Category Archives: civil society

News Clips- August 11, 2017

The United Nations Security Council adopts increased sanctions against North Korea
Credit: UN Photo/Kim Haughton

Civil Society

  • In Kenya, five people have been killed since Raila Odinga, an opposition leader, declared the recent presidential election fraudulent. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Thursday, authorities in Turkey issued 35 detention warrants for journalists and other individuals connected to Fethullah Gulen, who has been accused of involvement in the attempted coup last year. [Washington Post]
  • On Sunday, Russia passed a law with increased restrictions on virtual private networks (VPNs), reducing user anonymity. [Guardian]

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch reported that Israel’s transfer of Palestinians in Jerusalem out of their homes may amount to war crimes. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council linked conflict to “devastating humanitarian consequences,” like threats of famine, in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria. [Washington Post]
  • This week, police forces in India launched a hotline dedicated to preventing honor killings for couples who feel threatened by their families. [Reuters]

Activities of Supranational Entities

  • On Wednesday, several United Nations entities concluded in a joint statement that the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been obstructed by continued vulnerability and exclusion. [UN News Centre]
  • On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council strengthened sanctions against North Korea, imposing a full ban on the export of coal, iron, and iron ore, among other limitations. [UN News Centre]
  • Last week, the European Court of Human Rights stopped Russia’s deportation of Khudoberdy Nurmatov, a reporter who fears he would be tortured if he returned to Uzbekistan. [Washington Post]

Migrants, Refugees, & Asylum Seekers

Politics

  • This week, North Korea announced a plan to launch four intermediate-range missiles to land near the United States territory of Guam. [Guardian]
  • On Thursday, China called for the immediate withdrawal of Indian troops that China says have been increasing along the China, India, Bhutan border. [Al Jazeera]

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s Controversial Election Prompts Violence, International Reactions

Venezuelan protesters demonstrating in May 2017
Credit: Jamez via Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, condemned last week the recent violence and arrests that occurred in response to demonstrations around Venezuela’s election for a National Constituent Assembly – a powerful entity intended to replace the current legislature and rewrite the Venezuelan constitution. The election was reportedly tampered with by the Venezuelan government, prompting calls for an independent investigation into the legitimacy of the election, and the legislature now refuses to recognize the new assembly, which voted to remove Venezuela’s public prosecutor over the weekend. [New York Times: Tampering; Washington Post: EU; OHCHR Press Release; Washington Post: Lawmakers] The election, which featured allies of President Nicolás Maduro as the only candidates, was held amid growing concerns that the nation is moving dangerously toward a dictatorship. [New York Times: Tampering; Washington Post: EU] The vote spurred public demonstrations, protests, and violence, resulting in at least 10 deaths; the total deaths due to unrest in the country since April now totals at least 125. [CNN: Clash] Zeid also expressed concern over the two opposition leaders who were recently detained after advocating for Venezuelans to protest in response to the election. [OHCHR Press Release; Guardian]

The international human rights community has expressed concern over the situation in the State. In addition to Zeid’s comments, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) recently denounced Venezuela’s prohibition of public gatherings and suppression of journalism, calling on the State to adhere to its international human rights obligations. [IACHR Press Release: Election; IACHR Press Release: Expression] The European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) weighed in on the legality of the election through the publication of a preliminary opinion, finding the election threatened principles of democracy. As a State party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Venezuela is obligated to protect the rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, due process, and participation in public affairs, among others. Read more

News Clips- August 4, 2017

The United Nations Security Council discusses the situation in Syria
Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Civil Society

  • This week, a source confirmed that the government of Syria executed activist and Internet entrepreneur, Bassel Khartabil Safadi, in October 2015. [Washington Post]
  • On Thursday, it was reported that activists launched a public appeal asking the prince of Saudi Arabia to dismiss terrorism-related offenses against 14 Shiite men. [Washington Post]
  • On Tuesday, two Venezuelan opposition leaders were taken into custody by security forces as a part of an alleged “expanded crackdown on dissent.” [Washington Post]
  • On Wednesday, the European Court of Human Rights rejected a request for release from prison by two Turkish teachers with reportedly grave health conditions connected to their hunger strike, citing no “imminent risk to their lives.” [Al Jazeera]
  • This week, two major companies, Apple and Amazon, removed apps used to circumvent censorship in China. [Washington Post]

Migrants, Refugees, & Asylum Seekers

Politics

  • On Wednesday, the polling company in charge of the election of the Venezuelan political assembly reported that the election results were manipulated and inaccurate by at least one million votes. [Washington Post]
  • On Monday, a week before Kenya’s presidential election, Christopher Msando, an election official, was found tortured and killed. [Associated Press]
  • On Friday, Leo Varadkar was elected prime minister of Ireland; in addition to being the youngest leader of the country, he is also Ireland’s first gay and first ethnic minority prime minister. [Guardian]

