Human Rights Monitor - September 2015
HUMAN RIGHTS MONITOR
September 2015

Council alert


What to look out for and how to prepare

Alert for the 30th session of the Human Rights Council this September... more
 
OPINION
Defenders of economic, social and cultural rights should not be 'second class'

By Miloon Kothari, President of UPR Info and former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing 


The work of defenders protecting economic, social and cultural rights is critically important and threats faced as a consequence of this work are cross-cutting. But a dangerous imbalance is emerging as the UN and international community focus concerns on the protection of defenders of civil and political rights... more

human rights defender profile

SORAYA AZIZ SOULEYMANEBUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER FROM THE DRC
 
Soraya Aziz Souleymane, Deputy Field Office Director of The Carter Center’s Mining Governance Program in the Democratic Republic of Congo, speaks to ISHR about her role as part of the new generation of young activists and NGO workers dedicated to seeing their country reach its potential... more

our work to support human rights defenders

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: STATES SHOULD ACT TO END ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES OF ESC RIGHTS DEFENDERS
 
Human rights defenders advocating in relation to land-grabbing, corporate accountability, indigenous rights, labour rights, and other economic, social and cultural rights issues are at increased risk of enforced disappearance, according to a new UN report... more

CHINA: FREE THE LAWYERS/解放律师
 
ISHR calls on the UN human rights mechanisms to pay heightened attention to political cases of detention and disappearance in China as the Government continues to crackdown on defenders... more

KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

BAHRAIN: STOP JUDICIAL HARASSMENT AGAINST ACTIVISTS

FIDH calls on the Bahraini authorities to stop harassing and restricting the freedom of association of defenders, including Maytham Al Salman. Al Salman, known for promoting freedom of expression and association, was arrested when returning from a UN conference on hate speech... more

SUDAN: STOP arbitrary detention of OPPOSITION VOICES

Human Rights Watch called on the Sudanese Government to stop detaining members of the opposition party, following the arrest and interrogation of at least 17 people affiliated with the Sudanese Congress Party in August... more

DEFENDER CONVICTED FOR OVER FIVE YEARS IN AZERBAIJANI PRISON

Front Line Defenders condemns the Supreme Court’s decision to sentence Anar Mammadli, chairman of the Baku-based Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre, to five-and-a-half years in prison in connection with his legitimate human rights work as an election monitor... more

KAZAKHSTANI HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER ARBITRARILY ARRESTED

Front Line Defenders expressed concern over the arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights lawyer, Ermek Narymbaev, known for his involvement in exposing financial fraud in Kazakhstan. Mr Narymbaev was arrested for demonstrations that never took place... more

PEACEFUL PROTESTORS FACE AGGRESSION IN LEBANON

On August 22 in Beirut, protestors calling for a ‘sustainable solution to Lebanon’s waste disposal problem’ were subject to disproportionate violence from security forces... more

BANGLADESH: TWO JOURNALISTS IN PRISON

FIDH calls on Bangladeshi authorities to immediately cease harassment of journalists, including Probir Sikdar and Shaukat Mahmud who were arbitrarily arrested in connection with articles critical of the Government... more

SYRIA FINALLY RELEASES PROMINENT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER

Following more than three years in prison and being subject to acts of torture, prominent Syrian human rights defender, Mazen Darwish director of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, has been released... more

OPPORTUNITIES FOR NGO ENGAGEMENT

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
The 30th regular session of the Council will be held from 14 September to 2 October at Palais des Nations. Information and updates will be published here.

The Council will consider the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of 15 States, including Honduras, Jamaica, Liberia, Libya, the Maldives and the United States of America, among others.

ISHR prepared briefing papers on the situation of human rights defenders in these countries to assist States and other stakeholders to formulate questions and recommendations for the reviews:
  • briefing paper on Honduras: the Government should refrain from criminalising the legitimate activities of human rights defenders
  • briefing paper on Jamaica: the Government should make necessary legislative changes to legalise the defence of the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex population
  • briefing paper on Liberia: the Government should repeal outdated defamation and libel laws and develop and enact specific laws and policies to recognise and protect the work of human rights defenders
  • briefing paper on Libya: the Government should reform restrictive laws on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, which unduly limit the rights and activities of journalists
  • briefing paper on the Maldives: the Government should stop threatening journalists, and investigate all threats and intimidation against them;
  • briefing paper on the United States: the Government should reform national security legislation to guarantee respect for civil liberties.

BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

The UN Forum on Business and Human Rights will be held from on 16 to 18 November. The draft programme outline can be accessed here. More information is available here. Registration is now open.


UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

The 23rd UPR session will take place from 2 to 13 November 2015. The following States will be reviewed (with those in relation to which ISHR has prepared a briefing paper in bold and hyperlinked): Micronesia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nauru, Rwanda, Nepal, Saint Lucia, Oman, Austria, Myanmar, Australia, Georgia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Sao Tome and Principe.

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. Submissions are due by 21 September (tentative).

Information about the UPR mechanism can be found here.

TREATY BODIES

The 115th session of the Human Rights Committee will be held from 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.

The 56th session of the Committee Against Torture will be held from 9 November to 9 December. The Committee will consider the following State reports: Austria, Azerbaijan, China, China (Hong Kong), China (Macau), Denmark, Jordan, Liechtenstein. The Committee will also consider the lists of for: France, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia. The Committee will also consider the list of issues prior to reporting for: Ghana, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, and Portugal. More information is available here.

The OPCAT Special Fund accepts project applications regarding recommendations made by the Sub-Committee on prevention of Torture due by 16 October.

The 9th session of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances will take place from 7 to 18 September. The Committee will consider the reports of Iraq and Montenegro and lists of issues for Kazakhstan, Burkina Faso and Tunisia. The programme of work is available here.

The 56th session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will be held from 21 September to 9 October. The Committee will analyse the following State reports: Burundi, Greece, Guyana, Iraq, Italy, Morocco and Sudan. The programme of work can be found here and the accreditation form here.

The 56th Pre-sessional Working Group will be held from 12 to 16 October, in which the following State reports will be considered: Angola, Burkina Faso, Honduras, Kenya, Namibia, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. NGOs submissions for each will be accepted until 3 weeks before the 56th session and the Pre-sessional Working Group respectively.

The 62nd session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will take place from 26 October to 20 November. The reports of the following States parties are scheduled to be considered: Lebanon, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Timor-Leste, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. The Provisional Agenda can be accessed here and the Programme of Work here.

The 88th session of the Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination will take place from 23 November to 11 December 2015. The Committee will analyse the following State reports: Egypt, Holy See, Lithuania, Mongolia, Slovenia and Turkey. More information and the information note for NGOs are now available.

Treaty body webcastIf 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 12th session of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises will be held from 18 September to 2 October.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will hold its 73rd Session from 31 August to 4 September. The Working Group acts on information submitted to its attention regarding alleged cases of arbitrary detention.

CASE NOTES ON DECISIONS FROM INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES - MERITS DECISIONS

Sudalenko v. Belarus (1992/2010)

The Human Rights Committee found that Belarus was under obligation to provide a candidate for the opposition in the 2007 Gomel Region Council elections with an effective remedy for repeatedly violating his right to peaceful assembly and right to be elected in a public office... more 
 
Khadzhiev v. Turkmenistan (2079/2011)
 
The Human Rights Committee found Turkmenistan in breach of the the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for ill-treatment of political activists in detention... more

our work to strengthen laws and systems

International

SUDAN: HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MUST NOT LET IMPUNITY PREVAIL

The UN Human Rights Council must not allow impunity for gross human rights violations and further deterioration in the human rights situation in Sudan to continue, a coalition of NGOs including ISHR said in an open letter... more

LATIN AMERICA: WAR ON DRUGS SHOULD NOT INDUCE WAR ON DEFENDERS  

ISHR calls on States to consult human rights defenders when developing laws and policies to tackle organised crime and drugs problems, and to sanction authorities who defame activists through smear campaigns... more

LAW SHOULD HELP NOT HINDER DEFENCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN KAZAKHSTAN

ISHR urges the Human Rights Committee to call on Kazakhstan to lift overbearing State legislation and other limitations that severely restrict freedom of expression and assembly, human rights monitoring and advancement... more
 
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE: DEMAND GUATEMALA PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS

Guatemala must be called on to tackle violent attacks, repression and impunity for violations against corporate accountability activists, ISHR told the Human Rights Committee... more
 
CAMBODIA: DETERIORATING SITUATION NEEDS STRONG COUNCIL ACTION, SAY NGOS

ISHR calls on the Human Rights Council to continue its attention on Cambodia in light of a worsening crackdown on civil society and backsliding on democratic progress... more

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS MUST BE AT CORE OF TREATY PROCESS AND OUTCOMES

States must do more to ensure NGO and defender participation in the intergovernmental working group on a legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises, particularly given that defenders working on violations related to business are some of the most at-risk in the world... more

CHINA: JOINT NGO LETTER CALLS ON STATES TO SPEAK OUT AT THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

The opening day of the Council will mark the two year anniversary of Cao Shunli’s disappearance from Beijing Airport, en route to Geneva. In light of China’s continued crackdown on defenders, the international community must call on China to ensure failures to meet its human rights obligations are promptly addressed, says ISHR... more
National
 
