Over the next three weeks, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will hold two sessions, one at its seat in Costa Rica and the other in Paraguay, to continue its review of six pending cases and one advisory opinion request. These cases challenge a range of human rights issues, including lack of due process in immigration and extradition proceedings, failure to investigate killings – including when committed by police, and indigenous communities’ land rights.
The Court’s 104th Regular Session, which is taking place from August 18 to 29, will be immediately followed by its 51st Special Session, to be held from September 1 through 4. During the 104th Regular Session, the Court will consider four forthcoming judgments, an advisory opinion, and several orders relating to provisional measures and other matters. [IACtHR Press Release (Spanish only)] The agenda for the 51st Special Session includes public hearing in two cases and seminar on the role and impact of the Inter-American human rights system. Read more
Human Rights Council Advisory Committee
Credit: UN Geneva
The United Nations Human Rights Council Advisory Committee concluded its 13th Session, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland last week. [OHCHR] The Advisory Committee functions as a think-tank for the Human Rights Council, providing it with studies and research-based advice on specific human rights issues.
During the session, which lasted from August 11 to August 15, the Advisory Committee discussed six requests addressed to it by the Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council requested studies and research-based reports on the following topics:
- promotion and protection of human rights in post-disaster and post-conflict situations;
- negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights;
- promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal;
- local government and human rights;
- human rights and unilateral coercive measures; and,
- technical cooperation for the prevention of attacks against persons with albinism.
[OHCHR] A brief overview of each of the Advisory Committee’s six reports follows. Read more
Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan during the the first day of closing statements in Case 002/01 on 16 October 2013
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) last week issued its first convictions against former senior Khmer Rouge leaders, finding Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan guilty of crimes against humanity committed during the Khmer Rouge’s rule in the 1970s. [ECCC Press Release] The convictions, part of only the second set of charges to be resolved by the ECCC, come after nearly four years of litigation before the United Nations-assisted hybrid tribunal. In recent years, the court has been plagued by controversy and delays that at times seemed likely to outlast the few, elderly defendants brought before it. [IJRC] Read more
State Ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) opened its 85th session on Monday, August 11 in Geneva, Switzerland. During this session, which will close on August 29, the Committee’s agenda includes its review of periodic reports from seven States parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), consideration of individual complaints regarding alleged human rights violations, discussion of its working methods, and consultations with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). [OHCHR] The live webcast of the Committee’s interactive dialogue with States can be viewed on UN Treaty Body Webcast. Read more
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