Human Rights Monitor Monthly - July 2015
HUMAN RIGHTS MONITOR
July 2015

Defending Diversity: New video on LGBT human rights defenders


In a new video by ISHR, three human rights defenders working on LGBT rights, who fight to bring about change in hostile environments, provide insight into the challenges they face and the potential they see for progress on these important issues... more 

Watch it here!


 
OPINION
 

THE POWER OF INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 

By Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Thomas Probert from the OHCHR

Christof Heyns and Thomas Probert speak about the benefits of information and communication technologies in the protection of human rights, while also highlighting the new and evolving threats that come with the digital age… more


TURNING THE TIDE AGAINST THE WAVE OF CIVIL SOCIETY REPRESSION  

By Julie Broome, Director of Programmes with the Sigrid Rausing Trust and Iva Dobichina, Programme Manager with the Open Society Foundations Human Rights Initiative

We need to speak across sectors and identify common interests and allies if we are to protect the space for civil society to function effectively, say Julie Broome and Iva Dobichina… more

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL WRAP UP

ISHR REFLECTS ON THE 29TH SESSION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

The Human Rights Council adopted key resolutions considering the role, situation and protection needs of human rights activists, including in the context of combating violence against women, countering terrorism, and promoting rights and accountability... more

29TH SESSION ADOPTS 6 RESOLUTIONS OF SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
 
The Human Rights Council has adopted the following resolutions of significance to human rights defenders:
  • a resolution on the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights;
  • a resolution on accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women
  • a resolution on the elimination of discrimination against women;
  • a resolution on the protection of the family;
  • a resolution for the renewal of the mandate of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d'Ivoire;
  • a resolution to undertake a fact finding mission and comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights in South Sudan and related crimes... more
APPOINTMENT AND RENEWAL OF MANDATES

Four country-specific mandates were renewed and six special procedure mandate holders were appointed at the 29th session of the Human Rights Council... more

CÔTE D’IVOIRE: ADOPT DECREE TO PROTECT DEFENDERS AND LAW TO STRENGTHEN NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTION 

Côte d’Ivoire has been called on to adopt a decree to implement a new law on the protection of human rights defenders, in a statement by ISHR to the Human Rights Council... more

PROTECTION OF NGOS AND DEFENDERS IS KEY TO COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM

ISHR calls on States to incorporate respect for human rights in efforts to counter terrorism, including by protecting space for defenders and NGOs, while the Council must enhance efforts to monitor and speak out against the misuse and abuse of anti-terrorism legislation... more

ISHR SIDE EVENT ON ICTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS 

ISHR co-sponsored an event with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to promote and protect human rights. The event took place on 19 June at Palais des Nations and was recorded on a video...more

OUR WORK TO SUPPORT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

CREATING AND MAINTAINING CIVIL SOCIETY SPACE: WHAT WORKS?
 
States, corporations, investors and the UN all have an interest and responsibility to ensure civil society actors are able to undertake their vital work in a safe and enabling environment, according to a major report by ISHR... more
 
UN LEADERSHIP: CHINA MUST FULLY #FREETHEFIVE
 
In a joint letter released yesterday, the 'Feminist Five' call on the UN to push China to drop charges against them and fully respect human rights. Here, ISHR and Chines Human Rights Defenders discuss this case against the backdrop of China's increasingly antagonistic stance towards civil society... more
 
VENEZUELA: END STIGMATISATION AND REPRISALS AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Venezuela must live up to its obligations as member of the UN Human Rights Council and stop defaming human rights defenders who interact with international mechanisms, ISHR said following an address by the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly attacking ISHR and its partners... more 
 
UN HUMAN RIGHTS MONITORING BODIES ADOPT POLICY TO COMBAT REPRISALS
 

Following sustained ISHR advocacy, the Chairs of the UN treaty bodies have adopted a significant policy to combat intimidation and reprisals against those who provide information or contribute to their work... more
 
STATES: ENSURE PARTICIPATION AND PROTECTION FOR ACTIVISTS IN BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS TREATY DISCUSSIONS
 
A UN process to develop binding norms on business and human rights should provide protection and participation rights for human rights activists, a coalition of over 20 NGOs says in a new report... more
 
