Posts Tagged ‘Nils Muižnieks’

Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, on Human Rights Defenders in Annual Report 2016

April 27, 2017

Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, devoted a short chapter to Human Rights Defenders in his Annual Report covering 2016 (Chapter 3 V p. 59 – 61):

Human rights defenders

The situation of human rights defenders and the responsibility of states to ensure a safe and enabling environment for their work remained at the forefront of the Commissioner’s attention in 2016. The Commissioner organised and participated in round tables and side events, and in two inter-mechanism meetings, related to the role and the situation of human rights defenders in various parts of Europe. He also published thematic documents relating to the important role and contribution of human rights defenders with respect to the protection of human rights. As part of his continued monitoring, the Commissioner published several statements on the situation of human rights defenders in various regions of Europe. Moreover, the Commissioner intervened before the European Court of Human Rights as a third party in three cases relating to human rights defenders: Khadija Ismayilova v. Azerbaijan; Svetlana Khusainovna Estemirova v. the Russian Federation; and Khalid Bagirov v. Azerbaijan (for further information on third party interventions, see chapter 6 of his report). In March, the Commissioner issued statements about a series of violent attacks against journalists, human rights defenders and NGOs in Chechnya and Ingushetia in the North Caucasus. The Commissioner contacted the Russian authorities indicating the need for immediate protection of those who had come under attack, and for a prompt and thorough investigation with a view to holding those responsible to account.

Round table on missing persons and victims of enforced disappearance in Europe

On 30 June and 1 July, the Commissioner organised in Strasbourg a round table with human rights defenders on missing persons and victims of enforced disappearance in Europe. In addition to human rights defenders from more than 20 different European countries, the event was attended by experts in the eld, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, and a member of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Henrikas Mickevičius. During the round table, the participants discussed the recommendations contained in the Commissioner’s Issue Paper Missing persons and victims of enforced disappearance in Europe. The participants also exchanged important information on issues relating to missing persons, victims of disappearances and transitional justice in European countries affected by these issues. In particular, they raised the importance of establishing the truth, instituting efficient and effective domestic legal and institutional frameworks, and combating impunity through prosecution and punishment of those responsible for enforced disappearances, and the necessity to provide support and reparation for victims. The round table was also aimed at reviewing the situation of human rights defenders working on those issues, including obstacles that human rights organisations and defenders face in carrying out their activities and possible ways to overcome them.

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Europe also sees shrinking space for human rights defenders

April 4, 2017

On 4 April 2017 Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, wrote about “The Shrinking Space for Human Rights Organisations“. The new EU ‘alert site I referred to yesterday [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/04/03/protectdefenders-eu-launches-new-alert-website-but-no-single-stop-yet/] showed in 2016 some 86 reported violations in the European (and Central Asian) region, mostly detention and judicial harassment. Also the recent CIVICUS findings of the narrowing space for civil society points in this direction. An example could be Hungary as illustrated by reports of Human Rights Watch (2016), Human Rights First (2017) and Amnesty International (2016/17); the issue of academic freedom is not directly related but part of the restrictive trend [see links below].

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Baku Games defended by ‘NGO Coalition‘ in Azerbaijan

June 6, 2015

typical NGO coalition?
My earlier posts on the Baku Games [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/azerbaijan/] would not be complete without a reference to what is being done by Government (here called “The Civil Society Coalition Support for the Baku 2015 first European Games”) which held a round table on “Double-standard approach of international organizations toward human rights” on June 2015.
Sometimes the best reply is to say nothing and show how the poor response is by voting the piece in full. Note that not a word was uttered about the content of the disputed article. Not even the beginning of a discussion on whether the human rights defenders in question should be in detention. One can only conclude that the facts as put forward by the 3 authors and international human rights organizations are correct:

“Delivering an opening speech at the event, Rufiz Gonagov, the coordinator of the Civil Society Coalition, chairman of the International Relations Research Center, said certain circles, which have an unfriendly attitude toward the relations with Azerbaijan, have already begun to express their concerns over the country as first European Games – the grandeur event of a global scale – is approaching.

