Posts Tagged ‘Ireland’

Important side event in Geneva on ending reprisals coming up

September 12, 2018

On Wednesday 19 September (16:00-17:30 – Room XXIV, Palais des Nations, Geneva) the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) is organizing a side event Ending reprisals: Discussion with human rights defenders and experts.

This event seeks to provide a space for human rights defenders and experts to shed light on the nature and extent of reprisals and intimidation against those cooperating with the UN; discuss and expand on the Secretary-General’s report; and to consider efforts to date to address reprisals and intimidation against those cooperating with the UN as well as ways to further develop and strengthen policies and practices to prevent and address reprisals.

Participants: 

  • Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights
  • Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • National human rights defenders

Moderator: Phil Lynch, Director of ISHR (see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/06/08/ishr-new-report-on-reprisals-and-restrictions-against-ngo-participation-in-the-un/)

The event is co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations and the Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the Office of the United Nations.

Download the flyer here

some of my earlier posts on reprisals: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/reprisals/

Bahrain practices hospitality for Formula One: stuck in airport

April 5, 2018

Human rights defender Brian Dooley and Danish MP Rasmussen were not only refused entry into Bahrain but kept in the airport without a passport, reports the Irish Independent on 4 April 2018.

Brian Dooley has been held alongside Danish MP Lars Aslan Rasmussen for more than 12 hours in Bahrain International Airport after they travelled there to visit jailed Bahraini-Danish human rights defender Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a prominent pro-democracy campaigner in Bahrain, who founded the Gulf Centre for Human Rights and worked  for the Dublin-based group Front Line Defenders. He received a life sentence in April 2011 for charges of terrorism and attempting to overthrow the government.

Brian Dooley is in Bahrain alongside Danish MP Lars Aslan Rasmussen (L)
Brian Dooley in Bahrain alongside Danish MP Lars Aslan Rasmussen (L)

Mr Dooley, who is from Dingle in Co Kerry and is now based in the UK, told Independent.ie: “Formula One fans planning to arrive this week should know what they’re getting into. Bahrain has become an out and out police state.” See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/11/30/closing-civil-society-space-a-euphemism-for-killing-human-rights-defenders/

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/irish-human-rights-campaigner-refused-entry-to-bahrain-36774371.html

 

Ibrahim Halawa – after 4 years in detention in Egypt – is able to speak out

February 27, 2018

Amnesty International published on 26 February 2018 an insightful interview with an Egyptian youth arrested in the august 2013 protests.
Weeks after his release Ibrahim Halawa spoke to AIu about his time in an Egyptian prison. Now walking the streets of Dublin his freedom has changed his life forever. Ibrahim Halawa was arrested aged just 17 along with hundreds of others during protests on 16 and 17 August 2013 around al-Fath Mosque in downtown Cairo. The protests descended into violence which the security forces responded to by using excessive lethal force that left at least 97 people killed, but according to Amnesty International’s research there is no evidence to indicate he was involved in any of the violence. The organization believes he was jailed for peacefully protesting. He was eventually acquitted on 18 September 2017, but 442 others were sentenced after a deeply unfair mass trial. Amnesty International is calling for all others who have been sentenced for peacefully exercising their rights to be immediately released.

 

Repressive governments and Ophelia compete to prevent HRDs to travel to Dublin

October 18, 2017

Andrew Anderson, the executive director of Front Line Defenders, published a piece at the beginning of the Dublin Platform for Human Rights hosted by Front Line Defenders in Ireland

Thwe Thwe Win working on her land near the copper mine in Myanmar. 25 May 2016. Photo: Lauren DeCicca / Front Line Defenders

Thwe Thwe Win working on her land near the copper mine in Myanmar. 25 May 2016. Photo: Lauren DeCicca / Front Line Defenders
Thwe Thwe Win is one of the 117 at-risk activists invited to the 2017 Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders who actually made it to the bi-anual gathering of global activists. ….

Like thousands of people trying to get into Ireland on Monday, dozens of our international guests had flights canceled or postponed. Another 11, however, were prevented from attending long before Ophelia hit, banned from leaving home by their governments…..It is an opportunity for defenders typically preoccupied with defending their communities – and surviving the threats that ensure – to spend 72 hours not being physically surveilled by a totalitarian state, threatened at work by an extremist group, or receiving menacing phone calls demanding their stop their activism. It is an opportunity to relax, something activists tend to forget to do. It is also a chance for defenders to learn from their peers around the world. Feminists from Nigeria strategise with Colombians about how to peacefully defend indigenous land from paramilitaries. Emirati human rights defenders chat to Moroccans about the high-tech spying software both their governments recently purchased. Bahrainis lament with Bangladeshis the unrelenting influence of Saudi Arabia in each oppressive state’s policies. Rights activists from most of the former Soviet block tend to tease the Russian about their own governments’ adopting a “copy and paste” approach to many of Russia’s anti-NGO laws.

