Posts Tagged ‘ISHR’

Michel Forst: “Empowering defenders on the move is crucial to the prevention of further tragedy”

February 20, 2018

The ISHR in a piece of 16 February 2018 draws attention to tow complementary reports on the situation of human rights defenders in a migration context. They fit admirably with the outcry of 250 NGOs concerning Hungary referred to in my earlier post of today [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/02/20/250-ngos-address-letter-to-hungarian-parliament-regarding-restriction-on-the-work-of-human-rights-defenders/].

The first is the report, by UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst, which examines the many ways in which human rights defenders are impacted by the current environment related to migrant and refugee flows. For example, defenders may become migrants or refugees as a result of the harassment and violence they face in their own communities or countries. ‘Empowering defenders on the move is crucial to the prevention of further tragedy‘.

The second is the OHCHR Principles and Practical Guidance for the protection of the Human Rights of Migrants in Vulnerable Situations, especially Principle 18 which states that ‘States must respect and support the activities of human rights defenders who promote and protect the human rights of migrants’.

Both document will be considered at the upcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The two documents are fully complementary’, Sarah Brooks of the ISHR says. ‘The recommendations of the OHCHR and the UN expert have no daylight between them – their message is quite simple. In order for lives to be saved, States must ensure that human rights defenders and civil society can operate safely and without hindrance.’

Migrants – including migrant workers – who seek to stand up for their rights and those of others face unique threats, including deportation.  The case of Sujana Rana and Rose Limu Jee, two migrant domestic workers from Nepal who were detained and deported after advocating for freedom of association in Lebanon, is a prime example. And defenders in countries of destination – whether the Gulf, the United States, or many Member States of the European Union (e.g. Hungary) – find that their own governments may rollback protections or even funding for civil society and defenders when migration-related issues are the focus, or in the worst cases criminalise assistance to migrants and refugees.

Main challenges

  • Limits on access to migrant and refugee populations. This can appear as overt limits on physical presence in border areas or due to the remote nature of some areas where populations on the move are concentrated. This includes securitised border zones and offshore facilities.  In both cases, the real impact is to increase physical and financial barriers to access, preventing people on the move from accessing independent services and much-needed legal counsel.
  • Criminalisation. Some defenders struggle against risks of criminal prosecution both nationally and as a result of local bylaws, particularly registration requirements (based on geographic areas of work, for example). The overzealous application of existing law has also been sued to accuse people of harbouring or smuggling, when in reality the individual was engaged in humanitarian activity. This threat of criminal charges has a chilling effect, as does the decrease in funding for organisations working in this area (both anti-racism work and traditional legal aid centres).
  • The growing role of non-state actors.  Especially in some parts of Latin America, organised crime poses significant threats to defenders, as well as to States should they try to protect them. Businesses are also implicated, as the report notes particular types of private employment contracts which ‘gag’ service providers and impose outsized fines or criminal penalties for discussing the situation.  Finally, in cases where governments have outsourced certain services, tools like access to information requests (normally directed at public authorities) are no longer available.

http://www.ishr.ch/news/hrc37-global-community-must-recognise-defenders-people-move-says-un-expert

http://www.ishr.ch/sites/default/files/article/files/201802_ohchr_principles_and_practical_guidance.pdf

Profile of Yaxue Cao of ChinaChange.org

February 9, 2018

On 9 November 2017 ISHR met Yaxue Cao, the founder and editor of ChinaChange.org, an English-language website devoted to news and commentary related to civil society, rule of law, and human rights activities in China. She works to help the rest of the world understand what people are thinking and doing to effect change in China. Reports and translations on China Change have been cited widely in leading global news outlets and in U.S. Congressional reports. Yaxue Cao grew up in northern China during the Cultural Revolution and studied literature in the US. She lives in Washington, DC.

