Posts Tagged ‘international human rights day’

A Documentation Manual for and about Women Human Rights Defenders

December 3, 2015

A new publication “Gendering Documentation: A Manual for and about Women Human Rights Defenders” (http://www.omct.org/files/2015/12/23505/gen_doc_manual_final.pdf) has come out to mark International Women Human Rights Defender Day (29 November) and International Human Rights Day (10 December). It has been produced by the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition. The manual will be posted in pdf format in coming days on the website of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition: www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.orgwomen human rights defenders

Gendering Documentation: A Manual For and About Women Human Rights Defenders is designed for use by those who document Read the rest of this entry »

“10 December – 10 Defenders” Profiles of Human Rights Defenders against Torture

December 1, 2015

OMCT-LOGOTo portray the work of human rights defenders working on the ground to prevent torture, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) shares profiles of 10 persons between 1 and 10 December, International Human Rights Day.

These stories, such as those of Yavuz in Turkey, Olga in Russia, and Justin in DRC are hosted on OMCT’s website and social media, including the new LinkedIn page, as well as on Facebook and Twitter accounts, starting today. People are encouraged to like and share the posts. I will also highlight some of them in future posts.

For last year’s campaign see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/omct-launches-again-its-10-days-campaign-for-and-with-human-rights-defenders/

 

Source: OMCT showcases 10 torture activists ahead of Dec. 10 UN Human Rights Day, launching its 30th anniversary celebration / November 1, 2015 / Links / Human rights defenders / OMCT

Human Rights Defenders and Anti-Corruption campaigners should join hands

January 29, 2015

Jamil Nasir, a graduate of Columbia University, wrote on 10 December 2014 a short piece on the link between human rights and corruption: “The corruption link”. The author concludes that “Human rights defenders should not consider themselves just as activists; similarly anti-corruption champions should also not limit themselves like that. A bridge needs to be built between human rights and anti-corruption activists.” The article follows below in full:
The world celebrates ‘Anti-corruption Day’ and ‘Human Rights Day’ on December 9 and 10, respectively. Corruption and human rights are inextricably linked, but these linkages are not emphasised much in literature or discourse on corruption. The detrimental impact of corruption on economic growth and development is now well documented. It is a fact that corruption kills the incentive system, distorts technology choices, misallocates talent, promotes tax evasion and retards economic growth.And how does corruption impact human rights? First, it reduces the capacity of the state to protect, respect, and enforce its obligations with regard to the fundamental human rights enshrined in the social contract between the citizens and the state. For example, ‘access to justice’ and ‘security of life, property and honour’ are fundamental human rights. Can these rights be protected with a corruption-ridden judicial and police system? Our own current system is a pertinent example.Corruption in the judiciary and the police is not a secret in our country. When we talk of corruption in the judicial system, it does not mean prismatic decisions and judgements only. Granting adjournments to benefit one of the parties to a dispute is also corruption. When it comes to the police, corruption is not about flawed investigations but also non-submission of challans in the court on time. Consequently, the weaker party gets so disillusioned that it either does not pursue the case or enters into forced compromise.

Thus corruption affects fundamental rights as well as procedural rights like due process – the. right not to have undue delay in court proceedings and the right to a fair trial. Is it not corruption that has reduced the capacity of our state to enforce fundamental human rights? Have the court and police systems not become dysfunctional? Are these institutions not making the people poor rather than providing them quick justice?

This corruption lowers economic development and undermines poverty alleviation. The social contract obligates that the state should provide an environment where people can realise their full potential. Is such an environment possible without adequate resources with the state? Corruption reduces the level of revenues which consequently reduce the capacity of the state to fund basic social services. Again, Pakistan is a pertinent case. Due to corruption, tax evasion is rampant. Corruption also affects targeting of social programmes. If corrupt practices are pervasive, leakages in such programmes will usually be high. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the money allocated for various social spending and poverty alleviation programmes have not reached the intended targets. A substantial percentage of such funding was squandered away during the process of distribution. Further, targeting of the poor was riddled with nepotism and patronage.

Moreover, corruption enhances the operating costs of the government and reduces the resources available for social spending. The budget for the health and education sectors gets squeezed. It is an open secret now that the major chunk of the funds allocated for development of infrastructure like roads, schools and hospital buildings is eaten into by corruption in the form of commissions and kickbacks by the engineers, contractors and construction companies. And so corruption undermines development, deepens poverty and exacerbates other human rights violations.

Corruption can also violate human rights directly. If a corrupt judge takes a bribe to decide a case against an individual or a corrupt police officer takes a bribe not to properly investigate, that corruption directly violates human rights like the right to a fair trial. Corruption can manifest itself as the worst abuse of human dignity and rights.

One of the reports of Transparency International mentions a local public hospital in Zimbabwe whose nurses charged $5 every time the mother screamed while giving birth to a baby. This amount was charged as a penalty for raising alarm. Those women who were unable to pay the delivery fee were detained at the hospital until they had settled the debt. In this way, they were held hostage by the corruption prevalent in the hospital.

