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

Navi Pillay joins the ISHR Board



ISHR is delighted to announce the appointment of Navanethem Pillay to its governing Board.
OPINION

PROTECT WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS’ RIGHT TO PRIVACY

Deborah Brown and Jac Sm Kee of the Association for Progressive Communications explain why the right to privacy, particularly technological and online privacy, is especially relevant to the work of women human rights defenders...more

Council wrap up

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: 28TH SESSION ADOPTS 5 RESOLUTIONS OF SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Resolution: Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law  
By a vote of 35 yes to 12 abstentions, but without negative vote, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on ‘Human rights, democracy and rule of law’ which creates a forum on that topic in Geneva every two years...more   

Resolution: Guaranteeing a human rights perspective in the General Assembly debate on the world drug problem
The Human Rights Council adopted a resolution, which was passed by the Council without a vote, guaranteeing that a human rights perspective will be contemplated at the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem next April...more 

Resolution: Renewal of mandate of Special Rapporteur on the Islamic Republic of Iran
In a resolution adopted by a vote of 20 in favour, 11 against and 16 abstentions, the Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran for a further period of one year. The Council also called for the Iranian Government’s full cooperation with the Special Rapporteur...more 

Resolution: Renewal of mandate of Special Rapporteur on Myanmar
ISHR welcomes the resolution to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar and the, recognition of human rights violations faced by human rights defenders...more 

Resolution: Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy established
ISHR welcomes the adoption of the resolution, without a vote, creating a new Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy. This mandate marks a significant step forwards in addressing human rights violations related to surveillance and other privacy related abuses...more 

APPOINTMENT AND RENEWAL OF MANDATES
Two new mandates were established by the Human Rights Council, two thematic mandates and five country-specific mandates were renewed and four special procedure mandate holders were appointed...more  

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: DEFERRAL OF REPORTS SHOULD BE EXCEPTIONAL AND INVOLVE CIVIL SOCIETY CONSULTATION

Three significant reports were deferred at the 28th session of the Council. In ISHR’s view, the deferral of reports should be exceptional and occur on a case-by-case basis...more

ISHR CLOSING STATEMENT TO THE COUNCIL: POSITIVE STEPS OFFSET BY FAILURES TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

ISHR’s closing statement to the Human Rights Council indicated that successful steps at its 28th session had been offset by numerous failures regarding human rights defenders, human rights institutions and other grave human rights situations…more

COUNCIL EXAMINES COUNTRY SITUATIONS IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, CÔTE D’IVOIRE, HAITI, MALI AND IRAQ

Reports by independent experts on the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, Mali and Iraq and considered by the Human Right Council detail varied human rights violations perpetrated with impunity as well as erosion to the rule of law…more

STRONG STEPS NEEDED TO PROTECT DEFENDERS IN LATIN AMERICA

In its response to the High Commissioner’s reports on Colombia and Guatemala, ISHR details widespread attacks against defenders, especially land rights and extractive industry activists…more

COUNCIL SHOULD REJECT DRAFT COUNTER-TERRORISM RESOLUTION

ISHR and 18 leading human rights organisations called on Member States of the Human Rights Council to reject a proposed counter-terrorism resolution that would undermine civil society and respect for human rights...more

CÔTE D'IVOIRE SHOULD ENSURE EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF LAW FOR PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

In a statement to the Human Rights Council, ISHR calls on Côte d’Ivoire to adopt an executive decree to ensure the effective implementation of its law to protect human rights defenders...more 

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL SHOULD REJECT ATTEMPTS TO LIMIT THE OHCHR

Leading human rights NGOs call on States to resist attempts to fetter the independence of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN’s top human rights official, in a statement to the Human Rights Council...more
 

KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

KUWAIT CLAMPS DOWN ON PEACEFUL PROTEST

16 Kuwaiti protesters were detained on March 23 for peacefully demonstrating against the government. Some still await release…more

25 YEAR SENTENCE FOR FACEBOOK POST AGAINST THAI ROYAL FAMILY

A Thai businessman has been convicted and sentenced to 25 years' jail for allegedly criticising the royal family on Facebook…more

ALMOST ALL CRIMEAN TATAR MEDIA OUTLETS SHUT DOWN ON 1 APRIL

On 1 April 2015 all but one Crimean Tatar-language media agencies were closed down under a new Russian law…more

MURDER OF BANGLADESHI BLOGGER

A Bangladeshi blogger was murdered last week for ‘anti-Islamic’ writings, only a month after a similar event in the country’s capital...more