The saga of the “anti-NGO” committee in the UN continues

February 9, 2018

This blog has several times paid attention to the rather weird situation that the UN “NGO Committee” (at NY level) has a rather negative attitude towards the very NGOs that it is supposed to assist. See e.g.:

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/06/01/ngo-committee-of-the-un-shows-its-bizarre-bias-against-human-rights-ngos/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/05/04/ishr-starts-campaign-to-monitor-committee-that-throttles-ngo-access-to-the-un/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/02/08/un-committee-on-ngos-denies-ngo-the-right-to-speak/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/06/07/uns-ngo-committee-seems-not-very-fond-of-ngos/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/05/04/jean-daniel-vigny-hopes-to-improve-ngo-participation-at-the-un/

Now, on 29 January 2018, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) came out with the video above as well as the following statement:

A group of regional and international human rights NGOs was blocked from making a statement at the UN NGO Committee session today.  Despite a precedent set two years ago for the delivery of a general statement, all requests since have been refused.  Read here the NGOs’ call for leadership and reform:

Today a group of NGOs sought to deliver a general statement  urging the Committee to embrace the principles of transparency, accountability and accessibility in its work to ensure its practice is fair, expeditious and apolitical. The ECOSOC NGO Committee reviews applications for accreditation, providing a gateway for NGOs into the UN.  It has been much criticised – by States, UN officials and NGOs – for practices including repeated questioning of applicants and multiple deferrals of applications for no good reason. The NGOs’ attempt to speak was blocked.

ISHR along with Amnesty International, Civicus, Conectas Diretos Humanos, Human Rights Watch, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, International Commission of Jurists and Outright Action International came with two key calls for Committee and observer States, related to participation and membership.

1/  The NGO Committee must provide for remote participation by accredited NGOs:

ECOSOC recently requested the NGO Committee to institute regular meetings with accredited NGOs in regard to the ‘evolving relationship’ between NGOs and the UN. Despite the fact that these have been required since 1996, the meeting scheduled to take place in the next months, will be the first. The NGOs urge that provision be made for remote participation by accredited NGOs unable to travel to New York for the meeting. ‘Clearly, access to UN conversations should not be limited to those who have resources to travel to New York or Geneva or other major UN hubs.  A diversity of voices should be heard,’ they note.  ‘We hope that States will ensure that the principle of accessibility to UN processes will be applied when defining working methods for the upcoming meeting.’

2/  States with good records on key freedoms should stand for membership of Committee:

Safeguarding civil society space at the UN is an essential component in the struggle to protect civil society space globally.  With this in mind, the NGOs call on all States with a commitment to defending the work of civil society to put themselves forward as candidates for the elections to the Committee in April. ‘Action to defend civil society space at the UN starts here at this very Committee’, say the NGOs.

Uruguay invokes ‘right to be heard’ as statement is blocked:

In response to China and Russia’s objections to the presentation of the NGO statement, Uruguay spoke forcefully in favour of hearing from civil society.  Opposition to the NGOs’ ‘right to be heard’ went against the principle of transparency in Committee practice, Uruguay said.  It also represented a step back by a Committee whose very mandate speaks to strengthening links between NGOs and the UN system.

Through their statement, civil society could provide insights that contribute to improving the work of the Committee,’  Uruguay noted. Hearing the statement ‘would allow the Committee to understand civil society’s ideas, experiences and expectations.’ The EU, UK and US also made statements of support.  These were not enough to overcome the opposition.

As we were not permitted to deliver our statement to the Committee today, we shall now request a written version be circulated to all ECOSOC members,‘ said ISHR’s Eleanor Openshaw, reflecting on the morning’s events. ‘We shall also look into ways to ensuring NGOs can make general statements at the Committee in future.

https://www.ishr.ch/news/ngo-committee-ngos-blocked-delivering-statement

NGOs in Geneva preparing for the 2018 Human Rights Council sessions

January 19, 2018

– in collaboration with the members of HRCnet – is hosting a welcome reception for Vojislav Šuc, the new President of the Human Rights Council on Wednesday 31 January 2018. This is a regular opportunity for civil society staff, human rights experts and diplomats to meet and greet the new President and Vice-Presidents of the Council in a relaxed atmosphere. Those who won’t be in Geneva that evening, can give their thoughts about what the Human Rights Council’s priorities for 2018 should be. Share them on Twitter using #HRC2018 and Michael Ineichen, Human Rights Council Advocacy Director of the ISHR, will share a selection with the HRC President.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/10/31/ishr-2018-training-for-human-rights-defenders-is-now-open-for-application/for 

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/24/34th-human-rights-council-ishr-guide-to-key-issues-for-human-rights-defenders/