NGOS CALL ON CÔTE D’IVOIRE TO STRENGTHEN ITS FOREIGN POLICY ON HUMAN RIGHTS

An NGO advocacy mission to Côte d’Ivoire, a current candidate for a second consecutive term as member of the UN Human Rights Council, encouraged the Government to strengthen and advance human rights through its foreign policy... more

IS THE U.S. GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS?
The U.S. National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct provides an opportunity for the country to adopt meaningful initiatives to protect the role of defenders and civil society in ensuring corporate accountability... more

HONDURAN GOVERNMENT AGREES TO CONSULT ACTIVISTS IN IMPLEMENTATION OF LAW

Fears the Honduran Government would pass critical regulations on the protection of activists and journalists without input by civil society may have eased, following decisive action by civil society... more
 
MEXICAN LAW IS FAILING TO PROTECT ACTIVISTS AND JOURNALISTS

A damning new report shows that three years since a protection law was created in Mexico, there has been no improvement in the protection of activists and journalists. The Mexican Government needs to pursue the law’s proper and effective implementation... more

CONFERENCES AND EVENTS

ISHR side event on national laws and policies
Tuesday, 15 September 2015
3.30pm - 5:00pm
Palais des Nations, Room XXI, Geneva
Event details here
 
ISHR side event on HUMAN RIGHTS IN MEXICO
Tuesday, 29 September 2015
3.30pm - 5.30pm
Palais des Nations, Room XXII, Geneva
Event details here
 
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 organizations. The event will take place on 6 October at 6.00pm, at Uni-Dufour, Geneva...more
 

GENEVA PEACE TALKS 2015

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 18 September, from 4.30 to 6pm in Room XIX, Palais des Nations. Registration opened on 17 August... more

New Resources

Submission on the world drug problem and  defenders' rights in Latin America

A submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights co-written by ISHR and Peace Brigades International Mexico, demonstrates that changes must be made to drugs policy and human rights defender protection policy to adequately protect defenders. The report focuses on the situation in Mexico and includes specific examples from Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras, as well as general conclusions taken from ISHR’s Latin America consultations... more
 
SUBMISSION TO THE U.S. ON  ITS BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS NATIONAL ACTION PLAN 

Getting Down to Business: Using the NAP to Support Human Rights Defenders and Advance Corporate Accountability is an ISHR submission to the United States Government on the development of a National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct (NAP). The paper details how the NAP can advance protection and empowerment of human rights defenders working on business and human rights, with recommendations on process and substance.
 
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE: PAPERS ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS  

ISHR and the International Platform against Impunity launched a briefing paper on the situation of human rights defenders in Guatemala. ISHR also launched a briefing paper on the situation of human rights defenders in Kazakhstan. The Human Rights Committee will consider the briefing papers in developing a list of questions to be posed to the countries at their next review by the Committee. The reviews aim to assess progress towards compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The briefing paper on Guatemala includes findings and recommendations from consultations with defenders in Guatemala, undertaken by ISHR earlier this year.
 
HOW TO FOLLOW UP UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS RECOMMENDATIONS  

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued a practical guide on How to follow up United Nations Human Rights Recommendations. The guide is also available in Chinese, Arabic, French, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Finnish, and Georgian.
 
PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS  

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a guide Protecting your rights, explaining how the Treaty Bodies work. The guide is available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.
 
VIDEO ON RISKS FACING HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN LATIN AMERICA

Peace Brigades International has produced a new documentary video that exposes the risks facing human rights defenders in the context of housing and land rights in Latin America.
 
BALKANS: IMPUNITY IN THE CONTEXT OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has issued Combating Impunity for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Progress and Challenges (2004-2014) report, which analyses the effectiveness of criminal proceedings before these countries’ courts.
 
CRIMES COMMITTED WITHIN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO  

The Accountability Landscape in Eastern DRC’ was recently published by the International Center for Transitional Justice. The report analyses the response of Congolese judicial authorities to international crimes committed in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 2009 to 2014. It points out that several atrocities committed remain without investigation and prosecution.
 
SOUTH SUDAN: REPORT ON THE HARM CAUSED DURING ARMED CONFLICTS  

Human Rights Watch has published ‘They Burned it All: Destruction of Villages, Killings, and Sexual Violence in Unity State South Sudan’. The report is based on interviews with survivors and witnesses of attacks by government troops or allied militia. 

country visits by special procedures

HUNGARY
Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice
1 - 12 September
JAPAN
Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
2 - 8 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 
12 - 16 October
TURKEy
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
16 - 20 November
United States
Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice

30 November - 11 December
Republic of korea
Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
18 – 28 January 2016
Find more information on these visits here. To find out how you can support the visits, please contact respective mandate-holders via their email address, as listed in the directory
For more information, please visit our website: www.ishr.ch or contact us: information@ishr.ch