Posts Tagged ‘USA’

Patrick Desbois, French priest who uncovered Nazi killings, awarded Lantos prize

November 10, 2017

Father Patrick Desbois speaks after being awarded the Lantos Human Rights Prize on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on October 26, 2017. (Chris Kleponis)

Father Patrick Desbois speaks after being awarded the Lantos Human Rights Prize on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on October 26, 2017. (Chris Kleponis)

Father Patrick Desbois, a Roman Catholic clergyman, whose work has uncovered millions of previously unknown victims of the Nazi genocide was awarded the Lantos Foundation’s Human Rights Prize. The Lantos Human Rights Prize is an annual award given by the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, an organization founded by Tom and Annette Lantos, who were both Holocaust survivors. For more on the award see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/lantos-human-rights-prize.

Father Patrick Desbois, who teaches at Georgetown University’s Program for Jewish Civilization, was recognized during a reception on Capitol Hill as a “vital voice standing up for the values of decency, dignity, freedom, and justice.” His scholarly reportage on the Holocaust has focused on the Jews who were killed by mass shootings by Nazi units in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Moldova and Romania between 1941 and 1944. In 2004, Desbois founded Yahad-In Unum, a French organization whose sole mission was to locate the mass graves of Jewish victims from Nazi paramilitary death squads. These regiments were responsible for the mass killings of Jews, often by shooting and primarily in the former Soviet Union.

His first book, “Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest’s Journey to Uncover the Truth behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews,” was based on that work and the culmination of its discoveries. Desbois has another book — a memoir on his life as an anti-genocide activist and Holocaust scholar — due for publication in 2018.

Other than uncovering unknown truths about the Nazi’s killing operation, Desbois has also been working on collecting evidence of the Islamic State’s massacre of the Yazidi people in parts of Iraq and Syria. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/09/collecting-human-rights-prize-yazidi-lawmaker-calls-trumps-travel-ban-unfair/]

Source: French priest who uncovered Nazi killing sites awarded Lantos rights prize | The Times of Israel

Full Trailer for the documentary ‘Quest’ – A Portrait of an American Family

November 6, 2017

Quest Documentary Trailer

“All we can do is roll with the punches…” First Run Features has unveiled a trailer for a documentary titled Quest, described as a “portrait of an American family” filmed over the course of almost a decade. This “epic in scope” documentary follows a couple in North Philadelphia – Christopher “Quest” Rainey, and his wife, Christine’a “Ma Quest” Rainey – as they raise a family in a poverty stricken neighborhood. This premiered at Sundance and has played at tons of festivals all year, picking up numerous awards including Human Rights awards, Jury Prizes, Audience Awards. Not to be confused with the feature film also titled Quest, about the graffiti-loving youngster.  Here’s the official trailer (+ poster) for Jonathan Olshefski’s documentary Quest, in high def on Apple:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/240185573?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0

Quest Documentary Poster

 

Source: Full Trailer for ‘Quest’ Documentary – A Portrait of an American Family | FirstShowing.net

Ceremony for Alfredo Romero, recipient of the 2017 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, on 16 November

October 24, 2017

Alfredo Romero from Venezuela is the winner of the 2017 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/alfredo-romero/]. The ceremony will take place on THURSDAY, 16 NOVEMBER 2017 in the Kennedy Caucus Room | Russell Senate Office Building| Washington, D.C.  Questions can be directed to bethany@taylormadeexperience.com or 412-335-9434.
Alfredo Romero was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and is the Executive Director of human rights organization Foro Penal Venezolano (FPV). FPV was founded in 2005 by Alfredo Romero and three other lawyers to provide pro bono legal assistance to victims of arbitrary detention, due process violations or other human rights violations, including torture or cruel and inhuman treatment. Under Alfredo’s leadership, over 200 lawyers and 1,700 volunteers across the country are providing assistance to victims of human rights violations and their families. To date, FPV has provided assistance to more than 4,000 people.
In addition to his role as Executive Director of FPV, Alfredo was until recently a Fellow with the Carr Center For Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He is also currently a partner at Himiob, Romero & Asociados law firm and has been a professor at the Central University of Venezuela and the Andrés Bello Catholic University. Alfredo obtained his Law Degree from the Andrés Bello Catholic University in 1991, and has an M.A in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University (1994) and an LL.M. from the London School of Economics (1997). He is married and is the father of two kids. A marathon runner and an accomplished musician, Alfredo has composed several songs dedicated to the Venezuelan people and to the political prisoners in his country.
For more info on the award: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/robert-f-kennedy-human-rights-award

