Posts Tagged ‘Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’

Justice for Colombia reports threats against human rights defenders

February 5, 2013

Friday, 1 February 2013 Diego Martinez, national executive secretary, and Jeison Pava of the Permanent Committee for Human Rights (CPDH), have suffered threats in the last weeks. On 16th January, an anonymous call was made to the CPDH head office in Bogota, asking after Mr. Pava, his timetable and when he would be coming and going from the office. On the receptionist’s refusal to relay this information, the caller insulted her and said “We need that head” referring to Mr. Pava. On 28th January, Mr. Martinez’ bodyguard was detained by units of the National Police. Mr. Martinez informed the police officers that this would leave him without security, however the police officers continued their operation. The police then also asked Mr. Martinez to come with them, despite having committed no crime, but he refused. One of the police officers refused to identify himself, and when Mr. Martinez went to lodge a complaint at the police station, they point-blank refused to receive his report. The same police unit has since returned to the CPDH headquarters, threatening Mr. Martinez against denouncing the crime.

On 4th July 2012, Martinez and Pava were described as military targets. Other members of the CPDH human rights organization have also been threatened in recent months, including Harry Caicedo, director of the CPDH branch in Charco, Narino, whose house was shot at in the night on 13th January, following an arson attack months before. CPDH has been requesting security measures since August 2010 and in May 2012 was granted “precautionary measures” by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. In December 2012 the government finally provided the requested security. CPDH has expressed concern that, only one month on, in Mr. Martinez’ case, state forces removed the protection they are obligated to provide.

via Justice for Colombia news: Threats and hostilities against CPDH human rights defenders.

HRD Eloísa Barrios In Venezuela under threat following the killing of another member of her family

January 12, 2013

Following the killing, on 15 December 2012, of the ninth member of her family since 1998, the NGO Front Line Defenders is extremely concerned for the safety of human rights defender Eloísa Barrios and her family. Eloísa Barrios has previously submitted petitions to the Inter-American Commission (IACHR) and Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), on 16 March 2004 and 30 December 2005, requesting protection measures for the family as a result of persecution, allegedly by members of the Police of Aragua State.eloisa_barrios_cropped_0

Eloísa Barrios,together with local NGOs, has publicly denounced human rights violations in Aragua State. She has also actively promoted the committees of victims and families of victims in Aragua, and in particular has mobilised mothers of those extrajudicially killed by the state police and accompanied them through the process of filing complaints, the court process and speaking out in social media. Eloísa Barrios has been vocal in speaking out about the Venezuelan State’s failure to effectively protect her family from extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations and has reported an increase in the threats made against her and her family after she denounced the killings before the Inter-American system. She has been threatened by state police officials in retaliation for the constant complaints to the 20th Prosecutor’s Office of the Public Ministry in Aragua concerning her son’s detention on three occasions and ill-treatment in custody. In January 2012 the human rights defender moved from her home as a result of the intimidation.

Since 1998 nine members of the Barrios family have been murdered and several others have been detained and subjected to illegal and arbitrary searches of their homes, suffered threats against their lives and personal integrity, and been forced to move from their place of residence.

The IACHR and the IACtHR have followed the case through all available mechanisms after concluding that Venezuela has violated the rights to life, physical integrity and freedom of several members of the Barrios family, including some minors, however the State has failed to comply with the recommendations of either institution and the Barrios family continue to be at risk.Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

UN experts and Inter-American Commission issue joint call to protect HRDs in Mexico

May 15, 2012

On 14 May 2012 an exceptional group of international experts urged the Government of Mexico to protect better Human Rights Defenders and journalists.  “The killings and threats repeatedly suffered by rights defenders and journalists in Mexico must stop immediately,” urged a group of four experts from the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, calling on the Government to move ahead with the swift promulgation and effective implementation of the ‘Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists’.

Highlighting the immediacy of the threats facing defenders and journalists, the experts also urged the Government to implement existing protection mechanisms as a matter of urgency, in order to avoid further attacks and loss of life and to complement the new provisions when they come into effect.The Bill, which has been approved by both chambers of the Federal Congress, seeks to guarantee and safeguard the life, integrity and security of human rights defenders and journalists by creating a mechanism with the authority to implement measures to protect those at risk, as well as at preventing such risks from arising in the future.

