Posts Tagged ‘journalists’

List of grantees for the inaugural ‘Reporting Right Livelihood’ made public

August 3, 2017

grantees

On 3 July 2017 the Right Livelihood Foundation made public the list of Grantees of its 2017 Reporting Right Livelihood journalism programme.  Journalists will receive grants to shine the light on ‘under-reported‘ stories linked to the work of ‘Alternative Nobel’ Laureates. The grantees of the inaugural Reporting Right Livelihood journalism programme were selected from among 93 applicants from 48 countries. The grants, ranging from €200 to €5,000, cover essential travel, subsistence and communication costs to enable reporting on the selected stories over the next six months. The decision was made by a committee comprised of journalists and media experts from Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the UK.

This year’s grantees are:

  • Ms Aissatou Barry (Guinea), to produce a multimedia report on fighting impunity in Chad, Senegal and Burkina Faso, linked to the work of Laureate Jacqueline Moudeina (€ 4,800)
  • Mr Bikash Bhattacharya (India), to report on Indonesia’s logging sector corruption, an issue constantly raised by late Laureate Munir Said Thalib (€4,500)
  • Ms Fabiola Ortiz (Brazil), to provide a multimedia report on how Brazilian martial art Capoeira became a powerful tool to promote peace among men, women and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, linked to the work of Dr Denis Mukwege (€5,000).
  • Ms Mervis Elebe (Nigeria) and Mr Ray Mwareya (Zimbabwe) will share a grant to report on the current situation with maternal health in Nigeria and Zimbabwe, linked to Dr Catherine Hamlin’s work on eliminating obstetric fistula in Ethiopia (€ 2,500 each, €5,000 in total).
  • Mr Philipp Lichterbeck (Germany) to report on the ’slow genocide’ of a little known Guarani-Kaiowa indigenous group in Brazil, linked to Laureate Survival International‘s work (€ 1,500).
  • Mr Roger Anis (Egypt), to produce a photo report on Egypt’s current housing crisis, linked to the legacy of Right Livelihood Award’s inaugural Laureate Hassan Fathy (€4,000).
  • In addition, the selection committee made a discretionary allocation of €200 to Ms Zofeen Ebrahim (Pakistan) who applied for a grant of US $57 to cover fuel costs in order to report on Pakistan’s home-based workers rights, linked to the work of Laureate Asma Jahangir.

The announcement comes with quotes from grantees and selection committee members. Such as:

I was impressed by the variety, the creativity and relevance of proposals which made our decision so challenging and difficult. The projects we chose show a strong commitment to report on under-covered issues addressed by the Right Livelihood Award Laureates through their personal engagement. This shows how important it is to support journalistic coverage of these issues in order to improve the lives of people who suffer because of injustice, poverty, sickness or political pressure,” Adelheid Feilcke, Deutsche Welle, selection committee member

Partout dans le monde des femmes et des hommes courageux se battent contre les injustices. L’engagement des journalistes est indispensable, pour faire echo à ces combats. Ces bourses vont pouvoir faire avancer les causes défendues et honorer les lauréats du Prix Right Livelihood,” Romaine Jean, Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS), selection committee member

Fo more information: Xenya Cherny-Scanlon, Director of Communications, mobile: +41 76 690 8798, xenya@rightlivelihood.org,  www.rightlivelihoodaward.org #RightLivelihood #AlternativeNobel

Source: Reporting Right Livelihood 2017 Grantees AnnouncedThe Right Livelihood Award

New Secretary-General at Human Rights Council tells human rights defenders: “And I am on your side”

February 28, 2017

On 27 February 2017 the new Secretary General, António Guterres, addressed for the first time the UN Human Rights Council. For 10 years, he was the “other” High Commissioner (for Refugees), just down the road from the Palais des Nations where he was speaking. Some of his remarks are quoted here (from SG/SM/18456-HRC/25), especially the last paragraph dedicated to  human rights defenders and journalists: Read the rest of this entry »

Saudi Arabia: already bad in 2016 for human rights defenders but continues in 2017

February 3, 2017

 

Nadhir Al-Majid is a well-known 40-year-old writer and teacher who has published many articles in various Arabic newspapers and electronic websites.

