Posts Tagged ‘justice’

Human rights laureates call for end to torture and disappearances in Asia

January 15, 2016

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in a press release of 18 December gave a short report of a meeting held on 12-14 December 2015, where 8 laureates of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, and human rights defenders from the Asian region participated in an international workshop on“Torture, Violence, and Enforced Disappearances in Asia” organized by Imparsial, IKOHI, and the May 18 Memorial Foundation, (Gwangju, South Korea). The speakers and the victims discussed the realities of human rights issues including torture and enforced disappearances and the implications for the justice institutions to address the problems: Read the rest of this entry »

EU says no impunity for perpetrators of recent violence in Bangladesh

March 2, 2015

On 27 February bdnews24.com in Bangladesh reported that the EU delegation said – at the end of three sub-groups meetings with the government – that victims of violence must get justice. The meetings discussed issues of governance, human rights and migration, trade and development cooperation under the framework of the 2001 Cooperation Agreement.

Victims of violence deserve proper justice,” the EU said, pointing out that human rights’ is the “corner stone” of the EU-Bangladesh relations.

The EU delegation said the discussions between the Dhaka and Brussels were “open and constructive”. They exchanged views on a wide range of issues.

In particular, the need to protect the fundamental democratic rights of the people of Bangladesh was discussed, in view of the recent incidents of violence…The EU delegation also addressed the need to strengthen cooperation on democracy, governance and human rights, in particular, the implementation of the international human rights standards relating to the judiciary and freedom of expression.

Recent developments on rule of law, good governance, transparency, accountability for extrajudicial killings, freedom of the media, freedom of assembly and civil society were some of the issues of “mutual interest and concern” they discussed.

The focus of one sub-group meeting was labour rights, the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord, the situation of the Rohingyas, women and children’s rights, the death penalty and migration issues. The EU reiterated the importance of protecting human rights defenders. Bangladesh’s membership of the UN Human Rights Council should be an opportunity to work more closely with the EU on promoting and protecting human rights.

The EU and Bangladesh agreed to continue their dialogue on these issues.

via EU wants troublemakers punished – bdnews24.com.

Grammy-winning Esperanza Spalding performs on-line against Guantanamo tomorrow

January 28, 2014

Grammy award-winning Esperanza Spalding and Human Rights First bring a LIVE online broadcast of Spotlight on Guantanamo, a night of performance and discussion from Washington, DC’s historic Lincoln Theatre. In November 2013, Esperanza Spalding launched her new music video titled ”We Are America” to urge Congress to close Guantanamo responsibly. You can watch the live stream via the link below starting at 19h00 (Washington DC time) on Wednesday 29 January.

via Spotlight on Guantanamo: An Evening with Esperanza Spalding [Live Stream] | Human Rights First.

Philippine Military admits that Human Rights Defender Bayles was killed by them

April 23, 2013

Karl Ombion, writing for Bulatlat.com, reports that in a court hearing on 18 April 2013  at RTC Branch 55, in Himamaylan City, Adjutant General Alexis Gopico and Lt. Col Ricardo B Bayhon positively identified the two suspects in the brutal murder of Philippine human rights defender Benjamin Bayles as military enlisted men. Edre Olalia, legal counsel of the victim’s family, and Secretary General of National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), confirmed this report. Bayles was murdered 14 June 2010 by two suspects who claimed to be Roger Bajon and Ronnie Caurino when they were captured by Himamaylan police operatives hours after the incident.  Olalia said “the confirmation, positive identification and specific personal pinpointing of the killers of activist Benjamen Bayles by top army officials as enlisted personnel under their command is a welcome development and a high point in making perpetrators of extra judicial killings accountable.This is ultimately a product of public vigilance and pressure by human rights defenders aided also by conscientious legal work, Olalia stressed, but it remains to be seen if this leads to a deeper investigation, determination of other guilty parties, including possibly, superior officers. The accused who are lowly private first class personnel maybe sacrificial dispensable small fry to stop the investigation and let masterminds escape identification and prosecution.”“As in other cases, like that of Jonas Burgos, extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances and other rights violations, there is no closure until there is full justice for the victims,” Olalia concluded.

via Military admits Bayles killers as their own « Bulatlat.

New UN rapporteur for truth, justice and reparation important for HRDs

April 6, 2012

The Mail & Guardian Online carried an interesting piece that may have gone unnoticed. It is about the appointment of the first ever Rapporteur ‘on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence’. On March 23, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Pablo de Greiff, a Colombian national, who is currently the New York-based director of research at the International Centre for Transitional Justice. His tenure as special rapporteur begins on May 1.

The article refers to a recent meeting entitled “African Perspectives on the Appointment and Mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence”, of which a comprehensive report is forthcoming.

The article also gives a useful background to the what “Special procedures” are and underlines rightly that civil society (i.e. HRDs) should play a vital role in relation to the special rapporteur. Feeding the special rapporteur with succinct, reliable and accurate information on urgent matters relating to the mandate is one important function civil society can take on. Raising awareness about the special rapporteur and the relevant mandate as well as how it translates into reality is equally important in order to ensure increased participation in the broader process.

UN appoints rapporteur for justice – Opinion – Mail & Guardian Online.

Will Bahrain’s highest court do justice tomorrow for HRD Al-Khawaja?

