Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Short artistic animation give feel of what is means to be without a Fair Trial

November 30, 2016

Fair Trials, a human rights organisation, has created a new animation showing what it would feel like to live in a world without fair trials. To accompany the animation, Fair Trials have set up a website: www.withoutfairtrials.org, which explains why fair trial rights are important, what they mean and the consequences if they are not respected. For example, the right to a fair trial encompasses the right to access a lawyer, the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty if accused of a criminal offence and the right to be told the case against you in a language you understand.

The right applies whenever there is a determination of someone’s civil rights and obligations or any criminal charge against them. The animation looks at the importance of the right to a fair trial from the police station, to the courtroom and in prison. The animation highlights that around the world, fair trial rights are being denied to many people, everyday. For example, the website accompanying the animation says that in China, imprisoned human rights defenders are being denied access to lawyers and in Spain it is common for suspects not to be given information about the case against them until shortly before the trial starts.

UN consultation on space for civil society

May 19, 2015

The High Commissioner for Human Rights is putting together a report of practical recommendations on how to create and maintain the space for civil society to work freely and independently. The freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly etc are at the heart of civic activity and good laws and rules to guarantee public freedoms, as well as ways to monitor and protect them are of course a necessary condition. But also needed are:

  • a political and public environment that values civil society’s contributions
  • free flow of information
  • long-term support and resources
  • space for dialogue and collaboration

The OHCHR is interested to hear from you about your experience.  Please share:

  1. your examples and illustrations of these and other ways to maintain space to work
  2. if there are limitations, how do you continue to carry out your activities
  3. useful links, tools, resources, guides (whatever the language)

And forward this Note to others who should know about it!!

Please send information before 30 June 2015 by email to: civilsociety@ohchr.org, with in the subject heading “Civil Society Space Report – Input”.

For the full text of the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council, see: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/RES/27/31

Consultation – updated 21 April 2015.doc – Google Docs.

Another memorable speech by the High Commissioner for Human Rights

March 5, 2015

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

On 5 March 2015 the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Member States to uphold the human rights principles underlying their communities in their fight against radicalism.

Speaking to the UN Human Rights Council earlier he warned of the “real danger” that opinion-leaders and decision-makers would “lose their grasp” of the values that States built 70 years ago “to ward off the horror of war.”

The fight against terror is a struggle to uphold the values of democracy and human rights – not undermine them,” Mr. Zeid declared. “Counter-terrorist operations that are non-specific, disproportionate, brutal and inadequately supervised violate the very norms that we seek to defend. They also risk handing the terrorists a propaganda tool – thus making our societies neither free nor safe.”

At the same time, the UN human rights chief said he was “appalled” by the “rising tide of attacks” around the world targeting people on account of their beliefs. Such “horrific acts of racial and religious hatred,” he said, spanned countries in Western Europe and North America, where “unfair policing, daily insults, and exclusion” affected large swathes of the population. Meanwhile, he added, “the tentacles of the extremist takfiri movement” – an ideology where one believer apostasies another and then condemns them as impure – had reached into a wide range of countries, from Iraq and Syria to Nigeria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.

Against that backdrop, Mr. Zeid voiced deep concern at the tendency of States to clamp down on the most basic of human rights, including the adoption of measures that restrict freedom of expression and democratic space.

When powerful leaders feel threatened by a tweet, a blog, or a high-school student’s speech, this speaks of profound underlying weakness,” he continued. “And when writers are abducted, jailed, whipped, or put to death; when journalists are assaulted, subjected to sexual violence, tortured and killed; when peaceful protestors are gunned down by thugs; when human rights lawyers, human rights defenders and land activists are arrested and jailed on spurious charges of sedition; when newspapers are attacked or shut down – such cases attack and undermine the foundations of stable governance.”

It is the people who sustain government, create prosperity, heal and educate others and pay for governmental and other services with their labour,” Mr. Zeid concluded. “It is their struggles that have created and sustain States. Governments exist to serve the people – not the other way round.

United Nations News Centre – Member States must enforce human rights amid rising tide of extremism – UN rights chief.

13th International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights started in Geneva

February 28, 2015

The 13th edition of the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) has started in Geneva. It will run until 8 March at:
MAISON DES ARTS DU GRÜTLI | 16 RUE GÉNÉRAL DUFOUR
PHONE +41 (0)22 809 69 00 |

For the programme go to: http://www.fifdh.org/site/2015-programm

There is also the possibility to see there the pre-demo of THF’s Gallery.

George Clooney speaks out on sexual violence in Darfur

February 26, 2015

Getty Images

Whatever your opinion of George Clooney as an actor, there is no doubt that he is one of the most willing to use his celebrity for human rights causes. The latest example is his Op-Ed piece in the The New York Times, entitled, “George Clooney on Sudan’s Rape of Darfur” (together with John Prendergast and Akshaya Kumar, published on 25 February 2015)  .

Because Sudan’s government routinely blocks journalists from going into the Darfur region and severely restricts access for humanitarian workers, any window into life there is limited,” Clooney says. “The government has hammered the joint peacekeeping mission of the United Nations and African Union into silence about human rights concerns by shutting down the United Nations human rights office in the capital, Khartoum, hampering investigators of alleged human rights abuses and pressuring the peacekeeping force to withdraw.

