On the first day of the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council, CIVICUS provided opening remarks on human rights violations in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Burundi, and Egypt.

During the forthcoming 29th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, CIVICUS and its partners will host a series of thematic and country-specific panel discussions highlighting pressing concerns for civil society and human rights defenders at the national, regional and international levels. The events will provide an important opportunity for a cross-section of the global human rights community to identify practical recommendations to create an enabling environment for civil society and effective strategies to foster greater transnational solidarity to address unwarranted restrictions on civic space.

For more information about these events please contact:

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JointNGOLetterUzbekistan12

10 years removed from the massacre in Anadijan, Uzbekistan, which left hundreds of civilians killed by security forces, the country remains one of the most persistent human rights violators in the world. To mark the anniversary, CIVICUS and nine other organisations have written a letter to representatives of the UN Human Rights Council urging them to take action.

Following the second UPR of Belarus, CIVICUS has produced a summary of the country's current human rights situation, associated recommendations from member states, and recent civil society advocacy activities that have taken place at the UN in Geneva.

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Side Event during the 22nd UPR Session

When: Monday, 4 May 2015, 12:45-14-15

Where: Palais des Nations Room 

While Belarus accepted a number of recommendations on improving the environment for freedom of association during its initial UPR review in 2010, little appreciable impact has been observed in this field. Accordingly, the legal conditions for freedom of association and civil society groups remain among the worst in the region. Moreover, from 2010-2014 several restrictive legal measures and laws have been adopted further imperiling the right to freedom of association.

image001During the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 2-27 March 2015, CIVICUS and its partners made several high-level interventions to support the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society across the world. CIVICUS co-organized a number of thematic and country specific side events to draw attention to acute restrictions on civil society, human rights defenders and fundamental democratic freedoms. In addition, CIVICUS issued several oral statements calling on the Council to address persistent violations of basic human rights.

Delivered by Okwaraogoma Ononuju Silver, CIVICUS

CIVICUS welcomes the decision by the Gambian government to accept several recommendations aimed at improving the environment for the respect of fundamental freedoms including those to fully protect and promote freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly for all without fear of arbitrary detention or harassment and to continue to improve the protection and promotion of human rights.

hrcIn advance of the 23rd Session (November 2015) of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), CIVICUS has made five joint and stand-alone submissions on the rights to freedom of assembly, association, expression and the environment for human rights defenders (HRDs) in Mauritania, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman and Rwanda. The submissions further provide a number of specific policy recommendations to create and maintain a safe and enabling environment for civil society and ensure greater compliance with international human rights law. 

CIVICUS welcomes with horror the detailed report of the Commission and deplores once more the dire situation of the Syrian People. We are shocked about the lethargy of the International Community when innocent civilians in Syria are living through unspeakable horror and when the Security Council, deadlocked by vetoes or threats of vetoes, has been powerless to step in and alter this landscape of destruction and bloodshed.

The fundamental and necessary conditions which allow for the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society are being systematically threatened across the globe. This precipitous decline in respect for fundamental civil liberties, including the rights to expression, association and assembly, is afflicting both emerging and consolidated democracies.  The examples highlighted below, while particularly acute, are only illustrative of the global backsliding on the promotion and protection of civil society rights that the Council must address without delay.

CIVICUS applauds the very principled stand of the High Commissioner in addressing the challenges to human rights to counter terrorism.  In this context we pledge once more support for the independence of the HC and his Office.

CIVICUS welcomes the first report of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children and congratulates her innovative road map to implement her mandate. We also welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights and want to address her country report on Vietnam in conjunction with the country report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion as well as the section on Vietnam in the High Commissioners report.

On March 3rd in Geneva, Switzerland at the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council, CIVICUS in cooperation with UNDP and the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, hosted the 'Annual High-Level Panel on Human Rights Mainstreaming'.To open the event, Renate Bloem from CIVICUS delivered the following remarks:

The objective of the event organised by CIVICUS, in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) was to share information and discuss the potential roles of data revolution and the work of human rights mechanisms in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs.

Cote_d_IvoireDans ce document, CIVICUS fait état de ses inquiétudes concernant l’environnement dans lequel les organisations de la société civile, les défenseurs des droits de l’homme et les journalistes travaillent en Côte d’Ivoire ; CIVICUS y relève aussi les menaces auxquelles font face ces individus et organisations dans l’exercice de leur liberté d’expression, d’association et d’assemblée. La restriction des libertés fondamentales est exacerbée par les effets des années de conflits et de la violence postélectorale.