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

Nominations sought for the Alexander Human Rights Law Prize

September 30, 2017

Santa Clara University School of Law is seeking nominations of outstanding lawyers who might be candidates for the Alexander Human Rights Law Prize, given annually by the Law School. Now in its 11th year, the “Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize” is intended to bring recognition to lawyers who have used their legal knowledge and skills to help alleviate injustice and inequity. For more information see the recently made public Digest of Human Rights Awards: www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest.
Nominees must be lawyers who have used their skill, knowledge and abilities in the field of law to correct injustice. Selection criteria may include factors such as the:
  • Innovative nature of the programs or other activities undertaken
  • Courage and self-sacrifice required
  • Sustainability of the programs the nominee has implemented
  • Number of people benefited

Nominations should be submitted here. The deadline is 1 October 1, 2017 (although this came from an article published on 29 September).

Previous laureates are:

► 2008 Award Winner: Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, where he and his colleagues have helped reduce or overturn death sentences in more than sixty cases.

► 2009 Award Winner: Mario Joseph, one of Haiti’s most influential and respected human rights attorneys and Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), which uses prominent human rights cases and a victim-centered approach to force open the doors of Haiti’s justice system for the country’s poor majority.

► 2010 Award Winner: Shadi Sadr, an Iranian lawyer who has risked her life in her efforts to protect the human rights of women, activists, and journalists, and who launched the “End Stoning Forever” campaign and Raahi, a legal center for women which has been forced to close since Ms. Sadr has been in exile.

► 2011 Award Winner: Paul Van Zyl, former Executive Secretary of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, co‐founder of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), and now the CEO of PeaceVentures.

► 2012 Award Winner: Almudena Bernabeau, formerly of the Center for Justice and Accountability and founder of Guernica37, a new human rights law firm litigating on behalf of victims of human rights abuses.

► 2013 Award Winner: Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese civil rights attorney who, although he is blind and had a broken leg at the time, managed to escape house arrest in China. He was targeted for his human rights campaigns, including against forced abortion while China’s one-child policy was in place.

► 2014 Award Winner: Hossam Bahgat, founder and former Executive Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, whom I featured here when he was detained again for advocating on behalf of the freedom of speech and assembly in Tahrir Square.

2015 Award Winner: Martina E. Vandenberg, founder and president of The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center.

2016 Maria Foscarinis, founder and executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (2016).

2017 Paul Hoffman, partner in Schonbrun Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP and ace litigator under the Alien Tort Statute/Torture Victim Protection Act.

Source: Nominations Sought: Alexander Human Rights Prize (Oct. 1 Deadline) | Just Security

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award 2017 to Venezuela’s Alfredo Romero

August 20, 2017

On 7 August 2017 RFK Human Rights announced that Venezuelan human rights defender and Alfredo Romero has been named the 2017 laureate of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Romero has been fearless in his resistance to the increasing repression of the Venezuelan government. He has dedicated his life to protect all Venezuelans from arbitrary detention and other human rights violations through his work as Executive Director of Foro Penal Venezolano (FPV), a non-governmental organization that brings together over 200 pro-bono lawyers and 1,700 volunteers. The NGO won in 2015 already an award from the US State Department.[https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/07/23/us-state-department-2014-human-rights-defender-award-to-azimjon-askarov-and-foro-penal/]

I am very grateful for this Award, which I accept in honor of the struggle to achieve freedom for all Venezuelans,” Romero said. “The Award is a tribute to my family at Foro Penal Venezolano, which is united in its enduring commitment, conviction and heart, and above all, I accept it on behalf of the victims of repression by the Venezuelan government”.”

Even as we celebrate Alfredo’s honor, Venezuelans are suffering under a repressive regime that is increasingly eroding all democratic principles,” Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights President Kerry Kennedy said. “Alfredo’s work is a testament to the optimism and hope that will ultimately triumph over violence and repression.”

Source: | Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

Human Rights Defender Heather Heyer murdered in protest against hate in Charlottesville

August 14, 2017

GOFUNDME
Heather Heyer 

20-year-old James Fields Jr. was arrested over the incident and charged with murder. Fields was one of thousands of members of the so-called “alt right” who were in Charlottesville attending Saturday’s “Unite The Right” march. The rally became violent after the white supremacists were confronted by anti-fascist groups.

