Posts Tagged ‘Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders’

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.

UN Special Rapporteur on HRDs, Michel Forst, first presentation to Council

March 11, 2015

humanrightslogo_Goodies_14_LogoVorlagenIn his report, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, [presented to the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council on 9 March 2015 and published earlier as A/HRC/28/63] underscores that violations of freedom of expression are a central feature of attacks against human rights defenders.

As well as outlining his recent activities, the report sets out a clear and comprehensive “road map” for the issues the mandate will address during his tenure based on extensive consultations. In this regard, Michel Forst emphasises that he will interpret his mandate as broadly as possible, and identifies nine key themes he will address through his work. On this basis, he calls on all States to, inter alia:

  • Combat impunity for threats and violations aimed at human rights defenders;
  • Repeal laws criminalising the work of human rights defenders;
  • Pay particular attention to defenders “most exposed” to risk;
  • Cooperate with the mandate, including by responding satisfactorily to communications, and extending open invitations for country visits.
  • The Special Rapporteur expresses serious concerns regarding reprisals against defenders engaging with international human rights mechanisms. [E.g. of 34 defenders recently convicted or imprisoned in Azerbaijan as part of a broad campaign to suppress dissenting voices, NGOs such as Article 19 have noted that several have been targeted for their engagement with the Council of Europe and European Court of Human Rights. Ten NGOs have jointly  called upon the Human Rights Council to address Azerbaijan under Item 4 of the Council’s agenda.]

via UNHRC: UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders urges… · Article 19.

UN special rapporteur urged to investigate human rights defenders in the Philippines

December 6, 2014

The UN special rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, has made a fast start with his mandate. Hardly back from Burundi and Morocco, he met with human rights defenders in  Quezon City, Philippines as reported by InterAksyon.com on 6 December 2014.

(Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, with human rights defenders in Quezon City – photo from Karapatan)
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst indicated his interest in filing a request for an official visit after a two-hour meeting late last week with members of Manilakbayan, a contingent of indigenous peoples’ groups and advocates, and representatives of the human rights group Karapatan from Mindanao and Southern Tagalog.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, in a statement, urged the international community and human rights advocates worldwide to “press the Philippine government to accede to the request of the UNSR-HRD to look into the numerous reports of attacks against rights defenders in the country.” Forst’s predecessors — Hina Jilani and Margaret Sekaggya — both submitted several requests to conduct an official investigation in the Philippines, but did not obtain official invitations from the government.

UN special rapporteur wants to probe attacks on PH rights defenders.

Michel Forst on protecting defenders who work on business and human rights

December 1, 2014

At the start of the 3rd UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, today 1 December, the ISHR publishes a series of articles by key human rights defenders and experts in this field. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/register-for-the-3rd-annual-forum-on-business-and-human-rights-1-to-3-december-2014/] The Special Rapporteur on HRDs, Michel Forst, goes first:

Read the rest of this entry »

Special Rapporteur in Burundi: respect the work of Human Rights Defenders like Mbonimpa!

November 25, 2014

(Independent Expert on Human Rights Michel Forst. Photo: Jean-Marc Ferré)

On 25 November 2014 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, expressed regret today that defenders in Burundi are deemed to be political opponents, saying that in reality they are activists working to promote and protect human rights and civil liberties. In a press release issued by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michel Forst, emphasized that threats and defamation campaigns by certain media outlets weigh on human rights defenders, who also report a high number of cases of physical threats, anonymous phone calls, assaults, arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Special Rapporteur on HRDs in first address to General Assembly: Combat reprisals and protect human rights defenders

October 17, 2014

The need to combat impunity for attacks against human rights defenders, together with the enactment of specific laws and policies to protect their work, have been identified as key priorities by the new UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, in his inaugural report to the UN General Assembly next week. This is stated by the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva.
 

The report, which will be presented to the General Assembly in New York in the week of 20 October, sets out a vision and priorities for the mandate over the coming three years, including a focus on groups of human rights defenders who are ‘most exposed’ or at risk, such as those working to promote economic, social and cultural rights, the rights of minorities, the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, women human rights defenders, and those working on issues of business and human rights or on accountability for past violations. According to the Special Rapporteur, each of his ‘future thematic and mission reports will contain a specific section dedicated to analysing the development of trends and particular threats facing the most exposed groups’.

