Tag Archives: International

[From the web] Global Conference on Cyberspace 2017: Civil society messages -www.apc.org

Global Conference on Cyberspace 2017: Civil society messages

To the hosts and delegates of the Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS) 2017,

A free, open and secure cyberspace underpinned by human rights and democratic values is a prerequisite to socio-economic development. To this end, we must recognise that people are at the center of all technological advancements and therefore policies that seek to regulate technologies should be people-centric and ultimately aid in the development of human beings to the best of their abilities.

We, the undersigned organisations and individuals, believe that in order for GCCS 2017 to support this vision, its outcomes should:

  1. Reinforce the principle that cybersecurity policies should from their inception be rights-respecting and consistent with international law and international human rights instruments
  2. Promote and commit to multistakeholder approaches in the development of cyber policies at the national, regional, and international level
  3. Foster greater, more inclusive collaboration in the area of capacity building

In addition, in relation to specific Conference themes, it should reflect the following:

Cyber for Growth

  • Meaningful access for all to the open internet is the basic building block for any governance and growth initiatives in cyberspace. Uninhibited, uninterrupted, affordable and neutral access to the internet promotes innovation, enhances choices for users, and fuels demand for more robust digital networks and services. Network disruptions slow efforts to sustainably build digital economies and restrict access to crucial digital services.
  • Thriving digital economies depend upon an enabling policy and regulatory environment, built on legal frameworks which ensure that people have control over their data and can trust the public and private entities they interact with online.
  • The digital economy thrives when users create and innovate, small businesses succeed and entrepreneurs create products and services that address pressing local challenges. Access to capital, free and open source software (FOSS), and community networks are but a few of the critical building blocks of local digital economies.
  • Individuals’ ability to fully participate in the digital economy requires an, open, dependable and trusted Internet as well as the availability and accessibility of tools and training to ensure their safety and privacy online.

Cyber for Digital Inclusion

  • An open, transparent, and inclusive approach to cyber policy making is the best way to foster and ensure an inclusive cyberspace for all.
  • Bridging digital divides between and within countries through meaningful access is a prerequisite for all citizens to fully benefit from the digital economy. Ensuring meaningful access, and not just access to infrastructure, but access to a free, open, affordable and secure internet, including increased digital literacy of all people, is a critical enabler of digital inclusion and the full enjoyment of human rights.
  • Digital inclusion should be underpinned by capacity building efforts that address and are tailored to the specific needs of people and communities they are meant to benefit.

Cyber for Security

  • The development and implementation of cybersecurity-related laws, policies and practices should be people-centric and consistent with international law, including international human rights law.
  • The promotion of the security, stability and resilience of cyberspace is a shared responsibility and should include all stakeholders. While recognizing the importance of public-private partnerships, these frameworks of cooperation need to be transparent and accountable.
  • Any use of emerging technologies for monitoring and control of content should be prescribed by law, necessary to achieve a legitimate aim, and proportionate to the aim pursued, as strictly defined under General Comment 34 of the Human Rights Committee and the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance.
  • Standards of behavior online should be people-centric and rights respecting by design, and developed in an open, transparent and inclusive way.
  • Cybersecurity capacity building has an important role in enhancing the security of persons both online and offline; such efforts should promote human rights respecting approaches to cybersecurity.

Cyber for Diplomacy

  • The integral role and potential of ICTs and cyberspace to promote peace and security must be explored and promoted.
  • Existing international laws and standards apply to cyberspace and must be extended to meet emerging challenges.
  • Cyberspace-related international policy development and cooperation should be inclusive and transparent, and consistently adhere to the rule of law.
    States must pursue norms of state behavior complementary to international human rights law that promote the free and open internet and security of users.

We would like to emphasize that any new cyber capacity building efforts and initiatives to share information and knowledge should seek to build upon and complement existing processes and fora (such as the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise). They should be open, transparent and inclusive of all stakeholders, consensus-driven, and accountable. They should facilitate the sharing of expertise and good practices, and commit to addressing digital divide(s) and the need to build capacity of all stakeholders, particularly in developing nations.

The GCCS process is a crucial platform to achieve the above vision and we hope that it continues being a truly multistakeholder process, including civil society participation, and that gender perspectives and balance are fully taken into account, thereby enabling meaningful participation of all stakeholders.



Association for Progressive Communications
Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM)-Indonesia.
Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet)
Access Now
ICT Watch, Indonesia
Derechos Digitales, Chile
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER), Malaysia
Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, México
Karisma Foundation, Colombia
Digital Empowerment Foundation, India
Sinar Project, Malaysia
Human Rights Online Philippines
Forum for Digital Equality
TEDIC, Paraguay
Rudi International, Democratic Republic of Congo
Paradigm Initiative, Nigeria
Global Partners Digital, UK


Adizatu Moro Maiga, Media Foundation for West Africa, Ghana
Yusif Amadu, ISOC Ghana Chapter

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[Press Release] Social Movements support a binding treaty that will create obligations for transnational corporations to respect human rights -UNHRC

United Nations Human Rights Council: Social Movements support a binding treaty that will create obligations for transnational corporations to respect human rights

The Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity – a coalition of 190social movements, networks and organizations from around the world – along with the TreatyAlliance and Swiss social movements have organized a week of mobilization in Geneva (6-10 July) to coincide with the first meeting of the intergovernmental working group of the UnitedNations Human Rights Council; which will begin the task of creating a binding treaty to establish obligations for transnational corporations to respect human rights.

UN logo small

The scope of yesterday’s referendum in Greece shows that the demands of social movements from around the world prioritize the defense of human rights before the interests of transnational corporations.

The five days of mobilization kicked off this morning in the square in front of the Palais des Nations with a public event that featured representatives from the European Parliament, global social movements and civil society organizations. The panelists expressed the urgent need for a UN treaty on TNCs and discussed their experience with the systematic violations of human rights by transnational corporations, the impact of austerity measures in Europe, the hoarding of
natural resources worldwide and the use of Free Trade Agreements and Bilateral Investment Treaties to protect the violations committed by TNCs.

To close the opening event, representatives of social movements, networks and organizations in Geneva marched symbolically inside the Palais des Nations in order to follow and participate in the sessions of the Intergovernmental Working Group. The Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity has also contributed and official written submission to the Intergovernmental Working Group.

Lola Sanchez – Member of European Parliament, PODEMOS, Spain
“We need a revolution in the scale of current values in order to reposition Human Rights as higher principals that must be respected by all, without exception. A shift that puts the dignity of the people at the center of all policies.”

Goodwin Ojo – Representative of Friends of the Earth International, Nigeria:
“The systematic and systemic right violation by oil companies in Nigeria are leading ecosystems to death and the climate to chaos. A new binding human rights treaty should prevent such injustices in the future and control corporate abuses. Shareholders and banks, who are the most important financiers of
multinational corporations, may also be subject to binding rules in respect to human rights.”

Melik Özden – Director of Centre Europe Tiers Monde (CETIM) ‐
“We are here to close a gap in international law that allows major transnational corporations to violate human rights and destroy the envrionment with complete impunity, in particular in countries of the Global South.”

Brid Brennan – Representative of the Transnational Institute (TNI)
“For decades, free trade and investment agreements – like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that is subject to a vote this week in the European Parliament – have ensured that transnational corporations can continue to act with impunity, devastating communities and the environment. This treaty is a historic step forward towards providing effective access to justice for the
victims of human rights abuses at the hands of transnational corporations.
Participating social movements strongly re-state their call to dismantle the forces that facilitate the corporate capture of the public interest. As a result, they are urging all governments to participate in the historic process launched by the United Nations.

