Posts Tagged ‘legal protection’

Human Rights Defenders in National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights: Launch of Guide with public debate on 15 June

June 7, 2016

The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) are planning a public discussion about how and why human rights defenders should be consulted in the development of National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights (NAPs) and protected by their provisions. This event will also launch ISHR and ICAR’s new guidance on this subject, situating NAPs in the broader contexts of extreme risks facing human rights defenders taking on business abuses. Wednesday 15 June 2016, 12h30 – 14h00, Palais des Nations, Geneva. (Room to be confirmed) Read the rest of this entry »

UN Rapporteur Michel Forst documents good practices in the protection of human rights defenders

March 7, 2016

A major new report by the UN Special Rapporteur on human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, documents good practices and policies in the protection of defenders and makes concrete recommendations to States, business enterprises, national human rights institutions, donors, civil society organisations and other stakeholders to ensure a safe and enabling environment for defenders’ work (A/HRC/31/55).

Key among these is a recommendation that, in consultation with civil society, States should develop and implement specific national laws and mechanisms to protect defenders and to investigate and ensure accountability for threats and attacks against them. [ISHR’s work to develop a model national law on the recognition and protection of human rights defenders is specifically referenced in this regard.] [see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/two-more-side-events-on-human-rights-defenders-on-10-and-12-march/]

In addition to enacting laws, the Special Rapporteur recommends that States establish and adequately-resourced protection mechanisms, in consultation with civil society.

Through the report, the Special Rapporteur endorses a ‘holistic’ approach to the protection of defenders, engaging the responsibility of a range of actors. Key insights and recommendations included in the report include that:

  • States should publicly recognise the vital and legitimate work of human rights defenders, disseminate and raise awareness about the Declaration and actively respect and protect ‘the right to defend rights’.
  • National human rights institutions should develop concrete action plans to support and protect defenders and establish focal points to ensure effective implementation and evaluation of such plans.
  • Business enterprises have an important and influential role to play in protecting defenders and should be engaged in this regard: ‘The condemnation of violations by members of the business community not only legitimises defenders’ concerns but also builds opposition to bad business practices,’ the report says. ‘In addition, due to their economic and political influence, the support of business leaders can draw in wider support of society.’
  • Donors should provide long-term, sustainable, flexible financial support to defenders and their organisations and networks, providing for their ‘holistic protection’.
  • The UN itself should strengthen the protection of defenders and prevent violations against them, including through the ‘Rights Up Front’ initiative and the Sustainable Development Goals, and by strengthening its institutional response to cases of reprisals against those who for cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms. The need to prevent and ensure accountability for reprisals is particularly important given the Special Rapporteur’s finding that international and regional human rights mechanisms are increasingly being turned to and relied upon by defenders either to complement and strengthen domestic advocacy efforts, or because democratic institutions and the rule of law are weak or non-existent at the national level. [see also my ‘old’ post: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/zero-tolerance-for-states-that-take-reprisals-against-hrds-lets-up-the-ante/]

In addition to making concrete recommendations, the Special Rapporteur also articulates 7 key principles for all stakeholders that he considers should inform and underpin all policies and practices namely:

  • Principle 1: They should adopt a rights-based approach to protection, empowering defenders to know and claim their rights.
  • Principle 2: They should recognise that defenders are diverse and come from different backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems.
  • Principle 3: They should recognise the significance of gender in the protection of defenders and apply an intersectionality lens to the assessment of risks and to the design of protection initiatives.
  • Principle 4: They should focus on ‘holistic security’ of defenders, including physical security, digital security, and psychosocial wellbeing.
  • Principle 5: They should not focus on the rights and security of individual defenders alone, but also include the groups, organisations, communities, and family members who share their risks.
  • Principle 6: They should involve defenders in the development, choice, implementation and evaluation of strategies and tactics for their protection. The participation of defenders is key to their security.
  • Principle 7: They should be flexible, adaptable, and tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of defenders.

http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Defenders/A-HRC-31-55_en.pdf

See more at: http://www.ishr.ch/news/good-practices-protection-human-rights-defenders-major-new-report#sthash.VjHvu4uZ.dpuf

 

New Tactics in Human Rights follows up on the protection regime of HRDs

November 11, 2015

In November 2013 OUP’s Journal of Human Rights Practice published a special issue on human rights defenders [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/special-issue-on-human-rights-defenders-of-the-oup-journal-of-human-rights-practice/].