The 53-year-old actor then explains the evidence that has been received from citizen journalists and local human rights defenders with that videos have been smuggled out.

Read the complete piece here.

Treaty bodies case law database saved and resurrected by UN

February 17, 2015

For someone who 25 years ago (!!) started the development of legal databases on human rights (specifically the legal protection of refugees) and wrote articles about it (e.g Int J Refugee Law (1989) (1):89-100.doi: 10.1093/ijrl/1.1.89Pp. 89-100, see ABSTRACT below), the news that the UN has now published, on-line, a database of case law on human rights is exciting and it should be for all practitioners.

The new site http://juris.ohchr.org/ contains all case law issued by the UN human rights expert committees, the Treaty Bodies.

The database was developed using data from the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) of Utrecht University School of Law (of which I had the honor to be the first Director). Since the mid-1990s, SIM had developed a comprehensive record on the jurisprudence stemming from the decisions by four Treaty Bodies on complaints brought by individuals.  Over 20 years, academics compiled and indexed Treaty Bodies’ case law, making the SIM database the most authoritative online resource on this. Due to budget restrictions, SIM stopped updating the database  from 1 January 2014 and took it offline on 1 January 2015. However, SIM offered its data free of charge to the UN Human Rights Office.

This allowed us to build our own database, with an expanded remit and search capability, and we aim to continue developing it. It is an important part of our efforts to make the work of the Treaty Bodies more visible and accessible, and we hope it will benefit a range of users all over the world,” said Mr. Ibrahim Salama Director of the UN Human Rights Treaties Division. .

There are 10 Treaty Bodies that review and monitor how States that have ratified a particular treaty are implementing the rights contained in it. Eight (listed below) can also consider complaints by individuals who believe their rights have been violated and who have exhausted all the legal steps in their own country.

The site http://juris.ohchr.org contains case law indexed by various categories, including State, date, subject and keywords, which can all be used as search criteria. Users can submit their comments on the functioning of the database as part of ongoing efforts to improve it.

The Committees that can receive and consider individual complaints are:

  • Human Rights Committee (CCPR)
  • Committee against Torture (CAT)
  • Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
  • Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
  • Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
  • Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED)
  • Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
  • Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

Abstract of 1989 article on the development of legal databases: “Today’s information technology can be used to improve the legal protection of refugees, by providing information relevant to the asylum procedure, and laying the foundation for progressive development at the international level. The positive potential of legal databases is only now beginning to be realised, thanks to pioneering efforts within human rights and related documentation centre networks. UNHCR is helping to set up a case law database, in co-operation with non-governmental organizations. A database on national legislation is also planned, as is a full text database of international legal instruments database. Legal literature continues to be covered by the database REFLIT (REFugee LITerature) of UNHCR’s Centre for Documentation on Refugees (CDR/UNHCR). This article examines two basic kinds of information-retrieval systems, ‘free text’, and ‘indexed’, and considers their different structures, uses and search procedures, with reference to work on a forthcoming refugee thesaurus. The author calls attention to the need for standard formats, such as those of HURIDOCS, and to problems of scope and coverage. He suggests that information and documentation are areas in which practical co-operation between the UN, governments and non-governmental organizations could be implemented to advantage.”

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Charlie Hebdo attack: intolerance extreme

January 8, 2015

What a way to start the human rights year: yesterday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo. One of the victims is Bernard VerlhacTignous” who was a member of the Cartooning for Peace Foundation. A good moment to recall the posts on the power of (political) cartoons: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/cartooning-for-peace/, that their work may continue to inspire.

Human Rights Day 2014: ODIHR Director Link wants to move from words to deeds for human rights defenders in the OSCE

December 11, 2014

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), called on all OSCE participating States to do more to protect human rights defenders in the OSCE region: “It is time for all OSCE participating States to move from words to deeds and to provide more effective protection to those who strive to promote and safeguard human rights in our countries.

The words must refer to the Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders which OSCE adopted this year: see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/osce-publishes-guidelines-on-the-protection-of-human-rights-defenders/

Unfortunately, in 2014 we have witnessed numerous attacks and threats against human rights defenders,” the ODIHR Director said. “This includes human rights defenders with whom ODIHR has worked, and I am particularly disturbed that those standing up for human rights in the OSCE region may be being targeted for activities they carry out in partnership with our Office.”

At the Budapest Summit, in 1994, OSCE participating States emphasized the need to protect human rights defenders, and at the OSCE Summit in Astana, in 2010, they underscored the important role played by civil society in helping to ensure full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. “That the environment in which human rights defenders operate has become more, not less, restricted across the region over the past few years is disturbing,” Link said. “Determined action is needed to reverse this trend.”

Human Rights Day 2014: Better protection of human rights defenders needed across the OSCE region, ODIHR Director says | OSCE.

Cairo Institute launches a new research project on political islam and human rights

September 28, 2014

On September 25, in an event held at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies [CIHRS ] launched a new three-year academic research project on political Islam and human rights.   Read the rest of this entry »