April 1, 2012

A leading Bahraini human rights defender, Al-Khawaja’s appeal is set to be heard in Bahrain’s Court of Cassation on 2 April. He is currently serving a life sentence for his role in anti-government protests last year. The activist is at risk of death after 50 days on hunger strike (according to his lawyer, he has lost 16 kg since his hunger strike began on 8 February). Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, 52, is a former protection co-ordinator with Frontline, an NGO on the Jury of the MEA. He was arrested in April last year for being one of the leaders of anti-government protests and was sentenced to life imprisonment in a grossly unfair trial by a military court last June.  “Bahrain must ensure that Al-Khawaja is released immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther of  Amnesty International, another member of the MEA Jury. He added: “The continued imprisonment of Al-Khawaja demonstrates that the Bahraini authorities are not serious about fulfilling their promises to release people imprisoned for exercising their right to free spHe has not used or advocated violence in his participation in the anti-government protests, and no such evidence was shown by the authorities during the trial.

Activists in Bahrain have repeatedly called for ’s release. Demonstrators in Manama attempted to stage a sit-in at a main highway on Monday, but were quickly dispersed by riot police.  Al-Khawaja, who is married with four daughters, is also a citizen of Denmark, where he lived in exile for decades. He returned to Bahrain after the government announced a general amnesty in 2001. Danish diplomats have visited him in prison several times and confirmed his deteriorating health.

Libya: emerging movement of Human Rights Defenders faces huge challenges and needs support with understanding

November 22, 2011

Lutz Oette, from the NGO ‘REDRESS’, published on 22 November 2011 an interesting analysis in openDemocracy, in which he describes the enormous challenges faced by the small number of human rights lawyers in Libya. 

Emerging from an enforced time warp, the Libyan population is today confronted with the wreckage of a regime that was based on a barely comprehensible ideology, repression and sheer force. The recent atrocities are a particularly grim episode in a long history etched into the collective memory of Libyans over the last forty-two years. With the focus in the west on Gaddafi’s image as terrorist or madman, or both, there has been little sense or understanding of what life has been like in Libya in all these years. In Libya itself, individuals and groups are now beginning to talk openly about their experiences. This entails having to come to terms with the multiple sufferings and deprivations endured. It also means grappling with the more fundamental question of what these have done to the political and social fabric of the country.

Libya, both its current government and society at large, is at an important crossroads where the past, present and future interlink: how it provides justice for past violations and how it respects the rights of those who currently find themselves on the wrong side will be crucial for the broader task of rebuilding a system in which human rights are better protected. Many Libyans are keenly aware of the importance of getting this process right. From the moment it became possible, several initiatives sprang up in Benghazi, Misrata, Tripoli and elsewhere to document human rights crimes and to develop local justice initiatives. There are also official committees tasked with monitoring detention conditions and human rights.

Organizations such as Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) are helping build a network of human rights defenders. Their commitment was evident during a recent meeting in which LFJL brought together lawyers from across the country. Many of these lawyers – several of whom have personally suffered torture – have maintained a genuine belief in the rule of law. Little attention has been paid to their important work on the ground. For all the inevitable shortcomings of a nascent human rights movement, it provides the much needed impetus to rebuild a credible legal system.

For now, the lawyers involved are looking for ways of how best to work together to deal with the many pressing problems, not least what to do with members of their own profession who failed to live up to expected standards under the previous regime. This raises vexed questions both about the responsibility of judges, prosecutors and others, and due process for those accused of wrongdoing. These efforts are but one part of the precious process taking place today in which Libyans are seeking to reclaim their society. It is already clear that this process will neither necessarily be smooth nor take place in isolation. There is a need for outside expertise and capacity building, including in questions of human rights protection. Indeed, many Libyans may welcome such an engagement. However, the involvement of international actors is a double-edged sword if experiences in other countries in conflict or post-conflict situations are anything to go by. It is too early to tell how the current transition in Libya will pan out. International actors have an important role sharing experiences and seeking to uphold international standards. However, it is equally critical that they tread carefully when engaging in Libya, particularly in an area as painful and sensitive as human rights.

 In my view the author quite rightly points out that international institutions, such as the United Nations or the International Criminal Court, NGOs and donors will undoubtedly take a keen interest in questions of human rights and justice in Libya. …” Yet it is important that they give the fledgling Libyan human rights movement and civil society the space and time needed to develop and to address the issues facing them. There is a risk that international actors – even if only unwittingly – import their own priorities and change the local dynamics. The potential pitfalls are many, such as conflicting objectives, taking an approach that does not reflect the primary concerns of local actors at the time, introducing an element of ‘human rights’ bureaucracy or business, or undermining local networks through recruitment policies.”

This is very much in line with my views on NGOs in transition countries as published in the book and China and NGOs, “The international human rights movement: not perfect, but a lot better than many governments think”  Ashgate, ISBN: 978-1-4094-1959-4: “Repression is, in some ways, the binding and mobilising element in a weak civil society. Afterwards, the challenge becomes to find common ground that is based more solidly on human rights philosophy and has a forward-looking element [….] International NGOs – especially those with links to a variety of domestic NGOs – may be helpful in building consensus. What is also subsequently required from NGOs is constructive participation in debating, designing and implementing a host of new regulations, processes and mechanisms, including those relating to democratic governance and the ratification of international human rights standards.  International NGOs can bring expertise, funding and pressure, but have to take care that they do not overwhelm the local NGOs.[….] The creation of democratic governance institutions also requires a human rights ‘culture’. Many people in transition countries will not fully understand the human rights discourse.[ ….The] domestic NGOs are often small and weak in the early phases of transition and international NGOs can help with quick access to relevant information, sharing experiences, staff training, visibility and access to donors. However, again, the risk is that this privileges certain NGOs relative to their national counterparts and the ‘foreign’ resources may hamper the feeling of ownership.

After a history of false hopes and lost opportunities, it is now crucial to support Libyans who take a lead in discussing how best to respond to violations and develop a system that stands the test of time for the right reasons. For the full text see:

Libyan lawyers and human rights: a nascent movement facing a challenge | openDemocracy.