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

ISHR launches French and Spanish language pages of website

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OPINION
Frightening violence in South Sudan demands stronger response by UN Human Rights Council 

By Clément Voulé, Africa Programme Manager at ISHR

Clément Voulé discusses the Human Rights Council resolution adopted on 2 July and the fact that while it calls for a mission to South Sudan to assess the human rights situation and engage the South Sudanese authorities, it falls short of human rights advocates’ calls to take more assertive action... more

OUR WORK TO SUPPORT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY DEFENDERS IN CENTRAL AFRICA: ‘TROUBLEMAKERS’ OFFER SOLUTIONS

At the third of five sub-regional consultations by African Commission experts, ISHR drew attention to regional trends of vulnerability and abuse of human rights defenders in central Africa related to the intersection of extractive industry activities and government policy... more

VENEZUELA: END STIGMATISATION AND REPRISALS AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

A group of United Nations and Inter-American human rights experts deplored attempts on Venezuela’s State-controlled television to discredit and intimidate human rights defenders for human rights activities and cooperation with UN and regional human rights bodies... more

CHINA: RELEASE WANG YU AND OTHER DETAINED AND DISAPPEARED HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Wang YuIn response to reports of the detention and disappearance of over 50 human rights lawyers and defenders, ISHR called on China to immediately cease its coordinated targeting of human rights defenders and release those arbitrarily detained... more



GAMBIA: PROTECT DEFENDERS OF WOMEN'S RIGHTS

Following reports of human rights defenders being threatened by the President of The Gambia, ISHR and the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies called upon the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to enquire about the situation of women defenders in its review of the country... more

CAMBODIA: WITHDRAW LANGO AND ENSURE GENUINE CIVIL SOCIETY PARTICIPATION

ISHR joined global civil society in calling on the Cambodian Senate to correct the decision by the National Assembly to adopt the draft Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations which threatens the very existence of a free and independent civil society... more 

key developments in the promotion and protection of human rights

ECHR FAILS TO PUSH ITALY TO PROTECT SAME-SEX RELATIONS

While the decision of the European Court of Human Rights on 21 July 2015 acknowledged that failure to legally approve same-sex relationships is a violation of human rights, Human Rights Watch considers the Italian legislative power to enact laws to protect and recognise same-sex relationships should have been endorsed... more  

CAMBODIA: CAMBODIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL MUST DEFEAT LAW ON ASSOCIATIONS AND NGO

The Constitutional Council of Cambodia intends to analyse the constitutionality of the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations, which according to the International Federation of Human Rights contains restrictive provisions on the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association... more

NEW SURVEILLANCE LAW IN FRANCE CRACKSDOWN ON HUMAN RIGHTS

France recently enacted surveillance legislation conceding extensive powers to the authorities to intercept and monitor people within its territory, notwithstanding opposition from rights groups... more


ANGOLA:  STOP ARBITRARY DETENTAINING DISSENTING VOICES

As part of a crackdown on dissent, four human rights activists and a journalist were arbitrarily detained while visiting prisoners of conscience in Calomboloca prison for ‘making politics in the prison’... more

GAMBIA: RELEASE ALL PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE

While welcoming the release of 200 prisoners, Amnesty International called on the government of Gambia to release all unlawfully detained prisoners in detention for expressing dissent... more


UK: ENSURE CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY ABROAD

Despite calls from Amnesty International to prosecute multinational commodities trader Trafigura, the UK authorities have failed to investigate the disposal of toxic waste in 18 locations across Côte d’Ivoire 9 years after the event... more

LIBYA: TRIPOLI’S COURT TRIAL OF GADDAFI-ERA OFFICIALS IS UNLAWFUL

On 28 July 2015, in proceedings plagued by fair trail breaches, 32 Gaddafi-era officials were convicted for crimes committed during Libya’s 2011 uprising. Human Rights Watch says while the victims of those crimes deserve justice, that can only be delivered through fair and transparent proceedings... more

MYANMAR: LAND RIGHTS DEFENDER MUST BE RELEASED

The Observatory for the protection of human rights defenders (made up of the International Federation for Human Rights and the World Organisation Against Torture) called on Myanmar to immediately release Su Su Nway, a land rights defender and leader of the Myanmar Farmers Union who was arbitrarily arrested on 23 July 2015... more


