Posts Tagged ‘legislation’

Joseph Bikanda, Coordinator of Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network, has the floor

April 16, 2015

The Newsletter of International Service for Human Rights in Geneva gave on 2 April 2015 the floor to Joseph Bikanda, the Coordinator of the Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network (PAHRDN), a Network made up of 5 sub-regional networks of human right defenders (HRDs), including the East and Horn of Africa, the Central, the West, the Southern and the North African HRDs Networks.

Joseph first became involved in human rights as a university student. A group of students needed a voice to advocate on their behalf. Joseph became that voice. In doing so, Joseph learnt about human rights mechanisms existing at the time. ‘I found myself surrounded by the human rights world and knew that it was the right place for me. Since then I have been working in human rights in various capacities.

Joseph stated that PAHRDN’s key focus is to strengthen the capacity and provide support to regional networks, civil society organisations and HRDs. ‘You are always stronger working together in a network, and if each element of the network is more capable and works together – you are even stronger’

..Regional and international human rights mechanisms support HRDs, but networks such as PAHRDN are essential to create local supporting mechanisms for HRDs’.. Joseph explains that PAHRDN has established local mechanisms to ‘fill the gap as best we can’. These mechanisms include providing emergency support, lawyers, trial observation and practical support for HRDs.

One of our key roles is to provide support for HRDs in emergency situations when they are being harassed, targeted or when their lives are in danger. We have also created urgent mechanisms which apply pressure to perpetrators of human rights abuses.’

Joseph commented on the essential role that HRDs played in initiating the development of the law for the protection of HRDs in Côte d’Ivoire. He shared his hope that each African country develops similar laws in the near future and, in particular, that each of those laws is effectively implemented. ‘I hope to see HRDs develop further as key actors combatting corruption and promoting transparency. Involving HRDs in decisions ensures that the views of civil society are raised and considered.’

In his discussion with ISHR, Joseph identified that his primary objectives of attending the March session of the Human Rights Council were to raise awareness of – the horrific situation in Burundi, in particular the persecution of journalists and HRDs; the continued fighting in South Sudan and the abduction of children for combat; and the concerning counter terrorism laws in Cameroon and Ethiopia, which lack differentiation between defenders and terrorists.

You can follow Joseph Bikanda on Twitter at @Bikjo.

Joseph Bikanda: Coordinator of Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network | ISHR.

Conflicting views on proposed secular charter in Canada

February 8, 2014

Although not directly related to human rights defenders, I thought this article interesting because two top judges taken such openly opposing views. Also interesting to note – at least in this short piece – is the absence of references to international case law on the same topic e.g. by the European Court on Human Rights, which has pronounced itself on Turkey and France:

“Two former Supreme Court of Canada justices delivered conflicting views on Friday on whether Quebec’s proposed secular charter would hold up in court. Louise Arbour, a member of Canada’s highest court from 1999 to 2004, wrote in a letter to Montreal La Presse she firmly believes the Parti Quebecois government’s proposed charter violates the right to freedom of religion. Arbour, who also served as the UN high commissioner for human rights, wrote that the prohibition of wearing so-called conspicuous religious symbols will mainly target Muslim women who wear a head scarf. “It is particularly odious to make women, who are already marginalized, pay the price,” Arbour wrote. “Women, for whom access to employment is a key factor for their autonomy and integration. “Meanwhile in Quebec City, Claire LHeureux-Dube offered her unconditional support for the proposed charter during hearings at the legislature. The former justice said the charter should withstand any court challenge. And if necessary, the government could use the notwithstanding clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, she added. LHeureux-Dube, a Supreme Court justice between 1987 and 2002, said she sees no discrimination in the most controversial aspect of the proposed charter — a ban on state employees from wearing conspicuous religious symbols. The proposed legislation would ban public-sector employees, including teachers and daycare workers, from displaying or wearing religious symbols at work. It would also forbid public employees from wearing other visible religious symbols such as turbans, kippas and bigger-than-average crucifixes. LHeureux Dube said the wearing of religious symbols is not a fundamental right. And, she adds, no right is absolute.  Religious symbols “are part of the display of religious beliefs and not the practice of a religion,” LHeureux-Dube said. She finds it perfectly reasonable for the state to impose restrictions on its employees, comparing it to the state’s restriction on political expression. LHeureux-Dube also took the opportunity to lash out at Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard, accusing him of breaking from what she described as his past position as a defender of secularism and women’s rights. She expressed dismay the party had drifted away from its roots. She noted the Liberals frequently battled with the Roman Catholic Church, notably during the right to vote for women in 1940. “I wonder how one can deny that great tradition of secularism,” she said….” 