Mark Thompson – old hand in APT – leaves in 2018

December 15, 2017

Thursday, 14 December 2017, the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT, founded in 1977 by the Swiss banker and lawyer Jean-Jacques Gautier) announced that its Secretary-General, Mark Thomson, will retire on the 31st of July 2018. Mark, who has served as Secretary General since 2001, says that this is the right time for him to hand over the reins to someone else and that, whilst he intends to remain active in torture prevention and access to justice issues, this will be on a voluntary and ad hoc basis and that his main goal is to seize the opportunity to focus his time and energy on his young family. The President of the APT, Martine Brunschwig Graf expressed her own and the Board’s sincere appreciation for the work Mark has done over the past seventeen years, stating that: “Mark has provided first-class leadership to the APT and during that time he has played a guiding role in some immensely important developments in torture prevention across the globe. He is held in high esteem by public oversight bodies and governmental and non-governmental partners in many countries who will be as sorry as we are to see him move on.” Before 2001 Mark Thompson worked at the International al Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

The APT’s Board, taking into account the quality of the existing team, has chosen not to make a public call and will instead appoint his successor at the next board meeting, on the 13th of April 2018.

https://www.apt.ch/en/news_on_prevention/upcoming-change-in-apt-management/

Side event on human rights defenders working on Business and Human Rights issues

November 23, 2017

This side event will take place during the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights. The event will bring together multiple stakeholders to discuss how to remedy, redress and prevent attacks against human rights defenders working on business and human rights.

Interview with Karla Avelar, human rights defender from El Salvador

November 10, 2017

A former ISHR trainee, Karla Avelar defends the rights of LGBTI people. She is a finalist of this year’s Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. In an exclusive interview with ISHR, on 6 November, she talked about her award nomination and what it means to be a trans woman and human rights defender in El Salvador. See also the THF film on her work:

 

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/05/16/trans-defenders-karla-avelars-life-is-under-constant-threat/

ISHR 2018 training for human rights defenders is now open for application

October 31, 2017

 If you are – or know – a human rights defender keen to increase interaction with the UN system, apply now for the 2018 edition of ISHR’s Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme !

The training will take place in Geneva between 11 and 22 June 2018 and provides defenders with opportunities to put their advocacy skills directly into action at the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council. Get a taste of the programme here.

ISHR’s Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme (HRDAP) equips defenders with the knowledge and skills to make strategic use of the international human rights system. It also provides an opportunity for participants to directly engage in lobbying and advocacy activities at the UN level to effect change on the ground back home.

As well as receiving training modules on all the UN human rights mechanisms from a range of experts, participants will also have the opportunity to build networks in Geneva and around the world, carry out lobbying of UN member States and UN staff, and learn from peers from a range of regions working on a range of human rights issues.

At the end of last year’s training, 100% of participants were either “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the overall programme, and they all also felt that they would be able to apply what they learnt to their own day-to-day work. ISHR will look to build upon this success in 2018.

Participants will take part in:

  1. A short online learning component, prior to face-to-face training, to enable you to consolidate your existing knowledge and develop your advocacy objectives;
  2. Intensive training in Geneva during June, to coincide with the 38th session of the Human Rights Council. The training will focus on ways to effectively use international human rights mechanisms and to influence outcomes;
  3. Specific advocacy at Human Rights Council sessions and other relevant meetings, with regular feedback and peer education to learn from the experiences, including expert input from leading human rights advocates.

This programme is directed at experienced human rights defenders in non-governmental organisations, with existing advocacy experience at the national level and some prior knowledge of the international human rights system.

If you are interested in applying for ISHR’s training programme, please read the call for applications to check that you comply with the requirements, and apply before midnight Geneva time on 11 December 2018. The link to the online application form can be found in the call for applications. For more information, write to hrdap2018@ishr.ch.

for 2017 see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/05/27/ishrs-human-rights-defenders-advocacy-programme-2017-starts-on-monday/

Source: HRDAP | ISHR 2018 training for human rights defenders: apply now! | ISHR

Egyptian human rights defender, Doaa Hassan, speaks about disappearances

October 31, 2017

On 30 October 2017 the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) published this testimony by Doaa Hassan, the criminal justice programme director at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Justice. Doaa is particularly focusing on enforced disappearances which several members of the organisation have been victims of.

For other post on Egypt see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/egypt/

Job opportunities at the International Service for Human Rights

October 4, 2017

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) announces two vacancies:

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