Posts Tagged ‘Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’

Trans defender’s Karla Avelar’s life is under constant threat

May 16, 2017

Brian Dooley of Human Rights First, wrote the following piece “Karla Avelar’s Life Of Constant Threats” in the Huffington Post of 13 May 2017 (in full below). Karla (El Salvador) is one of the three finalists of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/04/26/breaking-news-three-human-rights-defenders-selected-as-finalists-for-the-2017-martin-ennals-award/].  An rise in deadly violence against transgender women in El Salvador prompted the United Nations on Friday to call for an investigation into crimes against sexual minorities in the conservative Central American country. So far this year, seven transgender women have been killed in El Salvador, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights [http://www.reuters.com/article/us-elsalvador-violence-lgbt-idUSKBN189018]

CARLOS CRUZ, COMCAVIS TRANS
Karla Avelar, advocating despite the danger.

Six times in two years. Human rights activist Karla Avelar has been forced to move home six times in the last two years after being physically threatened by individuals she believes are gang members and for her work as a human rights defender in El Salvador.

She’s a leading advocate for the human rights of LGBT people, founder and head of COMCAVIS TRANS, an organization known for its work for transgender people for nearly a decade. It’s dangerous, unpopular work, and Avelar is regularly targeted and threatened.

A couple of weeks ago she was forced to move home when people tried to extort from her possible prize money for the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award, for which she is a finalist. The award’s winner will be decided and announced in October, but news of her nomination has prompted these latest threats.

It hasn’t been an easy life. She was shot in two separate incidents, spent five traumatic years in jail and has been a constant target of abuse for being a transgender woman. Avelar told my colleague Mariel Perez-Santiago at her office in San Salvador last year how she had been raped by more than a hundred men on her first day in prison, and that the attacks continued with the complicity of prison staff.

She became a formidable advocate for the rights of trans people in and out of prison, helping to win important reforms in the prison where she used to be an inmate. Thanks to her campaigning, transgender women are now separated from men in different wards, and human rights organizations are allowed access to the prisoners to educate them about their rights. She also represented El Salvador’s LGBT civil society at the country’s 2014 Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations in Geneva.

Her advocacy has led to international recognition including becoming a finalist for this year’s Martin Ennals Award. “Transgender persons, and the wider LGBT community, face widespread hostility and social rejection in El Salvador,” said the Martin Ennals organization in a statement. “Crimes against them are almost never brought to justice, which results in a climate of impunity. Sadly, this treatment of transgender people can be seen well beyond El Salvador. We aim to highlight Ms. Avelar’s bravery in continuing her work. We are encouraged that the authorities contacted her after the media coverage of the latest threats. This needs to be followed up with judicial proceedings against those responsible and, most importantly, effective protection for Karla Avelar.”

Her profile has meant that the threats against her are receiving attention, and the Attorney General’s office has been in touch with her to discuss issues of her safety. But for Avelar and others in El Salvador’s LGBT community the risks are daily and grave. She estimates around 600 cases of unsolved murders of LGBT people in the country over the last 25 years.

“Sadly, these most recent threats against me are not surprising and are part of a broader and systematic pattern of persecution of members of the LGBT community in El Salvador,” said Avelar. “I will not be silenced by these threats, but the Salvadoran government must guarantee my safety and that of all human rights defenders and activists, who work tirelessly to monitor and urge respect for the human rights of the most vulnerable.”

Forced to leave her home again and again, she’s asking for protection as well as international visibility. Making her more famous won’t guarantee her safety but we can try to help by sharing her story with whoever we know, by showing that we’re watching, and by saying that she should be protected and never be forced to move again.

