Category Archives: regional human rights protection

African Court: Côte d’Ivoire’s Partisan Electoral Body Violated International Norms

The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights in session in May 2016Credit: AfCHPR
The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights in session in May 2016Credit: AfCHPR

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in session in May 2016
Credit: AfCHPR

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) has issued a new judgment, holding that Côte d’Ivoire violated various human rights obligations in establishing a partisan election monitoring body ahead of the 2015 national elections, the first held since Alassane Ouattara succeeded Laurent Gbagbo in the presidency following an end to the country’s civil war. See AfCHPR, Actions Pour la Protection des Droits de l’Homme v. the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, App. No. 001/2014, Judgment of 18 November 2016, para. 153. Gbagbo is currently facing trial at the International Criminal Court on crimes against humanity charges related to violence following his defeat in the 2010 election. In its November 18, 2016 judgment, the African Court held that Côte d’Ivoire’s electoral body lacked the necessary independence and impartiality, thereby violating citizens’ rights to political participation and equal protection, because the body was composed of eight representatives of the ruling party and only four representatives of the political opposition and made decisions by simple majority. See id. at paras. 130-31. The Court ordered the State to amend the relevant law to comply with its international obligations. See id. at para. 153.

This is the first time the Court has found violations of certain provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, which the Court determined are “human rights instruments” within its material jurisdiction. See id. at paras. 47-65. The Court has previously found a violation of the right to participate in government where independent candidates were effectively prevented from running for office. [IJRC] Read more

UN Experts Warn Against Egypt’s Suppression of Civil Society

UN Special Rapporteur Maina KiaiCredit: Guyinnairobi photos via Wikimedia Commons
UN Special Rapporteur Maina KiaiCredit: Guyinnairobi photos via Wikimedia Commons

UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai
Credit: Guyinnairobi photos via Wikimedia Commons

United Nations human rights experts have recently denounced the suppression of the work of human rights defenders and civil society organizations in Egypt through the use of travel bans and restrictions on foreign funding for non-governmental organizations. In the last year, UN experts warn, Egypt has prevented human rights defenders from leaving the country and drafted a bill to limit civil society organizations’ ability to operate independently. [OHCHR Press Release: Defenders; OHCHR Press Release: Association]

The bill, which was approved by the State Council on November 28, is expected to arrive soon on the desk of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who will decide whether or not to sign it into law. The bill requires that an organization apply for permission to receive foreign funding; keep all work aligned with “the state’s plan, development needs and priorities;” and refrain from certain conduct, such as work “of a political nature.” [Human Rights Watch: Bill] The Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders and on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association have condemned Egypt’s recent actions, stating that the country is likely in violation of its international human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. [OHCHR Press Release: Defenders; OHCHR Press Release: Association] Read more

New Resource: Manual on the African Human Rights System


screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-4-24-18-pmThe International Justice Resource Center is thrilled to announce the launch of our latest publication, Advocacy before the African Human Rights System: A Manual for Attorneys and Advocates. This manual, which is part of our publication series Preventing and Remedying Human Rights Violations through the International Framework, is the result of several years’ work and benefits from the research and review of numerous colleagues. We are grateful for the input and feedback provided by partner organizations with extensive experience engaging in advocacy before the African Commission and Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Read more

Turkey’s Seizure of LGBT Magazine Issue Violated European Convention


The European Court of Human Rights
Credit: CherryX via Wikimedia Commons

On November 22, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that Turkey’s seizure of all copies of a particular issue of a gay and lesbian non-governmental group’s magazine that contained sexually explicit images amounted to a violation of the right to freedom of expression. See ECtHR, Kaos GL v. Turkey, no. 4982/07, Judgement of 22 November 2016, para. 63 (French version). Ultimately, the ECtHR found the interference with the exercise of freedom of expression was disproportionate to the legitimate aim of protecting public morals and not “necessary in a democratic society” within the meaning of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). See id. Turkey, the Court noted, did not attempt to implement a less burdensome preventive measure than the seizure of all of the copies in question, such as restricting sales to persons 18 years of age and above. See id. at paras. 60-61. Commentary on the case has noted that the holding establishes that a State cannot use the ‘protection of public morals’ argument to place blanket restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression. [ILGA-Europe] Another case pending before the European Court challenges a Russian law that prohibits distribution of “homosexual propaganda” to minors, which the applicants allege constitutes “a blanket ban on the mere mention of homosexuality.” See ECtHR, Bayev v. Russia, no. 67667/09, Communicated Case. Read more

