Council Alert: Preview of the Human Rights Council's 28th session
ISHR's overview of what to look at for at the world's top human rights body this March is online here!
DEFENDING THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER
H.E. Patricia O’Brien, the Irish Ambassador, and H.E Elayne Whyte Gómez, the Costa Rican Ambassador, reflect on the need for the High Commissioner and his Office to remain independent…more
our work to support human rights defenders
CALL FOR THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL TO ADDRESS DETERIORATION OF CIVIL SOCIETY SPACE IN AZERBAIJAN
ISHR and ten other organisations call on the international community to take urgent action to address the rapidly deteriorating environment for human rights defenders, civil society organisations and independent media in Azerbaijan…more.
CALL FOR EGYPT TO RELEASE PROTESTERS
ISHR calls on Egypt to abort an unfair mass trial of 494 people for offences in connection with their alleged participation in protests in Cairo in August 2013…more.
MEXICAN COURT ACQUITS BETTINA CRUZ VELAZQUEZ
ISHR welcomes the decision of the District Court in the State of Oaxaca in Mexico to acquit Lucila Bettina Cruz Velazquez of all charges after four years of flawed judicial process…more
SYRIA MUST FREE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
ISHR joins in calls for the Syrian government to immediately free the prominent Syrian human rights defenders Mazen Darwish, Hani Al-Zitani and Hussein Gharir after three years of arbitrary detention…more
CALL FOR THAILAND TO INVESTIGATE MURDER OF ACTIVISTS
ISHR echoes the call by the OHCHR for Thai authorities to ensure prompt, independent and impartial investigations into the killing of Mr Chai Bunthonglek…more
LATIN AMERICAN WOMEN DEFENDERS DEMAND GREATER PROTECTION
Women defenders from 15 Latin American countries participated in a regional consultation organised by the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. They condemned the harassment, threats and attacks they face and made recommendations for their protection... more
MEXICO MUST PROTECT ACTIVISTS WORKING AGAINST ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES
In the context of the first review of Mexico before the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, ISHR joins the families of victims in demanding state authorities take measures to ensure the protection of those protesting around the issue…more
ENDING IMPUNITY FOR ATTACKS AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
ISHR welcomes Michel Forst’s call for States to prioritise the enactment of specific laws and policies for the protection of defenders in his first report as Special Rapporteur, to be presented before the March session of the Human Rights Council…more.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
THAI ACTIVIST KILLED AS IMPUNITY CONTINUES
A fourth land rights activist has been gunned down in Surat Thani province, Thailand, as Khlong Sai Pattana community leaders continue to campaign for community ownership of their land. Human Rights Watch is calling for an immediate investigation as private actors persist in intimidating human rights defenders with impunity... more
SPANISH PENAL CODE REFORM THREATENS CIVIL SOCIETY
Modifications to the Spanish Penal Code are being considered that will widen the ambit of crimes of terrorism. UN human rights experts argue the proposed law is overly broad and vague, and will disproportionately restrict the right to assembly and freedom of opinion and expression of Spanish civil society... more
CHINA'S NEW COUNTERTERRORISM LAWS THREATEN PRIVACY AND FREEDOM OF COMMUNICATION
Human Rights Watch's Sophie Richardson argues that China's new draft counterterrorism laws dangerously continue Beijing's trend toward prosecuting 'separatism.' The laws grant broad surveillance powers that threaten freedom of communication and privacy rights of minority groups and human rights defenders... more
71 NGOs CALL FOR RELEASE OF SYRIAN ACTIVISTS
Human Rights Watch, together with 71 NGOs, is urging for the release of three human rights defenders from the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression arrested under anti-terrorism laws. February 16 marked the third anniversary of their arbitrary detainment for legitimately disseminating human rights information in response to the ongoing crisis in Syria... more
ANNIVERSARY OF DAY OF ZERO TOLERANCE FOR FGM
6 February marked the second International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Human rights defenders are working hard to eradicate the practice, widely considered a violation of the human rights of girls and women, from the remaining 29 countries where it is still carried out... more
MALAYSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER HAS SODOMY DEFENCE DISMISSED
