Human Rights Monitor Monthly - November 2013
 
HUMAN RIGHTS Monitor
NOVEMBER 2013
 

NGO ADVOCACY

Human rights abusers must not be elected to the Human Rights Council. Read more

 

Opinion


We need a rights-based approach to large-scale development

Margaret Sekaggya, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

Margaret Sekaggya, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, highlights the role that human rights defenders play in advancing development and calls for them to be protected from harassment, persecution and retaliation when they voice opposition to large-scale development projects… more

 

Human Rights Defender Profile

Dr JIANLI YANG, CHINESE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER

Dr Jianli Yang is the founder and president of Initiatives for China, also known as Citizen Power for China. He has been politically active for a better China since witnessing the horrors of Tiananmen Square in 1989. He was imprisoned from 2002 – 2007 and now lives in the United States… more

Our Work to Support Human Rights Defenders

African States should implement the Maputo Protocol and protect Women Human Rights Defenders

ISHR has called on African States to strengthen the level of support and protection to women human rights defenders, in a statement to the 54th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights… more
 

ISHR makes a major submission to Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

In a major submission to the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, intended to inform her next report, ISHR has called on States, corporations and the UN itself to take all steps to end restrictions and reprisals against human rights defenders and to ensure that they can operate in a safe and enabling environment… more
 

ISHR event on human rights defenders advocating on large-scale development projects

Together with the Permanent Mission of Norway to the UN in New York, ISHR organised a side event on the role of human rights defenders in identifying, preventing, mitigating and remedying the adverse impacts of large-scale development projects. The event also focused on the responsibility of States, corporations and multilateral development actors in ensuring that human rights defenders can undertake their work in a safe and enabling environment. Panellists included Margaret Sekaggya – UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Pavel Sulyandziga – Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, and Cristina Hardaga Fernandez – Strategic and Political Engagement Coordinator at JASS Mesoamerica… more

Our Work to Strengthen Human Rights Systems

NGOS CALL ON THE PRESIDENT OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO RESTART NEGOTIATIONS ON TREATY BODY STRENGTHENING WITHOUT DELAY

In a joint letter, NGOs including ISHR have called on the President of the General Assembly to ensure that co-facilitators for the treaty body strengthening process are appointed without delay so that the process can be concluded by the February 2014 deadline agreed to by States… more


AFRICAN STATES MUST PROTECT AND PROVIDE AN ENABLING ENVIRONMENT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

In a statement to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ISHR has urged States to investigate, prosecute and ensure accountability for violations against human rights defenders… more


NGOS CALL ON HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL PRESIDENT TO ENSURE APPOINTMENT OF HIGHLY QUALIFIED INDIVIDUALS AS HUMAN RIGHTS EXPERTS

In a letter to the President of the Human Rights Council, Amnesty International, ISHR and other human rights organisations have called on the Council President to take urgent steps to ensure the appointment of highly qualified individuals to the vacant positions of UN human rights experts… more

CASE NOTES ON TREATY BODY DECISIONS

SWEDEN MUST RECONSIDER LESBIAN APPLICANT’S REQUEST FOR ASYLUM

A lesbian who alleged persecution in Bangladesh has successfully challenged Sweden’s ruling that she should be deported. The Human Rights Committee found that Sweden had violated the author’s right to freedom from cruel and inhuman treatment… more
 

US REQUIRED TO ACCOUNT FOR ACTIVITIES OF USCAPITAL ENERGY IN BELIZE

The Special Rapporteur on the right to food has demanded that the US Government provide information regarding the possible human rights impact, in particular on Mayan indigenous communities, of oil exploration carried out by a US company in Belize… 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 from 3 to 28 March 2013) will take place in Geneva.

WORKING GROUP ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
From 25 to 29 November, the
Working Group on Business and Human Rights will hold its 6th session, in Geneva.

UN FORUM ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
The
UN Forum on Business and Human Rights will meet in Geneva from 2 to 4 December. All relevant stakeholders are invited to attend and discuss challenges and trends in implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. A provisional programme is available here.

COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
The
51st session of the Committee Against Torture will be held in Geneva from 28 October to 22 November.

COMMITTEE ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES
The Committee on Enforced Disappearances will hold its
5th session from 4 to 15 November, in Geneva.

COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
The
51st session of CESCR takes place in Geneva from 4 to 29 November.

WEBCASTS OF THE TREATY BODY MEETINGS
If you are unable to attend relevant treaty body meetings, you can now watch these sessions 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.

MALDIVES DRAFT LAW ON ASSOCIATIONS
The Maldives is currently drafting a law to promote and protect a dynamic, diverse and independent civil society. To get involved in the debate see the
Facebook page of the United Nations country team in the Maldives.

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.

EXTENSION OF DEADLINE FOR UN SPECIAL PROCEDURE VACANCIES
The deadline to apply for positions as UN experts on a range of issues, including human rights defenders, has been
extended to 14 November at midnight.

NEW RESOURCES FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

A FRAMEWORK FOR PREVENTIVE MONITORING OF LGBTI PERSONS DEPRIVED OF THEIR LIBERTY

The Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) and Penal Reform International have produced a publication setting out the main risk factors and situations to which LGBT persons are exposed when deprived of their liberty along with proposed possible avenues of action that could be taken by monitoring bodies.
 

NEW WEBSITE ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY

www.soginews.com is a new website intended to serve as a platform for the latest news on sexual orientation and gender identity. Activists and professionals can submit information to the site. The website is run by the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL).
 

REPORT ON VIOLENCE AGAINST LGBT PERSONS IN AFRICA

An October 2013 report launched jointly by the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) and African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), entitled ‘Violence based on perceived or real sexual orientation and gender identity in Africa’, documents numerous cases of physical violence against LGBT human rights defenders, including arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual violence, extortion and even killings.

 

Human Rights Developments

RIGHTS DEFENDERS INCREASINGLY BRANDED ‘ENEMIES OF THE STATE’ OVER DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS, UN EXPERT WARNS

Human rights defenders working on behalf of communities affected by large-scale development projects are increasingly being branded ‘anti-government’, ‘against development’ or even ‘enemies of the State’, a UN independent expert has warned.

Human rights defenders trying to help communities affected by projects such as the construction of hydroelectric power stations, dams, and roads or the operations of various extractive industries were being ‘harassed, stigmatized and criminalized for doing their work’, the Special Rapporteur for human rights defenders Margaret Sekaggya said in a report to the UN General Assembly. They also faced threats, including deaths threats, and physical attacks. ‘But rather than being against development, defenders play an important role in advancing it’, she highlighted… more
 

UN AND EU CALL FOR THE RELEASE OF CAO SHUNLI

EU High Representative Catherine Ashton has expressed her ‘deep concern at the sudden disappearance of Cao Shunli on the day she was due to travel to Geneva to participate in human rights promotion activities’. She called for clarification of Cao Shunli’s whereabouts and urged China to ensure full participation of civil society in the Universal Periodic Review.

Cao Shunli had been advocating for the inclusion of independent civil society organisations in China’s Universal Periodic Review. The EU’s intervention comes as a group of leading international human rights experts called for the immediate release of Chinese human rights defenders detained in connection with peaceful protests about civil society repression in China… more
 

‘HARMFUL PRACTICES AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS CAN NEVER BE JUSTIFIED BY RELIGION’

‘Countless women are exposed to complex forms of human rights violations based on both religion or belief and their sex’, said Heiner Bielefeldt, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. The expert’s latest report, which he presented to the Third Committee, focused on two human rights, namely freedom of religion or belief and gender equality.