Aydin Aliyev, the coordinator of the Civil Society Coalition, editor-in-chief of “Baku-xeber” newspaper, said in his speech that the European Parliament is due to hold hearings on the upcoming European Games and human rights situation on June 10.

“The article, co-written by UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović and Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks, claims that representatives of international organizations and foreign human rights defenders undergo pressure in Azerbaijan as well. It is a groundless article which indicates double-standard approach of certain circles toward Azerbaijan as it is doing its utmost to hold the major sports event successfully,” Aliyev added.

Rauf Zeyni, the head of National NGOs Forum, said actions of anti-Azerbaijani circles pose a threat to the country’s independence, noting that as the Azerbaijani president stated, Azerbaijan will never give up its independence.

Alimammad Nuriyev, the chairman of the Center for Constitutional Studies, said the circles directed from a single center have already begun to take insidious actions as their attempts fail.

“I don’t remember such a statement was issued when people were shot during the Armenian parliamentary elections on February 19, two were shot dead on the eve of the elections in Georgia in 2011 and even after two Azerbaijanis were taken hostage by Armenians. However, these circles, including these three authors began to issue such a statement on the eve of the European Games,” he noted.

Vugar Rahimzade, the chief editor of “Iki sahil” newspaper, said these circles continue to demonstrate double-standard approach toward the negotiations on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan’s most painful problem.

“Some countries try to secure their own interests in Azerbaijan by putting pressure on the country through the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe. Behind the veil of democracy, people are being killed in the Middle East. We need to adopt a statement against such international organizations to put an end to double standards toward Azerbaijan,” he added.

Politician Elman Nasirov said these circles changed the direction of pressure when they saw that Azerbaijan is fully ready to host the first European Games.

“The article co-written by the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe representatives is aimed against Azerbaijan’s policy. This pressure will continue after European Games,” he noted.

Hikmat Babaoglu, the editor chief of “Yeni Azerbaijan” newspaper, regarded the joint statement of the representatives of the three international organizations as an attempt to unite their pressure due to the increasing power of Azerbaijan.

At the end of the event, a statement was adopted on the behalf of civil society institutions and media outlets.”

APA – Round table ‘Double-standard approach of int’l organizations toward human rights’ held in Baku – PHOTO.

“Some foreign diplomats run sponsored campaign to discredit Azerbaijan” says Government

June 4, 2015

Having just posted about the call by UN and others to free human rights defenders before the start of the Baku Games [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/un-council-of-europe-and-osce-ask-azerbaijan-to-free-human-rights-defenders-ahead-of-2015-baku-games/] , I feel I should also share what was written in response by Sara Rajabova on the site of the government’s news agency AzerNews:

Azerbaijan‘s Foreign Ministry has accused some officials of international organizations of abusing their status to discredit Azerbaijan. Hikmet Hajiyev, Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesperson, said on June 4 that officials of some international organizations abuse their status and act as the elements of a sponsored campaign to discredit Azerbaijan on the eve of the First European Games.

Who is ‘sponsoring’ and with what inducements remains unstated except that they serve “the interests of certain political circles”.

He noted that the first European Games in Baku will serve to the development of intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, friendship, partnership and peace, which is topical in the European continent nowadays. All true, but human rights are not topical? Yes, but only when it comes to the “infringed rights of over a million Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan.”

via Some foreign diplomats run sponsored campaign to discredit Azerbaijan – AzerNews.

UN, Council of Europe and OSCE ask Azerbaijan to free human rights defenders ahead of 2015 Baku Games

June 4, 2015

Every time I now see one of the many flashy television announcements for the Baku Games starting next week, I have to think of the human rights defenders in detention there. So the effortd by many NGOs and experts to link the holding of these Games to Azerbaijan’s terrible human rights record seem to bear fruit. I have written myself several times along these lines [recently: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/azerbaijan-a-formula-for-combining-sports-and-repression/], so I will not repeat all the arguments. Just to note that several heavyweights have added their voices: Read the rest of this entry »

Russian Human Rights Defender Expelled from Ukraine!