On 18 January 2017, the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh held its hearing in the presence of Nadhir Al-Majid, who was sentenced to seven years imprisonment followed by seven years of a travel ban in addition to a fine. Reports have confirmed that the writer was alone during the hearing and not accompanied by his family or his lawyer. He was taken immediately after the verdict to Al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh. There are fears that the authorities will refuse to officially deliver a copy of the verdict to him or his family, which might prevent them from seeking an appeal of the sentence at the Court of Appeal. The Public Prosecutor directed many charges against Al-Majid including failing to obey the ruler, participating in demonstrations, writing articles supporting protests (dating back to the year 2007), in addition to having contact with correspondents of foreign news agencies – namely Reuters, AFP, and CNN.

He was previously jailed on 13 April 2011 after he was arrested and his electronic equipment was confiscated. He was beaten, kicked and ordered to stand for hours and then placed in solitary confinement for five months. He was then placed in a cell with convicted drug dealers and weapons traders. The reason for his arrest is related to his writings, including an article entitled “I protest, I am a human being” which supports the right to demonstrate. He was released on 27 June 2012. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) believes that the prison sentence of Nadhir Al-Majid is solely related to his work in defence of human rights.

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Saudi Arabian human rights defender Essam Koshak has been detained since 8 January 2017 for his online activism.

On 8 January 2017, Essam Koshak received a phone call from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Mecca, summoning him to al-Mansour police station. On arrival, at 5pm the same day, he was interrogated by the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP) about his Twitter account, which he uses to highlight human rights issues in Saudi Arabia, including the detention of human rights defenders and activists. During the first three days of interrogation, his request to have his lawyer present was denied. On 12 January, Essam Koshak’s detention was extended by four days and his lawyer was finally allowed to be present during his interrogations. He was transferred on the same day to Mecca General Prison where he is currently being held. Essam Koshak is a computer engineer and human rights activist who uses social media to call for reform and respect for human rights in Saudi Arabia.

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In the meantime the organization ALQST – through Samar Badawi [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/01/13/saudi-arabia-arrest-of-human… ] – draws attention to their “Human Rights Situation in Saudi Arabia 2016. Annual review” (for the full report: https://t.co/ACWlRfOFRu – for inquiries, yahya.i.assiri@gmail.com). 

The report contains a chapter on Human Rights Defenders describing several cases in more detail. It states that “Many of the political prisoners in Saudi Arabia are known to be prisoners of conscience. A large number of them have been swept up in the Authorities’ so-called War on Terror, but are in fact being held for their peacefully held and expressed political or religious views. This includes calls for social reform and in defence of human rights. They are tried in the Specialised Criminal Court, which is neither legitimate nor independent of the government, and was set up for the purpose of trying terrorism cases. Most human rights defenders are also charged and found guilty under the 2014 Counter-Terrorism Law. Today the majority of Saudi Arabia’s human rights activists are in prison, on trial, or being subjected to intense harassment.

sources:

http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1479

http://www.satprnews.com/2017/01/31/urgent-action-human-rights-defender-jailed-for-online-activism-saudi-arabia-ua-2517/

UN Human Rights Council urged to address situation in Ethiopia

September 9, 2016

15 major human rights rights groups have written a joint letter to the U.N. Human Rights Council urging an immediate halt to “excessive” use of force by Ethiopian security forces. The letter dated Thursday 8 September also calls for an independent investigation into the reported killings of hundreds of people in Ethiopia’s Amhara and Oromia states since November 2015 amid protests. “Authorities have also arbitrarily arrested thousands of people throughout Oromia and Amhara during and after protests, including journalists and human rights defenders,” the letter says. The Human Rights Council convenes next week in Geneva.

Earlier this  year UN Rapporteurs had already expressed their concern: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/un-rapporteurs-urge-ethiopia-to-end-violent-crackdown-and-impunity/

Read the rest of this entry »

Azerbaijan releases human rights defenders bit by bit: Khadijah Ismayilova now free

May 27, 2016

Khadija IsmayilovaOn Wednesday 25 May 2016 Azerbaijan finally released investigative journalist Khadijah Ismayilova [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/azerbaijan-khadija-ismayilova-remains-in-jail-but-council-of-europe-takes-exceptional-step/] after a number of other human rights defenders were released bit by bit over the last months. Ismayilova was serving a seven-and-a-half year sentence on charges which included embezzlement, illegal business activities and tax evasion. The Supreme Court has now amended her imprisonment to 3 1/2 years of suspended sentence and released her from prison. She vowed to continue to fight to clear her name. “I will continue to fight until complete acquittal,” Ismayilova told reporters after her release. “I will also continue to work as a journalist.” The British-Lebanese lawyer Amal Clooney is representing Khadija Ismayilova at the European Court of Human Rights.

