human rights council

 

  • Nicaragua: Carta a los gobiernos solicitando una mayor vigilancia de los derechos humanos

    El Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU debe garantizar la continuidad y el fortalecimiento del monitoreo de la situación de los derechos humanos en Nicaragua

    Nosotras, las organizaciones de derechos humanos abajo firmantes, pedimos al Consejo de Derechos Humanos (CDH) que durante el 43º periodo de sesiones adopte una resolución por la que renueve y refuerce el mandato de la Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos (OACNUDH) para hacer un seguimiento de la situación de los derechos humanos en Nicaragua e informar al respecto, tal como solicitó específicamente la alta comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los derechos humanos.  Instamos a su delegación a apoyar activamente la adopción de dicha resolución.

    A pesar de los esfuerzos regionales y de la ONU por abordar la crisis, la situación sobre el terreno en Nicaragua sigue siendo crítica. Desde que, a finales de 2018, expulsó al personal de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos y de la OACNUDH, el gobierno se ha negado a permitir que observadores internacionales de derechos humanos accedan al país. La represión ejercida por el gobierno contra las organizaciones de derechos humanos, las organizaciones de mujeres y feministas, los líderes y lideresas comunitarios y los periodistas que documentan abusos desde las protestas de 2018 continúa limitando el espacio de la sociedad civil de forma dramática. El gobierno sigue inmerso en lo que la OACNUDH describe como “la prohibición sistemática de las manifestaciones”, por medios que incluyen el acoso y la intimidación, en noviembre de 2019, contra personas que habían iniciado una huelga de hambre para pedir la liberación de sus familiares.  Según los grupos de derechos humanos locales, 61 personas críticas con el gobierno se encuentran encarceladas arbitrariamente, mientras que la impunidad por crímenes de derecho internacional y violaciones graves de derechos humanos cometidas por la policía y por grupos parapoliciales sigue siendo la norma.

    La presentación continua de informes por parte de la OACNUDH sigue siendo fundamental para garantizar que los graves abusos y violaciones de derechos humanos cometidos durante las protestas de 2018 —que incluyeron asesinato, tortura, violación y otros actos de violencia sexual—, y otros cometidos desde entonces, no quedan impunes. Al mismo tiempo, el monitoreo por parte de la OACNUDH es crucial para frenar posibles violaciones de derechos humanos, incluidas las que se puedan cometer en relación con las elecciones presidenciales de 2021.

    Habida cuenta de las graves violaciones de derechos humanos y la falta de disposición de las autoridades a cooperar y trabajar con los mecanismos regionales e internacionales, la situación sigue cumpliendo los “criterios objetivos para la acción del Consejo” (véase en el anexo nuestra perspectiva general a este respecto) elaborados en una declaración conjunta encabezada por Irlanda en el 32º periodo de sesiones  para ayudar a identificar situaciones que requieren la atención del CDH, y reafirmados por declaraciones conjuntas encabezadas por Países Bajos en el 35º periodo de sesiones, Australia en el 37º periodo de sesiones, Fiyi en el 40º periodo de sesiones, y las Islas Marshall durante la sesión actual del Consejo.

    En este contexto, es fundamental que el CDH adopte una resolución para responder con firmeza a las conclusiones del informe presentado por la alta comisionada en septiembre de 2019 (A/HRC/42/18) y siga su recomendación de que el CDH pida a la OACNUDH que “fortalezca el monitoreo, la documentación, el análisis y los informes públicos sobre la situación de los derechos humanos en Nicaragua”. Confiamos en que su delegación apoyará activamente una iniciativa como ésta.

    Sírvase aceptar, Excelencia, nuestra consideración más distinguida.

    Amnistía Internacional
    Articulación de Movimientos Sociales y OSC de Nicaragua (AMS)
    Asociadas por lo Justo (JASS)
    Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH)
    Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)
    CIVICUS: Alianza Mundial por la Participación Ciudadana
    Federación Internacional de los Derechos Humanos (FIDH)
    FAN - Feministas Autoconvocadas de Nicaragua
    Fondo de Acción Urgente de América Latina y el Caribe (FAU-AL)
    Front Line Defenders
    Fundación Popol Na
    Fundación del Río
    Human Rights Watch
    Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de los Derechos Humanos (IM-Defensoras)
    Iniciativa Nicaragüense de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (INDDH)
    Instituto sobre Raza, Igualdad y Derechos Humanos (Raza e Igualdad)
    Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres (MAM)
    Oficina en Washington para Asuntos Latinoamericanos (WOLA)
    Oxfam
    Plataforma Internacional Contra la Impunidad
    Punto Focal de la Campaña 28 de Setiembre por la Despenalización del Aborto en América Latina y el Caribe
    Red de Salud de las Mujeres Latinoamericanas y del Caribe - Enlace Nacional Nicaragua
    Red Local
    Servicio Internacional para los Derechos Humanos (ISHR)
    Unión de Presas y Presos Políticos Nicaragüenses (UPPN)


