Posts Tagged ‘Norway’

Oslo Freedom Forum 2022 starts on 23 May

May 22, 2022

Every year, champions of human rights bring their stories to the Oslo Freedom Forum to shed light on the struggle for freedom around the world.

The theme for the 2022 Oslo Freedom Forum, CHAMPION OF CHANGE, celebrates both activists, who are themselves champions, and their causes. This theme represents a strong, scalable call to action, inviting you to act and advocate on behalf of activists and in support of human rights. At the Oslo Freedom Forum, we realize that everyone has the potential to effect change — either as a champion on an individual level, or as part of a larger movement.

The 2022 Oslo Freedom Forum, is from May 23-25 in Oslo at the Oslo Konserthus. You can also follow it as a stream: https://oslofreedomforum.com/?mc_cid=17de5f8b1f&mc_eid=f80cec329e

The 2022 mainstage program includes keynote speakers, who will be shedding light on the struggle for freedom around the world, including:

  • The three women who are leading the democratic movement in Belarus: Maria KolesnikovaSviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, and Veronica Tsepkalo, first stood on stage together in 2020 in Belarus, when Aleksandr Lukashenko brazenly stole the country’s elections. They will reunite with us, to provide an update on the Belarusian people’s remarkable multi-year protest, and explain how we can help.
  • Carine Kanimba, daughter of imprisoned “Hotel Rwanda” hero — who saved more than a thousand people during the Rwandan genocide — will share her extremely risky quest to liberate her father, who was was kidnapped by the state in 2020, and is now serving a life sentence in prison for criticizing the Kagame regime. Despite being wiretapped and targeted by Pegasus spyware, Carine continues to speak out to bring justice to her father.
  • At the young age of 26, Zarifa Ghafari became the unlikely mayor of Maidan Shar, a town in Afghanistan filled with Taliban support. Hatred toward her as a woman leader led to the assassination of her father in 2020. Last summer, with her life at risk after the fall of Kabul, she made a daring escape in the footwell of a car, evading Taliban fighters. Today she lives in exile, where she continues to advocate for human rights in Afghanistan, committed to the cause of freedom in her country. 
  • Jewher Ilham’s father, Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, has been held under a life sentence since 2014, imprisoned in a concentration camp in China’s Xinjiang region. Jewher has been speaking truth to power, shedding light on China’s forced labor police by testifying before US Congress, publishing op-eds, receiving numerous international awards on behalf of her father, and writing two books on the subject. 
  • In 2012, Syrian activist and Georgetown student Omar Alshogre was detained along with his cousin for demonstrating against the Syrian regime. He spent more than three years in Assad’s infamous jail system, where he endured and survived unspeakable torture. At the age of 20, his mother helped smuggle him out to freedom. His story is a bedrock piece of evidence in the international case to hold the Assad regime accountable for crimes against humanity.
  • One of the 100 most influential women defining the last century according to TIME Magazine, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman, also known as the “mother of the revolution,” “the iron woman,” “Lady of the Arab Spring,” as well as one of the Most Rebellious Women in History, is a notoriously true powerhouse. She is a human rights activist, journalist, politician, and founder of her own international foundation.

Norwegian Human Rights Fund: annual report 2021

May 13, 2022

The NHRF stated that 2021 has been another challenging year with numerous obstacles for human rights defenders, such as restrictive legislations, harassment, threats and attacks…
Many of our grantee partners risk their wellbeing, their security and their lives for the important work they do. They are on the front line for all of us. We particularly remember those who lost their lives this
year in the struggle for human rights. We promise to continue to work in their spirit.
For more annual reports 2021, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/annual-report-2021/

In 2021, the NHRF has supported 106 organisations in 11 countries. We hope that this annual report will give you an inspiring insight into their work in 2021. In our new 2021-25 strategy, the three strategic areas are:

1) Fight against impunity and for access to justice,

2) Dismantling discrimination, inequality and marginalization and

3) Protecting human rights defenders and the right to defend rights.

To reach our goals we work through direct financial support to human rights work, networking and capacity building and through communications, advocacy and strategic alliance building.