This year there will be a noticeable gap in our Dublin Castle crowd. Last week, we learned that our Kuwaiti invitee was threatened by state officials not to travel. The Bahraini invited is currently in detention; last time she was there, they sexually assaulted her. The second young Bahraini woman we invited in her place – who boldly took to Twitter to speak out for the former – now has a travel ban. The Saudi activist learned he was on an intelligence surveillance list last week; he rang our Blackrock office to say he was too scared to leave home. The Gulf has been a blackhole of restrictions of freedom of movement for human rights defenders for some time now, but unfortunately that’s not the end of it. Our Syrian colleague has had his passport confiscated by state security in Turkey, and a Ukrainian lawyer has yet to be granted permission to travel.

An activist in Cameroon was arrested for his peaceful activism a few weeks ago – he won’t be joining us this week; he’s in prison. A Cuban human rights defender planned to leave home in Guantanamo City extra early, knowing he’d be stopped at the town’s many American-run military checkpoints – security in Guantanamo is tight. Ultimately, he was never granted the “exit permit” required to leave Cuba. In Colombia, David Rabelo Crespo was recently released from prison after 7 years for a crime he did not commit, but has still been forbidden from travel to Dublin.

Governments world-over know that it is not laws, conventions, or UN resolutions that bring human rights reform to a country – it’s people. They know that activists are only as powerful as their communities, both local and international, and are working harder than ever to ensure that networks of solidarity cannot flourish.

Radical social change – the kind that undermines dictatorships, dismembers racist populist tides, secures indigenous peoples’ rights to their land – has always been born out of collective struggle. It is clear that in preventing our human rights defender colleagues from Bahrain, Kuwait, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Cameroon, Syria, and Bolivia from traveling, the respective authorities are not only vindictive, they are terrified of activists. Authoritarians think that if they lock human rights defenders away – behind bars or travel bans or physical attacks – that we will stop listening, that we will forget them. Authoritarians are wrong……….When governments work hard to silence activists, we must work harder to hear them.” [see alsohttps://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/11/30/closing-civil-society-space-a-euphemism-for-killing-human-rights-defenders/#more-7208]

Andrew Gilmour, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights,made statement on 17 October 2017 which is worth reading in its totality but I copy here only the part on reprisals:

At times – as some of you have experienced or witnessed – engagement with the UN on human rights can lead to reprisals and intimidation. This has been a long-standing concern to the Organization, and we are distressed at the increasing number of such acts. These range from travel bans, threats and harassment, smear campaigns, surveillance, restrictive legislation, physical attacks, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and ill-treatment, including sexual violence, denial of access to medical attention, and even killings. Intimidation of human rights defenders is happening all the time. The purpose is to penalize individuals who have already spoken out, thereby also sending a signal to many others from speaking out in future.

Recognising the gravity of this issue, last October the Secretary-General announced that he had asked me to lead efforts to strengthen UN-wide action for prevention of, protection against, investigation into and accountability for reprisals. Many Governments are very supportive, and have offered resources for this endeavor. Our host country Ireland is very strong in this regard. We are trying to get as much information about what is going on, and for this we need your input, and will circulate our email address to help us get it.… I recount a few lines of what I said in my speech to the Human Rights Council three weeks ago as I presented the Secretary-General’s report on reprisals:

We believe the significance of this report goes far beyond the individual cases contained in it. I think we should see these individuals as the canary in the coal mine, bravely singing until they are silenced by this toxic backlash against people, rights and dignity – as a dark warning to us all. (…)

It is frankly nothing short of abhorrent that, year after year, we are compelled to present cases to you, the UN membership, of intimidation and reprisals carried out against people whose crime – in the eyes of their respective Governments – was to cooperate with the UN institutions and mechanisms whose mandate of course derives from you, the UN membership. (…)

I salute the extraordinary courage that it sometimes takes for the victims and their families to come forward and share their stories with us, and also the dedication of the civil society organizations who act on behalf of those affected.

