Posts Tagged ‘judicial harasment’

NGOs come out in support of India’s Lawyers Collective

June 27, 2019

UPDATE 11 July: https://www.news18.com/news/india/cbi-raids-senior-lawyers-indira-jaising-anand-grovers-home-offices-for-violating-foreign-funding-norms-2225819.html
On 26 June 2019, a group of 10 major NGOs issued a joint statement to the Indian Government that it should withdraw criminal charges against the NGO ‘Lawyers Collective’ and its representatives.They strongly condemn the filing of criminal charges against Indian NGO ‘Lawyers Collective’, its President, Senior Advocate Anand Grover, and other representatives. Criminal charges were filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on June 13, 2019, relying on an investigation report of January 2016 of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The MHA report has been challenged by Lawyers Collective in January 2017 and the case is under consideration by the High Court of Bombay.Lawyers Collective is a human rights organisation based in New Delhi with its registered office in Mumbai and was founded by noted Indian human rights defenders and lawyers Ms Indira Jaising and Mr Anand Grover. Ms Jaising and Mr Grover are senior advocates with an exceptional profile of public service, probity and personal and professional integrity as lawyers and as human rights defenders. Ms Jaising was an Additional Solicitor General of India between 2009 and 2014, and was also a member of the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) between 2009 and 2012. Mr Grover held the mandate of UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health between 2008 and 2014. Ms Jaising and Mr Grover, through Lawyers Collective, have advocated for advancing the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalised sections of Indian society, thereby upholding constitutional values as enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

Lawyers Collective’s registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA) was first suspended on May 31, 2016, and its bank accounts frozen. The FCRA license was not renewed on October 28, 2016, and was cancelled on November 27, 2016. Lawyers Collective petitioned the High Court of Bombay to challenge the FCRA cancellation and non-renewal in January 2017 and March 2017, respectively. In January 2017, its domestic accounts were unfrozen. Lawyers Collective’s challenge to the FCRA cancellation and non-renewal are currently pending before the High Court.

Filing of criminal charges while the matter is under consideration by the High Court is a blatant misuse of its agencies by the Indian Government to target critical human rights work undertaken by Lawyers Collective and its representatives, often involving sensitive cases against Indian ministers and senior officials of the ruling political party.

On May 15, 2019, the MHA wrote to CBI for ‘further investigation as per law’ into the matter relating to Lawyers Collective. On June 13, 2019, the CBI solely relying on the impugned MHA report registered a First Information Report under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) relating to charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, false statement made in declaration and various sections under the FCRA and Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act 1988. Given that there has been no change in circumstances since 2016 and also no material or evidential basis to support the provisions invoked under the IPC and PC Act, the filing of criminal charges is a blatant act of reprisal against Lawyers Collective and its representatives.

Such actions by the Indian Government are contrary to its pledge at the UN Human Rights Council and its obligations and commitments under several international human rights treaties and declarations. The FCRA has been time and again criticised by human rights defenders and NGOs within and outside India for its regressive and unfair interference in the functioning of organisations. Indian human rights defenders have condemned the use of FCRA and the accusations of “foreign funding” to quash dissent and smear individuals and groups.

In his analysis of the FCRA in 2016, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Assembly and Association Maina Kiai concluded that certain provisions of FCRA were not in conformity with international human rights law and noted that “access to resources, including foreign funding, is a fundamental part of the right to freedom of association under international law, standards, and principles, and more particularly part of forming an association”. In June 2016 Kiai joined the UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders calling on the Government of India to repeal the regressive FCRA, which was being used to “silence organisations involved in advocating civil, political, economic, social, environmental or cultural priorities, which may differ from those backed by the Government.”

We strongly call upon the Indian Government to cease misusing the country’s laws, including the FCRA, against human rights defenders. In the specific case of Lawyers Collective, we urge the criminal charges be immediately withdrawn pending the decision of the High Court of Bombay. We appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India to take cognizance of this matter and take immediate actions under the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 (PHRA) and to undertake a legal review of the FCRA under Section 12 (d) of the PHRA.

