Posts Tagged ‘visa denial’

Omar Barghouti denied entry to United States

April 13, 2019

Omar Barghouti in 2014. “I am hurt, but I am not deterred,” he said.CreditRob Stothard/Getty Images
In a further sign of the increasing US policy of denying visa to those it disagrees with newspapers (here the NYT) on 11 April 2019, report that the United States has barred entry to Omar Barghouti, one of the co-founders of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (B.D.S). This U.S. entry ban against me, which is ideologically and politically motivated, is part of Israel’s escalating repression against Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders in the B.D.S. movement,” Mr. Barghouti said in a statement. He called for an end to what he called “U.S. complicity in Israel’s crimes against our people.” [See also recently: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/21/many-ngo-participants-denied-visa-to-attend-commission-on-the-status-of-women-in-new-york/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/16/us-ngos-react-furiously-to-visa-restrictions-imposed-on-icc-investigators-by-trump-administration/]

Mr. Barghouti was supposed to speak at a series of events in the United States organized by the Arab American Institute in Washington, including at panels at Harvard University and an event with New York University. He was also planning to attend his daughter’s wedding in Texas.

Mr. Barghouti, a permanent resident of Israel, was stopped at Israel’s international airport when he tried to board a flight to Washington via Frankfurt, and airline staff told him only that the American Consulate in Tel Aviv had been directed to stop him from traveling. He said he was told it was an immigration matter but was given no further explanation.

Critics say American laws against supporters of the boycott are unconstitutional and limit free speech. But this year, the Senate passed a bill to safeguard the right of states to adopt anti-B.D.S. laws.

 

Many NGO participants denied visa to attend Commission on the Status of Women in New York

March 21, 2019

Kena Betancur / Getty Images

reports on 20 March 2019 that many women who were slated to participate in the UN Commission on the Status of Women have been denied visas, especially lawyers, activists, and women who deliver reproductive health care services from African and Middle Eastern countries that fell under Donald Trump’s travel ban.

The US is obliged under a 70-year-old treaty to not restrict people or NGOs from attending the UN headquarters. BuzzFeed News is yet to receive a response from the US Mission to the UN regarding the total number of visas that have been denied this year. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/18/irans-election-to-a-un-gender-equality-body-should-not-obscure-the-real-work/]

The International Service for Human Rights said it was aware of at least 41 women who have been denied visas to attend the conference this year — but this figure is said to be only “the tip of the iceberg” and likely to increase.

Women who wanted to attend CSW this year from countries like Iran, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Syria were asked to provide supporting documents like marriage certificates, proof of property ownership, letters stating employment status, proof of finances, and even proof of birth certificates or proof showing that they have children, according to the petition.

Lyndal Rowlands, advocacy officer with the UN-accredited organization CIVICUS, told BuzzFeed News that among all the people that were denied visas, women from countries that fell under the Trump administration’s travel ban were disproportionately affected. “Last year and this year we have also heard of women from Pakistan and Nepal who were denied visas,” she said. …Most of the women applying for visas, Rowlands said, had not traveled to the US before — a deliberate decision by organizers who wanted a diverse range of women present at the United Nations, not just pundits and experts who travel all the time but women who work at the grassroots.

It’s essential that women who are at the front lines working on women’s rights are present when their rights and the rights of the women they serve are being discussed,” she said. “Governments and UN officials that attend the conference can make better policies when they are informed by the experiences of women who face some of the biggest uphill battles when it comes to fighting for gender equality — for example, delegates who were unable to attend include lawyers and advocates who represent women who have been imprisoned for their activism, [and] women who deliver reproductive health care services.”

