Posts Tagged ‘Latvia’

Deportation of Human Rights Defenders: two European cases next to each other

September 1, 2015

Just two cases (unrelated) to show how media report differently (or not at all):

Antifascists hold an action protesting public events held on the occasion of the day of memory of the Latvian Legion Waffen-SS at the Freedom Monument in Riga
© SPUTNIK/ ILYA PITALEV Anti-Nazi Activism Now Seen As ‘National Security Threat’ in Lithuania

On 1 September Sputnik reports under the title “Moscow slammed Vilnius for persecution of human rights defenders” how Moscow is concerned about Lithuanian authorities’ recent decision to deport three rights activists. “Lithuanian authorities handed over decisions to three well-known Latvian human rights activists that they had to leave the country within 24 hours, with two being banned entry for five years,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “This shameless move by Lithuanian authorities, which can only be interpreted as persecution of human right defenders, causes serious concern.

Source: Russia Criticizes Lithuania’s ‘Shameless’ Deportation of Rights Activists

Then I remembered an old case from a Danish newspaper of 21 May 2015 which read: “Russia moves to deport Danish activist group“.

It said that 3 members of a Danish human rights group faced possible deportation after being accused of breaching immigration rules. The Danish, German and Latvian citizens were participating in a workshop jointly organized by the prominent Russian rights group Committee Against Torture and the Danish Institute Against Torture (Dignity). Migration officials had stormed the hotel venue in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s fifth-biggest city, and demanded that the foreigners accompany them for questioning. A court in Nizhny ruled that German lecturer Uwe Harlacher, a psychologist, had entered the country with the wrong visa, said the head of the Committee Against Torture, Igor Kalyapin.
[Last year, four American students were deported after attending a leadership conference. Russian officials said they had tourist visas but were not engaged in tourism.]

Not enough detail in any of these cases to judge definitely who is right and wrong, but interesting to note how authorities like to play with rules which suit them.

Syrian journalist Mazen Darwish deserved winner of UNESCO/Guillermo Cano award

April 8, 2015

 The winner of the 2015 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is the Syrian journalist and human rights defender, Mazen Darwish, currently imprisoned. The Prize will be awarded during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, which will this year be hosted by Latvia (National Library, Riga, 6 p.m.).

An independent International Jury of media professionals recommended Mazen Darwish in recognition of the work that he has carried out in Syria for more than ten years at great personal sacrifice, enduring a travel ban, harassment, as well as repeated detention and torture. Darwish, a lawyer and press freedom advocate, is the president of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (CMFE), founded in 2004, and one of the founders of the Voice newspaper and syriaview.net, an independent news site, which has been banned by the Syrian authorities. In 2011, Darwish established Media Club, the first Syrian magazine about media affairs.

He has been detained since February 2012, when he was arrested with colleagues Hani Al-Zitani and Hussein Ghareer. Mazen won earlier awards from Roland Berger (2011), Reporters without Borders (2012) and Bruno Kreisky (2013).

The $25,000 Prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogotá, on 17 December 1986. It is funded by the Cano Foundation (Colombia) and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland).

Syrian journalist Mazen Darwish winner of UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Some States have the courage to set out their commitments as members of the Human Rights Council

July 17, 2014

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and

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have successfully co-hosted for the third time an event where candidate countries for the UN Human Rights Council have voluntarily shown up to set out their views and commitments in case they would be elected. ‘We are delighted to see more and more States prepared to participate in what is becoming an annual event, said Eleanor Openshaw of the ISHR. We would encourage all State candidates to see this as an opportunity to speak about their vision and commitments as members of the Council and, through their participation, to demonstrate the kind of transparency and accountability that should be expected of all Council members.  Ahead of elections to the UN Human Rights Council in November by the GA, seven candidate States have subjected themselves to public questioning, at the event hosted at UN Headquarters by the 2 NGOs and the missions of Tunisia and Uruguay.

Albania, Bolivia, Botswana, Costa Rica, Latvia, The Netherlands and Portugal elaborated on their pledges and were questioned on how they would work as members of the Council to challenge human rights violations and uphold the credibility of the Council. It is a pity that the other 10 candidates did not (yet) have the courage to join.

The protection of human rights defenders featured prominently in the discussion, with the Netherlands Human Rights Ambassador, Lionel Veer, describing human rights defenders as agents of change and calling for stronger recognition and protection of their work under both national and international law.  Building on this, all speakers affirmed their State’s commitment to the protection of defenders, with Albania and Bolivia committing to support and strengthen civil society engagement with the UN and Costa Rica pledging to support the right of peaceful protest. Botswana was explicit about its commitment to prevent and ensure accountability for reprisals and to work for the endorsement of Human Rights Council Resolution 24/24, adoption of which by the General Assembly would provide for the appointment of a high-level UN focal point to combat reprisals. We welcome the statements and commitments made by States to protect the work of human rights defenders and support robust civil society engagement with the UN, said Ms Openshaw. This is a recognition of the crucial role played by defenders in holding States to account for their human rights obligations at both the national and international levels.

A webcast of the event is available here: http://webtv.un.org/watch/human-rights-council-elections-a-discussion-of…-aspirations-and-vision-for-membership/3676385473001/.

via States set out their vision and commitments as members of the Human Rights Council | ISHR.