Source: Heather Heyer ‘Murdered While Protesting Against Hate’ In Charlottesville, Friends Say | HuffPost

https://www.economist.com/news/obituary/21726701-legal-assistant-killed-far-right-rally-charlottesville-was-32-obituary-heather

Ode to US senator: “Why human rights defenders love John McCain”

August 1, 2017

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), center, shakes hands with Syrian refugees at a camp in Yayladagi, Turkey, in 2012. (Umit Bektas/Pool/Associated Press)

On 28 July 2017 – just after it was announced that US Senator John McCain suffers from brain cancer – I came across this post (“Why human rights defenders love John McCain“) by Turkish journalist Berivan Orucoglu, who is the program coordinator of the Supporting Human Rights Defenders program at the McCain Institute for International Leadership (although writing on a personal title). Worth reading as a whole: Read the rest of this entry »

Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, speaks very freely at the United Nations Association of the USA

June 21, 2017

In a little-noted speech at the Leadership Summit of the United Nations Association of the USA (Washington, D.C., 12 June 2017) Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, tackles populism and does not mince his words.  After viewing a Chaeli video [see e.g. https://www.worldofchildren.org/honoree/michaela-chaeli-mycroft/] to illustrate the message that “we can all make a difference for human rights. Every day, everywhere, at school or the workplace, commuting, or on holiday. It starts with each of us taking concrete steps to exercise our rights and our responsibility to protect and defend the rights of others“, Gilmour describes how after 3 decades of progress for human rights we have come up against a serious backlash, one that takes many forms but all of them counter to the values of rights, freedoms and tolerance. The text is worth reproducing as a whole: Read the rest of this entry »

Putting the ‘record straight’ on the UN Human Rights Council

June 19, 2017

Earlier this month I referred to a speech by Ms Haley about the USA considering withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/06/07/us-ambassador-nikki-haley-on-what-has-to-change-in-the-un-human-rights-council/]. A lot has been written about this but a good, concise piece was in the Economist of 3 June 2017. In particular getting the ‘facts’ right about the relative improvements in recent years:

..Yet the council is a lot better than the commission was, and is still improving. The most important difference is the system of “universal periodic reviews” that all members of the UN are subjected to, at a rate of about 40 a year. The number of special rapporteurs, most of them truly independent, has risen, too. Since 2011 there have been investigations into human-rights abuses in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Libya and North Korea, as well as Gaza. The council has steadfastly monitored the horrors in Syria and played a helpful role in Myanmar, Colombia and (after a poor start) Sri Lanka.

The disproportionate focus on Israel is lessening. From 2010 to 2016 only one special session was held on Israel/Palestine, down from six in the previous four years, says the council’s spokesman. The share of time spent on Item 7 has halved, to 8%.

The quality of members may improve, too, as regional groups are a bit less willing to shield their own. Last year Russia lost its seat, receiving 32 votes fewer than Hungary, and two fewer than Croatia. In the past few years Belarus, Iran, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Syria have failed to be elected or have withdrawn their candidacies. None of the nine worst human-rights offenders, as ranked by Freedom House, a Washington-based NGO, (Syria, Eritrea, North Korea, Uzbekistan, South Sudan, Turkmenistan, Somalia, Sudan and Equatorial Guinea) has ever been elected to the council. In a telling moment in 2014, a forcefully critical resolution on Sri Lanka was passed.

Things started to change in 2010, says Marc Limon, a British former official in the council, who now heads the Universal Rights Group, a Geneva-based think-tank, when a clutch of independent-minded countries, including Mauritius, Mexico and Morocco, began to vote more freely, often for American-backed resolutions. Before then, members of the 57-strong Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) and the African Group (whose members often overlapped and later reconfigured as the Like-Minded Group) “virtually controlled the council”, he says. Anti-Westerners have recently been defeated or forced to compromise on several issues. A resolution to exempt blasphemy from free-speech protections was fended off against the wishes of the Like-Minded. The same group failed to block a resolution to appoint an independent expert to investigate discrimination against gay and transgender people.

American diplomacy under Barack Obama was a big reason for the shift….

Source: The UN Human Rights Council will be weaker if America leaves