Category Archives: regional human rights protection

News Clips- June 16, 2017

The United Nations Security Council discusses the situation in Somalia
Credit: UN Photo/Kim Haughton

Civil Society

  • On Monday, courts in Russia began sentencing anti-corruption demonstrators arrested during protests led by an opposition leader. [Guardian]
  • On Tuesday, the parliament of Hungary approved regulations requiring certain foreign-funded civil society groups to register with the government. [Al Jazeera]

International Criminal Law

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Wednesday, 23 people were detained during an overnight raid in Venezuela for their alleged involvement in attacks against officers. [Washington Post]
  • On Wednesday, 31 people died during a siege of a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia, which was orchestrated by al-Shabab. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Friday, 14 people were killed in clashes over food aid in Somalia. [Washington Post]

Migrants, Asylum Seekers, & Refugees

  • On Thursday, an aid organization rescued 420 migrants off the coast of Libya. [Washington Post]
  • On Wednesday, authorities in Niger estimated that in the past week they rescued more than 100 migrants abandoned by traffickers. [Reuters]

Activities of International Human Rights Bodies and Experts

Despite Venice Commission Review, Hungary Passes Foreign-Funded NGO Law

Council of Europe
Credit: High Contrast via Wikimedia Commons

On June 2, upon the request of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) issued a preliminary opinion on Hungary’s draft law regarding foreign-funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs), concluding that while the law serves the legitimate aim of achieving transparency within civil society, its requirements and penalties are too strict. [Venice Commission Press Release] While the Hungarian government subsequently announced that it planned to submit a revised version of the law, on June 13 Hungary’s parliament passed an amended version that reportedly does not accommodate for all of the Venice Commission’s recommendations. [Washington Post; New York Times] The law, as presented to the Venice Commission, requires organizations receiving at least 7.2 million forints (approximately 24,000 Euros or 26,000 USD) to register as organizations “receiving support from abroad” and provides for the possible dissolution of an organization as a penalty for non-compliance ­– an option the Venice Commission would like to see stricken. The law presented to the Venice Commission also requires civil society organizations to abstain from receiving foreign funding for a period of three years prior to beginning the deregistration process ­– an obligation the Venice Commission finds excessive and believes should be replaced with a one-year period. The Venice Commission also suggested that the rationale behind the exclusion of several types of organizations, including sports and religious establishments, be clarified, among other recommendations. See European Commission for Democracy Through Law, Draft Law on the Transparency of Organisations Receiving Support from Abroad (Hungary), Opinion 889/2017, CDL-PI(2017)002, Preliminary Opinion of 2 June 2017. Reports indicate that the amended law as passed still allows for dissolution of organizations not in compliance but now only requires organizations to refrain from receiving foreign funding for two years before entering the process to deregister, a standard that fails to meet the Venice Commission’s recommendation of one year. [Washington Post; Politico] International experts and bodies as well as civil society members have expressed concern over the law as well, particularly as it appears to reflect a trend in the region to restrict civil society organizations and a trend to, according to the Council of Europe’s (COE) Commissioner of Human Rights, backslide on the right to freedom of association. [COE Press Release; HRW; IndependentRead more

News Clips- June 9, 2017

European Court of Human Rights
Credit: Cherry X via Wikimedia Commons

Activities of International Human Rights Bodies and Experts


  • After the United States President announced last week that the State will leave the Paris Climate Agreement, cities and states in the country announced that they will still comply with the Paris Agreement. [Guardian; Voice of America]
  • This week, the opposition party in Lesotho won a majority of parliamentary seats during a snap election. [Al Jazeera]
  • Last Friday, the Prime Minister of Cambodia announced that opposition parties in the State should not attempt to challenge recent local elections or they could be dissolved. [Washington Post]
  • The United States warned again this week that it may pull out of the United Nations Human Rights Council unless the UN body reconsiders how States, particularly those with negative human rights records, become members of the Council. [Washington Post]

Civil Society

  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein last Friday called for an investigation into the deaths of five protesters in Bahrain. [OHCHR Press Release]
  • After five farmers died at a rally in India, protesters demonstrated on Wednesday, prompting the deployment of troops on Thursday. [Washington Post; ABC News]
  • Detainees in Venezuela, including protesters detained for demonstrating, claim they are being beaten and tortured while in custody. [Miami Herald]

Office of High Commissioner Launches Revised Guidelines for Investigating Unlawful Killings

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

At the end of May, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) announced the launch of the revised Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death (2016) – an update to the original Minnesota Protocol, which was launched in 1991. [OHCHR Press Release] While the Minnesota Protocol is not a binding legal document, it seeks to guide State actors in fulfilling the State’s international legal obligation to undergo investigations of potentially unlawful deaths, which arises from States’ positive obligations under the right to life. See UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, The Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death (2016), UN Doc. HR/PUB/17/4, 24 May 2017, at paras 8-9. The Protocol serves as a guide for law enforcement officers, medical practitioners, attorneys, judicial actors, non-governmental organizations, and others as they undertake investigations of potentially unlawful killings (and suspected enforced disappearances). [OHCHR Press Release] The revised Protocol differs from the original in that it takes into account recent developments in international law as well as the advancement of forensic science in the past 25 years. [Just SecurityRead more

