Posts Tagged ‘Observatory for the Protection of HRDs’

UN General Assembly adopts Resolution on human rights defenders with increased majority

December 18, 2015

For the record, the Resolution on the protection of human rights defenders was adopted by the plenary of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday 17 December 2015, with 127 States voting in favour (i.e 10 more than in the Third Committee!). See: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/follow-up-on-the-human-rights-defenders-resolution-in-the-un/.

127 States supported the resolution, including South Africa, which had voted against it in the Third Committee, while 14 States (Burundi, Cambodia, China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Sudan, Syria and Zimbabwe) continue to vote against it. This list is not surprising (they figure regularly in this blog), although one would have hoped that Myanmar (after the elections) would have had a change of heart while Nigeria’s position remains a mystery.

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Russia: the next step in curtailing human rights defenders

January 19, 2015

The next ‘logical’ step by Russia in curtailing the work of human rights defenders is in the making: on 20 January the Russian Parliament (Duma) will debate a bill to declare certain foreign and international organisations as ‘unwanted’ and to fine anyone working with such entities. OMCT-LOGOThe Observatory, a joint programme of FIDH and OMCT, issued a statement today calling on the Duma to drop this bill. logo FIDH_seul

If adopted, the law will complement an already very restrictive legislative arsenal used to silence all forms of criticism against the regime in contradiction with international human rights instruments ratified by Russia and will allow authorities to ban legitimate human rights activities, though they are protected under international law. On January 14, the State Duma Committee on Constitutional Legislation recommended that the lower house pass a bill to ban “undesirable foreign organisations” in Russia and ban cooperation with them. The bill, presented initially by two members of Parliament, would allow the Prosecutor General’s Office, upon consultation with the Foreign Ministry and based on information provided by the interior and security agencies, to ban foreign and international organisations that “threaten the defence or security of the State” or “public order and health”.

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Turkey: after 16 years finally Justice for human rights defender Pınar Selek

December 20, 2014

Yesterday, 19 December 2014, the Istanbul High Criminal Court acquitted Ms. Pınar Selek, an academic known for her commitment towards the rights of the most vulnerable communities in Turkey. She was prosecuted for allegedly causing a bomb to explode in Istanbul’s Egyptian bazaar on July 9, 1998, and for membership in a terrorist organisation.

Previously, the Istanbul Special Heavy Penal Court No. 12 had acquitted her on three occasions: in 2006, 2008, and 2011. Notwithstanding, the Supreme Court quashed the first two acquittal decisions and requested the lower court to convict her. In, 2013, the Istanbul Special Heavy Criminal Court No. 12 deferred to the Supreme Court’s request and sentenced Ms. Pınar Selek to life imprisonment, while the case was still pending before the Supreme Court. On June 11, 2014, the Criminal Chamber No. 9 of the Supreme Court decided to overturn the conviction on procedural grounds[https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/pinar-selek-case-in-turkey-the-supreme-court-overturns-life-sentence-against-pinar-selek/]

Countless procedural irregularities have been observed during the trial. She should have never been prosecuted in the first place. This decision should now become final, recalled Martin Pradel, Lawyer at the Paris Bar, who has been observing the legal process for the Observatory since 2011.

The Observatory (a coöperation between FIDH and OMCT) has been particularly mobilised on this case, through the publication of nine urgent alerts, six trial observations and demarches towards the Turkish authorities and the international community at the highest level. For more information see Observatory mission report published in April 2014, available in English on the following web links: http://www.omct.org/files/2014/04/22642/turkey_mission_report_pinar_selek_2014.pdf

Turkey: Justice at last! Pınar Selek acquitted after 16 years of judicial harassment / December 19, 2014 / Statements / Human rights defenders / OMCT.