HRC27During the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 8-27 September 2014, CIVICUS and its partners made a number of interventions to promote the creation of a safe and enabling environment for civil society and human rights defenders.  CIVICUS co-organized several panel discussions focusing on unwarranted restrictions on the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression requiring the Council’s further attention. In addition, eight joint and stand-alone oral statements were issued to highlight pressing thematic and country specific human rights concerns.

In parallel to the Council session events, CIVICUS co-organized six panel discussions to help identify  emerging global trends in civil society restrictions and reflect on the essential measures States and the UN must take to protect the spaces in which civil society operate. The events, including on Bahrain, Ethiopia, and Yemen, provided crucial ingresses for human rights defenders to discuss the challenges they face at the national level and examine their governments’ adherence to international human rights obligations.

Over 40 civil society organisations have sent a joint letter to members of the UN Human Rights Council to support a landmark resolution on civil society space. The resolution, which will be voted on this week, mandates the OHCHR to create practical recommendations on how to effectively protect civil society space at the international, regional and national level.

Read the full letter

In advance of the 22nd Session of the UN Universal Period Review (UPR), which examines each countries human rights record every 4 and a half years, CIVICUS has issued six joint and standalone submissions. The submissions, including on Belarus, Honduras, Liberia, Malawi, Maldives, and the USA, analyse each countries’ commitments to uphold the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression and to protect human rights defenders. The submissions further include a number of concrete recommendations to ensure the creation of an enabling environment for civil society. 

CIVICUS on behalf of the Civic Space Initiative welcomes OHCHR’s Summary Report on the Civil Society Space Panel and we once again express our sincere thanks to the Panel’s organizers.

We wish to reiterate the Report’s clear message that civil society is an essential pillar of any democratic society and an indispensable partner of the Human Rights Council whose space needs to be both promoted and protected in accordance with international human rights law.

Read more

CIVICUS and its partners have produced joint and stand-alone UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on 11  countries. The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. You can download the submissions at the following links:

If you would like additional information about these submissions please contact tor.hodenfieldATcivicus.org

27nd Session of the Human Rights Council

Item 2
Opening Statement of the new High Commissioner for Human Rights
General Debate 9 September 2014
Delivered by Renate Bloem

Thank you Mr. President,

High Commissioner Zaid, CIVICUS warmly welcomes you to the Council and congratulates you for assuming the daunting task to become the chief of Human Rights, the 6th UN High Commissioner. You do this at a time when the world is on fire in too many corners.

We thank you for your first very rich update and concur with your frank analysis.

Read more

CIVICUS welcomes the establishment of this Special Session and applauds the Council’s proactivity in promptly addressing the grave human rights violation committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and associated groups.

However,  while we the agree that actions taken by these groups warrant further examination by the Council and a concerted response by the international community, we also urge the Council to utilize this occasion to ensure that the underlying tensions and root causes of the conflict are also duly addressed.

During the 26th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 9-27 June, CIVICUS organized eight joint or stand-alone panel discussions on pressing thematic and country specific human rights situations:

•    Civil Society Space: Addressing the Implementation Gap
•    East Africa: Civil Society and Human Rights Defenders : Regional Challenges
•    Repression, Reprisals and Detained Human Rights Defenders in the Gulf Region: Kuwait and Qatar in Focus
•    Rule of Law in Bangladesh
•    Re-Imagining Global Governance: CIVICUS’ 2014 State of Civil Society Report
•    Human Rights in Eritrea
•    Voices from Uzbekistan – An Atrocious Human Rights Record and the Lack of Effective Cooperation with the UN
•    Bahrain: Empty Promises, crowded prisons

CIVICUS also delivered ten joint and individual oral statements to highlight ongoing restrictions on fundamental freedoms:

•    Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights to Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association
•    General Debate on the Human Rights Situation in South Sudan
•    Final Update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
•    Interactive Dialogue on UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
•    Interactive Dialogue on the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprise
•    Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention
•    Adoption of the UPR outcome report of Cambodia
•    Adoption of the UPR outcome report of Eritrea
•    Adoption of the UPR outcome report of Vietnam
•    Adoption of the UPR outcome report of Yemen

In advance of the 21st Session of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which examines the human rights records of a country every 4.5 years, CIVICUS has made three submissions on unwarranted restrictions on the rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly and human rights defenders in Kenya, Kuwait and Turkey.  The submissions provide substantive recommendations to the States under Review (SuR) to create an enabling environment for civil society and ensure greater protections for human rights defenders.

