The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) will open its 56th Ordinary Session on April 21, 2015 in Banjul, the Gambia. During this session, which continues through May 7, the Commission’s agenda includes discussion of the human rights situation in Africa, consideration of State reports, and hearing activity reports from members of the Commission and its special mechanisms. This 56th Ordinary Session was originally scheduled for October 2014 but was postponed twice due to the Ebola pandemic. [ACDHRS: September; ACDHRS: November]
Category Archives: civil society
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is holding its 59th session from March 9 to 20 in New York. During this session, representatives of United Nations Member States, civil society organizations, and United Nations bodies will gather to discuss issues affecting women and the measures necessary to empower them. In this vein, they will be assessing the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BDPfA), which was adopted 20 years ago and “is considered the most progressive plan for achieving gender equality.” [OHCHR] There are 8,600 representatives and 1,100 non-governmental organizations registered to participate in this year’s session, and 166 States have submitted national reviews evaluating the progress they have made toward achieving gender equality. [UN Women]
The CSW will also present its future organization and working methods, and adopt a political declaration commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, where the BDPfA was adopted.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is holding its 154th regular session from March 13 to 27, 2015 at IACHR headquarters in Washington, D.C. The agenda includes public hearings on March 16, 17, 19 and 20. [IACHR Press Release] The hearings allow both States and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide the IACHR with information and context on 55 human rights issues, ranging from trafficking of women and children in Guatemala, to the rights of LGBTI persons in Venezuela, to the impact of the media on children’s rights in the Americas. Live webcasts of the hearings and video recordings of past hearings are available on the Commission’s website.
The United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) is holding its 8th session from February 2nd to 13th in Geneva, Switzerland. The CED is reviewing the State reports from Armenia, Mexico, and Serbia regarding their implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (Convention). During this session, the CED engaged in a constructive dialogue with each State based on the government’s national report and responses to the list of issues the CED has asked the State to address; the Committee also took into account any supplementary reports from civil society organizations and national human rights institutions (NHRIs).
It will adopt its concluding observations on these three States’ implementation of the Convention prior to closing the session. [OHCHR Press Release] The CED will also adopt lists of issues for Iraq and Montenegro, based on its internal discussion and input received from civil society and NHRIs. The documents pertaining to each State may be found on the CED’s 8th session webpage. The session agenda also includes consideration of requests for urgent actions and individual complaints. To watch a live webcast or video of the CED’s constructive dialogue with each State, visit UN Treaty Body Webcast. Read more
On January 30, 2015, the United Nations Human Rights Council Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the Draft United Nations Declaration on the Right to Peace held informal consultations with non-governmental organizations and Member States in preparation for the third session of the Working Group, which is scheduled for April 20 to 24, 2015. [Human Rights Centre of the University of Padua] The Working Group is tasked with developing a non-binding statement reflecting the international community’s consensus regarding the right to peace and outlining States’ obligations with regard to this right. Read more
For the first time in its eight-year tenure, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court) has directly considered the right to freedom of expression, and the validity of legislation that criminalizes defamation. The case, Lohé Issa Konaté v. Burkina Faso, involved a journalist’s conviction, imprisonment, and substantial fine in connection with his reporting. [AfCHPR Press Release] In its decision, the African Court unanimously found that Burkina Faso violated Article 9 (freedom of expression) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), Article 19 (freedom of expression) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and Article 66(2) (the press) of the Revised Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States (Revised ECOWAS Treaty) by imposing a sentence that was disproportionate to the purpose of the State’s national laws. AfCHPR, Lohé Issa Konaté v. Burkina Faso, App. No. 004/2013, Judgment of 5 December 2014. Read more
The human rights records of 14 States are under review during the 21st session of the Human Rights Council’s (HRC) Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, being held in Geneva, Switzerland from January 19 to January 30, 2015. [OHCHR Press Release] Through this peer review process, United Nations Member States review one another’s overall human rights record every four and a half years, with input from civil society and UN human rights bodies.
Representatives from Kyrgyzstan, Kiribati, Guinea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Spain, Lesotho, Kenya, Armenia, Guinea-Bissau, Sweden, Grenada, Turkey, Guyana and Kuwait are before the Working Group presenting challenges and successes in fulfilling their human rights obligations, with a focus on efforts to implement recommendations presented to them at their first UPR cycle. [OHCHR Press Release]
The reports providing the basis for current review, as well as the timetable for the reviews, are available through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). A live webcast and archived videos of each country’s review are available through UN Web TV and UPR-Info. Read more
In response to the disappearance of 43 student protesters in the Mexican state of Guerrero, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has signed a tripartite agreement with the government of Mexico and a group of nongovernmental organizations representing the student victims and their families to provide technical assistance with the search for the students, the investigation and subsequent actions regarding their disappearance, and support for the families of the victims. [IACHR: Official Agreement] The students have been missing since September 26 after a shooting incident with police that left six people dead and 17 injured. Although the students are believed to be dead, their whereabouts are yet to be discovered, fueling complaints of gang-related violence, impunity, and State corruption in the country. [Al Jazeera: Protests rage]
IACHR Chair, Tracy Robinson, stated:
For the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights this historic agreement is of fundamental importance in the sense that it represents a key opportunity to advance in solving a structural issue that Mexico has been experi[enc]ing for years: forced disappearances … The main objective is to solve the underlying structural problems to these disappearances, not only the cases involving the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, but other cases, which unfortunately are many.
From November 24 to December 5, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights will hold its 35th Ordinary Session. The session will feature two public hearings in the cases of African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights v. Kenya, concerning indigenous rights, and Thomas v. Tanzania, regarding the right to fair trial and due process. The first case will be heard on November 27 and 28, and the second will be heard on December 4 and 5. [AfCHPR Press Release]
The session will be held at the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The public is welcome to attend the hearings, which will take place at the Nelson Mandela Conference Hall. Each person wishing to attend must send his or her name to one of the following individuals before November 24: Mrs. Eliane Adote Berthe at Eliane.Egue@african-court.org, Mrs. Ingrid Kanyamuneza at Ingrid.Kanyamuenza@african-court.org, or Mrs. Netsanet Haile at firstname.lastname@example.org. [AfCHPR Press Release] Video of the hearings may be available on the African Court’s Livestream channel. Read more
Last week, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights handed down its judgment in Case of Human Rights Defender et al. v. Guatemala, concerning the State’s failure to adequately investigate and address the 2004 killing of human rights defender Florentín Gudiel Ramos. See I/A Court H.R., Case of Human Rights Defender et al. v. Guatemala. Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of August 28, 2014. Series C No. 283, para. 288 (Spanish only).
The Court held Guatemala internationally responsible for violations of the rights to: humane treatment, freedom of movement and residence, participate in government (as applied to Mr. Gudiel’s daughter), judicial protection, judicial guarantees, and the rights of the child (with regard to the children in the family), as set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights. See id. at para. 288. The Court held, by three votes to two, that the petitioners did not sufficiently establish violations of Mr. Gudiel’s right to life or right to participate in government. See id. at paras. 144, 149, 189. Human rights defenders in Guatemala continue to face threats and violence, in a prevailing climate of impunity. See generally, Front Line Defenders, Guatemala. Read more