Amin Mekki Medani, President of the Sudan Human Rights Monitor, arrested

December 7, 2014

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OMCT-LOGO

 On the evening of 6 December, 2014, the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested Dr. Amin Mekki Medani, a renowned human rights activist, President of the Sudan Human Rights Monitor (SHRM) from his house in Khartoum. Dr Medani was arrested shortly after he returned from Addis Ababa. There are serious concerns for the safety of Dr. Medani who is 76 years of age and suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes. According to the information received, the NISS refused to allow him to take his medications with him when he was arrested.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders strongly denounces the arbitrary arrest and detention of Dr. Medani and considers it as a reprisal to sanction his legitimate human rights activities. [On December 3, 2014 Dr. Medani signed the “Sudan Call”, on behalf of civil society organisations. The “Sudan Call” is a Declaration on the “Establishment of a State of Citizenship and Democracy”, under which co-signatories committed to work towards the end of the conflicts raging in different regions of Sudan and towards legal, institutional and economic reforms. The Declaration, which commits signatories to end wars and conflicts as a priority, was co-signed in Addis Ababa by representatives from political and armed opposition parties, including the National Umma Party, the National Consensus Forces and the Sudan Revolutionary Front. Dr. Medani co-signed the Sudan Call on behalf of the Civil Society Initiative.]

Sudan: Arrest of the President of the Sudan Human Rights (…).

2014 Annual Report Observatory: Land Rights defenders are the forgotten victims of unbridled development

December 2, 2014

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OMCT-LOGO

 

 

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (joint programme of OMCT and FIDH) has, since 2013, launched more than 500 urgent interventions on more than 60 countries. Its 2014 Annual Report came out today in the context of the 3rd UN Forum on Business and Human Rights and focuses on “land rights defenders” who are increasingly the target of repressive measures. The pressure on land has become unbearable and mobilisation for the respect of the economic, social and cultural rights of affected communities has become a high risk activity.

Between 2011 and 2014, the Observatory documented 43 assassination cases targeting land rights defenders and the judicial harassment of 123 defenders, sometimes together with their arbitrary detention. These figures only reflect a small fraction of the real picture. All regions in the world are concerned, Asia and Latin America being the most affected. The Observatory found that authors of repression are often the police, the military, private security agents and “henchmen”. Their objective being to silence dissenting voices likely to slow down investment projects.
In addition to violence, numerous States also use judicial harassment and arbitrary detention to intimidate defenders. Thanks to laws that violate fundamental freedoms or in violation of their own laws, they jail any person deemed to be a nuisance. “Terrorism”, “misleading propaganda”, “infringement to State security”, “public unrest”, there are many abusive charges which can result in heavy prison terms.
Land rights defenders are often powerless when they face physical attacks and arbitrary arrests. According to the Observatory, 95% of violations against them remain unpunished today. Judicial bodies in countries where such violations occur are characterised by a lack of independence, resources and expertise. Regarding the possibility of prosecuting business corporations responsible for human rights violations, the legal battle – if any – is often lengthy, perilous, unequal and costly.
At the heart of the problem lies the issue of the participation of individuals and communities affected by the development policies and investment projects. The Observatory calls for meaningful consultations that ensure the direct participation of populations affected by the projects and the recognition of land rights defenders as the legitimate spokespersons in order to prevent conflicts and put an end to serious human rights violations. Furthermore, it is necessary to strengthen the capacity and independence of domestic judicial systems, including in States hosting the headquarters of business corporations, in order to allow defenders to access justice and seek redress in the event of human rights violations.
The Observatory also recommends to strengthen international law in order to trigger effectively the responsibility of business corporations when the latter commit human rights violations and to guarantee the adequate protection of land rights.
The full report under the title “We are not afraid”: https://wearenotafraid.org/en/

The 5th “Inter-mechanisms”: consultations between inter-govenmental and non-governmental entities on human rights defenders

November 17, 2014

On November 12 and 13, 2014, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, met with representatives of regional human rights defenders’ mechanisms, in the framework of the first part of the fifth “inter-mechanisms” meeting. Enhancing coöperation between the UN mechanism and its regional counterparts was defined as a priority by the UN Special Rapporteur in his first report to the UN General Assembly in October 2014.

The “inter-mechanisms meeting 5.1” gathered representatives from the UN, the International Organisation of “La Francophonie” (OIF), the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, the OSCE/ODIHR, the European Union, as well as international NGOs. It was hosted by theOIF headquarters in Paris, and was facilitated by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT joint programme).Participants reflected on ways to enhance cooperation, if not articulation, in processing submissions and public statements about human rights defenders’ violations, and in enhancing the follow-up of individual communications and recommendations from country visits. They further discussed best practices and strategies to tackle the issue of arbitrary detention, particularly on emblematic cases.