Corruption particularly targets the poor. For example, if a rickshaw driver or a street vendor pays a meagre amount of bribe (assume Rs100) to a policeman to avoid harassment, the impact on these poor chaps will be deep and severe since even Rs100 constitutes a major chunk of their daily income. It is not a big amount in absolute terms but it eats into their already tight budget. Compared with the daily income of the wage earners, the impact of this seemingly little amount can be well imagined on the household budget of the poor.

On the other hand, if a businessman pays – assume Rs100,000 – to a tax collector, he will get enormous personal benefit. But due to this collusion of the tax evader and the tax collector, millions of rupees will be dribbled through corruption. The taxes evaded due to this under the table deal, if properly collected, could be utilised for developing infrastructure, transfer payments or spent on poverty alleviation programmes.

This simple illustration shows that corruption adversely affects the poor. Second, it may also benefit the rich which is perhaps one explanation of the tolerance of the rich and the elite towards corruption in society. According to Professor Pranab Bardhan, corruption feeds on itself due to a variety of reasons. First, it is beneficial for the payer and the payee. Second, it is so entrenched that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Third, once corruption takes root in society, it is exceedingly difficult to eliminate.

It is time the discourse on corruption included the human rights perspective. A clear understanding between corruption and human rights can empower both human rights activists and those working against corruption. If linkages between corruption and rights become part of the narrative on corruption, attitudes will change. When people become more aware of the damage corruption causes to their fundamental rights, they are more likely to support campaigns against corruption. This new discourse can persuade key actors like judges, parliamentarians, lawyers, media and the public at large to take a strong stand against corruption. Connecting corruption to human rights violations means that acts of corruption can be challenged in a court of law as violation of fundamental human rights.

Weak human rights protection creates possibilities for corruption which also means that the promotion of human rights can be one of the tools against corruption. For example, promotion of the right to freedom of expression and information can go a long way in combating corruption in society. The right to information is critical in the fight against corruption.

Human rights defenders should not consider themselves just as activists; similarly anti-corruption champions should also not limit themselves like that. A bridge needs to be built between human rights and anti-corruption activists. This will be possible once the dots are connected and linkages between corruption and human rights are consciously explored for a joint struggle. Both human rights organisations and anti-corruption agencies should make a resolve to work together. The fight against corruption and the promotion of human rights are too important to be left to disjointed endeavours.”

The corruption link – Jamil Nasir.

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.

Human Rights Day: a selection of articles from Asian media that you may have missed

December 10, 2014

 I call on states to honour their obligation to protect human rights every day of the year. I call on people to hold their governments to account. And I call for special protections for the human rights defenders who courageously serve our collective cause,” UN Secretary-General stated in his message for Human Rights Day.  There is so much to report on this day, that I decided to focus on stories from 4 Asian countries (China (Hong Kong), India, Thailand, Bangladesh) which give an impression (not more than that) of how Human Rights Day is reflected in the media.
The first article “Responsibility for the protection of human rights is in our hands” appeared in the South China Morning Post of Tuesday, 09 December, 2014

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Somali Journalists mark Human Rights Day with call for more protection including executions

December 10, 2014

Somali News on 7 December reports on a meeting of the National Union of Somali Journalists ahead of the International Human Rights Day 2014 to highlight the violations against the Human Rights Defenders, especially the attacks against the press in Somalia including harassment, intimidation, unlawful or arbitrary arrest and detention. That thinking about the death penalty differs greatly in the world is shown by the satisfaction expressed about the death penalty meted out to the killer of a journalist.

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Human Rights Day: exceptional chance to put questions to 3 women human rights defenders

December 9, 2014

To mark Human Rights Day tomorrow, Wednesday 10 December, the Guardian organises a live chat with three women human rights defenders who will answer your questions on their campaigning work and the challenges they face in uncovering abuses. The panel looks most promising:

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights writes about Women’s Human Rights Defenders

December 8, 2014

UN HCHR Al Hussein

On 5 December 2014, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, wrote a piece in the Huffington Post in which he eloquently calls on all to ‘Stand in Solidarity With Courageous Women’s Human Rights Defenders’. 

In the article he explains that his Office has decided to launch a campaign to pay tribute to women and men who defy stereotypes and fight for women’s human rights. The campaign runs from Human Rights Day, December 10 this year, to International Women’s Day, March 8, 2015. We encourage everyone to join the ranks of these strong and inspiring advocates, on social media (#reflect2protect) and on the ground. Below the text in full:

 

 

Almost two decades ago, in Beijing, 189 countries made a commitment to achieve equality for women, in practice and in law, so that all women could at last fully enjoy their rights and freedoms as equal human beings.

They adopted a comprehensive and ambitious plan to guarantee women the same rights as men to be educated and develop their potential. The same rights as men to choose their profession. The same rights to lead communities and nations and make choices about their own lives without fear of violence or reprisal. No longer would hundreds of thousands of women die every year in childbirth because of health care policies and systems that neglected their care. No longer would women earn considerably less than men. No longer would discriminatory laws govern marriage, land, property and inheritance.

