Category Archives: Inter-American System

News Clips – July 8, 2016

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in ChinaCredit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Human Rights Bodies’ Activities

  • The UN Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution supporting online users’ human rights and criticizing internet shutdowns. [Access Now; TechCrunch]
  • The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women met with civil society representatives from the Philippines, Myanmar, and France ahead of those States’ interactive dialogues with the CEDAW Committee, which also took place this week as it began its 64th session. [OHCHR Press Release]
  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has suspended its planned July (and October) sessions amid an ongoing, critical financial crisis. [IJRC]
  • The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights held a special meeting this week in Thailand to review its work, complete its annual report, and address new areas of work, including its Judicial Colloquium on the Sharing of Good Practices regarding International Human Rights Law and Human Rights Cases in Domestic Courts. [AICHR Press Release]

Conflicts & Humanitarian Crises

  • The UN Security Council agreed to reauthorize the deployment of African Union troops in Somalia for an additional year, to improve stability and reduce the security threats posed by Al-Shabaab and other armed groups. [UN News Centre]
  • Amnesty International this week criticized the lack of investigation into war crimes committed by the Israeli military and Palestinian armed groups during the 50-day siege of summer 2014, when approximately 1,500 civilians died in the Gaza Strip. [Amnesty]
  • More than 280 people were killed as a result of last Saturday’s bombing in Baghdad, the worst such attack in Iraq since 2003. [Al Jazeera]
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross called on the parties to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine to stop attacking infrastructure on which civilians depend. [ICRC]
  • Many thousands have fled the South Sudanese city of Wau amid fresh fighting. [Al Jazeera]
  • An independent inquiry into the United Kingdom’s role in the Iraq war has culminated with the release of the so-called Chilcot report, which finds serious flaws in decision making by British intelligence and politicians, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair. [Washington Post; NYT]
  • A terrorist attack in Dhaka killed 20 people and prompted increased calls for the government of Bangladesh to improve justice and accountability while respecting human rights, particularly of civil society and members of the political opposition. [FIDH]

Human Rights Defenders & Civil Society

  • As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visits Beijing, China’s year-long crackdown on civil society has come under increased scrutiny. [AP; Amnesty]
  • Another Honduran activist, a colleague of slain environmentalist Berta Cáceres, has been killed. [The Guardian]
  • In Zimbabwe, citizens stayed home and businesses closed to protest government corruption and shortages. [The Guardian]
  • The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights joined other human rights bodies this week in condemning the murders of Kenyan human rights lawyer Willie Kimani and his companions. [ACHPR Press Release]
  • The human rights community mourns the death of Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Laureate, advocate, and Holocaust survivor, who died on July 2, 2016. [NYT; Enough Project; UN News Centre]

International & Domestic Courts

  • Following investigations and pressure from UN actors and civil society, Sri Lanka has agreed to establish, within a year, a special Sri Lankan court to try those responsible for human rights violations and war crimes committed during its internal armed conflict. [NYT]
  • A legal challenge to Brexit will proceed before a British court, which will be asked to determine whether parliament alone can initiate Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. [The Guardian]
  • Unconfirmed – and contested – reports are circulating that Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has been released from custody in Libya, where he had been held in secret detention awaiting execution. [The Guardian; JiC]
  • A French court sentenced two former Rwandan mayors to life imprisonment on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide for their roles in the massacre of 2,000 people in a church, during the country’s 1994 genocide. [BBC]

Police Violence

  • Following the police killings of two black men, in Louisiana and Minnesota, earlier this week and the killing of five police officers by snipers at an otherwise peaceful protest against police brutality, in Texas last night, the United Nations Working Group of Experts on Persons of African Descent called on U.S. authorities to address the persistent lack of accountability for police killings. [OHCHR Press Release]
  • New Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is making good on his promise to violently crack down on the drug trade, with 45 people reportedly killed by police and civilians during his first week in office. [Al Jazeera]

 

Human Rights Bodies Address Homophobia, Gun Violence after Orlando Attack

The_Stonewall_Inn_Vigil_(27558753192)
The_Stonewall_Inn_Vigil_(27558753192)

Vigil for Orlando victims outside Stonewall Inn in New York City
Credit: Elisa S

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UN Security Council, and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) have urged States to address homophobia, gun violence, and terrorism in the wake of the recent nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. [OHCHR Press Release; UN Press Release; IACHR Press Release] Early Sunday morning on June 12, 2016 Omar Mateen entered Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, and began shooting at the estimated 200 club-goers present for the “Hispanic party” hosted by the club that night. [CNN; IACHR Press Release] Mateen, who claimed allegiance to ISIS during the rampage, killed 49 people and wounded 53 more before being killed by police. [CNN] The Inter-American Commission and the OHCHR made recommendations to the United States to put in place measures to ensure non-discrimination and the elimination of violent attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons and called for more robust gun regulation in response to the shooter’s use of quick-reload weapons that he purchased legally. [USA Today; OHCHR Press Release; IACHR Press Release]