    Anexo: Evaluación de la situación en Nicaragua frente a los criterios objetivos para la acción del Consejo de Derechos Humanos

    Durante el 32º periodo de sesiones (CDH32) del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU, celebrado en junio de 2016, Irlanda pronunció una declaración en nombre de un grupo interregional de Estados (basándose en una declaración conjunta previa pronunciada por Maldivas) que proponía unos criterios objetivos (o “principios rectores”) para “ayudar [al Consejo de Derechos Humanos] a decidir, de forma objetiva y no selectiva, cuándo debe trabajar de forma útil con un Estado concreto para prevenir, responder o abordar violaciones de derechos humanos y ayudar a reducir una situación preocupante”. La aplicación de estos criterios objetivos se ha reafirmado desde entonces en declaraciones conjuntas interregionales pronunciadas por Países Bajos en el 35º periodo de sesiones del Consejo en nombre de 49 Estados, en una declaración conjunta pronunciada por Australia en nombre de 11 miembros entrantes del Consejo de todos los grupos regionales en el 37º periodo de sesiones y en declaraciones similares presentadas por Fiyi en nombre de 10 miembros entrantes en el 40º periodo de sesiones, y por las Islas Marshall en nombre de nueve miembros entrantes en el 43º período de sesiones.

    El análisis llevado a cabo por nuestras organizaciones, detallado más abajo, muestra que todos los criterios identificados en la declaración conjunta se han cumplido parcial o totalmente en el caso de Nicaragua.

    ¿Llamamiento a la acción por parte del secretario general de la ONU, el Alto Comisionado u otro órgano, organismo o agencia pertinente de la ONU?
    En el informe presentado al Consejo de Derechos Humanos en septiembre de 2019, la alta comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los derechos humanos expresó motivos de honda preocupación y pidió explícitamente al CDH que renovara y reforzara el mandato de seguimiento y presentación de informes de su oficina.

    ¿Recomendaciones para la acción por parte de un grupo de procedimientos especiales?
    Desde que comenzó la crisis, los procedimientos especiales han planteado pública y reiteradamente sus motivos de preocupación mediante declaraciones conjuntas y acciones urgentes, entre ellas:

    • Declaración conjunta: Nicaragua: debe poner fin a las represalias contra los periodistas, dicen expertos en derechos humanos, 26 de agosto de 2019.
    • Declaración conjunta: Nicaragua debe poner fin a la represión de los derechos humanos - Expertos de la ONU, 22 de noviembre de 2018.
    • Declaración conjunta: Nicaragua debe poner fin a la “caza de brujas” contra las voces disidentes, dicen expertos de la ONU, 9 de agosto de 2018.
    • Declaración conjunta: Nicaragua: Government must end violence and reinstate political dialogue, say UN, 14 de junio de 2018.
    • Declaración conjunta: Nicaragua: Experts say appalled by Government’s violent response to peaceful protests, 27 April 2018.

    ¿Tiene el Estado en cuestión una INDH de “clase A”? De ser así, ¿ha llamado esa institución la atención de la comunidad internacional hacia una situación emergente y ha pedido que se emprendan acciones?
    La INDH de Nicaragua fue degradada a clase B tras una recomendación del el Subcomité de Acreditación de la Alianza Global de las Instituciones Nacionales de Derechos Humanos (GANHRI), por no estar “preparada para pronunciarse con la contundencia adecuada […] en respuesta a denuncias creíbles de graves violaciones de los derechos humanos”.

    ¿Se ha mostrado el Estado en cuestión dispuesto a reconocer que se enfrenta a desafíos especiales en materia de derechos humanos y ha tomado un conjunto de medidas creíbles, incluidos un calendario y unos parámetros de referencia, para responder a la situación? ¿Está el Estado en cuestión colaborando de manera significativa y constructiva con el Consejo sobre la situación?
    El informe presentado por la OACNUDH al CDH en septiembre de 2019 señalaba la constante negación por parte de las autoridades de la responsabilidad de los graves abusos y violaciones de derechos humanos, y decía que las autoridades “han culpado a los líderes sociales y de la oposición, a los defensores de los derechos humanos y a los manifestantes de lo que llaman la ‘violencia golpista’ y su repercusión negativa en la economía del país”.

