Category Archives: international human rights

AfCHPR: Gaddafi’s Son’s Rights Violated by Secret Detention in Libya


Citizens hold demonstrations in 2011 protesting Muammar Gaddafi’s regime
Credit: ليبي صح

The African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR) has held that Libya violated the rights to liberty and fair trial by holding Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, in secret detention since 2011. See AfCHPR, African Commission on Human and People’s Rights v. Libya, App. No. 002/2013, Judgment of 3 June 2016. These breaches, the Court determined, violate Libya’s international obligations under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which secures the fundamental rights to liberty and to have one’s cause heard in articles 6 and 7, respectively. The case was referred to the Court by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) and decided on the merits without participation by the State, resulting in a judgment by default against Libya. See id. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is also sought by the International Criminal Court, which has an open investigation into crimes against humanity allegedly committed under Muammar Gaddafi’s rule as his regime was challenged by the popular uprising of early 2011. See International Criminal Court, Libya. Read more

Human Rights Bodies Address Homophobia, Gun Violence after Orlando Attack


Vigil for Orlando victims outside Stonewall Inn in New York City
Credit: Elisa S

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UN Security Council, and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) have urged States to address homophobia, gun violence, and terrorism in the wake of the recent nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. [OHCHR Press Release; UN Press Release; IACHR Press Release] Early Sunday morning on June 12, 2016 Omar Mateen entered Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, and began shooting at the estimated 200 club-goers present for the “Hispanic party” hosted by the club that night. [CNN; IACHR Press Release] Mateen, who claimed allegiance to ISIS during the rampage, killed 49 people and wounded 53 more before being killed by police. [CNN] The Inter-American Commission and the OHCHR made recommendations to the United States to put in place measures to ensure non-discrimination and the elimination of violent attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons and called for more robust gun regulation in response to the shooter’s use of quick-reload weapons that he purchased legally. [USA Today; OHCHR Press Release; IACHR Press Release]

The recommendations were made in view of human rights bodies’ determination that sexual orientation and gender identity are included in non-discrimination provisions of human rights treaties, and the OHCHR’s recent conclusion that without adequate regulation, civilian gun use has a negative impact on the realization of many human rights. See Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 20, Non-Discrimination in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Doc. E/C.12/GC/20, 10 June 2009, para. 32; UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human rights and the regulation of civil acquisition, possession and use of firearms, UN Doc. A/HRC/32/21, 15 April 2016. In related news, the European Court of Human Rights has again concluded that its Member States are not required to ensure marriage equality, or equal access to partner benefits, for same-sex couples. Read more

OHCHR: Restricted Movement, Torture, Disappearances Ongoing in Ukraine Conflict

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with H.E. Mr. Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine  at the sideline of the Nuclear Security Summit.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with H.E. Mr. Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine at the sideline of the Nuclear Security Summit.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President Petro Poroshenko
Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

A recent report from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) shows that human rights conditions in eastern Ukraine remain precarious two years after the outbreak of conflict there, in view of recent violence in the Donetsk region, increasing militarization near the front line, and continuing rights abuses by both sides in the battle between nationalists and separatists. See Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Report on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine (2016). The report, which covers mid-February through mid-May of this year, details ongoing acts of torture, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary detention carried out by both the Ukrainian government and armed opposition groups. Noting an increase in heavy weapons and clashes near the line of separation mandated in last year’s deteriorating ceasefire, the OHCHR warns that this conflict may escalate or become protracted and should not be ignored by the international community. [OHCHR Press Release; Reuters] Ukraine is a State party to several universal and regional human rights treaties that protect the rights to life, freedom of expression and assembly, and prohibition of torture. Read more

Inter-American Rights Body Suspends Hearings, Cuts Staff amid Financial Crisis

CIDH en crisis photo
CIDH en crisis photo

Credit: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Citing a severe financial crisis, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced on May 23, 2016 that it is suspending regular sessions and scheduled country visits effective immediately, and is set to lose 40 percent of its personnel when their contracts expire in July. In announcing the imminent cuts, the IACHR stated that the current budget shortfall highlights an ongoing lack of adequate funding for the regional human rights body by the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS), undermining its ability to monitor, protect, and promote human rights in the hemisphere. In recent days, civil society and United Nations experts have joined the Commission in urging States and potential donors to address the immediate crisis and calling upon Member States to develop and secure a sustainable budget for the IACHR. [IACHR Press Release; UN News Centre; CEJIL; openDemocracy] During a meeting on May 25th, the Permanent Council of the OAS heard from IACHR representatives on the financial crisis and the issue is expected to be discussed further during an upcoming OAS General Assembly session in June. [IntLawGrrls] Read more

WHO Issues Guidelines on Rights-Based Treatment of FGM Survivors

“Mobilizing to Achieve the Global Goals through Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation by 2030”
“Mobilizing to Achieve the Global Goals through Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation by 2030”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a special event on international day of zero tolerance for female genital mutilation
Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a new report to help medical practitioners engage in a human-rights-based approach toward managing and treating health complications associated with or caused by female genital mutilation (FGM). See World Health Organization, WHO Guidelines on the Management of Health Complications from Female Genital Mutilation (2016). The guidelines identify the human rights implications of FGM, including on the right to the attainment of the highest standard of health. See id. at 5. Recognizing that an estimated 200 million women worldwide have undergone FGM and citing a lack of awareness of its negative health consequences by the international medical community, the guidelines provide recommendations on methods for treating the negative health impacts of FGM and address best practices for avoiding further human rights violations in those treatments.

With this report, the WHO highlights the important role of trained health professionals in mitigating and remedying violations of international human rights standards that result from FGM and in guaranteeing the protection of the right to health, which includes providing adequate health care services to victims of human rights abuses. See id. 7. The report, therefore, seeks to establish standards to be used by the international medical community to ensure that efforts to eradicate the practice, particularly the elimination of the performance of FGM by medical practitioners, and to provide care for women living with FGM are carried out with consideration for women’s human rights at their core. See id. at viii. Read more

ECSR: Ireland’s Inadequate Traveller Accommodations Violate European Social Charter


The European Committee of Social Rights
Credit: Council of Europe

In a case concerning the right of Traveller families to adequate housing and caravan sites, the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) held that Ireland violated their right to social, legal, and economic protection under Article 16 of the Revised European Social Charter because of the de facto insufficiency of accommodations for Travellers, inadequate conditions in the existing Traveller accommodations, and the legislative framework and practice of evictions. See ECSR, European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v. Ireland, Complaint No. 100/2013, Merits, 1 December 2015. In its decision, published earlier this month, the ECSR declined to find Ireland in violation of Article E’s non-discrimination provisions or to find a violation of Article 30, which protects the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion, noting that the Irish government has made substantial progress in the past few years and demonstrated an effort to accommodate the Traveller community. Id. at paras. 71 and 191.

The decision reinforces an earlier ruling from the ECSR on Roma communities in Greece, in which it found the same violations under Article 16. See ECSR, European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v. Greece, Complaint No. 15/2003, Merits, 8 December 2004. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has also held in past cases that evictions of and insufficient accommodations for Roma communities violate the right to family life. See ECtHR, Connors v. United Kingdom, no. 66746/01, ECHR 2004, Judgment of 27 May 2004. ECtHR, Winterstein and Others v. France, no. 27013/07, Judgment of 17 October 2013.

According to census data, at least 30,000 Traveller families live in Ireland. See European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v. Ireland, 1 December 2015, para. 30. Irish media have recently reported on homelessness and evictions of Travellers in the country, where one-fifth of Travellers do not have access to appropriate accommodation. Read more

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