The freedom of assembly and expression of civil society face further erosion as Malaysian opposition leader and former deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, failed to defend a sodomy conviction this month. Mr Ibrahim called the decision a 'political conspiracy' and faces five years in prison as crackdowns on dissent continue... more
UK, CHINESE, CANADIAN MINING COMPANIES COLLUDE WITH MYANMAR GOVERNMENT AGAINST DEFENDERS
A new report by Amnesty International calls for criminal investigations to be launched against UK, Chinese and Canadian mining companies for allegedly colluding with the Myanmar government to dispossess, harm and intimidate local communities and human rights defenders... more
CONFERENCES AND EVENTS
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL SIDE-EVENTS
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND NATIONAL SECURITY
ISHR, jointly with FIDH, ICJ, Article 19 and OMCT will be presenting a high level panel discussion on Human Rights Defenders and National Security. The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, and the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while countering Terrorism, Ben Emmerson, are confirmed panellists. This event is scheduled for 3pm to 4.30pm on 10 March at Palais des Nations in Geneva in Room XI. More information here.
PROTECTION IN PRACTISE FOR WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS (GVA)
ISHR will be holding a side event on Women Human Rights Defenders on 9 March at 1pm to 3pm focusing on their specific protection needs. Panellists will include the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, the Norwegian Ambassador, Hina Jilani and women human rights defenders from the African and Latin American regions. There will also be an event in New York on the same day at the side lines of the Commission on the Status of Women focusing on women human rights defenders. The dual events commemorate International Women’s Day and seek to highlight solutions to address the specific and unique challenges faced by women human rights defenders. More information here.
THE CONTEXT OF VIOLENCE IN MEXICO AND ITS IMPACT ON WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
ISHR is co-sponsoring a side event on the increase in threats facing ‘Human Rights Defenders in the Context of Violence in Mexico’. The event, lead by the Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH), will discuss preliminary observations from November’s Civil Society Observation Mission to Mexico, as well as the additional threats posed by State and non-State actors to women defenders. The event will take place on Monday 9 March at 10.00am in room 23 and panellists include Yésica Sánchez (Mexican Coalition of Women Human Rights Defenders) and Garret O’Brien (responsible for human rights defenders, European External Action Service). More information here.
EVENTS AT COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
PROTECTION IN PRACTISE FOR WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS (NYC)
This exciting event will commence with an introduction by Hans Brattskar (State Secretary, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), followed by a panel discussion moderated by Ivan Šimonović (Assistant Secretary General, OHCHR) and featuring Cristina Hardaga, Mary Akrami, Reine Alapini-Gansou, Mozn Hassan and Mohamed Khaled. It will take place in Conference Room 7, United Nations HQ, New York from 1.15pm until 2.45pm and is co-sponsored by ISHR, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International, AWID, ICAN, JASS Associates, the Nobel Women's Initiative and the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition. More information here.
FIFDH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL AND FORUM ON HUMAN RIGHTS
EUROPEAN INTER-UNIVERSITY CENTRE (EIUC) FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRATISATION: TRAINING FOR INTERNATIONAL ELECTORAL OBSERVERS
EIUC are running a two-module seminar training course in international electoral observation on 1 13-18 April 2015. The deadline for enrolment is 20 March 2015. Find more information here.
Campaign Academy India, set up by 350.org, Haiyya and Change.org, are running a campaign training course involving expert campaigners designed to provide the skills, network and confidence to strategise and win powerful and positive social change campaigns. The training starts with an intensive six day residential training, followed by one year of support, including four follow up training days. The intensive training is from April 26 to May in Whitefield, Bangalore, Karnataka.
This training is for you if you are enthusiastic, motivated and committed to creating positive social change; demonstrate a desire to build a better world by running campaigns; and interested in using technology to win campaigns.
