Human Rights Monitor Monthly - October 2014
HUMAN RIGHTS MONITOR
OCTOBER 2014

Breaking news: Alejandra Ancheita announced as the 2014 Martin Ennals Award Laureate



Alejandra Ancheita has been awarded the top honour at the 2014 Martin Ennals Award ceremony, held last night in Geneva... More
OPINION

The Human Rights Council must respect and uphold the right of NGOs

Phil Lynch, ISHR Director


The right, and indeed the responsibility, of non-governmental organisations to critique governments, expose and pursue accountability for human rights violations, and advocate for changes in law, policy and practice should be uncontroversial and uncontested.

This is particularly the case at the UN Human Rights Council, the world’s peak body for human rights debate and dialogue, the mandate of which includes promoting and protecting the right to freedom of expression… more

Human rights defender profile

KHARTINI SLAMAH: MALAYSIAN LGBT RIGHTS DEFENDER


Khartini Slamah is a Malaysian transgender human rights defender working on HIV/AIDS and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. She has more than 27 years’ experience in HIV/AIDS work at the national, regional and International levels, working closely with the transgender and sex worker communities. She currently works with ISEAN Hivos Program, PT Foundation as the transgender program manager in Malaysia… more

our work to strengthen human rights systems

ISHR at the UN Human Rights Council

Catch up on ISHR statements and side events at the UN Human Rights Council. Visit our YouTube channel. 

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SPECIAL PROCEDURES TO STRENGTHEN STATE COOPERATION AND COMBAT REPRISALS 

The UN's independent human rights experts have an obligation to protect those who cooperate with the UN from acts of intimidation and reprisal and should be more active in publicly exposing and pursuing States which engage in such acts, ISHR has said in a submission to the Human Rights Council’s Special Procedure mandate holders… more

STATES SHOULD INVESTIGATE AND RESPOND TO ALLEGATIONS OF REPRISALS

Continued cases of reprisals and failure to respond to allegations of reprisals amount to contempt of the Human Rights Council by States, said ISHR during a Council debate on the Secretary-General’s annual report on intimidation and reprisals against those that cooperate with the UN… more

The latest alarming report by the Secretary-General documents a significant number of cases in which people have been arrested, detained, tortured and even killed for their work to expose and pursue accountability for human rights violations at the UN. Disturbingly, the report also reveals that in very few such cases are the threats and attacks properly investigated or perpetrators held to account… more

PROTECTING CIVIL SOCIETY SPACE AND PREVENTING REPRISALS: DEVELOPMENTS AND NEXT STEPS 

The enactment of specific national laws and policies to protect human rights defenders, together with the appointment of a senior UN official to combat intimidation and reprisals at the international level, are crucial for civil society to operate in a safe and enabling environment. This was the conclusion drawn by panellists at an ISHR hosted event on the side-lines of the Human Rights Council’s 27th session… more

MEMBER STATES OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MUST COOPERATE WITH ITS EXPERTS 

Human Rights Council member States should respond promptly and substantively to allegations of human rights violations, ISHR has said in a statement to the Human Rights Council. In a new report presented to the Council, the UN’s human rights experts document a worsening trend of threats and attacks against civil society actors and human rights defenders… more

CONCERNING INCREASE IN ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS 

Far from being a ‘crime of the past’, enforced disappearances are being perpetrated at alarming levels against human rights defenders, while lawyers, advocates and journalists who work to expose and seek accountability for such disappearances are themselves subject to worsening intimidation and attack, ISHR has told the UN Human Rights Council… more

HIGH COMMISSIONER CALLS FOR SAFETY AND ACCESS TO THE UN FOR CIVIL SOCIETY 

In his inaugural address to the Council, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasised the critical role of human rights defenders, who risk their lives in the defence of others or to end injustice. ‘We must do everything we can to protect them and celebrate them,’ he said… more

Human rights developments

Top UN human rights body condemns violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

A UN Human Rights Council resolution adopted last week (L.27/Rev.1) is a critically important step towards combating violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and upholding the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 25 human rights groups have said.