BRAZIL: FAILURE TO PROVIDE JUSTICE FOR RIO DISAPPEARANCES

Amnesty International highlights the impoverished state of Brazil’s criminal system in the continued failure to properly investigate and prosecute the disappearance of 11 young people in Rio de Janeiro in 1990... more

SLOVAKIA SIGNED THE CONVENTION ON CLUSTER MUNITIONS

On 24 July 2015 Slovakia acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Human Rights Watch highlights the significance of such a decision, by a country that previously manufactured and exported cluster munitions... more

UKRAINE: FREEDOM HOUSE CALLS ON CORRUPTED ELECTIONS

Freedom House highlights concerns in relation to future elections in Ukraine, following the recent parliamentary election on 26 July 2015 in Chernihiv, Ukraine which was marked by serious irregularities... more

conferences and events

MARTIN ENNALS AWARD CEREMONY

Martin Ennals Awards 2015 The City of Geneva and the Martin Ennals Foundation are co-hosting the 2015 Martin Ennals Award Ceremony. Often regarded as the ‘Nobel Prize for Human Rights’, the Laureate is selected by the Jury of the Martin Ennals Award, made up of ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations. The event will take place on the 6th of October at 6pm, at Uni-Dufour, Geneva... more

GENEVA PEACE TALKS 2015

Interpeace, in partnership with United Nations Office at Geneva and Geneva Peacebuilding Platform is hosting the Geneva Peace Talks 2015. Speakers from diverse backgrounds, including violent environments, will explain their contribution to peace building efforts around the world. The event will take place on the 18th of September, between 4.30-6pm in Room XIX, Palais des Nations. Registration opens on the 17th of August... more

ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING WITH NGOS

The Members of the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council invite NGO representatives with ECOSOC status to an informal exchange of views on the Committee’s work on Tuesday 11 August, at 10 a.m. in room XXVII, Palais des Nations. The Committee will discuss the impact of activities of vulture funds on human rights; unaccompanied migrant children and human rights; and elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members... more
 

NEW RESOURCES

UPDATED: SIMPLE GUIDE TO THE UN TREATY BODIES - GUIDE SIMPLE SUR LES ORGANES DE TRAITÉS DES NATIONS UNIES 

Existe aussi en Français - Guide Simple sur les Organes de Traités des Nations Unies.

ISHR's Simple Guide to the UN Treaty Bodies provides an overview of the UN human rights treaty body system and the different ways human rights defenders can make use of it to further their human rights causes. The guide also provides information on the relationship between the treaty bodies and other UN human rights mechanisms, relevant developments related to the harmonisation of the working methods of the treaty bodies, and a glossary and e-resources for further reference.

SUBMISSION TO UK REVIEW OF ITS NATIONAL ACTION PLAN ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

ISHR’s submission to the UK Government, which is currently reviewing its National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, highlights the vital role human rights defenders play in advising and assisting businesses to comply with their human rights obligations and in securing access to justice for victims of violations, and that both corporations and States have legal duties in this regard.

UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW: BRIEFING PAPERS ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

ISHR launched briefing papers on the situation of human rights defenders in Niger, Singapore, Paraguay and Sierra Leone. The briefing papers aim to assist States to elaborate recommendations for the each country scheduled to be reviewed as part of the Universal Periodic Review process in January 2016, and serve themselves as submissions.

NATIONS IN TRANSIT 2015: DEMOCRACY ON THE DEFENSIVE

Freedom House issued its 2015 edition of Nations in Transit. An annual study of democratic governance in 29 countries from Central Europe to Central Asia, which highlights the boldness of forces opposing democracy in Eurasia... more


A DIFFICULT PROFESSION: MEDIA FREEDOM UNDER ATTACK

Human Rights Watch issued its report A Difficult Profession: Media Freedom Under Attack. The report is based on interviews with 86 journalists and documents physical attacks and threats faced by journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.

A CLIMATE OF FEAR FOR LGBT PEOPLE IN KAZAKHSTAN

Human Rights Watch has released its report That’s when I realized I was nobody: A Climate of Fear for LGBT People in Kazakhstan which documents, despite decriminalisation of same-sex relations, the constant harassment and discrimination faced by the LGBT community in Kazakhstan.


