Human Rights Monitor Monthly - December 2015
HUMAN RIGHTS MONITOR
December 2015 - January 2016
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OPINION
Business and human rights defenders: A safe and enabling operating environment for all

By Phil Lynch, Director, International Service for Human Rights


In the context of the United Nations Business and Human Rights Forum, Phil Lynch reflects on good practices and key actions companies can take to ensure a safe and enabling operating environment for defenders working in the field of business and human rights... more

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS PROFILES 

ATTILA MRAZ FROM HUNGARY

Attila Mraz reflects on the importance of raising public awareness about the value of human rights in Hungary, where political rights are deteriorating and challenges faced by human rights defenders are increasing... more


Lira Ismailova from Kyrgyzstan

Lira Ismailova speaks to ISHR about her work to defend freedom of association and protect human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan, where restrictions are increasingly imposed on NGOs and civil society space... more

A
NGELA MUDUKUTI, THE SOUTHERN AFRICA LITIGATION CENTRE
Angela Mudukuti, a human rights lawyer who believes in a holistic approach to justice, talks about her experience litigating on corporate accountability in cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity... more

KEY  DEVELOPMENTS IN THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS 

Dispatches: Better Late Than Never – Saudi Arabia Approves NGO Law

An unexpected advancement for civil society takes place in Saudi Arabia as a long overdue NGO law is approved; a law with a legislative framework that carries hope for the legal existence of NGOs in the future... more
 

Uzbekistan: Arrest and judicial harassment of human rights activist Mr Uktam Pardaev

The International Federation for Human Rights calls on the Uzbek Government to release Mr Uktam Pardaev, Chairman of the Djizak regional branch of the Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, and to end all legal sanctions against human rights defenders in the country... more
 

Myanmar: Letpadaung mine protesters still denied justice 

Three years ago peaceful protestors at the Letpadaung mine were attacked by security forces with the use of white phosphorous, a highly toxic and explosive substance, injuring up to 150 people. Today activists continue to be detained and an investigation has still not been launched... more
 

Uganda: Arbitrary arrests and excessive use of force hindering debate in run-up to elections

In light of the upcoming presidential election in Uganda in February 2016, police have arrested political opposition leaders and used excessive force to disperse protestors. Amnesty International highlights the need for all Ugandan citizens to be able to interact with the election process no matter their political affiliation... more
 

Saudi Arabia: Release Waleed Abu Al-Khair and other human rights defenders  

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders calls on Saudi Arabia to drop charges against Waleed Abu Al-Khair and the other human rights defenders who are arbitrarily detained... more
 

Cyprus: Marriage equality campaigners celebrate hard-won victory on civil unions

Amnesty International welcomes the recognition of same-sex civil unions in Cyprus, as a first step towards marriage equality and the elimination of discrimination based on sexual orientation. However there is still a long way to go... more

CONFERENCES AND EVENTS

International Migrants Day 18 December

On this 25th anniversary of the Convention on Migrant Workers, the ILO and OHCHR, as well as some NGOs will engage in social media campaigns for the International Migrants Day. More information here.


Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy

The Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy brings together hundreds of human rights defenders each year with the aim of highlighting urgent human rights issues that require global attention. The event is free and open to everyone and will take place on 23 February 2016 at the International Conference Centre in Geneva. Register here

NEW RESOURCES

Simple guide to UN treaty bodies: now in chinese!

ISHR has released a Chinese language version of its Simple Guide to the UN Treaty Bodies. The Guide contains a comprehensive overview of the structure and purpose of treaty bodies, along with information on how civil society can best interact with treaty bodies. 
 

A HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER TOOLKIT FOR PROMOTING BUSINESS RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

 
During the annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, ISHR released a new handbook that aims to guide defenders on how they can engage with business to promote respect for human rights. The handbook provides an overview of legal and policy frameworks, practical examples, actions that should be taken by businesses and tools for defenders to strategically engage with stakeholders.
 

The role of businesses and States in violations against human rights defenders of the rights to land, territory and the environment 

A new report by a coalition of 39 organisations, of which ISHR was a convening member, documents the specific and additional risks faced by human rights defenders in 17 countries working on issues related to business. The report uncovers a context of deep-seated impunity within which these defenders work, which encourages further threats and attacks them.
 

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

ISHR has launched briefing papers on the situation of human rights defenders in Niger, Singapore, Paraguay and Sierra Leone. The briefing papers serve as submissions and aim to assist States to elaborate recommendations for each country scheduled to be reviewed as part of the Universal Periodic Review process in January 2016, the pre-session for which will take place from 15 to 17 December 2015.
 

Critical perspectives on the security and protection of human rights defenders

The International Journal of Human Rights has released a new special issue on human rights defenders. All articles can be accessed here until 31 December 2015. The editorial article of the previous special issue on the protection of human rights defenders can also still be accessed here.
 

