Category Archives: international human rights

News Clips – August 26, 2016

Rana Plaza before the collapseCredit: Sean Robertson
Rana Plaza before the collapseCredit: Sean Robertson

Rana Plaza before the collapse
Credit: Sean Robertson

Civil Society

  • A member of the United Democratic Party, an opposition political party in Gambia, died while in detention last Saturday, prompting the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to condemn the death and conditions of detention. [UN News Centre]
  • The Ethiopian government announced this week that it will not prosecute the Olympic athlete who publically protested against the government during the Olympic Games in Rio. [Washington Post]

International Criminal Law

  • Admitting to the war crime of destroying historic buildings in Mali, Ahmed Al Faqi Al Mahdi became the first person to plead guilty before the International Criminal Court. [International Justice Monitor]
  • A former Argentine general and 28 co-defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity, including hundreds of forced disappearances, committed during the Dirty War. [TeleSUR]

Policing, Protest & Excessive Use of Force

  • The National Human Rights Commission of Mexico has found that 22 civilians killed during a drug raid in 2015 died due to excessive use of force and arbitrary execution. [JURIST]
  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights this week condemned the killings of black individuals in the United States by police officers using excessive force and expressed concern over the impunity in the killings. [IACHR Press Release]
  • Three human rights experts of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights sent a joint letter of appeal to the government of Ethiopia on allegations of killings, beatings, excessive use of force, and arbitrary arrests associated with recent protests. [ACHPR Press Release]

Business & Human Rights

  • The trial of 18 people accused of construction code violations associated with the collapse of Rana Plaza was postponed this week after defendants petitioned the high court to challenge their charges. [Al Jazeera]

Counter-terrorism & Human Rights

  • Following the enactment of local bans prohibiting burkinis, a full-body swinsuit, in several towns in France, the French Council of State ruled that such bans are unenforceable after police this week enforced the ban in Nice by ordering a woman to remove her clothing. [Guardian; CNN]

Asylum & Refugees

  • Kenya announced this week that it will not close the Dadaab refugee camp, a home for over 320,000 Somali refugees, until Somalia is at peace. [International Business Times]
  • The European Union and Turkey have reinitiated diplomatic talks to reach an agreement on migration management. [Guardian]

LGBTQ Rights

  • A federal judge in the United States recently issued an injunction on the Obama administrations guidelines that state transgender students may use the bathrooms they choose to use. [Reuters]
  • Belize repealed a law that criminalized same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults. [IACHR Press Release]
  • The Constitutional Court of Indonesia held a fifth hearing this week on the constitutionality of several provisions in the criminal code that criminalize same-sex behavior. [HRW]
  • After the recent killing and rape of an LGBT activist and transgender woman, hundreds demonstrated in Istanbul. [Washington Post]

Conflict and Humanitarian Crises

  • A peace deal between the Colombian government and Farc, a rebel armed group, was reached this week after 52 years at war. [Guardian]
  • As part of an operation called Euphrates Shield, Turkish tanks and warplanes have entered Syria in an effort to combat ISIS’s hold of Jarablus. [Guardian]
  • The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report identifying alleged violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in the conflict in Yemen, and calling for a formal inquiry. [UN News Centre]
  • After thousands of cholera victims brought suit in United States courts against the United Nations for its involvement in the epidemic, the U.S. court hearing the case upheld the UN’s immunity from the claim. [Washington Post]

 

UN Secretary General Reports Treaty Bodies More Effective and Efficient

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly speaks at Informal meeting of the intergovernmental process on "Strenghening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty body system"
Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly speaks at Informal meeting of the intergovernmental process on "Strenghening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty body system"

President of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly speaks on treaty bodies
Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

On August 2, 2016 United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, published the first biennial report on efforts to strengthen the UN treaty bodies, as part of an ongoing process to harmonize working methods, improve State compliance, and ensure adequate resources for these independent human rights monitoring bodies. [OHCHR Press Release; IJRC] The report covers the implementation of General Assembly Resolution 68/268, which called on various stakeholders to take specific actions to strengthen the treaty bodies’ efficiency and effectiveness, from April 2014 through June 2016. [OHCHR Press Release]

The report noted that significant progress has been made in the first two years; the treaty bodies increased the number of State party reports and individual communications reviewed, concluded more field visits per year, and reduced the backlog in State party reports. See UN Secretary General, Status of the Human Rights Treaty Body System: Report of the Secretary General, UN Doc. A/71/118, 18 July 2016, para. 88. Additionally, capacity building efforts have resulted in training States parties on submitting their required reports to treaty bodies. See id. at paras. 11-12. However, a significant increase in individual communications submitted to the bodies will require more of the treaty bodies’ meeting time to be dedicated to assessing particular complaints rather than reviewing State reports in the future, which will also require additional staffing resources. See id. at paras. 21, 24, 41-43. Accordingly, the Secretary General made a few recommendations to the UN General Assembly regarding adjusting the allocated meeting time for treaty bodies and providing sufficient staff and resources. See id. at paras. 90-91. Read more

ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights Enhances Transparency, Publishes Report

sg gives remarks at 7th ASEAN-United Nations Summit
sg gives remarks at 7th ASEAN-United Nations Summit

