Category Archives: civil society

New Clips – December 31, 2016

UN Security Council adopts resolution on Israeli settlements
Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Civil Society

  • In Argentina this week, human rights advocate Milagro Sala, and other members of the organization Tupac Amaru, were sentenced to 2-3 years probation, or suspended prison, for “aggravated damage” after participating in a protest. [Telesur]
  • A United Nations agency condemned the murder of journalist, Larry Que, of the Phillippines, and called for an investigation into the death as a means of ensuring the safety of other journalists, and protecting freedom of information. [UN News Centre]
  • Bahrain released and re-imprisoned activist Nabeel Rajab for comments he made on social media about the war in Yemen and acts of torture allegedly taking place in prisons. [Guardian]
  • On Monday in Egypt, a new media law that establishes a body with the power to revoke licenses, fine, or suspend publications, broadcasters, and foreign media, was passed and signed into law, heightening concerns over the freedom of press in the region. [Al Jazeera]
  • In Bangladesh, workers in the garment factories protested job loss and workers pay. [Guardian]
  • In the wake of recent civil society suppression in Ecuador, UN Special Rapporteurs have offered technical assistance to the government to address problematic legislation, and called for a stop to the dissolution of environmental and indigenous rights groups. [OHCHR Press Release]

Migrants & Refugees

  • This week, 36 child asylum seekers who had been living in the informal Calais refugee camp in France initiated individual legal action against the United Kingdom for allegedly failing to process their asylum applications in a timely and appropriate manner. [Guardian]
  • In Germany, 20,000 more migrants and refugees have chosen to leave the country in 2016 than in 2015, as Germany’s immigration policies become more restrictive. [Al Jazeera]

Armed Conflict, Violence, & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Thursday, the Syrian Army announced the implementation of a cease-fire between government and rebel forces in much of Syria through a deal between Russia, Syria, Iran, and Turkey; the agreement did not include “terrorist organizations.”. [Washington Post]
  • This week, the Colombian Congress approved a revised peace deal that provides amnesty to thousands of FARC and army members accused of minor crimes. [BBC]
  • A second phase of an Iraqi operation intended to reclaim Mosul began on Thursday. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported air strikes in eastern Syria, which were said to have killed 22 civilians, including 10 children. [Al Jazeera]


  • For the first time in Spain, an anti-pollution measure in Madrid will ban the use of about half of the private cars on roadways on Thursday between 6:30 AM-9:00 PM, with some exceptions, in an attempt to aid public health. [Guardian]
  • In Bangladesh this week, experts emphasized the water crisis imminent in the region due to water wastage, pollution, declining groundwater, and increased salinity. [Inter Press Service]


  • The United States Secretary of State reiterated the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict following a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement building; the U.S. had abstained from that vote, opening a rift in U.S.-Israeli relations. [Guardian]
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May reportedly intends to campaign on a promise to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, an obligatory and binding human rights instrument for all European Union Member States, which gives the European Court of Human Rights jurisdiction over complaints against the United Kingdom. [Rights Info]
  • On Thursday, in response to alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, the Obama administration moved to shut down Russian compounds in the U.S. and declare 35 Russians “persona non grata.” [Washington Post]
  • On Friday in Turkey, a parliamentary commission approved a draft of a constitutional amendment that would give the president and vice president complete executive powers, the amendment will go to a referendum most likely in the spring. [Al Jazeera]
  • This week, the UN Secretary General praised the newly inaugurated parliament of Somalia and encouraged it to fill empty seats (particularly with women), establish a permanent constitution, and improve its credibility. [UN News Centre]

African Court: Côte d’Ivoire’s Partisan Electoral Body Violated International Norms

The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights in session in May 2016Credit: AfCHPR

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in session in May 2016
Credit: AfCHPR

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) has issued a new judgment, holding that Côte d’Ivoire violated various human rights obligations in establishing a partisan election monitoring body ahead of the 2015 national elections, the first held since Alassane Ouattara succeeded Laurent Gbagbo in the presidency following an end to the country’s civil war. See AfCHPR, Actions Pour la Protection des Droits de l’Homme v. the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, App. No. 001/2014, Judgment of 18 November 2016, para. 153. Gbagbo is currently facing trial at the International Criminal Court on crimes against humanity charges related to violence following his defeat in the 2010 election. In its November 18, 2016 judgment, the African Court held that Côte d’Ivoire’s electoral body lacked the necessary independence and impartiality, thereby violating citizens’ rights to political participation and equal protection, because the body was composed of eight representatives of the ruling party and only four representatives of the political opposition and made decisions by simple majority. See id. at paras. 130-31. The Court ordered the State to amend the relevant law to comply with its international obligations. See id. at para. 153.

This is the first time the Court has found violations of certain provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, which the Court determined are “human rights instruments” within its material jurisdiction. See id. at paras. 47-65. The Court has previously found a violation of the right to participate in government where independent candidates were effectively prevented from running for office. [IJRC] Read more

UN Experts Warn Against Egypt’s Suppression of Civil Society

UN Special Rapporteur Maina KiaiCredit: Guyinnairobi photos via Wikimedia Commons

UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai
Credit: Guyinnairobi photos via Wikimedia Commons

United Nations human rights experts have recently denounced the suppression of the work of human rights defenders and civil society organizations in Egypt through the use of travel bans and restrictions on foreign funding for non-governmental organizations. In the last year, UN experts warn, Egypt has prevented human rights defenders from leaving the country and drafted a bill to limit civil society organizations’ ability to operate independently. [OHCHR Press Release: Defenders; OHCHR Press Release: Association]

The bill, which was approved by the State Council on November 28, is expected to arrive soon on the desk of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who will decide whether or not to sign it into law. The bill requires that an organization apply for permission to receive foreign funding; keep all work aligned with “the state’s plan, development needs and priorities;” and refrain from certain conduct, such as work “of a political nature.” [Human Rights Watch: Bill] The Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders and on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association have condemned Egypt’s recent actions, stating that the country is likely in violation of its international human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. [OHCHR Press Release: Defenders; OHCHR Press Release: Association] Read more

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