Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

4 activists receive the ′Alternative Nobel Prize′ 2017

September 30, 2017

This year’s Right Livelihood Awards recipients have fought for greater inclusion for those with disabilities, defended human and health rights, as well as sought to expose governmental corruption.

Winnres of the Right Livelihood Awards (Right Livelihood-Award)

The Right Livelihood Award Foundation announced the three recipients of its 2017 prize on Tuesday 26 September in Stockholm: Ethiopian lawyer Yetnebersh Nigussie, Azerbaijani investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova and Indian attorney Colin Gonsalves were honored for their work “offering visionary and exemplary solutions to the root causes of global problems.” US attorney Robert Bilott received an honorary mention.

The four awardees were selected from a pool of 102 nominations from 51 different countries. An award ceremony will take place on December 1.

Niguissie, Ismayilova and Gonsalves will share a prize of 3 million Swedish kronor (around €314,000).

For more on the award see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest.  for earlier post: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/right-livelihood-award/

Source: ′Alternative Nobel Prize′ awarded to 4 global activists | News | DW | 26.09.2017

Eyes on Germany: human rights in the election campaign

September 21, 2017

With elections coming up in Germany this weekend it is interesting to alert you to three items that may have escaped attention:

(1)  A report by Deutsche Welle states that Germany granted asylum to 196 Turkish diplomats:

In response to a parliamentary question by Left Party, Germany’s Interior Ministry said 196 Turkish nationals, who applied for asylum in Germany following a botched coup attempt in July, 2016, were recognized. According to the ministry statement, 80% of 249 Turkish applicants with diplomatic status and their families were given asylum. Members of Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) are also among those seeking asylum, said the ministry. The number of asylum applications from Turkey has been significantly increasing. There were 433 applications in June while this number rose to 620 in July and 962 in September.

(2) On 20 September Human Rights Watch made public its assessment of the ‘human rights’ content of the political platforms of the different parties. It concludes that the parties differ on human rights approach and in migration policy.

201709eca_germany_campaignposters
Election campaign posters for the upcoming general election are pictured in Berlin, Germany, September 12, 2017. © 2017 Reuters
Separately, a German newspaper publisher said it filed an appeal to Turkey’s highest court against the incarceration for the past five months of a German-Turkish reporter, the Associated Press has reported. Deniz Yücel, who works for the daily Die Welt, was arrested Feb. 14 in Istanbul. He was accused of disseminating terrorist propaganda and inciting hatred, as well as espionage and ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – allegations Yücel denies. He hasn’t been formally charged.

Sources:

Germany grants asylum to 196 Turkish diplomats: report | Turkey Purge

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/09/20/germany-parties-differ-human-rights-approach

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/germanys-merkel-criticizes-turkey-over-arrest-of-german-human-rights-activist.aspx?pageID=238&nID=115678&NewsCatID=351

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Eritrean-born journalist Dawit Isaak awarded 2017 UNESCO’s Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize

May 4, 2017

Dawit Isaak in Sweden circa 1987-88 © Kalle Ahlsén
Dawit Isaak, an imprisoned Eritrean-Swedish journalist, has been chosen to receive the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Mr. Isaak was arrested in a crackdown on the media that occurred in September 2001. The last time he was heard from was in 2005. His present location is unknown.  An independent international jury of media professionals recommended unanimously Mr. Isaak in recognition of his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression, and the recommendation was endorsed by the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

Defending fundamental freedoms calls for determination and courage – it calls for fearless advocates,” said Irina Bokova. “This is the legacy of Guillermo Cano, and the message we send today with this decision to highlight the work of Dawit Isaak.” Dawit Isaak joins a long list of courageous journalists who have persevered to shed light in the dark spaces; keeping their communities informed against all odds,” said Cilla Benkö, President of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2017 Jury. “Some have given their lives in the pursuit of truth. Many have been imprisoned. Dawit Isaak has spent nearly 16 years in jail, without charge or trial. I sincerely hope that with this award the world will say, ‘Free Dawit Isaak Now.’”

