Human Rights Monitor Monthly - January 2015
HUMAN RIGHTS MONITOR
January 2015

Top Human Rights posts for 2014

Throughout 2014, ISHR has brought the latest international human rights news, views and developments to more than 110,000 website visitors.

Here’s a selection of the most popular as chosen by our readers and supporters.

OPINION
CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IMPACT

By Phil Lynch


30 years ago last month, ISHR’s visionary founder, Adrien Claude-Zoller, identified the need to support human rights defenders and victims of human rights violations - from the families of the disappeared in Latin America to survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia - to seek justice and accountability at the UN… more

human rights defender profiles

IDOLINA GALLARDO: MEXICAN INDIGENOUS HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER

Idolina was completing a doctorate degree in education when her brother was detained for participating in a protest led by the ‘Seccion 22’, the democratic branch of the teacher’s Union. The protest was against a reform that would have negative consequences on the educational system in the indigenous and rural communities… more

BETTINA CRUZ: MEXICAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER WORKING ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

One of the key meteorological characteristics of the Mexican Region of Tehuantepec is wind, which has attracted eolian companies
to the region, mainly from European states. According to Bettina Cruz, problems have arisen in recent decades because the foreign companies have not understood the broad implications of their projects on the local communities… more

our work to support human rights defenders

SRI LANKA: NEW GOVERNMENT MUST SUPPORT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND COOPERATE WITH THE UN

The new government in Sri Lanka must prevent, investigate and ensure accountability for attacks against journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders, ISHR has said. ‘The election of a new government in Sri Lanka...should also bring an end to the pattern of attacks, disappearances and defamation against lawyers, journalists and other human rights defenders'... more

VENEZUELAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS LOOK TO THE UN FOR JUSTICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY

ISHR condemns the criminalisation of human rights defenders in Venezuela and, in particular, the public defamation of defenders and organisations which participated in ISHR’s recent training session in Caracas…more

KYRGYZSTAN SHOULD WITHDRAW BILL TARGETING LGBT PERSONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

The Parliament of Kyrgyzstan should unequivocally reject a bill which criminalises acts and expression aimed at forming ‘a positive attitude towards non-traditional sexual orientation’ ISHR has said… more

CHINA MUST END DETENTION, RESTRICTIONS AND REPRISALS AGAINST WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS 

China must end restrictions on the formation of women’s rights NGOs, prevent and ensure accountability for reprisals against women human rights defenders, and abolish the use of ‘black jails’ which are used to disproportionately imprison women petitioners, ISHR has said in response to a UN report.… more

human rights developments

WORRYING IMPUNITY FOR VIOLENCE AGAINST LGBT PEOPLE IN RUSSIA

After the adoption by the Russian Federation of the anti-LGBT ‘propaganda’ law in June 2013, growing numbers of LGBT people have been attacked and harassed across Russia. The law effectively legalised discrimination against LGBT people and cast them as second-class citizens. Authorities deliberately ignore the hate-crimes committed against them… more

THE GOVERNMENT WILL SLASH FUNDING OF THE AUSTRALIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION BY 30%

The Human Rights Law Center denounces an announcement by the Australian Government that it will cut funding to the Human Rights Commission by around 30 percent. Such cuts will significantly weaken the Commission and reduce the Government’s accountability on human rights. There is also a concern that the decision may have been a politically motivated response to critics… more

CRITICS OF OMAN’S GOVERNMENT FACE HARASSMENT AND DETENTION

Researchers have documented a pattern of arrests and detentions that violated fundamental political rights, including free speech. For example, security forces recently arrested Said al-Jaddad, a human rights activist and pro-reform blogger, without an arrest warrant. Human Rights Watch believes that Omani authorities should initiate reforms to bring Oman’s laws into compliance with international standards… more

COURT IN VIETMAN UPHOLDS IMPRISONMENT OF THREE PROTESTERS

On 12 December 2014, the Dong Thap Appellate Court in Vietnam upheld the previous sentence handed down to human rights defender Ms Bui Thi Minh Hang and two other protesters, who were imprisoned on charges of ‘causing public disorder’. Ms Bui Thi Minh was one of the human rights defenders who were beaten and detained when attempting to visit the partner of a human rights lawyer who defends victims of forced evictions… more

INDIGENOUS HUMAN RIGHTS LEADER FROM ECUADOR FOUND DEAD

The body of an indigenous leader who opposed a major mining project in Ecuador has been found bound and buried. The finding came just days before the human rights defender planned to take his campaign to climate talks in Lima. Other indigenous leaders say the Ecuadorian Government is complicit in the crime… more

YES, HUMAN RIGHTS LAW MAKES A DIFFERENCE

International human rights law may be far from perfect, but it does make a difference, said Michael O’Flaherty to Open Democracy. Often, it is its very existence that empowers human rights defenders, and its weaknesses should be the basis for sustained effort towards its strengthening… more

new resources

ISHR REPORT ON ENSURING A SAFE AND ENABLING LEGAL ENVIRONMENT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

ISHR has recently published a significant report entitled ‘From restriction to protection: Report on ensuring a safe and enabling legal environment for human rights defenders’.