The 2015 ASEAN-United Nations Summit
Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) published on August 1, 2016 its annual report on activities and progress for the period of July 2015 to July 2016, marking the first time an AICHR annual report was made public on its website. [AICHR Press Release] The AICHR, a regional human rights body founded in 2009 under the auspices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is required under its Terms of Reference to write annual reports on its activities in promoting and protecting human rights in the region. The AICHR’s most recent report discusses the goals and vision for the AICHR’s future work in the areas of internal and external collaboration, the effectiveness of its activities, and the development of a framework for thematic studies, reflecting its stated goals in its recently adopted Five-Year Plan (2016-2020). The past year’s activities, which largely reflect the former Five-Year Plan (2010-2015), included internal meetings with other ASEAN bodies and an external dialogue with the European Union, implementation and dissemination of both the 2012 ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights (ADHR) and the accompanying Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the AHRD, and the conferral of consultative status on 11 civil society organizations (CSOs). See AICHR, The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights Annual Report 2016 (2016). Civil society is encouraged that the publication of this report marks a movement towards enhanced transparency, but the report has met criticism for not including recommendations on the AICHR’s growth and that it still reflects a low level of transparency around the Intergovernmental Commission’s work. [The Star] The AICHR first proposed publishing its annual reports online in its 2015 annual report, available elsewhere online. Read more

News Clips- August 12, 2016

SC Votes on Temp Extension of Mandate for South Sudan Mission
15-0-0
SC Votes on Temp Extension of Mandate for South Sudan Mission 15-0-0

The United Nations Security Council discusses South Sudan
Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

International Criminal Law

  • Nada Kiswanson, a permanent representative at the International Criminal Court who works on evidence of war crimes in Palestine, has received death threats. [MEMO]
  • The International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh issued sentences to eight individuals for crimes against humanity. [Jurist]
  • German investigators have identified eight individuals who they suspect of war crimes during the Nazi era. [The Local]

Civil Society

  • The government of Ethiopia rejected the United Nations request that observers be allowed into the country to investigate the killings of protesters. [Al Jazeera]
  • Kenya’s High Court ruled that the late human rights lawyer, Willia Kimani; his client, Josphat Mwendwa; and a taxi driver were all forcibly disappeared. [Amnesty International]
  • The LGBT Pride parade schedule for August 13, 2016 in Odessa, Ukraine was canceled by the Odessa City Council, citing possible conflict and criminal activity that could arise around the event. [Human Rights First]
  • Pakistan passed its Electronic Crimes Bill, which activists claim could violate the rights to freedom of speech and privacy. [Jurist]
  • A Brazilian judge upheld protestors right to freedom of expression by ruling that they may peacefully criticize the interim president while at the Olympic venues. [BBC]
  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed concern that opposition party members were removed from the Nicaraguan legislator pursuant to a judicial decision. [IACHR Press Release]

Migrants and Refugees

  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over the treatment of refugees in Bulgaria, claiming they are often subject to detention and trials that do not meet international standards. [UN News Centre]
  • The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees expressed concern over the high numbers of South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries and the limited funds available to support them. [UN News Centre]
  • The UN again expressed concern that Australia and Nauru continue to hold migrants and refugees offshore where they are often exposed to violence and sexual abuse. [UN News Centre]

Violence and Conflicts

  • Several bombs exploded in Thailand at the end of the week in a resort town, Hua Hin. [UN News Centre]
  • Rebel groups in Syria announced that they intend to take the city of Aleppo. [Al Jazeera]
  • South Sudan has refused to accept a proposal to allow UN troops to enter the country. [Al Jazeera]

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Names Paulo Abrão Executive Secretary

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Emilio Álvarez Icaza Longoria, Executive Secretary of the IACHR from August 2012 to August 2016
Credit: Daniel Cima

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has chosen Brazilian law professor Paulo Abrão as its tenth Executive Secretary. Abrão’s term will last from August 2016 through August 2020 and may be renewed once for another four years. [IACHR Press Release: Abrão] As Executive Secretary, he will head the Executive Secretariat of the IACHR, which is composed of several staff members and is in charge of processing petitions and cases. See IJRC, Advocacy before the Inter-American System: A Manual for Attorneys and Advocates (2012). Abrão’s powers and duties will include consulting with the President to create the IACHR’s draft program budget, advising the President and other IACHR members on completing their obligations, and reporting to the IACHR on the Executive Secretariat’s undertakings. See IACHR, Announcement. Abrão will replace former Executive Secretary Emilio Álvarez Icaza Longoria, who served from August 2012 through August 2016 and announced his decision (Spanish) not to run for reelection last January. [IACHR Press Release: Abrão] Read more

August 2016: Four UN Treaty Bodies, Inter-American Court in Session

Flags of the 193 UN Member States outside the Palais des NationsCredit: UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré
Flags of the 193 UN Member States outside the Palais des NationsCredit: UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

The United Nations
Credit: UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

During the month of August 2016, four United Nations treaty bodies will review several States’ compliance with their treaty obligations, two regional judicial bodies in Europe and the Americas will hold public hearings, the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee will discuss research and developments in the area of human rights, and two UN Special Procedures mandate holders will conduct State visits. The UN treaty bodies will hold interactive dialogues with over 20 States regarding their implementation of binding international treaties relating to the prohibition of torture, the prohibition of racial discrimination, the rights of persons with disabilities, and of migrants and their families. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hear a case against Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding an alleged violation of the right to freedom of expression, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will hear cases against Ecuador and Guatemala and a follow-up hearing on provisional measures against Colombia during its 55th Special Session. The IACtHR will also discuss thematic areas of international human rights, such as the right to freedom of expression, during the session. In addition, UN experts will visit China and Mexico to assess the country situations with regard to extreme poverty and human rights and to business and human rights, respectively.

The treaty body sessions may be watched via UN Treaty Body Webcast. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.  Read more

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