The meeting also allowed for an exchange on the definition of reprisals and impunity, how they relate to each other, and how tackling impunity through accountability would ultimately mitigate the root-cause of reprisals.

Finally, participants had a discussion on the issue of NGO funding, including foreign funding, as well as on the protection of land rights defenders, echoing the topics of the 2013 and 2014 Annual Reports of the Observatory.

This meeting aimed to prepare an “inter-mechanisms meeting 5.2”, gathering mandate-holders themselves, which the Observatory will organise during the first quarter of 2015 at the OIF headquarters. Last but not least, FIDH and OMCT were invited by the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe to hold the sixth meeting in Strasbourg, and a future meeting in Warsaw, by ODIHR.

“Inter-mechanisms 5.1”: enhanced cooperation will lead to better protection of human rights defenders – FIDH.

Joint NGO Letter to Russian President to stop clampdown on human rights defenders

October 22, 2014

If there was any doubt on where civil society stands on the issue of reprisals and repression of NGO activity in Russia, the letter below and the enormous number and variety of organizations having signed it should put the doubt to rest: [see also: https://plus.google.com/+HansThoolen/posts/2nWSsUBuCJw]

Dear President,

We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations, are writing to urge you to stop the clampdown on the right to freedom of association and end reprisals against independent non- governmental organizations (NGOs) in Russia.

We are deeply concerned that under the legislation on “foreign agents”, hundreds of NGOs have been subjected to unannounced inspections by government officials which have interrupted and obstructed their legitimate work with dozens currently embroiled in lengthy court hearings. Several NGOs and their leaders have had to pay prohibitive fines, and some were forced to close down because they refused to brand themselves as “foreign agents” – an expression akin to spying. Recent legislative changes now give the Ministry of Justice powers to register organizations as “foreign agents” without their consent and without a prior court decision. More than a dozen of leading Russian rights groups have already been branded by the Ministry. These NGOs are not foreign spies or “agents”, and have worked in the interest of the people of Russia. Many more face the same fate.

Under the previous legislation, NGOs in Russia were already accountable to the government and the public, having to report on their activities and finances. It is difficult to avoid concluding that the only purpose of the legislation on “foreign agents” is to publicly discredit and stigmatise them.

We believe that NGOs are essential to the healthy functioning of society. They play an important role in providing much needed services to the public. They help keep officials accountable and improve policies in the interests of the people.

We are calling on you as the President of the Russian Federation and the guarantor of its Constitution and of the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined therein, to take all necessary steps to ensure that the “foreign agents” law is repealed and NGOs in Russia are able to do their work without hindrance, harassment, stigmatisation or reprisals. 


