Posts Tagged ‘judicial harasment’

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).

 

Two more organisations registered as ‘foreign agents’ in Russia

September 2, 2014

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped comes with the worrying news that on 29 August 2014, Russia added two more prominent human rights groups, the Institute for Freedom of Information and Soldiers’ Mothers of Saint-Petersburg to the list of ‘foreign agents’, which now includes 13 NGOs operating in the Russia. Both human rights groups were previously inspected by the authorities and received official notices from the Prosecutor of illegal activity, for carrying out “political activities” and receiving foreign funding without being registered as foreign agents. Read the rest of this entry »

Guatemala: Human rights defender Telma Yolanda Oquelí goes free because ‘woman cannot carry machete’

July 8, 2014

Interesting illustration in Guatemala of how macho notions can get a woman human rights defender off the hook:  On 27 May 2014, charges of “false imprisonment”, “coercion” and “threats” (including brandishing a machete) against human rights defender Ms Telma Yolanda Oquelí Veliz del Cid were dismissed by a Court of First Instance. However, the trial against four other community members, who face the same accusations, is set to continue. The decision of the judge to dismiss the proceedings against Telma Yolanda Oquelí Veliz del Cid was partly on the basis that, as a woman, she would not be able to carry a machete. The decision regarding Telma Yolanda Oquelí Veliz del Cid can be appealed by the complainants within three days. Judge Adrian Rolando Rodríguez Arana stated that additional evidence to support the charges against the four other community leaders must be presented by the Prosecutor’s Office on 30 June 2014. The four men are under house arrest and must present themselves to the Justice of the Peace of San José Del Golfo every month. Read the rest of this entry »

Retaliation against Iranian Human Rights Defender for meeting with Ashton

June 12, 2014

Reprisals are not limited to human rights defenders cooperating with the UN. Narges Mohammadi, a prominent human rights defender in Iran, told the NGO ‘International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran’ that new charges have been brought against her stemming from her March 8, 2014 meeting with the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Mohammadi was charged with “propaganda against the state” and “collusion against national security” for her meeting with Ashton at the Austrian Embassy in Tehran. She was released on $10,000 bail. [Mohammadi was one of several women activists who accepted an invitation to meet the EU foreign policy head during her March visit to Tehran. The meeting took Iranian officials by surprise and unleashed a flurry of criticism by conservatives who described the meeting as “foreign interference in Iranian domestic affairs” and labeled the Iranian participants as foreign collaborators.]

Mohammadi stated: “I have been ‘charged’ with every single civil activity I have engaged in since my release from Zanjan Prison in August 2012, such as participating in gatherings on women’s rights, air pollution, and [Rouhani’s] Citizenship Rights Charter. I was also accused of honoring families of political prisoners at meetings, or attending a gathering with Gonabadi Dervishes in front of the Prosecutor’s Office, or giving interviews to media outside Iran. I told them there that when you fit all my civil activities into these two charges, it means that I must remain silent and still.”

Mohammadi was arrested in 2009 and charged with “assembly and collusion against national security,” “membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center,” and “propaganda against the state.” She was first sentenced to 11 years in prison, but Branch 54 of the Tehran Appeals Court reduced her sentence to six years in prison. She was released in 2013 for medical reasons after a severe illness in Zanjan prison.

Prominent Rights Defender Faces New Charges for Her Meeting with Ashton : International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Example of harassment from Cameroon reads like a film scenario

April 1, 2014

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - croppedOn 28 March 2014, human rights defender Mr Musa Usman Ndamba, a defender of the rights of the Mbororo community in Cameroon, appeared before the Bamenda Court of First Instance, and the trial was once again adjourned to the 23rd of May 2014. The trial of 28 March 2014 was the eighth such hearing in an ongoing trial against Musa Usman Ndamba led by a local wealthy landowner, Baba Ahmadou Danpullo, who has never attended any of the hearings. Meanwhile, two other defenders of the rights of the Mbororo, Messrs Abdulkarim Shehu and Mallam Yunusa are in detention whilst an arrest warrant has been issued for human rights defender Mr Fon Christopher Achobang. Musa Usman Ndamba is the Vice-President of Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association (MBOSCUDA). Abdulkarim Shehu is a male nurse and social development worker, as well as founder and co-ordinator of the Angel of Hope Foundation, a health centre that caters for people with disabilities. Mallam Yunusa is an organiser of the Mbororo community of Banjah. Fon Christopher Achobang is a land rights campaigner and journalist sympathetic to the plight of the Mbororo.