In Kenya , CIVICUS, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya and the North Rift Human Rights Network raise concerns about threats faced by civil society activists, human rights defenders and journalists working on sensitive issues including land rights and gender rights from state security agents, government representatives and non-state actors. The submission further examines restrictions on freedom of assembly including the use of excessive force to disperse peaceful protests and legislation to target civil society organisations.

In Kuwait, CIVICUS and the Gulf Center for Human Rights examine the escalating criminalization of online activism, including judicial harassment of individuals and human rights defenders who utilize social media to express dissenting views. The submission further highlights the government’s continued attempts to undermine the free exercise of the rights to freedom of assembly and association of Kuwait’s stateless Bedoun community.

In Turkey,  CIVICUS’ joint submission with the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly (hCa) discusses the legislative and extra-legal measures taken by the government to curb civil society activism and freedom of association. The submission highlights threats to freedom of expression and assembly including arbitrary restrictions on media freedoms and access to information and the unwarranted judicial persecution of peaceful protestors and journalists in the country.

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ARTICLE 19 on behalf of the Civic Space Initiative* congratulates Frank La Rue on his final thematic report to the Human Rights Council. You have worked tirelessly over the last six years to defend freedom of expression where it is most at risk – including on free speech online, the threats of State surveillance, and providing the intellectual framework for Resolution 16/18. This report too will greatly enhance the work of civil society working on freedom of expression and elections.

Where freedom of expression is suppressed - the legitimacy of election outcomes will be contested, and avoidable political violence becomes inevitable, as seen in Pakistan, Venezuela, and Iran.

We underline that States must act to prevent and protect against threats, harassment and attacks on journalists, bloggers, activists and civil society, including during elections. We stress that criminal defamation and insult laws continue to be abused to silence dissent and insulate politicians from criticism – as seen in Ecuador and Peru - and must be repealed.

Read more

Bahrain side event

The letter, endorsed by 11 civil society organizations from across the globe, urges the UN Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution during its 26th Session (9-27 June 2014) condemning ongoing restrictions on the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression and ensure accountability for grave human rights violations in Egypt.

 

 

In Yemen, CIVICUS, ANND and HRITC highlight the need to ensure the full realization of explicit commitments made by the government of Yemen during its UPR examination, including implementing legislation to create a safe and enabling environment for civil society.

In Vietnam, CIVICUS and 15 national civil society organizations raise concern about the ongoing persecution of human rights defenders for engaging with UN human rights mechanisms such as the UN Universal Period Review (UPR). They further urge the UNHRC to engage the Vietnamese government to ensure that human rights defenders are permitted to carry out their legitimate work free from government harassment.

 

 

The undersigned NGOs remain deeply concerned by ongoing serious human rights violations in Bahrain, including the politically motivated imprisonment of high-profile opposition activists and human rights defenders after grossly unfair trials, continued reports of torture, excessive use of force, regular denial of freedom of association and assembly, and a persistent failure to hold government actors to account for violations.

Read the letter here.

We are writing to encourage your office to make the conclusions of its mission public and to clearly identify key human rights concerns that should be addressed in priority by your office and by the Government of Bahrain. We also call on you to urge the Government of Bahrain to immediately release individuals arrested and imprisoned solely for the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly and to swiftly set up dates for the visits of Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council.

Read the letter here.

UPR 19 ethiopia flyer
In the lead up to Ethiopia’s second examination under the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 6 May 2014, PEN International, ARTICLE 19, Freedom Now and CIVICUS are hosting a panel discussion, at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland to examine the latest human rights developments in the country. The side event, “Ethiopia: What next for freedom of expression?” will scrutinize the government’s recent escalation in targeting journalists, human rights defenders and civil society groups.

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The 25th UN Human Rights Council session, 3-28 March 2014, marked the first-ever formal panel discussion at the UNHRC on the promotion and protection of civil society space. During the 25th session, CIVICUS made a number of interventions to highlight emerging trends in civil society restrictions and recommend key steps that States and the UN must take to protect the spaces in which civil society operate. Through these interventions, including parallel side events and written and oral statements, CIVICUS also provided a platform to its partners and members to input into UNHRC processes on creating a safe and enabling environment for civil society.

Civil society urges States to oppose proposed amendments that would weaken the Human Rights Council resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests (HRC/25/L.20) 

Read the letter here.

