Human Rights Monitor Monthly - December 2013
 
HUMAN RIGHTS Monitor
DECEMBER 2013
 

ISHR Panel Discussion

ISHR was pleased to co-host an event on the challenges and dangers faced by human rights defenders working on issues of corporate accountability... View photos here

 

Opinion


Can regional human rights bodies be made (more) effective?

Dinah Shelton, MANATT/AHN Professor of Law, The George Washington University Law School


Dinah Shelton, member and former president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, calls on States to demonstrate political will to support effective regional human rights mechanisms. She outlines several areas which have an impact on the functioning of regional human rights bodies and in which improvements could be made… more

 

Image: Flickr Creative Commons/Guy Sie
 

Our Work to Support Human Rights Defenders

DEVELOPING A MODEL NATIONAL LAW TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

ISHR is working in partnership with key regional, sub-regional and national human rights defender groups from around the world to develop a model national law on human rights defenders. The model law will assist States to develop laws, policies and institutions at the national level to support the work of human rights defenders and protect them from reprisals and attack… more
 

UN ADOPTS SIGNIFICANT RESOLUTION ON THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

A historic resolution adopted by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly is an important step towards protecting women human rights defenders. The resolution recognises the importance and legitimacy of the work of women defenders and the responsibility of States and the UN to protect women defenders from the discrimination and violence they face because of it.

In advance of the adoption, ISHR undertook substantial advocacy, including coordinating calls for States to support the resolution from women Nobel Peace Prize winners and Nelson Mandela’s group, The Eldersmore
 

NEW REPORT DOCUMENTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS WORKING ON LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

A new report highlights the significant risks and dangers faced by human rights defenders working on land and environmental issues.

The report, Land and environmental rights defenders in danger: An overview of recent cases (December 2013), has been compiled by a group of 11 leading NGOs, including the International Service for Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT)… more

 

GROUP OF STATES CALLS FOR UN TO EXPAND ACCESS AND PARTICIPATION RIGHTS FOR NGOS

Civil society plays a necessary role at the UN and space for it to engage effectively must be expanded and protected, said a group of four States (Austria, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, and Switzerland) at the UN General Assembly last week. The comments focused in particular on efforts by States to use the ‘no-objection’ procedure to undermine NGO participation in meetings.

ISHR has previously expressed concerns at the flawed nature of the ‘no-objection’ procedure, in particular the arbitrary and ad-hoc way in which it can be used to exclude NGOs from meetings… more

 

ADOPTION OF STRONG RESOLUTION ON REPRISALS AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS WHO EXPOSE TORTURE

All 193 States in the UN General Assembly have joined in condemning intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders and others who work to expose and combat torture and ill-treatment. ISHR strongly welcomes this resolution and congratulates Denmark on its leadership on the initiative… more
 

Human Rights Developments

the paris principles after 20 years

International human rights expert and ISHR Board member, Chris Sidoti outlines how the Paris Principles on national human rights institutions were established and the key developments since... more
 

AFRICAN STATES TURN THEIR BACK ON HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AT THE UN

In an unprecedented move, a group of African States has sought to undermine the authority of the UN Human Rights Council – the world’s top human rights body – by opposing a decision of the Council to strengthen the protection of human rights defenders from attacks and reprisals… more
 

NEW LAW ADOPTED IN EGYPT VIOLATES INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS

The UN’s human rights chief has called on Egypt to amend a highly restrictive law on demonstrations. The law was issued on 24 November, and gives wide-ranging and vague powers to authorities to ban demonstrations, in what constitutes a violation of international standards… more
 

RUSSIA: ‘FOREIGN AGENTS’ LAW HITS HUNDREDS OF NGOS

Following Russia’s adoption of the so-called ‘foreign agents’ law, NGOs have faced a campaign of inspection aimed at identifying whether they are ‘foreign agents’ and if so forcing them to register as such. Human Rights Watch has been tracking the effect of this law on NGOs, including ADC Memorial… more
 

SRI LANKA’S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD TO FORE AT CHOGM

Sri Lanka’s controversial hosting of the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) saw the spotlight directed on the country’s human rights record.

The UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron used his attendance to express his support for an independent, international investigation into wartime abuses if Sri Lanka fails to make progress in its own efforts. The March session of the Human Rights Council will be the time to act on these commitments… more

 

KENYA: NEW LAWS WOULD UNDERMINE BASIC RIGHTS

Problematic draft bills would undermine freedom of expression and association in Kenya. The bills set out regulations on the media and non-governmental activity, including a 15 per cent cap on foreign funding. Critics of the proposed laws are calling on the president and lawmakers to reject the proposed laws… more

Forthcoming country visits by special procedures

BRAZIL
Working Group on people of African descent, 4 – 13 December
Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation, 9 – 19 December

PERU
Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples, 6 – 13 December

MOROCCO
Working Group on arbitrary detention, 9 – 18 December

MALAYSIA
Special Rapporteur on food, 9 – 18 December

PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Special Rapporteur on summary executions, 13 – 20 December

To find out how you can support the visits, please contact respective mandate-holders via their email address, as listed in the directory.

NEW RESOURCES FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY ON FOLLOW-UP TO UN RECOMMENDATIONS

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has launched a guide that examines methods and activities that civil society actors can use to promote the implementation of human rights recommendations. The guide also includes an overview of existing follow-up procedures and practices of UN human rights mechanisms, and outlines how best civil society can participate. The OHCHR guide complements and draws on a guide for NGOs published jointly by ISHR and the Human Rights Law Centre.
 