• Action des chrétiens pour l’abolition de la torture (ACAT) (France)
• Agir ensemble pour les droits de l’homme (AEDH) (France)
• Amnesty International
• ARTICLE 19 (UK)
• Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (Bulgaria)
• Bunge la Mwananchi (Kenya)
• Centre de recherche et d’information pour le développement (CRID) (France) • Centrum Kształcenia Liderów i Wychowawców im. Pedro Arrupe (Pologne)
• CIVICUS
• Comité catholique contre la faim et pour le développement – Terre solidaire (CCFD) (France)
• Committee on the Administration of Justice Ltd (CAJ) (Northern Ireland, UK)
• Cordaid (Pays-Bas)
• Danny Sriskandarajah, our Secretary General
• English PEN (UK)
• European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) (UK)
• Emmaüs International (France)
• Finnish PEN (Finlande)
• Foundation Max van der Stoel (Pays-Bas)
• Free Press Unlimited (Pays-Bas)
• Front Line Defenders (Irlande) • Fundacja Edukacja dla Demokracji (Pologne)
• Fundacja im. Stefana Batorego (Pologne)
• Gevalor (France)
• Greenpeace Spain (Spain) • Helsińska Fundacja Praw Człowieka (Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights) (Pologne)
• Hivos (Pays-Bas)
• Human Rights Commission (Kenya)
• Human Rights House Foundation (Norway)
• Human Rights House Foundation HRHF (Switzerland)
• Human Rights Watch
• Index on Censorship (UK) • INPRIS – Instytut Prawa i Społeczeństwa (Pologne) • Instytut Spraw Publicznych (Pologne)
• International Service for Human Rights
• Kansalaisjärjestöjen ihmisoikeussäätiö KIOS (Finlande)
• Kenya Human Rights Commission (Kenya)
• Koalicja Karat (Pologne)
• La lliga del drets dels pobles (Spain)
• Ligue des droits de l’Homme (France) • Małopolskie Towarzystwo Oświatowe (Pologne)
• MEMORIAL Deutschland e.V. (Germany)
• Milieudefensie (Pays-Bas)
• MONIKA – Naiset liitto ry (Finlande)
• Movies that Matter (Pays-Bas)
• Naisten Linja Suomessa ry (Finlande)
• Netherlands Helsinki Committee (Pays-Bas)
• Nederlands Juristen Comité voor de Mensenrechten (NJCM)
• Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten (NVJ) (Pays-Bas)
• NGO Working Group OSCE (Switzerland)
• Observatoire pour la protection des défenseurs des droits de l’Homme (joint program FIDH and OMCT) (France/Switzerland)
• Pakolaisneuvonta ry (Finlande)
• Pat Finucane Centre, (Irlande)
• Queer Youth Norway (Norway)
• REDRESS (UK)
• Reporters sans frontières (RSF) (France)
• Russie-Libertés (France)
• Sadankomitea (Finlande)
• Society for Threatened Peoples (Switzerland)
• Stiftung Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte (Germany) 
• Stowarzyszenie Wschodnioeuropejskie Centrum Demokratyczne (Pologne)
• The Bellona Foundation (Norvège)
• The Norwegian LGBT Association (Norvège)
• UNITED for Intercultural Action (Pays-Bas)
• XENION Psychsoziale Hilfen für politisch Verfolgte e.V. (Allemagne)
• Автономная некоммерческая правозащитная организация «Молодежный центр консультации и тренинга» (Russie)
• Автономная некоммерческая организация «Правозащитная организация «МАШР» (Russie)
• Благотворительный фонд развития города Тюмени (Russie)
• Общественная правозащитная организация «Солдатские матери Санкт-Петербурга» (Russie)”

 

Russian Federation: Joint NGO Letter to the President of the Russian Federation: To stop clampdown on freedom of association / October 21, 2014 / Statements / Human rights defenders / OMCT.

Glimmer of hope for Sotoudeh and Iran crashed by Tehran Bar Association

October 21, 2014

The glimmer of hope for Nasrin Sotoudeh and Iran which I saw in my post of 6 September [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/glimmer-of-hope-in-iran-nasrin-sotoudehs-ban-to-practice-overruled/] seems to have been crushed already. Yesterday, 20 october, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, the joint programme of FIDH and OMCT, has received new information that on 18 October 2014, a three-member disciplinary investigation panel of Tehran’s Bar Association has now suspended Nasrin Sotoudeh’s law license for three years, based on a complaint filed by the Islamic Revolution Court’s Prosecution Office (unlike the first disciplinary panel of the Tehran Bar Association which rejected a similar request). Read the rest of this entry »

Pinar Selek case in Turkey: the Supreme Court overturns life sentence against Pınar Selek

July 9, 2014

With a bit of delay, here is the good news that the Turkish Supreme Court – on 11 June – overturned the life sentence issued which was issued against sociologist Pınar Selek on January 24, 2014. The case will have to be re-tried before a lower court for the fifth time. On June 11, 2014, the Criminal Chamber No. 9 of the Supreme Court decided to overturn the decision of a lower court to sentence to life imprisonment Ms. Pınar Selek, an academic known for her commitment towards the rights of vulnerable communities in Turkey. The court argued that Istanbul Special Heavy Criminal Court No. 12 had violated procedural rules, by revoking its own decision of acquittal while the case had already been transferred for review to a higher court.  Read the rest of this entry »

Human Rights Defenders in Hungary: not yet ‘foreign agents’ but getting close

June 13, 2014

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, an FIDH-OMCT joint programme, expressed its concern that the Hungarian government is alarmingly shrinking the space of civil society by hindering their access to funding, conducting unexpected inspections and blacklisting prominent human rights organizations. The Observatory – not by accident – did so on 12 June 2014, the day the Hungarian Government was meeting representatives from a group of donor Governments including Norway.OMCT-LOGOlogo FIDH_seul

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