Program for the Week of Mobilization: http://www.stopcorporateimpunity.org/wpcontent/uploads/2015/07/geneva_programEN-2.pdf

Brochure for the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity:

Click to access CampaignBrochure_mar2015-ES.pdf

Written submission to the Intergovernental Working Group from the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity (June 2015)

Presentación escrita de la Campaña al Grupo de Trabajo Intergubernamental al Grupo de Trabajo de la ONU, Junio de 2015

Sol Trumbo Vila – Transnational Institute (Español/ Inglés) soltrumbovila@tni.org +31610172065
Richard Girard – Polaris Institute (Inglés/Francés) richard@polarisinstitute.org +41 779704709


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[From the web] UN experts voice concern over adverse impact of free trade and investment agreements on human rights -OHCHR

UN experts voice concern over adverse impact of free trade and investment agreements on human rights

GENEVA 2 June 2015 – A number of free trade and investment agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), are currently being negotiated. A group of UN experts* have issued the following statement to express concern about the secret nature of drawing up and negotiating many of these agreements and the potential adverse impact of these agreements on human rights:

“While trade and investment agreements can create new economic opportunities, we draw attention to the potential detrimental impact these treaties and agreements may have on the enjoyment of human rights as enshrined in legally binding instruments, whether civil, cultural, economic, political or social. Our concerns relate to the rights to life, food, water and sanitation, health, housing, education, science and culture, improved labour standards, an independent judiciary, a clean environment and the right not to be subjected to forced resettlement.


As also underlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, States must ensure that trade and investment agreements do not constrain their ability to meet their human rights obligations (Guiding Principle 9).

Observers are concerned that these treaties and agreements are likely to have a number of retrogressive effects on the protection and promotion of human rights, including by lowering the threshold of health protection, food safety, and labour standards, by catering to the business interests of pharmaceutical monopolies and extending intellectual property protection.

There is a legitimate concern that both bilateral and multilateral investment treaties might aggravate the problem of extreme poverty, jeopardize fair and efficient foreign debt renegotiation, and affect the rights of indigenous peoples, minorities, persons with disabilities, older persons, and other persons leaving in vulnerable situations. Undoubtedly, globalization and the many Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) can have positive but also negative impacts on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, which entails practical international solidarity.

Investor-state-dispute settlement (ISDS) chapters in BITs and FTAs are also increasingly problematic given the experience of decades related arbitrations conducted before ISDS tribunals. The experience demonstrates that the regulatory function of many States and their ability to legislate in the public interest have been put at risk.

We believe the problem has been aggravated by the “chilling effect” that intrusive ISDS awards have had, when States have been penalized for adopting regulations, for example to protect the environment, food security, access to generic and essential medicines, and reduction of smoking, as required under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, or raising the minimum wage.

ISDS chapters are anomalous in that they provide protection for investors but not for States or for the population. They allow investors to sue States but not vice-versa. The adoption in 2014 of the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration is an important step to address the problem of the typically confidential and non-participatory nature of investor-State agreements. Greater transparency should serve to remedy incoherence between current modes of investment with human rights considerations.

We invite States to revisit the treaties under negotiation and ensure that they foster and do not hinder human rights. If the treaties in question include a chapter on investor-State-dispute-settlement, the terms of reference of the arbitrators must be so drafted that interference in the domestic regulation of budgetary, fiscal, health and environmental and other public policies are not allowed.

Moreover arbitration tribunals should allow public review and its awards must be appealable before the International Court of Justice or a yet to be created an International Investment Court working transparently and with accountability. There must be a just balance between the protection afforded to investors and the States’ responsibility to protect all persons under their jurisdiction.

We recommend that:

All current negotiations of bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements should be conducted transparently with consultation and participation of all relevant stakeholders including labour unions, consumer unions, environmental protection groups and health professionals.

All draft treaty texts should be published so that Parliamentarians and civil society have sufficient time to review them and to weigh the pros and cons in a democratic manner.

Ex ante and ex post human rights impact assessments should be conducted with regard to existing and proposed BITs and FTAs.

The Parties should detail how they will uphold their human rights obligations if they ratify the BITs and FTA’s under negotiation.

Given the breadth and scope of the agreements currently under negotiation, robust safeguards must be embedded to ensure full protection and enjoyment of human rights.”


(*) The experts: Mr Alfred de Zayas, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Ms Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the rights of person with disabilities, Mr Dainus Puras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Ms Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Ms Gabriella Knaul, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Ms Hilal Helver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Mr Juan Bohoslavsky, Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debts and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, Mr Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drink water and sanitation, Ms Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms Virginia Dandan, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity.

For further information and media requests, please contact: Mr. Thibaut Guillet (+41 22 917 93 89 / tguillet@ohchr.org) or write to ie-internationalorder@ohchr.org

– See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16031&LangID=E#sthash.16r6HbL3.dpuf

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[Urgent Appeal] Kyrgyzstan: Assault against participants to an anti-homophobia event organised by Labris -The Observatory

The Observatory: Kyrgyzstan: Assault against participants to an anti-homophobia event organised by Labris


KGZ 002 / 0515 / OBS 043
Harassment / Assault / Ill-treatment
Obstacles to freedom of peaceful assembly
May 21, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Kyrgyzstan.


Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about an assault against participants to an event organised by Labris, a local NGO advocating for the respect of the rights of the LGBTI community in Kyrgyzstan.

According to the information received, on May 17, 2015, the organisers and the participants to the event held to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia were verbally and physically attacked and one participant was injured. The group of men responsible for the assault is allegedly associated with Kalys and Kirk Choro, two groups well known for their anti-LGBTI positions.

Afterwards, both assaulters and participants were taken under police custody. Upon their arrival at the police station, the participants faced further harassment by the police officers, who denied them medical care and subjected them to humiliating personal searches. On the other hand, the assaulters were treated respectfully. Moreover, two lawyers called to the police station by activists were denied access. A third attempt to request lawyer’s presence was only partially complied, as the lawyer was denied access to the interrogation room.

After more than five hours of questioning under police custody, finally a criminal case was opened against the assaulters, while the participants were released. The participants are planning to file a complaint against the police officers.

The Observatory recalls that Kyrgyz LGBTI rights defenders have been recently facing constant harassment. One month ago, the premises of the NGO Labris were set on fire.

The Observatory is further concerned about the consideration by the Kyrgyz Parliament of a highly controversial law banning the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”. If passed, the law shall provide for administrative and criminal sanctions in the form of fines and imprisonment up to one year. The draft law, that was condemned by civil society, international human rights bodies and other international actors as being inherently discriminatory and infringing freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and other fundamental rights protected by Kyrgyzstan’s Constitution, was largely approved in the first reading in October 2014.

The Observatory is also extremely concerned by the fatwa launched on January 29, 2014, by Kyrgyzstan’s acting grand mufti, Maksat Hajji Toktomushev, against same-sex relations. Back in 2014, the mufti alreadycalled on the Kyrgyz authorities to “pay particular attention to the activities of public organisations that seed social hatred using humanitarian ideas”.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the above-mentioned events and more in general about the intensification of harassment against the LGBTI community and its supporters, and fears that participants and organisers of the event on May 17, 2015 were attacked as a result of their human rights activities.

The Observatory calls for an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the assault, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply to them the sanctions provided by the law.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Kyrgyzstan, urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of members of Labris NGO and, more in general, of LGBTI rights defenders and organisations in Kyrgyzstan;

ii. Put an end to any kind of harassment – including at the judicial level – against members of Labris NGO and, more in general, against LGBTI rights defenders and organisations in Kyrgyzstan;

iii. Ensure in all circumstances that members of Labris NGO and, more in general, LGBTI rights defenders and organisations are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Order an immediate, thorough, effective and impartial investigation into all acts of violence against members of Labris NGO and, more in general, against LGBTI rights defenders in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply the penal sanctions provided by the law;

v. Drop the bill criminalising LGBTI rights defenders and organisations;

vi. Conform with the provisions of the Kyrgyz Constitution that entitles each citizen a right to equal treatment and the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association;

vii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) on December 9, 1998, especially:
· Its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
· Its Article 5(b) and (c) which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others “to form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups” and “to communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations”;
· Its Article 6 (b) and (c), which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others […] as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms and […] to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”;
· Its Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;

viii. Comply with the Resolution of the UN Human Rights Council A/HRC/22/L.13 on protecting human rights defenders, adopted on March 15, 2013, which “urges States to create a safe and enabling environment in which human rights defenders can operate free from hindrance and insecurity, in the whole country and in all sectors of society, including by extending support to local human rights defenders”;

ix. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Kyrgyzstan.