COMMISSION OF INQUIRY CALLS FOR A POLITICAL SOLUTION IN SYRIA
A new report by the UN Independent International Commission on the Syrian Arab Republic has gathered more than 3,556 interviews with victims and eyewitnesses, urgently calling for a political solution in Syria to end the cycle of impunity, grave human rights violations and wholesale disregard for the norms of international law.
REPORT DETAILING PERVASIVE ATTACK BY HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT ON CIVIL SOCIETY
Amnesty International has released Their Backs to the Wall: Civil Society Under Pressure in Hungary, detailing the relentless attacks by the Hungarian government against civil society and human rights defenders in Hungary. 59 NGOs have faced politically-motivated audits and many currently face legal action, sanctions and have had their offices closed and property seized. The report also investigates the legal authority of the audit body behind these attacks and the international standards being undermined in the political assault.
JOINT REPORT HIGHLIGHTS WIDESPREAD SECTARIAN VIOLENCE AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN IRAQ
A joint report by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the OHCHR outlines recent and massive sectarian violence, deterioration of the rule of law, and substantial violations of international human rights law by so called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Iraqi Security Forces against civilian populations. The report also calls on the Government of Iraq to hold to account non-State actors participating in the conflict that have committed crimes and human rights violations.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL 2014/15 ANNUAL REPORT
Amnesty International has released its 2014/15 annual report in English, French, Spanish and 14 other languages, documenting the state of human rights in 160 countries, providing regional human rights overviews, and celebrating the work and achievements of human rights defenders around the world.
LIBYAN MEDIA FREEDOMS UNDER ATTACK
Despite the notable rise in enjoyment of freedom after the fall of Gaddafi, non-State actors continue violent assaults on Libyan media facilities and journalists with impunity, and harsh defamation and libel laws are eroding freedom of expression in the country. This new report by Human Rights Watch details these reprisals and the ongoing dangers faced by civil society and human rights defenders in this increasingly lawless State.
DANGERS FACED BY GUATEMALAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, the International Federation for Human Rights and the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala have jointly published "Smaller than David: The Struggle of Human Rights Defenders" (here in Spanish), a report about the extreme vulnerability of human rights defenders in Guatemala. It focuses on the violence faced by land rights defenders opposing the activities of resource companies, and the impunity faced by perpetrators. The report is published together with a Spanish documentary film.
REPRISALS AGAINST LGBTI HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN CAMEROON
An international fact-finding mission report by the Observatory, Human Rights Defenders Network in Central Africa, Maison des droits de l’Homme au Cameroun and African Men for Sexual Health and Rights, has explored the threats and physical assaults against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual human rights defenders in Cameroon that have reached alarming proportions over the last few years.
BRIEFING PAPERS ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS FOR 23RD SESSION OF THE UPR
ISHR has published new briefing papers on the situation of human rights defenders, which are intended to assist States and other stakeholders to formulate questions and recommendations regarding the protection of human rights defenders during the UPR.
For the 23rd session of the UPR (October 2015), briefing papers are available on Australia, Nauru and Oman and will soon be released on Burma/Myanmar, Georgia and Rwanda.
CASE NOTES ON DECISIONS FROM INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES
Turkmenistan: Human Rights Committee condemns enforced disappearance of former public official, rules Turkmenistan has violated its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Cameroon: in breach of Covenant for failing to investigate assault by government official according to Human Rights Committee.
South Korea: in breach of Covenant for its imprisonment of conscientious objectors.
DOLLY IBEFO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE VOIX DES SANS VOIX
Prominent human rights defender and Executive Director of the Voix des Sans Voix, Dolly Ibefo, talks about the situation for human rights defenders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the on-going and significant threat of reprisals with ISHR... more
COLLECTIF DES FAMILES DE DISPARUS EN ALGERIE: HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN ALGERIA SEEKING ECOSOC STATUS
The Collectif des familles de Disparus en Algérie (CFDA) submitted its application for consultative status with the Committee on NGOs in June 2009. Since then, the Committee has deferred the application and CFDA has been asked 81 questions from the same group of States... more
ISHR has decided to publish a series of profiles of representatives of non-governmental organisations fighting to obtain ECOSOC consultative status to the UN through the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs. Consultative status is required to attend and participate in many UN meetings, including those of the Human Rights Council.