We further call upon the Indian Government to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Lawyers Collective and Mr Anand Grover, as well as against all human rights defenders in India and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance.

Signatory organizations:

Amnesty International
CIVICUS
Forum Asia
Front Line Defenders
Human Rights Defenders Alert
Human Rights Watch
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR)
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

——————————————————-

Pamela Philipose in The Wire gives a more detailed report: Backstory: Shrinking Spaces Need Expanding of Awareness; First they come for the human rights activists, and then they come for the defenders of human rights activists…

The filing by the CBI of a criminal case against the Lawyers Collective, a prominent legal resource organisation with a national and international reputation, has a significance that goes beyond the hounding of two prominent legal personalities, Indira Jaising and Anand Grover (‘After CBI Files FIR, Lawyers Collective Calls It an Attack on Free Speech’, June 18). It may well be a foretaste of what the new government has in store for those who stand up against state repression, or seek to expose malfeasance within the political, corporate and personal spaces.

The message could not have been clearer: the crackdowns that we witnessed in the first tenure of the Modi government – from the cancellation of registrations of hundreds of thousands of civil rights organisations to the incarceration under a draconian law of those supposedly linked to the Bhima Koregaon violence through elaborate police chargesheets – could manifest themselves with redoubled force during the second.

Also Read: After CBI Files FIR, Lawyers Collective Calls It an Attack on Free Speech

Significantly, this attempt to silence Jaising and Grover comes at a time when the independence of the judiciary is under tremendous strain from an executive seeking to bend the bench to its will (‘Centre’s Refusal to Elevate Justice Kureshi Raises Troubling Questions’, June 21). We have already seen a whistle blower police officer, critical of Narendra Modi, getting life imprisonment in Gujarat (‘Sanjiv Bhatt Case: In 16 Years, Gujarat Saw 180 Custodial Deaths – and Zero Convictions‘, June 21). The Gujarat dimension is conspicuous in all these instances, but there have been others like a rapper being hauled up for ‘sedition’ for her social media posts (‘Rapper Hard Kaur Charged With Sedition for Posts Against Adityanath, Bhagwat’, June 20) and journalists being thrown into Adityanath’s jails like hardened criminals (‘Editorial: The Yogi as Commissar‘, June 11).

Taken together, these recent occurrences may seem disparate in nature but point in the direction of an increasingly repressive state. This move to crush Lawyers Collective, when taken together with the arrest of the human rights defenders implicated in the Bhima Koregoan case, seems powered by a drive to wipe out human rights activism in the country.

Just a cursory look at the numerous petitions expressing outrage over the CBI move indicates the broad swathe of human rights Lawyers Collective has been involved in. Jaising and Grover have contributed significantly to changing the architecture of law and justice delivery in this country.

A petition from People’s Union of Civil Liberties, unequivocally condemned the move as a “brazen abuse of the process of law”, and noted that the organisation had “taken up important cases throughout the 38 years of their existence. In a separate statement, women activists recalled how “Indira Jaising, since the 1980s, has unwaveringly stood by the Constitution’s Fundamental Rights”, whether involving herself in the changes made to rape laws in 1983, securing inheritance rights for women as in the Mary Roy case, securing guardianship for single women in the Githa Hariharan case, battling sexual harassment in the Rupan Deol Bajaj case and campaigning for the formulation and enactment of the Domestic Violence Act.

Anand Grover and Indira Jaising.

It also applauded the battle Anand Grover has waged for over for two decades on behalf of the LGBTQI+ community in 2001 when a Public Interest Litigation was filed against Section 377 (IPC) and the way he “represented the Cancer Patients Aid Association and individuals against the patenting and pricing of drugs”, playing a key role in the formulation of The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017.

LGBTQI+ citizens, groups, collectives, and organisations iterated that the Lawyers Collective has been central to “the very story of the movement against Section 377 of the IPC”; while the Bebaak Collective, representing a large section of Muslim women, underlined the fact that the “two most significant legal cases in recent times” involved the Lawyers Collective articulating the intrinsic rights of Muslim women in the triple talaq and female genital mutilation cases.

