Posts Tagged ‘National Human Rights Commission’

New national Human Rights Commission in Myanmar: OLD wine in a new bottle

January 18, 2020

Human rights defenders blasted the newly reconstituted Human Rights Commission as comprised of a bunch of retirees who have little experience in protecting and promoting human rights. President U Win Myint has appointed U Hla Myint, Myanmar representative at the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, as the chair of the 11-member reconstituted body. Daw Nanda Hmun, retired permanent secretary of Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture was appointed as his deputy chair.

Critics expressed doubt on the capacity of the commission to perform its functions independently, especially in investigating cases, which involved police or military personnel as well as other government officials. Daw Nyo Nyo Thin, a former legislator who now heads an anti-corruption watch group in Yangon, said that one good thing about the newly formed commission is it has four female members. But she observed that since most of them are retired civil servants with little experience in human rights-related works, they might not be the right persons for the commission. ..“One of the main functions of the commission is to challenge the government if they received complaints of abuses.” The former legislator bewailed the lack of an active human rights advocate appointed in the body, commenting that the new commission seemed to be comprised of people close to President U Win Myint.

Ko Aung Zaw Oo, a member of the Myanmar Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Association, noted the lack of consultation and transparency on the appointment of the new commissioners. “I don’t want to criticize people but the selection process,” he said. “I want to ask if being a retired person is a requirement to be a member of Human Rights Commission.” For U Aung Myo Min, director of local resource centre Equality Myanmar, the lack of human rights expert in the commission is disturbing. The new commission does not have human rights subject experts or experienced people from ethnic regions where human rights violations mainly occurred and so, there are doubts in its capacity to discharge its function well, he said.

The previous commission does not have transparency and was criticized not only locally but also by the international community. The new Commission follows the same steps and I want to question that,” U Aung Myo Min said.

In December last year, 20 local civil society organizations called on the government to respect and ensure the independence of the commission and most of them felt frustrated their call went unheeded as evidenced by the appointment of the members of new commission. The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission was established in September 2011, under the administration of former president U Thein Sein.

https://www.mmtimes.com/news/reconstituted-myanmar-human-rights-commission-more-same.html

Annual reports 2019: Tanzania mostly a bad year

December 31, 2019

And here the last of my selected annual reports of 2019:

..Should the country’s human rights defenders have any New Year resolutions of ensuring some notable rights violations are brought to an end, they must brace to encounter setbacks and frustrations from what is happening on the ground. Concerns on declining press freedom, the ban on political rallies, the push for an arrangement that would ensure a free and fair elections are some of the issues that continued to test the commitment of authorities in ensuring respect for human rights principles…

While it is true that there were many incidents which activists have described as blatant violations of human rights and the rule of law, the most recent is the ‘kidnapping’ of rights activists Tito Magoti and Theodory Faustine. Their earlier absence in the public eyes sent people into a frenzy which forced the police to clarify that it was they who ‘arrested’ the two. Mr Tito Magoti and Mr Theodory Giyan face three counts of leading a criminal gang, possession of a computer programme designed to commit an offence and money laundering. The former is a Public Affairs’ officer with the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) while the latter is associated with a digital solutions company, iPF Softwares. They are both at Segerea Remand prison awaiting their case scheduled on January 7, 2020 for mentioning.

..Journalists and the press, in general, were neither spared from the wreck of 2019 violations of people’s basic freedoms. According to the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), a local press freedom advocacy group, incidents of violations of press freedom, including threats and interference in editorial independence, increased in Tanzania from eight in 2015 to 28 cases in 2019. [see e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/08/06/journalist-kabendera-in-tanzania-now-suddenly-held-on-economic-charges/]

..Perhaps the serious blow to the country’s human rights landscape came from the government’s decision to withdraw its declaration it made under Article 34(6) of the Protocol establishing the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) which gives individuals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) a direct access to the court once the national judicial mechanisms have been exhausted. The decision came soon after the African Union rights body condemned massive human rights violations by authorities, especially reluctance to investigate serious human rights breaches like that of the disappearance of freelance journalist Azory Gwanda. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/06/tanzania-wants-to-withdraw-right-to-complain-to-african-court/]

..Meanwhile, the political parties continued to raise the alarm; that they were operating under stringent conditions in the past three years as the government’s ban on political rallies remained in force. The year 2019 also witnessed the passing of amendments into the Political Parties Act which Tanzania’s political observers described as draconian.

