Category Archives: regional human rights protection

ACHPR Considers Draft Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly


A demonstration in Johannesburg against Xenophobia
Credit: Dyltong via Wikimedia Commons

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has prepared a draft of its forthcoming Guidelines on Freedom of Association as Pertaining to Civil Society and Guidelines on Peaceful Assembly (Draft Guidelines) to be presented at its 59th Ordinary Session, which began this week in Banjul, the Gambia. [ACHPR: Explanatory Note; ACHPR Press Release] The Study Group on Freedom of Association and Assembly, a specially appointed task force of civil society organizations, prepared the Draft Guidelines under the oversight of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Commissioner Reine Alapini-Gansou and with reference to its 2014 Report of the Study Group on Freedom of Association & Assembly in Africa. [ACHPR: Press Release] The Draft Guidelines lay down principles that strengthen and protect the rights of association and of assembly with the goal of assisting States in the region in implementing legal frameworks and adopting legislation pertaining to those rights. [ACHPR: Explanatory Note] The ACHPR invited input on the draft ahead of the current session. [ACHPR Press Release] Read more

ECtHR: Russia Violated Prominent Activist’s Rights in Airport Detention


European Court of Human Rights
Credit: CherryX via Wikimedia Commons

On October 11, 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimously held that the government of Russia violated the rights of Garri Kasparov, a political activist and well-known chess player, to liberty and security of person and to freedom of assembly under articles 5 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. See ECtHR, Kasparov v. Russia, no. 53659/07, Judgment of 11 October 2016. Kasparov alleged that he was unlawfully detained at an airport in Moscow in May 2007 and prevented from attending a political protest in the Russian city of Samara.  [ECtHR Press Release]

The ECtHR’s decision comes during a time of heightened repression, and retaliation, against Russia’s dissenting voices; many journalists, rights advocates, politicians and whistle-blowers who speak out against Russian leadership face risks of imprisonment, defamation, and death. [NY Times] Kasparov, who has been critical of the government for over 10 years, previously brought a 2013 case before the ECtHR, which ruled that Russia violated his rights when authorities arrested him at a political demonstration in April of 2007 in Moscow. See ECtHR, Kasparov and Others v. Russia, App. no. 21613/07, Judgment of 3 October 2013, para. 7. Read more

UN Experts, ACHPR Call for Investigation into Violence in Ethiopia

H.E. Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn
Prime Minister

General Assembly Seventy-first session 10th plenary meeting
General Debate
Ethiopia H.E. Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn Prime Minister General Assembly Seventy-first session 10th plenary meeting General Debate

Primer Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn addresses the United Nations General Assembly
Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak

In response to the continued suppression of protests in Ethiopia, international and regional human rights bodies as well as political figures have voiced their concerns and called for investigations into the government’s use of force. These observers question police tactics against anti-government peaceful protesters, who have been demonstrating during the last year against the expansion of the capital’s borders and recently against police forces’ use of tear gas and firearms during a religious ceremony earlier this month causing a stampede and resulting in deaths. [Al Jazeera: Merkel; OHCHR Press Release; ACHPR Press Release] United Nations experts have urged authorities to cease violent intervention in peaceful protests and allow an international commission to conduct an investigation, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has also called for an investigation into the stampede. [OHCHR Press Release; ACHPR Press Release] German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during her recent visit with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, encouraged the government to engage in an open discussion with those fighting to be heard while allowing protests to continue, as long as law enforcement’s response is kept proportional. [Al Jazeera: Merkel]

While recent remarks focus on the unrest of the last year, civil society has documented the ongoing suppression of journalists, bloggers, and voices critical of the government since before the May 2015 elections. [Amnesty International; HRW] Ethiopia’s international human rights obligations require it to respect and uphold the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, to freedom of association, to freedom of expression, and to life. Read more

Inter-American Commission: Funds Secured to Temporarily Mitigate Financial Crisis

Credit: IACHR
Credit: IACHR

Credit: IACHR

After a severe financial crisis threatened to effectively shut down major operations at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) this year, the IACHR recently announced that the immediate crisis is now over. Many States and other entities have agreed to donate funds, allowing the IACHR to salvage its budget and continue operating. Because the IACHR has overcome the crisis, it will be able to hold its second period of sessions for the year, in Panama City from November 29, 2016 to December 7, 2016. [IACHR Press Release: Panama] It will also avoid laying off staff, nearly half of whom were at risk of losing their positions. [IACHR Press Release: Crisis]

While the IACHR expressed its gratitude to donors and its relief at avoiding disaster, it emphasized that its overall financial health remains precarious and States must do more to fund its effective functioning. To that end, the IACHR and its judicial counterpart, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), have drafted a joint budget proposal for 2017. The Extraordinary General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) will review the proposal and adopt the OAS budget on October 31. [IACHR Press Release: Overcome; IACHR Press Release: Proposal] Read more

Colombians Reject Peace Deal Heralded by International Community, Negotiations Continue

Colombian Peace Agreement Ceremony
Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
Colombian Peace Agreement Ceremony Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Colombian Peace Agreement Ceremony

Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

On Sunday, October 2, 2016 Colombians headed to the polls to vote on a peace agreement to end the 52-year war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerillas. [The Guardian: Voters] Contrary to what the polls had predicted, the peace deal referendum was rejected by a 0.4 percent margin. [The Guardian: Voters] The deal was the result of four years of negotiations between the government, led by President Juan Manuel Santos, and the FARC. The agreement instituted a ceasfire and initiated the demobilization of fighters through a process that will continue to be overseen by the United Nations. [UN News Centre] It also included provisions that would have cut off FARC’s ties to the drug trade, required FARC guerillas to turn in their weapons and transition to a political movement that would allow FARC leaders to participate in government, and permit rebel leaders to confess and avoid jail time through special tribunal proceedings, while granting amnesty to fighters. [The Guardian: Brexit]

The peace deal, while criticized for compounding impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity, was largely seen as an opportunity to move towards peace. [Amnesty International: No Vote] With the no vote and the remaining uncertainty over the future of Colombia and FARC’s activities, officials have re-entered negotiations. [The Guardian: Brexit] Meanwhile, the Norwegian Nobel Committee  recognized President Santos’ efforts, awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize this past week. [Nobel Prize] Read more

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