Posts Tagged ‘ISHR’

The International Service for Human Rights launches its 2019 report.

April 8, 2019

With this video Phil Lynch announces the launch of ISHR’s 2019 annual report.

Here a few examples of the major achievements:

  • We provided intensive training and strategic advocacy support to over 230 defenders from around the world, equipping them with the expertise and networks to use the international human rights system to achieve national-level change.
  • We strengthened national and international law and jurisprudence on the recognition and protection of defenders, including women human rights defenders and migrant rights defenders.
  • We focused attention on the situation of defenders in highly restrictive environments, such as China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, increasing political pressure for the release of arbitrarily detained defenders, extracting a political cost for attacks and reprisals against them, and highlighting cases in the international and national press.
  • We met with the UN Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, heads of State and foreign ministers from across the world, pressing each of them to prioritise the recognition and protection of defenders.
  • We worked with powerful and influential multinational corporations to secure their high-level commitment to respect and protect defenders, even defenders who oppose and protest against their activities.
  • We partnered with national actors in a wide range of countries – from Guinea to Jamaica, from Colombia to Tunisia, and from Mali to Mongolia – to secure a safe and enabling environment for defender’s vital work.
Please download and read the fill report.
Download here

Profile of Nayaali Ramirez Espinosa, indigenous rights defender of the Maya

March 31, 2019

Last year ISHR interviewed Nayaali Ramirez Espinosa, a lawyer providing legal assistance to Mayan communities in the region of Holpelchén, in the State of Campeche in Mexico. She expresses her satisfaction with some legal achievements such as the indigenous consultation in the region. It was published on 13 December, 2018.

Human Rights Council recognises vital role of environmental human rights defenders

March 23, 2019

The ISHR reports that on 21 March 2019 the UN Human Rights Council has adopted a strong consensus resolution recognising the critical role of environmental human rights defenders in protecting vital ecosystems, addressing climate change, attaining the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and ensuring that no-one is left behind. [See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/09/front-line-defenders-says-record-number-of-activists-killed-in-2018/].

The resolution meets many of the civil society demands ISHR expressed in a joint letter along with more than 180 groups (see reference below). By formally acknowledging the important role of environmental human rights defenders, the Council highlights the legitimacy of their work, helps counter stigmatisation and can contribute to expanding their operating space. Though the resolution falls short in some key areas, its adoption by consensus is a positive step towards better protection of environmental human rights defenders. It must now be followed by implementation at the national level by all relevant stakeholders, including States, UN agencies, businesses and development finance institutions….

The resolution was led and presented by Norway, on behalf of 60 States from all regions. In particular, many Latin American States strongly supported the resolution, which is significant given the dangerous situation for defenders in many of those countries. The consensus on the protection of environmental human rights defenders is a welcome sign of unity by the international community in recognising their vital contribution to a biodiverse and healthy environment, to peace and security, and to human rights.

We now look to States, business enterprises and development finance institutions to take rapid and decisive steps to address the global crisis facing environmental human rights defenders’, said Michael Ineichen, Programme Director at the International Service for Human Rights. ‘This means States need to create protection mechanisms which guarantee the security of defenders. States must also ensure that businesses put in place specific policies and processes allowing for the inclusion of human rights defenders and their concerns in due diligence processes’, Ineichen said.   

Key points of the resolution:

  • Expresses alarm at increasing violations against environmental defenders, including killings, gender-based violence, threats, harassment, intimidation, smear campaigns, criminalisation, judicial harassment, forced eviction and displacement. It acknowledges that violations are also committed against defenders’ families, communities, associates and lawyers;
  • Recognises that the protection of human rights defenders can only be achieved through an approach which promotes and celebrates their work. It also calls for root causes of violations to be addressed by strengthening democratic institutions, combating impunity and reducing economic inequalities;
  • Pays particular attention to women human rights defenders, by stressing the intersectional nature of violations and abuses against them and against indigenous peoples, children, persons belonging to minorities, and rural and marginalised communities;
  • Urges States to adopt laws guaranteeing the protection of defenders, put in place holistic protection measures for and in consultation with defenders, and ensure investigation and accountability for threats and attacks against environmental human rights defenders; and
  • Calls on businesses to carry out human rights due diligence and to hold meaningful and inclusive consultations with defenders, potentially affected groups and other relevant stakeholders.