This is followed by another Special Issue in the International Journal of Human Rights on ‘Critical Perspectives on the Security and Protection of Human Rights Defenders’, in which scholars and practitioners critically appraise the construction and functioning of this protection regime, examining:

  1. the definition and use of the term ‘human rights defender’;
  2. the effectiveness of protection mechanisms; and,
  3. the complex relationship between repression, activism and risk.

    New Tactics is organizing a conversation ‘Evaluating the Human Rights Defender Protection Regime’ exploring these areas, asking: How do we define who is and who is not a ‘human rights defender’? What are the effects of these decisions? How effective are current protection mechanisms for defenders? How do defenders manage their security as they face risks? How should ‘protection’ work in practice?

    Join New Tactics and the authors of the papers in this Special Issue from 16 – 20 November, 2015.

    Copies of these papers are available for free here: http://explore.tandfonline.com/page/pgas/ijhr-volume19-issue7 but only until 31 December 2015!

    Join the Conversation beginning Monday

Family of human rights defender Corrie decry dismissal by Israeli Supreme Court

February 13, 2015

The family of Rachel Corrie arrive at an Israeli court before hearing the verdict in her civil suit in August 2012. (Photo: Getty Images)

The family of Rachel Corrie arrive at an Israeli court before hearing the verdict in her civil suit in August 2012. (Photo: Getty Images)

Mondoweiss Editors on 12 February 2015 disseminated the following statement by the family of Rachel Corriea 23-year-old American peace activist from Olympia, Washington, who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer on 16 March 2003, while protecting the home of a Palestinian family from demolition:

Today we received word from our attorneys that the Supreme Court of Israel dismissed our appeal in the wrongful death case of our daughter and sister Rachel Corrie.  Our family is disappointed but not surprised. We had hoped for a different outcome, though we have come to see through this experience how deeply all of Israel’s institutions are implicated in the impunity enjoyed by the Israeli military.

It will take some time before we have ability to read the decision in English and to process all the court has said. Nevertheless, it is clear that this decision, affirming the August 2012 lower court finding, amounts to judicial sanction of immunity for Israeli military forces when they commit injustices and human rights violations.

The Supreme Court decision ignores international law arguments regarding the protection of civilians and human rights defenders in armed conflict and grossly violates the internationally recognized right to effective remedy.

The court has determined that our separate case against Dr. Yehuda Hiss and Abu Kabir Institute, regarding inappropriate ways in which Rachel’s autopsy was conducted, may go forward in the lower court. We continue to be appalled that it requires a lawsuit to have a truthful accounting of what occurred, and complete repatriation of Rachel’s remains. Decisions as to next steps will be made by the family in consultation with our attorneys.

Despite the verdict, our family remains convinced we were correct in bringing this case forward.  The day after Rachel was killed, Prime Minister Sharon promised President Bush a thorough, credible and transparent investigation. Clearly, that standard was not met. The U.S. government continues to call for such an investigation by Israel.  A civil lawsuit cannot substitute for an impartial investigation, but it is the only process through which a family can discover more information and move forward when governments fail to act.

Rachel’s case provides yet another example of how the Israeli justice system is failing to provide accountability. We urge the international community, and not least the U.S. government, to stand with victims of human rights violations and against impunity, and to uphold fundamental tenants of international justice.

We are immensely grateful to our attorney Hussein Abu Hussein and to his entire legal team for the decade of work they have contributed to Rachel’s case, and continue to provide.  We are grateful to all of our friends in Palestine, Israel, and elsewhere, who in so many different ways have supported our efforts.

We have taken this path for Rachel, the daughter and sister we love, lost, and miss. Her spirit lives. She has inspired all of our actions and will continue to do so.

———–

For more information about the trial visit: http://rachelcorriefoundation.org/trial

Corrie statement on Israeli Supreme Court dismissal: ‘this decision amounts to judicial sanction of immunity for Israeli military forces’.

Human Rights Day 2014: ODIHR Director Link wants to move from words to deeds for human rights defenders in the OSCE

December 11, 2014

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), called on all OSCE participating States to do more to protect human rights defenders in the OSCE region: “It is time for all OSCE participating States to move from words to deeds and to provide more effective protection to those who strive to promote and safeguard human rights in our countries.