February 11, 2014

It sounds almost like a joke but it truly happened. On 9 February 2014 Ukrainian border officials barred a Russian human rights defender from entering the country, according to Human Rights Watch:  Andrei Yurov, a member of Russia’s presidential human rights council and the Head of its permanent commission on human rights outside Russia, was deported to Russia upon his arrival at Borispyl airport in Kiev. Yurov was to meet in Kiev with Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks, and to work within the International Human Rights Defenders’ Group on the Situation in Ukraine, which was founded on December 1, 2013, in response to the November 30 police violence against peaceful protesters in Kiev.HRW_logo

Yurov’s expulsion is an unprecedented and wholly regrettable step,” said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of driving out human rights defenders the Ukrainian government should be open to scrutiny of its human rights record during this crisis.

via Ukraine: Russian Rights Defender Expelled | Human Rights Watch.

Nils Muiznieks, European Commissioner for human rights, writes to the Economist about the neo-nazi party

July 30, 2013

In the context of the ongoing debate – here in Greece but also elsewhere – on whether ‘hate speech’ and racist parties should be banned, I refer to the following letter to the Editor of the Economist (6 July 2013) by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights:

The far-right in Greece

http://www.economist.com/news/letters/21580437-iran-greece-germany-majoritarianism

“SIR – I fully agree that “Greece needs a more robust anti-racism law (“Racist dilemmas”, June 22nd). But I do not agree that banning the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn political party “could be counterproductive” and may be contrary to the right of freedom of association. I recently reported on Golden Dawn following an official visit to Greece. The leadership of this party has historical links with the military junta that ruled Greece in the 1970s and is openly contemptuous of democracy.

Greek democracy is under serious threat. I have urged the Greek authorities actively to prosecute individual members of Golden Dawn and others who have engaged in hate speech or violent racist attacks. Under international human-rights law the Greek authorities would be within their rights to ban Golden Dawn as well. The right to freedom of association is not absolute and may be restricted to protect the rights of others. Greece is bound by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, article four of which calls on states to ban racist organisations.

Moreover, Greece is bound by the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, which has found that, under certain conditions, states can impose restrictions on political parties and their members or supporters.

Such restrictions are possible if a political party has been found to use violence to achieve its goals and deny fundamental rights and freedoms, including the principle of non-discrimination.

Nils Muiznieks
Commissioner for human rights, Council of Europe

Strasbourg”

 

New Commissioner for Human Rights in Europe speaks harshly about HRDs labelled as “traitors”

December 20, 2012

The ‘new’ Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe (who took office on on 24 January 2012) Nils Muižnieks stated in his end of the year message some hard truths about the position of human rights defenders in Europe.

Defamation, threats, verbal and physical attacks, sanctions and judicial harassment are used to deter human rights activists from working with migrants.” Nils Muižnieks states that in several Council of Europe countries, the rise of xenophobic and anti-migrant discourse has “negatively impacted” on the work of human rights defenders who protect and promote the rights of migrants.“Human rights defenders are even increasingly labelled as traitors who are threatening national identity and security,” he adds. “They are often exposed to intimidation and abuse.

The situation in Greece is particularly worrisome as migrants have become targets of unacceptable, extreme violence notably by members, including MPs, of the far right political party of Golden Dawn.“Human rights defenders defending migrants are under threat. There have been several instances of lawyers being threatened and physically attacked in Athens as they were assisting migrants in the course of asylum and other legal procedures.

In some Council of Europe countries the work of defenders working with migrants and their rights is being criminalised. In France, legal provisions corresponding to the so-called délit de solidarité the offence of solidarity concretely result in law enforcement bodies pressuring and punishing human rights defenders providing assistance to irregular migrants. Persons standing up for the rights of migrants have been detained, prosecuted and/or fined.“ “In Belgium, similar tendencies have been identified and persons who have been demonstrating in favour of the rights of migrants have been arrested.”

via Nils Muižnieks: “Human rights defenders are increasingly labelled as traitors” | HUMANERIGHTSEUROPE.