These profiles will help expose the Committee's dysfunction, share the struggles of human rights defenders that are repeatedly blocked from bringing their experiences and insights on critical issues to policy-making at the UN, and ultimately help secure consultative status to the UN for these credible NGOs carrying out important and valuable human rights work.
our work to strengthen human rights systems
IRELAND SHOULD ENSURE LEGAL RECOGNITION OF TRANSGENDER PEOPLE
ISHR joins calls to amend proposed Irish Gender Recognition Bill, which will allow a person to have the gender on their birth certificate changed, in light of criticisms of provisions which would deny this right to married individuals or in the absence of ‘medical evaluation’ …more
COUNTER TERRORISM EFFORTS MUST PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
ISHR call on states developing counter terrorism measures to ensure that legitimate dissent is not criminalised or suppressed…more
U.S. APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL ENVOY ON LGBT RIGHTS
ISHR welcomes the appointment of its first ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons…more
MEXICO MUST IMPLEMENT UN RECOMMENDATIONS
ISHR joins a group of international NGOs in calling on Mexico to implement recommendations on enforced disappearances and guarantee the security of activists working on these issues…more
FINNISH GUIDELINES TO STRENGTHEN PROTECTION OF DEFENDERS
ISHR welcomes the guidelines released by the Finland Ministry of Foreign Affairs and predicts positive impact on global efforts to supporting human rights defenders...more
UN MUST ACT TO END REPRISALS AGAINST AUSTRALIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
ISHR calls on the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders to act to end a series of unprecedented attacks and reprisals against the Australian Human Rights Commission and its President, Professor Gillian Triggs…more
AFRICAN COMMISSION URGED TO STRENGTHEN ITS RESPONSE TO REPRISALS
In consultations with the African Commission’s Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, co-organised by ISHR, human rights defenders from the African region identified actions to effectively respond to allegations of reprisals…more
OPPORTUNITIES FOR NGO ENGAGEMENT
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
The NGOs written submissions for the States reviewed during the 23rd session of UPR (2 -13 November TBC) have to be submitted to UPRsubmissions@ohchr.org by 23 March (tentative).
The States under review include: Micronesia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nauru, Rwanda, Nepal, Saint Lucia, Oman, Austria, Myanmar, Australia, Georgia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe.
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
The 28th session of the Human Rights Council will be held on 2 March to 27 March in Room XX at the Palais des Nations. ISHR has released a Council Alert outlining details of the 28th session. Find the scheduled programme of work here.
More information on NGO participation is available here.
If you are unable to attend relevant treaty body meetings, you can now watch them live online. A group of Geneva-based NGOs, including ISHR, has coordinated to make this possible. The webcasts can be viewed at www.treatybodywebcast.org.
COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
The programme of work and other information related to the session can be found here.
WORKING GROUP OF EXPERTS ON PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT
The 16th session of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent will be held on 30 March to 2 April in Room XXI at the Palais des Nations.
NGO’s can submit information to the Working Group here. More information about NGO involvement can be found here.
OPEN-ENDED INTERGOVERNMENTAL WORKING GROUP ON THE DRAFT UNITED NATIONS DECLARATION OF THE RIGHT TO PEACE
The 3rd session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the Draft United Nations Declaration of the Right to Peace will be held on 20 April to 24 April in Room XIX at the Palais des Nations.
This Working Group is open ended. This means that all stakeholders, including NGOs, can attend its sessions. NGOs are able to intervene during the sessions. More information on the Working Group is available here.