Voices from the ground must be heard where decisions are made. People sometimes say that they want to be ‘the voice of the voiceless’. We do not see our job as being someone’s voice. We see our task as creating and facilitating the spaces for human rights defenders to use their own voices.
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

We want to thank our donors, cooperation partners, the UN special rapporteurs we
work with, our board, our advisory board and all our followers and supporters, for the solidarity and encouragement you have provided in 2021!..Together we will prove that another
world is indeed possible.

Norway’s NGOs furious about Telenor’s data ending up in the hands of Myanmar’s junta

March 31, 2022
Former Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland visiting Myanmar in 2014. Photo: Trond Viken, Ministry of Trade and Industry

On 25 March, Telenor announced that the telecom giant had transferred the operational activities of Telenor Myanmar to M1 Group. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/10/26/norways-telenor-in-myanmar-should-do-more-than-pull-out-it-should-not-hand-sensitive-data-to-the-regime/] In a release following the announcement, the Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment (ForUM) condemns the sale, and Kathrine Sund-Henriksen, ForUM’s general manager calls it a dark day for Telenor and for Norway as a human rights nation.

ForUM is a network of 50 Norwegian organizations within the development, environment, peace, and human rights with a vision of a democratic and peaceful world based on fair distribution, solidarity, human rights, and sustainability. ForUM writes that together with transferring the operational activities of Telenor Myanmar to M1 Group, Telenor also sells sensitive personal data of 18 million former Telenor customers, and there is an imminent danger that this information will soon be in the hands of the country’s brutal military dictatorship. ForUM is furious at the news that the sale has been completed.

Ever since the sale was announced last summer, we have worked to prevent it because there is a big risk that the military junta will have access to sensitive personal information and use it to persecute, torture, and kill regime critics. Incredibly, Telenor is going through with a sale that has been criticized by human rights experts, civil society, Myanmar’s government in exile, and even their own employees in the country,” says Kathrine Sund-Henriksen.

Telenor has admitted that since October last year they have known that the junta uses the M1 Group as an intermediary and that the data will soon end up in the hands of Shwe Byain Phy Group, a local conglomerate with close ties to the junta. Kathrine Sund-Henriksen believes it is only a matter of time before the sale has tragic consequences for human rights activists in the country.

When metadata is transferred, the junta will be able to know who a user has called, how long the call has lasted, and where the call was made. All of this can be used to expose activist groups operating in secret for the junta. According to the UN, the junta has killed more than 1,600 people and more than 12,000 have been arrested since last year’s coup. Those numbers will continue to increase, and Telenor has given the junta all the information they need to expose human rights defenders,” Kathrine Sund-Henriksen says.

https://www.forumfor.no/nyheter/2022/forum-for-utvikling-og-miljo-fordommer-salget-av-telenor-myanmar

Impressive list of speakers at Oslo Freedom Forum 23-25 May 2022

March 10, 2022

Every year, human rights defenders bring their stories to the Oslo Freedom Forum stage to shed light on the struggle for freedom around the world.

The 2022 theme, CHAMPION OF CHANGE, captures the idea that celebrates both activists – who are themselves champions – and their causes, to promote positive change.

At the Oslo Konserthus, you’ll listen to talks that will expose you to a breadth of human rights issues, pro-democracy causes, and inspiring stories of nobility and triumph against monumental odds.

OFF 2022 Speakers

Areej al-Sadhan Activist & Sister of Jailed Saudi Dissident and Humanitarian Worker Abdulrahman Al-Sadhan

Bektour Iskender Kyrgyz Journalist & Free Speech Activist

Chemi Lhamo Tibetan Activist & Community Organizer

Roman Dobrokhotov Russian Investigative Journalist

Carine Kanimba Daughter of Imprisoned “Hotel Rwanda” Hero Paul Rusesabagina

Matthew Caruana Galizia Director of the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation

see https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/840cf16d-c095-4033-b931-c1533f87e665

Zarifa Ghafari Exiled Afghan Activist & Politician [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/154a0717-54d4-448c-8055-cbb2bb7b7a85]

Omar Alshogre Director of Detainee Affairs at the Syrian Emergency Task Force

Agnès Callamard Secretary General of Amnesty International

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/03/30/new-sg-for-amnesty-international-agnes-callamard/

