle video out of Syria to expose the shocking brutality of both the Assad regime and ISIS. Now ISIS has put a price on his head. Abdalaziz took the stage at the 2016 Oslo Freedom Forum of the Human Rights Foundation to talk about his work and his hopes for a brighter future in Syria.

Academic Freedom monitored by Scholars at Risk which celebrates its 15th anniversary in Montreal

May 27, 2016

Attacks on higher education threaten the safety and well-being of scholars, administrators, staff and students; undermine academic work and instruction; and deny everyone the benefits of expert knowledge and scientific and creative progress. Too often such attacks go unreported. Scholars at Risk (SAR) publishes an Academic Freedom Monitor which tracks key attacks with the aims of protecting vulnerable individuals, promoting accountability and preventing future violations. In the period February – April 2016  SAR reports 20 incidents:

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Possible funding for training independent journalists exposing human rights abuses

May 19, 2016

Photo_Asset_1

Giselle Portenier (CNW Group/Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma)

Independent documentary-makers and freelance journalists working to expose human rights abuses can compete for a bursary to help them obtain hostile environment training, more usually made available to journalists working in war zones. The 2016 Portenier Human Rights Bursary competition, offered by the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, opened on 16 May and closes on June 30. The annual bursary, introduced last year, is sponsored by the documentary-maker Giselle Portenier. Read the rest of this entry »