Posts Tagged ‘international campaign’

Emirates: one year later human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor’s whereabouts remain unknown

March 21, 2018

 

The authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) should reveal the whereabouts of prominent human rights defender and citizen-journalist Ahmed Mansoor and release him immediately and unconditionally, an impressive group of over twenty human rights organisations said on 20 March 2018.  This day marks one year since security forces arbitrarily arrested Mansoor, winner of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015, at his home in Ajman. The UAE authorities have continued to detain him in an unknown location, despite condemnation from UN human rights experts and independent human rights organisations.

The authorities have subjected Ahmed Mansoor to enforced disappearance since his wife last saw him in September 2017. They must reveal his whereabouts to his family and grant him regular access to them and to a lawyer of his choosing.  Following his arrest on 20 March 2017, the authorities announced that he is facing speech-related charges that include using social media websites to “publish false information that harms national unity.”  On 28 March 2017, a group of UN human rights experts called on the UAE government to release Mansoor immediately, describing his arrest as “a direct attack on the legitimate work of human rights defenders in the UAE.” They said that they feared his arrest “may constitute an act of reprisal for his engagement with UN human rights mechanisms, for the views he expressed on social media, including Twitter, as well as for being an active member of human rights organisations.”  Since his arrest, Mansoor has not been allowed to make telephone calls to his family and has been allowed only two short visits with his wife, on 3 April and 17 September 2017, both under strict supervision. He was brought from an unknown place of detention to the State Security Prosecutor’s office in Abu Dhabi for both visits. The authorities have refused to inform his family about his place of detention and have ignored their requests for further visits.

In February 2018, a group of international human rights organisations commissioned two lawyers from Ireland to travel to Abu Dhabi to seek access to Mansoor. The UAE authorities gave the lawyers conflicting information about Mansoor’s whereabouts. The Interior Ministry, the official body responsible for prisons and prisoners, denied any knowledge of his whereabouts and referred the lawyers to the police. The police also said they had no information about his whereabouts. The lawyers also visited Al-Wathba Prison in Abu Dhabi following statements made by the authorities after Mansoor’s arrest, which suggested that he was held being held there. However, the prison authorities told the lawyers there was nobody matching Mansoor’s description in the prison.  Instead of protecting Mansoor, the authorities have detained him for a year with hardly any access to his family and no access to a lawyer of his choosing. Their contempt for human rights defenders and brazen disregard for their obligations under international human rights law is truly shocking. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/02/27/somewhere-in-a-prison-in-the-emirates-is-ahmed-mansoor-but-authorities-claim-not-to-know-where/]

Background to his case is documented in the joint statement and in my earlier posts: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/ahmed-mansoor/

Mansoor is a member of GCHR’s Advisory Board and a member of the advisory committee of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division.

Signed:
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain
Amnesty International
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
ARTICLE 19
CIVICUS
Committee for the Respect of Freedoms and Human Rights in Tunisia
English PEN
Freedom Now, Morocco
Front Line Defenders
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Maharat Foundation
Martin Ennals Foundation
Moroccan Association for Human Rights
PEN International
Reporters Without Borders
Scholars at Risk
Tunisian Association for Academic Freedoms
Tunis Center for Press Freedom
Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights
Tunisian League for Human Rights (LTDH)
Tunisian Organisation against Torture
Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

http://www.martinennalsaward.org/ahmed-mansoors-remain-missing/

https://www.ifex.org/united_arab_emirates/2018/03/20/uae-ahmed-mansoor-1-year/

“Girls not Brides” winner Geuzenpenning 2018

March 13, 2018

[More than 700 million women alive today were married before the age of 18. Each year, 15 million girls are married and their youth comes to an abrupt end. This is unacceptable, according to Girls Not Brides; an organisation which has been working to end child marriage since 2011. Girls Not Brides is a worldwide partnership. Approximately a thousand organisations in over 95 countries work together with one common goal: to stop child marriage within a generation. Girls Not Brides member organisations work across sectors including health, education, human rights and humanitarian response.]

Girls Not Brides started in 2011 and was co-founded by Princess Mabel van Oranje and The Elders.  

There is no simple solution to ending child marriage. Girls Not Brides has therefore developed the Theory of Change. Four interlinked strategies play a key role: make girls resilient and empower them, mobilise families and communities; provide support and services to unmarried and married girls; and create and implement good laws and policies.

