COUNCIL MONITOR - 8 - 12 September 2014
COUNCIL MONITOR
8 - 12 September 2014

Side event: 
civil society space and reprisals

National and international developments and next steps

Friday, 19 September 
9.15 to 10.45am
Palais des Nations, Room XXIV

OPINION

it's time to tacklE reprisals

Malcolm Evans, Chair of the Meeting of Chairpersons of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies

During their meeting in June this year, the Chairs of the human rights treaty bodies shared their concern at instances of reprisals against those whose assist the treaty bodies in their work. 

It is now high time that the human rights treaty bodies, and the UN human rights system as a whole, develop a coordinated and coherent approach to the vital issue of intimidation and reprisals... more

LGBT rights

new report demonstrates urgent need for Council action
 
A new compilation of cases of human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people shows the Human Rights Council must act to address violence and discrimination.... more

ISHR ADVOCACY

DO NOT LET 'TRADITIONAL VALUES' UNDERMINE UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS

‘States must not make selective appeals to, or manipulate, tradition, culture or religion to undermine universal human right standards,' panelists have said at an event on the sidelines of the Council's 27th session... more

event focuses on the human rights emergency in egypt

In the context of a deteriorating human rights situation and repression of civil society in Egypt, combined with lack of accountability and impunity for past gross human rights violations, ISHR was pleased to co-sponsor a side-event on the need for the UN Human Rights Council to act on this ‘emergency’... more


CONCERNING INCREASE IN ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Far from being a 'crime of the past', enforced disappearances are being perpetrated at alarming levels against human rights defenders, while lawyers, advocates and journalists who work to expose and seek accountability for such disappearances are themselves subject to worsening intimidation and attack, ISHR has told the Human Rights Council... more

HIGH COMMISSIONER MUST PROACTIVELY ENGAGE WITH AND PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

The new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, should be open and proactive in his engagement with human rights defenders and civil society actors, has said ISHR. 'It is critical that Mr Zeid prioritise his engagement with human rights defenders, and strengthen national and international measures for their protection,’
said Michael Ineichen, Human Rights Council Advocacy Director at ISHR.... more

End impunity for attacks against journalists

The UN Human Rights Council should pass a strong resolution to condemn threats, attacks and restrictions against journalists and media workers, and ensure that States take effective action to protect and investigate and prosecute attacks against them, ISHR has said. The Council is set to consider a resolution on 'the safety of journalists' at its current session in Geneva, which will have as its primary focus the need to tackle impunity for attacks against media workers... more

Key developments

High Commissioner calls for safety and access to the UN for civil society

In his inaugural address to the Council, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasised the role of human rights defenders, and called for action to guarantee access for civil society actors to UN mechanisms and to tackle the issue of reprisals… more

Special Procedures express concern for reprisals against prosecutors and human rights defenders 
 
The Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, was deeply concerned by reports of reprisals, which seriously undermine the independence and impartiality of the prosecutorial processes. The Rapporteur also explained in his report that States in the aftermath of gross human rights violations should design prioritisation strategies, and should give a central role to victims by enabling them to participate in the shaping and initiation of procedures, and also in the collection of evidence.
 
During the same Interactive Dialogue, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had the chance to express its concern about reprisals against those who work on this issue. The delegation of Norway emphasised the high number of human rights activists arbitrarily detained, and demanded that States stop using this as a means to silence protests.

 
Panel on the right to privacy in the digital age

Digital domestic and extraterritorial surveillance, interception of digital communications and the collection of personal data by State and non-State actors represents a threat to individuals’ right to privacy, freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of assembly, right to intimacy, health, and family life.

In response to such concerns, a Human Rights Council panel of the right to privacy in the digital age took place on Friday 12 September. What emerged in the discussion is that the existence of international law protecting the right to privacy is not enough to prevent State and non-State actors from abusing their ability to access personal information.