While the resolution was adopted by consensus, the unity came at the price of a lack of specificity in certain areas. For instance, the resolution does not clearly recognise all of the root causes of the insecurity facing environmental human rights defenders, as documented by UN experts, nor comprehensively name the perpetrators or the most dangerous industries. It also fails to clearly spell out the human rights obligations of development finance institutions, and to detail the corresponding necessary steps to consult, respect and protect the work of environmental human rights defenders. 

https://www.ishr.ch/news/hrc40-council-unanimously-recognises-vital-role-environmental-human-rights-defenders

https://www.ishr.ch/news/hrc40-states-should-defend-environmental-human-rights-defenders

Human Rights Council: Reprisals instead of responses is the answer by many States

March 21, 2019

Room XX of the Human Rights Council

In two statements delivered to the 40th Session of the Human Rights Council, ISHR and Amnesty International reacted to the latest Joint Communications Report of the UN Special Procedures – independent human rights experts, appointed to monitor and report on human rights violations and to advise and assist in promoting and protecting rights. The report cites nine cases of reprisals against human rights defenders cooperating with the UN, and reveals that 95 states have not responded to letters from the UN experts concerning human rights violations.

There are two, related issues at stake here: (1) non-response to letters from the UN, and even worse (2) reprisals against human rights defenders who cooperate with the UN.

When I started my blog in 2010 (and one of the motivations) a main concern was the lack of response and enforcement [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2011/03/20/taking-on-non-response-this-bloggers-lone-response/ and : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140603192912-22083774–crime-should-not-pay-in-the-area-of-international-human-rights ].

As Helen Nolan of ISHR explains, 35 States have recently failed to respond to two or more of these letters. 13 of these nations are members of the Council. ‘Repeat offenders are a particular concern,’ says Nolan. India has failed to reply to a staggering 8 communications, Mexico 6, Italy 5, and Bangladesh and Nepal 4 each.’ Nolan emphasises that a failure to reply is a failure to cooperate, and welcomes the fact that the recently published report of the Annual Meeting of Special Procedures focuses on non-cooperation, including ‘more subtle forms’, such as selective cooperation with particular mandates. ‘To encourage cooperation, the Council must make non-cooperation more costly,’ says Nolan. ‘We urge the President of the Council to work closely with the Coordinating Committee of the Special Procedures to find ways to do this,‘ adds Nolan.

ISHR and Amnesty International’s second statement noted that under GA Resolution 60/251, Council members must ‘fully cooperate with the Council.’ Yet, the report cites nine cases of reprisals involving these members:

  • China sought to revoke the Society for Threatened Peoples’ ECOSOC status after vexatiously alleging that a person accredited by them, Dolkun Isa, participated in incitement and funding of separatism and terrorism, in retaliation for cooperation with the UN;
  • Egypt carried out forced evictions, and violations of the rights to physical integrity, liberty and security against individuals who cooperated with the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing during her recent visit;
  • Iraq carried out unlawful arrest, enforced disappearance and torture against Imad Al Tamimi and intimidated and threatened Israa Al Dujaili for cooperating with the UN;
  • Libya arrested an individual in retaliation for taking steps to clarify the fate and whereabouts of his father, including with UN mechanisms;
  • The Philippines labeled defenders “terrorists” in reprisal for their engagement with the UN;
  • Russia surveilled, intimidated and harassed Yana Tannagasheva and her husband, for speaking out about impacts of coal mining on indigenous people in Siberia and in possible reprisal for their communication with UN mechanisms;
  • Turkmenistan carried out reprisals against a defender and her husband for her cooperation with the UN; and
  • In Yemen, forces loyal to President Hadi and the Saudi-led coalition detained human rights defenders Radhya Al-Mutawakel and Abdulrasheed Al-Faqih for cooperating with the UN.