News Clips- November 25, 2016

United Nations Official Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women:  ÒOrange the World:  Raise Money to end Violence against WomenÓ
United Nations Official Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women: ÒOrange the World: Raise Money to end Violence against WomenÓ

The United Nations Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 21, 2016
Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Civil Society

  • Following protests over the weekend and statements from the United Nations, Turkey withdrew a bill that would have granted amnesty to some perpetrators of child sexual assault. [Guardian]
  • Thousands of protesters in Malaysia demonstrated against the prime minister, resulting in 15 arrests. [Washington Post]
  • Authorities have started using tear gas and water cannons against refugee protesters in Bulgaria. [Al Jazeera]
  • The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders said this week that travel bans on human rights defenders in Egypt are politically motivated. [OHCHR Press Release]
  • Chinese authorities have ordered all residents of Xinjiang, the northwest province of the country that is home to millions of the Uighur minority, to turn in their passports. [Al Jazeera]
  • The UN Human Rights Committee found that Sri Lanka unlawfully detained and tortured a Canadian citizen and that the State is obligated to pay him compensation. [Jurist]
  • Protesters continued to demonstrate in the United States against the construction of a pipeline through land sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. [Washington Post]

Freedom of Expression


Women’s Rights

International Criminal Law

  • The United States extradited Azra Basic to Bosnia where she is wanted for war crimes. [NY Times]
  • Two men suspected of genocide were charged before a Rwandan court this week for genocide, among other charges. [New Times]
  • Following the decisions of Gambia, South Africa, and Burundi to leave the International Criminal Court, the ICC’s prosecutor called the decisions to leave “a regression for the continent.” [Washington Post]

IACHR Publishes Standards on Rights in Context of Human Mobility


The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights holds a thematic hearing on the situation of migrant and refugee children and families in the United States
Credit: IACHR

On November 4, 2016, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published a report that seeks to address the practical realities of those in the context of human mobility and lay out the legal standards that should govern Member States’ policies concerning migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, persons in need of complimentary protection, stateless persons, victims of human trafficking, and internally displaced persons. [IACHR Press Release] The report, Human Rights of Migrants, Refugees, Stateless Persons, Victims of Human Trafficking and Internally Displaced Person: Norms and Standards of the Inter-American Human Rights System, outlines standards that the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have developed through reports on petitions and cases, judgments, advisory opinions, precautionary measures, provisional measures and country and thematic reports. [IACHR: Press Release] The major areas of focus in the report are: servitude and human trafficking, freedom of movement and residence, due process in immigration and extradition proceedings, family life, the right not to be subjected to cruel or inhuman treatment as a result of deportation, immigration detention, the right to seek and receive asylum, non-refoulement, the right to a nationality, and property rights. Read more

ECtHR Allows Czech Law Prohibiting Midwife Assistance in Home Births


European Court of Human Rights
Credit: Figure via Wikimedia Commons

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held on November 15 that a Czech law prohibiting the assistance of midwives during home births does not violate a mother’s right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). See ECtHR, Dubská and Krejzová v. Czech Republic [GC], nos. 28859/11 and 28473/12, Judgment of 15 November 2016, para. 191. The applicants challenged the law, which the State argued was intended to protect the health and well-being of mothers and infants by encouraging hospital births, as unreasonable because it requires expectant mothers to give birth in a hospital in order to receive the assistance of a midwife. See id. at para. 96. The Grand Chamber, citing safety concerns and the State’s recent efforts to improve respect for mothers’ wishes in local hospitals, found that the law strikes a fair balance between the right to respect for private and family life and the goal of protecting mothers and children. See id. at paras. 189–91. The Grand Chamber’s judgment confirms a chamber’s 2014 holding.

This holding is in contrast to that of a previous decision in which a chamber of the European Court found an Article 8 violation when the uncertain state of Hungarian law on home births effectively dissuaded health professionals from assisting in home births for fear of prosecution. See ECtHR, Ternovszky v. Hungary, no. 67545/09, Judgment of 14 December 2010, para. 27. Two similar home birthing cases are currently pending before the Court – one against Lithuania and the other against Croatia. See ECtHR, Kosaitė-Čypienė and Others v. Lithuania, no. 69489/12, lodged on 19 October 2012; ECtHR, Pojatina v. Croatia, no. 18568/12, lodged on 9 February 2012. Read more

« Older Entries