BRAZIL: PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS WORKING ON CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY

It is urgent that Brazil take measures to protect environmental rights defenders and those who protest major development projects, after surveillance and harassment of Forum Suape member Dr Conceição Lacerda, ISHR said... more  
 
EGYPT: CEASE HARASSMENT OF CAIRO INSTITUTE AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS NGOS
 
The Government of Egypt should immediately cease and desist from harassing the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and other independent non-governmental organisations in the country, ISHR says... more
 
RESPECT FOR FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION, ASSEMBLY ESSENTIAL TO PROTECT DEFENDERS WORKING ON CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY
 
ISHR calls on States and corporations to desist from attacks against human rights defenders working in relation to the extractive industries and instead ensure respect for their exercise of the rights to freedom of assembly, association and protest... more
 
WEST AFRICAN STATES: ENACT LAWS AND ESTABLISH MECHANISMS TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
 
ISHR, the Coalition Ivoirienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains and the Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains call on West African States to enact national laws on the protection of human rights defenders, establish independent national human rights institutions, and end impunity for attacks against defenders... more
 
INDIA: END LEGAL RESTRICTIONS AGAINST CIVIL SOCIETY
 
Civil society in India faces increasing judicial harassment, arbitrary arrests and intimidation, which has intensified in light of recent crackdowns, including the de-registration of almost 9,000 NGOs... more
 
LATIN AMERICAN STATES: REFRAIN FROM SILENCING JOURNALISTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
 
Este artículo se encuentra también en español here
ISHR calls on Latin American States to repeal all laws and practices that unduly restrict criticism or dissent or that criminalise defamation, and take positive steps to protect human rights defenders and journalists... more
 
COLOMBIA: PROTECT CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY ACTIVISTS FROM CRIMINALISATION AND HARASSMENT

In a joint statement, ISHR and 48 other NGOs call for human rights defenders working on issues of business and human rights in Colombia to be free to undertake their vital work without stigmatisation, criminalisation or legal harassment... more
 

key developments in the promotion and protection of human rights

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER CONVICTED IN ANGOLA

Amnesty International expresses concern at the conviction of Rafael Marques de Morais, human rights defender and investigative journalist, of 'slanderous denunciation'... more

TRAGEDY: MURDER OF 9 HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS OF ‘PEOPLE IN NEED’ ORGANISATION

The European Union and other organisations have expressed their condolences at the murder of human rights defenders from People in Need in Afghanistan... more

IACHR COMMISSIONERS ELECTED BY OAS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

On June 16 2015 the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States elected the Commissioners of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for a four-year term... more

WORLD BANK: FAILURE TO PREVENT AND RESPOND TO REPRISALS AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

The Human Rights Watch report ‘At your own risk’ details instances of threats, intimidation and incarceration by governments and powerful companies against outspoken community members harmed by projects financed by the World Bank... more

ANGOLAN ACTIVISTS ARRESTED FOR OPPOSITION

Amnesty International condemns the arrest of activists attending a meeting to discuss human rights violations on 20 June for allegedly ‘disrupting public order’. Amnesty says the arrests were a ploy to suppress freedom of expression and peaceful assembly... more

ACTIVIST ARRESTED IN CHAD FOLLOWING A RADIO INTERVIEW

On 15 June Djeralar Miankeol was arrested after a radio interview in which he referred to judicial officials. Miankeol was charged the next day with ‘contempt of court’... more

MOZAMBIQUE LGBT ACTIVISTS CELEBRATE THE WITHDRAWAL OF THE ANTI-GAY LAW

Gay rights activists welcome the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Mozambique, but say there is still a long struggle for full equality... more

ACTIVISTS WORLDWIDE CALL ACTION FOR TORTURE SURVIVORS

All over the world, activists take action on the anniversary of the Convention against Torture to demand that governments stop torturing their citizens and ensure that survivors get justice... more

14 ACTIVISTS ARRESTED IN THAILAND

Human Rights Watch demands the release of 14 student activists arrested on 27 June for peacefully expressing opposition to military rule. The students are awaiting trial in a military court... more

