Posts Tagged ‘Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders’

News from the HRC34: Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders extended

June 8, 2017

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Right Defenders – Michael Forst – was extended for a period of three years. The draft of this resolution was submitted by Norway and adopted without a vote.  Hostile amendments to the resolution were submitted by the Russian Federation and China. All of these amendments were rejected.

  • Amendment L.43 sought to have the term Human Rights Defenders removed from the text. Such a motion undermines the importance of the work of Human Right Defenders and seeks to remove a well established term that has been mainstreamed within UN resolutions.
  • Amendment L.44 proposed the removal of the term Women Human Rights Defenders. In response several delegations emphasized the double violence that Women Human Right Defenders face due to their gender and their work and thus the importance of this term. They also recalled that part of the Special Rapporteur’s mandates is to focus on the violence specifically directed to Women Human Right Defenders and as such the term is key to the completion of the mandate.

Download the resolution

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/03/23/norwegian-resolution-un-human-rights-council-defenders-amendments/

Source: HRC34: Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders extended | AWID

Human Rights Council extends mandate on human rights defenders – after considerable wrangling

March 24, 2017

On Thursday 23 March 2017 the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in which it extended, for a period of three years, the mandate of the Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/22/un-special-rapporteur-on-human-rights-defenders-wraps-up-his-first-mandate/]

The press statement by the UN (see below) explains that there was quite a bit of wrangling on wording, but in the end the draft resolution (A/HRC/34/L.5) on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michael Forst, was adopted without a vote as orally revised, in the same terms as provided for by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 16/5. It urges again all States to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his tasks, to provide all information and to respond to the communications transmitted to them by the Special Rapporteur without undue delay; and calls upon States to give serious consideration to responding favourably to the requests of the Special Rapporteur to visit their countries.

(here the detailed report on the failed efforts – mainly by Russia and China – to weaken the text:) Read the rest of this entry »

High-level endorsements of crucial role of human rights defenders in UN Human Rights Council

March 7, 2017

The 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council started off last week (as usual) with the so-called “high-level segment” during which important officials addressed the Council [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/28/new-secretary-general-at-human-rights-council-tells-human-rights-defenders-and-i-am-on-your-side/].

On 6 March the ISHR reported on that first week during which several dignitaries emphasised the key role that a vibrant civil society plays in promoting and protecting human rights.

 The President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson, highlighted the importance of civil society by calling States, the UN and civil society to work shoulder to shoulder and advance with common purpose. Other high-level speakers expressed concern regarding increasing restrictions to civil society space, particularly against HRDs and journalists.
  • Delegates from Botswana, the Czech Republic, Costa Rica, the European Union, France, Malta, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, among others, reiterated their support to the work of HRDs and journalists and stressed the importance of guaranteeing their protection.
  • Delegates from Germany, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom, among others, condemned acts of reprisals against HRDs and emphasised that HRDs must be able to participate and engage with the Council without fear of intimidation or reprisals.

The pivotal role defenders play in promoting sustainable development was also recognised. Georgia underscored the importance of strengthening the role of NGOs and safeguarding civil society’s space to ensure they are heard. ‘Without close cooperation with all stakeholders, it is impossible to secure the sustainable development of the country.

So, there is no shortage of good statements in Geneva, but the what matters most is the upcoming renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and any real action on reprisals!

Source: #HRC34 | High-level officials kick off Council session, emphasise critical role of defenders | ISHR

34th Human Rights Council: ISHR guide to key issues for human rights defenders

February 24, 2017

A preview of what to look out for at the upcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council from 27 February – 24 March 2017. This selection of what is most relevant to human rights defenders is based on the excellent overview provided by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR): Read the rest of this entry »

Statement on Human Rights Defenders that the Observatory would have delivered orally to the UN (if time had allowed)

March 4, 2016

Severe time restraints made that several NGOs could not make their oral statement on 4 March 2016 during the Interactive Dialogue with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the UN Human Rights Council [see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/preview-of-the-upcoming-session-of-the-un-human-rights-council/].

Here follows the text of the statement that the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, would have delivered:

Read the rest of this entry »

UN Rapporteur calls on Hungary to not stigmatize human rights defenders

February 16, 2016

Human rights defenders in Hungary are increasingly working in a rather https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/attila-mraz-human-rights-defenders-in-hungary-have-their-work-cut-out/ and politicized environment,” said Michel Forst, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, at the end of his first visit to the country, according to the press release of the UN. Forst also criticized attempts to de-legitimize defenders and undermine their peaceful and legitimate activities through criminal defamation and excessive administrative and financial pressure, the press release added.

