Posts Tagged ‘police violence’

In Memoriam for Mwatha, human rights defender disappeared and killed in Kenya

February 22, 2019

Caroline Mwatha Ochieng
Caroline Mwatha Ochieng

Gacheke Gachihi, coordinator of Mathare Social Justice Centre and member of the Social Justice Centre Working Group, celebrates the life of a fellow activist, Caroline Mwatha Ochiengwho was a tireless campaigner against police brutality and illegal arrests in Kenya, and was involved in documenting these cases. Through the documentation of these systematic injustices, Caroline, a founding member of Dandora Social Justice Centre and member of the Social Justice Centre Working Group (the collective voice of social justice centers in the informal settlements in Nairobi), was exposed to police harassment and threats, but she never gave up and continued to fight for social justice. Earlier this month, she was murdered. Her disappearance and murder sends a terrifying message to human rights defenders and social justice activists who are fighting against systematic extrajudicial killings and police brutality in Kenya.

I recall a recent event that illustrates Caroline’s tireless commitment. On December 13, 2018, at 9 p.m., I received a distress call from an activist who had been illegally arrested and detained at the Kwa Mbao Administrative Police (AP) camp — an informal settlement where the Dandora community Social Justice Centre was monitoring human rights violations. Carol Mwatha was our team leader at the notorious Kwa Mbao AP camp, which is under the jurisdiction of the Dandora Social Justice Centre. She was responsible for monitoring and documenting cases of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings by security agencies.

Under the leadership of Carol Mwatha, we spoke to the officer in charge of the AP camp, who was supervising those who had been arrested in the raid that evening. We demanded the unconditional release of our comrades. They were being detained illegally for refusing to bribe a police officer, something that exposes many youth in these areas to extrajudicial killing. As a result of Carol Mwatha’s intervention, our comrades were released unconditionally.

……

The struggle against social injustice and deplorable living conditions exposed Carol Mwatha to dangers that eventually led to her disappearance on February 6 and her subsequent murder. Caroline’s body was dumped in the city mortuary under a different name on Tuesday, February 12, and the police reported a story of a botched abortion to cover up her murder.

Caroline Mwatha Ochieng was a tireless campaigner against police brutality and illegal arrests, and she was involved in documenting these cases and referring them to the independent Police Oversight Authority and other organizations that have been mandated to seek accountability and redress against human rights violations in Kenya. Through the documentation of these cases, Carol was exposed to serious police harassment and threats, but she never gave up and continued to fight for social justice.

In a rather bizarre twist, it turns out that the Catholic Church on Thursday refused to hold a requiem Mass for Caroline Mwatha on the grounds that postmortem results showed that she died as a result of excessive bleeding caused by possible abortion. Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops General Secretary Father Daniel Rono on Friday told the Star that life begins at conception and that abortion is wrong. Similar sentiments were shared by National Council of Churches of Kenya Deputy General Secretary Reverend Nelson Makanda. “The sanctity of the foetus must be protected and that starts from conception. Once fertilisation occurs that is a human being and the child must be protected to its natural death. Anyone who aborts is a murderer,” he said.

Marielle Franco, 38-year-old human rights defender and city councilor of Rio, assassinated

March 16, 2018

The targeted assassination of Marielle Franco, a 38-year-old human rights defender and Rio de Janeiro city councilor known for denouncing police abuses and extrajudicial executions, is a sickening development that must be fully investigated, said Amnesty International 0n 15 March. Marielle was shot dead in Rio de Janeiro’s Estacio neighborhood on Wednesday 14 March 2018. Her driver was also killed and a press officer was injured in the attack.

This a chilling development and is yet another example of the dangers that human rights defenders face in Brazil. As a member of Rio de Janeiro’s State Human Rights Commission, Marielle worked tirelessly to defend the rights of black women and young people in the favelas and other marginalized communities,” said Jurema Werneck, Amnesty International’s Brazil director.

In 2016, Marielle was elected to the Rio de Janeiro city council. Two weeks ago, she was appointed rapporteur for a special commission that the city council created to monitor the ongoing federal intervention in Rio de Janeiro and the militarization of public security.