The resolution builds on a resolution adopted three years ago, in June 2011, when the Council passed the first ever UN resolution on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The resolution condemns violence and discrimination against LGBT persons and calls for the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on good practice in laws and policies to uphold their rights... more

Human Rights Council calls on States to protect civil society space

States should adopt laws and policies to support civil society actors and organisations and end impunity for abuses and attacks against them, the Human Rights Council has said in an important and timely resolution.

The resolution - which was led by Ireland, together with Chile, Japan, Sierra Leone and Tunisia - emphasises the crucial role of a strong and independent civil society in promoting democracy, development and the rule of law, while condemning the continuing use of laws, such as those relating to counter-terrorism or limiting access to funding, to restrict and criminalise the vital work of activists and NGOs... more

RIGHTS AT RISK FROM MINING IN GUATEMALA

Communities in Guatemala have consistently disputed the presence of mining companies in their areas, due to fears of contamination of the local environment and that mining activities could negatively impact their livelihoods and the enjoyment of their human rights. In a recent report by Amnesty International, the Guatemalan authorities are urged to ensure that human rights safeguards are built into a proposed new regulatory framework for mining… more

NEW CYBERCRIME LAW IN QATAR THREATENS PRESS FREEDOM

In September, Qatar passed a new law that is seen as a threat to the freedom of expression. The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned that the Anti-Cybercrime Law ‘could be used to restrict press freedom and impose prison sentences on journalists inside the country.’ In particular, it is said that the ‘vague language’ could be used to ‘silence human rights defenders’… more

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY MARRED BY THREATS AGAINST DEFENDERS

Colombia recently celebrated human rights day. Unfortunately, on the same day there were alleged reports that more than 90 human rights defenders received death threats. These threats are not taken lightly, since the number of human rights defenders killed continues to increase each year. The threat made via email on 8 and 9 September said defenders ‘will pay with their blood’ and ‘would be hunted’… more

RELEASE THAI ACTIVIST IMPRISONED FOR ALLEGEDLY INSULTING THE MONARCHY

Amnesty International has called for the release of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, an editor and social activist in Thailand. He has been detained since 30 April 2011 for allegedly insulting the royal family. According to Amnesty International, the ‘authorities in Thailand have in recent years increasingly used legislation, including the lèse majesté law, to silence peaceful dissent and jail prisoners of conscience’… more

conferences and events

HAGUE TRAINING COURSE ON HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND SECURITY

In December 2014, Justice and Peace (Justitia et Pax) will hold the first edition of the ‘The Hague Training Course on Human Rights Defenders and Security’. This advanced training course aims to support human rights defenders in strengthening their work and will focus on skills training, knowledge sharing and network building.

The deadline for application is 16 October 2014. For more information and an application form, please contact: janita.visser@justitiaetpax.nl

new resources

ISHR REPORT: STRENGTHENING COOPERATION WITH THE SPECIAL PROCEDURES

ISHR has submitted a report to the 21st annual meeting of the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council. It has made a range or recommendations on how the Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and members of Working Groups could become more accessible and responsive to victims of human rights violations and promote better State cooperation with the Council. Download the full submission here.

WOMEN’S HUMAN RIGHTS APP UPDATED

The Women’s Human Rights App, developed by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, contains a substantial database of key texts on women’s human rights. In the updated version users can find new documents and paragraphs including: Security Council resolutions (2086, 2143), Human Rights Council resolutions (25th and 26th session), documentation from the Commission on the Status of Women (58th session) and more. Get the updated version here.

FORUM-ASIA WORKING PAPER SERIES

FORUM-ASIA has published a paper entitled Understanding the role of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in human rights. It is divided into three main parts: human rights instruments and mechanisms within Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC); reaction of OIC to human rights violations; and thematic focus areas pertinent to OIC, with a particular focus on defamation of religions and sexual orientation and gender identity. Download the report here.