Deputy High Commissioner Flavia Pansieri noted that ‘Practises in many States reveal a sometimes deliberate lack of adequate national legislation’. Many participants underlined the necessity of creating effective oversight mechanisms, especially in cases of extraterritorial information sharing. As Carly Nyst, legal director at Privacy International pointed out ‘any information that is shared between countries/agencies should be subject to the same amount of oversight as that which is collected’.
 
Among the victims of the threats posed by digital surveillance and data collection are activists, bloggers, journalists and human rights defenders. ‘Sometimes’, Andrew Smith of Article 19 underlined, ‘integrity of communications can mean the difference between incarceration and freedom’. 

 
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next on the agenda

INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE WITH SYRIAN COMMISSION OF INQUIRY

As the High Commissioner underlined in his opening statement on 8 September, the latest report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria ‘brings fresh evidence that this ancient civilisation has devolved into a slaughterhouse, where children are tortured in front of their parents or executed in public, amid wanton killing and destruction’. 

In the report, based on 480 interviews and evidence collected between January and July 2014, the Commission reports that both government and non-state armed groups have continued to ‘perpetrate massacres and conduct widespread attacks on civilians, systematically committing murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearance amounting to crimes against humanity’. The report reiterates the previous recommendations, once again underlining the need to fight impunity through a referral to the International Criminal Court.

The full content of the report will be under discussion at the Interactive Dialogue, which will take place on Tuesday September 16 at the Human Rights Council. In view of that, the Syrian representative has not failed, already, to criticise the work of the Commission, accusing it of being ‘politicised’ and operating on the basis of ‘exaggerations of the accusations against the Syrian government’, while neglecting the ‘true reasons of the crisis’. 

COUNCIL TO ADOPT UPR OUTCOMES, STATES INCLUDE COTE D’IVOIRE, ETHIOPIA, DRC AND DPRK
 
At the end of this week the Council will consider and adopt the outcomes on 14 countries reviewed by the UPR Working Group during its 19th session, including the report of the Democratic Republic of Korea.
 
ISHR will be following the adoptions of Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia with particular scrutiny, having formally submitted briefing papers on the risks faced by human rights defenders in those States.
 
At the Working Group stage Cote d’Ivoire promised to swiftly adopt its proposed Law on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and guarantee its immediate implementation, whilst Ethiopia agreed to take further measures to ensure the safety and freedom of defenders.
 
DPRK still refuses to cooperate with the UN’s human rights mechanisms and, in its first UPR cycle, declined to inform the Council which recommendations enjoyed its support, instead providing its responses a few days before its second UPR.

ANNUAL DISCUSSION ON INTEGRATION OF A GENDER PERSPECTIVE
15 September, 15h00 - 18h00
 
Human Rights Council Resolution 6/30 entitled, 'Integrating the human rights of women throughout the United Nations system' decided to incorporate into its programme of work an annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout its work and mechanisms, including the evaluation of progress made and challenges experienced. 

This year, the panel discussion will focus on the integration of a gender perspective into the country-focused work of the Human Rights Council, including its country-specific Special Procedures, the establishment and reports of Commissions of Inquiries and Fact-Finding Missions.
 
PANEL DISCUSSION ON THE PROTECTION OF THE FAMILY AND ITS MEMBERS
15 September, 09h00 - 12h00

 
Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/26/11 decided to convene a panel discussion on the protection of the family and its members.

The discussion should aim to explore the correlation between strengthened support for the family and promoting and protecting human rights in areas such as poverty eradication, eradication of violence against women, protecting the rights of the child, protection and promotion of human rights of all family members including women, older persons, and persons with disability, and improving access to right to education.

 

UPCOMING SIDE EVENTS

protecting civil society space and preventing reprisals: national and international developments and next steps
Friday 19 September, 9h15, room 24

Ending impunity for attacks on journalists
Wednesday 17 September, 13h30, room 21

Preventing religious violence in India: Prospects and challenges after the 2014 elections
Tuesday 16 September, 12h00, room 21

All events take place in the Palais des Nations, Geneva


 

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.