Gunmen riding in another vehicle carried out the attack, shooting indiscriminately before fleeing the scene without stealing anything, the Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro State said. The attack came a day after the 38-year-old city councilor had posted a message on social media criticizing the deployment of army soldiers to Rio’s sprawling “favelas”.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/01/05/front-lines-2017-report-confirms-worst-expectation-over-300-hrds-killed/

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/03/brazil-authorities-must-investigate-the-killing-of-human-rights-defender-marielle-franco/

http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2452754&CategoryId=14090

Six UN human rights experts urge probe into recent violence in Venezuela

March 9, 2014

On 6 March 2014 a group of six United Nations experts has asked the Venezuelan Government for prompt clarification of allegations of arbitrary detention and excessive use of force and violence against protesters, journalists and media workers during recent protests. “The recent violence amid protests in Venezuela need to be urgently and thoroughly investigated, and perpetrators must be held accountable,” the experts stressed in a news release. They also expressed their shock at the reported deaths of at least 17 persons during the demonstrations. “We are deeply disturbed by the allegations of multiple cases of arbitrary detention of protesters. Some were reportedly beaten – and in some cases severely tortured – by security forces, taken to military facilities, kept in incommunicado detention, and denied access to legal assistance,” they said….“The reconciliatory dialogue that is so deeply needed in Venezuela is not going to take place if political leaders, students, media groups and journalists are harassed and intimidated by the authorities,” they stated.

The experts speaking out on Venezuela are Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mads Andenas, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention; Juan Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

via United Nations News Centre – UN human rights experts urge probe into recent violence amid Venezuelan protests.

PS: It is ironic that at the same time the Government of Venezuela has invited the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to hold a special meeting at the historic Yellow House in Caracas on 17-18 April 2013.

Human Rights First recommends complete revision of U.S. Strategy in Egypt

January 24, 2014

On 23 January Human Rights First released a report that describes how the Egyptian government is increasingly targeting non-violent human rights defenders and activists through widespread repression, stifling basic freedoms and exacerbating the chronic instability that has plagued the country for the past three years. The new report titled, “Back to Square One: The U.S. Government and Political Change in Egypt,”  outlines recommendations for the U.S. government to take a new course of action to advance human rights and the rule of law in order to achieve greater stability in this vital country. “The U.S. must overhaul its approach to Egypt if it’s to really get on the right side of history” said Brian Dooley of HRF.HRF logo

The report calls on the U.S. government to:

  • Provide clear, sustained and consistent public statements from Washington on its assessment of the situation in Egypt and the ramifications for U.S. interests, including human rights and democracy;
  • Work with its donor partners to establish sizeable, sustained economic incentives for Egypt’s leaders that should be conditioned on Egypt adhering to democratic norms and international human rights standards;
  • Use its vote and influence at the IMF to withhold loans to Egypt until sound economic policies are in place and meaningful progress is made on human rights and the rule of law;
  • Use targeted funding to support civil society efforts to combat human rights abuses and promote an enabling environment that advances religious pluralism and tolerance;
  • Promote clear, uniform conditions for the registration and operation of political parties that agree to be bound by the rules of peaceful, democratic contestation;
  • Push the Egyptian authorities to investigate all incidents of violence against Christians, assaults on their property and institutions, and hold accountable those responsible; and
  • Make available through the Justice Department, resources for prosecutions and police trainings.

For more information about today’s report or to speak with Dooley, please contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme[at]humanrightsfirst.org.

Report Recommends Overhaul of U.S. Strategy in Egypt | Human Rights First.

Group of NGOs submits 10 Recommendations to European Parliament on Repression in Turkey

June 10, 2013

During the last week, Turkish citizens, human rights defenders, trade unions and civil society organisations have come under attack by the Turkish government. What started as a peaceful demonstration has turned into a violent clash with the Turkish police and security services. In the protests, at least 3 people died and more than 2800 people were injured in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Reports indicate that about 3000 people were taken into custody and Read the rest of this entry »

Criminalization of rights defenders and impunity for police in Burma

May 20, 2013

English: Map showing Sagaing Region in Burma

Sagaing Region in Burma (credit: Wikipedia)

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) condemns in the strongest terms the announcement of the commander of the Sagaing Region Police Force, Myanmar, that the police will arrest and charge eight human rights defenders whom it blames for inciting protests against the army-backed copper mine project in Monywa. The Commission also condemns the latest round of needless police violence against demonstrators there. According to an undated announcement just issued by the regional commander of the Myanmar Police Force, a copy of which the AHRC has obtained, the police will lodge charges against eight persons for allegedly provoking demonstrations and other supposedly illegal actions. The persons named include six members of the Yangon Peoples Support Network. The other two persons are Han Win Aung of the Political Prisoners Families Beneficial Network and Thaung Taik Oo of the Yangon Institute of Technology Students Union (18 charges!). The announcement goes on to warn that failure to provide information leading to the apprehension of these persons or harbouring of them constitute criminal offenses. Read the rest of this entry »