NEW TURKISH SECURITY LAWS WILL FURTHER SILENCE CIVIL SOCIETY

Amendments to Turkish security laws that passed on March 27 endorse a range of regressive law enforcement policies that will harm civil society...more

ASSASSINATION OF YEMENI HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER 

On 18 March 2015, Mr Abdul Kareem Al-Khaiwani, previously awarded the Special Award for Human Rights Journalism Under Threat, was assassinated...more

TRIAL OF PROMINENT ANGOLAN JOURNALIST

On 24 March 2015, Mr Rafael Marques de Morais faced trial for defamation charges in connection with the publication of his book ‘Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola’...more 

INTIMIDATION OF PEOPLE INTERACTING WITH THE IACHR IN VENEZUELA

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is concerned with defenders being threatened and targeted by Venezuelan authorities due to their participation with the Commission...more

HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICES AND LAWYERS’ HOMES RAIDED IN KYRGYZSTAN

The offices of a well-known human rights organisation and the homes of two of its lawyers have been raided by Kyrgyzstan’s national security agency...more
 

Job vacancy

COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER (50%)

ISHR is seeking an outstanding Communications Officer (50%) to join its dynamic team. The role will be based in Geneva and will report to the Communications Manager. He or she will support the many facets of ISHR’s external communications, helping to raise the organisation’s visibility with key target audiences and to further its advocacy objectives... more

NEW RESOURCES

UNIVERSAL RIGHTS GROUP HUMAN RIGHT COUNCIL SESSION REPORTS

URG’S Human Rights Council Session Report provides a detailed analysis of the 28th session of the Human Rights Council.

ALKARAMA 2014 ANNUAL REPORT

Last week Alkarama launched its 2014 Annual Report which heavily criticizes a range of Arab States’ persistent and gross undermining of the UN human rights system and civil society. However, the report does note the increase in awareness of human rights in the Arab world over the past ten years.

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN LIBYA UNDER ATTACK

The OHCHR has released a report on the deteriorating situation for human rights defenders in Libya detailing violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. It follows a report published in September, and an update in December 2014, prepared jointly by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya and the OHCHR. 

13 YEARS OF ENTRENCHED HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN AFGHANISTAN

Today We Shall All Die by Human Rights Watch reports on widespread human rights violations perpetrated with impunity by Afghan government and pro-government forces since the fall of the Taliban 13 years ago. The report provides a frightening outline of entrenched human rights abuses and notes the threats activists and journalists face in carrying out their work in this war-plagued country.

THE VULNERABILITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN ANGOLA

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (OBS) and the Associação Justicia Paz e Democracia (AJPD) have jointly published a fact-finding mission report on Angola, depicting an environment where human rights defenders and journalists are subjected to judicial and administrative harassment, acts of intimidation, threats and other restrictions to their freedom of association and expression. The report can be viewed in English and Portuguese.

#UNFOLLOWME CAMPAIGN GUIDE

In its campaign to safeguard the right to privacy in a political climate of mass surveillance, Amnesty International has created a simple guide explaining how governments are collecting and monitoring private data. This guide is useful for human rights defenders, journalists, media and activists whose freedom of expression, association and peaceful protest depend on their right to privacy. The guide accompanies a 15,000 person poll (full data here) surveying perceptions of mass surveillance.

ATTACKS ON CIVIL SOCIETY AND DEMOCRACY IN KENYA

A new policy brief co-authored by CIVICUS and the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya describes how fundamental freedoms and civil society in Kenya face unrelenting pressure. A range of recommendations are also provided that seek to curtail oppressive bureaucratic tactics against NGOs, intimidation and attacks on activists, the disruption of protests and judicial harassment, restrictive legislation, and heightened threats to media freedoms.

VENEZUALAN PROTESTORS STILL AWAIT JUSTICE

In The faces of impunity: A year after the protests, victims still await justice, Amnesty International examines the stories of human right abuses that took place during the protests of February 2014 in Venezuela. The report details the arbitrary detention, torture and deaths of scores of protestors, the ongoing failure of authorities to investigate abuses, and recent political support for allowing the deployment of all sections of the armed forces in public order operations.

MASS PROTESTS: SUCCESSES AND FAILURES

Freedom House recently published a special report, examining mass social protests in 12 countries to glean best practices and determine the causes for failure in promoting and protecting the right of peaceful assembly. Voices in the Streets compares a range of democratic and nondemocratic societies, and evaluates the role of the executive, law enforcement, courts, legislators, NHRIs, media, civil society and businesses in enabling or restricting freedom of assembly.