In advance of the 20th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which scrutinizes each country's human rights record every four years, CIVICUS has made four submissions on unwarranted restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly and human rights defenders in Bolivia, Egypt, Iran and The Gambia . The submissions further provide a number of substantive recommendations to the States Under Review to create an enabling environment for civil society and ensure greater protection to human rights defenders.

UN HRC March  2014

In Bolivia, CIVICUS and Fundación CONSTRUIR, raise concerns about legislative and extra-legal measures taken by the government to curtail or stigmatize civil society organizations as well as ongoing attacks, intimidation and harassment of journalists.

In Egypt,  CIVICUS and Elma7 Rosa for Media, Arts and Advocacy, discuss the growing repression of civil society and free speech including persistent imprisonment, disappearances and attacks against peaceful protestors, dissenters and independent journalists since the revolution of 25 January 2011.

In Iran, CIVICUS’ joint submission with The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, gravely notes the government’s failure to remove unwarranted restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, and assembly since its previous examination under the UPR in 2010, including the continued use of arbitrary arrest and detention to silence human rights defenders, journalists and civil society activists. 

In The Gambia, CIVICUS examines the routine use of judicial persecution, arrests and detention of journalists and dissenters for exercising their right to freedom of expression and opinion.  CIVICUS further highlights the recent adoption of a spate of restrictive legislation which impose draconian penalties against those who criticize the government. 

CIVICUS is deeply concerned about the situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), its unparalleled human rights violations, about the governments terrorization, murder, torture, mass starvation, lack of freedom of movement for its citizens both within the country as well as abroad. We therefore join recommendations of the Commission on Inquiry to ask the Security Council for DPRK’s referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC)

CIVICUS also continues to be concerned about Syria and with the third year anniversary is supporting a new campaign to raise awareness about the ongoing crisis. www.with-Syria.org 

Read the full statement here.

CIVICUS welcomes the Human Rights Council’s report on the Seminar on effective measures and best practices to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protest.

Read the full CIVICUS statement here. 

Delivered by Renate Bloem

"Thank you Mr. President,

Madame High Commissioner, 

CIVICUS welcomes your last annual report and wishes to pay tribute to your tenure, to your and your Office’ overall success and leadership in mainstreaming human rights throughout the UN system and beyond, so exemplarily underscored by the SG’s most recent initiative and plan of action “Rights Up Front”. You combated courageously human rights violations wherever they occurred, becoming the voice of victims and a beam of hope. We laud your smiling diplomacy which so effectively withstood every attempt to undermine or control your independence. "

Read the full statement 

 

During the 25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, member organizations of the Civic Space Initiative, including CIVICUS, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL),  Article 19, and World Movement for Democracy, issued an oral statement calling on the international community and national governments to take immediate steps to further articulate and codify the creation of a free and enabling environment for civil society.

Specifically, the organizations call on:

  • States to lead by example, to adopt and adhere to meaningful participatory processes in legislating and policymaking, and to repeal laws and abandon practices that restrict civic space.

  • The Human Rights Council through its special procedure mechanisms to develop and adopt guiding principles on creating a safe and enabling environment for civil society.

  • The Human Rights Committee to prioritize the drafting of General Comments on Articles 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

 Read the full statement here. 

Civil society relies on physical and digital spaces to perform their functions. In doing so they are protected by the freedoms of peaceful assembly, association, opinion and expression. However, these freedoms are under attack through a worsening policy and legal environment that seemingly seeks to restrict civil society. Over the past year, we have witnessed a proliferation of laws that aim to: criminalise and deter peaceful protests; limit political participation and advocacy; undermine digital security and erode internet freedoms; undermine association, assembly and expression of LGBTI and other minorities; and introduce impunity for attacks on civil society actors.

This side event, paneled by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, and civil society activists from El Salvador, Libya, Malaysia and Ukraine, will seek to identify what the emerging threats are to civil society operations, and reflect on key steps that States and the UN must take to protect the spaces in which civil society operate.

As civil society from around the world we express support for those struggling for a future in Egypt based on human rights and democracy. At this critical juncture in Egypt’s history, at a time when peaceful political activists, human rights defenders and all forms of independent media in Egypt are under attack, we write to urge your delegation to work with other members and observer states of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) to address the grave situation of human rights in Egypt at the upcoming 25th Session of the UN HRC. We believe that the serious and rapid deterioration of the human rights situation in Egypt requires the HRC to take a principled position of addressing this situation now, through the adoption of a resolution on Egypt.

