Posts Tagged ‘Strasbourg’

Human Rights Defender “v.” Freedom of Expression

April 19, 2017

On 4 April 2017 the European Court of Human Rights rendered a judgment1 in the case of Milisavljević v. Serbia (application no. 50123/06) in which it unanimously held that there had been a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. What makes the case particularly interesting is that it concerns Natasa Kandic a well-known human rights defender who has won several awards including the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) in 1999. [see also : https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/04/07/serbian-natasa-kandic-receives-first-civil-rights-defender-of-the-year-awar/] Nothing is simple when it comes to human rights……

A journalist, Ms Milisavljević, had published in September 2003 an article in Politika about Kandic in which this journalist quoted another journalist who said that Kandic had been called a witch and a prostitute. Natasha Kandic sued for libel and the Serbian courts held that by failing to put one particular sentence – “Ms Kandić [had] been called a witch and a prostitute” – in quotation marks the journalist had tacitly endorsed the words as her own.

The European Court found that it was evident, even without the quotation marks, that that sentence, written by another journalist and previously published in a different magazine, had not been Ms Milisavljević’s personal opinion of Ms Kandić, but that she had merely been transmitting how Ms Kandić was perceived by others. Moreover, the domestic courts, limiting their reasoning to the lack of quotation marks, had completely failed to balance Ms Kandić’s right to reputation against Ms Milisavljević’s freedom of expression and duty, as a journalist, to impart information of general interest.

 CASE OF MILISAVLJEVIĆ v. SERBIA – Application no. 50123/06)

Today PACE must adopt resolutions on human rights defenders and NGO restrictions

January 28, 2016

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) must address the shrinking space for civil society. It must adopt resolutions to strengthen the protection and role of human rights defenders, and to prevent restrictions on NGO activities, in an increasingly worrying environment in many Council of Europe countries, especially Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation. These were the conclusions of discussions at the NGO side event on 27 January 2016 in Strasbourg. HRHN - network logo

I cannot accept that so many remain in prison and Europe doesn’t react strongly… The reason Azerbaijan continues the crackdown is that nobody, including the Council of Europe, takes any serious action,” stated Emin Huseynov, Institute for Reporters Freedom and Safety (IRFS), speaking at an event organised by a group of NGOs at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, sponsored by MPs Mailis Reps (Estonia) and Yves Cruchten (Luxembourg).

Since 2012, the situation has deteriorated in Russia… The activities of HRDs and NGOs are now considered political activities, and even if they do not receive foreign support they end up on the list of foreign agents and are constantly victims of harassment. It would be great to see a Council of Europe reaction on this,” commented Konstantin Baranov, International Youth Human Rights Movement, also speaking at the event.

The Assembly now has an opportunity to act, by adopting two draft resolutions today, 28 January 2016. Together, these resolutions address reprisals against human rights defenders cooperating with the Council of Europe and impunity for actors targeting civil society, and call for measures to end restrictions on NGOs and the misuse of restrictive legislation to criminalise the work of human rights defenders. See my earlier post: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/09/council-of-europe-draft-resolution-addresses-reprisals-with-priority/

Rapporteur Mailis Reps, author of the draft resolution Strengthening the Protection and Role of Human Rights Defenders, at the event stated: “Too many human rights defenders are paying a high price for their work and their fate should receive much greater attention from the Council of Europe’s institutions and member states.”

Rapporteur Yves Cruchten, author of the draft resolution Preventing Inappropriate Restrictions on NGO Activities, further stated: “When a member of a parliament decides to join PACE, this MP makes a pledge to human rights. We need to speak up and not let our governments make deals that disregard human rights.” 

