UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Mr. Ben Emmerson, speaks as a third party intervenor in the cases before the European Court of Human Rights.
In its first judgment concerning the human rights of current Guantánamo detainees, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found that Poland failed to uphold its international obligations by allowing the secret detention, torture, and extraordinary rendition of a Saudi Arabian national and a stateless Palestinian, both suspected of terrorist acts. See ECtHR, Al Nashiri v. Poland, no. 28761/11, Judgment of 24 July 2014; ECtHR, Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) v. Poland, no. 7511/13, Judgment of 24 July 2014. In both cases, the Court found Poland had violated the applicants’ rights under the European Convention on Human Rights by: enabling the United States to secretly detain and torture the applicants on Polish soil, conducting an inadequate investigation into the acts of torture and ill treatment committed in Poland, and allowing the applicants’ transfer to Guantánamo despite the real risk they would be tortured and could be subjected to unfair trials and the death penalty by the United States. The Court held that these failures constituted violations of the applicants’ rights to humane treatment, liberty and security, respect for private and family life, an effective remedy, and a fair trial. The tribunal also held that Poland had failed to comply with its Article 38 obligation to cooperate with the European Court’s investigation in the cases.
UN Human Rights Council vote on establishing a commission of inquiry.
In a special session convened last week to address the escalating violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the UN Human Rights Council resolved to establish an independent commission of inquiry to investigate “all violations” of international humanitarian law and human rights law committed in the context of armed conflict in the region since June 13, 2014. See UN Human Rights Council, Resolution S-21/1, Ensuring respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, A/HRC/RES/S-21/1, 23 July 2014, para. 13. The Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights supported a formal investigation to help hold the parties accountable for civilian loss of life and prevent further violations. [OHCHR] Read more
Staff and Judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
The Assembly of the African Union appointed four judges to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) during its 25th Session in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Three of the judges, Mrs. Solomy Balungi Bossa (Uganda), Mr. Rafaa Ben Achour (Tunisia), and Mr. Angelo Vasco Matusse (Mozambique), are new to the AfCHPR and the fourth, Justice Sylvain Oré (Côte d’Ivoire), was re-elected to serve a second term. [AfCHPR: New Judges] The swearing-in ceremony will be held on September 8, 2014 in Arusha, Tanzania during a public session of the Court. Read more
In a new report, the regional human rights expert on freedom of expression in the Americas identifies principles and standards to guide States in their regulation of online communication. On June 27, 2014, the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) released the report, Freedom of Expression and the Internet, specifically addressing the challenges of protecting the right to freedom of expression in a digital world. [IACHR Press Release] Notably, the report draws on the standards and doctrine of the United Nations, African, and European human rights systems, in addition to those of the Inter-American system. The publication is a useful tool for activists, human rights advocates, civil society organizations, judges, regulators, and others who encounter challenges related to the intersections of online communication and fundamental rights.
More than 75 people gathered last Thursday for Protecting Women’s Rights: International Law & Advocacy, a full-day conference for advocates and lawyers organized by the International Justice Resource Center (IJRC). The training, held at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, featured some of the most distinguished human rights and women’s rights practitioners in the world speaking on a variety of topics, including international and regional human rights mechanisms, violence against women, gender discrimination, and sexual and reproductive rights. Though the discussion covered a range of advocacy strategies and women’s rights issues, speakers and participants underscored six key insights relevant to women’s rights defenders in the United States and around the world. Read more
Credit: UN/Paulo Filgueiras
The United Nations General Assembly has approved the appointment of Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein as Navanethem (Navi) Pillay’s successor to head the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The High Commissioner is the official with the foremost responsibility for human rights activities at the United Nations. See UN General Assembly, Resolution 48/141, High Commissioner for the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, A/RES/48/141, 20 December 1993, para. 4. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon nominated Prince Zeid for the High Commissioner position and the General Assembly unanimously approved his appointment on June 16, 2014. [UN News Centre] Read more
On Friday, June 20th the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and nations around the world marked World Refugee Day with diverse tributes and activities. In its efforts to raise awareness about the struggles faced by refugees, UNHCR emphasized that the number of displaced persons in 2013 was the highest in the post-World War II era. [UNHCR: World Refugee Day] Read more
State Ratification of the ICCPR
During its 110th session last month, the United Nations Human Rights Committee concluded its first reading of Draft General Comment No. 35 on Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which protects the right to liberty and security of person, including the freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. The Committee invites interested stakeholders to submit comments on the draft before June 1, 2014. [OHCHR] Read more
Participants in the UN Human Rights Council’s 25th Session
Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
During its 25th regular session last month, the UN Human Rights Council undertook several measures to address the challenges and risks faced by human rights defenders and other civil society actors. On March 11, it held a panel discussion to analyze the factors that reduce civil society space and to evaluate strategies to promote an interactive partnership between States and civil society organizations (CSOs). Later in the session, the Council also adopted a resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests, and renewed the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders and on Freedom of Expression. Read more
The UN Human Rights Committee begins its 110th session.
Credit: UN Treaty Body Webcast
The UN Human Rights Committee held its 110th session from March 10 to 28 to consider the State reports of Chad, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, and the United States of America. Following the session, the Committee released its concluding observations, detailing key concerns and recommendations for these States’ improved implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Read more