.. Amidst these negative developments, nonetheless, there was also some positive steps taken by the government to try expressing its commitments to issues pertaining to human rights and good governance. This includes the revival of the State human rights and good governance commission. Since the stepping down of the former chairman, renowned lawyer Bahame Tom Nyanduga and his commissioners, the CHRGG remained inactive, making many of its tasks taken over by independent rights organisations which are blaming authorities over alleged failures to uphold the principles of human rights and the rule of law . President John Magufuli finally sworn-in the new CHRGG commission and asked the officials to go and help people whose rights are violated. President Magufuli’s directives to the commission were timely, to say the least, as they came immediately before Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released scathing reports on the human rights situation in Tanzania. Launched on October 28, 2019, the two organisations expressed concerns the state of human rights in Tanzania.

..Other human rights-related concerns in 2019 were the frequent anti-human rights statements made by senior government officials which are often followed by cracking down on individuals and organisations.

Rights activists have also expressed uneasiness with the rhetoric, often coupled with arbitrary arrests and threats to deregister nongovernmental groups, which they think has stifled independent reporting by journalists and public discussion on human rights violations and abuses including in the context of the upcoming elections. “Tanzania should show true commitment to protecting and fulfilling the rights to freedom of expression and association. The authorities need to put a stop to harassment, intimidation, and arbitrary arrests of activists, journalists, and opposition members,” said Oryem Nyeko, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Ugandan human rights Commissioner Med Kaggwa dies

November 24, 2019

He had been a member of the Uganda Law Society. Staff at the commission described him as gentle, committed to human rights, a very competent manager and ‘a great person to work with’. ‘The country has lost a person who will be very (hard) to replace.’  During his funeral, a message from President Yoweri Museveni, read by Vice-President Edward Ssekandi, described Kaggwa as a great servant of the people from whom other public servants could learn. During his tenure he transformed the Human Rights Commission, said Museveni. Despite the widespread praise for the work he did, however, his death has also exposed some concern that the commission he headed did not have enough power to act against human rights abuses.

Read full tribute

https://africanlii.org/article/20191122/med-kaggwa-ugandan-human-rights-defender-rip

Complaint against Qatar National Human Rights Commission rejected

August 21, 2017

Perhaps a bit of a side-show in the ongoing conflict between Qatar and it Arab neighbors, but interesting to note that the International Accreditation Committee of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions has rejected the complaint submitted by the ‘siege countries’ against the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC). The International Accreditation Committee has underlined that, since the beginning of the Gulf crisis, the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) had played its part in the protection and promotion of human rights in accordance with the Paris Principles that govern the work of national human rights institutions. [the countries had filed a joint complaint on 7 August 2017 against the National Human Rights Committee at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as the secretariat of the International Accreditation Committee, and also as a permanent observer to the Accreditation Committee of the Alliance. In their complaint to the Accreditation Committee, the siege countries requested that appropriate action be taken to freeze the membership of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in the list of national human rights institutions, and called for a reclassification of the Committee’s A rank and downgrade and review of all activities of the NHRC before and during the crisis to consider it conformity with its mandate in accordance with the Paris Principles.]

In a press statement, the Chairman of the Qatari National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) Dr. Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri said this decision is a remedy for the human rights victims of the siege and support for their cause, and a victory not only for the NHRC but also for all national human rights institutions and human rights defenders in the world, as well as a testimony of pride for the NHRC , and an affirmation of its independence and the credibility of its work. ….Dr Al Marri also called on civil society organizations in the siege countries to cooperate with the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in addressing the violations and the disastrous humanitarian situation facing the citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC) as a result of the siege, especially on mixed families, affected students, owners and investors, as well as the neutralization of human rights of any political differences. Dr Al Marri stressed that the NHRC is continuing its work against the violations resulting from the siege and will intensify its efforts at regional and international forums to redress the victims within the framework of its jurisdiction and in accordance with the Paris Principles.