GUIDES: ADVOCACY TOOLKIT AND ENGAGING WITH THE MEDIA

Civicus has released an Advocacy Toolkit, as well as a companion to the toolkit for influencing the Post-2015 development agenda - Engaging with the Media.

These guides on effective advocacy strategies are primarily intended for civil society actors that are willing to contribute to the post-2015 agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals. They include sections on how to develop an advocacy strategy and the use of media.

The guides are also available in:  

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

GUNETHTHIGE V. SRI LANKA (2087/2011)

The Human Rights Committee finds Sri Lanka's investigation into the death of a victim of police assault in custody in contravention of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights... more

KOZLOV ET AL. V. BELARUS (1949/2010)

The Human Rights Committee finds that Belarus violated its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for refusing a request for authorisation to hold a demonstration.... more

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER PROFILE

KAONA SAOWAKUN: TRANSGENDER HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER FROM THAILAND 

 
Kaona Saowakun, co-chair of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association Asia and Policy and Advocacy officer at Transmen Alliance (Thailand), talks to ISHR about the challenges faced by, and his work advocating for, trans-gender people... more

OUR WORK TO STRENGTHEN LAWS AND SYSTEMS

NIGER: STOP RESTRICTING THE RIGHTS TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND ASSEMBLY

ISHR, the West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network and Collectif des Organisations de Défense des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie called on States to use the Universal Periodic Review to call for greater respect and protection for human rights defenders and civil society actors working on corporate accountability issues in Niger... more

CHINA: COLLABORATION WITH HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MUST GO ALONG WITH RESPECT FOR CIVIL SOCIETY 

In a move to document and analyse China’s positions and initiatives as it increasingly engages with the UN Human Rights Council, ISHR seeks to provide a holistic view of China’s contributions to human rights mechanisms and a perspective on the human rights situation in the country... more

SIERRA LEONE: DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT LAW FOR PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

ISHR and the Sierra Leone Human Rights Defenders Network called on States to use the Universal Periodic Review to urge Sierra Leone to repeal legislation restricting the activities of human rights defenders... more

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE CONDEMNS THREATS AND REPRISALS AGAINST VENEZUELAN ACTIVISTS

The Human Rights Committee has demanded that Venezuela end stigmatization of human rights defenders and do more to protect them, in its concluding observations the State’s fourth report… more

UN COMMITTEE ON NGOS: FURTHER REFORM NEEDED TO SAFEGUARD NGO PARTICIPATION 

As Freedom Now finally receives consultative status with the UN by the Economic and Social Council NGO Committee, after five years of its application being deferred, States and NGOs express concern about increasing deviations’ by the NGO Committee from the principles that guide its work... more

SINGAPORE: RESPECT AND PROTECT THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

In response to human rights defenders, especially for those advocating for LGBTI rights, facing restrictions on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, ISHR calls on States to use the Universal Periodic Review to call on Singapore to respect for human rights defenders and civil society... more

UNITED KINGDOM: PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IS EVERYONE'S BUSINESS

In a submission to the UK Government, ISHR called for the strengthening of regulations and incentives to ensure that corporations consult, respect and protect human rights defenders, many of whom are targeted for their work to expose and seek accountability for business-related human rights violations... more

BAHRAIN: HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MUST ACT TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AT ITS 30TH SESSION

In an open letter to Ambassadors to the Human Rights Council, a coalition of leading non-governmental organisations called on States to use the forthcoming 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council to address restrictions and reprisals against human rights defenders, journalists and opposition activists in Bahrain... more

PARAGUAY: IMPLEMENT MEASURES TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

In response to human rights defenders in Paraguay facing repression on at least two fronts – from the Government for legitimate dissent and from non-state actors for seeking to expose alleged atrocities - ISHR deplored States to call on Paraguay to guarantee the protection of human rights defenders... more

STATES SET OUT THEIR VISION AND COMMITMENTS AS CANDIDATES TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

Belgium, Germany, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Panama, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia and Switzerland set out their vision for UN Human Rights Council membership if elected, and responded to questions on their human rights commitments... more

EGYPT: STATES SHOULD USE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL TO ADDRESS DETERIORATING COUNTRY SITUATION

ISHR, Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights Law Centre, Amnesty International and the Human Rights Council of Australia called on States to address the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt at the next session of the UN Human Rights Council... more

FIRST MEETING OF IGWG FOR BINDING TREATY ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS CLOSES IN GENEVA

As the Working Group towards a binding treaty on business and human rights closed, ISHR called for civil society's role in the process to be protected... more

OPPORTUNITIES FOR NGO ENGAGEMENT

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

The 30th regular session of the Council will be held from 14 September to 2 October at the Palais des Nations. Information and updates will be published here.

