Human Rights Monitor Monthly - Feburary 2015
HUMAN RIGHTS MONITOR
February 2015

ISHR welcomes Human Rights Council President



ISHR was pleased to host a reception for the new president of the Human Rights Council, Joachim Ruecker, and his Bureau. View photos.

OPINION

LIVES IN THE BALANCE
Mary Lawlor, Executive Director of Front Line Defenders
, voices concern at the increasing restrictions governments are placing on human rights defenders via legal and extra-legal means... more


TACKLING THE DEMOCRATIC RECESSION
Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, reflects on enhanced restrictions on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association worldwide in 2014... more

our work to support human rights defenders

CALL FOR MINING AND RESOURCE SECTOR TO RESPECT RIGHTS OF ASSOCIATION, ASSEMBLY AND PROTEST

Human rights defenders, civil society actors and communities working to prevent human rights violations by mining and resource companies are coming under increasing attack, according to a new submission by ISHR... more

GUATEMALA SHOULD PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS 

ISHR calls on the Guatemalan government to prioritise the protection of human rights defenders working on corporate accountability issues and land rights, following consultations with defenders in Guatemala City... more

KUWAIT CALLED TO END HARASSMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Prior to the UPR of Kuwait on 28 January, ISHR called on Kuwait to cease misusing laws on national security to criminalise human rights defenders, and to desist from intimidation against civil society activists... more

MYANMAR SHOULD END RESTRICTIONS, REPRISALS AND USE OF FORCE 

Following the Special Rapporteur’s second official visit to Myanmar, ISHR called on the Government of Myanmar to amend unreasonably restrictive laws that are increasingly used to criminalise human rights defenders and censor journalists... more

our work to strengthen human rights systems

AUSTRALIA SHOULD REMOVE EXCESSIVE RESTRICTIONS ON THE RIGHTS TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, ASSOCIATION AND PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY

ISHR’s report, with input from the Australian Human Rights Law Centre, documents the mechanisms being used to restrict free speech and peaceful protest, censor journalists, and impede the independence and effectiveness of the national human rights institution... more

UN COMMITTEE ON NGOS: DON'T REDUCE TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY


Recent efforts by ISHR to stop a measure that sought to censor reporting of a UN Committee that accredits NGOs have been successful. Several days after China proposed a motion to withhold the names of countries that criticise or ask repetitive questions of NGOs in the coverage of meetings of the UN's NGO Committee, the State has announced it will withdraw its proposal... more

AUSTRALIA SHOULD END REPRISALS AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Australian Government has slashed more than 30 percent from the Australian Human Rights Commission’s budget, appointed commissioners without proper process and mounted a sustained personal attack on the judgment and qualifications of the Commission’s President... more

CHINA SHOULD REVISE DRAFT ANTI-TERROR LAW  

ISHR and Chinese Human Rights Defenders maintain that China’s proposed counter-terrorism law could be used to further monitor, censor and criminalise the work of human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists... more

key developments in the promotion and protection of human rights

End impunity for attacks; enact laws to protect human rights defenders, calls UN expert

The UN expert on human rights defenders has submitted his first report to the Human Rights Council, calling on States to end impunity for attacks against human rights defenders and to enact specific laws and policies for their protection... more


UN EXPERTS CALL ON THE OMAN GOVERNMENT TO RELEASE PROMINENT RIGHTS ACTIVIST

Prominent human rights defender, Said Ali Said Jadad was arrested again without a warrant on 21 January. UN experts have urged the Government of Oman to release Mr Jadad... more

JOURNALISTS REPORTING ON ASYLUM SEEKERS REFERRED TO AUSTRALIAN POLICE

To uncover confidential sources, federal government agencies have repeatedly referred journalists reporting on the Australian Government’s asylum seekers policies to the Australian Federal Police... more

MYANMAR BACKTRACKS ON GAINS MADE IN FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND ASSEMBLY

Following a visit to Myanmar, the Special Rapporteur expresses concern about ongoing harassment, intimidation and prosecution of journalists, civil rights activists and protesters... more