Filmon Debru Eritrean Human Trafficking Survivor

Glacier Kwong Hong Kong Political & Digital Rights Activist

More details about the speakers on https://oslofreedomforum.com/oslo-freedom-forum-2022/?mc_cid=a33c5d0c01&mc_eid=f80cec329e#2022speakers

Women human rights defenders in conflict and post-conflict situations; side event 8 March

March 2, 2022

Women human rights defenders are crucial agents and leaders of change. However, due to their gender, they face particular obstacles and security risks. What are these gendered obstacles and risks? How can women human rights defenders best be supported and protected by States and other actors?
ISHR, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and the Permanent Mission of Norway invite you to join a virtual event on the side of the Human Rights Council’s 49th session: 
Supporting women human rights defenders in conflict and post-conflict situations” takes place on Tuesday 8 March 2022 11:30am – 12:30pm (CET)
See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/08/03/roadmap-to-women-peace-and-security-wps-agenda-2020/

Opening statement:  Pekka Haavisto, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Finland

Panellists: 

Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders

Ilwad Elman, Director of Program & Development, Elman Peace & Human Rights Centre [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/09/17/fartuun-adan-and-ilwad-elman-from-somalia-named-2020-aurora-prize-winners/]

Horia Mosadiq, Human rights activist and Executive Director, Conflict Analysis Network (CAN)

Pooja Patel, Programme Director, International Service for Human Rights

Moderation:  Heidi Hautala, Vice-President, Member of Parliament, European Parliament.

Download the flyer here and click here to join the event.

More about the contributions of women human rights defenders to peace and security: ISHR report.

See also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.com/themes/

https://mailchi.mp/ishr/749qlxejj6-33413?e=d1945ebb90

Guide to 49th session of Human Rights Council – with human rights defenders focus

February 21, 2022

The 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council, from 28 February – 1 April 2022, will consider issues including the protection of human rights defenders, freedom of religion or belief, protection and promotion of human rights while countering terrorism, the right to food and adequate housing, among others. It will also present an opportunity to address grave human rights situations in States including Nicaragua, Venezuela, China, Syria, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Eritrea, among many others. Here’s an overview of some of the key issues on the agenda. The ISHR has issued again its excellent Guide to the upcoming session and I have extracted from it the issues most directly related to human rights defenders:

Protection of human rights defenders

On 11 March 2022, the UN Special Rapporteur will present her report on the work of human rights defenders to address corruption. At the 49th session of the HRC, Norway will present a thematic resolution on human rights defenders in conflict and post-conflict situations. A group of NGOs have produced a list of 25 recommendations related to key concerns that should be addressed in the resolution. These include recommendations related to the removal of legislation that impinges upon the ability of defenders to do their work, including counter-terrorism legislation; the development of protection measures that take into account the specific needs of particular groups of defenders and the precarious nature of their situation in conflict and post-conflict contexts, and specific measures to support human rights defenders in such contexts, including in regard to the provision of cloud-based solutions for storage of documentation, flexible and reliable funding and swift responses in the case of the need for relocation of human rights defenders and their families. ISHR joins these calls and to impress upon the Council the need for a strong commitment to acknowledging and taking action to protect human rights defenders working in such contexts.  In addition, we call on all UN members to monitor and report on their implementation of the resolution in a comprehensive way, sharing updates on challenges faced and progress made during relevant UN dialogues and debates.   

Reprisals

Reports of cases of intimidation and reprisal against those cooperating or seeking to cooperate with the UN not only continue, but grow. Intimidation and reprisals violate the rights of the individuals concerned, they constitute violations of international human rights law and undermine the UN human rights system.

The UN has taken some action towards addressing this critical issue including:

  • an annual report by the Secretary General;
  • a dedicated dialogue under item 5 to take place every September;
  • The appointment of the UN Assistant Secretary General on Human Rights as the Senior Official on addressing reprisals.

Despite this, ISHR remains deeply concerned about reprisals against civil society actors who try to engage with UN mechanisms, and consistent in its calls for all States and the Council to do more to address the situation. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/reprisals/

During the 48th session, the Council adopted a resolution on reprisals. The text was adopted by consensus for the first time since 2009 and invites the UN Secretary General to submit his annual report on reprisals and intimidation to the UN General Assembly. Once again the resolution listed key trends including that acts of intimidation and reprisals can signal patterns, increasing self-censorship, and the use of national security arguments and counter-terrorism strategies by States as justification for blocking access to the UN. The resolution also acknowledged the specific risks to individuals in vulnerable situations or belonging to marginalised groups, and called on the UN to implement gender-responsive policies to end reprisals. The Council called on States to combat impunity by conducting prompt, impartial and independent investigations and ensuring accountability for all acts of intimidation or reprisal, both online and offline, by condemning all such acts publicly, providing access to effective remedies for victims, and preventing any recurrence.