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/nishitajha/un-women-conference-visas-denied

US NGOs react furiously to visa restrictions imposed on ICC investigators by Trump administration

March 16, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new visa restrictions in a press briefing on Friday. (Photo: U.S. State Department)

Human rights defenders expressed outrage on Friday after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed that the Trump administration is revoking or denying visas for any International Criminal Court (ICC) personnel who try to investigate or prosecute U.S. officials or key allies for potential war crimes. The move, Pompeo confirmed is a direct response to ongoing efforts by the ICC to probe allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity tied to the war in Afghanistan. There was an immediate and almost unanimous outcry by the key human rights NGOs in the USA:

Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU‘s Human Rights Program (the ACLU currently represents Khaled El Masri, Suleiman Salim, and Mohamed Ben Soud, who were all detained and tortured in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008): “This is an unprecedented attempt to skirt international accountability for well-documented war crimes that haunt our clients to this day,” Dakwar said. “It reeks of the very totalitarian practices that are characteristic of the worst human rights abusers, and is a blatant effort to intimidate and retaliate against judges, prosecutors, and advocates seeking justice for victims of serious human rights abuses.”

Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch, called it “an outrageous effort to bully the court and deter scrutiny of U.S. conduct.” He encouraged ICC member countries to “publicly make clear that they will remain undaunted in their support for the ICC and will not tolerate U.S. obstruction.”

Daniel Balson, advocacy director at Amnesty International USA, noted that this is just “the latest attack on international justice and international institutions by an administration hellbent on rolling back human rights protections.” Visa bans, as Balson pointed out, are “powerful tools typically reserved for the most serious of human rights abusers.” But rather than targeting global criminals, the Trump administration has set its sights on the ICC—an impartial judicial body that aims to promote accountability under international law by probing and prosecuting crimes of aggression, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.

The move is “is highly indicative of [the administration’s] culture of disregard for rights abuses,” said Balson. “Throwing roadblocks in front of the ICC’s investigation undermines justice not only for abuses committed in Afghanistan, but also for the millions of victims and survivors throughout the world who have experienced the most serious crimes under international law.

Pompeo’s announcement came after John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser and a longtime critic of the ICC, threatened to impose sanctions on court officials in September if they continued to pursue an investigation of potential crimes by U.S. civilians or military personnel in Afghanistan….”These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies’ consent,” Pompeo added. “Implementation of this policy has already begun.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/03/15/blatant-effort-intimidate-and-retaliate-pompeo-imposes-visa-ban-icc-staff-probing-us

See also later development: https://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCAKCN1R328X-OCATP

Yazidi human rights laureate may be banned from coming to Washington to accept award

February 1, 2017

The idiocy of Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration is probably not better illustrated than by the case of Vian Dakhil (Yazidi MP in Iraq and ‘Isil’s most-wanted woman’). She may be barred from from coming to Washington to accept the Lantos Human Rights Prize.

Vian Dakhil answers questions during an interview in September 2014 CREDIT: AFP

Vian Dakhil was set to receive the Lantos Human Rights Prize at the US Capitol in Washington DC for her “courageous defence” of the Yazidi people as they faced mass genocide two years ago at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). However, as a carrier of an Iraqi passport she is unlikely to be allowed to enter the country next week despite holding a US visa.  “It is not clear yet if I will travel or not,” Mrs Dakhil, 46, said. “The decision was a complete surprise.” The Lantos foundation dubbed her “ISIS’s most-wanted woman”. She used her position in parliament to inform the world of the atrocities being committed against the Yazidi people

 wrote in the Washington Post of 30 that Vian Dakhil was set to receive the Lantos Human Rights Prize at the U.S. Capitol on 8 February 2017. The prize is given by the foundation named after the late Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor who championed human rights for decades while serving in the U.S. Congress. Dakhil’s case is a startling example of how the executive order signed by President Trump is having unintended consequences and ensnaring not only those who have no links to terrorism but also those who have risked their lives to fight terrorism in cooperation with the United States. “It adds a deep level of irony that this award is given in the name of my late father, the only Holocaust survivor ever to be elected to Congress,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, the president of the foundation. “He exemplified how America is strengthened and enriched by immigrants and refugees. I assure you he is turning in his grave at this.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Uyghur human rights defender Dolksun Isa takes visa rejection by India in stride

May 13, 2016

Uyghur human rights defender and democracy activist Dolksun Isa is disappointed with India’s cancellation of his visa after issuing it. In an interview to Tehelka Correspondent Riyaz Wani on 12 May 2016, Isa says he is a strictly non-violent campaigner for Uyghur rights and China‘s attempt to label him a terrorist is to delegitimize the human rights work that he does to support the Uyghur community. Very much in one with the work of MEA 2016 nominee Ilham Tohti [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/breaking-news-final-nominees-2016-martin-ennals-award-tohti-zone-9-bloggers-razan-zaitouneh-annoucement/] Read the rest of this entry »

