Posts Tagged ‘Margaret Sekaggya’

Six UN human rights experts urge probe into recent violence in Venezuela

March 9, 2014

On 6 March 2014 a group of six United Nations experts has asked the Venezuelan Government for prompt clarification of allegations of arbitrary detention and excessive use of force and violence against protesters, journalists and media workers during recent protests. “The recent violence amid protests in Venezuela need to be urgently and thoroughly investigated, and perpetrators must be held accountable,” the experts stressed in a news release. They also expressed their shock at the reported deaths of at least 17 persons during the demonstrations. “We are deeply disturbed by the allegations of multiple cases of arbitrary detention of protesters. Some were reportedly beaten – and in some cases severely tortured – by security forces, taken to military facilities, kept in incommunicado detention, and denied access to legal assistance,” they said….“The reconciliatory dialogue that is so deeply needed in Venezuela is not going to take place if political leaders, students, media groups and journalists are harassed and intimidated by the authorities,” they stated.

The experts speaking out on Venezuela are Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mads Andenas, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention; Juan Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

via United Nations News Centre – UN human rights experts urge probe into recent violence amid Venezuelan protests.

PS: It is ironic that at the same time the Government of Venezuela has invited the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to hold a special meeting at the historic Yellow House in Caracas on 17-18 April 2013.

Important Human Rights Council side event on 11 March (to be followed on internet)

February 14, 2014

The Geneva-based International Service for Human Rights organises an important side event during the upcoming UN Human Rights Council. Under the title “Creating a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders” the event will take place on 11 March 2014, from 12h00 – 14h00 in the Palais des Nations, Geneva (exact room to be determined later). Those who cannot attend in person, can follow the event through a live webcast and ask questions or share comments via Twitter using #HRDs before and during the event. Photos and further details will also be available on Facebook following the event, Read the rest of this entry »

Defending human rights is increasingly dangerous activity in many parts of the world, states latest UN report

January 19, 2014

The most recent report by the UN Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, has been made public and will be officially presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2014. It is the last report by this Rapporteur whose mandate will terminate. The report finds that human rights defenders – especially journalists, lawyers, trade unionists and those who work to promote women’s rights and the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons – face ‘extraordinary risks’. It highlights cases of defamation, attacks, detention, torture and even killings. The report also documents an increased incidence of violations against people and communities opposed to mining, construction and development projects, with protesters attacked both by State and private security forces. Human rights defenders play a crucial role in exposing and seeking accountability for violations by both governments and corporations. Their work is crucial to transparency, good governance and justice for victims,’ commented Phil Lynch of the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva.ISHR-logo-colour-high

The report also documents the worsening ‘use of legislation in a number of countries to refrain the activities of human rights defenders and to criminalise them’, with cited examples including laws to ‘curb the promotion of homosexuality’ and to restrict NGO access to foreign funds. In the last four weeks alone, Nigeria, Russia, Uganda, Malaysia and the Ukraine have enacted or applied laws to criminalise human rights defenders and to silence their critical voice,’ Mr Lynch added.

In addition to documenting violations, the report makes a wide range of recommendations to ensure that human rights defenders are protected and can operate in a ‘safe and enabling environment.

For those too busy to read the whole new UN report [PDF]  here are the

V.    Conclusions and recommendations: Read the rest of this entry »

Who should be the new UN Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders? Ravindran is my choice.

December 14, 2013

A number of protection mechanisms exist at the international, regional and national levels for the protection of Human Rights Defenders at risk. The Special Rapporteur at UN level is the prime example. We have been very fortunate with the first two mandate holders (Hina Jilani and Margaret Sekaggya) and it is crucial to ensure that the next Rapporteur in April 2014 will be of the same caliber. While in Geneva last week I came across Ravindran Daniel a human rights lawyer from India with whom I worked together in the International Commission of Jurists a long time ago. He told me – with his usual modesty – that he is a candidate for the post of HRD rapporteur. He may not have a big lobby machinery to support him but I think he should be seriously considered. Here a bit more about his impressive background. Please spread the word. Read the rest of this entry »

And a lot more about Werner Lottje: the great German human rights defender

November 16, 2013

In the presence of the UN Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, the MEA Laureates of 2013: the Joint Mobile Group, the family of Werner Lottje (his wife Margit and the children) and some 90 other participants we had on 13 November 2013 the first WERNER LOTTJE LECTURE in Berlin. It was an impressive affair and the organisers, Bread for the World and the German Institute for Human Rights, can look back on a successful launch of this annual event. There were many good tributes to Werner’s life and contribution. Igor Kalyapin of the JMG explained the terrible conditions under which his team has to operate in Russia and Margaret Sekaggya concluded with a wide-ranging overview of obstacles that HRDs all over the world face. A short, impressive film brought the person of Werner to life.