PROTESTERS SUFFER POLICE VIOLENCE IN ARMENIA

Armenian police used violence against people protesting against recent rises in electricity costs in Yerevan on June 23. Human Rights Watch call for an impartial investigation into the use of force and to ensure accountability for those responsible... more

CHINESE ACTIVISTS FACE 5 YEARS IN PRISON FOR PUBLISHING BOOKS ON DEMOCRACY

Amnesty International calls on the Chinese government to release and drop all charges against three human rights campaigners about to be tried on state security charges for publishing books on democracy and activism... more

CASE NOTES ON DECISIONS FROM INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES

Leghaei and others v. Australia (1937/2010)
 
The Human Rights Committee determined that Australia violated its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in connection with its decision to deny an individual permanent resident rights... more

OPPORTUNITIES FOR NGO ENGAGEMENT

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
 
The 30th regular session of the Council Session will be held from 14 September– to 2 October in the Palais des Nations. Information and updates will be published here.
 
The 15th session of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee will be held from 10 August to 14 August in the Palais des Nations. The Advisory Committee functions as a think-tank for the Human Rights Council, focusing mainly on studies and research-based advice as requested by the Human Rights Council. NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC may submit written statements relevant to the work of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee ahead of the relevant session. Updated information will be published here.
 
The Human Rights Council organizational meeting on the 30th session will take place on 24 August 2015 at Palais des Nations in Room XX.
 
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
 
The following States will be reviewed at the 25th session of the UPR which will be held in April/May 2016: Suriname, Greece, Samoa, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sudan, Hungary, Papua New Guinea, Tajikistan, United Republic of Tanzania, Antigua and Barbuda, Swaziland, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand and Ireland. Guidelines for submissions are found here and are due on 25 September (tentative). Information about the UPR mechanism can be found here.
 
TREATY BODIES
 
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women will meet in Geneva from 6 July to 24 July for its 61st session. The Committee will review the reports of the following countries: Bolivia, Croatia, Gambia, Namibia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Spain and Vietnam.
 
The pre-sessional working group of the 63rd session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women will take place from 27 to 31 July. It will consider the following State reports: Czech Republic, Haiti, Iceland, Japan, Mongolia, Sweden, United Republic of Tanzania and Vanuatu.
 
The 114th session of the Human Rights Committee will be held on 29 June to 24 July and will consider the following State reports: Canada, France, Spain, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island, Crown Dependencies of the United Kingdom and Northern Island, Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom and Northern Island, Uzbekistan, Venezuela (the Bolivarian Republic of). The programme of work and other information is found here. NGO submissions should be made well in advance of the relevant session.
 
The 115th session of the Human Rights Committee will be held on 19 October to 6 November and will consider the following State reports: Austria, Benin, Greece, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, San Marino and Suriname. The programme of work and other information is found here. NGO submissions should be made by 7 August 2015.
 
The 55th session of the Committee Against Torture will take place on 27 July to 14 August 2015. The Committee will consider the following States during the session: Iraq, Slovakia and Switzerland. The programme of work and other information is available 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.

human rights defender TRAINING PROGRAM

From 10 to 24 June ISHR trained 19 human rights defenders, including activists working on business and human rights, LGBT rights and women’s rights.

The defenders received workshops on all of the United Nations mechanisms, interacted with diplomats, civil society and United Nations representatives, and were able to carry out individual and joint advocacy around the Human Rights Council. An album of photos from the training can be found on Facebook here

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER PROFILE

Erik Aimé Semien from Côte d'Ivoire

Mr Semien, Chairperson of the Observatoire Ivoirien des Droits de l’Homme, talks to ISHR about his work for the protection of human rights defenders.