As an independent reporter and journalist of the Azerbaijani radio Azadliq (“Radio Freedom”) she has shown great courage (see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/khadija-ismayilova-azerbaijan-is-not-deterred/), and received several international prizes, such as the 2015 Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism (HRW), the 2015 Freedom to Write Award, the 2012 Fritt Ord/Zeit Press Prize, and the 2012 Courage of Journalism Award by the Washington-based International Women’s Media Foundation.

Although there are still human rights defenders and journalists in prison, Azerbaijan provides a fine example of how awards and the combined international pressure from a variety of sources (States, NGOs and international organizations) can have an impact:

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/azerbaijan-pardon-jafarov-ismayilova-aliyev/

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/released-intigam-aliyev-azerbaijan-civil-rights-defender-of-the-year-award/

Source:

Reuters – Azerbaijan frees journalist whose case raised outcry in West

https://www.cpj.org/2016/05/-azerbaijani-reporter-khadija-ismayilova-ordered-r.php

Possible funding for training independent journalists exposing human rights abuses

May 19, 2016

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Giselle Portenier (CNW Group/Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma)

Independent documentary-makers and freelance journalists working to expose human rights abuses can compete for a bursary to help them obtain hostile environment training, more usually made available to journalists working in war zones. The 2016 Portenier Human Rights Bursary competition, offered by the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, opened on 16 May and closes on June 30. The annual bursary, introduced last year, is sponsored by the documentary-maker Giselle Portenier. Read the rest of this entry »

Fritt Ord and ZEIT awards to Eastern European media: Elena Milashina, Seymour Hazi and Nashi Groshi

May 13, 2016

Fritt Ord and ZEIT-Stiftung have given their 2016 awards to: Read the rest of this entry »

Human Rights Awards for Journalists in Moldova

March 29, 2016

The prizes were awarded by the Association for Independent Press in Moldova, with the financial support of Civil Rights Defenders in Sweden.

rferl-moldova-service-reporters-win-accolades
Radio Free Europe reported proudly on 23 March 2016 that their journalists working with RFE/RL’s Moldova Service were recognized for excellence in audio and video reporting on local community and human rights issues. Reporters Mihaela Gherasim and Eugenia Pogor took first and third place in the television program category, with programs on HIV and LGBTI questions. 

Source: RFERL Moldova Service Reporters Win Accolades

Turkey: really the place for a fair trial?

March 20, 2016

All the attention is on Turkey as the country where refugees will have to be processed. The more the question of fair trial becomes important. The following does not bode well:

In the early morning of 16 March 2016, police raided the houses of 9 lawyers in Istanbul, Turkey. After the search, lawyers Ramazan Demir, İrfan Arasan, Ayşe Acinikli, Hüseyin Boğatekin, Şefik Çelik, Adem Çalışçı, Ayşe Başar, Tamer Doğan and Mustafa Rüzgar were taken into custody. They are all members of the Libertarian Lawyers Association ÖHD). There has not been given any justification for these arrests and searches. The case file on the arrests is confidential. Allegedly the lawyers are arrested on suspicion of having ties with a terrorist organization. All the lawyers that were arrested represent the 46 lawyers who were arrested in 2011 on suspicion of “working for, or belonging to, a terrorist organization”. A hearing in the trial against these lawyers took place only one day after the arrests (!), on 17 March 2016. The arrest of their lawyers means that they are deprived from their legal defense.