African Commission Declaration Recommends Expanded Protections for Human Rights Defenders

Reine Alapini-Gansou, the ACHPR Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, (right) sits with other ACHPR Commissioners
Credit: ACHPR

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPRrecently published the Cotonou Declaration on strengthening and expanding the protection of all Human Rights Defenders in Africa that recommends repealing harmful and discriminatory laws, ensuring compliance with existing international standards that impact human rights defenders, and developing standards on women human rights defenders, among other recommendations. Adopted earlier this year during the 2nd International Symposium on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Africa held from March 27 to April 1, 2017, in Cotonou, Benin, civil society, national human rights institutions (NHRIs), and States in the region developed the Declaration. See ACommHPR, Cotonou Declaration on strengthening and expanding the protection of all Human Rights Defenders in Africa (adopted on 1 April 2017). The Commission’s Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Madame Reine Alapini-Gansou, organized the colloquium with the goal of strengthening the protection of human rights defenders in the pan-African region through an assessment of the progress made, and the development of new strategies capable of responding to the current needs of human right defenders. See ACommHPR, 60th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Intersession Activity Report (2017), para. 35. The Declaration identifies the abuse of counter-terrorism laws, undue restrictions on the right to freedom of association, violence and threats of violence against defenders and their families, reprisals, and the targeting of certain groups of defenders, among others, as challenges to the protection of human rights defenders, and recommends, in part, raising awareness through the documentation of violations and publication of reports. See Cotonou Declaration on strengthening and expanding the protection of all Human Rights Defenders in Africa (2017). This Declaration is one of seven declarations adopted by the ACHPR since its founding, and while the ACHPR has adopted resolutions on human rights defenders, the existing treaties, declarations, and general comments in the pan-African Human Rights System do not address human rights defenders specifically.

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News Clips- July 7, 2017

Judges of the ICC find that South Africa failed to meet its obligation to arrest and surrender Omar Al-Bashir to the Court
Credit: ICC

Civil Society

  • On Thursday, Turkish police arrested nine human rights activists, including Amnesty International’s Turkey director, Idli Eser. [BBC News]
  • On Thursday, a student activist in Hong Kong pleaded guilty to a contempt of court charge related to his participation in pro-democracy protests in 2014. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Sunday, anti-G20 summit protesters clashed with local police in Hamburg, Germany. [Guardian]

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Tuesday, civil society reported that murder, torture, rape, severe hunger, and cholera outbreaks in South Sudan have led to major crises in the region. [Guardian]
  • On Monday, the Syrian army announced a temporary halt to combat operations in support of peace talks set to take place in Kazakhstan. [Al Jazeera]
  • Last Friday, five suicide bombs and a hand grenade were used to attack Lebanese soldiers during raids of two Syrian refugee camps in Arsal, Lebanon. [Reuters]
  • According to United Nation’s data released last Friday, at least 55 UN peacekeepers were accused of sexual abuse during UN Missions since January 2017. [Al Jazeera]

Politics

  • On Wednesday, the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, and Raila Odinga, an opposition candidate, announced that they will not participate in the upcoming presidential debates due to a change in format. [Al Jazeera]
  • Last Friday, the German parliament voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. [Guardian]

International Criminal Law

  • On Thursday, the International Criminal Court found that South Africa breached its obligation to deliver Omar Al-Bashir to the Court. [ICC Press Release]
  • On Monday, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court stated there is a “reasonable basis” to conclude that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed by United States troops, the Taliban, and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. [BBC News]

News Clips- June 30, 2017

United Nations General Assembly High-level Action Event on Education
Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Civil Society

  • On Tuesday, Amnesty International joined a boycott protesting the mandatory reporting rules for foreign-funded groups recently put into force in Hungary. [Washington Post]
  • On Monday, Mexican reporter Salvador Adame was found dead in Mexico; seven journalists have been murdered in the country this year. [Guardian]
  • Over the weekend, police forces in Istanbul, Turkey detained 44 people attending LGBT marches that were banned by the governor of Istanbul. [Washington Post]

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Tuesday, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia fully disarmed, ending a half-century long armed struggle that has killed more than 220,000 people. [Washington Post]
  • On Tuesday, the United States government issued a warning to the Syrian regime that there would be a “heavy price” for any use of chemical weapons. [Guardian]
  • On Friday, 40 people were killed, and 100 wounded, during four bomb and gun attacks in three cities in Pakistan claimed by multiple extremist groups. [Washington Post]

Activities of Supranational Bodies

Migrants, Asylum Seekers, & Refugees

Politics

  • On Wednesday, the government of Pakistan issued its first passport with a transgender category. [Reuters]
  • On Tuesday, several corporations in Europe reported massive cyberattacks via ransomware viruses. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Monday, the United States Supreme Court lifted the block on the implementation of President Trump’s ban on travel from six countries but only for individuals who lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” [Guardian]
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