SPECIAL JOURNAL ON THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

The Oxford Journal of Human Rights Practice has recently published a special issue on the protection of human rights defenders, drawing on contributions from practitioners, academics and human rights defenders worldwide.

 

Human Rights Defender Profile

Huy Luong, Vietnamese human rights defender

Huy Luong works for iSEE based in Ha Noi City, Vietnam. He considers himself a gay rights activist and undertakes public awareness and education campaigns in Vietnam on LGBT issues. He is also engaging around Vietnam’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review, which will take place in January 2014… more

Our Work to Strengthen Human Rights Systems

UN TO CONSIDER OPENING DOOR TO NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTIONS

The UN has opened the way for national human rights institutions to participate in UN deliberations following a decision by a committee of the General Assembly. ISHR welcomes the consensus adoption of this text… more
 

STATES MUST ACT TO PROTECT UN HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRAMME FROM FUNDING DEFICIT

ISHR has called on governments to prevent substantial budget cuts to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and ensure it has adequate funding to fulfil its mandate… more
 

COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE CONDEMNS REPRISALS AGAINST THOSE WHO COOPERATE WITH THE UN

The Committee against Torture has appointed two independent international human rights experts to coordinate its response to alleged reprisals, including by undertaking fact-finding missions to the State concerned and by requesting further action from the High Commissioner and Secretary-General. ISHR welcomes the move and the growing international consensus on reprisals… more
 

NEW MEMBERS MUST COOPERATE FULLY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL AND PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

States newly elected to the UN Human Rights Council by the General Assembly in New York should commit to protecting human rights defenders and cooperating fully with the Council. In particular, New Members States including Saudi Arabia, Algeria and South Sudan must strengthen the rights of freedom of expression and association, end the persecution and prosecution of human rights defenders, and cooperate fully with the Council’s Special Procedures… more

Case notes on decisions from international human rights bodies

RUSSIAN BAN ON GAY RIGHTS DEMONSTRATIONS VIOLATED RIGHT OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY

A gay rights activist who attempted to organise several LGBT rights events in Moscow, all of which were banned by the municipal authorities, has won a ruling from the Human Rights Committee that this violated the right to freedom of peaceful assembly… more
 

RUSSIA’S DETENTION OF ACCUSED WITHOUT COURT ORDER FOR FIVE WEEKS FOUND TO BE ARBITRARY

The Human Rights Committee found that Russia arbitrarily detained a person for five weeks prior to his criminal trial, while dismissing the author’s claims that his right to have his conviction reviewed had been violated… more
 

RUSSIA FOUND TO HAVE DENIED PROCEDURAL RIGHTS OF ACCUSED

A defendant had his rights to prepare an adequate defence violated through not being given adequate time to review his case file, the Human Rights Committee has found… more
 

BELARUS’ RESTRICTIONS ON DEMONSTRATIONS VIOLATED THE RIGHT TO PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY

Belarus’ denial of permission to hold a mass event in peaceful protest against the abolition of certain social benefits, has been found to be in breach of the right to peaceful assembly… more
 

BELARUS IGNORED INTERIM MEASURES REQUEST AND CARRIED OUT DEATH PENALTY AFTER UNFAIR TRIAL

The execution of a man, despite the fact that the Human Rights Committee had requested Belarus not to carry out the death penalty while allegations of an unfair trial were under its consideration, has been found in violation of the right to life… more
 

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA MUST RECONSIDER APPLICANT’S REQUEST FOR ASYLUM

An asylum claimant has successfully challenged a ruling from Bosnia and Herzegovina that he must be deported to Iraq on the grounds that it would constitute a violation of his right to freedom from interference in his family life… more
 

BELARUS ASKED TO REVIEW ITS LEGISLATION REGARDING PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY

Two individuals who were arrested and fined in Belarus for distributing information leaflets convening peaceful assemblies, had their right to freedom of expression violated, the Human Rights Committee has found… more
 

AUSTRALIA CALLED ON TO REVIEW MIGRATION LEGISLATION

The Human Rights Committee has found that Australia’s indefinite mandatory detention of refugees was not only in itself a violation of human rights, but also causes ‘serious psychological harm’ and amounted to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment… more
 

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE DISMISSES COMPLAINTS AGAINST COSTA RICA, DENMARK, ALGERIA, FRANCE AND LITHUANIA

Complaints that Costa Rica and Denmark failed to uphold an individual’s right to an effective remedy, were rejected for lack of substantiation, as were complaints that France had violated an individual’s right to a fair hearing and that Lithuania had failed to ensure equal access to public services. A complaint from a group of French nationals that Algeria failed to respect their right to freedom from cultural interference was rejected due to an undue delay in submitting the complaint… more

upcoming opportunities

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ORGANISATIONAL MEETING
On 16 December the organisational meeting for the Human Rights Council’s 25th session (to be held 3 – 28 March 2014) will take place in Geneva.

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.

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS FOR THE 2014 MARTIN ENNALS AWARD FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
Nominees for the 2014 Martin Ennals Award should be submitted by 9 December. Nominees should be currently involved in work for the promotion and protection of human rights with special account taken of those who are risk.

OSCE/ODIHR RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
The OSCE and ODIHR have held a series of consultations to develop recommendations on the protection of human rights defenders. Defenders who were unable to attend the consultations are able to provide input via a questionnaire due on 20 December 2013 to HRDconsultation@odihr.pl.

KEEP UP-TO-DATE WITH ISHR

For more information, please visit our website: www.ishr.ch
or contact us: information@ishr.ch
 

ISHR thanks Irish Aid for its generosity in making this publication possible.

Banner image: Flickr Creative Commons/Guy Sie.
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