Posts Tagged ‘UN Declaration’

Russia goes ahead with hundreds of inspections against HRDs to paralyse human rights work

March 26, 2013

I have reported extensively over the last days on the question of growing judicial and administrative harassment of NGOs and human rights defenders, including the adoption of a resolution last week by the UN Human Rights Council recalling that “domestic law and administrative provisions […] should facilitate the work of human rights defenders, including by avoiding any criminalization, stigmatization, impediments, obstructions or restrictions thereof contrary to international human rights law”. Still, this is exactly what the Russian Federation is doing at the moment according to a statement by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders: Hundreds of NGOs are being subjected to inspections by Government officials across the Russian Federation. This follows the adoption in 2012 of several laws contradicting the right to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression. …Since the end of February until today, dozens of inspections of NGOs have been launched in at least 13 regions of the Russian Federation, including Krasnodar, Moscow, Orenburg, Penza, Perm and Altai territories, St. Petersburg, Primorsky, Saratov and Rostov provinces. In St. Petersburg, the Spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor declared on March 19, 2013 that over the month some 5,000 inspections would be conducted to check compliance with the laws on terrorism, extremism as well as other offences. After this date, dozens of NGOs were inspected in St. Petersburg, including LGBT, human rights and environmental NGOs. Across the country, these operations have been conducted by prosecutors, together with, in some cases, officials from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Federal Security Service FSB, the Ministry of Emergencies, the Federal Service for Supervision of Protection of Consumer Rights and Human Well-Being, the Tax Inspectorate, the Centre E, a unit specialised in anti-extremism, and even the fire service. According to the information received, inspections have particularly targeted groups that supposedly receive foreign funding and conduct monitoring or advocacy work. The scope of the inspections appears to be far-ranging, though inspectors have particularly insisted on the issue of funding. The massive character as well as methods used during inspections disproportionately interfere with the right to freedom of association: the number of inspections is massive, most inspections are unannounced, NGOs have been given short deadlines to provide a huge amount of documents and vague and non-exhaustive lists of requirements. In the case of prominent NGO Human Rights Centre “Memorial”, a pro-government TV crew was informed and present during the inspection. The news report entitled “Memorial hides its income from the Prosecutors Office” was broadcast the same day before the end of the inspection, in flagrant violation of the presumption of innocence. “Information on NGOs sources of funding are public. Read the rest of this entry »

Norway’s Landmark Resolution on Human Rights Defenders passes in Human Rights Council

March 23, 2013

On Thursday 21 March 2013 a resolution, led by Norway was adopted by consensus by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.  It calls on all States to support the work of human rights defenders and to protect them from harassment, threats and attacks.

The use and abuse of national laws to impair, restrict and even criminalise the work of human rights defenders is a contravention of international law and must end, according to a landmark resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council today.

Introducing the resolution, Norway’s Ambassador to the UN, Steffen Kongstad, said he was ‘gravely concerned by the serious nature of risks faced by human rights defenders’ and called on all states to ‘facilitate their work’ and ensure it is not ‘criminalised or stigmatised’.

‘The resolution is a clear affirmation that national law must conform with international human rights law. The resolution demands the amendment of national laws which target human rights defenders, including laws which restrict NGOs from receiving foreign funding, which criminalise “homosexual propaganda”, or which limit freedom of expression or assembly on discriminatory grounds.’ Michael Ineichen of the ISHR, expressing an opinion similar to that of many other human rights NGOs.


US State Department sets out its actions to support Human Rights Defenders

March 10, 2013

On 8 March 2013 – probably timed to coincide with the debate in the UN Human Rights Council – the U.S. Department of  State published an overview of it support for Human Rights Defenders. It reads in part:

Protecting and supporting human rights defenders is a key priority of U.S. foreign policy. The Department’s objective is to enable human rights defenders to promote and defend human rights without hindrance or undue restriction and free from fear of retribution against them or their families. The work of these brave individuals and groups is an integral part of a vibrant civil society, and our investment in and support of them is likewise an investment in and support of the rule of law and democracy. Every day, around the world, many in civil society turn to us for assistance in emergency situations and to help them achieve longer-term goals that will make their countries more just and democratic.

After a short description of who are considered Human Rights Defenders and a quote from Hillary Rodham Clinton (as U.S. Secretary of State Krakow, Poland on July 3, 2010): When NGOs come under threat, we should provide protection where we can, and amplify the voices of activists by meeting with them publicly at home and abroad, and citing their work in what we say and do.” The webpage sets out the way in which the State Department protects and supports human rights defenders, including:
Read the rest of this entry »

Tanzanian Human Rights Defenders organisation explains the work of local HRDs

March 5, 2013

In IPP Media of 5 March 2013 appears a lengthy piece by correspondent GERALD KITABU who interviewed the head of the NGO ‘Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition’ (THRD-Coalition) Mr ONESMO OLENGURUMWA on the protection of human rights defenders in Tanzania. It interesting to see such an article which demonstrates the depth of the Human Rights Defenders issue at the local level. Here follow a few quotes:

QUESTION:  Who is a human right defender? 
ANSWER: A human rights defender is any individual, groups and organs of society seeking to promote and protect universally recognized human rights and freedom. Human rights defenders include lawyers, judges, journalists, whistle blowers, bloggers, students, religious leaders, trade unionists and any other person working to combat human rights abuses in a peaceful manner.
Q: What is the current situation of human rights defenders in Tanzania?
A: Our organization has recorded a number of security incidents towards human rights defenders. Despite being change agents, these activists are continuously harassed, detained, interrogated, imprisoned, tortured and even at times  paying the ultimate price when they are killed for what they do. A good example is the last year’s killing of Iringa based Channel Ten journalist Daudi Mwangosi, the barbaric and brutal torture of Dr. Stephen Ulimboka, the death of Issa Gumba, the suspicious death of women human right defender in Mara Eustace Nyarugenda who was the director of Action Based Foundation, continuing constant threats towards other journalists like Cosmas Makongo, Josephat Isango, Charless Misango, the indefinite ban of Mwanahalisi and the arbitrary arrest of human rights defenders. These are just few incidents that paints a bad picture on the map of Tanzania when it comes to observing human rights….

Protection International publishes FOCUS Report 2013 on Policies concerning Human Rights Defenders

February 25, 2013


Protection International (PI) is published on 23 February 2013 its first FOCUS report. To commemorate the 15th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), the report presents the results from PI’s research on public government policies to protect human rights defenders internationally. It analyzes the development of public policy meant to protect human rights defenders. While acknowledging advances that have clearly enhanced existing regional and international mechanisms, the report adopts a critical approach since  States are ultimately responsible for protecting Human Rights Defenders, starting with governments.PI hopes this report will contribute to the discussion on how to improve existing public policies and spur discussion between civil society organizations and governments of countries where protection of human rights defenders is far from being ensured.

The full report can be downloaded in several languages via: FOCUS Report 2013 : “Public Policies for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders: The State of the Art” | | ProtectionlineProtectionline.

Help make 9 December a special day for Human Rights Defenders!

October 1, 2011





I proposed some time ago to do something special for HRDs on 9 December see:  Human Rights Defenders Day // Bloggers Unite.

There are now 8 bloggers ‘participating’ which is a good start, but I think we need more persons and especially the ears and minds of the larger human rights NGOs. And then we need I new ideas……Please let me have yours..

What I wrote is the following:

10 December is International Human Rights Day but individual human rights defenders (HRDs) are so important that they deserve special and separate attention. On 9 December 1998 the UN adopted the ‘Declaration on the right and responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms’. It marks a historic achievement in the long struggle toward better protection of those at risk for carrying out legitimate human rights activities and is the first UN instrument that recognizes the importance and legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders, as well as their need for better protection. The UN Council for Human Rights also has a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders. Most NGOs have some kind of mandate to come to the rescue of their colleagues in difficulty. It is not necessary to create another formal UN-sanctioned International Day for Human Rights Defenders, but more focus could be achieved on this special day. I am open to ideas from others. I could think of a common list HRDs in prison or killed, to be remembered the next day, human rights day.