The report expresses grave concern at the related issues of lack of cooperation with the mandate by some States, and the intimidation and reprisals faced by many human rights defenders in connection with their engagement with international and regional human rights mechanisms. The Special Rapporteur is ‘struck by the number and gravity of threats’ against those who cooperate with the UN, the report says, including ‘threats against the defenders themselves or their families, defamation campaigns, death threats, physical violence, abductions, hounding by law enforcement, assassinations or various forms of harassment and intimidation by the police’. In this connection, the Special Rapporteur pledges to follow-up more actively and systematically with States in relation to the investigation and remediation of alleged threats and attacks against defenders.

The need to ensure accountability and combat impunity for attacks against defenders comes through as a strong theme in the Special Rapporteur’s report, with Mr Forst identifying that ‘it is partially because of the de facto impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of reprisals against defenders that the phenomenon grows and expands’ and pledging that ‘one of the main lines of his work will be to combat the culture of impunity’. It is likely that the Special Rapporteur will dedicate a forthcoming report to this topic.[for examples see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/reprisals/]

Building on the recommendation of the previous Special Rapporteur that States enact specific laws and policies to protect human rights defenders, Mr Forst’s inaugural report identifies a need to ‘intensify efforts to convince governments to develop specific national measures, following the examples of Brazil, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire and Mexico’ and foreshadows a future study focusing on the importance of national laws and mechanisms and ways to improve their effectiveness. He also pledges to play a significant role in the identification and dissemination of ‘good practices’ in the implementation of the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders, including through a more visible social media presence for the mandate.

Finally, the Special Rapporteur identifies a need to further intensify cooperation with other UN mandate holders, together with the Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders appointed by regional mechanisms, including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In this regard, it is notable that the Special Rapporteur has already issued joint statements with other mandate holders, such as the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association and Assembly, on issues including the detention of Bahraini human rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja, the use of anti-terrorism legislation to criminalise human rights defenders in Ethiopia, and the passage of draconian anti-protest legislation in the Australian state of Tasmania.

via Special Rapporteur: Combat impunity and enact laws to protect human rights defenders | ISHR.

Protecting civil society space and preventing reprisals: side event by ISHR on 19 September; also as webcast

September 15, 2014

Protecting civil society space and preventing reprisals: National and international developments and next steps” is side event that will be held on Friday, 19 September 2014 from 9.15 to 10.45 am in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Room XXIV.

Opening remarks Olivier de Frouville, member of the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances and member-elect of the UN Human Rights Committee

Panelists:

  • Reine Alapini-Gansou, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights
  • Stephania Kulaeva, Director, Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial, Russia
  • Patricia OBrien, Ambassador of Ireland to the UN
  • Eleanor Openshaw, Reprisals Advocacy Manager, International Service for Human Rights
  • Mothusi Bruce Rabasha Palai, Ambassador of Botswana to the UN TBC

Moderator: Michael Ineichen, Human Rights Council Advocacy Director, ISHR

The event will be webcast at www.ishr.ch/webcast. You can also follow the event on Twitter @ISHRGlobal, using the hashtag #ProtectCSS.

If you would like to attend but do not have UN accreditation, please email information[at]ishr.ch before 12 noon on 16 September.

via Protecting civil society space and preventing reprisals: National and international developments and next steps | ISHR.

for earlier posts on reprisals, see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/reprisals/

Michel Forst, New Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, gives indication of his priorities

August 5, 2014

After a long holiday break there is probably no better way to start again covering developments relevant to human rights defenders than by referring to the views of the new Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, who shared his vision with the International Service on Human Rights on 16 July 2014. Michel Forst – appointed in June 2014 – is an experienced human rights lawyer. He was Secretary-General of France’s national human rights commission, and was a Board member of several international human rights NGOs.  In an interview with ISHR, he sets out his vision and priorities in the post of Special Rapporteur on HRDs. Read the rest of this entry »