Source: Karla Avelar’s Life Of Constant Threats | HuffPost

DiploHack event on human rights to be held in Geneva on 26-27 February

February 24, 2016

The Permanent Mission of the Netherlands in Geneva, THE Port Association (https://twitter.com/theportatcern) and Impact Hub Geneva will host their hackathon in the field of human rights, on the 26/27 February 2016. The Human Rights DiploHack event will bring together diplomats and human rights experts with tech developers, designers, innovators and entrepreneurs from all over Europe and beyond, to experiment and innovate on projects that directly impact people’s lives. From the multidisciplinary expertise of the participants, teams will be formed to work on two challenges presented by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):

  • “How can Human Right Defenders collect and transport evidence in a safe way?”, and
  • “Does a photo or video tell the ‘truth?”.

[as a first contribution I refer to the video as evidence instructions posted by Witness on 18 February 2016

The result will be presented at the Palais des Nations, on 29 February during a side event open to the public on the occasion of the Human Rights Council (for accreditation to this side event, non-UN-badge holders are invited to contact the organizers before 24 February). True Heroes Films (THF) will be filming the event and will produce a short film to be shown at the side event.THF_SIMPLE

http://www.diplohack.org/geneva-diplohack-for-human-rights.html

UN Rapporteur urges Nauru to revoke measures that affect human rights defenders and asylum seekers

May 25, 2015

Credit: OHCHR
Where possible I like to extend coverage to countries that normally do not figure highly in the news. This press statement of 22 May 2015 from the UN Human Rights Office provides the occasion to zoom in on the Pacific island of Nauru.

Voicing concern over recent amendments to the Criminal Code in Nauru which “unduly restrict” freedom of expression, a United Nations expert on the issue today urged the Government to revoke such measures to fulfil its human rights obligations. “These new laws could be used to muzzle dissenting opinions and deter human rights defenders, academics, journalists, students, politicians and civil society members”, David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, warned.

Ambiguous and imposing harsh penalties, the amended Criminal Code also includes up to seven years in prison for a wide range of legitimate expression, according to Mr. Kaye. Nauru has also curtailed the freedom of press. It imposed a prohibitive $6,500 fee for a single entry visa for foreign journalists in 2014.

Nauru should allow free space for expression without fear of criminal prosecution,” he said, adding that “it should lift all restrictions to access internet and social media, and facilitate access to the media in the country.” Since April, the authorities have blocked access to social media and internet to prevent pornography and “cyberbullying” and to protect the national culture. These restrictions, however, are “designed to prevent asylum seekers and refugees in the country from sharing information on their situation,” stressed the independent expert.

United Nations News Centre – UN rights expert urges Nauru to revoke measures that could ‘muzzle’ dissent.

Solomon Islands: selection of human rights defender for training in Geneva makes news

February 15, 2015

When a human rights defender from a small nation, such as the Solomon islands, is selected for fellowship programme with the United Nations, it makes a story. Teddy Kafo writes in the Solomon Star of 14 February how Watson Puiahi of the local NGO “I Lukim Sustainability Solomon Islands (ISSI)” was chosen to participate in the ‘2015 Indigenous fellowship Program’ of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

Read the rest of this entry »

OHCHR gives preview of new report on Libya in 2014

February 10, 2015

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [OHCHR] published today (10 February) a report, which will be formally presented to the Human Rights Council only in March, describing the situation of human rights in Libya during 2014. It paints a bleak picture of increasing turmoil and lawlessness, fanned by a multitude of heavily armed groups amid a broadening political crisis. Rampant violence and fighting, including in the country’s two biggest cities, Tripoli and Benghazi, as well as many other cities and towns across the country, is badly affecting civilians in general and particularly cases of harassment, intimidation, torture, numerous abductions, and summary executions of human rights defenders, civil society activists, journalists and other media professionals, as well as members of the judiciary, politicians and law enforcement officers.

The report, produced in conjunction with the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), also describes numerous incidents of violence against women over the past year, including reports of threats, attacks and killings of female human rights defenders, politicians and other women in public positions. Minority groups, including Egyptian Coptic Christians, have also been increasingly targeted. The report also highlights the extremely vulnerable situation of migrants.