The recommendations were made in view of human rights bodies’ determination that sexual orientation and gender identity are included in non-discrimination provisions of human rights treaties, and the OHCHR’s recent conclusion that without adequate regulation, civilian gun use has a negative impact on the realization of many human rights. See Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 20, Non-Discrimination in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Doc. E/C.12/GC/20, 10 June 2009, para. 32; UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human rights and the regulation of civil acquisition, possession and use of firearms, UN Doc. A/HRC/32/21, 15 April 2016. In related news, the European Court of Human Rights has again concluded that its Member States are not required to ensure marriage equality, or equal access to partner benefits, for same-sex couples. Read more

Argentine Court Convicts Former Dictator for Conspiracy in Operation Condor

Néstor_Kirchner-Retiro_Retrato_Bignone-Buenos_Aires-Marzo_2004
Néstor_Kirchner-Retiro_Retrato_Bignone-Buenos_Aires-Marzo_2004

Former President Néstor Kirchner watches the retirement of Bignone’s portrait at Colegio Militar de la Nación
Credit: Presidency of Argentina

An Argentine court has convicted and sentenced former dictator Reynaldo Bignone and 14 other former Argentine military officers of crimes against humanity for their roles in Operation Condor, a transnational conspiracy behind the kidnapping, torture, killing, and forced disappearance of hundreds of political dissidents during the 1970s and 1980s. [NYT; CIJ] Bignone was convicted of participating in an illicit association, kidnapping, and the forced disappearance of over 100 people. [Telegraph: Operation Condor] The ruling is the first time a court in the region has publicly determined that dictators in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay collaborated in the cross-border conspiracy to eliminate leftist dissidents, some of whom had previously evaded their reach by fleeing to neighboring countries. [NYT] Additionally, the case is a rare example of a domestic court’s prosecution of a former head of state for transnational crimes, and is also noteworthy because the defendants were convicted on the basis of their participation in the international conspiracy rather than on individual criminal charges. [NPR] Read more

Inter-American Rights Body Suspends Hearings, Cuts Staff amid Financial Crisis

CIDH en crisis photo
CIDH en crisis photo

Credit: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Citing a severe financial crisis, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced on May 23, 2016 that it is suspending regular sessions and scheduled country visits effective immediately, and is set to lose 40 percent of its personnel when their contracts expire in July. In announcing the imminent cuts, the IACHR stated that the current budget shortfall highlights an ongoing lack of adequate funding for the regional human rights body by the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS), undermining its ability to monitor, protect, and promote human rights in the hemisphere. In recent days, civil society and United Nations experts have joined the Commission in urging States and potential donors to address the immediate crisis and calling upon Member States to develop and secure a sustainable budget for the IACHR. [IACHR Press Release; UN News Centre; CEJIL; openDemocracy] During a meeting on May 25th, the Permanent Council of the OAS heard from IACHR representatives on the financial crisis and the issue is expected to be discussed further during an upcoming OAS General Assembly session in June. [IntLawGrrls] Read more

Inter-American Commission Refers Colombian “False Positives” Killings to Court

Date: March 26, 2012
Place: Washington, DC
Credit: Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS
Date: March 26, 2012 Place: Washington, DC Credit: Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS

The Inter-American Commission holds a hearing in the case Wilfredo Quiñonez Bárcenas et al.
Credit: Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS

On April 14, 2016, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) submitted an application to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), referring several cases that involve the extrajudicial killings by Colombian security agents. [IACHR Press Release] The victims were killed between 1992 and 1997 and were six of several thousand “falsos positivos,” a term used to refer to ordinary civilians detained and killed by Colombian soldiers who then falsely reported that the deceased were unlawful guerillas killed in military operations. [IACHR Press Release] In its merits reports, the Commission established that these six deaths fit this pattern and had been inadequately investigated, in violation of the rights to honor and dignity, personal integrity, and liberty. [IACHR Press Release]

The Commission referred the joined cases to the Court after Colombia failed to comply with the recommendations in its merits report, which included determining responsibility for the killings, moving the investigations out of the military justice system, and implementing guarantees of non-repetition. [IACHR Press Release] In the ongoing negotiations between the government and FARC rebels, accountability for the “false positives” remains controversial. [HRW] Read more

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