The report examines trends in the legal environment for human rights defenders from more than 40 countries from all regions and, based on that analysis, makes 25 key recommendations: 12 to build on existing good practice and 13 to reform restrictive practice.

2014: THE YEAR IN ASSEMBLY & ASSOCIATION RIGHTS

A new report has been launched by UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai on key developments in the area of freedom of assembly and association across the world in 2014. This report marks the Rapporteur’s first “yearbook” of assembly and association rights – a year-end summary of the major developments of 2014, including important news events and the key activities of his mandate… more

New email list for Training opportunities

A new email list has been created for those wishing to receive updates on upcoming ISHR training opportunities. If you would like to add your name to this list, please do so here.

A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY 

OHCHR, with input from civil society, has produced a guide entitled: ‘Civil Society Space and the United Nations Human Rights System - A Practical Guide for Civil Society’. This publication underlines issues related to the work of civil society actors. It explains concepts of civil society, challenges civil society actors face, and describes civil society space and elements for promoting it.

The PDF guide is available in EnglishFrenchSpanishArabic and Russian.

ISHR’S REPRISALS HANDBOOK - NOW IN ARABIC AND FRENCH

ISHR’s Reprisals Handbook highlights the risks that defenders can face from interacting with international and regional human rights systems, and suggests ways in which they can leverage these systems to provide some degree of protection for themselves and promote accountability for perpetrators of acts of intimidation or reprisal. In doing so it does not aim to provide a fully comprehensive protection solution, but rather to complement measures that you should also take at the national level.

The handbook focuses, in particular, on the UN human rights system, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, and the Council of Europe.

The Handbook is available in EnglishArabic and French, with further translations to come.

CAMPAIGN HONOURS WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

The UN Human Rights Office is running a social media campaign using the hashtag #reflect2protect, aimed at putting a spotlight on some of the essential work currently being undertaken by women human rights defenders.

The Office has also launched a publication entitled ‘Women’s Rights are Human Rights’, a handbook for anyone seeking to understand the basics of women’s human rights – the legal standards, the political commitments, and specific issues of particular importance to women and girls’ empowerment and rights.

BRIEFING PAPERS ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS FOR THE 21ST AND 22ND UPR SESSIONS

ISHR has published a series of briefing papers on the situation of human rights defenders, intended to assist States and other stakeholders to formulate questions and recommendations regarding the protection of human rights defenders during the UPR.

Briefing papers for the upcoming 21st session of the UPR (19 - 30 January) are available on GuineaKenyaLaosSpain and Turkey.

For the 22nd session of the UPR (4 - 15 May) the briefing  papers are available on LiberiaJamaicaUSALibya and the Maldives.

our work to strengthen human rights systems

UPR: WELCOME INCREASE IN FOCUS ON PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

ISHR advocacy has been associated with a substantial increase in attention to, and recommendations regarding, the situation and protection of human rights defenders in the context of the Universal Periodic Review… more

HUMAN RIGHTS RESOLUTIONS AT THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY PASSED WITH AN INCREASED SUPPORT

The plenary session of the UN General Assembly has adopted a number of key human rights resolutions with an increased margin of support. ‘At the end of a difficult year for human rights it is pleasing that the UN General Assembly has marked progress by adopting a number of important resolutions’ said Michelle Evans, Director of Advocacy at ISHR’s New York office… more

HONDURAS SHOULD STRENGTHEN AND ENACT DRAFT LAW ON THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Authorities in Honduras should urgently strengthen and enact a draft law on the protection of human rights defenders currently before Congress, said ISHR. The call came as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concluded a country visit to Honduras and expressed alarm at the high level of violence against human rights defenders… more

NEW PRESIDENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL AND BUREAU MUST PROTECT CIVIL SOCIETY SPACE

The newly elected President and Vice-Presidents of the UN Human Rights Council have both an opportunity and an obligation to ensure the Council is a safe and accessible place for human rights defenders and victims of human rights violations, says ISHR… more

INDIA SHOULD ENACT LAW ON HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND STRENGTHEN MECHANISM FOR THEIR PROTECTION