WORKING GROUP ON ABITRARY DETENTION
The 72nd session of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will be held on 20 April to 29 April in Room IX at the Palais des Nations. The Working Group acts on information provided to it on alleged cases of arbitrary detention by sending urgent appeals to concerned Governments.
More information on how NGO’s can send information for an individual case is found here.
WORKING GROUP ON THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT
The 16th session of the Working Group on the Right to Development is taking place on 27 April to 1 May in Conference Room XVI at the Palais des Nations. The Working Group will continue to accomplish its mandate including, by considering, revising and refining the draft right to development criteria.
NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status may attend public meetings of the Working Group. To register for the Working Group session please contact R2D@ohchr.org. More information on the Working Group is found here.
COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
The 86th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will be held on 27 April to 15 May in the Ground Floor Conference Room at the Palais Wilson. The Committee will examine the reports of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Germany, Guatemala, and Sudan.
The deadline for information on State parties to be examined by the Committee is 10 April. The programme of work and other information related to the session can be found here.
WORKING GROUP ON THE ISSUE OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN IN LAW AND PRACTICE
The 13th session of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice will take place on 4 May to 8 May in Room IX at the Palais des Nations. The Committee will continue to accomplish its mandate including, preparing best practices related to the elimination of laws that discriminate against women and undertaking a study on the cooperation between the Working Group and States to eliminate discrimination against women in law and in practice.
The Working Group welcomes any information in relation to its mandate. NGO’s can submit information to the Working Group here.
WORKING GROUP ON THE ISSUE OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATIONS AND OTHER BUSINESS ENTERPRISES
The 11th session of the Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises will be held on 4 May to 8 May in Room XII at the Palais de Nations.
The Working Group may also issue separate calls for submissions on specific subjects, and will publish such calls for inputs on this website.
WORKING GROUP ON ENFORCED OR INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCES
The 106th session of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances will be held on 6 May to 15 May in Room XXVII at the Palais des Nations. The sessions are held in private, unless it decides otherwise. The Working Group will consider information brought to its attention since its previous session.
NGOs are encouraged to produce parallel reports, these should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 11 May and preferably before 20 April.
COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is holding a Day of General Discussion (DGD) on the right to education for persons with disabilities, to be held on 15 April 2015 at Palais Des Nations.
NGOs are encouraged to make written contributions to the day of general discussion. Submissions should be no more than 10 pages and must sent in WORD format to email@example.com by 20 March 2015.
SUB-COMMITTEE ON PREVENTION OF TORTURE
The 26th session of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture’s will be held on the 15-19 June on the 1st floor of Palais Wilson.
The work of the subcommittee is supported and assisted by an informal contact group of various civil society organisations. A list of current members of the OPCAT Contact Network is available on the Subcommittee’s webpage. Civil society organisations interested in joining the OPCAT Contact Network are invited to contact the Steering Committee members to submit an application. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Committee will consider the following State reports during the session: Canada, France, Spain, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, The United Kingdom, The Crown Dependencies of the United Kingdom, The Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Venezuela (the Bolivarian Republic of).
The Committee invites NGOs to provide reports containing country-specific information on States parties whose reports are before them. Such information should be submitted in writing, preferably well in advance of the relevant session. A deadline will be stipulated in due course. The programme of work and other information related to the session can be found here.
MEETING OF CHAIRPERSONS OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS TREATY BODIES
The 27th session of the Meeting of Chairpersons of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies will be held on the 22 June – 26 June on the 1st floor of Palais Wilson.
Informal consultations with NGOs and UN partners are a standard feature of the annual meeting of chairpersons. Submissions are also periodically accepted, NGOs are encouraged to contact the secretariat for further information email@example.com.
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL STUDY: CALL FOR RESPONSES
OHCHR is seeking civil society responses to a questionnaire on the ‘role of prevention in the promotion and protection of human rights’. A report will then be produced for presentation at the 30th session of the Human Rights Council.
A summary of the panel discussion held on this issue in September 2014 can be found here.