TUNISIA: ASSAULTED AND ACCUSED: SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE IN TUNISIA 

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Amnesty International released a report on sexual and gender-based violence in Tunisia. While Tunisia is the leading country when it comes to women’s rights in the region, the legal system continues to fail victims of sexual violence.
 

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: TREATED LIKE CRIMINALS; DRC'S RACE TO SILENCE DISSENT

Amnesty International launches a new report on the increased crackdown of peaceful activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo in connection with the upcoming presidential elections. Activists, religious leaders and politicians are being arbitrarily attacked for peacefully calling on President Joseph Kabila to step down in November 2016.
 

Rights for business, not for people: the EU agenda

Friends of the Earth International released a report on the EU agenda on business and human rights. The report outlines how the European Commission and EU Member States are aggressively pushing the rights of business, but refusing to engage in talks to establish rights for people affected by business activities.
 

Beautiful Trouble: The Book 

Beautiful Trouble is a book, an online toolbox and an international network of artist-activist trainers who aim to make grassroots movements more creative and effective.
 

Eyewitness to atrocities

EyeWitness to atrocities is a camera app that aims to help human rights defenders capture verifiable footage of serious human rights violations. The app collects metadata so that date, time and location can be verified. 
 
IACHR Publishes Report on Violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Persons

IACHR published a regional report on violence against LGBTI persons which discusses he violence as a complex, multifaceted, social phenomenon. The report discusses the types of violence suffered by LGBTI persons, including police violence. The report is available in Spanish here, the report will also be published in English in the near future.  

CRIN report on children's rights advocates in Eurasia

The Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) has just released a report on the "Old and new challenges for human and children's rights advocates in Eurasia". The report sheds lights on the dramatically shrinking space given to civil society in the region, defenders working on human and children's rights being among the most exposed. Read the report here. Summary and recommendations available here
 

OUR WORK TO SUPPORT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Business support to defenders cannot be gender-blind

ISHR and the Women Peacemakers Program underline how women defenders can be impacted by business operations, especially those with security sector implications, and what businesses can do to make sure their perspectives are taken into account... more


China: Abuse of ‘residential surveillance’ to detain defenders and lawyers continues

As the grave situation of human rights violations in China continues, ISHR calls on the international community to pressure the Chinese Government to release arbitrarily detained activists, including those subject to ‘residential surveillance in a designated place’... more


Venezuela unfit for election to Human Rights Council

36 international and Latin American human rights organisations challenge Venezuela’s legitimacy to serve another term on the Human Rights Council, as Council members are expected to uphold the highest standards in the protection and promotion of human rights... more


Business enterprises: Consult, respect and protect human rights defenders, says cross-regional group of NGOs

In light of the continuing trend of attacks and intimidation by State and non-State actors against those protesting against actual and potential adverse impacts of business operations, ISHR and a cross-regional group of 39 rights organisations highlight the proactive role business should play to engage and support defenders and civil society... more


Bahrain: Zainab Al-Khawaja sentenced to one year in prison, other sentences delayed

Even though Zainab Al-Khawaja’s sentence was reduced – perhaps with the intention to minimise international pressure – she is still at risk of being imprisoned with her baby at any time. ISHR calls for charges against defenders in connection with their work to promote democracy and accountability or to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly to be dropped... more

OUR WORK TO STRENGTHEN LAWS AND SYSTEMS

NEW PRESIDENT ELECTED AT HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL 

ISHR welcomes the election of Mr Choi Kyong-Lim, the Ambassador of South Korea, as new president of the UN Human Rights Council and calls him to defend civil society... more


China: Put a stop to torture and reprisals

Despite the Chinese Government's refusal to engage substantively on key allegations, the Committee Against Torture is expected to address concerns repeatedly raised by civil society and UN experts in its review of China... 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 24th UPR session will take place on 18 to 29 January 2016. The following States will be reviewed: Namibia, Niger, Mozambique, Estonia, Paraguay, Belgium, Denmark, Palau, Somalia, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Latvia, Sierra Leone and Singapore. The pre-session will take place from 15 to 17 December 2015.

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 (tentative). Information about the UPR mechanism can be found here.

TREATY BODIES

The 116th session of the Human Rights Committee will be held from 7 March 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, 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 following 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 reports will be considered: Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Philippines, Poland, Tunisia and Yemen. NGO submissions for each will be accepted until 3 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 March 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 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.

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

Human Rights Committee finds Australia’s detention of a foreign national pending deportation to be arbitrary


M.G.C. v. Australia (1875/2009)
The Human Rights Committee finds Australia’s detention of a foreign national pending deportation to be in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child... more

COUNTRY VISITS BY SPECIAL PROCEDURES

FIJI
Special Rapporteur on the right to education
4 - 15 December

BRAZIL
Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises
 7 - 16 December 
MAURITANIA
Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
25 January - 4 February 2016
TURKEY
Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances
14 - 18 March 2016
For more information, please visit our website: www.ishr.ch or contact us: information@ishr.ch