Posts Tagged ‘Voice of America’

UN cancels all human rights side events because of Covid-19

March 4, 2020

Late last week, Swiss authorities took the unprecedented step of prohibiting large public events in response to a growing number of coronavirus cases. As a consequence, events such as the International Motor Show, which attracts a half-million people and Swiss watch exhibits, which draw enthusiastic crowds of thousands of people, have been canceled.  See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/03/03/another-covid-19-casualty-the-2020-human-rights-film-festival-of-geneva-fifdh/

Human Rights spokesman Rolando Gomez says 200 side events will be canceled until the end of this council session on March 20.  He says that is an unfortunate, but responsible measure to take in order to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.  He tells VOA the meetings generally attract on average 4,000 to 6,000 participants during the course of the session. He says those side events are very important.

I should point out just as a technical note they are not official council side events,” said Gomez. “They take place in parallel and they are important as they inform the discussions in the formal proceedings. Of course, those lobbying efforts will continue unabated, which are important.” Side events are organized by non-governmental organizations and states.  The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights also has spent a lot of time and effort in organizing several gatherings aimed at exploring particular aspects of human rights that demand a more comprehensive hearing and analysis. They will not be held.

https://www.voanews.com/science-health/coronavirus-outbreak/coronavirus-prompts-cancellation-human-rights-events-un

Human Rights in Africa in 2019: rage

January 16, 2020

There was rage across the African continent last year, says Human Rights Watch in its annual report, with no sign of cooling down in 2020. In Sudan and Guinea, there were manifestations of frustration with entrenched leadership.  In Zimbabwe, protests mostly about economic conditions.  While in rural Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, they were about the rights of communities displaced by conflict. But the public outrage is good to see, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) at its Johannesburg report unveiling. Africa Advocacy director for HRW Carine Kaneza Nantulya says ordinary citizens took the spotlight this year.v”We’ve seen, I think, the average men and women of the African continent taking agency, being agents for their own for the changes they wanted to see, which we saw an increase of peaceful protest in different countries,” she said. “The second takeaway is that we’ve also seen a backsliding from government in terms of political and civic space.”

That has taken the form of outright police aggression and repression, as seen in Southern Africa, says the group’s Southern Africa researcher, Dewa Mavhinga. “We expected more from southern African leaders, including President Ramaphosa of South Africa, based on their commitment and promises to fulfill people’s rights across the region, “ he said.   “But we saw that there was a constriction of space for human rights defenders in countries like Zimbabwe,” Mavhinga told VOA.

But there was also a glimmer of hope, as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize for his reform agenda and for his reconciliatory moves with arch-enemy Eritrea, noted HRW’s Africa deputy advocacy director, Babatunde Olugboji. “He’s done quite a few great things in Ethiopia, he’s released political prisoners and is actually reforming some repressive laws,” he said. “He sort of made peace with Eritrea. So things are moving in the right direction, mostly,” said Olugboji.   “There’s still a lot to be done in Ethiopia,” he added.

He pointed to an event few people could have predicted at this time last year: the popular uprising that led to the ouster of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir after a 30-year rule marked by oppression,  human rights abuses, and  attempted genocide in the Darfur region.

UN archive on North Korean human rights violations to be established in Geneva

April 8, 2017

The 34th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, 2017

An archive of information and evidence on human rights abuses by the North Korean regime is to be established in Geneva. Quoting a report by the UN Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts (OPPBA), VOA explained that the independent archive, to be created in accordance with a North Korean human resolution adopted by the 34th UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), will be established in physically distant Geneva for the security and total confidentiality of sensitive information.The OPPBA was also quoted as saying a legal officer with at least seven years of experience would be needed to integrate and preserve information and evidence in connection with the archive’s establishment at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, along with another information management officer with at least five years of experience to conduct practical affairs. It also said its UN human rights office in Seoul would require three staffers: one international criminal system expert, one expert in South Korean criminal law, and one expert in interpreting for South Korean law. On 24 March 2017, the UNHRC adopted a North Korean resolution by non-voting agreement that recommends the international community’s cooperation in investigating responsibility in connection with the findings of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) report on crimes against humanity by the North Korean regime.The resolution suggested specific procedures and methods over the next two years for assigning responsibility for North Korea’s human rights abuses, including boosting the capabilities of the North Korean human rights office and OHCHR, establishing the archive, and appointing legal experts to collect and preserve information and evidence needed for procedures in investigating responsibility.

see also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/02/20/north-korea-the-un-report-in-images/

Source: UN archive on N. Korean human rights abuses to be established in Geneva : North Korea : News : The Hankyoreh

Ethiopia: High Commissioner, Marathon runner and MEA Jury agree

September 16, 2016

Last week I reported that a number of NGOs had written to the UN Human Rights Council [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/un-human-rights-council-urged-to-address-situation-in-ethiopia/]. Speaking at the opening session of the Council, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: “While Ethiopia has made impressive gains in terms of economic development, we are deeply concerned about repeated allegations of excessive and lethal use of force against protestors, enforced disappearances, and mass detentions, including of children, as well as by worrying restrictions on civil society, the media and opposition.” The High Commissioner said it was “mystifying” that the Ethiopian government refused to allow his office access to parts of the country where human rights abuses – including the recent shooting of protestors – have been alleged.[https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/un-high-commissioner-for-human-rights-states-may-shut-my-office-out-but-they-will-not-shut-us-up/]. The UN High Commissioner used the occasion to criticise Ethiopia for a recent crackdown on opposition which has included the kidnapping and sentencing to death of a British man, Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege.

