Category Archives: regional human rights protection
On 4th International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, Advocacy and Monitoring Continue on Behalf of Victims and Families
On August 30th, the international community will commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, honoring those who have been forcibly disappeared, while encouraging States to cease this practice and remedy the damage it has caused. Enforced disappearance is defined as arrest, detention, abduction, or other deprivation of a person’s liberty by agents of the State, combined with the “refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person.” See International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, art. 2. In honor of this year’s International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that enforced disappearance “is a practice that cannot be tolerated in the twenty-first century,” urging States to “provide full information about the whereabouts of persons who have been disappeared [and to] effectively implement the right to the truth, justice and reparation for all victims and their families.” [UN]
In follow-up to the International Justice Resource Center’s most recent training, Protecting Women’s Rights: International Law & Advocacy, we are pleased to announce that the video recordings and summary report are now available online.
The conference, held at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco on June 19, 2014, 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, domestic violence, multiple discrimination, and the human rights of LGBTQ women. The speakers addressed various advocacy channels and strategies, from the local level to the universal level. Though the training was focused on providing the information most relevant to women’s rights advocates and other human rights defenders in the United States, the information is highly relevant to those working in other countries.
The six sessions addressed:
- women’s human rights under international law;
- the United Nations human rights mechanisms – including the treaty bodies, special procedures, Universal Periodic Review, Human Rights Council, and Commission on the Status of Women – and the opportunities for advocacy around women’s rights, such as in the case of domestic workers in the United States;
- the Inter-American System for the protection of human rights and the evolution of its doctrine on women’s rights;
- discrimination against women as a human rights violation;
- violence against women, with a special focus on the Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) case); and
- advocacy on sexual and reproductive rights, with a special focus on the Center for Reproductive Rights’ “Nuestro Texas” campaign and the Karen Atala Riffo case.
Each of the videos can be viewed below, or watched or downloaded on IJRC’s Vimeo page.
IJRC has also published a summary report of the training, which synthesizes the information and insights provided by each speaker. This report, as well as the background materials, agenda, speaker bios, and other information, are available in a public Dropbox folder, which is accessible at the following shortened link: www.bit.ly/
Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Extrajudicial Killings, Indigenous Land Rights, Racial Profiling, and Extradition Under Review at 104th Regular and 51st Special Sessions
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 problems, 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 hearings in two cases and a seminar on the role and impact of the Inter-American human rights system. Read more
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has released a report on the human rights of migrants, migrants’ rights advocates, victims of human trafficking, displaced persons, and others who experience “extreme vulnerability” in Mexico. [IACHR Press Release] The report, Human Rights of Migrants and Other Persons in the Context of Human Mobility in Mexico, details the acts of violence, denial of due process and judicial protection, and other violations against individuals migrating within or through Mexico, and characterizes the situation as “one of the worst human tragedies in the region today.” IACHR, Human Rights of Migrants and Other Persons in the Context of Human Mobility in Mexico (2013), p. 3. Read more
This week, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Commission) will hold its 152nd Extraordinary Period of Sessions in Mexico City, Mexico, to focus on the general human rights situation in the countries of Central America. [IACHR] These hearings will be the first in seven years to be held away from the Commission’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. In light of the controversial reform process of the past few years, the Commission seems to be striving to make itself increasingly accessible to the public and to emphasize that its mandate includes all of the Americas. On the dates surrounding the session, the Commission will host a workshop on the Inter-American human rights system and help present the Mexican Supreme Court’s new guidelines for judges in cases concerning sexual orientation and gender identity. Read more
European Convention on Violence against Women Enters into Force, Codifying Advances in the Protection of Women’s Human Rights
August 1, 2014 marked the entry into force of the first legally binding instrument in Europe that specifically targets violence against women and domestic violence. The “most far reaching international treaty to tackle this serious violation of human rights,” the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, requires States parties to take steps to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and to implement policies, practices, and supportive measures that assist survivors and relevant agencies. [COE] The Istanbul Convention was drafted by the Council of Europe (COE), an intergovernmental organization with 47 Member States. Unlike the European Convention on Human Rights, ratification of the Istanbul Convention is not a requirement for COE membership, nor is its implementation to be overseen directly by the European Court of Human Rights. Rather, the convention establishes its own independent monitoring mechanism, very similar to a United Nations human rights treaty body. Read more
European Court of Human Rights: Poland Responsible for Secret Detention, Torture, and Rendition of Two Guantánamo Detainees
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.
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
European Court of Human Rights Upholds Finnish Marital Restriction on Trans Gender Identity Recognition
In a high profile new ruling, the European Court of Human Rights has held that requiring a transsexual woman to convert her marriage into a civil partnership in order to gain full legal recognition of her gender identity does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights (Convention). ECtHR, Hämäläinen v. Finland [GC], no. 37359/09, ECHR 2014, Judgment of 16 July 2014.
The case, Hämäläinen v. Finland, challenged a Finnish law that required married trans individuals to divorce or transform their marriages into civil partnerships before they could change their identity documents to reflect their new gender. By fourteen votes to three, the Grand Chamber of the Court held that the requirement did not violate the Convention. [ECtHR Press Release] The dissenting judges took issue with the the majority’s characterization of the nature of the State’s obligation (negative versus positive), its reliance on consensus among European States to determine Finland’s margin of appreciation, and the lack of weight given to the applicant’s religious beliefs. Read more