Here I am providing you the full text my own speech on this occasion, not only because I have it handy but because it concerns mostly the international part of his work:

Thinking outside the box – Werner Lottje as an international networker”

Read the rest of this entry »

Norway Proposes UN Resolution on Protection of Women Human Rights Defenders

November 2, 2013

Women human rights defenders risk violence, prejudice and exclusion for their courageous work. Through this resolution, we want to contribute to their protection,” says Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge BrendeNorway is coordinating the UN General Assembly’s work in New York on the protection of human rights defenders. The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, has on several occasions expressed great concern for the challenging working conditions of human rights defenders. This is the first time a resolution on the situation and significance of women human rights defenders has been put on the table. “We want to send a clear signal of support to women who fight for human rights around the world, and we call on member states to enable and allow for their work to make our societies better,” says Brende. The resolution also calls on national human rights institutions, regional organizations and the UN system to take action. The draft resolution was formally presented on Friday 1 November.

via Norway’s Proposal to Protect Women Human Rights Defenders – The Nordic Page – Panorama.

 

Deadline for candidatures Special Rapporteur extended to 14 November

October 29, 2013

On 28 September I shared a message concerning criteria to help select the best possible successor as Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders. It mentioned 31 October as deadline, but the UN now informs us that the deadline for applications for special rapporteurs – to be appointed at the 25th session of the Human Rights Council (March 2014) – has been extended to Thursday 14 November 2013 (Midnight, GMT). If encountering technical difficulties, the Secretariat may be contacted by email: hrcspecialprocedures@ohchr.org.

 

Human rights defenders working on development issues are increasingly stigmatized, UN Rapporteur tells General Assembly

October 29, 2013

 

Human rights defenders working on behalf of communities affected by large-scale development projects are increasingly being branded ‘anti-government’, ‘against development’ or even ‘enemies of the State’, the Special Rapporteur for human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, has warned. Read the rest of this entry »

Margaret Sekaggya, UN expert, finds situation of human rights defenders in Togo improved, but not good enough

October 18, 2013

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, on 16 October 2013 called on the Togolese Government to ensure a favourable environment in which human rights defenders can carry out their work. The Government can do this by fully implementing the existing legal framework, avoiding stigmatisation and fostering a spirit of dialogue and constructive criticism, she said at the end of her five-day mission to assess progress made in Togo since her last visit in 2008.

Compared to 2008, “The environment for defenders is more enabling now, but important challenges remainRead the rest of this entry »

Criteria to ensure quality successor as Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

September 28, 2013

As this is a weekend post I have chosen one that requires a bit of reflection: Several UN Rapporteurs are coming to the end of their term in 2014, including – unfortunately – also the mandate of the Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Margaret Sekaggya. A number of NGOs – in this case Amnesty International and the International Service for Human Rights – have given thought to the kind of kind of criteria that should ensure that a good successor in chosen, or at least that high-quality and independent candidates to come forward for nomination.

What follows are the key parts of the “Proposed criteria for selection & appointment of a new mandate holder on the situation of human rights defenders: Amnesty International, International Service for Human Rights and others;  joint written statement to the 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council (9 – 27 September 2013)

 In March 2014, the President of the UN Human Rights Council (the Council) will appoint a new Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

 This UN expert on the situation of human rights defenders will serve two terms of three years each.

Candidates and nominating entities shall submit an application with personal data and a motivation letter no longer than 600 words. OHCHR will prepare a public list of candidates.

 Applications open in early September, and the deadline now set for 31 October 2013.

Background

The signatory organisations call on Governments, NGOs and others, including relevant professional networks, to use this checklist to identify eligible candidates for the upcoming vacancy for the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. We urge Governments to consult civil society and to disseminate the vacancy widely, eg. through media advertisement, so as to encourage candidates to apply for this vacancy. Prospective mandate holders should be aware that this is a voluntary, unpaid role. They would not receive salary or other financial compensation, except for travel expenses and daily subsistence allowance of ‘experts on mission’. It will require a substantial time commitment from the individual, including readiness to travel and respond to urgent situations, as explained in the checklist.

Checklist for selection of candidates for mandate of Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders:

FORMAL CRITERIA

According to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1, Annex, the following general criteria will be of paramount importance while nominating, selecting and appointing mandate-holders: (a) Expertise; (b) Experience in the field of the mandate; (c) Independence; (d) Impartiality; (e) Personal integrity; (f) Objectivity. Due consideration should be given to gender balance and equitable geographic representation, and to an appropriate representation of different legal systems. Eligible candidates should be highly qualified individuals who possess established competence, relevant expertise and extensive professional experience in the field of human rights (paras. 39-41).