[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/06/21/assistant-secretary-general-for-human-rights-andrew-gilmour-speaks-very-freely-at-the-united-nations-association-of-the-usa/]

Sources:

Its people and not laws that bring human rights reform to a country

http://www.ohchr.org/SP/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22251&LangID=E

Lawyer wins Front Line’s 2017 human rights award for helping Crimean Tartars

May 26, 2017

On 31 March this year  I announced the 5 nominees for Front Line’s human rights award [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/03/31/finalists-for-the-2017-front-line-defenders-award-come-from-ukraine-nicaragua-vietnam-south-africa-and-kuwait/] and today the organization announced that the winner is Emil Kurbedinov, a lawyer who is helping ethnic Tartars in Crimea.

Emil Kurbedinov said 'Winning an acquittal for my clients is almost impossible - but what I can do is show them that, despite the risks, I will not abandon them'

Emil Kurbedinov was at the ceremony in Dublin’s City Hall this morning to receive the Human Rights Defender At Risk award for 2017. According to Front Line Defenders, which has its global headquarters in Blackrock in Dublin, defending human rights activists and political prisoners in Crimea is some of the most dangerous work that any lawyer can undertake. Despite those risks, Mr Kurbedinov has spent years providing emergency legal response for the Crimean Tartar minority, which it maintains has been persecuted by Russian authorities.

In January of this year, Mr Kurbedinov was detained by representatives of Crimea’s Centre for Counteracting Extremism while on his way to represent a client whose house had been raided by police. A district court later sentenced him to ten days in detention on a charge of “propagandising for extremist organisations“.

The Executive Director, Andrew Anderson, said: “In the midst of a global crackdown on human rights defenders, the five finalists demonstrate the will to persist in the face of severe, often life-threatening risks.

Source: Lawyer wins human rights award for helping Tartars

Amnesty report big rise in number of human rights defenders killed in 2016

May 16, 2017

Amnesty International said there an 80% rise in the number of human rights activists killed around the world in 2016. https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/brave/

Amnesty International said 281 people were killed in 2016 while working to defend human rights. The organisation said it is part of a growing trend of intimidation and persecution of activists. Amnesty also pointed out that oppressive measures are not just happening far afield – with abuses reported in countries like Hungary and Turkey. This is how the Executive Director of Amnesty International, Ireland Colm O’Gorman described it: “We’re seeing an unparallelled global assault on the work of human rights defenders, so laws that are brought in to inhibit human rights work, whether it be the foreign agent laws we’ve seen in Russia, bans of foreign funding for NGOs in Hungary and other countries or indeed mass surveillance techniques being used against human rights defenders.”

Colm O’Gorman.

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/01/09/front-line-launches-its-2016-report-on-human-rights-defenders-at-risk/

Source: Amnesty report huge rise in number of human rights activists killed in 2016 | BreakingNews.ie

Call for nominations for two important human rights awards – deadline February 2017

December 14, 2016

 Rafto Prize. 

This Bergen-based award (established in 1987) is seeking candidates for its 2017 award. Candidates should be active in the struggle for the ideals and principles underlying the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and should represent a non-violent perspective. Nominations for the Rafto Prize are received and evaluated by the Rafto Prize Committee. Recipient(s) are selected by the Board of Directors in August. For questions regarding nominations, please contact the Secretary of the Committee, Liv Unni Stuhaug, e-mail: livunni.stuhaug(at)rafto.no. For 2016 award see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/10/01/iraqi-human-rights-defender-yanar-mohammed-laureate-of-2016-rafto-prize/

Deadline for nominations: 1 February 2017

https://www.rafto.no/get-involved/nomination

———–

Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk.

Established in 2005 the award is to honour the work of a human rights defender who, through non-violent work, is courageously making an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights of others, often at great personal risk to themselves. A cash prize of €15,000 is awarded to recipient and his/her organisation in an effort to support the continuation of this important work. Individual nominees may not play a prominent role in a political party and must be currently active in human rights work (no posthumous contribution). Nominees must not be living in exile. For 2016 award see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/06/10/ana-mirian-romero-environmental-activist-from-honduras-wins-2016-front-line-award/

Deadline: Friday, 3 February 2017

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/secure/nomination.php (English)

 

New on-line memorial to remember killed human rights defenders

December 2, 2016

 

President Michael D Higgins with international activists and NGO representatives in Dublin at the launch of the Human Rights Defenders Memorial. Photograph: Conor McCabe

Irish President Michael D Higgins with international activists and NGO representatives in Dublin at the launch of the Human Rights Defenders Memorial. Photograph: Conor McCabe

Rachel Flaherty reports in the Irish Times of 24 November on the launch of an on-line Memorial o honour human rights defenders who have been killed The online memorial would be a tool to track investigations and advance the struggle for justice for human rights defenders. The Human Rights Defenders Memorial (HRD Memorial) has been set up by Dublin-based Front Line Defenders as an online international and interactive database. It will detail all the human rights defenders who have been murdered around the world since 1998. The Front Line Defenders organisation has estimated 3,500 have been murdered since then.