In his presentation, Mr Bielefeldt called on States to identify and close human rights protection gaps in personal status laws, including denominational family laws, which disproportionately affect women from religious or belief minorities. The expert’s report offers recommendations to, among other things, integrate a gender perspective into programmes designed to protect and promote freedom of religion or belief… more
 

MOLDOVA OVERTURNS LAW BANNING PROMOTION OF ‘NON-TRADITIONAL’ RELATIONSHIPS

In Moldova, the Parliament has just overturned a law banning the promotion of ‘non-traditional relationships’. Similar legislation banning ‘propaganda’ is still in force in Russia and Lithuania and is currently under consideration in Ukraine.

Anastasia Danilova, Executive Director of the GENDERDOC-M Information Centre, is ‘hopeful that Moldova will continue to ensure equal rights for all of its citizens regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Moldovan authorities are yet to ensure that the freedoms of assembly and expression for LGBT people are not at any risk’… more
 

UN EXPERT BODY URGES ACTION TO PREVENT VIOLATION OF INDIGENOUS RIGHTS DUE TO BUSINESS ACTIVITIES

‘Indigenous peoples are among the groups most severely affected by the extractive, agro-industrial and energy sectors’, said Pavel Sulyandziga, Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. Other challenges involve land use and ownership, as well as displacement through forced or economic resettlement Mr Sulyandziga said in his presentation of the Working Group’s report to Third Committee. ‘Such disruption often leads to serious abuses of civil and political rights, with human rights defenders in particular put at risk’, he added.

The report highlights how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can clarify the roles and responsibilities of States, business enterprises and indigenous peoples in addressing these problems… more
 

2013 ANNI REPORT ON PERFORMANCE OF NHRIS IN ASIA RELEASED

Forum Asia and the Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) recently presented their 2013 ANNI Report on the Performance and Establishment of National Human Rights Institutions in Asia. This unique initiative, that brings together regional civil society organisations to address issues related to national human rights institutions (NHRIs), aims at regular reporting on NHRIs. It is a valuable means for civil society to hold NHRIs accountable.

The report has three focus areas in this regard: the independence, effectiveness and accountability of NHRIs. It addresses two thematic issues, namely business and human rights (corporate accountability), and NHRIs as human rights defenders.
 

IRISH FOREIGN MINISTER UNDERLINES CRUCIAL ROLE OF DIVERSE AND PLURALISTIC CIVIL SOCIETY

On 9 October 2013, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, reiterated the Irish Government's commitment to continue working for the security and protection of human rights defenders at risk: ‘Ireland places immense value on the work of civil society in the promotion and protection of human rights and we recognize and applaud the enormous contribution which human rights defenders can make in this regard.

Ireland will continue to play its part in defending and supporting human rights defenders, and in promoting and protecting human rights wherever we see injustice’… more
 

CHINA’S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD UNDER SCRUTINY AT THE UN

China’s human rights record was in the spotlight as it presented itself for its second assessment under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The review was overshadowed by the continued detention of human rights defender Ms Cao Shunli, who had been attempting to convince the Chinese Government to allow civil society to participate in the drafting of the national report… more
 

THE POTENTIAL OF THE AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM

The 54th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has this week drawn to a close. Sheila B. Keetharuth, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, reflects on the significance of the African human rights system as a means of advancing human rights in the continent… more
 

SPECIAL PROCEDURES UNDER ATTACK AT THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Several Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council have come under attack at the UN General Assembly for allegedly exceeding their mandates or disregarding the Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate Holders… more
 

TOP UN EXPERT DEFENDS WORK ON SOGI, HIGHLIGHTS NEW MANDATE TO FIGHT REPRISALS

Inadequate funding for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), reprisals against human rights defenders, and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) were amongst the key issues presented in the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ annual report to the Third Committee… more

FORTHCOMING VISITS BY SPECIAL PROCEDURES

ITALY
Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, 11 – 18 November

VIETNAM
Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, 18 – 29 November

GHANA
Special Rapporteur on slavery, 21 – 29 November

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


To find out how you can support the visits, please contact the respective mandate-holder at their email, found in the directory.

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: participants at the 54th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.
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