India should develop a national law on the protection of human rights defenders and strengthen the capacity and mandate of the national human rights commission focal point on defenders, says ISHR… more

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MUST ACT ON LEGAL OBLIGATION TO END REPRISALS

The UN Human Rights Council and its President and Bureau have a legal duty to prevent and promote accountability for threats and attacks against those who submit information or seek to engage with the Council… more

MEXICO MUST ADDRESS IMPUNITY AND UPHOLD THE RIGHT TO DEFEND HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Authorities at all levels in Mexico must take action to address impunity for attacks and threats against human rights defenders, with structural impunity contributing to the severe vulnerability of defenders in the country, a group of international human rights experts said… more

IACHR AND UN RAPPORTEURS COMMIT TO COLLABORATION AND CALL ON STATES TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

At the 153rd Period of Sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington DC, José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez and Michel Forst held a working meeting in which they committed to strengthen collaboration between their two mandates in order to provide better attention to human rights defenders… more

 

opportunities for ngo engagement

UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

NGO written submissions for States that will be reviewed during the 23rd session of the UPR (2 -13 November - TBC) must be submitted to the UPR system by 23 March (also tentative).

The States under review include: Micronesia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nauru, Rwanda, Nepal, Saint Lucia, Oman, Austria, Myanmar, Australia, Georgia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Sao Tome and Principe.

WORKING GROUP ON THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT

The 16th annual session of the Working Group will be held from 27 April to 1 May in Room XVI of the Palais des Nations in Geneva. All relevant documents for the 16th session will soon be made available here.

Civil society is invited to send submissions to the Secretariat by e-mail to r2d@ohchr.org no later than 31 January. Submissions received thus far are available here

The documentation for the 16th session of the Working Group will contain only those submissions received in English and in MS Word or a compatible format. All submissions will be made available on the webpage of the Working Group.

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE

The 113th session of the Human Rights Committee will take place from 16 March to 2 April in Room XII of the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The Committee will examine the reports of Russian Federation, Cambodia, Ivory Coast, Cyprus, Monaco, and Croatia. The Committee will adopt lists of issues on the reports of Austria, Benin, Greece, Iraq, Republic of Korea, Suriname, and South Africa in the absence of a report.

The deadline for submitting information on States to be examined by the Committee is 20 February. The programme of work and other information related to the session can be found on here.

WEBCASTS OF THE TREATY BODY MEETINGS

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.

CONSULTATIONS WITH UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON FREEDOMS OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY AND ASSOCIATION

Civil society and other relevant actors are invited to contribute information to an upcoming report of the UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai. The report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2015 and will focus on the exercise of freedoms of peaceful assembly and association in the context of the exploitation of natural resources.

Information should be submitted by completing the questionnaire available in English, French and Spanish. Responses should to be sent by 31 January to freeassembly@ohchr.org.

CONSULTATION ON A DRAFT SET OF INDICATORS FOR FREEDOMS OF ASSOCIATION AND PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is developing indicators for freedoms of peaceful assembly and association. It invites NGOs to comment the draft indicators available here. Comments must be provided by 31 January to civilsociety@ohchr.org.

conferences and events

CALL FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Justice and Peace Netherlands is facilitating the Shelter City Initiative which creates the possibility for temporary shelter of human rights defenders who are threatened and under great pressure. The programme will shelter at least four human rights defenders and will provide housing, insurance, training, a daily allowance and an opportunity for the defender to share their story publicly.

To qualify for the programme, human rights defenders must enroll before 19 January (application forms can be requested at sheltercity@justiceandpeace.nl). They also need to be willing to travel to the Netherlands around 1 March, and be able to return to the country of origin after three months. They must speak English or French and be willing to speak in front of an audience.

If you know a human rights defender who is being threatened due to his or her activities and who could benefit from a temporary leave to the Netherlands, or you would like to request additional information, please contact sheltercity@justiceandpeace.nl.

case notes on decisions from international human rights bodies

Kazakhstan: Found liable for refusing a resident’s entry on grounds of national security.

The Netherlands: Urged to reform rules on criminal procedure and the right to appeal.

admissibility decisions

Human Rights Committee dismisses complaints against Bulgaria, Belarus, Australia, Azerbaijan, Argentina and France.

Special procedures' country visits

Palestine
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
19 - 29 January 
Cape Verde                      
Special Rapporteur on adequate housing
19 - 27 January
Kazakhstan
Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and association
19 - 30 January
portugal
Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers
27 January - 5 February
To find out how you can support the visits, please contact the respective mandate-holder at their email, found in the directory
For more information, please visit our website: www.ishr.ch or contact us: information@ishr.ch