Since its inception, the Girls Not Brides global partnership and its members have tirelessly worked to ensure that child marriage is on the global agenda and that it remains there. Many national, regional and local governments are now much more aware of the damaging impact that child marriage has, and are providing support to girls to give them a different future. Furthermore, many countries have taken steps to tighten their laws against child marriage; some of them have also started campaigns against this practice. The goal is now to stop child marriage by 2030, as included in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. Until every girl has the right to choose for herself when, whether and with whom they will marry, the work to stop child marriage will never be over.

https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/press-release-girls-not-brides-receives-nationale-postcode-loterij-award/

 

Cartoonist Ramón Esono Ebalé freed in Equatorial Guinea

March 8, 2018

Good news is rare but deserves attention, especially when it seems to be the result of an international campaign: the global #FreeNseRamon coalition:
An Equatorial Guinean court on 7 March, 2018 released an artist imprisoned on dubious charges for nearly six months, 18 human rights groups including PEN America said today. The prosecution dropped all charges against Ramón Esono Ebalé, a cartoonist whose work is often critical of the government, after the police officer who had accused him of counterfeiting $1,800 of local currency admitted making the accusation based on orders from his superiors.  [Esono Ebalé, who lives outside of his native Equatorial Guinea, was arrested on 16 September, 2017, while visiting the country to request a new passport. Police interrogated him about drawings critical of the government, said two Spanish friends who were arrested and interrogated alongside him and were later released. But a news report broadcast on a government-owned television channel a few days after the arrest claimed that police had found 1 million Central African francs in the car Esono Ebalé was driving. On 7 December, he was formally accused of counterfeiting. The charge sheet alleged that a police officer, acting on a tip, had asked him to exchange large bills and received counterfeit notes in return.]“It is a huge relief that the prosecution dropped its charges against Ramon, but they should never have been pressed in the first place,” said Salil Tripathi, chair of PEN International’s Writers-in-Prison Committee. “We urge the authorities to guarantee his safe return to his family, allow him to continue creating his hard-hitting cartoons, and ensure that Equatorial Guinea respects the right to freedom of expression.”

Ramon’s release from prison is a testament of the power of collective work of hundreds of artists, concerned citizens, and NGOs,” said Tutu Alicante, director of EG Justice, which promotes human rights in Equatorial Guinea. “But we must not forget that dozens of government opponents who are not as fortunate fill Equatorial Guinea’s jails; thus, the fight against human rights violations and impunity must continue.”

(The human rights groups are Amnesty International, Arterial Network, Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, Asociación Profesional de Ilustradores de Madrid, Cartoonists Rights Network International, Cartooning for Peace, Committee to Protect Journalists, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Jonathan Price and Paul Mason, Doughty Street Chambers, UK, EG Justice, FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Freemuse, Human Rights Watch, Index on Censorship, PEN America, PEN International, Reporters without Borders, Swiss Foundation Cartooning for Peace, World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.)

(see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/cartooning-for-peace-award/)

https://pen.org/press-release/equatorial-guinea-artist-freed-prison/

https://freedomnewspaper.com/2018/03/07/press-release-amnesty-international-equatorial-guinea-artist-freed-from-prison/

 

“I am Bahraini” website launched in effort to stop denationalizations

February 25, 2018

Salam launches “I am Bahraini” website allocated for citizenship revocation cases in Bahrain

SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights launched on 23 February 2018 the “I am Bahraini” network in both Arabic and English versions. The website is meant to support and defend Bahrainis whose citizenships were arbitrarily revoked due to political and identity backgrounds. A most timely initiative in view of the horrendous numbers of Bahrainis who have been struck with this measure. See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/06/23/bahrain-reprisals-human-rights-defenders-travel-ban-denationalization-geneva/

7 November 2012,it started with he Bahraini Minister of Interior revoking the nationality of 31 citizens, among them clerics, former MPs, academics, journalists, human rights defenders, and members of civil society. The numbers quickly escalated afterwards. Until now, human rights defenders have counted 578 Bahraini citizens whom citizenships were effectively revoked and are rendered stateless.”Citizenship is the most basic and fundamental right of every individual. One losing his/her nationality consists a social demise. One possession of citizenship should not be seen as privilege or reward for allegiance, and its revocation should not be wielded as a weapon of control and oppression. The citizenry is above government and absolutely not vice versa. Citizenship revocation only enhances the discretionary and arbitrary power of the executive authority,” said Jawad Fairooz, President of SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, also a former Bahraini MP whose nationality has been revoked.