Thousands of people remain in detention – mostly under the effective control of armed groups – with no means of challenging their situation as prosecutors and judges are unable or unwilling to confront the armed groups. UN human rights staff have received reports of torture or other ill-treatment in many places of detention. The deteriorating security environment has impacted heavily on the justice system, which is no longer functioning in parts of the country. Prosecutors and judges have frequently been subjected to intimidation and attacks, in the form of court bombings, physical assaults, abduction of individuals or family members and unlawful killings.

The report highlights the need to strengthen State institutions, ensure accountability for human rights violations and support the ongoing political dialogue.

The full report can be found here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session28/Documents/A_HRC_28_51_ENG.doc

via: OHCHR PRESS BRIEFING NOTES – (1) Libya, (2) Malaysia, (3) Thailand, (4) Venezuela – Press releases – News – StarAfrica.com.

Register for the 3rd annual Forum on Business and Human Rights: 1 to 3 December 2014

November 17, 2014

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) organises the third annual Forum on Business and Human Rights, from 1 to 3 December 2014 in the Palais des Nations, Geneva.humanrightslogo_Goodies_14_LogoVorlagen

The Forum will last three days and focus on trends and challenges in the implementation of the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” and in implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework (A/HRC/17/31) and promote dialogue and cooperation on issues linked to business and human rights. The Forum is under the guidance of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and open to multi-stakeholder participation, including States, business, civil society, and affected individuals and groups. See also my earlier posts: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/business/

Registration for the 2014 Forum is currently open via the online registration system:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Forum/Pages/2014FBHRParticipation.aspx.

The draft programme of the Forum is now available at:www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Business/ForumSession3/DraftProgramme.pdf

For further information about the Forum, please see the Forum website:www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Forum.

 

Thailand: cases of judicial harassment illustrate plight of human rights defenders

August 26, 2014

Coup d’etat in Thailand or not, judicial harassment continues to rack the lives of human rights defenders. A Statement of 24 August by the Asian Human Rights Commission [AHRC] concerns Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, a human rights defender and director of the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), who received a warrant summoning her to report to the police station by 25 August 2014. The warrant is in relation to an investigation carried out pursuant to a legal complaint of libel and defamation filed against her by Army Task Force 41. The complaint accuses Pornpen Khongkachonkiet of causing damage to the reputation of the Army by disseminating an open letter about a case of torture. (The Army has claimed that the young man was not tortured, and so therefore the open letter constitutes libel and defamation.)

The judicial harassment of Pornpen Khongkachonkiet is part of a broader pattern of harassment and legal proceedings against human rights defenders in Thailand, such as the following 3 examples show: Read the rest of this entry »

Video clip from 2010 by the UN focuses on Human Rights Defenders

February 20, 2014

As I had only just started my blog “Thoolen on Human Rights Defenders” in 2010, I must have missed a number of interesting things, such as this video uploaded to You Tube by the UN on 1 December 2010. Against the background music of Stand Up for Your Rights by Bob Marley, this video give the floor to some ‘ordinary human rights defenders’ from various parts of the world. Human Rights Day of 10 December 2010 was dedicated to human rights defenders who battle against discrimination. For the record.

North Korea: the UN report in images

February 20, 2014

There was considerable attention in the media for the new United Nation report that has found that crimes against humanity are occurring in North Korea and calls for an international tribunal to investigate and hold perpetrators to account, but you may have missed the 14-minute video produced by Human Rights Watch on 17 February 2014. The report, by a UN Commission of Inquiry appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2013, recommends that the UN Security Council refer the situation in North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights carry out investigations. The three person commission, which was chaired by Australian jurist Michael Kirby, will formally present its findings to the Human Rights Council on or around March 17, 2014. The council will then consider a resolution to act on the commission’s recommendations.

Jacob Blaustein Institute for Human Rights publishes book on UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

December 21, 2013

On 19 December 2013 it was announced that the AJCs Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights  on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a unique volume entitled: “The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: Conscience for the World”. Read the rest of this entry »