via mysask.com – News.

An exceptional number of NGOs (90!) demand justice for Munir in Indonesia

September 10, 2013

Nine years after the killing of human rights defender Munir Said Thalib, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono must take decisive and concrete action to ensure those responsible – including those at the highest levels – are brought to justice, and that all defenders of human rights are better protected. President Yudhoyono, who has himself described Munir’s case as a “test of our history”, but he has just one year of his presidency remaining in which to ensure full justice and reparations are delivered. The President’s failure so far to do so, at a time the protection of human rights defenders across the country remains seriously under threat, raises serious questions about his legacy.

On 7 September 2004, Munir was found dead on a flight from Jakarta to the Netherlands. Read the rest of this entry »

ICJ launches two innovative legal databases on sexual orientation

August 1, 2013

icj_logo_pantone launched two innovative legal databases: the Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity (SOGI) UN Database and the SOGI Legislative Database. Read the rest of this entry »

New UN Resolution on Human Rights Defenders (HRHF speaks at the Human Rights Council)

March 1, 2013

Read the rest of this entry »

Russian “homosexual propaganda” law risks to target human rights defenders

February 7, 2013

A draft law to criminalise “homosexual propaganda”, currently being considered by the Russian parliament, flagrantly violates international human rights laws and standards, says the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR). The ISHR is particularly concerned that the law will be used to target, intimidate or harass human rights defenders and those who speak out on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. “States have an obligation not only to respect and protect human rights, but also to respect and protect those who stand up and speak out for human rights. Russia’s draft law is manifestly incompatible with this obligation,” said Ms Collister of the ISHR.ISHR-logo-colour-high

ISHR’s statement comes as three United Nations Independent human rights experts have also called on Russian parliament to scrap the draft Bill. In a joint statement issued by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, the experts state, “The draft legislation could further contribute to the already difficult environment in which these defenders operate, stigmatizing their work and making them the target of acts of intimidation and violence, as has recently happened in Moscow.”

For further comment, contact Heather Collister, International Service for Human Rights, on + 41 79 920 3805 or h.collister@ishr.ch.

 

New blueprint for law on protection of HRDs in the Philippines

December 13, 2012

Two lawmakers are pushing for a law (House Bill 5379), ‘the Human Rights Defenders Act’, which aims to guarantee the rights of human rights defenders. The provisions are:

1 Right to promote and protect human rights

2 Right to information about human rights

3 Right to develop and advocate human rights ideas

4 Right to participate in public affairs

5 Right to access to human rights violations victims and, if necessary, provide legal assistance or facilitate the provision of the same

6 Right to unhindered access to communication with human rights bodies.

7 Right to refuse to violate human rights

8 Right to participate in activities against human rights violations

9 Right to solicit, receive and utilize resources

10 Right to establish a sanctuary to human rights victims

11 Right to file an action involving human rights violations – human rights organizations as complainants and, finally

12 Right to access documents of government units and personnel, paramilitary units and personnel, and military affiliate and government assets.

While some of the language is specifically cut towards the situation in the Philippines, the list is an interesting blueprint for other situations.

This proposal comes in the context of a recent (preliminary) report by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders which concluded: “There is compelling evidence that human rights defenders, in particular those advocating for land and environmental rights, are under serious threat, are constantly vilified, intimidated and ‘terrorized.”

via Passing of law protecting rights defenders urged – Bulatlat.