‘We call on the President of the Council to request updates on the cases from Iraq, Libya, Russia, Turkmenistan and Yemen, as there has been no response from the States concerned,’ said Nolan. For an older post on reprisals, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/03/13/zero-tolerance-for-states-that-take-reprisals-against-hrds-lets-up-the-ante/

Full text of the first statement (on failure to reply) available here.

Full text of the second statement (on cases of reprisals) available here.

You can also watch the videos of the statements via the link below:

Many NGO participants denied visa to attend Commission on the Status of Women in New York

March 21, 2019

Kena Betancur / Getty Images

reports on 20 March 2019 that many women who were slated to participate in the UN Commission on the Status of Women have been denied visas, especially lawyers, activists, and women who deliver reproductive health care services from African and Middle Eastern countries that fell under Donald Trump’s travel ban.

The US is obliged under a 70-year-old treaty to not restrict people or NGOs from attending the UN headquarters. BuzzFeed News is yet to receive a response from the US Mission to the UN regarding the total number of visas that have been denied this year. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/18/irans-election-to-a-un-gender-equality-body-should-not-obscure-the-real-work/]

The International Service for Human Rights said it was aware of at least 41 women who have been denied visas to attend the conference this year — but this figure is said to be only “the tip of the iceberg” and likely to increase.

Women who wanted to attend CSW this year from countries like Iran, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Syria were asked to provide supporting documents like marriage certificates, proof of property ownership, letters stating employment status, proof of finances, and even proof of birth certificates or proof showing that they have children, according to the petition.

Lyndal Rowlands, advocacy officer with the UN-accredited organization CIVICUS, told BuzzFeed News that among all the people that were denied visas, women from countries that fell under the Trump administration’s travel ban were disproportionately affected. “Last year and this year we have also heard of women from Pakistan and Nepal who were denied visas,” she said. …Most of the women applying for visas, Rowlands said, had not traveled to the US before — a deliberate decision by organizers who wanted a diverse range of women present at the United Nations, not just pundits and experts who travel all the time but women who work at the grassroots.

It’s essential that women who are at the front lines working on women’s rights are present when their rights and the rights of the women they serve are being discussed,” she said. “Governments and UN officials that attend the conference can make better policies when they are informed by the experiences of women who face some of the biggest uphill battles when it comes to fighting for gender equality — for example, delegates who were unable to attend include lawyers and advocates who represent women who have been imprisoned for their activism, [and] women who deliver reproductive health care services.”

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/nishitajha/un-women-conference-visas-denied

China’s freedom of expression subject of side event on 13 March

March 4, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

In November 2018, China underwent its Universal Periodic Review and received many recommendations on freedom of expression, both online and off. This side event will elevate the views of civil society actors who are committed to seeing improvements in the protection of freedom of expression in China.

13 March 2019 , 13h30-14h30, in Room XXIII, Palais des Nations, Geneva

Panelists:

  • Judith Lichtenberg, Director of Lawyers for Lawyers
  • A 1989 democracy activist
  • Uyghur PEN representative
  • Steven Butler, Asia Program Coordinator, Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Sarah M Brooks, Asia Advocate, International Service for Human Rights.