Deportation of Human Rights Defenders: two European cases next to each other

September 1, 2015

Just two cases (unrelated) to show how media report differently (or not at all):

Antifascists hold an action protesting public events held on the occasion of the day of memory of the Latvian Legion Waffen-SS at the Freedom Monument in Riga
© SPUTNIK/ ILYA PITALEV Anti-Nazi Activism Now Seen As ‘National Security Threat’ in Lithuania

On 1 September Sputnik reports under the title “Moscow slammed Vilnius for persecution of human rights defenders” how Moscow is concerned about Lithuanian authorities’ recent decision to deport three rights activists. “Lithuanian authorities handed over decisions to three well-known Latvian human rights activists that they had to leave the country within 24 hours, with two being banned entry for five years,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “This shameless move by Lithuanian authorities, which can only be interpreted as persecution of human right defenders, causes serious concern.

Source: Russia Criticizes Lithuania’s ‘Shameless’ Deportation of Rights Activists

Then I remembered an old case from a Danish newspaper of 21 May 2015 which read: “Russia moves to deport Danish activist group“.

It said that 3 members of a Danish human rights group faced possible deportation after being accused of breaching immigration rules. The Danish, German and Latvian citizens were participating in a workshop jointly organized by the prominent Russian rights group Committee Against Torture and the Danish Institute Against Torture (Dignity). Migration officials had stormed the hotel venue in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s fifth-biggest city, and demanded that the foreigners accompany them for questioning. A court in Nizhny ruled that German lecturer Uwe Harlacher, a psychologist, had entered the country with the wrong visa, said the head of the Committee Against Torture, Igor Kalyapin.
[Last year, four American students were deported after attending a leadership conference. Russian officials said they had tourist visas but were not engaged in tourism.]

Not enough detail in any of these cases to judge definitely who is right and wrong, but interesting to note how authorities like to play with rules which suit them.

Russian Human Rights Defender Expelled from Ukraine!

February 11, 2014

It sounds almost like a joke but it truly happened. On 9 February 2014 Ukrainian border officials barred a Russian human rights defender from entering the country, according to Human Rights Watch:  Andrei Yurov, a member of Russia’s presidential human rights council and the Head of its permanent commission on human rights outside Russia, was deported to Russia upon his arrival at Borispyl airport in Kiev. Yurov was to meet in Kiev with Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks, and to work within the International Human Rights Defenders’ Group on the Situation in Ukraine, which was founded on December 1, 2013, in response to the November 30 police violence against peaceful protesters in Kiev.HRW_logo

Yurov’s expulsion is an unprecedented and wholly regrettable step,” said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of driving out human rights defenders the Ukrainian government should be open to scrutiny of its human rights record during this crisis.

via Ukraine: Russian Rights Defender Expelled | Human Rights Watch.

Petty: Human Rights Watch Refused Entry to the Emirates

January 27, 2014

The United Arab Emirates [UAE] authorities have refused to allow Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, to enter the country on 24 January, 2014, for a planned two-day visit to Dubai. The move followed the country’s forced cancellation on 23 January of a Human Rights Watch news conference to release its annual World Report 2014 in the UAE. Whitson had traveled to the UAE on numerous occasions.“These petty tactics by the UAE authorities to muzzle Human Rights Watch only demonstrate the government’s intolerance of free speech and fear of critical discussion,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director. “Human Rights Watch will continue to document abuses in the UAE and to urge the government to comply with its most basic human rights obligations.” “While UAE newspapers regularly use the work of Human Rights Watch from around the world, it’s a pity the government can’t tolerate any review of its own record,” Roth added.

via UAE: Human Rights Watch Official Refused Entry | Human Rights Watch.

Belarus does it again: another two Swedish journalists denied visa

September 24, 2012

“Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” campaign coordinator Valiantsin Stefanovich reports that two more Swedish journalists, one of which is Erik Gonplatten, were denied access.

via Another two Swedish journalists were not allowed to Belarus – Charter97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk.