Posts Tagged ‘Sri Lanka’

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 »

Amila Sampath: the man behind the video service of “Just Asia”

January 16, 2017

I have on many occasions referred to the admirable initiative of the AHRC to try and bring visual aspects to human right work [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/01/21/just-asia-just-continues-with-its-human-rights-television/]. So, I was glad to come across the story by Nilantha Ilangamuwa in the Sri Lankan Guardian of 3 November 2016 about the “The Man behind the video service Just Asia”!

amila_sampath_srilanka
Amila Sampath: “I make videos, that’s my tool, I believe this is one of the significant ways to raise the voice of the voiceless

Read the rest of this entry »

‘Just Asia’ just continues with its human rights television

January 21, 2016

I have not referred to this excellent initiative for a while. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) continues it visual reporting, Now already episode 106!: Read the rest of this entry »

Selection of what happened at the local level on Human Rights Day 2015

December 13, 2015

International human rights day is an occasion for a multitude of local activities, some denouncing violations others quietly remembering, some (trying to) march in the streets, others issuing statements. This anthology of 10 such events is far from complete but gives an idea of the variety, from human rights defenders speaking out to governmental institutions ‘celebrating’ …. Read the rest of this entry »

Guidelines issued to protect human rights defenders in Sri Lanka

September 7, 2015

The Colombo Gazette of 17 July 2015 carried an article that is interesting in the light of efforts to create an enabling national environment for Human Rights Defenders in Sri Lanka:

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has issued guideline for state authorities to ensure the protection of Human Rights Defenders (HRD) including ensuring their freedom of association.

The Human Rights Commission noted that Human Rights defenders act as the voice of vulnerable person or group or community or society and engage to ensure universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“They work very hard, for example; they document violations, reveal the human rights violations and help to redress these violations by peaceful means. HRDs are facing challenges in diverse political and social context at national, regional and international levels. Sometimes their activities are neglected or underestimated or seen as something negative by some of the authorities. Therefore they undergo severe risk when they carry out the activities to promote and protect human rights,” the Human Rights Commission said.

It said that the protection of HRDs is a corporate responsibility of the State, Civil societies and international communities. Although, State authorities have primary responsibility to protect the HRDs and ensure a conducive working environment where HRDs can operate free from hindrance and insecurity. All of them respect the rights of HRDs and support the activities of the HRDs to promote the overall enjoyment of human rights.

Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) as a National Human rights Institution (NHRI) has to perform as a defender of HRDs. HRCSL has serious concern for the Protection of HRDs. For this purpose the HRCSL has developed guideline for state authorities. These guidelines will assist the state authorities to protect the HRDs and ensure the internal dignity of the HRDs.

The guidelines call on State authorities to recognize the activities of the HRDs to protect and promote all human and fundamental freedoms which are guaranteed by the Sri Lankan laws including the Constitution of Sri Lanka and International human rights laws, be mindful of the fact that HRDs activities have the true intention to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedom, are transparent, visible and accountable, are not a threat to state sovereignty, national unity and national security and are activate through peaceful means. 

The guidelines also note that all the human rights defenders or groups or organs of society shall be treated equally according to Article 12(2) of the Constitution which ensures “No citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, and place of birth or any one of such grounds”. Any special or unequal treatment or discrimination will be an express violation of Article 12 of the Constitution.

State authorities have also been told to recognize the freedom of association of human rights defenders or group or organs of society for a common purpose or joint action towards protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedom. Unreasonable restriction, suppression, dismissal, prohibition, negatively viewed or any such ways will be a sign of violation of the freedom of association which is guaranteed by Article 14 and 12 of the Constitution and other domestic laws.

State authorities should respect, protect and ensure the right of freedom of speech and expression of HRDs related to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedom. Restrict, prohibit, show contempt, deform, criticize, comment negatively or any such ways will be an expression of violation of Article 14 and 12 of the Constitution.

HRCSL also notes that State authorities must ensure the right of movement of human rights defenders or groups or organs of society to meet the vulnerable groups particularly their rights violated or peaceful parade or travelling for peaceful gathering and seek, obtain and receive information for the purpose to facilitate the victim to seek appropriate remedies. If the movement of HRDs is unlawfully or unjustifiably restricted it violates article 14 of the Constitution.

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/important-human-rights-council-side-event-on-11-march-to-be-followed-on-internet/

Guidelines issued to protect human rights defenders | Colombo Gazette.

Panel on Human rights defenders and the rule of law – 8 June Geneva

May 29, 2015

The International Service for Human Rights and United Kingdom Mission in Geneva are organising a panel discussion on “Human rights defenders and the rule of law” on Monday, 8 June 2015, 16.30-18.00 (followed by a reception) at the Graduate Institute, Maison de la Paix (Auditorium 2), Genève, Switzerland.

This event will discuss the importance of the rule of law in safeguarding the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly for human rights defenders and activists, and the vital role of human rights defenders and international mechanisms in establishing, maintaining and promoting the rule of law. It will also explore the notion that respect for the rule of law requires respect for the rule of international law and national law that is in conformity with international law.