Addresses :

· Mr. Almazbek Atambaev, President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Chuy Ave, 205, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan Tel: +996 312 63 91 17, Fax: + 996312626191

· Mr. Melis Turganbayev, Minister of Internal Affairs, Frunze st. 469, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Tel: 0996 312 66 24 50, Fax: + 996312682044 / + 996312623853, email: pressa226@mvd.kg

· Ms. Jyldyz Mambetalieva Jeenbaevna, Minister of Justice, 32 M.Gandi Str., 720010 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Tel: +996 (312) 656490 , Fax: +996 (312) 656502, email: jm.26@mail.ru

· Ms. Indira Joldubayeva, General Prosecutor Office, 39 Erkindik Avenue, 720040 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan ,Tel: +996 (312) 663373, Fax: +996 (312) 661734

· State Committee of National Security, Erkindik blvd 70, Bishkek 720040, Kyrgyzstan, Tel: +996 (312) 66 04 75, Fax +996 (312)66 00 24

· Permanent Mission of Kyrgyzstan to the United Nations in Geneva, Rue Maunoir 26/Rue du Lac 4-6, 1207 Geneva, Switzerland, Email: kyrgyzmission@bluewin.ch, Fax: +41 22 707.92.21

· Embassy of Kyrgyzstan in Brussels, 47 rue de l’Abbaye, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 640 18 68 / + 32 2 640 38 83, Fax: + 32 2 640 01 31, Email: aitmatov@infonie.be

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Kyrgyzstan in your respective countries.


Paris-Geneva, May 21, 2015

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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[From the web] New OHCHR publication: “Moving Away from the Death Penalty. Lessons in South-East Asia” -OHCHR

New OHCHR publication: “Moving Away from the Death Penalty. Lessons in South-East Asia”

(BANGKOK, 27 March 2015) – The United Nations Human Rights Office for South East Asia (OHCHR) is pleased to release its new publication on death penalty in South East Asia. The report provides an extensive review of global trends in the application of the death penalty, a summary of the applicable international legal standards, and the current status of legislative reform related to the death penalty in the region.


This publication comes at an important juncture where the region appears to follow global trends in ‘moving away’ from capital punishment while facing complex challenges, such as the application of death penalty for drug-related crimes and pressures to return to executions after periods of moratorium. Some States are fully abolitionist (Cambodia, Timor-Leste, and the Philippines), others are abolitionist in practice (Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR, Myanmar), while others have an unofficial moratorium in place (Thailand). Some are undertaking efforts to reduce the numbers of executions and other reforms (Singapore, Malaysia), while in others, the direction seems more uncertain (Indonesia, Vietnam). As stated by Professor William Schabas: “Fundamentally, it is a positive picture of progress and one consistent with the worldwide trend. The continuation of this trajectory should be encouraged so this region may eventually be free of capital punishment.”

The publication is based on a number of years of work of the OHCHR Regional Office for South-East Asia. The Office collaborated with the Ministry of Justice in Thailand to organize an Expert Seminar on “Moving Away from the Death Penalty in South-East Asia” in Bangkok on 22 – 23 October 2013. Participants laid the ground for establishing a forum for intra-regional exchange between key stakeholders on international and regional law and practice regarding the death penalty. As a follow-up to that meeting, the Indonesian Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) organized with OHCHR its Third Jakarta Human Rights Dialogue on “The Right to Life and Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty” in Jakarta on 10 – 11 November 2014.

Both events had participants from Governments, AICHR, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations, as well as international experts, lawyers, and academia from the region. “We hope this publication can be a resource for further discussions in the region and help to establish moratoria on the use of death penalty and ultimately its abolition,.” noted Matilda Bogner, the Regional Representative of the OHCHR Regional Office for South-East Asia.

The English version is accessible on OHCHR Bangkok website at http://bangkok.ohchr.org/. The publication will be soon available in Thai, Bahasa and Vietnamese. In the coming months, the Regional Office will also launch the publication at events organized with partners in the region.

The Regional Office for South-East Asia in Bangkok represents the High Commissioner for Human Rights within South East Asia. The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the United Nations and heads the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which spearheads the United Nations’ human rights efforts .

OHCHR website: http://www.ohchr.org
OHCHR Regional Office for South-East Asia website: http://bangkok.ohchr.org/

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[From the web] Expert says key housing rights responsibility lie with local authorities -OHCHR

Expert says key housing rights responsibility lie with local authorities

There are over a billion people around the world living in inadequate housing, said Leilani Farha, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing.

By inadequate, Farha means people who are homeless, or living without title to land, living with the threat of forced eviction or living without essential services such as water, electricity or sanitation. And key responsibilities for making this better, lay with local and subnational authorities, she said.


“It is my opinion that the right to adequate housing cannot be effectively implemented without the full participation of local governments,” Farha said.

Farha raised her concerns during the presentation of her report during the 28th session of the Human Rights Council. This is Farha’s first report to the Council, since taking up her duties in 2014.
Read full article @www.ohchr.org

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[Press Release] Torture in the Philippines over the past 30 years -APT

Torture in the Philippines over the past 30 years
Global research on the prevention of torture: Presentation of country study

What are the key factors that can reduce torture and ill-treatment? This question has been the focus of a three-year research project, based on 16 country studies from all regions of the world. On Tuesday 17 March, Atty. Ricardo Sunga, University of the Philippines,presented the research project and gave an overview of the situation in the country.


17 March 2015.The research project was commissioned in 2011 by the Geneva-based Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) and carried out by a team of independent researchers under the leadership of Professor Richard Carver, Oxford Brookes University, UK. The research focuses on whether preventive measures – such as an appropriate legal framework, monitoring of places of detention and access to lawyers – have had an impact on the prevalence of torture over a period of 30 years. Apart from the Philippines, research partners have studied the situation in Argentina, Chile, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Norway, Peru, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

The Philippines’ country study was conducted by Atty. Ricardo Sunga, a legal and human rights expert from the Human Rights Institute of the University of the Philippines. Atty. Sunga has now, for the first time, presenting his work and findings regarding torture in the Philippines, from 1985 to 2013. Torture was at its peak at the beginning of the period, at the tail end of the regime of president Ferdinand Marcos. Torture decreased slightly following the end of the Marcos regime, though its frequency, severity and geographical spread remained high. Atty. Ricardo Sunga has specifically focused on the legal developments around criminalization of torture, leading to the adoption of the Anti-Torture Act in 2009 and the growing potential of the Philippines Commission on Human Rights as an independent complaints and monitoring mechanism.

The complete, global research report will be published in 2016. The findings are of great importance and will help design more effective strategies to prevent torture, in the Philippines and internationally.

The research presentation took place in conjunction to another important gathering on the prevention of torture and ill-treatment– a national forum on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, which the Philippines ratified in 2012. The meeting was organised by the United Against Torture Coalition, the Commission on Human Rights and the University of the Philippines Institute of Human Rights.

For more information, please contact:
Ms. Shazeera Zawawi, Association for the Prevention of Torture (www.apt.ch) +639062775853, szawawi@apt.ch
Atty. Ricardo Sunga, Human Rights Institute of the University of the Philippines, +639178542124.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Press Release] Secretary General of the OMCT addresses challenges of protecting children from torture during the World Congress on Juvenile Justice

“Secretary General of the OMCT addresses challenges of protecting children from torture during the World Congress on Juvenile Justice”

Geneva, 30 of January 2015. The Secretary General of the OMCT, Gerald Staberock, addressed the World Congress on Juvenile Justice setting out the challenges that States and the civil society faces when trying to protect children from torture and ill-treatment.