    La constante negativa del gobierno aceptar la crisis de derechos humanos o a dialogar y cooperar para abordarla quedó claramente en evidencia cuando las autoridades declararon que las conclusiones y recomendaciones del informe de la OACNUDH tenían como intención continuar una campaña difamatoria contra el gobierno y facilitar “condenas políticas y medidas contra el pueblo nicaragüense”.

    ¿Está el Estado en cuestión cooperando de forma efectiva con los procedimientos especiales del CDH, lo que incluye dar permiso para visitar el país?
    Nicaragua no ha permitido el acceso al país a los procedimientos especiales desde una visita realizada por el relator especial sobre el derecho a la alimentación en 2009. Seis procedimientos especiales han solicitado acceso desde 2016, entre ellos el Grupo de Trabajo sobre la Detención Arbitraria y el relator especial sobre el derecho a la libertad de reunión pacífica, pero no han podido llevar a cabo visitas. Nicaragua tampoco ha respondido a la gran mayoría de las comunicaciones enviadas por los procedimientos especiales.

    ¿Colabora el Estado en cuestión con la OACNUDH, incluso en el área de la asistencia técnica, y colabora de forma efectiva con los órganos de tratados de derechos humanos de la ONU?
    En agosto de 2018, el equipo de la OACNUDH sobre el terreno fue expulsado de Nicaragua, al día siguiente de publicar un informe sobre los patrones de abusos y violaciones de derechos humanos cometidos en el país. En 2020, a la OACNUDH seguía prohibiéndosele hacer un seguimiento de la situación de los derechos humanos sobre el terreno. Por tanto, la Oficina Regional de la OACNUDH para Centroamérica tuvo que continuar realizando a distancia su seguimiento de la situación de los derechos humanos.

    Nicaragua aún no ha cumplido con su obligación de presentar informes a la mayoría de los órganos de tratados (Comité de Derechos Humanos, 6 años de retraso, Comité contra la Tortura, 5 años, Comité para la Eliminación de la Discriminación contra la Mujer, 8 años, Comité para la Eliminación de la Discriminación Racial, 7 años, Comité de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales, 5 años, Comité de los Derechos del Niño, 3 años).

    ¿Algún mecanismo o institución regional pertinente ha identificado que la situación requiere la atención de la comunidad internacional? ¿Está el Estado en cuestión cooperando con las organizaciones regionales pertinentes?
    En 2018, la CIDH, en acuerdo con el gobierno nicaragüense, estableció formalmente dos mecanismos para monitorear e investigar la situación de los derechos humanos: el Mecanismo Especial de Seguimiento para Nicaragua (MESENI) y el GIEI. En diciembre de 2018, Nicaragua expulsó del país tanto al MESENI como al GIEI, un día antes de la fecha prevista para la publicación del informe del GIEI. Tras su expulsión del país, el GIEI publicó su informe, en el que concluía que los abusos cometidos en el país, que incluían asesinato, detenciones arbitrarias y persecución, constituían crímenes de lesa humanidad. Tras una resolución adoptada en junio de 2019 por la Asamblea General de la Organización de los Estados Americanos (OEA), el Consejo Permanente nombró, en agosto de 2019, una comisión para abordar la crisis política y social en Nicaragua. En septiembre de 2019, el gobierno negó a la Comisión sobre Nicaragua el acceso al país.  A pesar de la negativa del gobierno nicaragüense a reunirse con la Comisión, ésta pudo emitir su informe, en cumplimiento de su mandato. Tras recibir numerosos testimonios que informaban de acoso e intimidación constantes sufridos por las personas a las que se consideraba contrarias al gobierno, e informaban también de detenciones arbitrarias, trato inhumano y restricciones al ejercicio de los derechos políticos y la libertad de expresión, la Comisión concluyó que “Nicaragua vive una crítica situación en materia de derechos humanos que requiere la urgente atención de la comunidad interamericana e internacional en su conjunto”.

