Posts Tagged ‘statelessness’

About the struggle against statelessness

July 10, 2019

Amal de Chickera of the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion worre on 5 July 2019 an OPINION: “We need to build a global statelessness movement”.

…The denial of the right to a nationality and resultant statelessness is a condition imposed on people (almost always through violating international law), with the intention of weakening them. Statelessness is thus, nothing short of violence. Even as the words and actions of many world leaders cheapen human rights and lives; promote insularity, narrow nationalism, racism, xenophobia, misogyny and hypocrisy and disproportionately target the most vulnerable; those denied legal status, the stateless and those at risk of statelessness are inevitably targeted by the politics of hatred and fear.

Be they Rohingya of Myanmar, refugees fleeing Syria, minorities in Assam India, Dominicans of Haitian origin, single Nepalese mothers, those accused of terrorism in the UK, human rights defenders in Bahrain, or those languishing in camps at the American border; we repeatedly witness the denial of status, the right to a nationality and (risk of) statelessness as a consequence and cause of discrimination, exclusion and hardship.

If the right to a nationality and inclusion were a house, it would be no exaggeration to say global politics and events have (again) lit a spark under its wooden foundation.

Confronted with this reality, over a year ago, our Institute decided to organise a World Conference on Statelessness. This may appear a strange decision, considering the number of all-consuming emergencies globally, but our motivation stemmed from a sense that we cannot always be in reaction mode.

We must confront the issue on the front foot, finding inclusive, creative and effective ways to promote the right to nationality. The conference brought together 300 activists, advocates, academics, artists and others from 60+ countries. One participant referred to it as the ‘A team’, not merely for the alliterative descriptors, but because of the commitment shown to come together and create something bigger and better than the sum of our parts.

But what does this mean?

On an issue as complex and intersectional as statelessness, spanning numerous fields including human rights, migration, child rights, development, feminism, humanitarianism, conflict, economics and politics (to name but some), it is evident that there are no simple or straightforward solutions. The conference however did throw up some clear indicators:

  1. The grand challenges of statelessness: the conference was structured around 10 Grand Challenges focusing on global crises and big issues – the Rohingya, Syria, gender discrimination, citizenship stripping and legal identity etc. These issues are bigger than statelessness but can only be resolved if the right to a nationality and statelessness is understood and prioritised.
  2. The underlying problems: The underlying causes of exclusion and statelessness are most often racism, patriarchy and xenophobia. We can tell right from wrong when a racist attacks a minority child, a misogynist harasses a woman, or a xenophobe abuses a migrant. But when this happens under the cloak of law, procedure and official language, we respond not with anger, but tolerance. We try to find a middle ground. The Kuwaiti Bidoon, the Nepali mother or stateless refugee in Greece are not searching for middle ground. They demand their rights.
  3. Celebrating successes: We have many successes to celebrate, including the Makonde successfully securing their Kenyan citizenship and Sierra Leone passing a gender equal nationality law. We must learn from our successes, as we do from our defeats.
  4. Inclusive, interdisciplinary and effective: We have to confront inequalities among ourselves, accepting the very real barriers to inclusion we face, challenging ourselves to diversify our work and our partners, and ultimately transcend the limitations of our own organisations and contexts, creating something bigger, that cannot be claimed by one entity.
  5. Activists front and centre: A global movement must have courageous activists who defy the odds to fight for their people. We who are not directly impacted by statelessness must step aside and let the real experts set the agenda, guide us and hold us to account.

We have a long way to go, but the stakes cannot be higher. The more nationality is instrumentalised and viewed as a privilege to be taken away from the undeserving, the more we will see people and groups being labelled as such, so they may be excluded, denied and deprived. Our house is burning and we can only stem the fire through a global movement and working together.

SEE ALSO: https://www.unhcr.org/protection/statelessness/53b698ab9/handbook-protection-stateless-persons.html

http://news.trust.org//item/20190705101713-ajq91/

Interview with human rights defender Victor Nanklan Touré of Ivory Coast (in French)

February 13, 2017

Victor Nanklan Touré is the president of NGO ‘Club Union Africaine Côte d’Ivoire’ which is mainly working on statelessness and land issues. A human rights advocate for over 15 years he participated in the civil society training organised in Banjul from 15 to 16 October 2016 by ISHR, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies. On this occasion he presented his work to ISHR and shared a message towards African political leaders.

The interview mentioned above is unfortunately only available in French.

Nawaf Al Hendal: portrait of a human rights defender from Kuwait

February 9, 2015

“I recognise that I may never be granted these fundamental rights in my life time, but I want more for our children. We should promise them that.”

On 30 January 2015 the ISHR Bulletin did a good write-up on Nawaf Al Hendal, a Human rights defender from Kuwait.

The Universal Periodic Review of Kuwait took place at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 28 January 2015. Prominent human rights defender, Nawaf Al Hendal, who travelled to Geneva for the review of Kuwait’s human rights record, was advised that an arrest warrant awaits him on return to Kuwait in connection with allegations of damaging foreign relations and using Twitter to insult lateSaudi King Abdullah. Nawaf discussed the situation for human rights defenders in Kuwait and the on-going threat of reprisals with ISHR.

Nawaf Al Hendal, the founder of Kuwait Watch, has been an active human rights defender in Kuwait since 2004. Nawaf’s drive to become a human rights defender initially arose when he witnessed his colleagues being subject to unfair work standards imposed by his employer at the time. Nawaf could not allow his colleagues’ rights to be eroded without any resistance. For this reason, when his colleagues felt unable to do so, Nawaf decided to fight for the protection of their rights.