The OMCT recalled  the special vulnerability of children to violence and torture and ill-treatment. Despite significant progress on international anti-torture and child rights standards over the last two decades there remains a current proposition in society and law enforcement that some form of violence against children is more acceptable than against adults.

In his presentation he emphasized the important role that the anti-torture framework, providing monitoring mechanisms, provide to the protection of children; the urgent need for the implementation of safeguards during deprivation of liberty that are child adequate, and the protection from violence in prisons. He also called for support to civil society working on torture and set out the need to translate remedies into practice, making them real and child accessible.

The Congress hosted by Terre des Hommes and the Swiss Government took place in Geneva from the 25 to the 30 of January and counted with the presence of governmental officials, civil society representatives and international organizations.

The OMCT was equally represented by its Child Rights Coordinator, overseing a global program encouraging civil society monitoring of places of detention, legal and policy reforms to improve the situation of children in conflict of the law, and the building of capacity, including Benin, Uruguay, Brasil and the Philipinnes. The Congress was also attended by a number of its member organization, in particular member of the SOS-Torture Network from Benin and Uruguay, with long-standing expertise in protecting children from violence.

To see the content of the presentation, please see attached file.

For further information please contact:
Carolina Barbara at cb@omct.org

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[Statement] ICJ condemns execution of six persons in Indonesia: the death penalty is a perversion of justice

ICJ condemns execution of six persons in Indonesia: the death penalty is a perversion of justice
January 19, 2015

Bangkok, Thailand — The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) today echoed the call of other international and national human rights groups condemning the execution in Indonesia of six persons convicted of drug trafficking offences. The ICJ emphasized that the death penalty constitutes a denial of the right to life and freedom from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment.



Six persons convicted of drug trafficking offences were executed by firing squad on Sunday, 18 January 2015, in Indonesia. Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, Namaona Denis, Daniel Enemuo aka Diarrassouba Mamadou, Ang Kiem Soei aka Kim Ho, and Rani Andriani aka Melisa Aprika were executed at a high security prison on Nusakambangan Island, while Tran Thi Bich Hanh was executed in Boyolali. Both places are in Central Java.

Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, said, “The UN Human Rights Committee has made it clear that imposition of the death penalty for drug offenses is incompatible with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and has explicitly called on Indonesia to amend their laws accordingly and to commute all death sentences imposed on persons convicted of such crimes.”

Indonesia is a State Party to the ICCPR, having acceded to it in 2006.

The six men had lodged clemency requests with President Joko Widodo, but they were denied.

Muhammad Prasetyo, Indonesia’s Attorney General, said that he hoped the executions of these six persons would have “a deterrent effect” on drug dealers. Sam Zarifi, however, emphasized that, “The death penalty’s perceived deterrent effect has been largely debunked, as recent studies have called into question the notion of any meaningful deterrent effect of capital punishment on the commission of crimes.”

Indonesia imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in 2008, but resumed executions in 2013. At the time, the ICJ considered the resumption of executions as a “major setback for the country’s human rights record” and noted it as inconsistent with the global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty.

According to the most recent report by the UN Secretary-General to the General Assembly on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty, approximately 160 of the 193 Member States of the United Nations have abolished the death penalty or introduced moratoriums, either in law or in practice. Indeed, the UN General Assembly has on five occasions voted in favor of a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty with view to abolition, including by the widest majority yet in December 2014.

In 2012, during the second cycle of Indonesia’s Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, countries such as Spain, Brazil, and Austria recommended that it consider abolishing the death penalty. The Government of Indonesia, however, rejected this recommendation.

The ICJ opposes capital punishment in all cases without exception and continues to call on the Government of Indonesia to abolish the death penalty and, as a first step, establish a moratorium on executions.


Emerlynne Gil, ICJ International Legal Advisor for Southeast Asia, tel. no. (Bangkok) +66840923575, email: emerlynne.gil@icj.org

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[International] Laos: Pledge Action on Rights, Stop ‘Disappearances’ -HRW

Laos: Pledge Action on Rights, Stop ‘Disappearances’
UN Review Opportunity for Progress, Answers on Sombath Somphone

(Geneva, January 19, 2015) – The government of Laos should use the United Nations Human Rights Council review of its record to pledge concrete measures to address its pervasive human rights problems, Human Rights Watch said today.


Laos will appear for the country’s second Universal Periodic Review on January 20, 2015, at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In a June 2014 submission to the council, Human Rights Watch raised concerns about the enforced disappearance of civil society leader Sombath Somphone, severe restrictions on fundamental freedoms to expression and assembly, the denial of labor rights, and abusive drug detention centers.

“The lack of progress in the disappearance of a leading activist is sadly emblematic of the Lao government’s failure take action on a wide range of serious human rights problems,” said Philippe Dam, acting Geneva advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “UN member countries should make clear their dissatisfaction with Laos’ inaction and insist upon genuine reform.”

Lao authorities’ have not made progress in the enforced disappearance of prominent civil society leader and Magsaysay award winner Sombath Somphone in Vientiane in December 2012. Although closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage captured him being apprehended at a police checkpoint, Lao authorities have recently claimed someone other than Sombath was shown being driven away. They continue to refuse offers of technical assistance from governments to assess the video footage or provide other investigative support. Civil society activists told Human Rights Watch that the Sombath case has had a severe chilling effect on activism in Laos, which has made them fear raising the case with the authorities.

Laos also has not taken significant steps to meet commitments the government made during its first Universal Periodic Review in 2010, Human Rights Watch said. The government has failed to end severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and the media, association, and peaceful assembly. A decree on the Internet adopted in September 2014 sharply limits the types of information that can be shared—including “false information” about the ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, or any information the government finds “distorts truth or tarnishes the dignity and rights of individuals, sectors, institutions and organizations.” The government has long controlled all newspapers, television, and radio in the country, and bars media reporting if it considers it contrary to undefined “national interests” or “traditional culture and dignity.” People taking part in unauthorized public protests have been sentenced to long prison terms.

Workers are prohibited from establishing or joining a trade union of their own choosing since all unions must be part of the government-controlled Lao Federation of Trade Unions. They are also unable to exercise their right to strike because of restrictions in labor law and authorities’ proven willingness to forcibly break up workers’ protests.

The Lao government maintains a system of drug detention centers where detainees are held for months and sometimes years without a court ruling, judicial oversight, or an appeal mechanism. Human Rights Watch found that detainees at the Somsanga center outside Vientiane received little effective medical treatment, and were instead locked in cells inside barbed wire compounds, and subjected to beatings.

“The Lao government has a long record of using enforced disappearances, oppressive laws, and long prison terms to silence its critics,” Dam said. “Governments should use the opportunity of UN review of Laos to make clear they stand with ordinary citizens against the abuses by unaccountable Lao officials.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Laos, please visit:

For more information, please contact:
In Geneva, Philippe Dam (English): +41 76 413 35 36 (mobile); or damp@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @Philippe_Dam
In Bangkok, Phil Robertson (English, Thai): +66-85-060-8406 (mobile); or robertp@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @Reaproy
In San Francisco, Brad Adams (English): +1-347-463-3531 (mobile); or adamsb@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @BradAdamsHRW
In Washington, DC, John Sifton (English): +1-646-479-2499 (mobile); or siftonj@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @johnsifton

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[From the web] A Deadly Start to 2015 for Philippine Journalists by Phelim Kine, Human Rights watch

Dispatches: A Deadly Start to 2015 for Philippine Journalists
by Phelim Kine, Human Rights watch
JANUARY 8, 2015

On Thursday, Nerlita “Nerlie” Ledesma became the first journalist murdered in the Philippines in 2015. Unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed Ledesma, a 48-year-old reporter for the Abantetabloid newspaper in the city of Balanga in central Luzon’s Bataan province, while she was on the way to work. Police are probing the circumstances of Ledesma’s death to determine if her killers specifically targeted her because of her job.


