Human Rights Monitor Monthly - February 2016
HUMAN RIGHTS MONITOR
February 2016
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OPINION
Towards an accessible, effective and protective Human Rights Council

Several human rights experts share reflections  on the Human Rights Council's (HRC) work, challenges and opportunities to enhance its impact in 2016. Among the contributors: ISHR's director of Human Rights Council Advocacy, Michael Ineichen; the 2016 HRC President, Ambassador Choi Kyong-lim; the advocacy officer with the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Salma Amer; and the 2015 HRC President, Ambassador Joachim Rücker... more

OUR WORK TO STRENGTHEN LAWS AND SYSTEMS

NATIONAL 


KUWAIT: NEW CYBER CRIMES LAW RESTRAINS FREE EXPRESSION AND ONLINE ACTIVISTS

Overly broad restrictions in the new Cyber Crimes Law no. 63 could be applied to limit freedom of expression on the Internet and target online activists, including bloggers and citizen journalists, says a group of leading NGOs... more
 

Nigeria: Withdraw restrictive social media bill

Concerns about the criminalisation of free expression under the Frivolous Petitions Prohibition Bill have been raised with the Nigerian Senate, in a  letter signed by human rights groups in Nigeria, wider Africa, and across the globe ... more



INTERNATIONAL

 

Increased collaboration within civil society highlighted during Singapore’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) 

 
Despite legislative restrictions and judicial harassment of defenders, years of dedication by defenders in Singapore has led to a civil society that is increasingly vibrant. Unfortunately, as a result they are also increasingly under threat... more 

UN COMMITTEE ON NGOS: DO NOT DENY NGOS THE RIGHT TO SPEAK

In a decision which sent a ‘chilling message that free speech is under threat at the UN’, the UN Committee on NGOs closed an application by US-based NGO, Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, denying it the opportunity to apply for consultative status. This decision followed a vote to deny the NGO the right to respond to questions and allegations against it... more
 

Paraguay’s UPR: protection and follow-up needed


In a side event held during the UPR of Paraguay, ISHR and local activists highlighted the need for the State to consult civil society to define and implement practical mechanisms to tackle human rights violations... more
 

UN General Assembly increases support for human rights defenders following call by NGOs


Following a major NGO campaign coordinated by ISHR and Amnesty International, the UN General Assembly adopted a significant and substantive Norwegian-led resolution on the protection of human rights defenders by an increased majority... more
 

Human Rights Council expert mission to investigate human rights abuses in Burundi


Following a US-led resolution adopted at a special Human Rights Council session, an expert mission will be dispatched to Burundi. It will investigate abuses and make recommendations to the Council and the Burundian Government on ways of ending serious human rights violations... more
 

China: implement UN recommendations to end torture and reprisals against defenders


UN anti-torture experts have released a major report on China, calling on the Government to stop harassing human rights defenders and lawyers. The report is a critical tool and roadmap for defenders on the ground seeking to promote human rights and combat torture and ill-treatment in the country... more
 

KEY  DEVELOPMENTS IN THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS 

MOROCCO RAMPS UP CRACKDOWN ON PRESS FREEDOM WITH TRIAL OVER CITIZEN JOURNALISM


In response to the Moroccan Government’s crackdown on the right to freedom of expression - including the arrest of seven journalists for taking part in a foreign funded project that teaches journalism - Amnesty International calls on the authorities to stop prosecuting defenders and journalists on the basis of counterterrorism and state security charges... more 

MALAYSIA: END UNPRECEDENTED CRACKDOWN ON  CRITICS THROUGH SEDITION ACT

Amnesty International expresses concern over the increased use of the Sedition Act to limit freedom of expression in Malaysia. Amnesty calls on the Malaysian Government to repeal the Act and to overturn the sentences of, and release, all individuals who have been detained under it... more
 

China: Unjust Sentences for Guangzhou Activists

The sentencing of three human rights defenders for ‘peaceful civil disobedience’ and ‘inciting subversion to state power’ is said to be part of a wider move to suppress civil society in China. Human Rights Watch has called for the unjust sentencing of these defenders to be overturned... more

UN experts declare egypt’s detention of Yara Sallam arbitrary

Following the declaration made by the UN Working Group on arbitrary detention, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies call on Egypt to cease arbitrarily detaining defenders and to compensate those formerly detained, including Yara Sallam, imprisoned by the Anti-Protest Law... more

'I’m Always a Wanted Criminal' - James Ouma, Tanzania

James Ouma speaks against a growing religious backlash in Tanzania where working for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons is becoming increasingly difficult and defenders are more vulnerable to harassment from local authorities... more

NEW RESOURCES

Documenting violations against women human rights defenders and their activism 
 
The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition has launched a landmark new manual entitled ‘Gendering Documentation: A manual for and about Women Human Rights Defenders’. The manual outlines why documentation of their experiences is important and aims to generate awareness about violations against defenders and demands for human rights change... more 
 

‘Unruly’ ‘rebels’? Corporate accountability defenders  in East Asia


In a joint report ISHR and FORUM-ASIA highlight country-specific concerns and provide recommendations to improve the situation for defenders working to promote accountability for business-related human rights violations... more

Criminalisation of Human Rights Defenders

Protection International has released a new in depth report on the criminalisation of human rights defenders. The report explains the multi-faceted nature of criminalisation of human rights defenders, as well as the stigma and effects of such criminalisation. It also provides examples of preventative strategies and makes recommendations to various actors.
 

Human Rights Watch world report 2016


Human Rights Watch has released its 26th annual report on the world’s human rights situation. The report reviews human rights practices around the globe and summarises key issues in more than 90 countries and territories. It also includes a number of essays, including 'Twin Threats: How the politics of fear and the crushing of civil society imperil global rights' and 'Rights in transition, making legal recognition for transgender people a global priority'.