The website gathers all relevant content, including lists of many of the affected persons, as well as the position of both the Bahraini government and the international community. The website also aims at creating a dedicated space for the cases of revoked citizenship in Bahrain and at publishing significant data, reports and news from various human rights organizations, media and research centers that could serve as references in both Arabic and English languages.

Organizers are seeking through this network to cooperate with all interested individuals or groups. People can contact them on: info@salam-dhr.org

http://en.abna24.com/news/bahrain/salam-launches-“i-am-bahraini”-website-allocated-for-citizenship-revocation-cases-in-bahrain_883339.html

Many birthday parties for jailed human rights defender in Turkey

October 12, 2017

human rights defenders in Turkey, still in jail after 100 days

Ten activists, including İdil Eser, the Director of Amnesty International Turkey, were arrested on 5 July. İdil’s 54th birthday is on 14 October, which she will spend imprisoned on baseless and trumped-up charges. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/07/12/turkey-detention-of-human-rights-defenders-further-extended/] (Amnesty International Turkey’s Chair, Taner Kılıç, was also arrested a month earlier. On 4 October a prosecutor filed an indictment calling for jail terms of up to 15 years for all 11 human rights defenders on absurd terrorism charges.)

After three months the investigation has unsurprisingly failed to provide any incriminating evidence to substantiate the prosecutor’s fantastical charges. .. The activists are accused of assisting a variety of “armed terrorist organisations” with diametrically opposing ideologies. They face maximum sentences of 15 years. The charges against them include outlandish claims that standard human rights activities – such as appealing to stop the sale of tear gas, making a grant application or campaigning for the release of hunger striking teachers – were carried out on behalf of terrorist organizations. Some of the claims against İdil are based on Amnesty International documents and public communications that predate her appointment at the organisation.

To mark İdil’s 54th birthday, Amnesty International will hold more than 200 parties and actions globally, starting with a public, pop-up, Turkish-themed birthday party on 13 October in Auckland. Elsewhere around the world there will be a birthday party in the European Parliament and a press conference in a makeshift prison in Madrid. The parties will feature full-size paper cutouts of Idil to highlight her absence, along with Turkish food, music, decorations and more.

I am ready to pay the price for my choice to work on human rights and I am not scared. My time in jail has made me even more committed to standing up for my values. I will not compromise them.” Idil Eser (8/19/17).

 

STOP THE KILLINGS: you can help Front Line

July 13, 2017

At the end of last year I announced the new Front Line project to remember human rights defenders who have been killed [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/12/02/new-on-line-memorial-to-remember-killed-human-rights-defenders/] and now I am asking you for your cooperation. If you yourself do not know any cases to be included, you could still forward the post to any person or organization you think could be helpful.  The main parameters of the project are:


The HRD Memorial – http://www.hrdmemorial.org

The the aim is to commemorate all human rights defenders who have been killed for their peaceful work in defense of human rights since the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders came into effect in 1998.

The criteria for inclusion is simply that the person targeted was a HRD killed because of their peaceful human rights work. (The HRD Memorial doesn’t include disappearance cases because of the difficulty in documenting the cases and trying to determine if the person is alive or dead.)

Front Line Defenders have taken a policy decision to only include a case with the permission of the family because of the risk of re-victimisation.

Any inputs (as well questions) can be sent straight to , Head of HRD Memorial Project at Front Line Defenders [jimATfrontlinedefenders.org>]

Repressive governments continue to kill human rights defenders because they think human rights defenders are expendable people, that the killings will have no consequences and that the HRDs will soon be forgotten. The Memorial would be an important tool in the fight against impunity and to keep the flame alive. The Memorial and the participation of national and international NGOs will provide the basis for an international campaign with the theme “Stop the Killings”, which will be launched in the first quarter of 2018. 

DETERMINED: the voices of 20 women human rights defenders

December 21, 2015

In order to match moral obligation with political declarations, the Global Fund for Women launched a new online campaign in October 2015 called Determined. Featuring the voices and stories of 20 courageous women human rights defenders from around the world, Determined raises awareness of global situations — from forced marriage and domestic violence to the denial of girls to receive education and the exclusion of women from political processes. The campaign recognizes the crucial role defenders play in effectively eliminating what continues to be the most acceptable human rights violation, the violence that prevents women from having fully realized and fully dignified lives.