Lawyers for Lawyers and Fair Trial Watch are extremely worried about the state of the rule of law in Turkey, which is quickly deteriorating. They sent a letter to the Turkish authorities in which they urge them to:
–     Immediately release lawyers and drop the criminal investigation;L4L logo
–     Abstain from identifying lawyers with their clients or their clients’ causes;
–     Put an end to all forms of harassment against lawyers in Turkey;
–     Guarantee in all circumstances that all lawyers in Turkey are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals, intimidation, threats and free of all restrictions.
For more information see: http://www.advocatenvooradvocaten.nl/11446/turkey-police-raid-on-and-arrest-of-9-lawyers

Meanwhile on 11 February, 2016 the Human Rights Foundation drew attention to the case of journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, and urges the government of Turkey to drop the arbitrary charges imposed on them. On November 26, Dündar, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Cumhuriyet, and Gül, the Ankara bureau chief, were arrested based on a criminal complaint filed against them by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The complaint stems from a report published in Cumhuriyet on May 29, 2015 with photos and video footage claiming that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization secretly armed Islamist rebel groups in Syria. The two journalists are being held at the high-security Silivri prison west of Istanbul. They are currently awaiting trial and facing up to life in prison.

HRF to Turkey: Free Journalists Can Dündar and Erdem GülSource: Vedat Arik/AP

The rise of authoritarianism in Turkey is blatant. Erdogan’s government crackdown on independent journalists is a step towards exerting dictatorial control over Turkey’s media,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen.

https://humanrightsfoundation.org/news/hrf-to-turkey-free-journalists-can-duendar-and-erdem-guel-00516?utm_content=&utm_source=VerticalResponse&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=here&utm_campaign=HRF%20to%20Turkey%3A%20Free%20Journalists%20Can%20Dündar%20and%20Erdem%20Gülcontent

Human Rights Defenders in India: democracy is not enough

February 23, 2016

India is often called the largest democracy on earth and it does merit praise for sticking to a fair degree of rule of law in spite of severe problems such as security and poverty. Still, regular and reliable reports on the fate of human rights defenders in India give us pause to think. What follows is a collection of just some recent cases, illustrating the well-argued piece by Srishti Agnihotri (a lawyer appearing in Trial Courts and the Delhi High Court, involved in research and advocacy on women and children) under the title “Who is defending the defenders in India: Human Rights” on 22 February 2016.

The article starts by mentioning the attack on Soni Sori (see more below on her). Reports suggest that oil paint mixed with chemicals was thrown on her face by unknown assailants. This attack, … and other reports of intimidation of persons such as lawyers and journalists working in the Jagdalpur area raises the question of the safety of human rights defenders and shows that there isn’t enough being done by the State machinery to defend the defenders….

Srishti Agnihotri then makes the interesting point that “it is not necessary to be correct to qualify as a human rights defender”. E.g. the criticism of Human Rights Defenders on a particular development project may not be legally correct. However, this does not and should not disentitle them to the protection of the State against violence and reprisals. The reason for this will become clear when we examine the role human rights defenders play in a society.

These Defenders face problems, in many parts of the world, and India is not an exception. Often the work being done by human rights defenders brings them in conflict with vested interests such as the land mafia, the mining lobby, or other corporations. A case in point is the story of Satyendra Dubey, an officer in the Indian Engineering Service, who lost his life due to exposing corruption in a highway construction project. At other times, the advocacy done by them requires them to be critical of the State action including in areas where there is considerable unrest….

This gives room for propaganda that human rights defenders or NGOs are ‘anti-development’ or even ‘anti-national’. It leads to them facing the wrath of more draconian security legislations, or attacks on them by vested interests. It is very easy to make the mistake of thinking ‘Why should we use state resources to protect those who are critical of the State? The obvious answer, is that the State may not always be correct. Given the great power state and corporate entities enjoy, their ability to make mistakes if unchecked is also correspondingly large. A hard reckoning of the work done by human rights defenders shows that they act as an essential check and balance on the State, and throw light on existing state-industry nexus, to protect the rights of people. The State derives its legitimacy from an implicit contract with its citizens, which necessitates a mechanism to check that the State adheres to this contract, and this is a function carried out by the human rights defenders. In this sense, human rights defenders are necessary for a healthy functioning democracy.

………

While there are general laws that can be (and are) used to protect these defenders, but those working for the enactment of a special law argue that the role of the law is also to play a certain ‘normative, expressive and educative’ function. By this, they mean that a special law to protect human rights defenders will also confer legitimacy on the work that they are doing, and create an enabling environment where they may do so peacefully.

Of course, the enactment of a special law is not adequate to ensure the protection of human rights defenders. It has to go hand in hand with better law and order, better legal services in areas where these defenders work, transparency in governance, toleration of dissent by the State machinery, and continued proactive action by the Focal Point for the protection of Human Rights Defenders, at the National Human Rights Commission.