Ledesma’s killing occurred just one day after the horrific attack on staffers of the French satirical magazineCharlie Hebdo. But while the atrocity in Paris was a shockingly unprecedented attack on media for France, killings of journalists in the Philippines have become shockingly routine. Despite the country’s reputation as a regional bastion of free media un-hobbled by official censorship, journalism is a deadly line of work in the Philippines. On November 23, 2009, in the country’s single worst killing of journalists, a local ruling family’s “private army” on the southern island of Mindanao massacred 30 media workers and 28 supporters and family members of an opposition politician with whom they were traveling.

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines statistics indicate that by the end of 2014, a total of 30 Philippine journalists had been killed since President Benigno Aquino III came to office in 2010. Adding insult to fatal injury has been his government’s failure to bring to justice the perpetrators of the vast majority of these killings. There have been arrests in only six of the journalist murder cases during Aquino’s time in office. In only two of those cases have the gunmen been convicted – but not the masterminds who ordered and paid for the murders.

That official apathy in the face of a steadily mounting death toll of Philippine journalists has sent a clear signal to those who feel threatened by a free media – many of them powerful local officials – that killing journalists carries little risk of arrest and prosecution. Until Aquino summons the political will to ensure that killers of reporters go to prison for their crimes, 2015 will be another deadly year for Philippine journalists.

Phelim Kine is deputy director of the Asia Division at Human Rights Watch.

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[From the web] France: An Attack on Free Expression, Response to Charlie Hebdo Killings Should Protect Rights -HRW

France: An Attack on Free Expression
Response to Charlie Hebdo Killings Should Protect Rights

(PARIS, JANUARY 8, 2015) — French authorities should bring to justice those responsible for the horrific attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should guard against backlash against French Muslims and ensure that their broader response protects human rights.


The attack in Paris during an editorial meeting of the satirical magazine left 12 people dead, including two police officers. A dozen people were injured, four of them in very critical condition. It was the most deadly attack in France since 1961.

“This appalling crime is an effort to limit freedom of expression and an attack on those who celebrate free speech,” said Izza Leghtas, Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The response should be to bring those responsible to justice by way of a fair trial, and to protect media workers from violence and Muslims from reprisal.”

The authorities have identified two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, as the main suspects. A major police operation has been created to search for them. On the morning of January 8 in southern Paris, a man shot another police officer, who has since died of her injuries. Bernard Cazeneuve, the minister of the interior, has announced that the latest incident does not appear to be linked to the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Charlie Hebdo is famous for its controversial depictions of the Prophet Muhammad and for reprinting derogatory cartoons about the prophet that had been published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2006. The Charlie Hebdo offices were firebombed in 2011, and staff have received multiple threats. A police officer had been assigned to the chief editor, Stephane Charbonnier, for his protection. Both were killed in the January 7 attack.

Nothing can justify the horrific attack against Charlie Hebdo and the police officers, Human Rights Watch said. A core element of the right to freedom of expression under human rights law is the right to express opinions that offend, shock, or disturb. The French authorities should continue to uphold and promote this freedom, as should other governments around the world, including by providing security so that journalists can carry out their work.

Based on video footage of the attack, two armed men fleeing the scene shouted the words “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great” in Arabic) and “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” (”On a vengé le Prophète Muhammad”). The French Council of Muslim Faith condemned the attack, as did the president of the Conference of Imams in France.

It is essential for the French authorities to guard against any backlash against Muslims or other groups, Human Rights Watch said. Several mosques in France have been attacked since the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Cazeneuve has rightly condemned those attacks. Three grenades were thrown into a mosque in Le Mans during the night of January 7, one of which exploded without causing any injuries. Shots were fired at a Muslim prayer room, which was empty at the time, on the same evening in Port-la-Nouvelle, southern France, media reported. An explosion damaged the façade of a kebab restaurant close to a mosque in Villefranche-sur-Saone on the morning of January 8, without causing any casualties. After the gruesome murder of a British soldier, Lee Rigby, in Woolwich, south London, in May 2013, attacks against Muslims across the UK soared.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has rightly warned against hatred, intolerance, and conflations that could be made following the attack. The French authorities should ensure that Muslims and others are not targeted for reprisals, and investigate any such incidents. The authorities should assess the security risks around mosques, Muslim prayer rooms, and other places that are vulnerable to such attacks across France, and provide reinforced security as necessary.

While the French authorities should continue their search for those responsible for the attacks and hold them accountable for their acts, the authorities should not use this attack to adopt any new measures in the name of counterterrorism that would undermine human rights.

France already has very broad powers in this area. In November 2014 parliament passed a new counterterrorism law that expands those powers even further, without sufficient safeguards against abuses.

The new law allows the authorities to ban French nationals from leaving the country if they are suspected of traveling abroad to participate in terrorist activities, or of posing a threat to public safety after they return from a place where terrorist groups operate. The law also created a new offense of an “individual terrorist undertaking,” a vaguely worded offense that could lead to people facing such criminal charges for conduct that is not clearly described in the law as unlawful.

Human Rights Watch research has found that the pre-existing and broadly defined offense of “criminal association in relation to a terrorist undertaking,” has led to charges and convictions on the basis of weak and circumstantial evidence.

The new French law is part of a wider European policy response to fears that citizens of European countries may travel to Iraq or Syria to join the extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) or other groups and then return to Europe to carry out attacks. A counterterrorism bill before the UK parliament includes new measures aimed at curbing so-called foreign fighters that could breach guarantees of free movement, family life, and free expression. Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway are pursuing or considering policies to strip citizenship or restrict their citizens’ free movement.

Valls has confirmed that several arrests have been made in relation to the attack on Charlie Hebdo. While it remains unclear on what grounds those arrests have been made, the French authorities should ensure that the rights of all detainees are fully respected, and that anyone charged with an offense enjoys the full range of due process rights.

“At this time of shock and mourning, France should set an example of tolerance and uphold the freedoms it promotes,” Leghtas said. “Freedom of expression should not be weakened by this attack, nor should any other human rights.”

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[Press Release] Human Rights Day 2014: Psychosocial Support in focus with launch of Report-IRCT

Human Rights Day 2014: Psychosocial Support in focus with launch of Report

To mark this year’s Human Rights Day, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) together with the Medical Action Group (MAG) has launched the report ‘In Pursuit of Justice’, casting a light on psychosocial support for victims of torture in legal proceedings.


Psychosocial Support for victims of torture in the pursuit of justice is a key area within rehabilitation.

Fear of reprisals and re-traumatisation, no belief in the justice system and fear of stigmatisation from community or family members are some of the factors dissuading victims of torture from participating in legal proceedings against their perpetrators.

In addition, a trial is often an emotionally painful process during which the torture victim will require constant support from health and legal professionals to prevent re-traumatisation.

However, despite the potentially positive impact, the issue currently receives little attention. In general there is a lack of awareness of the degree to which torture can affect a victim’s testimony and therefore the impact that participation in legal proceedings can have on the victim’s psychological well-being.

By offering victims of torture specialised psychosocial support and access to justice programmes, centres can help them overcome the psychological burden of a trial, and also enhance the therapeutic impact of justice on the individual’s rehabilitation.

“On this Human Rights Day, the IRCT puts the spotlight on a critical yet neglected area within the fight against impunity and rehabilitation itself. The positive effects of psychosocial support to victims of torture in legal proceedings and to the fight against impunity cannot be ignored,” said Victor Madrigal-Borloz, IRCT Secretary-General.

The report is the result of a fruitful collaboration between our organisation and the IRCT, with the valuable contribution of torture victims and the professionals working to support them.

The report is now available for download at http://www.irct.org

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[From the web] Human rights 365 -OHCHR

Human rights 365


On 10 December every year, Human Rights Day commemorates the date on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaiming its principles as the “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”

This year’s slogan, Human Rights 365, encompasses the idea that every day is Human Rights Day. It celebrates the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights, that human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values.