On the occasion of international human rights day, Samina Ali (www.twitter.com/GroundbreakHers) in the Huffington Post of 11 December 2015 highlighted four of the 20 women human rights defenders in the campaign:

1. Nilce Naira Nascimento, Brazil
Article 23 of UDHR: Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

2015-12-10-1449719648-2069767-Nilce.jpg

Nilce responds to Brazil’s strong racial divide and inequality through her work with CRIOLA, a women’s rights organization led by black women who work with other Afro-Brazilian women and girls in the poorest areas of Rio de Janeiro to empower them to combat this rampant racism and improve the living standards for the Afro-Brazilian community.

2. Swastika TamaNg, Nepal
Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

2015-12-10-1449719720-2122292-Swastika.jpg

When Swastika came out as a transgender woman five years ago, her father disowned her and she had to leave home. With little education, she had no job prospects so she turned to being a sex worker. Through her involvement with Mitini Nepal, an LGBTQI support and advocacy group, she was able to understand her gender identity and is now working to achieve human rights for LGBTQI people in Nepal, where existing laws protecting LGBTQI’s rights are rarely enforced.

3. Asipa Musaeva, Kyrgyzstan
Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

2015-12-10-1449719804-2914822-Asipa.jpg

At the young age of 17, Asipa was in an accident that severely injured her hip, leaving her permanently disabled. She found that perceptions around her disability made it difficult for her to find a job, or to be treated with dignity by those around her. She founded the Republican Independent Association of Women with Disabilities of Kyrgyzstan. In the face of tremendous obstacles, including her arrest, she and her group advocated for public spaces to be accessible for people with disabilities. The law was ultimately adopted, and today Asipa and her organization continue to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities

4. Nela Pamukovic, Croatia
Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

2015-12-10-1449719900-9095078-Nela.jpg

In 1992, Nela co-founded the Centre for Women War Victims (ROSA) during the Bosnian war, when rape was used as a weapon to terrorize communities and intimidate women. Now, more than 20 years later, women survivors of rape are still healing from the trauma and stigma of their experience. ROSA provides women with a safe space to share their stories, and their advocacy led the Croatian parliament to pass the first law in the country recognizing rape as a war crime.

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/women-human-rights-defenders/

Source: This Human Rights Day, Fight for Human Rights in New Ways | Samina Ali

International cooperative consortium ‘Protect the Defenders’ launched on 2 December

December 4, 2015

 

On 2 December 2015 a Consortium of organizations was launched in Brussels dedicated to coordinating support for the security and protection of human rights defenders under threat. The Consortium, called “Protect the Defenders,” is comprised of 12 organizations that work collectively to implement the EU Mechanism for Human Right Defenders.

The partners include Frontline Defenders (leader of the Consortium), FIDH, OMCT, Forum-ASIA, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP), ESCR-net, Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders (EMHRF), International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), Peace Brigades International, Protection International, Reporters without Borders and the Urgent Action Fund for Women.

Source: Protecting the Defenders through enhanced international collaboration | ESCR-Net

Amnesty International’s Annual ‘Write for Rights’ campaign focuses on freedom of expression

November 30, 2015

world map

During the annual Write for Rights campaign, from 4-17 December, hundreds of thousands of Amnesty International supporters and activists around the world will send letters, emails, SMS messages, faxes and tweets calling for the release of activists jailed for peaceful dissent, supporting victims of torture and pointing a spotlight on other human rights abuses. “Our campaign promises exciting, uniting and effective activism bringing together people from all different walks of life,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International on 27 November when launching this year’s campaign. Amnesty-Internationa

2014 was a record-breaking year for the campaign, with hundreds of thousands of people in more than 200 countries and territories sending 3,245,565 messages offering support or calling for action on the cases of 12 individuals and communities experiencing human rights abuses. More than a million messages have been sent in support of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi since the campaign raised his case.

The annual campaign has achieved some victories such as:

  • On 28 May 2015, the Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan pardoned and released Nigerian torture survivor Moses Akatugba.
  • The 2013 campaign led to the release of three prisoners of conscience: Cambodian housing rights activist Yorm Bopha, community leader from Myanmar Tun Aung and Russian protester Vladimir Akimenkov.