He also discusses the building of democratic institutions... more
 

OUR WORK TO STRENGTHEN LAWS AND SYSTEMS 

INTERNATIONAL

 
ECUADOR: ENSURE CENTRAL ROLE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY IN TREATY PROCESS

Civil society's voice must be made central in work towards a binding treaty on business and human rights, says ISHR, as NGO speaking times were under threat at the Inter-Governmental Working Group... more

TREATY BODY CHAIRS: FOCUS ON MAKING TREATY BODIES MORE ACCESSIBLE AND PROTECTIVE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY 

ISHR calls on UN human rights experts to focus on strengthening the functioning and accessibility of the human rights treaty bodies and protecting human rights defenders who submit information and complaints... more

GENERAL ASSEMBLY: GRANT PARTICIPATION RIGHTS TO NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTIONS 

The UN General Assembly should provide national human rights institutions that are fully compliant with the Paris Principles with rights to participate in UN bodies and processes, says ISHR in a major new report launched in New York... more

WITHDRAWAL OF UN CONSULTATIVE STATUS FOR TWO NGOS COULD HAVE ‘CHILLING EFFECT’ ON CIVIL SOCIETY 

The withdrawal of UN consultative status from two NGOs in retaliation for statements they made at the UN Human Rights Council lacked procedural safeguards and could have a chilling effect on civil society, ISHR says... more

HONDURAS: IMPLEMENT UPR RECOMMENDATIONS TO INVESTIGATE AND END IMPUNITY FOR ATTACKS AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS 

In a briefing paper on the situation of human rights defenders ISHR called on Honduras, which underwent its second Universal Periodic Review in May, to refrain from criminalising the legitimate activities of human rights defenders and to strengthen the role and independence of the Office of the National Commission for Human Rights... more

JAMAICA: IMPLEMENT UPR RECOMMENDATIONS TO ESTABLISH NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTION AND PROTECT LGBTI DEFENDERS

In a briefing paper on the situation of human rights defenders ISHR called on Jamaica, which underwent its second Universal Periodic Review in May, to enact and implement specific laws and policies to recognise and protect human rights defenders and make necessary legislative changes to legalise the defence of the rights of the LGBTI population... more  

UNITED STATES: IMPLEMENT UPR RECOMMENDATIONS TO ESTABLISH NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTION AND REVIEW NATIONAL SECURITY LAWS 

In a briefing paper on the situation of human rights defenders ISHR called on the United States, which underwent its second Universal Periodic Review in May, to reform national security legislation and ensure accountability surrounding the unwarranted surveillance of human rights defenders and journalists and to enact specific legislation that protects human rights defenders from reprisals... more

LIBERIA: IMPLEMENT UPR RECOMMENDATIONS TO REPEAL LAWS RESTRICTING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND ASSOCIATION 

In a briefing paper on the situation of human rights defenders ISHR called on Liberia, which underwent its second Universal Periodic Review in May, to refrain from criminalising the legitimate activities of human rights defenders and repeal all laws and policies that restrict their activities and rights... more

LIBYA: IMPLEMENT UPR RECOMMENDATIONS TO REPEAL RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, ASSOCIATION AND ASSEMBLY 

In a briefing paper on the situation of human rights defenders ISHR called on Libya, which underwent its second Universal Periodic Review in May, to reform restrictive laws on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly which unduly limit the rights and activities of human rights defenders and journalists, as well as take steps to tackle attacks by non-State armed groups... more

NATIONAL

CAMBODIA: WITHDRAW LANGO AND ENSURE GENUINE CIVIL SOCIETY PARTICIPATION 

ISHR joined a global civil society call for the immediate withdrawal of Cambodia's draft Law on Associations and NGOs, which is likely to be scheduled for a vote at the National Assembly on 10 July... more 

MALDIVES: RESTORE INDEPENDENCE AND REMEDY REPRISAL AGAINST NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION 

A decision of the Supreme Court of the Maldives preventing the country’s national human rights institution from communicating with the UN without government authorisation is a clear breach of international law and flagrantly incompatible with the Maldives’ UN Human Rights Council membership, ISHR says... more

NAURU: RESTORE INTERNET FREEDOM AND RESPECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND THE RULE OF LAW 

ISHR calls on Nauru to immediately restore access to internet sites such as Facebook, repeal recently enacted criminal law provisions which restrict the rights to freedom of expression and association, and respect the rule of law... more

CHINA: AMEND DRAFT LAW ON 'FOREIGN NGO MANAGEMENT' AND ENSURE SPACE FOR INDEPENDENT CIVIL SOCIETY 

An amended draft of the Foreign NGO Management Law would further restrict the independence of NGOs and significantly impede their ability to provide critical social services and undertake activities to promote human rights and the rule of law, ISHR says... more