Members of the community and their defenders have long been facing severe judicial and other harassment owing to disputes over their land.  ……On 19 March 2014, authorities of the Catholic Church, led by a representative of the Archbishop of the Bamenda Archdiocese, directed a group of hired militias with a bulldozer to demolish the homes of the Mbororo in the Ndzah village. The community mobilised and stopped the demolition from taking place. However, during the stand-off both the representative of the Archbishop and Fon Christopher Achobang were injured. After the incident, at which he was not present, Abdulkarim Shehu reportedly took members of the police to the site to show them what had happened. Fon Christopher Achobang was forced to go into hiding after threats on his life following the incident. According to lawyers for the Mbororo Banjah community, the invasion took place in spite of a court case pending in the Bamenda Administrative Court with a Stay of Execution of the Order on the now disputed land, as a contested eviction notice had been issued the week before. Additionally, despite having been alerted to the impending invasion, government officials did nothing to stop it from going ahead, in complete violation of the law and the legal rights of the Mbororo community.

Front Line Defenders issued a previous urgent appeal regarding the ongoing judicial harassment against MBOSCUDA and Musa Usman Ndamba on 14 May 2013 http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/22662, while  the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders also sent a communication https://spdb.ohchr.org/hrdb/24th/public_-_AL_Cameroon_04.09.13_%284.2013%29.pdf to the Cameroonian government regarding the same.

Judicial harassment of human rights defender Dimitras in Greece

February 1, 2014

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), a member of OMCT SOS-Torture network, about the ongoing judicial harassment against Panayote Dimitras, GHM Spokesperson. According to the information received, on 14 January 2014, Mr. Panayote Dimitras received an indictment from the Misdemeanours Prosecutor of Athens, summoning him on 27 February 27 before the Court to stand trial on charges of “perjury” and “defamation” of Mr. Konstantinos Plevris, a member lawyer of the Athens Bar Association.

The  accusation relates Panayote Dimitras’ statement as a witness before the First Chamber of the Five Members Appeals Court of Athens on 23 January  2009, during a hearing of a case against Mr. Konstantinos Plevris, who then stood accused of racial discrimination”. During the hearing, Mr. Dimitras testified that “during the last two months Mr. Plevris ha[d]threatened [his] life”. Yet the indictment accuses Mr. Dimitras of making a false statement that could harm the honour and reputation of Mr. Plevris while knowing that it was untrue.

The International Secretariat of OMCT is concerned that Mr. Panayote Dimitras received this indictment merely one week before the charges become time-barred. Although the events took place in January 2009 and a preliminary investigation took place in February 2010, suddenly charges are pressed. The prescription period is now extended by three years.

OMCT is concerned about these new acts of harassment against Mr. Panayote Dimitras, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, and in particular his activities against discrimination, anti-Semitism and minority rights in Greece, and calls upon the Greek authorities to ensure that he is able to carry out his legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.  OMCT recalls that this is not the first time that Panayote Dimitras is facing judicial harassment by Konstantinos Plevris, who has been referred to trial several times for, among others, violation of [anti-racism] Law 927/79, concurrent aggravated defamation, and false accusation following GHM complaints.

For more on this procedurally complex but interesting case see:

Greece: Ongoing judicial harassment against human rights defender Mr. Panayote Dimitras / January 30, 2014 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT.

Philippines nun speaks strongly against arrest of church worker Yadao

September 13, 2013

I remember from my visit to the Philippines in the early 80s that the nuns were extraordinarily active in the area of human rights (that was under Marcos). I was reminded of this when I saw the Bulalat report of 13 September that a long-time lay worker of a Catholic-run organization was arrested by elements of the Philippine Army on 8 September and the fierce reaction by Sister Somogod.