Event co-organised by:

Download the event flyer

For some of my earlier posts re China: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/china/

Join the conversation on Twitter: #ChinaUPR

https://mailchi.mp/ishr/749qlxejj6-32025?e=d1945ebb90

International Women’s Human Rights Week: two events in Geneva along UN Human Rights Council

February 28, 2019

During International Women’s Week there are two events focusing on Women Human Rights Defenders:


March 1, 2019
 11:30-13:00 Room XXV Palais des Nations, Geneva

Women human rights defenders are on the front lines of struggles to attain peace, security, dignity and sustainable development for all. They work diligently to advance justice, freedom and equality to meet the ultimate goals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet, State and non-State actors, in the majority of cases involving violations against these defenders, have experienced widespread impunity including at the international level. Women human rights defenders met in New York at a high-level event at the UN Headquarters in July 2018 to send a strong message: “we’ve had enough!”

Join us in Geneva parallel to the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council where women human rights defenders will present how the shortcomings and gaps of the UN system with regards to women human rights defenders protection can be filled.

Panellists: 

  • Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
  • Rogeria Ferreira Peixinho, WHRD from Brazil
  • Brenda Valladares, WHRD from USA
  • Lucy Mazingi, WHRD from Zimbabwe
  • Cindy Aung, WHRD from Myanmar
  • Alda Facio, member of the UN Working Group on discrimination against women in law and practice

Moderator :

Veronica Vidal, Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)

Cosponsors: ISHR, Amnesty International, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Mesoamerican Initiative for Women Human Rights Defenders (IM-Defensoras), Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights and Just Associates (JASS). All are members of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition. (https://mailchi.mp/ishr/749qlxejj6-32017?e=d1945ebb90)

For some of my older posts on WHRDs: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/women-human-rights-defenders/page/5/


The Geneva Gender Debate: 6 March 18h30 – 20h00 Auditorium Ivan Pictet, Maison de la Paix, Geneva

In the tradition of the Oxford Union debates, the Graduate Institute and the International Gender Champions are hosting their 3rd Annual Geneva Gender Debate during International Women’s Week.

This year’s topic: Gender & Language

The motion: This house believes gender neutral language is not a necessity for gender equality.

Introductory remarks: Philippe Burrin, Director, the Graduate Institute, Geneva

The debaters for the House:

  • Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director, International Trade Centre
  • Michael Gaffey, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Ireland to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva

The debaters against the House Motion:

  • Inger Andersen, Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature
  • Elhadj As Sy, Secretary-General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Moderator: Caitlin Kraft-Buchman, Executive Director and Founder, Women@theTable

This debate is organised in partnership with the International Gender Champions and the Gender Centre of the Graduate Institute. To register: http://graduateinstitute.ch/events/_/events/corporate/2019/the-geneva-gender-debate-2019

 

Profile of Mexican indigenous defender Romel Rubén Gonzalez Diaz

February 17, 2019

ISHR published on 21 January 2019 this profile of Romel Rubén Gonzalez Diaz from the Indigenous and Popular Regional Council of Xpujil. This organisation works in partnership with the Cooperativa Chac Lol, in the defense of the territory, training in municipal and human collective rights, generating sustainable development alternatives (agriculture, biocultural tourism, sustainable management of natural resources). The main problem in Muna, Yucatan is the proposal to establish a solar park megaproject with 1227,000 solar panels, destroying 700 hectares of tropical forest, by the company Sunpower of the USA.

ISHR sets out the priorities for the Human Rights Council in 2019

February 9, 2019

On 28 January 2019 ISHR presented a blueprint for States with recommendations to some of the key issues the Human Rights Council should address in 2019. 

In 2018, the Council adopted some landmark decisions

  • an independent investigative mechanism on Myanmar
  • Yemen, renewing the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts
  • Burundi, extending the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry.

At the same time, several situations of gross rights violations escaped Council scrutiny for political reasons.[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/04/general-assemblys-3rd-committee-concludes-2018-session/]

The annual “High Level Segment” in March 2019 is a critical opportunity to set the agenda for the year. The Human Rights Council’s three regular sessions in March, June/July and September are further opportunities to advance priorities.

Here is ISHR’s checklist on the human rights situations and issues which should be advanced in 2019.

States should commit to strengthening the Council by demonstrating leadership, principled action and sustained follow through.