According to Egyptian and international human rights organizations, repression in the country has reached levels unprecedented since the 2011 uprising. The security forces have embarked on a severe and comprehensive crackdown against persons who have dared to publicly criticize the military-backed government, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood, supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi, as well as pro-democracy and human rights movement activists within the country.

Over 50 people from 6 continents and representing more than 30 key platforms and organisations engaged in civil society-led campaigns relating to sustainable development gathered in Istanbul, Turkey on 23-24 February 2014. The meeting was convened by CIVICUS in collaboration with the United Nations, the Overseas Development Institute and the United Nations Foundation. This communiqué summarises the discussions held in Istanbul.

TOGETHER WE STAND: Coordinating efforts for a global movement on the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda

 

4th February 2014 

The  Government  of  Eritrea  should  accept  recommendations  to  cooperate fully with the United Nations human rights system, said Human  Rights  ConcernFEritrea,  the East  and  Horn of  Africa 

Human Rights Defenders Project and CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, following its examination at the Universal Periodic Review yesterday. 

Under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, the human rights record of each UN member state is reviewed every four and a half years. Given the situation of widespread and systematic human rights violations in Eritrea, the UPR process is an important opportunity for scrutiny and dialogue.

During the three and a half hour working group session in Geneva, the delegation of Eritrea, headed by Ambassador Tesfamichael Gerahtu, stated its commitment to human rights and to engagement, dialogue and cooperation, and  was commended for its participation in the review. However, Eritrea simultaneously continues to refuse  to  cooperate  or allow access to the country to  the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea.

Eritrea: Under International Scrutiny, Allow Independent Human Rights Monitoring 

During the 24th UNHRC Session, 9-27 September 2013, CIVICUS facilitated the participation of a number of human rights defenders to discuss the challenges faced by civil society across a range of countries. Through these interventions CIVIUCUS gave support to and provided a platform for civil society partners and members experiencing threats and intimidation to make a number of inputs into Council processes, including the UN Universal Period Review (UPR).

UN Human Rights Council

CIVICUS and its partner organizations made several oral interventions on Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Syria and Uzbekistan to raise awareness about restrictions on civil society and reprisals against civil society activists for cooperating with UN bodies including:

Joint statement on threats to civil society in Azerbaijan

Joint statement on the deteriorating environment for human rights defenders in Bahrain

Statement on the Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

Statement on continued harassment of independent media in Sri Lanka

Joint statement on harassment and imprisonment of civil society activists in Uzbekistan

Joint statement on intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders

CIVICUS also co-sponsored panel discussions on the on-going crackdown on CSOs and activists in Russia and Bahrain. The side events, panelled by a number of national civil society activists, examined recommendations made to both countries during the UPR process and discussed the continued invocation of regressive legislation to silence independent dissent.

Side event on the state of civil society in Russia

Side event on Bahrain’s implementation of UPR Recommendations

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and the Expert Working Group, a human rights policy organization based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan released a joint statement to the 24th Session of the HRC on the human rights session in Uzbekistan.

The Human Rights Council's review of Uzbekistan occurs at a time when the government continues to imprison activists and human rights defenders at an alarming rate for undertaking their legitimate and peaceful work.

Despite the government's acceptance of a number of recommendations committing to advancing judicial reform in accordance with international law and ensuring that human rights defenders and CSOs can freely operate in accordance with international standards, at least 15 civil society activists remain imprisoned on politically motivated charges. A number of those imprisoned were not provided guarantees under fair trial and due process standards and were sentenced to lengthy prison terms ranging from 10-15 years. Several of the detained activists, including Azam Turgunov and Dilmurod Saidov, have experienced an acute deterioration of their health, while at least seven others have reported being subject to ill treatment or torture while in custody.

Read the full statement

CIVICUS urges the Syrian government to give finally access to the Commission to hold perpetrators of crimes against humanity to account.