In the years that followed, the world has witnessed tremendous progress: the number of women in the work force has increased; there is almost gender parity in schooling at the primary level; the maternal mortality ratio declined by almost 50 percent; and more women are in leadership positions. Importantly, governments talk about women’s rights as human rights, and women’s rights and gender equality are acknowledged as legitimate and indispensable goals.

However, the world is still far from the vision articulated in Beijing. Approximately 1 in 3 women throughout the world will experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Less than a quarter of parliamentarians in the world are women. In over 50 countries there is no legal protection for women against domestic violence. Almost 300,000 women and girls died in 2013 from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Approximately 1 in 3 married women aged 20 to 24 were child brides. In many parts of the world, women and girls cannot make decisions on their most private matters — sexuality, marriage, children. Girls and women who pursue their own life choices are still murdered by their own families in the dishonorable practice of so-called honor killings. All of our societies remain affected by stereotypes based on the inferiority of women, which often denigrate, humiliate and sexualize them.

Today we have the responsibility to protect the progress made in the past 20 years and address the remaining challenges. In doing so, we must recognize the vital role of women who defend human rights, often at great risk to themselves and their families precisely because they are viewed as stepping outside socially prescriptive gender stereotypes. We must recognize the role of all people, women and men, who publicly call for gender equality and often, as a result, find themselves the victim of archaic and patriarchal, but powerful, threats to their reputations, their work and even their lives. These extraordinary individuals — women’s human rights defenders — operate in hostile environments, where arguments of cultural relativism are common and often against the background of the rise of extremist, misogynistic groups, which threaten to dismantle the gains of the past.

Attacks against women who stand up to demand their human rights and individuals who advocate for gender equality are often designed to keep women in their “place.” In some areas of the world, women who participate in public demonstrations are told to go home to take care of their children. Consider the recent example of a newspaper publishing naked photos of a woman, claiming she was a well-known activist — an attack designed to shame this defender into silence. In other places, when women claim their right to affordable modern methods of contraception, they are labelled as prostitutes in smear campaigns seeking to undermine their credibility. Online attacks against those who speak for women’s human rights and gender equality by so-called “trolls” — who threaten heinous crimes — are increasingly reported.

These attacks have a common thread — they rely on gender stereotypes and deeply entrenched discriminatory social norms in an attempt to silence those who challenge the age-old system of gender inequality. However, these defenders will not be silenced, and we must stand in solidarity with them against these cowardly attacks.

This is why my Office has decided to launch a campaign to pay tribute to women and men who defy stereotypes and fight for women’s human rights. The campaign runs from Human Rights Day, December 10 this year, to International Women’s Day, March 8, 2015. We encourage everyone to join the ranks of these strong and inspiring advocates, on social media and on the ground.

As we approach the 20-year anniversary of Beijing, discrimination and violence against women, and the stereotypes that confine them into narrowly fixed roles must end. Women have the right to make their own decisions about their lives and their bodies. Guaranteeing and implementing these rights are non-negotiable obligations of all States. Women human rights defenders were instrumental in securing the ambitious program laid out in Beijing. Their work, their activism and their courage deserve our recognition, our support and our respect.”

Stand in Solidarity With Courageous Womens Human Rights Defenders | UN Women.

Alkarama award ceremony for Palestinian human rights defender Shireen Issawi on 11 December

December 1, 2014

Palestinian Lawyer Shireen Issawi to Receive 2014 Alkarama Award for Human Rights Defenders

On the occasion of Human Rights Day, the Geneva-based NGO Alkarama will present the 2014 Alkarama Award for Human Rights Defenders to Shireen Issawi, prominent lawyer and human rights defender from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The event will be held on 11 December 2014 at 18:30 at the Ecumenical Center in Geneva (Switzerland).

‘Unsung Heroes’ – EU Tribute to Human Rights Defenders on 2 December in Geneva

November 28, 2014

Under the title “Unsung Heroes” the EU Delegation to the UN in  Geneva is organizing a Tribute to Human Rights Defenders on 2 December 2014 at 13h00 in the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In light of the 10th anniversary of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders and ahead of the Human Rights Day, Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights, will discuss interactively with NGOs, Human Rights Defenders and International Organisations the challenges of speaking up for human rights. The event will also include the Geneva launch of a study conducted by the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation on Women Human Right Defenders’ exposure to threats and violence.

The debate on questions such as “What does it take to stand up for human rights?”, “What risks do human rights defenders face, in particular if they are women?” and “What can we do to provide better support?” will be followed by the screening of the film documentary “Six Days”, portraying three women in three different countries, fighting for change in the wake of war and conflict.

I should add that the choice of the title ‘Unsung Heroes’ leaves to be desired as it has been used a lot by different organisations, including the US State Department, the Carter Foundation, the Martin Ennals Foundation for its 2001 study, the OHCHR, PBI, Freedom etc.

See also my post from two days ago: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/tribute-remembering-women-human-rights-defenders/