Dawit Isaak, a playwright, journalist and writer, moved to Sweden in 1987, where he later became a citizen. After the independence of Eritrea, he returned to his homeland to become one of the founders and reporters of Setit, the first independent newspaper in the country. He was known for his critical and insightful reporting. Mr. Isaak was arrested in September 2001 during a political crackdown on the so-called G-15, a group of politicians, and journalists critical of Government policies. Some were detained and tortured, others disappeared. The last known sighting of Mr. Isaak was in 2005. His whereabouts now are unknown.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, said: “The Eritrean authorities should stop the practice of arrests and detention carried out without legal basis instantly,” welcoming the award of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2017 to Mr. Isaak.

The Prize was awarded during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, hosted in Jakarta, Indonesia this year in the presence of the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, and the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo.

Created by UNESCO’s Executive Board in 1997, the annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize honours a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and, or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, and especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.

The $25,000 Prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogotá, on 17 December 1986. It is funded by the Cano Foundation (Colombia) and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland).

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/02/14/reporters-without-borders-published-its-2014-world-press-freedom-index/

Sources:

Eritrean-born journalist Dawit Isaak awarded UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2017

http://mareeg.com/eritrea-must-free-prize-winning-journalist-says-un-human-rights-expert/

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2017 (5): With Trump US president, Sweden must stand up for human rights

January 24, 2017

On 24 January 2017, thelocal.se published the English version of an opinion piece originally written in Swedish by Civil Rights Defenders executive director Robert Hårdh for newspaper Dagens Nyheter. Like my post published yesterday about the call for Canada to ‘compensate’ for Trumps election [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/01/23/2017-4-canadas-year-of-real-human-rights-action/], this piece argues that Sweden, also as a member of the EU and with its current place on the UN Security council, must step forward and take a greater responsibility to protect human rights on a global level: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Civil Rights Defenders (NGO), EU, human rights, Human Rights Defenders | 1 Comment »
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On Assange: there is more to the decision than knee-jerk reactions

February 7, 2016

The recent ruling by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has created quite a storm in and outside the human rights world. At first sight it would indeed seem almost ridiculous to maintain that Julian Assange, who is in ‘sel-imposed’ exile in the Ecuadorian Embassy, is being arbitrary detained. But a bit of reflection (which is not what the UK, Sweden practiced) would in order, especially as the countries involved still have a chance to comment the decision.

The General Council of the US-based NGO Human Rights Watch, Dinah PoKempner, wrote a clarifying piece on 5 February 2016 under the title: “On Assange, Following the Rules or Flouting Them?“. It does certainly help to see the decision in this context, in particular the consideration that Assange (whether one likes it or not) was recognized as a refugee by Ecuador and thus should be free to move.

It should not have been terribly surprising to Sweden or the United Kingdom that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that the various forms of confinement suffered by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange violate his human rights. The Working Group has many times warned that it is unlawful to force someone to choose between liberty and a fundamental right, such as asylum, which Assange now enjoys only so long as he stays inside the walls of the Ecuadorean embassy.

What is news are the deplorable rhetorical parries from the UK and Swedish governments, who both stated not just disagreement, but that the Working Group opinion would have absolutely no effect on their actions. This is not what one expects from democratic governments who usually support the UN mechanisms and international law.

“This changes nothing,” declared the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The foreign secretary diplomatically called the ruling “frankly ridiculous,” disparaging the Working Group as “a group of laypeople, not lawyers” (in fact, many of the experts are professors of law or human rights or both – see below). Sweden managed to avoid imprecation, but was no less unreceptive. The Foreign Ministry declared that the Working Group had no right to “interfere in an ongoing case handled by a Swedish public authority” and continued to insist that “Mr. Assange is free to leave the Embassy at any point.” As for the Prosecutor’s Office, it declared the UN body’s opinion “has no formal impact on the ongoing investigation, according to Swedish law.”

While the Working Group does not have the authority to force governments to heed its decisions, it is the authoritative voice of the UN on the issue of arbitrary detention, and its opinions are given great weight as interpretations of binding international law obligations. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights today attempted to remind Sweden and the UK of that in a discrete Note to Editors, saying the opinions should be taken into consideration as they are based on international human rights law that binds the relevant states.

Not much consideration appears to be happening. The UK has said that it will arrest Assange if he leaves the shelter of the embassy, either because of the European arrest warrant the Swedish prosecutor issued to investigate allegations of sexual offenses, or because he violated the conditions of his house arrest by going directly from his last UK court appearance to the Ecuadorean embassy in London to apply for asylum.