Item 5 of the Human Rights Council’s agenda provides a key opportunity for States to raise concerns about specific cases of reprisals, and for governments involved in existing cases to provide an update to the Council on any investigation or action taken toward accountability to be carried out. The President should also update the Council on actions taken by the President and Bureau to follow up on cases and promote accountability under this item.

Other thematic debates

At this 49th session, the Council will discuss a range of topics in depth through dedicated debates with mandate holders. The debates with mandate holders include: 

  • The Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights 
  • The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
  • The Special Rapporteur on torture
  • The Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy

In addition, the Council will hold dedicated debates on the rights of specific groups including the Special Rapporteur on minority issues

In addition, the Council will hold dedicated debates on interrelation of human rights and human rights thematic issues including:

  • The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism
  • The Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment

Country-specific developments

China: High Commissioner Bachelet has still not released her Office’s report on grave human rights violations in the Uyghur region, six months after announcing its upcoming publication, and three months since her spokesperson indicated it would only be a matter of ‘weeks’. Further delays risk entrenching the Chinese government’s sense of impunity, and will harm the credibility of, and confidence in her Office’s capacity to address grave violations, some of which could amount to atrocity crimes. States should urge the High Commissioner to promptly publish her report, and present it to the Human Rights Council as a matter of utmost priority.  This includes ensuring sustained pressure around China’s abuse of national security in discourse and law, and on the widespread and systematic use of enforced disappearance under ‘Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location’ (RSDL). See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/02/05/chinas-residential-surveillance-at-a-designated-location-needs-to-disappear/

Burundi: The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi (CoI) concluded its work at the 48th HRC session in October 2021 while a new resolution establishing a mandate of UN Special Rapporteur on Burundi was adopted, resolution 48/16. The resolution tasks the mandate with monitoring the human rights situation in the country, making recommendations for its imp­ro­ve­ment, and re­por­ting to the Human Rights Council. While the Spe­cial Rapporteur will be unable to continue the entirety of the investigative work carried out by the CoI, they will “collect, examine and assess” information on human rights deve­lop­ments. Ahead of HRC48 more than 40 organisations, including ISHR, urged the Council to continue its scrutiny and further work towards justice and accountability in Burundi. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/07/03/germain-rukuki-burundi-human-rights-defender-out-of-jail/

The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) will ensure that evidence col­lec­ted by the CoI is “consolidated, preserved, accessible and usable in support of ongoing and future accountability efforts” including efforts to hold Bu­rundian officials responsible for atrocities in front of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Burundian government should resume its engagement with the Council and grant the Special Rap­porteur, who will be appointed in March 2022, access to the country for an official visit.

France: Following an urgent call by ISHR and the Comité Adama, UN experts sent two communications to the French government on 15 and 26 November 2021 asking for measures to ensure that human rights defenders, including people of African descent, enjoy a safe environment in which to carry out their legitimate work for human rights and justice. The lack of investigation in the case of Adama Traoré’s death and the judicial harassment against his sister Assa Traoré for her activism is a sign of broader systemic racism against Black people in policing and criminal justice in France. 

ISHR urges the HRC to continue its scrutiny and calls on France to ensure a prompt, transparent, and impartial investigation into the case of Adama Traoré; end the judicial harassment of Assa Traoré for her activism; accept the requests of the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism and the Working Group on People of African Descent to visit the country; end impunity for police violence; and ensure truly free and impartial investigations into the death or injury of anyone at the hands of the police, especially people of African descent.

