A new campaign, GQUAL, aims to address the gender imbalance on international courts and human rights bodies, where women make up less than 25% of the existing membership. [GQUAL Press Release] The campaign will work to change the nomination and voting practices of States and the relevant institutions, to ensure that gender balance is a real consideration. Through its website, declaration, petition, events, and informational materials, the campaign is striving to raise awareness, engage civil society voices, and increase the transparency of election processes. Additionally, the GQUAL Jobs Board provides information on recent and upcoming elections for nearly all international tribunals and monitoring bodies. On September 17, 2015, the GQUAL (for “gender equal”) campaign formally launched at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York. [GQUAL Press Release] Read more
Category Archives: regional human rights protection
Burkina Faso’s interim President Michel Kafando was reinstated on September 23, 2015, following a truce agreement between coup leaders and the national army. [BBC News: Reinstated; Al Jazeera: Coup leaders sign truce] This truce agreement came after the September 16th coup in which members of the Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP, for its French name: Régiment de sécurité présidentielle), calling themselves the National Democratic Council, under the leadership of General Gilbert Diendéré, kidnapped interim President Kafando, Prime Minister Zida, and two ministry officials, Augustin Loada and Rene Bagoro. [The Guardian: Warning Shots; The Guardian: Violent Protests] Following this, the military announced that it was in power and that the transitional government, which had been put into place in November 2014, had been dissolved. [Al Jazeera: Military Claims Control; Al Jazeera: Transitional Government] Under the agreement that was reached on September 23rd, the RSP agreed to step down and return to its barracks and the national army agreed to withdraw its troops from the capital, Ouagadougou, and guarantee the RSP’s safety. [Al Jazeera: Coup leaders sign truce]
On September 8, 2015 the National Secretariat of Communications of Ecuador (SECOM) sent a letter of notification to La Fundación Andina para la Observación y Estudio de los Medios [The Andean Foundation for the Social Observation and Study of Media] (Fundamedios), a non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to promoting freedom of expression, that it was initiating an administrative process to dissolve the organization. [Committee to Protect Journalists] The SECOM order accuses Fundamedios of violating both its own founding statutes as well as Ecuadorian law governing the role of civic organizations by publishing messages, alerts, and essays with “political overtones.” [El Universo; OAS Press Release] As evidence of this, the annex to SECOM’s notice contains 57 tweets, many of which it claims contain links to opinion pieces or news articles that criticize the government. [Human Rights Watch] The organization was given 10 days since the receipt of this dissolution order to present evidence in its defense. [Freedom House]
Political upheaval and human rights violations in parts of Africa and the Middle East, particularly in Eritrea, Kosovo, and Syria, are increasing migration flows to Europe at an unprecedented rate. While the European Union (EU) received approximately 626,000 applications for asylum in 2014, Germany alone is expected to receive 800,000 applications this year. [Financial Times: Germany] Europe has not yet responded to this crisis with a uniform and coherent approach. For example, the Council on Foreign Relations notes that while Greece implemented stricter border-control operations in 2013 and Italy phased out its sea rescue program in October 2014, Sweden, on the other hand, stated that it would offer permanent residency to all Syrian refugees in 2013. European ministers will participate in an emergency summit on September 14, 2015 in Brussels to develop a more unified response to the migration crisis. [WSJ]
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) held its 53rd Extraordinary Session in Honduras, which began on August 24 and concluded on August 29, 2015. During this session the Court held public hearings in two cases: Quispialaya Vilcapoma v. Peru and Ángel Alberto Duque v. Colombia. The Court also held a private hearing concerning compliance on the part of Honduras with sentences in six cases: Juan Humberto Sánchez v. Honduras, López-Álvarez v. Honduras, Servellón-García and others v. Honduras, Kawas-Fernández v. Honduras, Pacheco Teruel and others v. Honduras, and Luna López v. Honduras. The Court prepared judgments in two cases: Gonzáles Lluy (TGGL) and family v. Ecuador and Galindo Cárdenas and others v. Peru. Additionally, the Court started proceedings in two cases: Garífuna Community of “Triunfo de la Cruz” and its members v. Honduras and Garífuna Community of Punta Piedra and its members v. Honduras. The Court also reviewed various pending cases and administrative issues.
In June 2015, the Working Group on Death Penalty and Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings (Working Group) of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) met in Kigali, Rwanda to develop a General Comment on Article 4 (right to life) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, also known as the Banjul Charter (Charter). This meeting also established that the draft general comment would be opened to public consultations and written comments from interested parties. See ACommHPR, Draft General Comment No. 3 on Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the right to life) (Draft Comment), June 2015.
On August 5, 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published its report “Towards the Closure of Guantanamo,” which examines the human rights situation of detainees at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. See Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Towards the Closure of Guantanamo (Report), 2015. The report concludes that detainees are subject to indefinite detention; torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; and a discriminatory detention regime that does not provide due process or other judicial protection. Commissioner Felipe González, IACHR Rapporteur for the United States, emphasized that “public security reasons cannot serve as a pretext for the indefinite detention of individuals without charge or trial.” [OAS Press Release] The report concludes with a number of recommendations including improving confinement conditions, ensuring detainees’ access to justice, and closing Guantanamo. Read more
On August 3, 2015 the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) commenced its 87th session in Geneva, Switzerland. During this session, which will end on August 28, the Committee will review the State reports of Colombia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Niger, Norway, and Suriname. The Committee will also review reports submitted by civil society organizations and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) concerning the States’ implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) as well as follow-up information submitted by States parties.
On July 21, 2015, in Oliari and Others v. Italy, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that the State violated the European Convention on Human Rights (Convention) by failing to ensure that a legal framework recognizing and protecting same-sex unions was available. See ECtHR, Oliari and Others v. Italy, nos. 18766/11 and 336030/11, Judgment of 21 July 2015. The case was brought by three same-sex couples whose relationships were not recognized under Italian law, which does not allow for the possibility of marriage or any other type of civil union for homosexual couples. The Court, in deciding that Italian laws failed “to provide for the core needs relevant to a couple in a stable committed relationship,” also noted the increasing international and domestic support for legal recognition of same-sex couples. For example, the Court stated that Council of Europe Member States are increasingly putting into place legislation that legally recognizes same-sex couples. Similarly, the Italian Constitutional Court has repeatedly called for protection and recognition of same-sex couples. [ECtHR Press Release]