These petitions – and there were many others emerging from bodies of international human rights activists to national and international intellectuals – indicate that there is rising alarm over the way political elites in India are seeking to consolidate themselves through the capture and control of the institutions of power. But these petitions also indicate that information, such as the life’s work of Jaising and Grover, is not known beyond small professional and activist groups. Consequently, the dynamic to defend such work also remains confined to these circles.

This must change. The Jaising-Grover legacy needs to be taken to a new generation of Indians who may be unfamiliar with cases fought aeons ago, but needs to realise that their everyday rights have got strengthened because of stalwarts such as them. It is precisely in times of shrinking spaces that the attempt to build popular awareness on human rights and their defenders should take place.

The media has a major role in achieving this and that is why pieces such as ‘Documenting Anand Grover, Indira Jaising’s Fight for Human Rights Over the Years’ (June 20), are valuable. The point to remind ourselves as journalists is this: in many profound ways, the work of both journalists and lawyers, while having separate pathways, are both concerned with the investigation; argumentation on, and exposure of, wrong doing; and the delivery of justice. This makes it incumbent upon the media to closely follow the Lawyers Collective issue in the days and months ahead, because of the tremendous consequence it holds for justice delivery and human rights in India.

national human rights commission, nhrc, cbi, fcra, Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, fcra violations, india news, Indian ExpressNHRC said it had made it clear in the past that matters relating to FCRA violations are outside its purview.

The direction came on complaints filed by Henri Tiphagne, a human rights activist associated with Human Rights Defenders’ Alert and Maja Daruwala, Senior Advisor of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

https://thewire.in/media/backstory-shrinking-spaces-need-expanding-of-awareness

Express News Service

Eren Keskin, MEA nominee 2019, speaks out fearlessly: Turkey more oppressive today than ever

January 29, 2019

Turkey‘s anti-democratic mentality has not changed since its foundation, but it has never been as oppressive as today, said Turkish human rights defender Eren KeskinOver the years, Keskin played a vital role in strengthening civil society awareness in Turkey. She became involved with the Human Rights Association (IHD) three years after its 1986 founding and headed its Istanbul branch for years. She has been arrested and imprisoned numerous times, accused of terrorist ties for defending Kurdish rights, and won several awards including the Aachen Peace Award, the Theodore Haecker Prize, the 2018 Helsinki Civil Society Award, the 2018 Anna Lindh Prize, and the 2017 Hrant Dink Award. A new travel ban is likely to stop her from coming to the Martin Ennals Award ceremony on 13 February 2019.

Turkey’s undemocratic mentality has not changed since its foundation,” said Keskin. “There is no change in the mind or understanding of the state. I have been part of the struggle for human rights for nearly 30 years. I have not experienced a period in which freedom of thought and freedom of expression have been contravened this much. Turkey is more oppressive today than ever.

Keskin said she had been brought before the courts more than 100 times and convicted on numerous occasions.

I see the struggle for the defence of human rights as respect for those who have died. It is out of respect for them that I am part of the struggle for human rights,” she said. “We experienced a lot of pressure, but our friends were killed. They were killed fighting for human dignity. I am lucky to be alive…I was assaulted twice with firearms, imprisoned and threatened with death, but never gave up.”

…Keskin became the editor-in-chief of the Kurdish Özgür Gündem newspaper from 2013 to 2016 as part of a solidarity campaign after Turkish authorities arrested its journalists. She was prosecuted for a number of articles that appeared in the newspaper as, under Turkish law, editors-in-chief can be indicted when the authors cannot be held to account. Keskin said 143 criminal cases had been brought against her for her time working at Özgür Gündem. “I have already been sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison, a 450,000 lira ($85,000) fine and travel ban,” she said. A court in October lifted the ban on Keskin travelling abroad, but last week she realised she had been given another one when authorities refused to issue her a passport. She had been nominated for the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders and was planning to attend the award ceremony in Switzerland. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/24/breaking-news-ennals-award-announces-its-3-finalists-for-2019/]

People ask, ‘How do you live? How do you endure it?’” Keskin said. “For me, the job we do is a way of life and I have never regretted it.”

https://ahvalnews.com/human-rights/turkey-more-oppressive-ever-rights-activist

Andy Hall condemned to heavy damages in case brought by Natural Fruit

March 26, 2018

I have written before about Andy Hall and his case in Thailand [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/11/07/andy-hall-british-labour-labour-rights-defender-flees-thailand/], and now a court in the Thai capital on Monday ordered the British labor rights activist to pay $321,000 in damages to a company that filed a civil defamation suit after he helped expose alleged human rights violations at its factory.
 