WILTON PARK REPORT ON THE FUTURE OF TREATY MONITORING BODIES

Strengthening the UN human rights treaty monitoring system: what are the next steps? summarises discussions and conclusions from consultations on the effectiveness of the UN treaty monitoring system. The discussions were convened by Wilton Park and involved members of UN treaty bodies, government representatives, OHCHR officers, NGOs and academics.

CASE NOTES ON DECISIONS FROM INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES

KazakhstanThe Human Rights Committee determined that Kazakhstan violated its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is liable for restricting freedom of religion.

Belarus: Refusal to register human rights organisation determined to be in violation of the right to freedom of association under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

AzerbaijanThe Human Rights Committee determined that Azerbaijan was in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for detention and trial conditions of a person accused of murder.

opinion

CHINA TIGHTENS ITS STRANGLEHOLD ON CIVIL SOCIETY SPACE

Director of the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Renee Xia, reflects on the group’s annual report and growing erosion of civil society space and rule of law in China, and the role of democratic States in promoting reform reported in the 2014 Annual Report…more

human rights defender profile

JOSEPH BIKANDA
Co-ordinator of the Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network
 
While in Geneva for the 28th session of the Human Rights Council, Joseph Bikanda spoke to ISHR about African human rights defender networks and their role in the protection of human rights defenders... more

Our work to support human rights defenders

KUWAIT MUST RESPECT RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND ASSEMBLY

ISHR is concerned that the arrest and subsequent charges and imposition of a travel ban on Nawaf Al-Hendal are connected with Al-Hendal's advocacy at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, in an attempt to restrict future interaction with international human rights mechanisms...more

IACHR: SESSION CONCLUDES WITH DENUNCIATION OF REPRISALS AND CALL TO COMBAT IMPUNITY

In closing the 154th regular session, Commissioners of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemn domestic threats and attacks faced by human rights defenders perpetrated by government and businesses...more

CHINA: INVESTIGATE DEATH OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER AND RELEASE WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVISTS

ISHR calls for the release of five women's rights activists detained as part of a coordinated move across China to prevent a national campaign against sexual harassment on public transport. ISHR has also called, on the first anniversary of the tragic event, for an investigation into the death of human rights defender Cao Shunli...more

VENEZUELA SHOULD END REPRISALS FOR COOPERATING WITH THE IACHR

ISHR calls on Venezuela to stop intimidating and threatening defenders who expose rights abuses and seek justice through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights...more

Our work to strengthen human rights systems

US SHOULD PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AT THE UN

In an open letter to the US Secretary of State, 15 leading civil society organisations seek support for the International Dalit Solidarity Network to obtain special consultative status with the UN...more

UN DETENTION MONITORING BODY ADOPTS POLICY TO COMBAT REPRISALS

Following sustained advocacy by ISHR, the UN Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture has adopted a significant policy to combat intimidation and reprisals against those who provide information or contribute to its work...more

NAURU SHOULD LIFT THE VEIL OF SECRECY ON HUMAN RIGHTS

In a joint briefing paper on Nauru, ISHR and the Human Rights Law Centre call on the Government to protect journalists, strengthen judicial independence and enact specific legislation protecting human rights defenders...more

Rwanda should enact and reform laws to protect human rights defenders

Human rights defenders in Rwanda continue to face harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrest and unfair trials, whilst laws for the prevention of ethnic divisionism and hatred are abused to restrict freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, a new briefing paper by ISHR explains...more

IRELAND SHOULD CONSULT AND PROTECT DEFENDERS THROUGH NATIONAL ACTION PLAN ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

ISHR urges Ireland to consult with human rights defenders in developing the new national action plan on business and human rights and to ensure that the plan protects the vital work of defenders...more 

COLLECTIF DES FAMILLES DE DISPARUS EN ALGÉRIE: HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN ALGERIA SEEKING ECOSOC STATUS

The Collectif des familles de Disparus en Algérie (CFDA) continues to seek ECOSOC consultative status despite its initial application being made in 2009. ECOSOC consultative status is essential to the CFDA to ensure it can engage with the United Nations, and have open, constructive dialogue with States...more

opportunities for ngo engagement

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

An organisational meeting for the Council’s 29th session, where States announce planned initiatives for the session, will take place on 26 May at the Palais des Nations in Room XX.

The 29th regular session of the Council Session will be held on 15 June – 3 July in the Palais des Nations. Information and updates will be published here.

UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

The following States will be reviewed at the 22nd session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which will be held on 4 - 15 May: Belarus, Liberia, Malawi, Mongolia, Panama, Maldives, Andorra, Bulgaria, Honduras, United States of America, Marshall Islands, Croatia, Jamaica, Libya. Documentation surrounding each State under review can be found here.

The following States will be reviewed at the 24th session of the UPR which will be held in Jan/Feb 2016: Namibia, Niger, Mozambique, Estonia, Paraguay, Belgium, Denmark, Palau, Somalia, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Latvia, Sierra Leone, Singapore. The deadline for NGO submissions is 22 June (tentatively). Guidelines for submissions are found here. Information about the UPR mechanism can be found here.

SPECIAL PROCEDURES

The Annual Meeting of special rapporteurs, independent experts and chairpersons of the working groups of the special procedures will be held on 8 - 12 June.  Consultations with civil society will take place during this period. Information on consultations can be found here.

TREATY BODIES

The 26th session of the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture will be held on 15 - 19 June on the 1st Floor of Palais Wilson. Information about the Subcommittee’s work and the associated Optional Protocol can be found here.

The 54th session on the Committee against Torture will be held on 20 April – 15 May on the 1st Floor of Palais Wilson. Colombia, Congo, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Romania, Serbia, Spain and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will be reviewed. NGOs must submit information by 6 April. See here for more information.

The 114th session of the Human Rights Committee will be held on 29 June – 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.

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.

WORKING GROUPS 

The 72nd session of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will be held on 20 - 29 April in Room IX at the 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. Information on how to make written submissions is found here.

The 11th session of the Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises will be held on 4 - 8 May in Room XII at the Palais de Nations. Submissions can be made at all times to the Secretariat at: wg-business@ohchr.org. More information can be found here.

The 106th session of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances will be held on 6 - 15 May in Room XXVII at the Palais des Nations. The sessions are generals held in private and the Working Group will consider information brought to its attention since its previous session. Information on how to make written submissions is found here. More information can be found here.

OTHER

The 27th session of the Meeting of Chairpersons of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies will be held 22 - 26 June on the 1st Floor of Palais Wilson. Informal consultations with NGOs are a standard feature of the meeting. Submissions are also periodically accepted and NGOs are encouraged to contact the Secretariat for further information at: mc.icm@ohchr.org. Information surrounding past and upcoming meetings is published here.
 

Conferences and events

PANEL DISCUSSION ON RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION

The Australian Permanent Mission to the UN and ISHR are co-hosting a panel event entitled ‘Strengthening NGO participation and the right to freedom of association at the UN: current challenges and opportunities for reform.’ It will be held on Wednesday 22 April 2015, 10.45am-12.15pm at the Australian Permanent Mission. This event will also launch a new ISHR publication entitled: A Practical Guide to the UN Committee on NGOs.

Please note: This event is by invitation only and registration by 15 April is essential. To request an invitation, please email events.geneva@dfat.gov.au.

ISHR 2015 TRAINING FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Apply now for ISHR's next intensive training course for human rights defenders - taking place in June.

ADVANCED TRAINING ON MONITORING ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights is running an advanced training seminar in Geneva from 8 to 12 May 2015. It will provide in-depth knowledge and understanding to experienced human rights advocates, government representatives and UN staff on how to enhance their work on monitoring economic, social and cultural rights. For those requiring a visa, the application deadline is 17 April. For others, the deadline is 22 May.

ESSEX HUMAN RIGHTS SUMMER SCHOOL

The Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex will offer its five day summer school on Human Rights Research Methods from 19 June to 3 July 2015. 

LEITNER CENTRE SUMMER HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTE

The Leitner Centre runs its Summer Human Rights Institute from 20 to 31 July in New York City. The two-week certificate programme offers a comprehensive introduction to the theory and application of human rights law via subject lectures, workshops and fieldwork. Discounts are offered for Cycle 1 registration by 3 April and Cycle 2 by 29 May.

ADVANCED COURSE ON LAW, DEVELOPMENT AND HUMAN RIGHTS

The Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University, Finland, is running a one-week intensive course providing participants with specialist-level knowledge in the field of human rights and development. The programme runs 17-21 August 2015. The application deadline is 3 May.

Special Procedures Country Visits

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
SUDAN
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
18 – 28 May
JAPAN
Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
1 – 10 September
For more information, please visit our website: www.ishr.ch or contact us: information@ishr.ch