‘I love my country and its people. I believe that every person in Kuwait should have access to fundamental and equal rights.’

When Nawaf realised he was able to have an impact in the protection of his colleagues’ rights, his focus extended to the protection of people’s rights more generally in Kuwait.

Nawaf is well known for his work defending the rights of stateless persons, including the Bedouin community who are deprived of the right to employment, education and healthcare in Kuwait. Nawaf, now through Kuwait Watch, is active in engaging with the UN human rights system, including making submissions to the UPR, various treaty bodies and States active in the human rights system, as well as international NGOs. Kuwait Watch also actively engages in grass roots advocacy, including organising peaceful protests and consulting with employers and medical practitioners to gain employment and medical care for Bedouin people.

Nawaf is adamant about the importance of social media in the work of human rights defenders.

‘We use social media to demonstrate the restrictions on fundamental freedoms placed on people in Kuwait to the rest of the world. We also use social media to make it clear to the Kuwaiti authorities that we will continue to defend the rights of all people in Kuwait.’

Overall, Nawaf considers that his work thus far has not gone unnoticed by the Kuwaiti authorities. Despite the troubling implications for Nawaf as an individual, he considers that the fact that a warrant for his arrest was issued simultaneously with his travel to Geneva for the periodic review of Kuwait is indicative of the Kuwaiti Government’s concern in relation to the increasing influence of Kuwaiti human rights defenders.

Nawaf explains that his advocacy is not politically driven, it is rights driven. He emphasised that Kuwait Watch is not seeking a political transformation in government but simply the development of legal protections for people in Kuwait.

‘We [Kuwait Watch] commended the Kuwaiti Government’s decision to make primary and intermediate education free and compulsory for children and prohibit children under the age of 15 years from working.’

The prosecution of human rights defenders, opposition activists and bloggers for allegedly undermining the status of the emir of Kuwait is widespread in the country. Lese-majeste, national security and ‘national unity’ laws have recently been used to prosecute activists who are critical of the human rights records of heads of state with which Kuwait has diplomatic relations, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt. According to Nawaf, the Public Gatherings Law, the Penal Code, national security legislation, press regulations, and lese-majeste and blasphemy laws, are all used and abused to criminalise free speech in the country.

‘As a human rights defender in Kuwait you are always at risk. In an attempt to silence dissenting voices, human rights defenders are often imprisoned for unrelated, and often fabricated, offences.’

Nawaf tells the story of his arrest in 2013 on his return to Bahrain, where he had been studying at Delmon University for Science & Technology since 2008. Nawaf was advised that he could no longer enter Bahrain as the Kuwaiti authorities intended to arrest him in connection with terrorist activities.

‘Since my arrest in 2013, I have not been able to return to Bahrain and my five years of study in Bahrain have not been recognised.’

Nawaf explained that in an additional attempt to silence dissenting voices, national newspapers and television channels have been known to print articles in an attempt to invalidate the work of human rights defenders.

‘In addition to legislation restricting fundamental rights of people living in Kuwait and the independence of human rights institutions, the legislative framework limits the number of human rights organisations to one’

Given the restriction on the number of human rights organisations in Kuwait, Kuwait Watch is registered in the United Kingdom.

‘We engage with the UN human rights system in the hope that the UN will require the Kuwait Government to enact and reform legislation to protect human rights defenders as well of the rights of all people in Kuwait.’

Nawaf emphasises the importance he places on ensuring that the next generation will have the fundamental rights they are entitled to.

‘I recognise that I may never be granted these fundamental rights in my life time, but I want more for our children. We should promise them that.’

 

Nawaf Al Hendal: Human rights defender from Kuwait | ISHR.

Car chase in Kuwait: Bedoun Human Rights Defender the target

February 27, 2014

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped reports that on 24 February 2014, human rights defender Abdulhakim Al Fadhli was chased by state security cars and then taken to state security headquarters, where he remains in detention. Earlier that day, human rights defenders Mr Nawaf Al Hendal and Ms Hadil Abo Qoreis were summonsed via news broadcasts to appear before state security investigations service.  Abdulhakim Al Fadhli had also been unofficially informed of a summons against him. As in a B-film, state security cars, chasing Abdulhakim Al Fadhli, Read the rest of this entry »

New REFWORLD goes live this week: an underestimated tool for Human Rights Defenders and researchers

April 16, 2013

Logo of United Nations Refugee Agency.Version ...

UNHCR’s Refworld 2013 goes live this week at http://www.refworld.org. The website has undergone significant changes based on a feedback received from internal and external users over the years.

Refworld started almost 20 years ago as an ever-expanding series of DVD’s containing the different databases of documentation centre of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. With the wider availability of broadband it switched in 2007 to internet only. It was already then considered an advanced protection information resource which aims to facilitate evidence-based and effective decision-making in refugee status determination procedures. Now it functions more broadly as a key tool for evidence-based advocacy relating to resettlement, statelessness, internal displacement, as well as specific protection concerns. The database, updated on a daily basis, now contains more than 167,000 documents relating to countries of origin or asylum, case law, legislation and policy. Especially the ‘country of origin’ information is relevant to human rights defenders as it is in fact a selection of human rights violations documentation. Also the legal information section is a unique collection of worldwide documentation concerning refugee law and statelessness.

Refworld 2013  features a number of improvements, such as: Read the rest of this entry »