This focal point is involved in providing assistance to such Rights defenders, and following alleged violations of their rights. Although there has been greater collaboration between the NHRC and Human Rights defenders, much needs to be done to ensure that defenders can work in a safe and enabling environment.

The Times of India of 10 February 2016 takes to task the State of Chhattisgarh – echoing Amnesty India  – that it should do more to protect a woman journalist, Malini Subramaniam, in Bastar. “This attack is another indicator of the increasingly hostile atmosphere in which journalists and human rights defenders operate in Chhattisgarh,” said Makepeace Sitlhou, Campaigner at Amnesty International India. Malini herself said: “This is not an attack on me as a person but as a journalist reporting incidents on the ground, something that they don’t want“. [The statement said, a group of over 20 people gathered outside the home of journalist Malini Subramaniam on February 7. They urged her neighbours to stone her house and chanted slogans suggesting that she was an agent for Maoist armed groups. Later that day, an anti-Maoist group released a public statement accusing her of presenting a distorted picture of Bastar and promoting Maoist ideology.]

On 21 February 2016 Saurav Datta in Catchnews poses the question “Why is Chhattisgarh govt scared of human rights defenders?“.  Isha Khandelwal, Shalini Gera and Nikita Agarwal, all in their late 20s, keep looking furtively behind their backs while packing her bags from Jagdalpur in western India’s Chhattisgarh district. They are afraid that a posse of policemen may descend upon them and subject them to custodial torture. They also fear that that they would be implicated under various provisions of the Chhattisgarh Special Security Act, a law roundly criticised by civil liberties activists as being dangerously oversweeping in its scope and ambit. The moot question here is – why should be a ragtag coalition of lawyers, operating on a shoestring budget, be subjected to state repression? The piece then goes into the background of the Indian system of legal aid and how the state administration undercuts all this in practice.

Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - croppedhas covered a lot cases in India including in the State of Chhattisgarh such as those of Malini Subramaniam and the members of the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group mentioned above (https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/29909 and https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/306160).

 

Front Line – on 22 February 2016 – also reported the attack on human rights defender Soni Sori who was assaulted on 20 February by three unidentified men as she travelled from Jagdalpur to her home. The perpetrators halted the vehicle and threw a black substance on her face, resulting in intense burning and her hospitalization. She is a human rights defender who advocates for the rights of indigenous peoples in India, with a focus on women’s rights. She works in Chhattisgarh, where the long-term conflict between Maoists and government security forces has greatly affected the indigenous people in the area.  During the attack, the perpetrators threatened to carry out a similar assault on the daughter of Soni Sori, lest the human rights defender halt the efforts she had undertaken to bring justice against a high-ranking police official from the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh. Soni Sori had recently been attempting to file a complaint against the police official in relation to their involvement in an alleged extra-judicial killing in the Mardum area of Bashar. In July 2015, the police official in question allegedly called for the “social exclusion” of the human rights defender and members of her family. [Soni Sori has previously been targeted by the authorities on several occasions https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/taxonomy/term/18892 and https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/29351]

On 8 January 2016, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), called on the Indian government to release on bail and stop the ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar.  Mr. Sarkar is a renowned human rights defender who has investigated cases of human rights violations perpetrated by the police and Border Security Forces (BSF), and who has been instrumental in denouncing several other human rights violations in Murshidabad district. He was arbitrarily arrested on 22 September 22 and only on 8 December, 2015 released on bail, since the de facto complainant filed an affidavit stating that she did not bring any allegation of rape against Mr. Sarkar and she had no knowledge of the related criminal case against him.  Mr. Sarkar is currently receiving medical treatment, both physical and psychological, as his mental and physical health conditions deteriorated significantly during the past months in detention.[The Observatory recalls that it is not the first time Mr. Sarkar has been intimidated, judicially harassed and ill-treated by the police – see background information].

See also my earlier: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/01/17/india-human-rights-defenders-being-silenced-by-the-court/

Sources:

http://www.newsgram.com/who-is-defending-the-defenders-in-india-human-rights/ (first published at Kafila.org.)

Why is Chhattisgarh govt scared of human rights defenders?

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/raipur/Chhattisgarh-must-act-against-intimidation-of-woman-journalist-in-Bastar-Amnesty-says/articleshow/50934124.cms

http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/india/2016/01/d23556/