News Clips- May 26, 2017

United Nations Security Council discusses South Sudan
Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Civil Society

  • On Wednesday, after eight weeks of protests, the death toll in Venezuela rose to 56 people. [LA Times]
  • On Wednesday, anti-government protesters in Brazil set fire to a ministry building, and in response, President Michel Temer gave the army policing power to restore order. [Reuters]

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Wednesday, a bombing in Somalia, claimed by al-Shabaab, killed five and injured six civilians. [Reuters]
  • On Tuesday, two United Nations peacekeepers were killed in Mali. [Washington Post]
  • On Monday, at least 22 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a concert in Manchester, Britain. [Guardian]
  • On Friday, a United Nations report concluded that soldiers in South Sudan responsible for killing more than 100 civilians between July 2016 and January 2017 may be liable for war crimes or crimes against humanity. [Newsweek]


  • On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court in Taiwan ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, allowing Taiwan’s legislature two years to amend its laws. [Washington Post]
  • On Monday, 100 men were arrested in Indonesia in a raid on a gay sauna. [Guardian]
  • On Friday, 27 men were arrested in Bangladesh based on suspicions that they are gay. [Washington Post]

Activities of International Bodies

  • On Wednesday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights created three new thematic units: the Unit on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Unit on Memory, Truth, and Justice; and Unit of the Rights of Older Persons. [IACHR Press Release]
  • On Wednesday, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights launched guidelines for the proper investigation of unlawful killings. [OHCHR Press Release]
  • This week, a panel supported by the United Nations publicly released a draft of a treaty that would ban the possession and use of all nuclear weapons. [Guardian]
  • On Friday, the European Parliament passed a resolution requesting a United Nations-led investigation into the killing of protesters in Ethiopia. [HRW]

Migrants, Asylum Seekers, & Refugees

African Commission Launches General Comment on Torture Victims’ Right to Redress

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights during the 21st Extraordinary Session
Credit: ACHPR

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) recently launched General Comment No. 4 on the right to redress for victims of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment, which was previously adopted during the 21st Extra-Ordinary Session of the ACHPR. See ACommHPR, General Comment No. 4 on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights: The Right to Redress for Victims of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment (Article 5), (adopted at the Commission’s 21st Extra-Ordinary Session, held from February 23 to March 4, 2017). Launched on May 8, the General Comment provides an authoritative interpretation of the scope of the right to redress, and States parties obligations, under Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter). The General Comment addresses the obligations to provide prompt, full, and effective redress; to ensure rehabilitation; to protect against intimidation and reprisals; and to provide redress for collective harms. See id. [IRCT Press Release] Additionally, the General Comment offers guidance on the right to redress within the contexts of sexual and gender-based violence, armed conflict, transitional justice processes, and violence carried out by non-State actors. See General Comment No. 4 on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights: The Right to Redress for Victims of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment (Article 5)(adopted at the Commission’s 21st Extra-Ordinary Session, held from February 23 to March 4, 2017). According to the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) – a global civil society organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of torture survivors – this General Comment takes a significant step towards achieving protections for victims of torture and other ill-treatment in the region due to its victim-centered approach to rehabilitation and to its acknowledgement that redress should be provided to  victimized communities in addition to individual victims. [IRCT Press Release] Read more

Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva Elected as New IACHR Commissioner

Commissioners Margarette May Macaulay and Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño
Credit: IACHR

On May 10, 2017, Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva was elected by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) to be one of seven Commissioners of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), replacing former Commissioner Enrique Gil Botero, who resigned on March 9. [IACHR Press Release: Election; IACHR Press Release: Resignation] Vargas Silva will fulfill the remainder of Gil Botero’s four-year term, which began on January 1, 2016, and ends on December 31, 2019. [IACHR Press Release: Election] Vargas Silva, who has worked in Colombia’s judiciary for 40 years, including as a judge on the Constitutional Court for nearly eight, has strived to improve the nation’s judicial system in order to “overcome the systematic violation of the fundamental rights of the displaced population.” [IACHR Press Release: Election] As Commissioner, he vows to “work to improve the effectiveness of the [Inter-American Human Rights System] and to advance a culture of respect for human rights in all member countries of the [OAS].” [IACHR Press Release: Election] Six candidates are competing to join Vargas Silva on the Commission to fill three additional spots due to become available at the end of 2017. While an independent panel recently assessed the qualifications of those six candidates, Vargas Silva’s qualifications were not examined by the panel. [Open Society Foundations] The OAS General Assembly will select in June the three new Commissioners. [Open Society Foundations] Read more

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