Category Archives: civil society

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 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 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

News Clips- November 25, 2016

United Nations Official Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women:  ÒOrange the World:  Raise Money to end Violence against WomenÓ
United Nations Official Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women: ÒOrange the World: Raise Money to end Violence against WomenÓ

The United Nations Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 21, 2016
Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Civil Society

  • Following protests over the weekend and statements from the United Nations, Turkey withdrew a bill that would have granted amnesty to some perpetrators of child sexual assault. [Guardian]
  • Thousands of protesters in Malaysia demonstrated against the prime minister, resulting in 15 arrests. [Washington Post]
  • Authorities have started using tear gas and water cannons against refugee protesters in Bulgaria. [Al Jazeera]
  • The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders said this week that travel bans on human rights defenders in Egypt are politically motivated. [OHCHR Press Release]
  • Chinese authorities have ordered all residents of Xinjiang, the northwest province of the country that is home to millions of the Uighur minority, to turn in their passports. [Al Jazeera]
  • The UN Human Rights Committee found that Sri Lanka unlawfully detained and tortured a Canadian citizen and that the State is obligated to pay him compensation. [Jurist]
  • Protesters continued to demonstrate in the United States against the construction of a pipeline through land sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. [Washington Post]

Freedom of Expression

LGBTIQ Rights

Women’s Rights

International Criminal Law

  • The United States extradited Azra Basic to Bosnia where she is wanted for war crimes. [NY Times]
  • Two men suspected of genocide were charged before a Rwandan court this week for genocide, among other charges. [New Times]
  • Following the decisions of Gambia, South Africa, and Burundi to leave the International Criminal Court, the ICC’s prosecutor called the decisions to leave “a regression for the continent.” [Washington Post]

UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

Malcolm Evans, Chair of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, addresses a press conference on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe
Malcolm Evans, Chair of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, addresses a press conference on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

Malcolm Evans, Chair of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, addresses a press conference on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

The Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) will host a conference celebrating its 10-year anniversary on Thursday November 17, 2016 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Geneva, Switzerland. See OHCHR, 10th Anniversary of OPCAT. At the conference, stakeholders are set to discuss the SPT’s added value and examples of best practices leading to achievements in the prevention of torture, as well as challenges and the strategies for moving beyond them. See OHCHR, 10th Anniversary of OPCAT. As a United Nations human rights treaty body with a unique mandate and working methods, the SPT has demonstrated the benefits and challenges of a collaborative and advisory relationship with States in its first decade. A live webcast of the event will be available during the conference, and speeches will be available online later.

In this news post, SPT member (and IJRC Board of Directors member) Victor Madrigal-Borloz shares his reflections on the role of the SPT in the prevention of torture. These reflections are included in the discussion of the SPT’s work, and cover topics concerning the triangular relationship between the SPT, National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs), and States parties; the development of the SPT doctrine around the prevention of torture, particularly for those most vulnerable; and the important role of a civil society that faces risks of a shrinking space. Read more

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