Category Archives: Inter-American System

News Clips- August 12, 2016

SC Votes on Temp Extension of Mandate for South Sudan Mission
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SC Votes on Temp Extension of Mandate for South Sudan Mission 15-0-0

The United Nations Security Council discusses South Sudan
Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

International Criminal Law

  • Nada Kiswanson, a permanent representative at the International Criminal Court who works on evidence of war crimes in Palestine, has received death threats. [MEMO]
  • The International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh issued sentences to eight individuals for crimes against humanity. [Jurist]
  • German investigators have identified eight individuals who they suspect of war crimes during the Nazi era. [The Local]

Civil Society

  • The government of Ethiopia rejected the United Nations request that observers be allowed into the country to investigate the killings of protesters. [Al Jazeera]
  • Kenya’s High Court ruled that the late human rights lawyer, Willia Kimani; his client, Josphat Mwendwa; and a taxi driver were all forcibly disappeared. [Amnesty International]
  • The LGBT Pride parade schedule for August 13, 2016 in Odessa, Ukraine was canceled by the Odessa City Council, citing possible conflict and criminal activity that could arise around the event. [Human Rights First]
  • Pakistan passed its Electronic Crimes Bill, which activists claim could violate the rights to freedom of speech and privacy. [Jurist]
  • A Brazilian judge upheld protestors right to freedom of expression by ruling that they may peacefully criticize the interim president while at the Olympic venues. [BBC]
  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed concern that opposition party members were removed from the Nicaraguan legislator pursuant to a judicial decision. [IACHR Press Release]

Migrants and Refugees

  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over the treatment of refugees in Bulgaria, claiming they are often subject to detention and trials that do not meet international standards. [UN News Centre]
  • The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees expressed concern over the high numbers of South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries and the limited funds available to support them. [UN News Centre]
  • The UN again expressed concern that Australia and Nauru continue to hold migrants and refugees offshore where they are often exposed to violence and sexual abuse. [UN News Centre]

Violence and Conflicts

  • Several bombs exploded in Thailand at the end of the week in a resort town, Hua Hin. [UN News Centre]
  • Rebel groups in Syria announced that they intend to take the city of Aleppo. [Al Jazeera]
  • South Sudan has refused to accept a proposal to allow UN troops to enter the country. [Al Jazeera]

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Names Paulo Abrão Executive Secretary

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Emilio Álvarez Icaza Longoria, Executive Secretary of the IACHR from August 2012 to August 2016
Credit: Daniel Cima

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has chosen Brazilian law professor Paulo Abrão as its tenth Executive Secretary. Abrão’s term will last from August 2016 through August 2020 and may be renewed once for another four years. [IACHR Press Release: Abrão] As Executive Secretary, he will head the Executive Secretariat of the IACHR, which is composed of several staff members and is in charge of processing petitions and cases. See IJRC, Advocacy before the Inter-American System: A Manual for Attorneys and Advocates (2012). Abrão’s powers and duties will include consulting with the President to create the IACHR’s draft program budget, advising the President and other IACHR members on completing their obligations, and reporting to the IACHR on the Executive Secretariat’s undertakings. See IACHR, Announcement. Abrão will replace former Executive Secretary Emilio Álvarez Icaza Longoria, who served from August 2012 through August 2016 and announced his decision (Spanish) not to run for reelection last January. [IACHR Press Release: Abrão] Read more

August Sessions: Four UN Treaty Bodies, Inter-American Court in Session

Flags of the 193 UN Member States outside the Palais des NationsCredit: UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré
Flags of the 193 UN Member States outside the Palais des NationsCredit: UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

The United Nations
Credit: UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

During the month of August 2016, four United Nations treaty bodies will review several States’ compliance with their treaty obligations, two regional judicial bodies in Europe and the Americas will hold public hearings, the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee will discuss research and developments in the area of human rights, and two UN Special Procedures mandate holders will conduct State visits. The UN treaty bodies will hold interactive dialogues with over 20 States regarding their implementation of binding international treaties relating to the prohibition of torture, the prohibition of racial discrimination, the rights of persons with disabilities, and of migrants and their families. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hear a case against Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding an alleged violation of the right to freedom of expression, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will hear cases against Ecuador and Guatemala and a follow-up hearing on provisional measures against Colombia during its 55th Special Session. The IACtHR will also discuss thematic areas of international human rights, such as the right to freedom of expression, during the session. In addition, UN experts will visit China and Mexico to assess the country situations with regard to extreme poverty and human rights and to business and human rights, respectively.

The treaty body sessions may be watched via UN Treaty Body Webcast. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.  Read more

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

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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

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