Egypt: The joint statement delivered by States in March 2021 at the 46th session of the HRC played a critical role in securing the conditional release of several human rights defenders and journalists arbitrarily detained throughout 2021 and 2022. Regrettably, these releases do not reflect any significant change in Egypt’s systematic attacks on civic space and human rights defenders, including arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment, enforced disappearances and criminalisation of the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly or public participation. On 3 February 2022, 175 parliamentarians from across Europe urged the HRC to establish a “long overdue monitoring and reporting mechanism on Egypt”. ISHR joined more than 100 NGOs from around the world in urging the HRC to create a monitoring and reporting mechanism on the ever-deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt. Continued, sustained and coordinated action on Egypt at the HRC is more necessary than ever. The HRC should follow up on the 2021 State joint statement and heed the calls of civil society and parliamentarians. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/01/11/the-arabic-network-for-human-rights-information-has-shut-down/

Nicaragua: A year after Council resolution 46/2, civil society reporting indicates no meaningful action has been taken by Nicaragua to implement any of the Council’s recommendations to the government. Instead, it has deepened its crackdown on human rights defenders and any form of dissent, and further closed civil society space ahead of the November 2021 electoral process. The government’s absolute disregard for cooperation with international and regional mechanisms, including the treaty bodies, is an additional sign that the government does not intend to revert course on the country’s human rights crisis. ISHR, jointly with the Colectivo 18/2, urges the Human Rights Council to establish an independent mechanism to investigate grave human rights violations since April 2018 in Nicaragua, as well as their root causes. The mechanism should verify alleged grave violations, identify perpetrators, and preserve evidence, with a view to long-term accountability processesSee also my post of today: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/02/21/nicaragua-death-in-detention-and-sham-trial/

Saudi Arabia: According to ALQST’s 2021 annual report, for a short time in early 2021, intense global pressure on Saudi Arabia’s leaders to improve their dismal human rights record resulted in some minor reforms and concessions, yet, when the pressure eased, the Saudi authorities resumed their habitual pattern of abuses with renewed intensity. A number of high-profile women human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience were conditionally released, but they remain under severe restrictions which means that while they are released, they are not yet free. Saudi authorities continue to crackdown on freedom of expression and hand down lengthy prison sentences to human rights defenders. Saudi Arabia is sensitive regarding its reputation and susceptible to international pressure.

Sudan: On 5 November 2021, the Human Rights Council held a special session to address the ongoing situation in the Republic of Sudan and mandated an Expert on human rights in Sudan to monitor and report on the situation until the restoration of its civilian-led Government. The HRC must extend the reporting mandate of the Expert as the human rights situation is deteriorating. The military is closing the civic space for women’s rights groups and women human rights defenders, including by stigmatising women’s rights groups as terrorists or drug abusers. The recent arrests of women human rights defenders are part of a systemic attack against WHRDs in Sudan. The military and security forces are using social media and traditional media to defame women protesters. Women’s rights groups and WHRDs are facing a new wave of attacks that include framing charges to prolong the detention of WHRDs and defame the women’s rights movement. The military reinstated the authorities of the former regime’s security forces in December 2021 in the emergency order number 3. The new emergency order gave Sudanese security complete impunity and protection from accountability for any form of violations on duty.  Sudanese security forces have a well-documented history of sexual abuse and torture of women detainees. WHRDs in detention are at risk of maltreatment, torture, and sexual violence. 

Venezuela is back under the microscope with updates from the Office of the High Commissioner and from the Council’s fact-finding mission on the country both scheduled for 17th March. Attention on the human rights situation in the country follows hot on the heels of the Universal Periodic Review of Venezuela that took place at the end of January.  The Council session is taking place at a time that Venezuelan civil society continues facing restrictions and attacks on their work. The head of human rights organisation, Fundaredes, has now been arbitrarily detained for 224 days. The Council session is an opportunity for States to express concern about the restrictions on civil society, and to enquire about the implementation of prior recommendations made to Venezuela by both OHCHR and the Mission. Despite being a Council member, Venezuela has yet to allow the Council’s own fact-finding mission access to the country, something the Council as a whole should denounce. 