NEW WEBSITE FOR THE Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

With a view to fulfilling his promise of providing more visibility to his mandate, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders has launched a Facebook page and a new comprehensive website. The website will include information about the mandate, as well as a database linking resources from NGOs and external organisations. The Rapporteur's first newsletter is available here and you can sign up to receive this by email here.


EU Comparative analysis on protection AGAINST GENDER AND lgbti discrimination 

A new report has been released by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency on the legal situation of LGBTI persons within the EU. The report documents trends and legal developments in the fields affecting LGBTI persons.  
 

CASE NOTES ON DECISIONS FROM INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES - MERITS DECISIONS

UZBEKISTAN VIOLATES THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS


M.T. v. Uzbekistan (2234/2013)
The Human Rights Committee finds Uzbekistan in contravention of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for its ill-treatment and sterilisation of a human rights campaigner while in detention... more

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER PROFILE 

TEO sOH lUNG: HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER FROM SINGAPORE
 
Teo Soh Lung talks to ISHR about how her experience being arbitrarily detained motivated her to tell her story to create awareness within, and strengthen, civil society in Singapore... more

OUR WORK TO SUPPORT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Bahrain: Lift arbitrary travel ban on human rights defender

A group of 25 leading NGOs has called on the Bahraini authorities to ensure defenders can carry out their work free from reprisals. This includes lifting the arbitrary travel ban on human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, to enable him to travel abroad to secure medical assistance for his wife... more

China: release detained human rights lawyers

ISHR joins the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group and over 100 regional and international civil society organisations calling for international pressure on the Chinese Government to release defenders that have been arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared... more

Bahrain: Drop charges against human rights defender Mohammed Al-Maskati

A group of national and international NGOs called on the Bahraini Appeal Court to overturn the case against Mohammed Al-Maskati and end judicial harassment against him. The call was ultimately heard on 8 January 2016, when Al-Maskati was acquitted... more
 
Viet nam: Release prominent human rights defenders

In a joint statement released in January, 26 organisations from around the world called on the Vietnamese Government to release prominent human rights activists Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha in compliance with its international and domestic obligations... more   

Viet Nam: Investigate and prevent attacks against defenders

In light of Vietnam’s failure to support a resolution condemning threats and attacks against human rights defenders, ISHR urges the State to cease, investigate and ensure accountability for such attacks... more  

OPPORTUNITIES FOR NGO ENGAGEMENT

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

 
The 31st regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held in the Palais des Nations from 29 February to 24 March 2016. Information and updates will be published here.


UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW


The 25th UPR session will take place from 2 to 13 May 2016. The following States will be reviewed: Suriname, Greece, Samoa, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sudan, Hungary, Papua New Guinea, Tajikistan, United Republic of Tanzania, Antigua and Barbuda, Swaziland, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, and Ireland.  The pre-session for which will take place from 29 March to 1 April 2016.

The following States will be reviewed at the 26th session of the UPR which will be held in October/November 2016: Togo, Syrian Arab Republic, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Iceland, Zimbabwe, Lithuania, Uganda, Timor Leste, Republic of Moldova, Haiti, and South Sudan. Guidelines for submissions are found here and are due on 24 March. Information about the UPR mechanism can be found here.

TREATY BODIES

The 116th session of the Human Rights Committee will be held from 7 to 31 March 2016 and will consider the following State reports: Costa Rica, Namibia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden. The Committee will consider the list of issues for: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Colombia, Jamaica, Morocco, and Slovakia. The Committee will also consider the list of issues prior to reporting for Estonia. The programme of work and other information is found here.

The 57th session of the Committee Against Torture will be held from 18 April to 13 May 2016. The Committee will consider the following State reports: France, Israel, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey. More information is available here.

The 57th session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will be held from 22 February to 4 March 2016. The Committee will analyse the following State reports: Canada, Kenya and Namibia. The Committee will also consider the list of issues prior to reporting for: Bulgaria, New Zealand and Spain. The programme of work can be found here and the accreditation form here.

The 57th Pre-sessional Working Group will be held from 7 to 11 March 2016, in which the following State parties reports will be considered: Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Philippines, Poland, Tunisia, and Yemen. NGO submissions for each will be accepted until three weeks before the 57th session and the Pre-sessional Working Group respectively.

The 63rd session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will take place from 15 February to 4 March 2016. The reports of the following States are scheduled to be considered: Czech Republic, Haiti, Iceland, Japan, Mongolia, Sweden, United Republic of Tanzania, and Vanuatu. More information can be accessed here.

The 65th Pre-sessional Working Group will take place from 7  to 11 March 2016. The Pre-Sessional Working Group will review the following State reports: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Canada, Estonia, Honduras, Netherlands, and Switzerland. The Working Group will also consider the list of issues prior to reporting for Romania. More information can be accessed here.

If you are unable to attend relevant treaty body meetings, you can watch them live online. A group of Geneva-based NGOs, including ISHR, has coordinated to make this possible. The webcasts can be viewed here.

CONFERENCES AND EVENTS

Geneva Summit for human rights and democracy

The Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy brings together hundreds of human rights defenders each year to highlight urgent human rights issues requiring global attention. This free event will take place on 23 February 2016 at the International Conference Centre in Geneva. Register here.   

COUNTRY VISITS BY SPECIAL PROCEDURES 

Georgia
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
15 - 22 February
TURKEY
Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances
14 - 18 March
GEORGIA
Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
11 - 18 April
INDIA
Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context 
11 - 22 April 
For more information, please visit our website: www.ishr.ch or contact us: information@ishr.ch