SAUDI ARABIA’S ACADEMICS REQUESTED TO CONDEMN FLOGGING OF BLOGGER

Nobel Laureates urge academics in Saudi Arabia to stand up for Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and 1,000 lashes for allegedly criticising Saudi Arabia’s clerics on his online blog... more

PROMINENT BAHRAiNI HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST SENTENCED FOR TWEET

Nabeel Rajab sentenced to six months imprisonment for suggesting, via twitter, that security institutions in Bahrain served as an ‘ideological incubator’ for jihadists... more

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL URGES CAMBODIAN AUTHORITIES TO RELEASE 11 ACTIVISTS

Amnesty International calls for the release of 10 activists involved in peaceful protests in Phnom Penh, following a crackdown on peaceful protests by Cambodian authorities... more

NEXT STEPS FOR IMPROVING HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLIANCE AND PROTECTION

Next steps in strengthening the UN human rights treaty body system developed at the 11th annual conference in the Wilton Park’s series of UN related human rights meetings... more

conferences and events

UPCOMING SIDE EVENT: HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND NATIONAL SECURITY

Together with FIDH, ICJ, Article 19 and OMCT, ISHR is organising a Human Rights Council side event, entitled ‘Human Rights Defenders and National Security’. It will feature the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, and the Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, with other panelists to be confirmed.

This event is tentatively scheduled for 3pm on 10 March at Palais des Nations. Room to be confirmed. More details will be posted here.

CAMPAIGN BOOTCAMP

Campaign Academy India, set up by 350.org, Haiyya and Change.org, is running a campaign training course involving expert campaigners designed to provide the skills, network and confidence to strategise and win powerful and positive social change campaigns. The training starts with an intensive six-day residential training, followed by one year of support, including four follow-up training days. The intensive training is from April 26 to May 1 in Whitefield, Bangalore, Karnataka.

This training is for you if you are enthusiastic, motivated and committed to creating positive social change; demonstrate a desire to build a better world by running campaigns; and interested in using technology to win campaigns. Apply online here.

new resources

ISHR LAUNCHES REPORT ‘FROM RESTRICTION TO PROTECTION’ IN SPANISH

From Restriction to Protection examines how the laws of 40 jurisdictions covering all regions, protect, or unduly restrict, the activities of human rights defenders. The report represents the first phase of an ISHR project to develop a Model Law for the protection of human rights defenders. The Spanish language version of the report was recently launched in Bogota during consultation with 33 human rights defenders from Latin American countries.

Available here in Spanish and English.

AN ANALYSIS OF LINKS BETWEEN 1ST AND 2ND UPR CYCLES

An analysis by UPR-Info ‘Starting all over again?’ indicates that only 1/5th of recommendations from the first UPR cycle are linked to a recommendation in the 2nd cycle. The analysis details practices to ensure recommending States improve at creating these links.

FRONT LINE DEFENDERS ANNUAL REPORT 2015

Front Line Defenders has launched ‘Human Rights Defenders, Lives in the Balance’ examining the deteriorating situation for human rights defenders around the world in 2014... more

WORLD REPORT 2015

Human Rights Watch's 25th annual World Report  summarises key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide in 2014.

CIVIL SOCIETY SPACE AND THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM

The sixth in OHCHR’s series of practical guides for civil society aims to assist civil society actors who are not yet familiar with the UN human rights system. It highlights issues related to the work of civil society actors and provides an overview of the conditions needed for a free and independent civil society.

REPORT ON VIOLATIONS OF MEDIA FREEDOMS IN ETHIOPIA

Human Rights Watch has prepared a report entitled ‘Journalism is not a crime’ detailing how the Ethiopian Government has curtailed independent reporting since 2010. Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 70 current and exiled journalists, identifying patterns of government abuses that resulted in 19 being imprisoned for exercising their right to free expression and forcing at least 60 others into exile since 2010.

REPORT ON THREATS TO MEDIA FREEDOM IN AFGHANISTAN

Human Rights Watch has prepared a report ‘Stop reporting or we’ll kill your family’ documenting harassment, intimidation and attacks on journalists, and the Afghan government’s failure to investigate and prosecute those responsible. The report recommends that government should act decisively to end the violence and intimidation, and the Taliban should end its attacks on civilian organisations, including the media.