British labor rights activist Andy Hall (Associated Press)
The Washington Post and many others reported on this development. The Monday ruling involves four defamation suits filed by pineapple canning company Natural Fruit, which employed migrant Myanmar workers who claimed the company had abused them and broke labor regulations.Hall’s legal troubles stem from a 2013 report he researched for the Finnish consumer organization Finnwatch that alleged labor abuses at Natural Fruit’s facilities. They also concern an interview that he gave to Al-Jazeera on the subject, which was the focus of Monday’s ruling. Natural Fruit claimed that the report Hall helped research and his interview comments both hurt their business.

(Hall left Thailand in 2016, citing intolerable legal harassment after another company, poultry producer Thammakaset Farm, sued him in another case, but still works on labor rights issues concerning migrants in Thailand.)

This verdict is a major setback for rights of human rights defenders, migrant workers, labour/migration activists and researchers everywhere and casts a dark shadow over recent positive progress the Thai government and Thai industry has made to improve migrant worker conditions,” Hall commented Monday on his Twitter account.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/thai-court-finds-british-labor-activist-defamed-fruit-firm/2018/03/26/3c0094f4-30d4-11e8-b6bd-0084a1666987_story.html?utm_term=.fa9fba4f63b6

Egyptian regime should be investigating those who torture, not those who draft anti-torture laws

June 8, 2016

On 8 June 2016 Human Rights Watch asked the Egyptian authorities to stop persecuting a lawyer and two judges who engaged in the suspicious activity of proposing an anti-torture law!!!

Negad al-Borai with Raouf and Abd el-Gabbar
Negad al-Borai with judges Hesham Raouf  and Assem Abd el-Gabbar who drafted the anti-torture law proposal to bring Egyptian law in line with the United Nations Convention . © 2015 Private

Read the rest of this entry »

Civil Society condemns charging of Human Rights Defenders in Cambodia

May 4, 2016

On 2 May 2016, a broad range of 59 human rights and civil society organizations condemned the politically-motivated charging of six human rights defenders from a Cambodian human rights group, the country’s National Election Committee (NEC) and the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR). The targeting of these individuals, five of whom were sent to pre-trial detention today, is the latest escalation in a far-reaching government assault on civil society ahead of upcoming local and national elections, and is a clear reprisal for support provided by rights workers in a politically-sensitive case.

Four senior staff of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) – Ny SokhaNay VandaYi Soksan and Lim Mony – were today charged with bribery of a witness under Criminal Code Article 548 and sent to CC1 and CC2 prisons in Phnom Penh. In addition, former ADHOC staffer Ny Chakrya, recently appointed deputy secretary-general of the NEC, and UNOHCHR staffer Soen Sally were charged as accomplices to bribery of a witness (Criminal Code Articles 29 & 548). Ny Chakrya was sent to Police Judiciare (PJ) prison. If convicted, all six could be sentenced to between five and ten years’ imprisonment.

The six human rights defenders were summoned by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) for questioning last week and all but the UNOHCHR staffer subject to at least four days of interrogation – firstly by the ACU and then by the prosecutor – in relation to a complaint signed by Khom Chandaraty, also known as Srey Mom. The complaint was lodged following her questioning by anti-terrorism police and a prosecutor about an alleged affair with deputy opposition leader Khem Sokha, after ADHOC responded to Srey Mom’s request for legal and material assistance. In the context of such support, ADHOC provided Srey Mom with $204 to cover food and transport costs, including to attend questioning by judicial authorities. This legitimate expenditure of a small sum of money to cover basic expenses of a client is now grotesquely being portrayed by the ACU as bribery and corruption.