In the context of the refugee crisis and the excessively manipulated fear of the ‘other’ in society, defenders face public criticism by government officials, stigmatization in the media, unwarranted inspections and reduction of state funding,” the special rapporteur noted.

The drastic constitutional changes in Hungary have resulted in the weakened constitutional court and the centralization and tightening of government control over the judiciary, the media, religious organizations and other spheres of public life, directly or indirectly affecting human rights,” the press release cited him as saying in connection with Hungary.

During his nine-day visit, at the invitation of the Hungarian government, the expert met with state officials, members of the judiciary, the parliament, ombudsman as well as human rights defenders, representatives of civil society and the diplomatic community. Forst heard specific testimonies that defenders who criticize the Government or raise human rights concerns are quickly intimidated and portrayed as ‘political’ or ‘foreign agents’, according to the press release.

See also https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/attila-mraz-human-rights-defenders-in-hungary-have-their-work-cut-out/

Source: UN calls on Hungary to not stigmatize human rights defenders | The Budapest Business Journal on the web | bbj.hu

UN rapporteurs urge France to protect fundamental freedoms while combatting terrorism

January 20, 2016

A group of five United Nations human rights experts have joined the debate in France on security. Yesterday, 19 January it warned that the current state of emergency in France and the country’s law on surveillance of electronic communications impose excessive and disproportionate restrictions on fundamental freedoms.

UN SG Ban Ki-moon pays tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November. 6 December 2015. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
As France debates the strengthening of measures in the fight against terrorism, and considers a reform of the criminal procedure, we call on the authorities to revise the provisions and possible reforms adopted to that end, to ensure they comply with international human rights law,” the UN experts said in a press statement.

In a list of concerns to the French Government, the independent experts stressed a lack of clarity and precision on provisions regarding several state of emergency and surveillance laws that relate to the legitimate rights of privacy and freedoms – of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

To guarantee the rule of law and prevent arbitrary procedures, the experts recommended the adoption of prior judicial controls over anti-terrorism measures. Since the recent terrorist attacks in France, the state of emergency law in force, which temporarily expands the executive powers in the fight against terrorism, only allows judicial review a posteriori.

The UN experts also noted that the November 2015 law on surveillance of international electronic communications expands the executive power over the collection, analysis and storage of communications content or metadata – without requiring prior authorization or judicial review.

The UN experts also expressed alarm that environmental activists in France have been under house arrest in connection with the state of emergency invoked following the November attacks. “These measures do not seem to adjust to the fundamental principles of necessity and proportionality,” they said, highlighting the risks faced by fundamental freedoms in the fight against terrorism.

Calling on France not to extend the state of emergency beyond 26 February 2016, they said, that: “While exceptional measures may be required under exceptional circumstances, this does not relieve the authorities from demonstrating that these are applied solely for the purposes for which they were prescribed, and are directly related to the specific objective that inspired them.”

The independent experts – David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression; Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; and Joseph Cannataci, Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy – expressed their solidarity and deepest sympathy to the victims of the terrorist attacks committed in France and many other places in the world.

Source: United Nations News Centre – UN experts urge France to protect fundamental freedoms while combatting terrorism

Happy New Year – that 2016 may be a better year for human rights defenders

December 31, 2015

For  a blog on Human Rights Defenders there is no better way to wish all my readers a happy new year than by referring you to the first electronic Newsletter produced by Michel Forst, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders:

For this first newsletter, he would like to share  three messages with which I whole heartedly agree: 

  1. an alarm call  (as I feel extremely worried about the situation of those who seek to promote and defend our fundamental rights. While I am writing these words, numerous defenders are in danger in Burundi, Bahrain and in many other countries across the globe. In front of States that despise their own international commitments and firms that seem to have profits as a unique goal, the courageous people who take a stand to defend our rights and freedoms need more than ever our protection and recognition.}
  2. message of hope. {It is true that civil society has never seemed so visible and determined. In every meeting I held this year, I could see courageous women and men speaking up and dedicating their lives to fight against injustice and barbarism. Throughout the year, we have witnessed an unprecedented number of attacks and threats and I would like to celebrate once more the action of these countless ordinary people who defend human rights, sometimes at the expenses of their own lives.}
  3. a call to action. {It is in our hands to make human rights defenders’ work more visible to the rest of the society. It is in our hands to prove that promoting and defending rights are essential to democracy and the rule of law. We all have a role to play in protecting rights defenders whether promoting their struggles or giving them our unconditional support.)

I wish you a happy 2016                                                                                                  

Source: Newsletter #1

Baku Games defended by ‘NGO Coalition‘ in Azerbaijan

June 6, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 4, 2015

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

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

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

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

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