The Working Group found that Assange’s confinement – first in a UK prison, then under house arrest, and now in the embassy – violated his human rights. Given that Assange has claimed political asylum, a claim Ecuador recognizes but the UK and Sweden have not taken into account, the Working Group said his freedom of movement and security as a refugee should be respected, and compensation awarded.

Both Sweden and the UK are parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the treaty on which much of the decision rests, and are bound by other customary international law against returning refugees to locations where they risk persecution. Their failure to give due consideration to these international rights and obligations is what drove the conclusion that Assange’s confinement is “arbitrary.”

Let’s be clear: the issue is not Assange fleeing Swedish justice; he has continually expressed his willingness to be investigated by Sweden. What he won’t do is risk eventual extradition to the United States, which would like to prosecute him under the Espionage Act.

That is because WikiLeaks revealed the embarrassing diplomatic cables that Chelsea Manning leaked. And if you look at Manning’s fate, Assange has plenty to fear. Manning was abused in pretrial detention, denied the defense that the public interest justified her disclosures, and sentenced to 35 years. A secret US grand jury has been investigatingAssange on related Espionage Act charges for close to five years. Neither Sweden nor the UK will promise Assange he won’t be extradited, and both are close US allies in national security and intelligence affairs.

So who are the losers? Assange, who has already been confined longer than the maximum term he would serve in a Swedish prison were he found guilty, and the Swedish women who made the original allegations, and whose government won’t pursue the matter if it means protecting Assange from extradition to the US.

And now the UK and Sweden are big losers as well. Their fatuous dismissal of the Working Group won’t impugn this necessary and neutral body that was established by the world’s governments to uphold rights. But both have severely damaged their own reputation for being so ready to dismiss upholding inconvenient human rights obligations and their credibility as global advocates for rights by refusing to respect the institution of asylum.

Source: On Assange, Following the Rules or Flouting Them? | Human Rights Watch

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/02/06/un-arbitrary-detention-panel-opinionated-toothless.html

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Lund now has its own human rights film festival

February 1, 2016

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI) in Lund, Sweden, has now started a human rights film festival. The four-day festival runs from 4 to 7 March 2016 at Kino/Folkets Bio in Lund. Through the Lund Human Rights Film Festival, RWI  hopes to garner the captivating power of film to spread knowledge of and promote respect for the most challenging human rights issues of our time. Each film will be followed by a Q&A session or a panel discussion. Subtitles in English. The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law has chosen nine films taking into consideration the artistic quality and treatment of the human rights issue by the filmmaker with the following themes:
Friday, March 4: People in Exile
Saturday, March 5: Racial intolerance
Sunday, March 6: Women’s Rights
Monday, March 7: Dealing with the past

Source: (29)  Human Rights Film Festival

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Unlike his Chinese colleagues human rights defender Peter Dahlin can go home

January 26, 2016

After more than 20 days of detention and a public confession that sounded forced, Swedish human defender Peter Dahlin has been expelled from China, and is on his way home. The Chinese foreign ministry and Swedish embassy in Beijing confirmed Peter Dahlin, 35, had been released from detention and expelled from the country on Monday 15 January 2016.

[What Dahlin actually admitted to in his televised confession, and what a voice-over in Chinese said he had admitted to, were two very different things, as Quartz reported earlier. Discrepancies included his alleged “funding” of Chinese activists (Dahlin said “support” in his confession, which was in English), and an accusation that he had embezzled money from foreign NGOs, which Dahlin never admitted to.] https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/confessions-abound-on-chinese-television-first-gui-minhai-and-now-peter-dahlin/

Another Swedish citizen, Hong Kong-based bookseller Gui Minhairemains in custody in Beijing after his suspected abduction from Thailand by Chinese authorities. Swedish officials are “very concerned about the detained Swedish citizen Gui Minhai. Our efforts to bring clarity to his situation and be granted the opportunity to visit him continue with unabated intensity,” the Swedish embassy said in its statement.

