Human Rights Monitor Monthly - March 2014
HUMAN RIGHTS MONITOR
March 2014

2013 ANNUAL REPORT

We are delighted to present our 2013 Annual Report.

Thank you for being a part of ISHR’s work to support human rights defenders, strengthen human rights systems and achieve human rights change.

OPINION
LGBTI RIGHTS AND THE UN: WHERE TO FROM HERE?

PAULA GERBER


In 2014, one can barely read the news without coming across a story concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex persons. Invariably these stories relate to violence, discrimination or other human rights violations inflicted on individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Occasionally, a good news story creeps in, like the recent legalisation of marriage for same-sex couples in the UK, France and New Zealand. But, with 81 states still criminalising homosexuality, and in light of an apparent increase in the intensity and frequency of LGBTI rights violations, it is appropriate to ask: What is the UN doing in response? And what more could it be doing?… more

OUR WORK TO SUPPORT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MUST DEMAND RELEASE OF DETAINED CHINESE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER
The UN Human Rights Council should demand the release of detained Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli when it meets in Geneva next week, ISHR has said. It should also press China to ensure that Cao receives access to specialist medical treatment following a critical deterioration in her health while in detention.

‘It is imperative that the Human Rights Council President and States speak out on the detention and ill-treatment of Cao Shunli and hold China to account for its obligations under international law and as a member of the Council,’ said Michael Ineichen, ISHR’s Director of Human Rights Council Advocacy.
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ISHR CONDEMNS UGANDAN PRESIDENT’S SIGNING INTO LAW OF ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BILL

On 24 February 2014, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law the draconian ‘anti-homosexuality’ bill, putting Uganda in flagrant violation of its international human rights obligations. ‘The Anti-Homosexuality bill will have wide-ranging and devastating impacts on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. We condemn its signing into law,' said ISHR Director Phil Lynch… more

NATIONAL ACTION PLANS ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS MUST PROVIDE PROTECTION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS 

National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights should be developed in close consultation with civil society organisations and should detail the steps and measures that a State will take to protect human rights defenders from attacks, restrictions and reprisals associated with their work on corporate accountability.

In a statement to the UN's Working Group on Business and Human Rights, ISHR drew attention to a disturbing global pattern of attacks against human rights defenders who protest against business operations and called on States to ensure that defenders are able to undertake such activities in a safe and enabling environment… more

MORE NGOS GAIN ACCESS TO THE UN, BUT ARBITRARY BLOCKADES REMAIN FOR MANY 

The UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, which acts as the gatekeeper to NGO access to the UN, continues to wrongly delay, deny and reject access to credible human rights NGOs. At its most recent session in New York, from 21 to 30 January and 7 February 2014, the Committee approved 265 NGOs for access (or ‘consultative status’) to the UN, but deferred a further 192 applications for further consideration at its session in May… more

END ATTACKS ON HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS WHO PROTEST AGAINST BUSINESS OPERATIONS AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

Governments, corporations and the United Nations should act to address a disturbing global pattern of attacks against human rights defenders who protest against business operations and major development projects, according to the International Service for Human Rights. There has been a spate of such attacks in recent weeks, including in Mexico, Russia and Uganda… more

Our work to strengthen human rights systems

NGOS WELCOME UN RESOLUTION TO STRENGTHEN TREATY BODY SYSTEM
A coalition of 23 human rights NGOs welcomed a resolution by the UN General Assembly to strengthen the treaty body system. Since April 2012, States in New York have been participating in an intergovernmental process established under the guise of strengthening the UN’s human rights treaty bodies. The UN treaty bodies are independent, expert committees mandated to review and promote States’ compliance with international human rights treaties. The discussions have culminated in a draft resolution (A/68/L.37), to be submitted to the budgetary committee of the General Assembly for approval in March… more

Council Alert

A PREVIEW OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL'S 25TH SESSION

The UN Human Rights Council’s 25th Session will take place from 3 to 28 March. Amongst a full agenda, the Council will have the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to the promotion and protection of civil society space through a panel on the issue and a renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders… more

Opportunities for NGO Engagement

GENERAL ASSEMBLY THEMATIC DEBATES AND HIGH LEVEL EVENTS

The General Assembly will hold thematic debates on the role of partnerships and their contributions, 8 - 9 April; and ensuring peaceful and stable societies, 24 - 25 April. High-level events will also be held on contributions of women, the young and civil society, 6 - 7 March; and human rights and the rule of law, 17 - 18 June. 

NEW DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION TO 20TH SESSION OF THE UPR

The deadline for civil society to submit information for the 20th session of the working group (to be held from 27 October to 7 November) has been changed to 15 March 2014. Submissions should be sent using the new online UPR submissions system, which will open on 1 March.

COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF MIGRANT WORKERS

The deadline to submit information to the Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers for the meeting taking place from 31 March to 11 April in Geneva is 17 March. The Committee will review the reports of El Salvador, Mali, Philippines, and Uruguay; and will adopt list of issues prior to the presentation of reports for Cape Verde, Guinea, Seychelles, Timor Leste and Turkey. 

COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will be in session in Geneva from 28 April to 23 May. The deadline to submit information is 17 March. The Committee will review the reports of Armenia, China, China (Hong Kong), China (Macau), Czech Republic, El Salvador, Indonesia, Lithuania, Monaco, Serbia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

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.

WORKING GROUP ON DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN 

The Working group on discrimination against women in law and practice accepts information on allegations of discrimination against women in law and practice through the year. The next session of Working Group will be held in Geneva from 5 - 9 May.

WORKING GROUP ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS 

Submissions to the Working Group on business and human rights, alleging violations of human rights in relation to the Working Group’s mandate, are accepted throughout the year. The next session of the Working Group will be held in Geneva from 5 – 9 May.

COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS 

NGOs may submit information to the pre-sessional working group of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to be held in Geneva from 26 – 30 May. The Committee will consider the following State reports during the session: Gambia, Guatemala, Montenegro, Paraguay, Romania, Slovenia, Tajikistan, and Viet Nam.

COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF CHILD 

The Committee on the Rights of Child will meet in Geneva from 26 May to 13 June. The schedule of country examinations will be posted as soon as it is available. The Committee will review the reports of the following countries: India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, and Saint Lucia.

The list of countries review under the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children prostitution and child pornography: India, Jordan and United Kingdom; and the list of countries review under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict: Cuba and Jordan.

CONFERENCES & EVENTS

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL SIDE EVENT:
CREATING A SAFE AND ENABLING ENVIRONMENT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

11 March 2014, 1200 – 1400, Palais des Nations, Geneva - room VIII

Defending human rights is a critical but increasingly dangerous activity in many parts of the world. This panel discussion will shed light on the threats and obstacles encountered by human rights defenders, and identify actions and protection strategies for the UN, States, national human rights institutions and civil society to contribute to a safe and enabling environment for them… more
Film screening and Discussion: 'Banaz - a love story'
10 March 2014, 1530 - 1800, Palais des Nations, Geneva - Cinema room XIV

The permanent missions of Pakistan and Norway are pleased to invite you to a discussion on defending women's rights and screening of the Emmy-award winning documentary “Banaz – a love story”... more
Lunchtime reception and book launch
26 March 2014, 1300 - 1400, Palais des Nations, Geneva - balcony area between Room XX and Room IX

The International Service for Human Rights, Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, and the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights invite you to a lunchtime reception and launch of The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Commentary, Cases, and Materials by Ben Saul, David Kinley, and Jaqueline Mowbray (Oxford University Press, 2014)... more
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER ADVOCACY PROGRAMME
8 – 21 June 2014, Geneva

ISHR's Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme equips defenders with the knowledge and skills to make strategic use of the international human rights system. It also provides an opportunity for participants to directly engage in lobbying and advocacy activities at the UN level to effect change on the ground back home… more
 

NEW RESOURCES

NEW SERIES OF BRIEFING PAPERS ON SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

ISHR is pleased to announce the publication of a new series of briefing papers on the situation of human rights defenders in various national contexts. The briefing papers highlight obstacles to the protection of activists and are designed to assist States in formulating questions and recommendations regarding the protection of human rights defenders during the UPR. The series will be continually updated and is available on ISHR's website. Recently published papers focus on Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER
PROFILE

ROLANDO JIMÉNEZ PEREZ: CHILEAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER

‘I wanted to fight for human rights in order to help lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals and to put an end to any brutality for reasons of sexual orientation and gender identity.’

During the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, Rolando Jiménez Pérez was a member of the Communist Party driven, along with his fellow party workers, by the goal of restoring democracy.

Despite the fact that Rolando was united with the ideals of the Communist Party his sexuality was used by the party as a means to belittle him. This forcefully brought home to Rolando just how strong a role a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity could play in the way they were treated. He made up his mind that once the dictatorship was over he would turn his attention entirely to human rights and in particular towards ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people did not face any attacks or stigmatisation on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity… more

HUMAN RIGHTS DEVELOPMENTS

ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY LAW IN UGANDA VIOLATES HUMAN RIGHTS AND ENDANGERS LGBT PEOPLE 

The United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has denounced the anti-homosexuality law signed into force in Uganda on 24 February.

‘This law will institutionalise discrimination and is likely to encourage harassment and violence against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. It is formulated so broadly that it may lead to abuse of power and accusations against anyone, not just LGBT people’ said Pillay… more

NORTH KOREA’S SILENCED VICTIMS EVENT IN UNITED NATIONS 

North Korean survivors of prison camps, refugees, and members of persecuted families shared testimony on the horrendous violations committed by North Korean authorities at an event held at the United Nations. The Permanent Mission of Poland, the Mission of Ireland, Human Rights Watch, and Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human organised the meeting which was held on 6 February.