The 15th session of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee will be held from 10 August to 14 August in the Palais des Nations. The Advisory Committee functions as a think-tank for the Human Rights Council, focusing mainly on studies and research-based advice as requested by the Human Rights Council. NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC may submit written statements relevant to the work of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee ahead of the relevant session. Information and updates will be published here.

The Human Rights Council organisational meeting on the 30th session will take place on 24 August at the Palais des Nations in Room XX.

The Human Rights Council is organising a Forum on Business and Human Rights that will be held from on 16 to 18 November. The draft programme outline can be accessed here. More information is available here.

The 12th session of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises will be held from 18 September to 2 October.

UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

The 23rd UPR session will take place from 2 November to 13 November 2015. The following States will be reviewed: Micronesia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nauru, Rwanda, Nepal, Saint Lucia, Oman, Austria, Myanmar, Australia, Georgia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Sao Tome and Principe.

The following States will be reviewed at the 25th session of the UPR which will be held in April/May 2016: 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. Guidelines for submissions are found here and are due on 21 September (tentative). Information about the UPR mechanism can be found here.

TREATY BODIES

The 115th session of the Human Rights Committee will be held from 19 October to 6 November and will consider the following State reports: Austria, Benin, Greece, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, San Marino and Suriname. The programme of work and other information is found here. NGO submissions should be made by 7 August.

The 55th session of the Committee Against Torture will take place from 27 July to 14 August. The Committee will consider the following States during the session: Iraq, Slovakia and Switzerland. The programme of work and other information is available here.

The 56th session of the Committee Against Torture will be held from 9 November to 9 December. The Committee will consider the following State reports: Austria, Azerbaijan, China, China (Hong Kong), China (Macau), Denmark, Jordan, Liechtenstein. The Committee will also consider the lists of for: France, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia. The Committee will also consider the list of issues prior to reporting for: Ghana, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, and Portugal. More information is available here.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will hold its 73rd Session from 31 August to 4 September. The Working Group acts on information submitted to its attention regarding alleged cases of arbitrary detention.

The 9th session of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances will take place from 7 to 18 September. The Committee will consider the following States reports: Iraq and Montenegro and the following list of issues from: Kazakhstan, Burkina Faso and Tunisia. The programme of work is available here.

The 56th session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will be held from 21 September to 9 October. The Committee will analyse the following State reports: Burundi, Greece, Guyana, Iraq, Italy, Morocco and Sudan. The programme of work can be found here and the accreditation form here.

The 56th Pre-sessional Working Group will be held from 12 to 16 October, in which the following States parties reports will be considered: Angola, Burkina Faso, Honduras, Kenya, Namibia, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. NGOs submissions for each will be accepted until 3 weeks before the 56th session and the Pre-sessional Working Group respectively.

The 62nd session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will take place from 26 October to 20 November. The reports of the following States parties are scheduled to be considered: Lebanon, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Timor-Leste, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. The Provisional Agenda can be accessed here and the Programme of Work here.

The Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women has made a call for submissions on ‘discrimination against women in law and in practice with regard to the right to health and safety’. The deadline for submissions is 15 August. The result of this research will be launched in June 2016.

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 here.

country visits by special procedures

SRI LANKA
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
3 - 12 August 
Hungary
Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice
1 - 11 September
Japan
Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
2 - 8 September 
Moldova
Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities
10 - 17 September 
chile
Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
21 - 30 September
paraguay
Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
23 September - 6 October
Australia
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants
27 September - 10 October
Republic of korea
Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes
12 - 23 October
Belgium
Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination
12 - 16 October
Saudi arabia
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences
19 - 29 October
Find more information on these visits here. To find out how you can support the visits, please contact respective mandate-holders via their email address, as listed in the directory
For more information, please visit our website: www.ishr.ch or contact us: information@ishr.ch