    ¿Está el Estado en cuestión facilitando u obstaculizando el acceso y el trabajo por parte de actores humanitarios, defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos, y medios de comunicación?
    Nuestras organizaciones han documentado los reiterados actos de censura, ataques y amenazas contra los medios de comunicación, periodistas y defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos y sus familias por parte de la policía y grupos armados parapoliciales durante las protestas.  El gobierno ha hecho redadas en las oficinas de medios de comunicación independientes, ha presentado cargos penales contra periodistas, ha cancelado la inscripción legal en registro de nueve organizaciones de la sociedad civil, y ha expulsado del país a periodistas extranjeros y a observadores internacionales de derechos humanos.

    Estas preocupaciones han sido expresadas por los mecanismos regionales e internacionales. El 26 de agosto de 2019, un grupo de procedimientos especiales emitió una declaración en la que pedía a Nicaragua que cesara las represalias contra periodistas, como seguimiento de una declaración anterior emitida en noviembre de 2018 en la que instaba “al gobierno de Nicaragua que ponga fin de inmediato a la represión y las represalias contra quienes se muestran en contra de las acciones del Gobierno y cooperan con la ONU, incluidos los defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos, periodistas y manifestantes pacíficos”. En noviembre de 2019, en una declaración de prensa, la OACNUDH pidió al gobierno que pusiera fin “a la represión persistente de la disidencia y al actual patrón de detenciones arbitrarias, y se abstenga de criminalizar y atacar a los defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos, los opositores políticos y otras voces disidentes”.

    La Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) ha expresado su preocupación por la “nueva etapa de la represión en Nicaragua tendiente a silenciar, intimidar y criminalizar a las voces opositoras al Gobierno, a los organismos de derechos humanos y a los medios de comunicación independientes en el país”. En diciembre de 2019, la CIDH dictó medidas cautelares en favor de 17 defensoras de los derechos humanos que habían sufrido acoso, intimidación, amenazas de muerte y ataques en este contexto. La Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos también ha tenido que dictar medidas provisionales para proteger a miembros de dos ONG locales, a causa de los graves riesgos para sus vidas y su integridad física.

     

  • Nicaragua: la violencia y la represión continúan

    42 reunión del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas
    -Diálogo en el informe del Alto Comisionado sobre Nicaragua

    Ha pasado más de un año desde que empezó la crisis en Nicaragua y la violencia y la represión no cesan. Miles de personas han sido detenidas arbitrariamente y centenares han sido criminalizadas por ejercer su derecho a la protesta. Un informe de la Articulación de Movimientos Sociales de Nicaragua, identifica dos nuevas fases de represión durante el 2019: Hostigamientos y restricción a las libertades públicas y Ejecuciones extrajudiciales.

    La mayoría de los prisioneros políticos fueron excarcelados recientemente bajo una Ley de Amnistía, aprobada unilateralmente por diputados del Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN), misma que perpetúa la impunidad para los responsables de la violencia letal de la que se valió el Estado para reprimir las protestas, pues establece que no se realizará ninguna investigación respecto de estos crímenes. Además, el informe de la Articulación de Movimientos Sociales de Nicaragua señala existen aun 121 presos y presas políticas en manos del Estado Nicaraguense, 54 de los cuales corresponden capturas realizadas en 2018 y 67 a capturas que se han presentado en 2019.

    Los ataques contra el espacio cívico continúan. La Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco en Nicaragua ha denunciado como el Gobierno de Nicaragua continúa criminalizando a ciudadanos por motivos políticos o por su participación en protestas u otras iniciativas.  La represión de voces disidentes a través del arresto, el cierre de protestas y el cierre de organizaciones representan una alarmante falta de voluntad del gobierno para comprometerse y escuchar a quienes gobierna.

    La situación de violación de derechos humanos también se presenta en los territorios rurales y transfronterizos  del país, los que viven situaciones de incertidumbre y zozobra debido a la militarización de comunidades, persecución de ciudadanos que participaron en las protestas, asedios por parte de la Policía Nacional, y hostigamiento a autoridades de las municipalidades opositoras, entre otros.

    Al igual que a la Alta Comisionada, nos preocupa ver como en Nicaragua no hay disposición de las autoridades para garantizar verdad, justicia y reparación para las víctimas de la represión y sus familiares; ni garantías de que se reiniciarán las negociaciones, las cuales fueron canceladas de manera unilateral por el gobierno, o de que se cumplirán los compromisos acordados entre las partes. En este clima, el escrutinio internacional sobre Nicaragua sigue siendo tan crucial ahora como siempre. Nicaragua no cumple con su responsabilidad de garantizar la rendición de cuentas y la justicia. Acogemos con beneplácito la continua supervisión e informes del ACNUDH sobre Nicaragua y pedimos al Consejo que establezca un mecanismo de investigación independiente como los primeros pasos hacia la rendición de cuentas por los crímenes  ocurridos y justicia para los afectados.
     