In 2014 the message from Human Rights 365 is unequivocal: the UN Human Rights Office stands by its mandate and stands with the millions of men and women globally, who risk their all for human rights.

Make your voice heard now via our campaign on Vine: explain why Human Rights matter 365.

It is as important now, as it has been at any time in recent years to declare your membership of and support for the international human rights community.

On any scale, 2014 will be remembered as a year of daunting human rights challenges. In places where only recently there had been progress in achieving human rights, there has now been retreat. Nonetheless, there have been, significant, ongoing, global advances in achieving our human rights.

Support for the Declaration continues to grow: this year the Convention against Torture reached its 30th year, the Convention on the Rights of the Child is 25. In 2015, the very first of the international agreements giving effect to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination marks its half century.

As a global community we all share a day when those milestones can be acknowledged and we can take stock of the challenges ahead: Human Rights Day on 10 December. It offers all of us the opportunity to declare our commitment to the principles and standards developed over the more than six decades since the the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted.

Human Rights 365 on Vine
In six seconds tell us why human rights matter 365 and post it on Vine. Tag your Vine with #rights365 and we will collect them all in our Storify and tell the story on 10 December.

Human Rights 365 on social media
We want all of you to mobilize in support of our right to enjoy every day as a human rights day. Join our Thunderclap: support human rights 365.

Statements and video messages
Statements by the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein will be available shortly before December 10.

Visual designs
Visual designs promoting Human Rights DAY 2014 will soon be available in all six official UN languages and may be downloaded in either colour or black and white.

Source: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/HRDay2014/Pages/HRD2014.aspx

[Press Release] Migrant rights advocates applaud release of principles for human rights at international borders -GCM

Press Release: Migrant rights advocates applaud release of principles for human rights at international borders
October 22, 2014

(New York, NY) On October 22nd, in a report on the rights of migrant children to the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon announced the release of a new document outlining principles and guidelines for governments on protecting the rights of international migrants in border zones.

Global Coalition on Migration

“Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders,” published by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), offers important recommendations to governments on how to fulfill their human rights obligations to international migrants, irrespective of legal status. While not legally binding or establishing new rights, the Guidelines point to existing obligations in core international human rights instruments to offer direction on human rights-based border governance.

Representatives of the Global Coalition on Migration (GCM), an international coalition of migrant associations and rights organizations, and advocacy, trade union, faith, and academic institutions, are in New York to welcome the release of the Guidelines. Several GCM members from Mexico, Argentina, the U.S., and Europe contributed to the drafting of the Guidelines along with other civil society groups.

The Guidelines are seen as an important advocacy tool for migrant communities.
“This timely new document gives momentum to our efforts to end the human rights crisis at borders, to reaffirm protections for all, and to save the lives of migrant men, women and children,”

says Catherine Tactaquin, GCM representative and Executive Director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights in the U.S. Tactaquin will speak at the OHCHR launch event on October 23, highlighting the human rights concerns of migrant communities in the world’s major migration corridors. In his report, Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon calls upon governments to implement human rights safeguards at borders:

“Border governance often takes place in an environment that lacks transparency and accountability, contributing in turn to conditions of impunity and to the increased vulnerability of migrants. Some States mistakenly consider border areas as international zones or excised territory […] where they can act as though they were not bound by legal regimes or their human rights obligations.”

The Guidelines provide steps for governments to implement human rights-based border governance mechanisms, including implementing human rights training for border officials, legislating mechanisms to ensure accountability of private actors contracted to provide border management functions, and establishing procedures for the reporting of human rights violations that occur at borders with provisions for access to justice. The document highlights the need for governments to consider the individual circumstances of migrants, with particular attention to those who may be at risk and in need of assistance.

The GCM will host a celebration of the launch of the Guidelines and a civil society dialogue on their potential for enhancing human rights protections on the evening of October 23 from 5pm to 7pm at the Church Center for the United Nations.

For media inquiries and additional information, contact Karen Campbell at kcampbell@gcmigration.org.

Press Release: Migrant rights advocates applaud release of principles for human rights at international borders
OCTOBER 22, 2014

Press Release: Migrant rights advocates applaud release of principles for human rights at international borders

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[Press Release] World Bank Group: Proposed Policy a Setback for Rights, Development Cannot Succeed if it Harms Communities-HRW

World Bank Group: Proposed Policy a Setback for Rights
Development Cannot Succeed if it Harms Communities

(Washington, DC, October 10, 2014) – Draft World Bank policies under consideration at the bank’s meeting on October 10-12, 2014, would dangerously roll back protection for communities affected by bank projects, independent groups said today.


Foreign ministers and central bankers are meeting in Washington, DC, to discuss key challenges in ending poverty and inequality. For human rights groups and community representatives, a critical issue is the World Bank’s revision of its safeguard policies, which are intended to protect people and the environment from harm. The World Bank and its member countries cannot end poverty and promote shared prosperity without protecting the rights of people affected by development investments.

“While it may appear that the World Bank invests in improving human rights around the world, its current policies do not even mention this word,” said Mohamed Abdel Azim of the Egyptian Center for Civil and Legislative Reform. “Communities need better protection from the damages these projects can cause.”

This a renewed call made in July by the Bank on Human Rights Coalition to World Bank President Jim Kim and World Bank member countries to make an explicit commitment to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights in all of the bank’s activities.

“First of all, the World Bank should listen to the advice and expertise of local people – especially women,” said Moon Nay Li of the Kachin Women’s Association, Thailand. “We want development too – but usually the benefits go somewhere else. The World Bank actually needs to have stronger protections.”

The draft policy includes a highly controversial provision which would allow a government to “opt-out” of applying specific protections for indigenous peoples if it believes requiring the protections would raise ethnic conflict or contravene constitutional law, essentially rendering protections for indigenous peoples optional.

“Indigenous peoples’ recommendations to strengthen World Bank standards and bring them into line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples have fallen on deaf ears,” said Joji Carino, Forest Peoples Programme director. “World Bank pledges on ‘no-dilution’ of existing policies are being broken with this proposed opt-out, despite advances made in other substantive areas of the new proposals.”

While the World Bank announced that there would be consultations on the draft policy in locations around the world before the end of 2014, many dates and locations, even for October consultations, have not been published. Groups are demanding an extension of the consultation period and an expansion of the consultation plans to make the consultations fully accessible for all marginalized groups in borrower countries.

“The World Bank’s first draft of the new environmental and social framework represents a hazard for the entire international development community,” said Mariana Gonzalez Armijo, researcher at Fundar Centro de Análisis e Investigación, an independent organization in Mexico. “This shift would encourage countries to accelerate investment without clear rules to protect the environment and human rights.”

The groups urged the World Bank to:

Include local communities’ development priorities and plans when designing development projects;
Ensure full and effective participation by all potentially affected communities, particularly indigenous peoples and marginalized groups;
Make an explicit commitment not to support activities that will cause, contribute to, or exacerbate human rights violations and instead assess how projects will end poverty and advance human rights, including equality;
Prohibit all forms of discrimination identified in international law within bank-financed projects, including discrimination on the basis of political or other opinion and language, which are left out of the current draft;
Assess the human rights impacts of all World Bank activities and ensure that safeguards are in line with international human rights standards;
Protect indigenous peoples’ collective land and resource rights and require their free, prior, and informed consent for projects, in line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and eliminate the new opt-out clause; and
Ensure that anyone harmed by World Bank-funded activities has access to effective remedy. The World Bank should take responsibility where harm occurs and take whatever measures are necessary to provide redress.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the World Bank, please visit:

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[International] Australia/Cambodia: Deal Puts Refugees at Risk -HRW

Australia/Cambodia: Deal Puts Refugees at Risk
Phnom Penh Has Poor Record on Refugee Protection, Basic Rights

A new refugee agreement between Australia and Cambodia does not meet Australia’s commitment to send refugees to a “safe third country,” and will undermine refugee protection in the region, Human Rights Watch said today. A Cambodian government press release states that the Australian immigration minister, Scott Morrison, will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the settlement of refugees in Cambodia with the Cambodian interior minister, Sar Kheng, in Phnom Penh on September 26, 2014.