Ambassador R. Henczel of Poland emphasised the importance of the discourse in the run-up to the Human Rights Council’s March session, where the international community will have its opportunity to voice its deep concern with the situation of human rights violations in the DPRK… more

AFRICAN COMMISSION CONDEMNS NIGERIA’S LAW TARGETING LGBT RIGHTS DEFENDERS

The Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders in Africa has strongly condemned acts in violation of the right to life, physical integrity, and freedom of expression and assembly of human rights defenders, and called on the Nigerian Government to uphold its international obligations.

On 5 February 2014, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa (and ISHR Board member), Reine Alapini-Gansou, voiced her concerns over provisions of Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. Sections 4(1) and 5(2) of the Act provide for penalties against LGBT human rights defenders. The enactment of this Act will lead to an increase in cases of physical violence, aggression, arbitrary detention, and harassment against LGBT defenders and sexual minorities… more  

RUSSIAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER EXPELLED FROM UKRAINE 

On 10 February 2014, Ukrainian border officials barred prominent Russian human rights defender, Andrei Yurov, from entering the country. Yurov was on his way to Kiev to meet with Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks and to work within the International Human Rights Defender’s Group on the situation in Ukraine.

Human Rights Watch commented that Yurov’s expulsion is ‘an unprecedented and wholly regrettable step’ and called on the Ukrainian government to reverse this decision and allow Yurov to carry out his human rights work in Ukraine… more

SOCHI OLYMPIC CRITICS HARASSED, TREATED LIKE TERRORISTS

Activists in Sochi (within the Krasnodar region) have been harassed, detained, and tried by the Russian authorities for attempting to expose the corruption and environmental damages from Putin’s Winter Olympics. In a recent report, Human Rights Watch called local authorities directly responsible for the overbearing tactics used on activists, environmentalists, and journalists in the Sochi area.

The Krasnodar government denied any instances of harassment of activists when confronted about the allegations. It further stressed that the activities of law enforcement agencies are not under the regional administration’s authority… more

CAMBODIA CONTINUES VIOLENT CRACKDOWN ON GARMENT PROTESTERS 

Despite international criticisms of Cambodia’s attack on garment protesters during the UPR last month, the Cambodian government continues to violently suppress protesters. On 11 February 2014, government troops physically beat journalists, arrested activists, and fired live ammunition on a peaceful demonstration, killing at least 4 protesters.

‘The government is now basically going back to the old days where they ruled by fear’, commented President of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, ‘but they should remember to treat the people differently, instead of oppressing them and expecting that they are going to take it lying down’. Global unions have announced a worldwide day of action in support of detainees while local unions have threatened another mass walkout… more

ISHR 30th Anniversary

What does ISHR mean to you?

As part of ISHR's 30th anniversary celebrations, we'll be speaking to a different human rights expert each month to find out about their experience with ISHR.
Michèle Buteau
Intern at ISHR in 1993
Now: Leads the protection of minority rights at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
 
What does ISHR mean to you?

ISHR has been extremely important to me in my career. I was an intern with the organisation at the time of former Director Adrien-Claude Zoller and as the international community was building up to the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna.
 
With ISHR, I attended that conference, which gave birth to the mandate of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. I'm one of the few people presently at the OHCHR who was at the conference 20 years ago, so when the Office was planning commemorations of the anniversary last year, my insight was sought. If not for ISHR, I would not have gone to the conference.
 
Working as an intern at ISHR demystified the international human rights system for me, it made it accessible and I was able to experience how the 'human rights machinery' really operates. It gave me a very important perspective into the world of NGO advocacy and showed me the important role civil society plays in the human rights movement. It also developed in me an extremely good political understanding and appreciation of diplomatic maneuvers, which often explain how and why States behave in the way they do.
 
Adrien Zoller's historical memory and passion for human rights and the human rights movement has stuck with me. I think he was extraordinary. He demonstrated great devotion to human rights and human rights advocacy, and to empowering human rights advocates to do the best they can to promote the protection of human rights.

CASE NOTES ON DECISIONS FROM INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES

ALGERIA REQUIRED TO INVESTIGATE TORTURE OF DECEASED DETAINEE

The Committee Against Torture found that Algeria violated its obligations resulting from the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment with respect to the alleged torture of an individual who had died in custody… more

ALGERIA REQUIRED TO INVESTIGATE ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE DURING CIVIL WAR 

The Human Rights Committee found out that an individual’s enforced disappearance during the Algerian Civil War constituted a violation by Algeria of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights… more
KAZAKHSTAN REQUIRED TO INVESTIGATE TORTURE OF ACCUSED
The Committee Against Torture found that Kazakhstan had violated its obligations under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment with respect to the alleged torture of an individual accused of murder… more
 

DENMARK’S CONSIDERATION OF ASYLUM CLAIM FOUND ADEQUATE

The Committee Against Torture decided that the proposed deportation of an individual by Denmark would not violate its obligations under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment… more

Country visits by Special Procedures

PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, 3 March - 14 March
NEW ZEALAND
Working Group on arbitrary detention 24 March - 7 April
UNITED KINGDOM
Special Rapporteur on violence against women 31 March - 15 April
AZERBAIJAN
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, 18 May - 24 May
THE NETHERLANDS
Working Group on people of African descent, 30 June - 4 July
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