Source: PACE Must Act: Protect human rights defenders, prevent NGO restrictions – Human Rights House Network

http://website-pace.net/en_GB/web/apce/plenary-session

Irish Students Meet Human Rights Defenders

December 19, 2014

Not a shocking story but an excellent illustration of ​​how to motivate students through meeting Human Rights Defenders in person:

Thirty three staff and students of the Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), Tipperary were in Strasbourg last November as guests of the European Parliament’s Human Rights committee. The group spent three days in the French city. They were given a seminar on the European Parliament. However the main purpose of the visit was to attend a workshop with Human Rights Defenders from across the world. They met students involved in the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine and a young woman pleading for the lives of her imprisoned parents in Azerbaijan.

However the most heart wrenching and inspiring words came from Dr Denis Mukwege, a doctor from the Congo who has dedicated his life to treating women who are victims of the brutal conflict in the east of his country. Dr Mukwege was in Strasbourg to receive the Sakharov Prize for freedom of speech and the Tipperary students were part of a delegation of young people invited to meet with him and other nominees. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/congolese-gynecologist-wins-europes-sakharov-prize-in-2014/]

He told the group that it was the womens’ courage and stories of recovery that kept him motivated. All present felt honoured to be invited to such a prestigious event and urged everybody to remember those struggling against injustice. For more information on the groups visit: Social Community Studies facebook page at LIT

 

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News – LIT-Tipperary-Students-Meet-Human-Rights-Defenders.

Congolese gynecologist wins Europe’s Sakharov Prize in 2014

October 22, 2014

The 2014 Sakharov Prize goes to the Congolese physician Denis Mukwege for his treatment of the victims of gang rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Congolese physician Denis Mukwege, will be awarded this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, European Parliament President Martin Schulz announced in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

Mukwege has been treating rape victims at a clinic in Bukavu on the Rwandan border for decades. He has performed thousands of surgeries on women to heal their injuries sustained in violent attacks, often by local militias. The 59-year-old founded a gynaecology unit and maternity ward in Bukavu in 1996, the first of its kind in the area. He has since expanded the station to an entire hospital, which he runs. The Second Congo War began in August 1998, ravaging the region. Mukwege is said to have performed over 10,000 operations on rape victims ever since.

The other finalists were Ukraine’s pro-Western Euromaidan movement and Azerbaijani rights defender Leyla Yunus.[https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/more-on-the-sakharov-prize-and-the-arab-nominees/]

For more information on the award see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/sakharov-prize-freedom-thought

The 2014 prize will be awarded at a ceremony in Strasbourg on 26 November.

Congolese gynecologist wins Sakharov Prize | News | DW.DE | 21.10.2014.

for our french speakers: http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2014/10/21/le-docteur-mukwege-recoit-le-prix-sakharov-pour-son-soutien-aux-femmes-violees-en-rdc_4510098_3214.html

 

Nominees for Sakharov Prize 2014 announced

September 22, 2014

7 nominees for the European Parliament’s 2014 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, chosen by political groups and groups of MEPs, will be presented at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Development committees and the Human Rights Subcommittee on 23 September. The laureate will be decided by political group leaders and Parliament’s President on 16 October. The award ceremony takes place in Strasbourg on 26 November. The nominees in alphabetical order are [for more information on human rights awards: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards]

  1. Mahmoud Al ‘Asali post mortem and Louis Raphael Sako, nominated by the ECR group, Anna Záborská and 66 other MEPs,
  2. Mouad Belghouate, Ala Yaacoubi and Alaa Abdel Fattah, nominated by the GUE/NGL group,
  3. CHREDO, Open Doors, Oeuvre dOrient and Aid to the Church in Need, nominated by Philippe Juvin and 60 other MEPs,
  4. EuroMaidan, represented by Mustafa Nayem, Ruslana Lyzhychko, Yelyzaveta Schepetylnykova and Tetiana Chornovo, nominated by Jacek Saryusz-Wolski and 52 other MEPs,
  5. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, nominated by the EFDD group,
  6. Denis Mukwege, nominated by the S&D and ALDE groups and Barbara Lochbihler, and
  7. Leyla Yunus, nominated by The Greens/EFA group and Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Marietje Schaake and Ramon Tremosa.

via Nominees for Sakharov Prize 2014 announced.