Australia and Cambodia have not released the terms of the agreement. However, Morrison has previously said that up to 1,000 asylum seekers sent by Australia to Nauru, where they have been recognized as refugees, may be transferred to Cambodia on a “voluntary basis.” Although Cambodia is a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, it has failed to protect refugees and asylum seekers, returning them to countries where they faced persecution.

“Australia’s deal with Cambodia will send people to a country that has a terrible record for protecting refugees and is mired in serious human rights abuses,” said Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch. “Australia should have examined these refugee claims itself instead of diverting asylum seekers to Nauru, but at least it should take those found to be refugees instead of shipping them off to Cambodia. Despite Canberra’s claims, the reality is Cambodia is both unsafe and ill-equipped to handle large numbers of refugees who will be given one-way tickets to Phnom Penh.”

Since September 2012, Australia has been sending asylum seekers who arrive by boat to Nauru and Papua New Guinea to be screened there for refugee status. Under the terms of an agreement with Nauru, Australia is committed to helping settle refugees to “a third safe country.” Australia has refused to accept returning anyone found to be a refugee to Australia on the grounds that it is pursuing a regional burden-sharing solution. As of August 31, 2014, 1,233 asylum seekers are detained in Nauru. As of September 18, 2014, the Nauru government has carried out 250 status determinations, 206 of whom have been recognized as refugees.

Australia will be failing to meet the terms of its agreement because Cambodia is not a safe third country, Human Rights Watch said.

The Australian government has referred to the transfer to Cambodia as resettlement. However, a spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, has described resettlement in Cambodia as not being a “durable” solution. “It’s not in the spirit of resettlement,” the spokesman said.

Cambodia has not demonstrated the willingness or ability to provide refugees adequate protection, Human Rights Watch said. Some recognized refugees resettled in Cambodia live in fear and self-isolation because the Cambodian government has shown a willingness to collude with countries of origin to have refugees returned, despite their status. As a result, refugees may be afraid to leave their places of residence, preventing them from working and reducing them to severe poverty.

In recent years the government has sent vulnerable people back to countries where they faced abuse, such as China and Vietnam. In December 2009 Cambodia handed over 20 ethnic Uighurs, whom UNHCR regarded as persons of concern, to Chinese government officials, who then returned them to China to secret trials and long prison sentences.

There is concern for the refugees once they arrive in Cambodia, Human Rights Watch said. The Cambodian and Australian governments have provided no information regarding refugees’ access to housing, education for children, medical care, and basic livelihoods. The Australian government has not shared details about the status of negotiations and contents of the agreement, nor has either country sought public input for the proposal.

The overall poor human rights situation in Cambodia raises further concerns about the security of refugees transferred there, Human Rights Watch said. The Hun Sen government severely restricts the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, and state security forces routinely commit killings, torture, and other abuses with impunity. Those living on the margins – including refugees and asylum seekers lacking employment, Khmer language skills, and a social network – are at particular risk. For instance, Human Rights Watch has documented the arbitrary arrest, detention, and mistreatment of “undesirables” housed in squalid detention centers run by the Social Welfare Ministry, where beatings, torture, and rapes by guards go unpunished.

“Instead of answering questions about the treatment of refugees in Cambodia, the Australian government has shut down any public discussion of these issues,” Pearson said. “Australia is finding a new excuse to palm off the refugee problem rather than genuinely finding a regional solution that will involve Australia doing its fair share.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Australia, please visit:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Cambodia, please visit:

For more information, please contact:
In Sydney, Elaine Pearson (English): +61-400-505-186 (mobile); or pearsoe@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @pearsonelaine
In Kuala Lumpur, Phil Robertson (English, Thai): +60-14-914-4104 (mobile); or robertp@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @Reaproy
In New York, Phelim Kine (English, Mandarin): +1-212-810-0469; or kinep@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @PhelimKine


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[International] Basil Fernando of the AHRC receives Right Livelihood Award, known also as “Alternative Nobel Prize” -AHRC

WORLD: Basil Fernando of the AHRC receives Right Livelihood Award, known also as “Alternative Nobel Prize”

 © AHRC - Basil Fernando / AHRC (Hong Kong SAR, China)

© AHRC – Basil Fernando / AHRC (Hong Kong SAR, China)

The Asian Human Rights Commission wishes to inform you that The Right Livelihood Foundation has announced the laureates for 2014.

Asian Human Rights Commission

They are Mr. Edward Snowden, Mr. Alan Rusbridger, Ms. Asma Jahangir, Mr. Basil Fernando, and Mr. Bill McKibben. This award is also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.”

For further information about the award and this year’s laureates, please visit:

Basil Fernando is a Sri Lankan based in Hong Kong and the Asian Human Rights Commission has its headquarters in Hong Kong. The Announcement relating to Basil Fernando of the AHRC is as follows:

“… for his tireless and outstanding work to support and document the implementation of human rights in Asia.”

Basil Fernando is a leading Asian human rights defender. In a career spanning three decades, he has been pivotal in linking ordinary citizens striving for human rights principles at the grassroots to institutions working for structural reform at the policy level. Fernando, and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) that he led for nearly two decades, have developed one of the world’s most sophisticated “Urgent Appeals” systems. Through its Human Rights School and training initiatives, the AHRC has educated countless lawyers and activists on the principles of fair trial and the rule of law, thereby greatly advancing an Asian movement working towards the realisation of human rights for all.

From Sri Lanka to Hong Kong: Basil Fernando’s early life

Basil Fernando was born on 14 October 1944 and graduated in law from the (then) University of Ceylon in 1972. After graduation, he taught English as a second language at university level for 8 years, before becoming a practising criminal lawyer in 1980.

Fernando became concerned and began resisting the pernicious politicisation and corruption that was becoming common in the public justice system in Sri Lanka, undermining the legal profession. In 1989, when tens of thousands of people had already “disappeared”, his name was placed on a death list, forcing him to flee to Hong Kong. Fernando worked for a UNHCR sponsored project for three years as a Counsellor for Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong.

Subsequently, between 1992-94, he worked for the Human Rights Component of the UN Transitional Authority of Cambodia and UN Human Rights Centre as a Senior Officer. These experiences helped shape the approach to human rights that Fernando adopted when he accepted Directorship of the Asian Human Rights Commission, and the associated Asian Legal Resources Centre, in 1994.

Asian Human Rights Commission: a new approach to human rights work

Basil Fernando was the Asian Human Rights Commission’s only full-time employee when he joined the organisation in 1994. His approach to human rights was a radical departure from most human rights work in the region at the time. He focused on assisting victims of human rights violations and activists from within the communities who were supporting the victims, rather than propagating human rights from urban centres. Moreover, he began analysing precisely why and how principles of human rights were not being incorporated in, and implemented through, national public justice systems. Also, he began engaging in lobbying and advocacy from outside the country where human rights abuses were taking place in ways that supported and protected victims and informants. To achieve this, Fernando began building up AHRC’s capacity and the capacities that would allow such work to be done in the countries in which AHRC became involved – by recruiting and training staff and empowering partner organisations.

The AHRC today works actively in 12 Asian countries: Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Nepal, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the Philippines. Fernando stepped down from the position of Executive Director at AHRC in 2010 and today serves as its Director of Policy & Programmes.