Source: Human rights activist Peter Dahlin has been expelled from China, and is headed home to Sweden – Quartz

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The plight of human rights defenders in China: just two weeks into the new year

January 13, 2016

Perhaps one should be ‘grateful’ that China on 3 January 2016 decided to detain the Swedish human rights campaigner Peter Dahlin (first foreigner to be detained for ‘endangering state security’) as this helped international media the take note of the extraordinary crackdown by Chinese president Xi Jinping who is now widely considered to be China’s most authoritarian leader in decades. Here a short overview of the most notable cases in the first two weeks of 2016:

Paramilitary guards stand in front of the gates of Sweden’s embassy in Beijing on Wednesday
 Paramilitary guards stand in front of the gates of Sweden’s embassy in Beijing on Wednesday. Photograph: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Front Line, human rights, Human Rights Defenders, OMCT | 2 Comments »
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Israeli journalist and Palestinian pastor win Olof Palme award 2015

January 8, 2016

On 7 January 2016 it was announced that Israeli journalist Gideon Levy and Palestinian pastor Mitri Raheb have won the 2015 Olof Palme human rights prize. Levy, a journalist at the left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz, and Raheb, a preacher and pastor in the Lutheran church in Bethlehem, were honoured for their “courageous and indefatigable fight against occupation and violence, and for a future Middle East characterised by peaceful coexistence and equality for all,” the Olof Palme Memorial Fund said in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »

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5 June Stockholm: breakfast seminar on the importance of whistleblowers

May 27, 2015

Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders and Svenska PEN are organizing on 5 June 2015 a seminar where , Daniel Ellsberg, and Jesselyn Radack will talk about the importance of whistleblowers, how they are treated and what states and the international community need to do to improve their protection.

Mass surveillance, corruption and human rights violations are all issues that have been brought into light by whistle blowers. Protecting and supporting these individuals is important for any democratic state, but as history tragically has shown, this is not always the case. Today, a state’s treatment of whistle blowers can be considered a democratic litmus test – a way to measure how well-functioning its democracy is.

There is some ‘soft law’ on the protection of whistle blowers in the international arena, such as Resolution 1729 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Draft Recommendation on the Protection of Whistleblowers adopted by the Committee of Ministers of 30 April 2014, and there is binding jurisprudence from the European Court for Human Rights (derived from article 10 and linked to the media), but there is no internationally binding definition of what is a whistleblower and his/her protection.

For earlier posts on this topic: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/whistleblower/

The seminar (5 June from 9.00 – 10.00 am will latched place at Civil Rights Defenders, Stora Nygatan 26, and will be moderated by Ola Larsmo, chair Svenska PEN. The seminar will be conducted in English, and broadcasted live at Civil Rights Defenders’ Bambuser Channel. For more information, please contact Miriam Nordfors: miriam.nordfors@civilrightsdefenders.org

[More about the participants:

Thomas Drake is a former senior executive at the National Security Agency where he blew the whistle on massive multi-billion dollar fraud, waste and the widespread violations of the rights of citizens through secret mass surveillance programs after 9/11. As retaliation and reprisal, the Obama administration indicted Drake in 2010 as the first whistle blower since Daniel Ellsberg charged with espionage, and Drake faced 35 years in prison, turning him into an Enemy of the State for his oath to defend the Constitution. In 2011, the government’s case against him collapsed and he went free in a plea deal.

Daniel Ellsberg is a former U.S. military analyst who served in Vietnam, worked at the RAND Corporation, and then risked decades in prison to release the top-secret Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and other newspapers in 1971 — thereby adding impetus to the movement to end the Vietnam War. Although Ellsberg faced espionage and other felony charges, the case against him was dismissed because of egregious misconduct by the Nixon administration. Ellsberg has been a strong supporter of modern-day NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden and convicted Army whistle-blower Chelsea Manning. Daniel Ellsberg was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 2006.

Jesselyn Radack is the director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the leading U.S. whistle blower organization. Her program focuses specifically on secrecy, surveillance, torture and discrimination. She has been at the forefront of defending against the government’s unprecedented “war on whistle blowers”. She represents national security and intelligence community employees who have been investigated, charged or prosecuted under the Espionage Act for allegedly mishandling classified information, including Edward Snowden. Radack is author of TRAITOR: The Whistleblower & the “American Taliban”.]

Civil Rights Defenders – Breakfast seminar on whistle blowers; their importance and the need for protection.

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