Case notes on decisions from international human rights bodies

Argentina: failure to provide equal access to facilities in detention for persons with disabilities violates the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

our work to support human rights defenders

Call on Sri Lanka to end attacks and reprisals against human rights defenders

Those working to promote truth, justice and accountability in relation to some 40,000 civilian deaths in Sri Lanka in 2009 alone face a systematic pattern of threats, harassment, intimidation and violence, according to a new report submitted to the UN by ISHR and FORUM-ASIA. The report is being considered by the UN Human Rights Committee in the context of its review of Sri Lanka this week... more

THE MALDIVES MUST WITHDRAW CHARGES AND END REPRISALS AGAINST NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Maldives must immediately withdraw charges of high treason levelled by the country’s Supreme Court against all five members of the Maldives Human Rights Commission, in connection with a report the Commission submitted to the UN in advance of the Universal Periodic Review of the country… more

BAHRAIN CALLED TO END ILLEGAL DETENTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER

The detention of human rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja in Bahrain is a flagrant violation of international law and part of a pattern of systemic harassment and attacks against activists in the country. More than 150 non-governmental organisations from around the world wrote an open letter to the King of Bahrain calling for her immediate and unconditional release… more

After spending close to three weeks in jail, Ms Al-Khawaja was finally released on 18 September 2014. However, Ms Al-Khawaja, who now has Danish citizenship, is faced with a travel ban which prevents her from leaving Bahrain. It is unclear how long it will take the courts to resolve the case…more

NEW COMPILATION OF LGBTI RIGHTS VIOLATIONS SHOWS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MUST ACT

A new compilation of cases of human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, prepared by ISHR, affirms the importance of the UN Human Rights Council taking action to address violence and discrimination. The report compiles around 50 cases of violence, discrimination and other violations against people on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity based on reports of the Human Rights Council’s Special Procedures… more

BANGLADESH SHOULD INVESTIGATE AND PREVENT ATTACKS AGAINST WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

The Government of Bangladesh should investigate a violent attack against Hana Shams Ahmed and act to protect other women human rights defenders in the country, according to ISHR and the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition… more

opportunities for ngo engagement

AD HOC COMMITTEE ON THE ELABORATION OF COMPLEMENTARY STANDARDS

The 6th session of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of International Complementary Standards is scheduled to take place in Geneva from 7 to 17 October, room XXI of the Palais des Nations. NGOs wishing to participate are invited to indicate the names of their representatives to the Secretariat at fax +41 22 928 90 14 or email: registry@ohchr.org

COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will meet in Geneva for its 2nd pre-session of the Committee from 7 to 10 October. The Committee will adopt the list of issues for the Cook Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Mongolia and Turkmenistan.

COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE

The 53rd session of the Committee Against Torture will take place from 3 to 28 November. The Committee will consider the State reports of Australia, Burundi, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Ukraine, the United States of America and Venezuela. It will adopt the list of issues for Armenia, Gabon, Qatar, Senegal and Togo.

NGOs may submit written information for the examination of the State party’s report by 17 October. Click here for the tentative programme.

COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS

The 53rd session of the Committee will take place from 10 to 28 November. The Committee will consider the State reports of Finland, Guatemala, Montenegro, Nepal, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Vietnam. The pre-sessional Working Group for the Committee’s 54th session will take place from 1 to 5 December. The Committee will consider the reports of Chile, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Sudan, Thailand, Uganda and Venezuela.

All NGO submissions to the Committee must be done a month-and-a-half before the beginning of the session with respect to States for examination, and two months before the pre-sessional working group with respect to States upon which list of issues will be adopted. Organisations may send representatives to attend the above events, however the accreditation request form must be submitted at least ten days before the beginning of the session or the pre-session.

COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF CHILD

NGOs are encouraged to send their submissions for the 70th pre-sessional Working Group to be held February 2015. The Working Group will consider reports of Bangladesh, Brazil, Central African Republic, Chile, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Poland, Timor-Leste and United Arab Emirates. Countries reviewed under the optional protocol on the sale of children (CRC-OP-SC) and the optional protocol on children in armed conflicts (CRC-OP-AC) will be Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Latvia. NGOs can send their submissions to paolazzi@childrightsconnect.org by 1 November 2014.

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.

UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

The 20th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will be held from 27 October until 7 November. The States under review are Italy, El Salvador, Gambia, Bolivia, Fiji, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Angola, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Madagascar, Iraq, Slovenia, Egypt, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The tentative timetable can be found here. The deadline for submitting online requests for NGO information meeting rooms is 13 October 2014. Please consult the webpage as well as A Practical Guide for Civil Society: Universal Periodic Review for further information and guidelines.

The 21st session of the UPR Working Group will take place in Geneva from 19 until 30 January, 2015. The States under review are Kyrgyzstan, Kiribati, Guinea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Spain, Lesotho, Kenya, Armenia, Guinea-Bissau, Sweden, Grenada, Turkey, Guyana and Kuwait.

WORKING GROUP ON DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN IN LAW AND PRACTICE

The next session of the Working Group will be held in Geneva from 13 to 17 October. The Working Group accepts information throughout the year on allegations of discrimination against women in law and practice.

CONTRIBUTE TO THE REPORT OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON ADEQUATE HOUSING

The UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing invites interested civil society actors to share contributions, comments and information for her first report to the Human Rights Council on the issue of the responsibilities of governments at the sub-national level (state, provincial and municipal) in the implementation of the right to adequate housing. The report will be presented in March 2015, at the 28th session of the Council.

A questionnaire is available in English, Spanish and French. Submissions should be sent to srhousing@ohchr.org by 31 October.

FORUM ON MINORITY ISSUES

The 7th session of the Forum on Minority Issues will focus on ‘Preventing and addressing violence and atrocity crimes targeted against minorities’. The meeting will be held from 25 to 26 November in room XX of the Palais des Nations, Geneva. For more information on this Forum session, including practical and substantive information, please visit the Forum's website.

FORUM ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

The 3rd session of the Forum on Business and Human Rights will take place from 1 to 3 December. Statements and Submissions can be sent to forumbhr@ohchr.org and the online registration can be completed here.

UPR BRIEFING PAPERS ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

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.

HONDURAS
The Honduran Congress must incorporate civil society feedback and pass a proposed law to protect human rights defenders, journalists and justice operators... more

JAMAICA
The Government of Jamaica should enact and implement specific laws, policies and measures to recognise and protect human rights defenders, as well as immediately repealing section 76 of the Offences against the Person Act... more

LIBERIA
It is critical that the Liberian Government repeal out-dated laws on defamation and libel, strengthen its national human rights institution, and enact and implement specific laws, policies and measures to recognise and protect human rights defenders... more

LIBYA
The Government of Libya should reform restrictive laws on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as taking steps to tackle attacks by non-State armed groups... more

MALDIVES
There is grave concern about the increasing number of restrictions that hinder civil liberties such as freedom of expression, religion and assembly in the Maldives. This represents a significant backslide in the progress made towards democratisation and human rights protection in the country, which the State must be encouraged to reverse ... more

UNITED STATES
The United States Government should create a National Human Rights Institution which includes a focal point for human rights defenders, and reform national security legislation to guarantee respect for civil liberties... more

I
SHR recently underlined the importance and utility of making human rights defender recommendations at the UPR, in a statement to the UN Human Rights Council... more

SPECIAL PROCEDURES COUNTRY VISITS

AFGHANISTAN
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
1 - 10 November 
NEPAL
Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants
4 – 11 December
SPAIN
Working Group on Discrimination Against Women
9 - 19 December
KAZAKHSTAN
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
19 – 30 January 2015
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