Panelists:

  • Olga Abramenko, Director, ADC Memorial (Russia)
  • Ruki Fernando, Human Rights Advisor, INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre (Sri Lanka)
  • Mona Rishmawi, Chief of the Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Phil Lynch, Director, International Service for Human Rights

Moderator: Julian Braithwaite, UK Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva

If you want to attend please contact before 3 June: anne.jahren@fco.gov.uk

For those unable to attend, you can follow the event on Twitter through @UKMissionGeneva and @ISHRGlobal.

Human rights defenders and the rule of law: panel discussion on 8 June.

Hear and read about women human rights defenders under threat

April 3, 2015

If you want to hear rather than read about women human rights defenders, go to the podcast of 2 April 2015 organized by  and  for the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/audio/2015/apr/02/women-human-rights-defenders-podcast
Twenty years after the Beijing Platform made promising pronouncements, it is sobering to hear from women human rights defenders who are under attack for their work:
  • Daysi Flores, JASS Honduras country director, talks about the situation in Honduras, where the imprisonment of Gladys Lanza, one of the country’s most respected feminists, marks a fresh low.
  • Nimalka Fernando, president of the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism in Sri Lanka, talks about the misogynist attacks that she has faced.
  • Maryam Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, looks at the situation for women in Bahrain.
  • Khouloud Mahdhaoui, a human rights activist in Tunisia, discusses LGBT attacks in her home country.
  • Phumzile Mlambo Nguka, the executive director of UN Women, explains how the wave of extremism around the world has affected anyone standing up for women’s rights.
  • Tania Branigan, the Guardian’s China correspondent, talks about the five women who were arrested in the days before International Women’s Day in China, over their plans to highlight sexual harassment.

In the same vein is the following statement: Statement of Caribbean women, women’s organizations and other civil society organizations on the occasion of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 59, Beijing + 20 – Stabroek News – Georgetown, Guyana.

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/women-human-rights-defenders/

Sri Lanka releases prominent human rights defender on bail

March 11, 2015

<p>Tamil rights activist Balendran Jeyakumari (center) stands with supporters after being released on bail yesterday (Credit: ucanews.com) </p>

Tamil rights activist Balendran Jeyakumari (center) stands with supporters after being released on bail yesterday (Credit: ucanews.com)

So, maybe things are slowly changing in the right direction in Sri Lanka. On Tuesday 10 March, human rights defender, Balendran Jeyakumari, arrested 13  March last year,  was released on bail. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/sri-lanka-release-of-mr-ruki-fernando-and-rev-praveen-mahesan/]

Read the rest of this entry »

Documentary Filmmakers and Human Rights Defenders: the Impact Awards

November 22, 2014

A blog that pride itself to follow with special interest what is happening in the area of film making and human rights defenders, cannot pass up this post by Queen Noor of Jordan in the Huffington Post of 21 November 2014: “Today, as the winners of the 2014 Impact Award are announced, is a good day to honour the work of documentary filmmakers everywhere. In particular, their role in documenting, highlighting and explaining human rights abuses and human rights protests even in places that western journalists cannot reach.” The growing availability of cheap small recording devices over the past years has been a major development for filmmakers and human rights defenders, allowing stories to emerge even from ‘difficult’ countries.

no fire zone

(No Fire Zone – one of the winners of BRITDOC Impact Award 2014)

Four years ago, when I was part of the first Impact Award jury, we gave a special mention to the film Burma VJ. I was struck by the bravery of the Burmese video journalists who were able to capture the striking images of the Saffron Revolution. 

This year, the Impact Award is honouring No Fire Zone, which examines the closing days of the Sri Lankan civil war against the Tamil Tigers, a deeply shocking account of an assault against civilians, which premiered at the United Nations Human Rights Council and played a crucial role in the Council’s decision this year to finally order an independent review of the death of 70,000 civilians. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/11th-human-rights-film-festival-starts-1st-march-in-geneva-with-a-bang-that-upsets-sri-lanka/]

Other films being awarded this year are: GranitoBlackfishAmerican Promise and The House I Live In.

Documentary Filmmakers Piece Together The Truth | Queen Noor of Jordan.

Swiss Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders analyzed by civil society

November 2, 2014

In December 2013, the Swiss Government became one of the few countries to issue specific Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (http://www.humanrights.ch/en/switzerland/foreign-affairs/human-rights-foreign-policy/multilateral-policy/switzerland-guidelines-protection-human-rights-defenders). As in the case of all guidelines, the real test is in the implementation and on 12 June 2014, the Centre for Peacebuilding (KOFF) at Swisspeace organized a conference on the protection of HRDs, which brought together HRDs from Guatemala, Honduras, Serbia, Russia and Sri Lanka, Swiss government officials and representatives of Swiss civil society in order to give consideration to the different challenges that exist when it comes to HRD protection and, in particular, implementation of the Swiss guidelines.

Read the rest of this entry »