“Human rights defenders in Mexico desperately need the State’s effective protection now,” said Margaret Sekaggya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. “They continue to suffer killings, attacks, harassment, threats, stigmatization and other serious human rights violations.”  “The State has to implement, as a matter of priority, a global protection policy for human rights defenders. The lack of appropriate and effective systems for implementing specialized protection measures are related to the situation of defenselessness in which many human rights defenders find themselves, which has caused the death of many of them in recent years,” stressed Santiago A. Canton, the Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of the Rapporteurship of Human Rights Defenders*.

“We have to break the cycle of impunity in Mexico, which is becoming an increasingly violent place for journalists,” said Frank La Rue, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. “The recent killing of four press workers in Veracruz underscores the dire need for concrete steps to be taken to guarantee the safety of journalists and put an end to impunity.”

Catalina Botero, Special Rapporteur for freedom of expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, stressed that “safeguarding journalists and human rights defenders is not only compatible with the fight against crime, it is an essential element of this struggle. The Mexican authorities should take immediate measures to protect those journalists and human rights defenders that are being threatened, as well as to make definitive advances in the struggle against impunity for the crimes that have been committed against them.”

The four experts commended the Federal Congress for approving the Bill, pointing out that it would provide added impetus and sustainability to existing protection frameworks, while also strengthening these frameworks.The Bill was drafted in consultation with civil society organizations, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico provided technical advice throughout the drafting process.

The human rights experts praised the consultative process which allowed multiple stakeholders to play an important role in the drafting of the Bill, and called for the same participatory approach throughout the implementation process. However, they emphasized the urgency of providing effective protection to those at risk and ensuring that human rights violations against journalists and human rights defenders do not go unpunished. 

For more information:
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Reprisals against Human Rights Defenders must stop, also in UN!

March 20, 2012

A group of three international experts on the situation of human rights defenders has urged world governments to halt reprisals against HRDs seeking to cooperate with the United Nations and regional human rights systems. They also called on States to ease, rather than hinder, civil society’s access to the UN and regional human rights institutions.

‘Reprisals have to cease immediately and credible investigations into pending cases of reprisals have to be carried out,’ said the Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders from the United Nations (UN), Ms Margaret Sekaggya; the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), Ms Reine Alapini-Gansou; and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Mr José de Jesús Orozco.

‘These reprisals against individuals and/or groups engaging directly with the UN, the ACHPR and the IACHR, or otherwise providing information on particular countries’ human rights situations, take the form of smear campaigns, harassment, intimidation, direct threats, physical attacks and killings,’ they said. In an effort to safeguard the vital collaboration between civil society and the UN and regional human rights mechanisms, the three Rapporteurs appealed for enhanced monitoring of the normative agreements and rules of procedure explicitly prohibiting acts of reprisals by States and non-State actors.

‘Such steps towards full accountability for reprisals are an important preventive measure that should be combined with those that facilitate, rather than deter, civil society’s safe and unimpeded access to the UN and the regional human rights institutions,’ stressed Ms Sekaggya, Ms Alapini-Gansou and Mr Orozco.

The three international Rapporteurs also supported the recent initiative by the President of the UN Human Rights Council, Ms Laura Dupuy Lasserre, calling on Governments to immediately put an end to harassment and intimidation of individuals and groups attending the on-going session of the Human Rights Council, taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. Ms Dupuy Lasserre expressed her concern about reports of State and other representatives using aggressive and/or insulting language against civil society representatives, and photographing and filming them without their consent on UN premisses, including in the main Council’s chamber, with a view to intimidate and harass them.  She announced that those accusations will be investigated.

The International Service for Human Rights in Geneva (ISHR) facilitated the process and ISHR made its own statement to the Human Rights Council today on reprisals against those that cooperate with the UN, its representatives, and mechanisms in the field of human rights.

Check the official joint statement, available in English (original), French and Spanish.