Source:

Siege nations’ complaint against NHRC rejected – The Peninsula Qatar

https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/12/nchr-calls-respect-qatari-residents-rights-amid-diplomatic-tensions/

Selection of what happened at the local level on Human Rights Day 2015

December 13, 2015

International human rights day is an occasion for a multitude of local activities, some denouncing violations others quietly remembering, some (trying to) march in the streets, others issuing statements. This anthology of 10 such events is far from complete but gives an idea of the variety, from human rights defenders speaking out to governmental institutions ‘celebrating’ …. Read the rest of this entry »

Tackling Human Rights Violations In Nigeria

December 19, 2014

On 19 December 2014, Naomi Sharang wrote a long piece in the Nigerian Observer (News agency of Nigeria – NAN). After a short general introduction, the author zooms in on the Nigerian situation and the role of human rights defenders, interviewing a NGO representative as well as someone from the Nigerian Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Here follow the main excerpts: Read the rest of this entry »

Retaliation now reaches even Human Rights Commissioners in the Maldives: UN deeply concerned

October 19, 2014


(Ravina Shamsadani, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Photo: UN Multimedia)

On 17 October 2014 the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights felt duty bound to express deep concern about a criminal case initiated by the Supreme Court of the Maldives against members of the country’s own official Human Rights Commission!

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), noted that five members of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives were now facing “serious criminal charges” following the submission of their written contribution to their country’s second Universal Periodic Review (UPR), presented to the UN Human Rights Council (the actual UPR of the Maldives is scheduled to be held between April and May 2015). “The Government has a responsibility to ensure a safe operating space for the Commission and for civil society actors in the country, so that they are able to coöperate with UN human rights mechanisms without fear of reprisals.” the spokesperson stated.

[It is not the first time the Supreme Court of the Maldives has come under rebuke from OHCHR. In 2013, former High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for reforms to the judiciary to safeguard the rule of law following the Supreme Court’s repeated interventions in the presidential election process in the Maldives which, she said, were undermining the country’s democracy. In that specific case, the Court had nullified the first round of the election on the basis of irregularities in the process, despite conclusions by national and international observers that the election was free and fair.]

United Nations News Centre – Maldives: UN ‘deeply concerned’ as Supreme Court prosecutes rights advocates.

Human rights defenders are not enemies of the state, says national conference in Dhaka

October 3, 2013

The Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Bangladesh, a member of the Law Commission, and several rights activists and academics said on Saturday 28 september that the state should not treat human rights defenders as its enemy. They also expressed concern over the use of several laws against human rights defenders Read the rest of this entry »

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moons addresses Mozambique’s new Human Rights Commission

May 22, 2013

English: Ban Ki-moon, South Korean politician

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon met on 21 May 2013 with the newly elected members of Mozambique‘s National Human Rights Commission and stressed the need to communicate with human rights defenders:

Good governance, justice, human rights and anticorruption are central to the Government’s plans to reduce poverty and accelerate development. You have an essential role to play. Mozambique is faced with a number of human rights challenges. The Universal Periodic Review of Mozambique two years ago highlighted several, including arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial killings, access to justice and conditions in places of detention. Another major issue is discrimination and violence against women, especially in rural areas. …… The people of Mozambique expect this new institution to play a critical role in combating corruption and guaranteeing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. You will have the power to investigate alleged human rights violations and issue recommendations. I commend the inclusive nature of the membership of the Commission, and especially that it includes representation from civil society. Your decision to hold periodic open sessions with civil society is commendable and wise, and I encourage you to pursue regular communication with human rights defenders.”

via United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moons Statements.

Tenure of Head of Indonesia’s National Human Rights Commission reduced to one year

February 5, 2013

Rights defenders:  National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) chief Otto Nur Abdullah (second right) talks with former Komnas HAM executive director Miriam Nainggolan (right), Setara Institute chief executive Hendardi (second left) and former Komnas HAM commissioner MM Billah (left) at Komnas HAM headquarters on Monday. A group of scholars and rights activists have raised concerns about the radical change of the Komnas HAM chief’s tenure from the previous 2.5 years to only a year.(JP/Jerry Adiguna)The Jakarta Post of 4 February reports that a group of scholars and rights activists have raised concerns about the radical and worrying change of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) head’s tenure from the previous 2.5 years to only a year. In the picture on the right you see the Head of Komnas HAM Otto Nur Abdullah (second right) in talks with former Komnas HAM executive director Miriam Nainggolan (right), Setara Institute chief executive Hendardi (second left) and former Komnas HAM commissioner MM Billah (left) at Komnas HAM headquarters on Monday .(JP/Jerry Adiguna)