FOCUS 2014 REPORT

Protection International Focus 2014 Report provides monitoring of developments in the field of national public policy associated with the protection of human rights defenders internationally, highlighting the renewed interest in adopting legal instruments for the protection of activists in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

THIRD ANNUAL BRIEFING ON CORPORATE LEGAL ACCOUNTABILITY

An analysis by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre of more than 200 lawsuits against companies over the last decade found that legal harassment of human rights defenders working to hold businesses accountable for human rights abuse is on the rise. While existing venues for extraterritorial claims in US and UK courts are narrowing, other national courts are emerging as potential venues for extraterritorial claims.

Several recommendations were made including to governments where companies where multinational companies are headquartered to pass, enforce and defend laws that ensure that victims of abuses have access to legal remedy.

BRIEFING PAPERS ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS FOR 22ND SESSION OF UPR

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

For the 22nd session of the UPR (4 to 15 May), briefing papers are available on Honduras, Jamaica, Liberia, Libya, the Maldives and USA.
 

Director's update

NEW APPOINTMENTS TO ISHR BOARD 

ISHR announces two new appointments to its global Board - Maryam Al-Khawaja, Co-Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, and Pierre Avanzo, management consultant with McKinsey & Co... more

human rights defender profile

NAWAF AL HENDAL: HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER FROM KUWAIT

Nawaf Al Hendal, founder of Kuwait Watch and well known for advocating for stateless persons, was advised on arrival in Geneva for the UPR of Kuwait that an arrest warrant awaits him in Kuwait... more

opportunities for ngo engagement

UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

NGOs' written submissions regarding the States to be reviewed during the 23rd session of UPR (2 -13 November TBC) must be submitted to the UPR system by 23 March (tentative).

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

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADVISORY COMMITTEE

The 14th session of the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council will take place from 23 to 27 February in Room XX at Palais des Nations. NGOs are able to intervene under all substantive items of the agenda during the session. The programme of work will be published here. More information on NGO participation is available here.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

The 28th session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 2 to 27 March in Room XX at Palais des Nations. NGOs wishing to submit written statements to the 28th session of the Human Rights Council must do so online by 16 February. The online sign-up system for oral statements will open on 26 February at 2pm Geneva time, and the link will be made available here (see Quick links section No. 4). NGOs can also participate by submitting a video message. More information on NGO participation is available here.

The Secretariat of the Human Rights Council invites representatives of civil society to a briefing on the complaints procedure of the Human Rights Council on 18 February, from 16:00 to 17:00 in room XXI at Palais des Nations.

The Human Rights Council Bureau and President will meet with NGOs on 23 February at 3pm in Room IX at Palais des Nations. 

An organisational meeting for the Council’s 29th session, where States will announce planned initiatives for the session, will take place on 26 May.

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE

The 113th session of the Human Rights Committee will take place from 16 March to 2 April in Room XII at Palais des Nations. The Committee will examine the reports of the 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 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 here.

WORKING GROUP ON THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT

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

Inter-governmental organisations and non-governmental organisations with ECOSOC consultative status may attend public meetings of the Working Group by registering to R2D@ohchr.org.

WEBCASTS OF THE TREATY BODY MEETINGS

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 at www.treatybodywebcast.org.

COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

The 13th session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be held on 25 March to 17 April on the Ground Floor of Palais Wilson. The Committee will examine the reports of Cook Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Germany, Mongolia, and Turkmenistan.

The deadline for information on States to be examined by the Committee is 4 March. The programme of work and other information related to the session can be found here.

The 3rd session of the Pre-sessional Working Group for the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be held from 20 to 24 April on the ground floor at Palais des Nations. The Working Group will examine the reports of Brazil, Gabon, Kenya, Mauritius, Qatar and Ukraine. The programme of work and other information related to the session can be found here.

WORKING GROUP OF EXPERTS ON PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT 

The 16th session of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent will be held from 30 March to 2 April in Room XXI at Palais des Nations.

NGO’s can submit information to the Working Group here. More information about NGO involvement can be found here.