Documenting human rights violations & promoting suitable solutions

Basil Fernando and his colleagues at the AHRC have painstakingly documented human rights violations in the countries in which they work, and published them in AHRC’s Annual Reports. Fernando and the AHRC team have produced several monumental works, which include the book Narrative of Justice in Sri Lanka told through stories of torture victims that documents 1,500 cases of police torture in Sri Lanka between 1998 and 2011, and article 2, a quarterly journal that analyses recent developments in the implementation of human rights standards in Asia. Torture – Asian And Global Perspectives and Ethics in Action are also regular publications. The AHRC, under Fernando’s guidance, has done extensive work in exposing and reducing the number of forced disappearances and in assisting victims. It has documented a number of disappearances in a “Cyberspace Graveyard”, available at http://www.disappearances.org

Given the absence of a governmental charter on human rights in Asia, and cognisant of the arguments against human rights on the basis of cultural relativism, the AHRC launched a series of consultations, which lasted several years, to develop consensus for a human rights charter. The Asian Human Rights Charter, a people’s charter representing the consensus of Asian civil society, which resulted, was adopted in South Korea in 1998. While subscribing to the universality of human rights, it demonstrates Asia’s particular approaches being used in framing human rights, and is available in several languages. Efforts towards drafting an Asian Charter on the rule of law are ongoing.

Initiating an Asia-wide campaign against torture and ill-treatment, as an answer to widespread use of torture in Asian countries, has become one of AHRC’s core activities. This has resulted in the formation of the Asian Alliance Against Torture and Ill-Treatment (AAATI), which also holds meetings for parliamentarians from Asian countries to encourage them to play an active part in eliminating the use of torture.

The AHRC urgent appeals system

During Fernando’s leadership, the AHRC developed one of the most extensive urgent appeals programmes in the Asian region to assist persons who suffer human rights abuses. This programme is arranged so complaints can be received quickly, speedy interventions can be made at local, national, and UN levels, and the information can be disseminated to a large audience across the world. Over 350 urgent appeals from different Asian countries are received and acted upon by the AHRC annually. The appeals system has successfully led to the release of many ordinary people, saving them from suffering further human rights abuses.

Human rights education

The AHRC under Fernando’s watch has established a human rights school with a view to developing a new form of human rights education based on the application of human rights principles to current problems, adopting the Danish Style Folk School method of education through dialogue. The school holds live sessions in different countries in the region, and also by way of a correspondence school, disseminates lessons to local human rights organisations and also makes the same available on the Internet. The human rights school has been widely subscribed by the global human rights community, with over 200 persons accessing the modules every month.

In 1995, the AHRC also commenced a direct programme to train Chinese lawyers on the principles and proof of fair trial. This training programme has been ongoing annually, and the AHRC has managed to make a significant impact in promoting the rule of law in China, establishing partnerships with a remarkable number of lawyers, law teachers, academics, and activists.

On the basis of a large body of data gathered over many years, the AHRC has identified that archaic and extremely backward public justice systems, i.e. police, prosecution, judicial and prison institutions, are the major obstacle to the implementation of human rights in Asian countries. In order to overcome this major obstacle the AHRC has made advocacy for re-engineering of justice systems another key focus of its work.


Basil Fernando is a Senior Ashoka Fellow and a Sohmen Visitor of Law at the University of Hong Kong. He received the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in South Korea in 2001. He is also a reputed poet and creative writer, who writes in his mother tongue Sinhala and in English.

The following is the Press Release from the Right Livelihood Award Foundation:

2014 Awards honour courageous and effective work for human rights, freedom of the press, civil liberties and combatting climate change.

The 2014 Right Livelihood Honorary Award goes to EDWARD SNOWDEN (USA) “for his courage and skill in revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance violating basic democratic processes and constitutional rights”.

and to

ALAN RUSBRIDGER (UK) “for building a global media organisation dedicated to responsible journalism in the public interest, undaunted by the challenges of exposing corporate and government malpractices”.

Three Laureates will equally share the cash award of SEK 1,5 million:

The Jury recognises ASMA JAHANGIR (Pakistan) “for defending, protecting and promoting human rights in Pakistan and more widely, often in very difficult and complex situations and at great personal risk”.

It is the first time that a Right Livelihood Award goes to Pakistan.

The Jury awards BASIL FERNANDO/ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (Hong Kong SAR/China) “for his tireless and outstanding work to support and document the implementation of human rights in Asia”.

The Jury recognises BILL McKIBBEN (USA) “for mobilising growing popular support in the USA and around the world for strong action to counter the threat of global climate change”.

The Foundation will fund legal support for Edward Snowden.

The 2014 Right Livelihood Awards were to be announced at the Swedish Foreign Office pressroom on September 25, where the announcement has been taking place since 1995. But the Foreign Office has decided to cancel the press conference this year. The Right Livelihood Award Foundation thus decided to publish the news already today on its website and via newswires.

Further information and material supporting this press release can be accessed via http://www.rightlivelihood.org

For high-resolution pictures and videos, please also refer to

Please check the credit information provided before publication.

Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, said:

“This year’s Right Livelihood Laureates are stemming the tide of the most dangerous global trends. With this year’s Awards, we want to send a message of urgent warning that these trends – illegal mass surveillance of ordinary citizens, the violation of human and civil rights, violent manifestations of religious fundamentalism, and the decline of the planet’s life-supporting systems – are very much upon us already. If they are allowed to continue, and reinforce each other, they have the power to undermine the basis of civilised societies.

But the Laureates also demonstrate that the choice is entirely in our hands: by courageous acts of civil disobedience in the public interest, through principled and undeterred journalism, by upholding the rule of law and documenting each violation of it, and by building social movements to resist the destruction of our natural environment, we can turn the tide and build our common future on the principles of freedom, justice, and respect for the Earth.”

For more information, please see:

# # #
About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
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Visit our new website with more features at http://www.humanrights.asia.

September 24, 2014

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[Event] Film showing: “Miners shot down”

JOIN US IN A FREE FILM SHOWING OF “MINERS SHOT DOWN” On August 13 (Wednesday), 2 pm, @ Workers House (94 Scout Delgado) – This is part of the Marikana Global Day of Remembrance activities. For more information pls contact: Sentro 3321378 or ATM 4403211


“In August 2012, mineworkers in one of South Africa’s biggest platinum mines began a wildcat strike for better wages. Six days later the police used live ammunition to brutally suppress the strike, killing 34 and injuring many more. Using the point of view of the Marikana miners, Miners Shot Down follows the strike from day one, showing the courageous but isolated fight waged by a group of low-paid workers against the combined forces of the mining company Lonmin, the ANC government and their allies in the National Union of Mineworkers.

What emerges is collusion at the top, spiralling violence and the country’s first post-apartheid massacre. South Africa will never be the same again.” Source: http://www.minersshotdown.co.za/

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[Around the World] Cambodia : Sentence of 2 former Khmer Rouge leaders to life imprisonment is historic -FIDH

Cambodia : Sentence of 2 former Khmer Rouge leaders to life imprisonment is historic

FIDH and ADHOC, welcome the ECCC landmark decision condemning Khieu Samphan, former Head of State of Democratic Kampuchea, and Nuon Chea, former President of the Assembly of People’s Representatives of Democratic Kampuchea and ideologist of the Khmer Rouge regime, to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity related to forced movements of population and the execution of former Khmer Republic soldiers and officials.


It is the first time that high-ranking officials of the Khmer Rouge regime are convicted by an independent Court. The ECCC trial judges also decided to order collective measures of reparation for Civil Parties.

“Although this decision is issued almost 40 years after the Khmer Rouge crimes, it is a historic victory for Civil Parties”, said Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President and Civil Parties lawyer. “We hope this decision will contribute to the Cambodian society’s work towards sustainable peace and independent justice”, added Mr. Baudouin.

“Now that the high-ranking officials of the Khmer Rouge regime have been found guilty, we will finally be able to mourn our relatives”, declared Civil Parties from France represented by FIDH, who attended the verdict hearing today. “It was important for us to see those who planned and ordered these crimes be held to account”, they added.

“The decision issued by the Trial Chamber of the ECCC represents an important step against the impunity of former Khmer Rouge high-ranking officials. It is also a positive message for younger generations that these crimes cannot go unpunished”, said Latt Ky, ADHOC representative.

Read full article @ www.fidh.org

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