The High Commissioner will provide an oral update to the Council on 7 March. The Council will consider updates, reports on and is expected to consider resolutions addressing a range of country situations, in some instances involving the renewal of the relevant expert mandates. These include:

  • Oral update and interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea
  • Oral update and interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner on the Tigray region of Ethiopia 
  • Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner’s written update on Sri Lanka
  • Interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report on  Nicaragua
  • Interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report on Afghanistan
  • Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report on ensuring accountability and justice in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem
  • Oral updates and interactive dialogues with the High Commissioner and fact-finding mission on Venezuela 
  • Oral update bv the High Commissioner and interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
  • Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on the OHCHR’s report on Belarus
  • Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report, enhanced interactive dialogue on the Secretary-General’s report, and interactive dialogue on the Special Rapporteur’s report on Myanmar
  • Interactive Dialogue on the Special Rapporteur’s report on Iran
  • Interactive Dialogue on the Commission of Inquiry’s report on Syria 
  • Interactive Dialogue on the Special Rapporteur’s report on the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967
  • Interactive Dialogues on the High Commissioner’s report and Commission on Human Rights’ report on South Sudan
  • Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner on Ukraine
  • High-level Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on Central African Republic
  • Oral updates and enhanced interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner and the team of international experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Oral update by the Special Rapporteur on Cambodia 
  • Interactive Dialogue on the Independent Expert’s report on Mali 
  • Interactive Dialogue on the fact-finding mission’s report on Libya

Appointment of mandate holders

The President of the Human Rights Council will propose candidates for the following mandates: 

  1. Three members of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (one from the Pacific, one from Central and South America and the Caribbean, and one from Central and Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia); 
  2. The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change; 
  3. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan; 
  4. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi; 
  5. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; 
  6. A member of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, from Western European and other States; 
  7. A member of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, from Asia-Pacific States; 
  8. A member of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, from Asia-Pacific States;
  9. A member of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, from Latin American and Caribbean States (an unforeseen vacancy that has arisen due to a resignation).

Resolutions to be presented to the Council’s 49th session

At the organisational meeting on 14 February the following resolutions were announced (States leading the resolution in brackets):

  1. Human rights of persons belonging to minorities (Austria, Mexico, Slovenia)
  2. Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief (Pakistan on behalf of the OIC) 
  3. Human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the obligation to ensure accountability and justice (Pakistan on behalf of the OIC) 
  4. Cultural rights (Cuba)
  5. The negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights (Azerbaijan on behalf of NAM)
  6. Right to work (Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Mexico, Romania)
  7.  Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran – mandate renewal (Iceland, Moldova, North Macedonia, UK) 
  8. Rights of the child (GRULAC and EU)
  9. Human rights defenders (Norway)
  10. Adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to non-discrimination in this context (Germany, Brazil, Finland, Namibia)
  11. Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic – mandate renewal (France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Qatar, Turkey, UK, USA)
  12. Situation of human rights in South Sudan – mandate renewal (Albania, Norway, USA, UK)
  13. Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism – mandate renewal (Mexico)
  14. Prevention of genocide (Armenia)
  15. Situation of human rights in Belarus – mandate renewal (EU)
  16. Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)- mandate renewal (EU) 
  17. Situation of human rights in Myanmar – mandate renewal (EU)
  18. Freedom of religion or belief (EU)
  19. Technical assistance and capacity-building for Mali in the field of human rights (Africa Group)
  20. Technical assistance and capacity-building for South Sudan (Africa Group) 
  21. Role of states in countering the negative impact of disinformation on human rights (Ukraine)

During this session, the Council will adopt the UPR working group reports on Myanmar, Greece, Suriname, Samoa, Hungary, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Papua New Guinea, Tajikistan, United Republic of Tanzania, Eswatini, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand and Ireland.

During each Council session, panel discussions are held to provide member States and NGOs with opportunities to hear from subject-matter experts and raise questions. 7 panel discussions and 1 thematic meeting are scheduled for this upcoming session:

To stay up-to-date: Follow @ISHRglobal and #HRC49 on Twitter, and look out for our Human Rights Council Monitor.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/10/19/48th-session-of-the-human-rights-council-outcomes/

https://ishr.ch/latest-updates/hrc49-key-issues-on-agenda-of-march-2022-session/

Norway’s Telenor in Myanmar should do more than pull out – it should not hand sensitive data to the regime

October 26, 2021

The Norwegian firm took a principled stance to Myanmar’s coup. The same can’t be said for its exit from the country, writes Aung Myo Min, Minister of Human Rights in Myanmar’s National Unity Government., on 25 October 2021.