OPEN-ENDED INTERGOVERNMENTAL WORKING GROUP ON THE DRAFT UNITED NATIONS DECLARATION OF THE RIGHT TO PEACE

The 3rd session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the Draft United Nations Declaration of the Right to Peace will be held from 20 to 24 April in Room XIX at Palais des Nations.

This Working Group is open ended. This means that all stakeholders, including NGOs, can attend its sessions. NGOs are able to intervene during the sessions. More information on the Working Group is available here.

WORKING GROUP ON ABITRARY DETENTION

The 72nd session of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will be held from 20 to 29 April in Room IX at Palais des Nations. The Working Group acts on information provided to it on alleged cases of arbitrary detention by sending urgent appeals to concerned governments. More information on how NGO’s can send information for an individual case is found here.

WORKING GROUP ON THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT

The 16th session of the Working Group on the Right to Development is taking place from 27 April to 1 May in Conference Room XVI at Palais des Nations. The Working Group will continue to accomplish its mandate including, by considering, revising and refining the draft right to development criteria.

NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status may attend public meetings of the Working Group. To register for the Working Group session please contact R2D@ohchr.org. More information on the Working Group is found here.

COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

The 86th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will be held from 27 April to 15 May in the ground floor conference room at Palais Wilson. The Committee will examine the reports of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Germany, Guatemala, and Sudan.

The deadline for information on States to be examined by the Committee is 10 April. The programme of work and other information related to the session can be found here.

To register to attend the informal meeting, contact the CERD Secretariat at cerd@ohchr.org before 10 April.

WORKING GROUP ON THE ISSUE OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN IN LAW AND PRACTICE

The 13th session of the Working Group will take place from 4 to 8 May in Room IX at Palais des Nations. The Committee will continue to accomplish its mandate including, preparing best practices related to the elimination of laws that discriminate against women and undertaking a study on the cooperation between the Working Group and States to eliminate discrimination against women in law and in practice.

The Working Group welcomes any information in relation to its mandate. NGOs can submit information to the Working Group here

WORKING GROUP ON THE ISSUE OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATIONS AND OTHER BUSINESS ENTERPRISES

The 11th session of the Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises will be held from 4 to 8 May in Room XII at Palais de Nations. 

Submissions can be made at all times to the Secretariat by email at wg-business@ohchr.org.

The Working Group may also issue separate calls for submissions on specific subjects, and will publish such calls for inputs on this website.

WORKING GROUP ON ENFORCED OR INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCES

The 106th session of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances will be held from 6 to 15 May in Room XXVII at Palais des Nations. The sessions are held in private, unless it decides otherwise. The Working Group will consider information brought to its attention since its previous session. Information can be submitted in writing here

COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD

The 69th session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child will be held from 18 May to 5 June in Palais Wilson.

The Committee will examine the reports of Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, Latvia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Honduras, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Latvia will be reviewed under the optional protocol on the sale of children (CRC-OP-SC) and Honduras, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Nepal and Netherlands will be reviewed under the optional protocol on children in armed conflicts (CRC-OP-AC).

NGOs can send their submissions to paolazzi@childrightsconnect.org by 10 April.

NGOs are also encouraged to send their submissions for the 71st pre-sessional Working Group (8-12 June 2015) to the same e-mail address by 1 March. The Working Group will consider reports the reports of Benin, Brunei Darussalam, France, Gabon, Haiti, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Kenya, Maldives, Oman, Peru, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe under the CRC. Peru will also be reviewed under the OPSC and OPAC.


NGOs that work with children and would like to support children’s participation in the Committee’s work should check the Committee’s new standards and working methods on child participation in the CRC Reporting Cycle.

For more information, please consult Child Rights Connect’s Guide on the CRC Reporting Cycle or contact Ilaria Paolazzi (paolazzi@childrightsconnect.org).

Special procedures' country visits

Belgium
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery
19 - 26 February 
Central african republic                      
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons
23 - 27 February
haiti
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Haiti
23 February - 3 March
south africa
Special Rapporteur on violence against women
25 February - 7 March
Kazakhstan
Special Rapporteur on human rights implications of environmentally sound management
26 March - 8 April
mauritius
Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by older persons
14 - 24 April
armenia
Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and pornography
27 April - 4 May
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