The Voice of America reported that Feyisa Lilesa, the Ethiopian silver medalist in the marathon at last month’s Rio Olympics, was in Washington this week, calling on the U.S. Congress to take action in solidarity with Ethiopians protesting their government. Lilesa gained worldwide attention when he crossed his wrists as a sign of protest as he approached the finish line during the Rio men’s marathon. He is Oromo and made the gesture in solidarity with Oromo protests that have occurred in Ethiopia since last November over issues including land rights and fair representation in the government. He met with Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, in New York to discuss human rights issues in Ethiopia.

FILE - Silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia crosses his writsts as he celebrates on the podium after the men's marathon at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 21, 2016. He had made the same gesture of protest as he approached the finish line of the race.

Silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia crosses his writsts as he celebrates on the podium after the men’s marathon at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro,

The Martin Ennals Award has in the meantime published a short video with comments by its Jury members about the Final Nominee from Ethiopia: Zone 9 Bloggers:

 

sources:

http://www.voanews.com/a/ethiopian-runner-calls-united-states-push-human-rights/3509965.html

http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2016/09/13/un-human-rights-chief-deeply-concerned-over-ethiopia-abuses

At UN, Saudi Arabia receives praise for Protecting “Women’s Rights”!

October 23, 2013

Although extreme right-wing media and NGOs who are basically against the UN should not be given more airing than they deserve, one has to admit that the UN makes it sometimes very easy for them to portray it as out of touch with reality. The following excerpt from FrontPage Magazine shows why:

Today’s United Nations punchline has been brought to you by billions of your tax dollars. It’s your money. You deserve a good laugh. As the UN Human Rights Council [the UPR] scrutinized Saudi Arabia’s domestic rights record this morning… out of 95 countries who took the floor, 82 praised Saudi Arabia. Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch, said the country is poised to win a seat on the Human Rights Council. “A country whose legal system routinely lashes women rape victims rather than punish the perpetrators should not have been praised effusively by members of the UN’s top human rights body,” said Neuer. “Instead the world should have addressed the Saudi regime’s use of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, such as flogging, amputations and eye-gouging.” But look at who lined up to praise Saudi human rights.

Afghanistan: “We commend Saudia Arabia as they continue to enhance the protection and promotion of human rights…”

Palestine: “We take notice of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to protect and promote human rights…”

Somalia: “Saudi Arabia maintains a high priority for protection and promotion of human rights…”

Libya: “Saudi Arabia continues to strengthen human rights and promote them and this deserves our appreciation…”

Mauritania: “We commend Saudi Arabia for always seeking to strengthen human rights…We commend Saudi Arabia in terms of the progress on guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms, socioeconomic progress, participation of women at all levels and participation in society.

China: “We appreciate efforts made to protect the rights of children and to have dialogues of religious tolerance…”

Pakistan: commended “laudable steps taken by Saudi Arabia to promote and protect the rights of children and women…

The procedure of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) has indeed in-built idiocies like these. On the other hand there is also criticism possible (which was not reported here, of course, see Voice of America link below), while big countries like China, Russia, India and the US, who are otherwise not often subject of public discussion in the UN human rights proceedings, now  get their turn as shown in the reports on the current consideration of China in the UPR.

via At UN, Pakistan Praises Saudi Arabia for Protecting “Women’s Rights” | FrontPage Magazine.

NGOs and media report that Turkey rounds up Human Rights Defenders

January 21, 2013

The Voice of America echoes reports by HRW and Freedom House amongst others that the security forces in Turkey have detained more than a dozen lawyers as part of a nationwide sweep against illegal leftist groups……​​With many of the detained lawyers being well-known human rights defenders, several human rights groups around the world have voiced alarm. Emma Sinclair Webb, who is with U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, said, “Its very concerning to find lawyers the targets of police operations at four oclock in the morning, having their doors broken down. These lawyers are all known for their activities in defense of human rights, for pursuing police violence cases. ….The Turkish government has accused the lawyers of transferring instructions from the groups imprisoned leaders to militants.

Seven of the detained lawyers belong to the Progressive Lawyers Association, which last year launched a telephone hot line for people to report police abuse. In a statement, the lawyers group condemned the detentions, calling them an attack against people and institutions that oppose the government and struggle for democracy and freedom. The arrests also included five members of a popular left-wing folk music group. ….The government claims none of them are in jail for their pursuits of journalist activities. In a report this week, the watchdog group Freedom House categorized Turkey as only a partially free country in its “Freedom in the World Report,” due to what it described as a serious decline in civil liberties and political rights.

via Turkey Rounds Up Human Rights Lawyers.