Posts Tagged ‘United Nations Human Rights Council’

UN Rapporteurs urge end to harassment of human rights defenders in Occupied Palestinian Territory

December 19, 2015

 

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst. Photo: MINUSTAH

Gravely concerned at continued reports that human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in Hebron, are being subjected to physical attacks and death threats, United Nations independent experts denounced on 18 December 2015 such harassment as “unacceptable” and called for it to end immediately. Human rights defenders have been subjected to physical attacks, harassment, arrest and detention, and death threats, in an apparent bid by Israeli authorities and settler elements to stop their peaceful and important work.

Amidst a charged and violent atmosphere over past months in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Palestinian and international defenders are providing a ‘protective presence’ for Palestinians at risk of violence, and documenting human rights violations,” said UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst.

Earlier this month, a group of UN human rights experts urged the Israeli Government to ensure a protective environment where human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory can work without unlawful restriction and without fear of retaliatory acts.

We recently addressed concerns to the Israeli Government regarding retaliatory acts by Israeli authorities against members of one organisation based in Hebron, Youth Against Settlements, after its Centre was subjected to raids and settlers allegedly called for it to be closed,” noted the UN Special Rapporteur the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Makarim Wibisono. He noted that the Centre has now effectively been shut down as a result of the Israeli military declaring the surrounding area a military zone. “We urge Israeli authorities to lift this military order”.


Source: United Nations News Centre – UN experts urge end to harassment of human rights defenders in Occupied Palestinian Territory

Reprisals against Human Rights Defenders continue says UN report

September 17, 2015

Reprisals against human rights defenders continue and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (fortunately) continues to give it prominence. A newly released United Nations report names 20 nations that have taken action against rights defenders and activists over the past year. Here the version of the New York Times (Nick Cumming) of 15 September 2015:

Those who give evidence to United Nations human rights investigators are facing increasingly severe reprisals, the United Nations Human Rights Council said Tuesday in a report naming 20 countries that took action against rights defenders and activists in the past year. The instances included intimidation and reprisals against the council’s commissions of inquiry on Eritrea and the 2014 war in Gaza, as well as people cooperating with United Nations investigators and staff monitoring human rights developments, the council’s president, Joachim Rücker, reported. “The types of acts reported seem to have become more varied and severe over time, targeting not only the individuals or groups concerned, but also their families, legal representatives, nongovernmental organizations and anyone linked to them,” he said in the report, which covers events in the year up to the end of May. The penalties it cited ranged from threats and travel bans to imprisonment, torture, sexual violence and disappearance. The list was not exhaustive, leaving out cases where naming individuals might endanger them.

In a statement to the council, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations’ High Commissioner for human rights, expressed concern on Monday about China’s detention of more than 100 lawyers and Russia’s stigmatization of nongovernment organizations getting overseas funding, but the report includes only one example of intimidation in each country.

It describes the torture of Sadriddin Toshev, a prisoner in Tajikistan, beaten in front of other inmates by prison officials who cited his interaction with a United Nations investigator on torture. Mr. Toshev was later charged with fraud, accused of deliberately wounding himself to discredit prison officials and of distributing false information, the report said.

Among other cases, the report cites a five-year prison sentence which it says was imposed in Iran on Mohammad Ali Taheri for cooperating with the United Nations expert monitoring human rights there. It also describes the violent arrest of a human rights defender in Myanmar by 10 plainclothes security men as he was on his way to provide evidence to the council-appointed expert assessing developments there.

“Such acts not only show a complete disregard for the functioning of the United Nations as a whole but also highlight the fact that, despite repeated calls for action by states to end all such violations, impunity continues to surround them,” the report said.

Having written so often about this topic, a link to previous posts is all this is needed: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/reprisals/ 

Source: Retribution Increases Against Those Aiding Human Rights Inquiries – The New York Times

Some States have the courage to set out their commitments as members of the Human Rights Council

July 17, 2014

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have successfully co-hosted for the third time an event where candidate countries for the UN Human Rights Council have voluntarily shown up to set out their views and commitments in case they would be elected. ‘We are delighted to see more and more States prepared to participate in what is becoming an annual event, said Eleanor Openshaw of the ISHR. We would encourage all State candidates to see this as an opportunity to speak about their vision and commitments as members of the Council and, through their participation, to demonstrate the kind of transparency and accountability that should be expected of all Council members.  Ahead of elections to the UN Human Rights Council in November by the GA, seven candidate States have subjected themselves to public questioning, at the event hosted at UN Headquarters by the 2 NGOs and the missions of Tunisia and Uruguay.

Albania, Bolivia, Botswana, Costa Rica, Latvia, The Netherlands and Portugal elaborated on their pledges and were questioned on how they would work as members of the Council to challenge human rights violations and uphold the credibility of the Council. It is a pity that the other 10 candidates did not (yet) have the courage to join.

The protection of human rights defenders featured prominently in the discussion, with the Netherlands Human Rights Ambassador, Lionel Veer, describing human rights defenders as agents of change and calling for stronger recognition and protection of their work under both national and international law.  Building on this, all speakers affirmed their State’s commitment to the protection of defenders, with Albania and Bolivia committing to support and strengthen civil society engagement with the UN and Costa Rica pledging to support the right of peaceful protest. Botswana was explicit about its commitment to prevent and ensure accountability for reprisals and to work for the endorsement of Human Rights Council Resolution 24/24, adoption of which by the General Assembly would provide for the appointment of a high-level UN focal point to combat reprisals. We welcome the statements and commitments made by States to protect the work of human rights defenders and support robust civil society engagement with the UN, said Ms Openshaw. This is a recognition of the crucial role played by defenders in holding States to account for their human rights obligations at both the national and international levels.

A webcast of the event is available here: http://webtv.un.org/watch/human-rights-council-elections-a-discussion-of…-aspirations-and-vision-for-membership/3676385473001/.

via States set out their vision and commitments as members of the Human Rights Council | ISHR.

25th UN Human Rights Council opens with calls to protect Human Rights Defenders

March 4, 2014


(High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay at the 25th session of the Human Rights Council. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)

 

 

Yesterday, 3 March 2014, the top UN functionaries opened the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council with calls for the protection of members of civil society who pursue justice in their countries (a long euphemism for Human Rights Defenders).

 

Streets, airwaves, entire countries are buzzing with demands for economic, social and political justice,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said. Setting out this agenda and acknowledging the hard work that lay ahead in ensuring that all people enjoyed equal rights, Ms. Pillay emphasized the important role of civil society in those efforts. “We need to work together to ensure that the space, voice and knowledge of civil society is nurtured in all our countries,” she stressed. Recalling reports of what she labelled “intolerable” reprisals against people who coöperate with the UN’s human rights activities, she called for more action to protect them. “The UN itself is required to protect and support those who contribute to its work, often at great personal risk,” she said.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added on this point that, “No one should have to risk their life for standing up and speaking out on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.” Civil society was the representative of “We the Peoples,” as cited in the opening of the UN Charter, and that it must be able to carry out its vital work, “free of reprisals and intimidation.” In that context, the Secretary-General highlighted the “Rights Up Front” action plan that he launched last year to ensure that human rights considerations were the top priority in all UN activities. “This initiative seeks to ensure that the United Nations system leverages the full breadth of its mandates to protect people at risk,” he said. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/rights-up-front-presented-by-jan-eliason-it-is-irrefutable-that-serious-human-rights-violations-are-the-best-early-warning-of-atrocities/]

Interesting to note that while in Geneva, the Secretary-General met 4 NGOs: the International Service for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists. Their discussion certainly stressed human rights defenders and the importance of protecting them from attacks.

via United Nations News Centre – UN Human Rights Council opens with calls to protect, support civil society activism.

Larijani brothers, Iran, attack UN Rapporteur and human rights defenders

February 2, 2014

Just weeks before the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran is scheduled to present his latest report at the UN, the Head of the Iranian Judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, and his brother, Mohammad Javad Larijani, who heads the human rights council of that same Judiciary body, renew their verbal attacks on the Rapporteur. Read the rest of this entry »

72 UN Rapporteurs issue exceptional joint statement calling for more cooperation and less reprisals

December 13, 2013

On the occasion of Human Rights Day, 10 December 2013, the largest ever body of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights system urged Governments to coöperate with them, and allow human rights organisations and individuals to engage with the UN “without fear of intimidation or reprisals.” The appeal by the 72 special procedures experts stated that: “Over the years more than 160 UN member States have been visited by at least one of our human rights experts, and a total of 106 States have extended an open invitation to special procedures,”  Around 30 States have not yet accepted a visit by any of our experts while others have given only selective access.  “Unfortunately, it has become a reality that a standing invitation cannot necessarily guarantee that a visit will actually take place.” Mr. Chaloka Beyani said on behalf the group. “The work we do relies heavily on our interaction with civil society, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders, other individuals working on the ground and victims of human rights violations,” the expert explained. “It is of utmost concern that some of these become victims of intimidation and reprisals. The protection of these vital partners is of utmost importance,” he said, calling on world Governments “to respond firmly against any act which threatens them and seeks to obstruct human rights work.Reprisals are a critical challenge facing the UN system and its human rights mechanisms. “We call for the designation of a focal point on the issue of intimidation and reprisals as soon as possible,

[The United Nations human rights experts are part of what it is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are charged by the Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on human rights issues. Currently, there are 37 thematic mandates and 14 mandates related to countries and territories, with 72 mandate holders. In March 2014, three new mandates will be added.]

via DisplayNews.

 

Retaliation against HRDs: GA Third Committee takes a step back – will General Assembly rectify?

December 4, 2013

The Monitor of the ISHR reports that in the Third Committee there was a serious setback in establishing an high-level ‘anti-reprisals focal point’ in the UN. In an unprecedented move, a group of States, led by Gabon and joined by others such as China and Russia, was successful in securing the passage of a resolution in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly to defer the appointment of such a senior UN official despite Read the rest of this entry »

Developing a model national law to protect human rights defenders – major project by the ISHR

November 21, 2013

The legal recognition and protection of human rights defenders is crucial to ensuring that they can work in a safe, supportive environment and be free from attacks, reprisals and unreasonable legal restrictions. Despite this, governments in all regions are increasingly enacting laws which restrict and even criminalise the work of human rights defenders and NGOs. In response the Geneva-based  International Service for Human Rights [ISHR] in partnership with regional, sub-regional and national human rights defender groups from around the world announces its plan to develop a model national law on human rights defenders to be enacted locally.ISHR-logo-colour-high  Read the rest of this entry »

Amnesty criticizes Vietnam with regard to HRDs, especially those using the internet

November 11, 2013

Authoritarian Vietnam has stepped up an alarming crackdown on domestic dissent even as it seeks a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty International says on 7 November. Vietnam is using a raft of draconian legislation to clamp down on a growing number of citizens who seek to question the party’s stranglehold on power. “Vietnam is fast turning into one of Southeast Asias largest prisons for human rights defenders and other activists” said Amnesty researcher Rupert Abbott to AFP.Amnesty-Internationa Read the rest of this entry »

Deadline for candidatures Special Rapporteur extended to 14 November

October 29, 2013

On 28 September I shared a message concerning criteria to help select the best possible successor as Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders. It mentioned 31 October as deadline, but the UN now informs us that the deadline for applications for special rapporteurs – to be appointed at the 25th session of the Human Rights Council (March 2014) – has been extended to Thursday 14 November 2013 (Midnight, GMT). If encountering technical difficulties, the Secretariat may be contacted by email: hrcspecialprocedures@ohchr.org.