The targeting of UNOHCHR staffer Soen Sally by the ACU and the court has disregarded his diplomatic immunity as an employee of the United Nations. The ACU, and later the Prime Minister himself, both argued that Soen Sally does not enjoy such protection.

The case is a farcical use of both the criminal justice system and state institutions as tools to intimidate, criminalise and punish the legitimate activities of human rights defenders and civil society. The ACU was created to tackle the endemic corruption prevalent in Cambodia, not to operate as a vehicle for government repression of civil society. The involvement of Ministry of Interior Central Security officers alongside ACU personnel dealing with the case clearly demonstrates the securitization of civil society activities.

Under international human rights law, including treaties that Cambodia has ratified, Cambodia is legally bound to respect and protect the human rights of all people under its jurisdiction, including the rights to freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

“The charges brought against the six human rights defenders are blatantly politically-motivated and a direct attack against those serving people who fall prey to Cambodia’s government,” said Naly Pilorge, LICADHO director. “These mounting attacks represent an alarming tightening of the noose around civil society and those who work to uphold human rights, and clearly show that the government’s ultimate aim is total control ahead of the upcoming elections.”

Civil society reiterates its strong condemnation of the charges, demands the release on bail of the five and reaffirms the rights and fundamental freedoms of peaceful human rights defenders to conduct their activities free from threats and punishment. We further call for the judicial investigation to be conducted impartially and call for an end to executive interference in the judiciary.

This statement is endorsed by:

  1. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT) 
  2. Boeung Kak Community 
  3. Boeung Trabek Community 
  4. Borei Keila Community 
  5. Beung Pram Land Community
  6. Building and Wood Workers Trade Union (BWTUC) 
  7. Building Community Voice (BCV) 
  8. CamASEAN Youth
  9. Cambodia Development People Life Association 
  10. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) 
  11. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) 
  12. Cambodian Domestic Workers Network (CDWN)
  13. Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF) 
  14. Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC)
  15. Cambodian Independent Civil-Servants Association (CICA) 
  16. Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA) 
  17. Cambodian Informal Economic Workers Association (CIWA)
  18. Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC)
  19. Cambodian League for the Promotion & Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) 
  20. Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
  21. Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation (CTSWF) 
  22. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN) 
  23. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL) 
  24. Christians for Social Justice
  25. Coalition for Integrity & Social Accountability (CISA) 
  26. Coalition of Cambodian farmer Community (CCFC) 
  27. Community Legal Education Center (CLEC)
  28. Community Peace-Building Network (CPN)
  29. Equitable Cambodia
  30. FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  31. Former Boeung Kak Women Network Community 
  32. Forum Asia
  33. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC) 
  34. Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF) 
  35. Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economic (IDEA) 
  36. Independent Monk Network for Social Justice (IMNSJ)
  37. Indigenous Youth at Brome Commune, Preah Vihear Province 
  38. Indradevi Association (IDA) 
  39. Land Community, I Village Preah Sihanouk Province 
  40. Land Community, Prek Chik Village, Koh Kong Province 
  41. LICADHO Canada
  42. Lor Peang community, Kampong Chhnang Province 
  43. Mother Nature 
  44. Peace Bridges Organization (PBO)
  45. Phnom Bat Community 
  46. Phum 23 Community
  47. Ponlok Khmer 
  48. Prek Takung Community
  49. Prek Tanou Community 
  50. Samakum Teang Tnaut (STT) 
  51. SOS International AirPort Community 
  52. Strey Khmer
  53. Thmor Kol Community (TK)
  54. Toul Sangke B Community 
  55. Tumnop II Community
  56. Urban Poor Women Development
  57. Wat Than Monk Network
  58. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  59. Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP)

On 28 April 2016, 27 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had already signed a joint statement calling on the authorities to cease harassment of human rights defenders [http://www.transparency.org/news/pressrelease/transparency_international_calls_on_the_cambodian_authorities_to_stop_haras]

For earlier posts on Cambodia: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/cambodia/

Sources:

Cambodia: Civil Society Condemns Charging of Human Rights Defenders / May 2, 2016 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/05/03/cambodia-cease-campaign-curtail-rights-monitoring

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/kem-sokha-summonsed-over-sovantha-suit

 

Zimbabwe celebrates by arresting 2 women per day over the last two years

March 8, 2015

Of all the stories that reach us at the occasion of International Women’s Day this is perhaps the most astonishing:

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) says 1390 women human rights defenders were arrested over the past 24 months.