CIVICUS, in reading the abhorrent 10th update of the commission of inquiry on Syria, wishes in response to quote Mazen Darwish, head of Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. He speaks from the prison of Damascus, where he has been detained since February 2012 by Syrian Security Forces. His words came when receiving the Bruno Kreisky award in June 2013, and his friends had asked CIVICUS to make them known. I quote:

"I asked myself why a firm fighter and a statesman pushed his nation to permanent neutrality leaving voluntarily the ecstasy of victory and the joy of winning, till I have realized that there is no winner in wars, everybody is a loser, and there is nothing good in war except its ending.
From Baghdad to Budapest, Lebanon to Prague and from Vietnam to the two Koreas, I have learnt that there is nothing good in war except its ending, and from the victims of wars .. to the victims of tyranny in our Arab world ... I have learnt that the road to democracy is as far from the path of extremism and terrorism as it is from dictatorships and tyranny.
Yes .. we want freedom and dignity and justice and yes we deserve it, but it surely is not the freedom of dying under torture or slaughtered, it is not to be killed by a shell from a jet or a by car bomb, it is the freedom of life on the basis of sharing and coalition between the universality of human rights values and the privacy of local social relations in order to reshape global human sphere that makes life itself a moral human experience and we look at it as more owned by others than us...."

Read the full statement

Maryam Alkhawaja, CIVICUS member and acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights speaks on the human rights sitiuation in Bahrain

My name is Maryam Alkhawaja, acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, speaking on behalf of our partners CIVICUS and CIHRS.

The human rights situation in Bahrain unfortunately continues to deteriorate. In July law amendments were made that further infringe on people's basic rights to free assembly and free expression. The Ministry of Justice announced a new decision that any meetings between political societies and foreign embassies must be announced to the ministry and they have the right to sit in on these meetings.

Since mid-February until now we have documented at least 1200 arbitrary arrests, including women and children, some being tried under the terrorism law. In August alone, we documented at least 400 house raids. The visit of the special rapporteur has been effectively cancelled and torture is rampant and systematic. Most of those arrested are subjected to enforced disappearance that last from several hours and sometimes up to a week, during which people are ill-treated at times amounting to torture.

Read the full statement

CIVICUS member Nada Dhaif speaks at the 24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council on the human rights situation for women in Bahrain.

I am Dr. Nada Dhaif, chairperson of BRAVO. I am speaking as a member of CIVICUS and wish first of all to thank the High Commissioner for her update, in particular for the concerns raised on the deteriorating situation in Bahrain.

Secondly, having been harassed and tortured myself and been mentioned in the report of the Secretary General on reprisals, I strongly welcome his report and recommendations with the roadmap to follow by all governments, including the government of Bahrain. We also warmly welcome the joint statement delivered by Switzerland.

Thirdly, I wish to raise the situation of women in Bahrain – so far not often mentioned at this Council - which is seriously deteriorating. Based on discrimination and violations it has now reached unprecedented levels. Since the protests in 2011, approximately 5000 women have been dismissed from their jobs, faced suspension and in some cases a reduction in their salaries which can be attributed to sectarian reasons.

Read the full statement

CIVICUS makes interventions for the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which scrutinizes each country's human rights record every four years. In advance of the 19th session of the UPR, CIVICUS has made five joint submissions on threats to the freedoms of expression, association and assembly in Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Nicaragua and Qatar. The submissions further highlight the need for an enabling operating environment for civil society and the need to protect human rights defenders.

upr

In Cote d’Ivoire, CIVICUS, the West African Human Rights Defenders Network and the Ivorian Coalition of Human Rights Defenders examine the persistent harassment, intimidation and attacks against journalists and human rights defenders by the country’s military forces and armed militia groups.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, CIVICUS’ joint submission with the League for Human Rights in the Great Lakes Region gravely notes the lack of any discernible improvement in the treatment and safety of protestors, members of the media, and civil society activists since 2009.

In Ethiopia, CIVICUS, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and the Human Rights Council analyse the continued invocation of broad and imprecise legislation, including the 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation and the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, to silence all forms of independent dissent.

In Nicaragua, CIVICUS and the Nicaraguan Network for Democracy and Local Development warn about the growing use of judicial, financial and administrative channels, by the Nicaraguan authorities, to restrict freedom of expression, independence of the media and access to information.

In Qatar, CIVICUS’ joint submission with the Gulf Center for Human Rights examines the criminalization of the creation of an independent civil society sector, severe limitations on freedom of association and to collective bargaining for unions, and strict controls domestic media outlets.

Report of the Independent Expert on the promotion
of a democratic and equitable international order
Interactive Dialogue, 10 September 2013

We wish to comment on the report on 'promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.

UN Geneva by lilivanili on Flickr

CIVICUS welcomes your report Mr. de Zayas, in particular as you focus on participation. This comes at a time when in general it is recognized that participation of a free and vibrant civil society is a fundamental building block of democratic societies and a means to promoting economic and social development.

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