Praising Norway as a global leader when it comes to protecting human rights defenders and Telenor for acting in principled ways following the attempted coup by pushing back against the military junta’s illegal directives, the author is perplexed that in July, “after considering all possible alternatives and events,” Norway’s largely state-owned telecoms provider agreed to sell its Myanmar operations to the Lebanese firm M1 Group. According to the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), M1 is “infamous for its business activities in countries with violent totalitarian and extremist regimes.” In 2012, telco MTN Syria, a subsidiary of MTN in which M1 is the major shareholder, undermined protest leaders by blocking text messages at the behest of the Bashir al-Assad regime. In 2013, MTN installed “lawful surveillance equipment” for its mobile network in South Sudan during a crackdown on government critics by state security forces.

It is to be feared that M1 group will hand over user details of some 18.2 million Telenor users to the military junta, placing human rights defenders even more clearly in the crosshairs.

Telenor has operated in Myanmar since 2014, a decision that back then, according to the Group, was informed by “a thorough human rights impact assessment as part of the due diligence.” The Norwegian Government holds a 53 percent stake in Telenor.s.

The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, in coordination with 474 Myanmar civil society organizations, has lodged a complaint against the sale with the Norwegian National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and, after an initial assessment, the watchdog found merit in the claim. Mediation may well follow. This offers Telenor and the Norwegian government an opportunity to salvage something significantly more valuable than telecoms assets and investments: their reputations.

Telenor says that its decision to sell “was not motivated by financial or strategic objectives,” but guided by its “commitment to its values and standards.” This commitment requires scrutiny. The potential sale of Telenor requires assessment of any adverse human rights impact and prevention or mitigation where they present.

https://thediplomat.com/2021/10/telenor-in-myanmar-norways-human-rights-reputation-is-on-the-line/

Save the dates for the RAFTO Prize 2021

June 15, 2021

The Rafto Prize Events 2021

These are the dates for the 2021 Rafto Prize Events. They are live-streamed. You can watch them on RAFTO’s website and on Facebook.

The Rafto Prize Announcement (online )

Thursday 23 September at 10:00 AM (CEST)

Watch the press conference where the Head of the Rafto Prize Commitee announces the recipient of the Rafto Prize 2021! The live-stream starts at 09:30, and will include interviews and commentaries by experts and Rafto staff.

The Rafto Conference (online)
Saturday 13 November at 11:00-14:00

Join our online conference with keynote speech by Rafto Laureate 2021. The conference will shed light on and discuss human rights challenges related to this year’s Rafto Prize. Free of charge and open for everyone to attend.
Speakers and program TBA

The Award Ceremony (online)
Sunday 14 November at 18:00-19:15

Live broadcasted from Den Nationale Scene, Bergen, we are celebrating this year’s Rafto Laureate with an award ceremony and a concert.
Free of charge. Artists and perfomances TBA

Torchlight procession, Den Nationale Scene in Bergen.
Sunday 14 November at 19:30

After the Award Ceremony there will be a torchlight procession, that will start outside of Den Nationale Scene, Bergen.
Physical attendance only.

For more on this and other human rights awards for HRDs, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/A5043D5E-68F5-43DF-B84D-C9EF21976B18


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Yury Dmitriev wins 2021 Sakharov Freedom Award

May 21, 2021

Thomas Nilsen in the Barents Observer of 21 May reports that The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has given its 2021 award, the Sakharov Freedom prize, to Russian dissident Yury Dmitriev. for more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/DC70DA62-BCB5-497A-A145-79D1F865FC11

Dmitriev is well known for his research and campaigns to create a memorial to the victims of Soviet terror in the Republic of Karelia, a northwestern province near Russia’s border to Finland. see also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/303c010f-033a-45b1-9d25-ed42d99b1da9

“Yuri Dmitriev has returned the human value back to the Russian state. He confronts the past and gives a new vision for the future, which today’s regime does not have,” says Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Geir Hønneland, to the Barents Observer.

Explaining the reason behind the award, Hønneland says it is not only about Dmitriev as a historian. “His work has already inspired thousands of young and old people, who want to find their dearest in the darkest graves. It is about hope and common identity.

Millions were killed during Soviet terror, but the victims of these atrocities and their living relatives have never been given real justice. This was what Yury Dmitriev was working on. In the forests of Karelia, tens of thousands of people were shot and killed without trial or conviction and buried in mass graves.