A coalition of 20 national and international human rights organisations jointly coordinated the project. Contributors included human rights groups from Colombia, Honduras and the Philippines, which Front Line Defenders said are ranked among three of the deadliest countries in the world for human rights defenders. The organisation said other countries included among the worst in terms of killing and physical attacks against human rights defenders included North KoreaChinaRussiaEgyptSaudi Arabia and Zimbabwe.

Andrew Anderson, executive director of Front Line Defenders, said the memorial sent a message the human rights community was stronger than any one person. “It will not be deterred, and its leaders will not be forgotten,” he said. “This is not random violence. This is the calculated elimination of those who speak out to defend the rights of the most vulnerable. Autocrats and powerful economic interests think that if they kill an activist, they kill a movement. The goal of the HRD Memorial is to prove them wrong.”

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/new-online-memorial-honours-human-rights-defenders-1.2881256

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/statement-report/celebrating-those-who-were-killed-defending-human-rights

 

Front Line Defenders announces steady hand Andrew Anderson as new Executive Director

October 8, 2016

Dublin-based NGO Front Line Defenders announced on 6 October 2016 that Andrew Anderson has been appointed as the organisation’s new Executive Director. Andrew has worked for the international protection of human rights defenders for more than twenty years, and has played a key leadership role in building Front Line Defenders into an effective force fighting for those most at risk. He will begin his new role on 1 November 2016.

The Front Line Defenders Board of Trustees selected Andrew due to his extensive management, fundraising and human rights experience. In its announcement, the Board of Trustees noted that it “unanimously agreed that Andrew is the candidate with the experience and skills best placed to lead Front Line Defenders into the next stage of our development.

Andrew Anderson and Mary Lawlor, launch of the 2016 Annual Report

The choice is a good one in my view as Andrew has 27 years experience of working for human rights at the international level and has served as Deputy Director of Front Line Defenders since March 2003. As Deputy Director, he led the development of an international civil society consortium to implement the EU human rights defenders mechanism (www.ProtectDefenders.eu), and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York. Before joining Front Line Defenders, Andrew worked for thirteen years at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International where he served as Director of the Campaigning and Crisis Response Programme and as Director of the Africa Programme. For an earlier video statement by Andrew see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/andrew-anderson-speaks-and-speaks-well-on-the-anniversary-of-un-declaration-on-hrds-youtube/.

“It is an honour and a challenge to take on this role at a time when human rights defenders are facing increasing attacks in all regions of the world,” said Andrew. “We must sustain the drive and energy which made Front Line Defenders so effective under Mary’s inspirational leadership and build on that legacy to deliver rapid and practical support for those who risk their lives to build a better future.”

Andrew will succeed Front Line Defenders’ current Executive Director Mary Lawlor, who founded the organisation in 2001. See: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/mary-lawlor-leaves-as-executive-director-of-front-line-defenders-job-search-for-successor-started/

Source: Front Line Defenders Announces New Executive Director, Andrew Anderson | Front Line Defenders

Monday 26 September: important panel discussion on responses to intimidation and reprisals against HRDs

September 21, 2016

Ghana, Hungary, Ireland and Uruguay – in cooperation with ISHR – are organizing a panel discussion about current situations, existing practices and new ideas for better implementation of Human Rights Council resolutions on preventing and responding to reprisals.ISHR-logo-colour-high

Monday 26 September 2016, 1.00 – 3.00 pm – Room XXIII, Palais des Nations

Panelists
•    Ms Peggy Hicks, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
•    Mr Alessio Bruni, Rapporteur on reprisals of the Committee Against Torture
•    H.E. Ms Yvette Stevens, Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the UN
•    Ms Maryam Al-Khawaja, Co-director of Gulf Center for Human Rights
•    Mr Philip Lynch, Director of International Service for Human Rights

Moderator
•    H.E. Ms Zsuzsanna Horváth, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the UN

For my earlier posts on reprisals: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/reprisals/

Source: Invitation, Monday 26 September, 1pm: Comprehensive responses to acts of intimidation and reprisals in the field of human rights