INDEPENDENCE

According to Council Resolution 5/1, ‘individuals holding decision-making positions in Government or in any other organization or entity which may give rise to a conflict of interest with the responsibilities inherent to the mandate shall be excluded.’ At a minimum, this requires independence of prospective mandate holders from the executive of governments or from intergovernmental organisations, which may be the subject of a communication or mission within the terms of the mandate. The conflict of interest provision has also been interpreted to mean that candidates are expected to clarify how, if appointed, they would deal with any perceived or actual conflict of interest in relation to governments, inter-governmental organisations, or non-governmental organisations.

QUALIFICATIONS & EXPERTISE

In its Decision 6/102 of 27 September 2007, the Council approved technical and objective requirements for candidates eligible for special procedures mandates. The following checklist is intended as an interpretive aid for those requirements:

1. Qualifications (and skills): relevant educational qualifications or equivalent professional experience in the field of human rights.

[Checklist:  A post-graduate university degree or equivalent in law, social sciences or in a discipline directly related to the mandate, preferably with a focus on international human rights law, would be highly desirable;  Academic publications or other published material (articles, studies, reports, research papers or any similar written material demonstrating in-depth knowledge) addressing issues relevant to the mandate, from a human rights perspective;  Excellent oral and written communication skills in at least one of the UN working languages (English, French and Spanish – knowledge of other widely-used or official UN languages, such as Arabic, Chinese or Russian, would be an asset);  Extensive experience in public speaking (for example in expert seminars) and in communicating at senior levels with governments, UN officials, the business community, the media and other relevant stakeholders.]

2. Relevant expertise: knowledge of international human rights instruments and standards; knowledge of institutional mandates related to the United Nations or other international or regional organisations’ work in the area of human rights; proven work experience in the field of human rights.

[Checklist:  Extensive knowledge of international human rights law and standards; Several years of progressively responsible work experience in the field of human rights or as a human rights defender, including in human rights research, monitoring, reporting, investigating and advocacy; Excellent knowledge of the international and regional legal frameworks and case law relevant to the promotion and protection of the rights of human rights defenders, including on freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, torture, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and enforced or involuntary disappearances; Excellent knowledge of institutional mandates of the United Nations or other international or regional organisations in the area of human rights.]

3. Established competence: nationally, regionally or internationally recognised competence related to human rights.

[Checklist:  A demonstrated commitment to universal human rights law, standards and values; Excellent knowledge and expertise of the work of human rights defenders, and the recent trends, developments and challenges they face; Experience at national, regional and/or international level in developing legislation and policy for the protection of human rights defenders and in creating an enabling environment for their work; Extensive experience with and proven commitment to working and/or interacting with civil society and in interacting with individuals whose human rights may have been violated or restricted as a result of their work of defending rights; Proven awareness of the particular risks faced by and particular protection needs of specific groups of human rights defenders, such as women human rights defenders, defenders working on sexual orientation and gender identity issues, ethnic and religious minorities, non-nationals, members of political opposition groups, people in a disadvantaged socio-economic situation, journalists and media workers and youth/children human rights defenders; Experience in interacting with actors impacting the work of human rights defenders, such as: Security forces Armed groups; and Transnational corporations and other business enterprises; Experience in the development and delivery of human rights and rule of law assistance/capacity building, including the training of law enforcement and legal professionals and other officials responsible for the protection of human rights defenders; the ability to conduct both academic and field research required, and experience in carrying out fact-finding missions.

4. Flexibility/readiness and availability of time to perform effectively the functions of the mandate and to respond to its requirements, including conducting visits, preparing reports and attending Human Rights Council and General Assembly sessions.

[Checklist: Willingness and ability to conduct in-country investigations, in all regions of the world, into government policies, legislation and practices affecting human rights defenders and their work; Energy, determination and vision to promote the effective and comprehensive implementation of the Declaration on human rights defenders;  A commitment to uphold the integrity, independence and impartiality of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate and the special procedures system as a whole;  Willingness and ability to devote a substantial proportion of working hours to fulfilling the mandate, which includes undertaking two to three country missions per year, preparing and presenting reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly (such as the annual thematic report, and country mission and follow-up reports), attending seminars and other UN meetings and acting on individual cases of violations of the rights of human rights defenders; Willingness and ability to act urgently when cases or situations so require.

APPOINTMENT PROCEDURE

Details and formalities about the nomination, selection and appointment of mandate holders are explained on the OHCHR Web site at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Nominations.aspx. Applications have to be submitted through an online system.

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/IOR42/002/2013/en/973e4b4a-a517-46ef-8080-59b3384e05d4/ior42022013en.pdf