The words must refer to the Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders which OSCE adopted this year: see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/osce-publishes-guidelines-on-the-protection-of-human-rights-defenders/

Unfortunately, in 2014 we have witnessed numerous attacks and threats against human rights defenders,” the ODIHR Director said. “This includes human rights defenders with whom ODIHR has worked, and I am particularly disturbed that those standing up for human rights in the OSCE region may be being targeted for activities they carry out in partnership with our Office.”

At the Budapest Summit, in 1994, OSCE participating States emphasized the need to protect human rights defenders, and at the OSCE Summit in Astana, in 2010, they underscored the important role played by civil society in helping to ensure full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. “That the environment in which human rights defenders operate has become more, not less, restricted across the region over the past few years is disturbing,” Link said. “Determined action is needed to reverse this trend.”

Human Rights Day 2014: Better protection of human rights defenders needed across the OSCE region, ODIHR Director says | OSCE.

New UN High Commissioner should be the “Human Rights Defender-in-Chief”

August 11, 2014

(re-issued for technical reasons)

My reference last week to an interview with the new Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/michel-forst-new-special-rapporteur-on-human-rights-defenders-gives-indication-of-his-priorities/] seemed well appreciated judging from the number of views. Therefore I now refer you to a piece by the Director of the ISHR, Phil Lynch, of 16 July, who addresses the incoming UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein as the “human rights defender-in-chief “, saying that he has a particular responsibility to protect human rights defenders, especially so when they face intimidation and reprisals for their efforts to seek accountability at the UN for human rights violations. Read the rest of this entry »

Binding UN treaty needed for protection of environmental human rights defenders

June 11, 2014

Defenders of the environment often face terrible consequences for their actions, suffering rights violations and violence, according to a new report by Friends of the Earth International to be released on June 26, during the 26th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council . “A new case of violence against environmental rights defenders and violations of their rights is reported to us on average once a week, and this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Lucia Ortiz, of Friends of the Earth International. “Environmental defenders who uphold the right of communities to determine their own development path in opposition to corporate-driven mega projects are subject to many types of human rights abuses, often committed by corporations or on their behalf”.

Friends of the Earth International recorded more than 100 incidents of violence against environmental rights defenders and violations of their rights in 27 countries around the world in the period November 2011 – October 2013. More than half of the killings recorded were targeted assassinations of peasant leaders and deaths of peasants during violent confrontations regarding land disputes, often involving the protection of peasant territories from polluting development projects such as hydroelectric dams, monoculture plantations or the extraction of oil, gas and minerals.

The new report calls on the UN Human Rights Council to create an international treaty to address corporate human rights violations. [On may 7, 2014, a global alliance of civil society organizations known as the Treaty Alliance representing more than 500 groups called on UN Human Rights Council members to support an initiative in June that would begin a process towards creating an international legally binding treaty to address corporate human rights violations. For more information read: www.foei.org/news/groups-call-for-un-treaty-to-tackle-corporate-human-rights-violations/ –  A regulatory and enforcement framework that is legally binding for corporations has been proposed at the Council by a group of 84 nations since September 2013]

The following environmental defenders will be in Geneva on June 23-27:

1) Micaela Antonio Gonzalez from Guatemala and Victor Barro from Friends of the Earth Spain will expose the human rights violations by the Spanish company Hidralia in Guatemala.

2) Abeer Al Butmah from Friends of the Earth Palestine will expose the human rights violations by Israeli water company Mekorot in Palestine.

3) Godwin Ojo from Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Paul de Clerck from Friends of the Earth Europe will expose the human rights violations by Royal Dutch Shell in the Niger Delta.

4) Alberto Villarreal will expose the violations of the human right to health posed by the Philip Morris International challenge to the tobacco control legislation in Uruguay.

Friends of the Earth International is critical of ‘voluntary mechanisms’ such as the Global Compact and Ruggie’s UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and believes they have not reduced attacks on human rights defenders and are thus insufficient to protect human rights.

The report ‘We defend the environment, we defend human rights‘ is available at www.foei.org/resources/publications/publications-by-subject/human-rights-defenders-publications/we-defend-the-environment-we-defend-human-rights/

For some of my earlier posts on environmental issues and human rights defenders see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/environmental-issues/

Due to lack of funding INTERIGHTS ceases to exist

April 4, 2014

After 32 years, the NGO “INTERIGHTS” [International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights] ceases to exist as from 27 May 2014 due to lack of funding. This is bad news but at least there is a clear public statement. Too often human rights NGOs or awards are announced with great pomp but their demise is muffled. The Executive Director John Wadham made the following clear-headed statement: Read the rest of this entry »