Dmitriev is currently serving a 13 years prison sentence and is considered a political prisoner by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and other leading human rights organizations. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/10/01/dunja-mijatovic-calls-on-russia-to-end-judicial-harassment-of-human-rights-defenders/

https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/democracy-and-media/2021/05/jailed-russian-historian-receives-sakharov-freedom-award

Annual Report 2020 RAFTO foundation

April 14, 2021

Annual Report 2020 Human rights work in a challenging year

The Rafto Foundation’s Executive Director Jostein Hole Kobbeltved summarizes last year’s efforts to promote human rights and support human rights defenders.

2020 did not turn out as planned, for anyone. The global Covid-19 crisis is not just a health crisis, but also a human rights crisis. Emergency laws have been used to suppress human rights defenders. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 83 countries have introduced laws restricting freedom of expression. This often occurs where civil society is already under pressure. At the same time, human rights defenders have started to use new and creative tools to be able to continue their work.

The 2020 Rafto Prize, which was awarded to the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/cb80c53f-6f2a-473d-a3a1-03993cc6a5c6] spotlighted the reign of terror and continuing absence of a constitutional state in Egypt ten years after the Arab Spring. It shone a light on the brave human rights defenders of the ECRF who, at particular personal risk, document human rights abuses and support those being persecuted by the increasingly authoritarian Egyptian authorities. Because of strict travel and meeting restrictions, both the announcement and presentation of the Rafto Prize were made digitally. What started off as a challenge became an opportunity to reach a wider international audience than ever before.

The 2020 Rafto Prize awarded to Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)
The 2020 Rafto Prize awarded to Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)

Support for Rafto Laureates and human rights defenders

The Rafto Foundation continued its targeted efforts to support our Rafto Laureates, in Poland where the pressure on the constitutional state is only growing [https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/dac46850-c254-11e8-8caa-a5bb244824e6]and in Kashmir where the persecution of human rights defenders is simply alarming [https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/81468931-79AA-24FF-58F7-10351638AFE3]. We have also helped the network of Rafto Laureates and our network of women human rights defenders to continue their work by strengthening their digital infrastructure and security. We have supported Rafto Laureates under pressure and highlighted the human rights situation in a number of our Rafto Prize countries, including Belarus, Iraq, Uganda, China and India.

#1000RobesMarch in Warsaw on 11 January 2020 where Rafto organised a Norwegian delegation that participated in the demonstrations.
#1000RobesMarch in Warsaw on 11 January 2020 where Rafto organised a Norwegian delegation that participated in the demonstrations.

Increasing human rights competence among businesses

Together with businesses, we have continued to develop our sector-specific work in the finance, seafood, construction and maritime industries. We have leveraged the synergies between our local presence in the Human Rights City Bergen and our international partnerships. 2020 saw the launch of FUTURE-PROOF, a regional collaboration platform for business and human rights, for which engagement among businesses in the Bergen region has continued to rise. We scaled up our cooperation with the CEMS network and our first fully digital Masters in Business and Human Rights attracted a record number of participants. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/01/applications-open-for-raftos-business-and-human-rights-course-in-norway/]

The KAN coalition, which is campaigning to establish Norwegian human rights due diligence legislation for business and which the Rafto Foundation helped found, was officially launched in autumn 2020 with a number of Norwegian businesses as members. The development aid programme to combat modern slavery, to which the Rafto Foundation has contributed, was launched and represents a welcome boost to Norwegian initiatives in this area.

Outdoor school at the Human Rights Cairn at Vidden in Bergen.
Outdoor school at the Human Rights Cairn at Vidden in Bergen.

Education adapted to a new era

For our democracy and human rights education, it has been important to support schools and teachers in handling the challenges presented by the pandemic. We have revised our programme to include digital education, outdoor courses and training adapted to infection protection at both the Rafto House and in schools. This has enabled us to reach more than 7,500 students and teachers over the whole of western Norway in the most demanding of years. We have also increased the focus on our education platform, the Rafto model, and signalled the need for more resources to meet the growing demand from schools following the launch of our new curricula.

DOWNLOAD THE ANNUAL REPORT 2020: DOWNLOAD THE ANNUAL REPORT