The 2015 Write for Rights campaign illustrates the growing pressure on freedom of expression, calling for the release of several people jailed or facing trial as a price for peaceful dissent:

  • Uzbekistan: Muhammad Bekzhanov, the world’s longest-imprisoned journalist (together with Yusuf Ruzimuradov from the same paper, jailed at the same time in 1999).
  • Malaysia: Political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque or “Zunar”, who faces a long prison sentence under the Sedition Act for tweets criticizing the country’s judiciary.
  • Myanmar: Phyoe Phyoe Aung, leader of one of Myanmar’s largest students unions, one of 54 students and protesters jailed after protests on 10 March 2015.
  • Democratic Republic of Congo: Peaceful youth activists Yves Makwambala and Fred Bauma, arrested at a press conference and awaiting trial accused of forming a criminal gang and attempting to overthrow the government.
  • Saudi Arabia: Lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, currently serving a 15-year prison sentence followed by a 15-year travel ban and a fine for his peaceful activism. Before his imprisonment, he defended many victims of human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, including Raif Badawi, who was supported by last year’s campaign.

 

A factsheet is available from AI with more details about Write for Rights and the cases highlighted by this year’s campaign: https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/write-for-rights/.

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/john-legend-writes-for-amnesty-internationals-write-for-rights-campaign/

Source: WORLD’S BIGGEST HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON ABUSES

Will the UN today adopt the strongest possible resolution on Human Rights Defenders? – ask over 100 NGOs

November 25, 2015

In a letter addressed to Member States, well over a hundred 100 international and national NGOs urged Members States to reject amendments intended to weaken the resolution on protection of human rights defenders, which will be adopted today, Wednesday, 25 November 2015 in the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee.
The resolution, as drafted, includes robust protection measures for human rights defenders, including the need to combat impunity for violence against human rights defenders and to release defenders who have been arbitrarily detained for exercising their fundamental freedoms. With the recent attacks on human rights defenders in places such as Burundi where the prominent activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa and members of his family have been systematically attacked, it is time for UN Member States to take strong action to prevent and punish reprisals. However, amendments, tabled by the African Group, China, and Iran seek to dramatically weaken the resolution on human rights defenders and delete entire paragraphs regarding the need for their protection.At a time when the work of human rights defenders has become extraordinarily dangerous and increasingly criminalized in many states, it is important for Member States to send a strong message on the need to protect human rights defenders.

The text of the draft follows in toto:

SUPPORT THE DRAFT RESOLUTION ON RECOGNIZING THE ROLE OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND THE NEED FOR THEIR PROTECTION

Excellencies,

We write to you as a group of human rights defenders and civil society organizations located across the world working at national, regional and international levels. We write in regard to the draft resolution entitled ”Recognizing the role of human rights defenders and the need for their protection“ currently being advanced in the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, and due to be adopted on Wednesday 25 November 2015.

We urge your government to support the abovementioned resolution and to reject amendments, tabled by the African Group, China and Iran, designed to weaken the text.

Among other things, the proposed amendments remove references to the legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders, delete or weaken language regarding the need for their protection, and delete whole paragraphs related to the need to combat impunity for violations and abuses against defenders and the need to ensure adequate procedural safeguards in judicial proceedings. A call for the release of defenders detained or imprisoned in violation of international human rights law, for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms, is also proposed for deletion. In addition, the amendments introduce notions that States should only support and enable their work ‘as appropriate’, rather than in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and other obligations arising under international human rights law

Human rights defenders make a vital contribution to the promotion and respect for human rights, democratic processes, securing and maintaining peace and security, and advancing development in our countries. However, in doing this work, defenders often face a range of violations and abuses at the hands of State and non-State actors. States must acknowledge the role of defenders and the specific risks they face, and commit to ensuring their protection.

Seventeen years ago, all States agreed to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, including State obligations to protect all human rights defenders working on all human rights. This commitment has been reiterated and built upon in subsequent General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions. We are therefore extremely concerned to hear that the abovementioned delegations have objected to several core elements of the draft resolution.

Based on consultations with over 500 defenders from 111 States, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders found that in the vast majority of States the situation for human rights defenders is deteriorating in law and in practice. He concluded that a lack of awareness regarding their vital and legitimate work, combined with a lack of political commitment and weak institutional arrangements for their protection, is placing them, their organisations and families at elevated risk.

 

The resolution as drafted reflects a number of these findings and makes a series of recommendations for States and other actors. Importantly, this year’s text includes a key focus on the implementation of the resolution itself. This will hopefully prompt States and other actors to move beyond rhetoric in addressing the challenges faced by human rights defenders and take action to ensure the implementation of the calls in the resolution.

We urge all States to live up to their human rights commitments by supporting this resolution, by rejecting amendments designed to weaken it, and by taking concrete steps to protect human rights defenders.

Sincerely, (names of the NGOs)

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/reprisals-states-must-r…