Joel Yadao (in gray shirt) attends an activity of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region in June 2012. (Photo courtesy of RMP-NMR)

(Joel Yadao (in gray shirt) in June 2012. Photo courtesy of RMP-NMR) Read the rest of this entry »

Azerbaijan sees crackdown on HRDs and civil society as a whole

September 3, 2013

A recent 100-page report by Human Rights Watch, “Tightening the Screws: Azerbaijan’s Crackdown on Civil Society and Dissent,” documents the dramatic deterioration of the government’s record on freedom of expression, assembly, and association in the past 18 months. The authorities have arrested dozens of political activists on bogus charges, imprisoned critical journalists, broken up peaceful public demonstrations, and adopted legislation imposing new restrictions on fundamental freedoms.HRW_logo Read the rest of this entry »

Oman: Update on trial against Human Rights Defenders

March 27, 2013

On 22 February I reported on a large trial in Oman against several human rights defenders, Front Line now report in an update that some of them were released on bail but others continue in detention.

Said Al-Hashimi is amongst those released

(Said Al-Hashimi, a HRD amongst those released on bail)

On 17 March 2013, several human rights defenders were granted bail by the Appeals Court during a retrial ordered by the Supreme Court. Amongst the human rights defenders released are writer Said Al Hashimi, lawyer Basma Al KiyumiBasima Al Rajihi, Khalid Al Nawfali and Mohammed Al Fazari. The next hearing was adjourned until 24 March 2013. Basma Al Kiyumi, Basima Al Rajihi, Khalid Al Nawfali and Mohammed Al Fazari had been convicted for allegedly publishing insulting and defamatory material on a social media site, while Said Al Hashimi was convicted for alleged participation in an illegal gathering.

While Front Line Defenders welcomes the release of the human rights defenders, it reiterates that the ongoing campaign of judicial harassment and intimidation should be ceased and that all their convictions should be quashed.

Oman: Update – Release of several human rights defenders on bail | Front Line.Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

Zimbabwe court orders another human rights defender (Beatrice Mtetwa) to be released

March 26, 2013

Having reported on 9 March 2013 on the case of Mukoko, who was arrested and ‘released’ a few days later (although the case against her remains pending), there is now the case of another well-known woman lawyer who was arrested and released after 8 days: As AP reports from Harare on 25 March:  “Zimbabwe’s High Court on Monday freed on bail a top rights lawyer who had been held for eight days on allegations of obstructing the course of justice…. She told reporters outside the courthouse that her arrest was a ploy to intimidate human rights defenders ahead of elections scheduled around July. “It is a personal attack on all human rights lawyers but I was just made the first example.Beatrice Mtetwa was arrested on March 17 along with four officials from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party. ….Mtetwa was accused of shouting at police officers who were conducting a search at Tsvangirai’s staff offices when she demanded to see a search warrant.Mtetwa and the four officials deny any wrongdoing. High Court Judge Joseph Musakwa ruled early Monday that Mtetwa was following professional legal procedures when she demanded to see a search warrant from police at the offices of the four officials.”She was entitled to be appraised of the legality of the search,” Musakwa said. Critics have cited the arrests as the start of a fresh wave of political intimidation against opponents of President Robert Mugabe by loyalist police and judicial officials ahead of elections.

Last week police ignored an earlier High Court order to free Mtetwa and on Wednesday the lower Harare magistrates court ordered her held in custody to reappear in that court on April 3. Charges of obstructing justice carry a maximum of two years imprisonment. Mtetwa said she was not well-treated while in police custody. She wasnt allowed to take a bath and was denied access to her lawyers and family. But she said she will not give up the fight for human rights. The judge said Mtetwa should not have been denied bail because of her “professional standing.”

Mtetwa is a recipient of awards from international jurists groups including the American Bar Association … state media controlled by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party has criticized Judge Charles Hungwe, who issued the first order for Mtetwa’s release. It said his actions pointed to the need for some judges to come under closer scrutiny over their rulings, and accused him of inefficiency and negligence in hearing other cases.  Mugabe’s party claimed Hungwe illegally made the first ruling not in a court but at his private home during the night after her arrest without giving police the right to state their case against freeing her. The Sunday Mail newspaper criticized lawyers who thought themselves “untouchable” and said Mtetwas “stage-managed antics in and outside the courts” earned her “dubious awards” from African and international lawyers groups.

via Zimbabwe court orders rights lawyer to be released – Yahoo! News.