CONFERENCES AND EVENTS

BUSINESS AND THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

ISHR and the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre are co-hosting an event on the relationship between business and human rights. The discussion will focus on threats and risks faced by defenders and the responsibility of States and corporations in supporting and protecting their work. The event will take place on the 14 July, between 12:30 and 2:30pm, at DLA Piper- 3 Noble Street, London... more
 

MARTIN ENNALS AWARD CEREMONY 

The City of Geneva and the Martin Ennals Foundation are co-hosting the 2015 Martin Ennals Award Ceremony. Often regarded as the ‘Nobel Prize for Human Rights’, the Laureate is selected by the Jury of the Martin Ennals Award, made up of ten of the world’s leading human rights organisations. The event will take place on the 6 October at 6pm, at Uni-Dufour, Geneva...more
 

GENEVA PEACE TALKS 2015

The Interpeace, in partnership with United Nations Office at Geneva and Geneva Peacebuilding Platform is hosting the Geneva Peace Talks 2015. Speakers from diverse backgrounds, including violent environments, will explain their contribution to peace building efforts around the world. The event will take place on the 18 September, between 4.30-6pm in Room XIX, Palais des Nations. Registration opens on the 17 August...more

NEW RESOURCES

ONLINE TOOL TO MONITOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN NEW ZEALAND LAUNCHED

As part of the country’s National Plan of Action, the Human Rights Commission of New Zealand has launched a free online tool that monitors the government’s human rights record... more  

GUIDELINES ON THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has launched a booklet containing guidelines for the protection of human rights defenders, which examines conditions for a safe and enabling environment conducive to human rights work... more

EYEWITNESS TO ATROCITIES: NEW ICT RESOURCE LAUNCHED 

The International Bar Association has launched a mobile phone application that enables human rights defenders to document and store photographs and films of alleged atrocities that can be shown in court... more

HRD PROTECTION PLATFORM: TOWARDS STRONGER & VIBRANT HRD NETWORKS IN ASIA 

FORUM-ASIA has published the proceedings of the 6th Asian regional human rights defenders forum 2014. The forum provides an opportunity for Asian human rights defenders to meet, share their experiences and discuss the challenges they face in the course of their work... more

IMPROVING THE MEASUREMENT OF CIVIC SPACE 

Transparency and Accountability Initiative has launched a report on the measurement of ‘civic space’ in light of the recent trend of shrinking civil society space and enhanced restrictions on individuals and civil society organisations, across the world... more

CIVIL SOCIETY SPACE AND THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM 

As part of its current thematic priority, ‘widening the democratic space’, the OHCHR issued its 6th practical guide for civil society on civil society space and the UN human rights system… more

HOW TO FOLLOW UP ON UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS RECOMMENDATIONS 

The OHCHR has issued a practical guide on how civil society can follow up on recommendations coming from UN human rights mechanisms, mandates or bodies... more

THE HUMAN RIGHTS TREATY BODIES - PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS

The OHCHR has released a booklet on the human rights treaty bodies which provides information about different committees, review cycles and review processes... more

MAKING THE MEDIA WORK FOR YOU

The European Journalism Centre has produced a guide for civil society organisations, which focuses on different tools and strategies that can be used to make efficient use of the media... more

MYANMAR: CAUGHT BETWEEN STATE-CENSORSHIP AND SELF-CENSORSHIP

Amnesty International has released a report on the prosecution and intimidation of media workers in Myanmar which explores how media workers’ professional activities are hampered... more

AZERBAIJAN: THE REPRESSION GAMES

A report released by Amnesty International examines the routine and increasing repression faced by those critical of the authorities, in Azerbaijan... more

COUNTRY VISITS BY SPECIAL PROCEDURES

SRI LANKA
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
3 - 12 August 
JAPAN
Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
1 - 10 September 
HUNGARY
Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice
1 - 11 September 
CHILE
Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
21 - 30 September 
AUSTRALIA
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants
27 September - 10 October 
BELGIUM
Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination
12 - 16 October
TURKEY
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
16 - 20 November
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