ZLHR said the women activists were arrested for either staging street protests or petitioning and litigating government with the aim of pressing for political, social and economic rights. Beatrice Mtetwa said: “When these women were arrested they were trying to assert their rights as women first and foremost and as citizens of Zimbabwe”.

Zimbabwe Peace Project National Director Jestina Mukoko said women activists were not enemies of the state. “I do not know why the state thinks that we will be fighting against them. We do not intend to fight against the state but to remind them that we are people whose rights are being violated….But by just reminding them to recognize and respect people’s rights you will find yourself in jail,” [NewZimbabwe.com]

The event on Friday also saw the launching of a book titled “In Their Capacity as Human Rights Defenders: Women”.

ZLHR: 1 400 women arrested in 2 yrs.

Human rights defender Kalimuthu Kandhasamy in Tamil Nadu arrested for using the word human rights!

February 26, 2015

HRD Alert – India (a Forum of Human Rights Defenders) and Front Line Defenders have called for the release of Mr Kalimuthu Kandhasamy who was arrested in the morning of 26 February 2015.

[Kalimuthu Kandhasamy is the District Organizer of Citizens for Human Rights Movement (CHRM), which provides legal counsel and assistance to victims of human rights violations in Tamil Nadu, including by providing assistance in complaints before courts, human rights institutions, law enforcement officials and other relevant bodies. The organisation was founded by People’s Watch, an NGO that monitors human rights violations and provides legal assistance to victims in Tamil Nadu. The human rights defender also works as an assistant to a lawyer providing legal representation in People’s Watch’s cases.]

The accusations against Kalimuthu Kandhasamy include, ‘impersonating a public servant’, cheating, and improper use of emblems. And here comes the almost funny part: the charges against Kalimuthu Kandhasamy are reportedly in relation to the fact that CHRM contains the words “human rights” in its title. It is claimed that this is in violation of the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, which reportedly states that no non-governmental institution should have the terms “human rights” in its name (this amendment was made on the recommendation of the Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission [SIC] that no non-governmental institution should have the terms “human rights” in its name! Would seem a clear violation of the right to association). The accusations are being brought under sections 170 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 5 of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1950.

The human rights defender denies that either he or CHRM have posed as a public authority.

Russia: The Supreme Court rejects a lawsuit filed against “Memorial”

February 9, 2015

On  6 February 2015, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, an OMCT-FIDH joint programme, welcomed the decision of 28 January of the Russian Supreme Court to reject the complaint filed by the Ministry of Justice against the Society “Memorial”.

[Since its foundation in the final years of the Soviet Union, the network “Memorial”, consisting in a number of independent NGOs under the same society, is known for exposing Soviet-era repression, commemorating victims of violations and monitoring the current human rights situation in the Russian Federation and other post-Soviet countries.]

The complaint filed by the Justice Ministry, was a clear attempt to harass and discredit the Society “Memorial”, undermine its tremendous human rights work and expeditiously lead to its closure. It followed years of harassment, in the form of defamation through slandering media campaigns and acts of vandalism targeting the group’s headquarters in Moscow.Russian civil society organisations are facing a deep and systematic clampdownsaid OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock.OMCT-LOGO

[Human Rights Center “Memorial” is currently fighting a separate battle against an official move to label it a “foreign agent” under the controversial law targeting NGOs that receive foreign funding. Moreover, under a newly proposed piece of legislation, currently debated in the State Duma of the Russian Federation, foreign organisations would face being labelled as “undesirable” and closure and local NGOs engaged in cooperation with such bodies would face criminal charges.]