All regional groups presented the same number of candidates as seats for the 2018 Council elections and several States with terrible human rights records and with poor records of cooperation with UN mechanisms were elected, turning the elections into more of an appointment process, and going against the vision of the Council’s founding document.

States should collectively express concern about China’s failure to uphold human rights principles and protect the rights of its citizens, especially ethnic Uyghurs and Tibetans and those involved in the defence of human rights. China’s rejection of critical dialogue and universal principles is especially worrying as the Chinese government becomes increasingly active in the Council – a space dedicated to those same values.

States should also collectively press for the immediate and unconditional release of detained women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia. If the international community is serious about contributing to advancing women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, it should recognise Saudi women human rights defenders as agents of change and urge the Saudi authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee a safe and enabling environment for them to continue their vital work.

States should also initiate Council action to address recent cases of reprisals in Egypt as reported by the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing after her visit in September 2018. These attacks come amidst a context of wide-scale repression against civil society through intimidation, arbitrary arrests, unfair prosecutions and travel bans.

States should collectively denounce the ongoing judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of human rights defenders in Bahrain, including reprisals for engaging or attempting to engage with UN mechanisms. As a minimum, States should call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately release all those detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, such as Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi Al Khawaja.

At the 40th session:

The Council will consider a resolution on the situation of human rights defenders working on rights related to land and environment. ISHR calls on States to address the particular threats and attacks against this group of defenders, in particular the specific risks faced by women human rights defenders, to combat impunity for attacks against them, and ensure full civil society participation in development and the management of natural resources. The draft resolution should call on States who prioritise the protection of human rights defenders to condition their provision of diplomatic support to business – such as export credit guarantees and trade support – on companies’ commitment to respect, consult and protect defenders. ..The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders will present his report on the situation of women human rights defenders. States should publicly recognise the specific risks and threats women defenders face and commit to taking further measures to enhance their protection, underline the legitimacy of their work, their specific protection needs and adequate remedies to the specific violations they face.

At the 41st session:

Thanks to the sustained efforts by civil society and supportive UN Member States, the mandate of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) was established in 2016. At the 41st session, ISHR urges States to renew the mandate and ensure that it is not weakened, so that it continues its vital work in capturing good practices and assisting States in ending discrimination and violence based on SOGI. The mandate continues to work with a diverse range of States from all geographical regions. Defenders from across the globe have affirmed that the mandate has contributed to their protection and recognition of their work. ..The Council will also consider a resolution on migrants and human rights. States should ensure that the text reiterates their obligations to support and not restrict defenders’ in their vital work and to protect migrant rights defenders in the face of rising intolerance, xenophobia and illiberalism. ISHR recalls Principle 18, from the OHCHR Principles and Guidelines on the human rights protection of migrants in vulnerable situations, which sets out measures States can take to respect and support the activities of migrant rights defenders.

At the 42nd session:

Human rights defenders must be able to access the UN freely and safely so that the UN can do its crucial work of monitoring countries’ compliance with human rights obligations and protecting victims from abuses. At the 42nd session in September 2019, States should not miss the opportunity to cite specific cases of reprisals at the second interactive dialogue on the Secretary-General’s annual report on reprisals….Finally, the accessibility of the Council to rights holders, victims and defenders is both a key contributor to, and indicator of, the Council’s relevance and success.  As discussions on enhancing the efficiency of the Council resume, States should continue to support and guarantee that any proposed measures do not restrict or limit civil society participation at the Council.

Profile of migrants rights defender Mariana Zaragoza from Mexico

December 18, 2018

On 13 December 2018 ISHRGlobal published this interview with Mariana Zaragoza. Our countries are restricting migrants’ rights, and there is always something we can do to demand full protection of people“, says Mariana Zaragoza in her interview. Mariana works in the immigration programme at the Ibero-American University of Mexico and she advocates for migrants and refugees’ rights.