While the decision of the Supreme Court dismissing the complaint against the Society “Memorial” should be welcomed, we remain deeply concerned by the constant threats to human rights defenders in the Russian Federation in the context of an ever increasing repressive legal framework and frequent attacks targeting human rights defenders”, said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.

logo FIDH_seul


The Observatory recalls in this context the recent brutal attack on lawyer Mourad Magomedov, who works with the Human Rights Centre Memorial in Daghestan, by five unknown men in Makhachkala, Dagestan.

Russian Federation: The Supreme Court rejects the lawsuit filed against the renowned Historical, Educational, Human Rights and Charitable Society “Memorial” (Society “Memorial”) / February 6, 2015 / Statements / Human rights defenders / OMCT.

Front Line Annual Report: over 130 human rights defenders killed in 2014

January 15, 2015

 

On Wednesday 14 January, Front Line Defenders launched its 2015 Annual Report, “Human Rights Defenders, Lives in the Balance” which examines in detail the deteriorating situation for human rights defenders (HRDs) around the world in the period January – December 2014.

The report was launched at a press conference in Dublin with as keynote speaker Mary Akrami, Co-founder and Director of the Afghan Women Skills Development Centre which was the first safe house for women and children in Afghanistan.

Mary Akrami, Andrea Rocca , and Mary Lawlor from Front Line Defenders launch the report.
Mary Akrami, Andrea Rocca, and Mary Lawlor from Front Line Defenders launch the report.

Over the last two years Front Line Defenders has documented a growing global backlash against human rights defenders (HRDs) which has now reached crisis point. Against this backdrop, international human rights institutions as well as governments traditionally supportive of human rights defenders appear to be incapable of forcefully and effectively opposing the shutting down of civil society space.

This is a crucial political moment. If we are to challenge the systematic erosion of human rights standards there needs to be a more consistent and credible political response, which must give the same priority and resources to creating a safe space for HRDs as authoritarian governments give to closing it down” said Front Line Defenders Executive Director, Mary Lawlor. “There can be no human rights progress if those at the forefront of human rights work are not allowed to work”.

The report highlights:

• that over 130 HRDs were killed or died in detention in the first ten months of 2014 as reported to Front Line Defenders
Colombia accounted for 46 of those 130 HRDs killed in 2014
• The Americas overall claimed 101 of the 130 HRDs killed in 2014
• Globally, deprivation of liberty and court proceedings were the most widely used strategies to silence and intimidate HRDs
Repressive laws continued their viral spread across the world with the growth of cut and paste repression as governments replicate legislation
HRDs are exposed to digital attacks.

For more see: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/27916 

Papua: human rights defender Gustaf Kawer at risk of arrest

September 19, 2014

Several NGOs (i.a. Front Line and Asian Human Rights Commission) have expressed concern about the human rights defender Gustaf Kawer in Papua, Indonesia.

On 17 September 2014 a plain-clothed police officer visited the home of Mr Gustaf Kawer to deliver a summons in relation to his actions during a court hearing on 12 June 2014. This is the third summons he received since 19 August 2014. Allegedly, the human rights defender threatened and insulted a judge and was therefore subject to an investigation for “crimes against public authority”. As Gustaf Kawer was absent from his home, his wife refused to accept the summons, insisting that it should not be delivered to her.

[Gustaf Kawer received the first summons to appear before the police, to give a testimony, on 19 August 2014. However, according to an agreement between the Indonesian National Police and the Indonesian Bar Association (PERADI) on “Investigatory Procedures for Carrying Out The Profession As Advocate“, any summons issued to lawyers in relation to their work should be directed to PERADI. Since the summons on 19 August had been sent to Gustaf Kawer directly, he declined to appear. On 25 August 2014, a police investigator submitted a second summons to PERADI requesting that Gustaf Kawer appear before the Papua Regional Police headquarters for interrogation on 1 September 2014. The human rights lawyer had to leave his house for a while due to the risk of possible arrest. If prosecuted and found guilty, he could face up to 4 years in prison.]

This is not the first time that Gustaf Kawer has been targeted in connection to his work but after international campaign of solidarity and support, the authorities dropped the case against him (http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/27159).