     

  • Nicaragua: Letter to UN Member States calling for increased human rights monitoring

    Joint Letter at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council: UN Human Rights Council should ensure enhanced monitoring of the human rights situation in Nicaragua

    We, the undersigned human rights organizations, call on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to adopt a resolution during the 43rd session, renewing and further strengthening the mandate of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to monitor and report on the human rights situation in Nicaragua, as specifically requested by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. We urge your delegation to actively support the adoption of such a resolution. 

    Despite UN and regional efforts to address the crisis, the situation in Nicaragua remains dire. The government has refused to allow international human rights monitors to access the country since it expelled staff members of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and OHCHR in late 2018. The government’s crackdown against human rights organizations, women's organizations and feminist organizations, community leaders, and journalists documenting abuses since the 2018 protests continues to dramatically limit space for civil society internally. The government continues to engage in what the OHCHR described as a “systematic prohibition of protests” – including by harassing and intimidating, in November 2019, people who had begun a hunger striking to demand the release of their relatives. Sixty-one government critics are arbitrarily imprisoned, according to local human rights groups, while impunity for crimes under international law and serious human rights violations by police and pro-government groups is still the rule.

    Continued reporting by the OHCHR remains critical to ensure that grave violations committed during the 2018 protests – including murder, torture, rape and other acts of sexual violence – as well as others committed since then do not go unpunished. At the same time, OHCHR monitoring is crucial to curb potential rights violations, including in connection to the 2021 presidential elections.

    Given the continued serious violations and the unwillingness of the authorities to cooperate and engage with regional and international mechanisms, the situation continues to meet the “objective criteria for HRC action” (see our overview in this regard in annex), elaborated to help identify situations requiring the HRC’s attention in a joint statement led by Ireland at the 32nd session, and further reaffirmed by joint statements led by the Netherlands at the 35th session, Australia at the 37th session, Fiji at the 40th session of the Council, and the Marshall Islands during the current session of the Council.

    In this context, it is essential that the HRC adopts a resolution that responds robustly to the findings of the report presented by the High Commissioner in September 2019 (A/HRC/42/18) and follows her recommendation that the HRC request the OHCHR to “enhance its monitoring, documentation, analysis, and public reporting on the human rights situation in Nicaragua.” We urge your delegation to actively support this initiative. 

    Please accept, Excellency, the assurance of our highest consideration,

    Amnesty International
    Articulación de Movimientos Sociales y OSC de Nicaragua (AMS)
    Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)
    Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH)
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    Fédération Internationale pour les Droits Humains (FIDH)
    FAN - Feministas Autoconvocadas de Nicaragua
    Fondo de Acción Urgente de América Latina y el Caribe (FAU-AL)
    Front Line Defenders
    Fundación Popol Na
    Fundación del Río
    Human Rights Watch
    Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM Defensoras)
    Iniciativa Nicaragüense de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (INDDH)
    International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    Just Associates (JASS) 
    Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres (MAM)
    Oxfam
    Plataforma Internacional Contra la Impunidad
    Punto Focal de la Campaña 28 de Setiembre por la Despenalización del Aborto en América Latina y el Caribe
    Red de Salud de las Mujeres Latinoamericanas y del Caribe - Enlace Nacional Nicaragua
    Red Local
    The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights 
    Unión de Presas y Presos Políticos Nicaragüenses (UPPN)
    Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)


    Annex: Assessment of nicaragua agaisnt the Objective criteria for HRC action

    During the thirty-second session (HRC32) of the UN Human Rights Council in June 2016, Ireland delivered a statement on behalf of a cross-regional group of States (building upon a previous joint statement by the Maldives) proposing objective criteria – or “guiding principles” – to “help [the Human Rights Council] decide, in an objective and non-selective manner, when the Council should usefully engage with a concerned State, to prevent, respond to, or address violations and to assist in de-escalation of a situation of concern.” Application of these objective criteria has been further reaffirmed in cross-regional joint statements delivered by the Netherlands at the 35th session of the Council on behalf of 49 States, a joint statement delivered by Australia on behalf of 11 incoming members of the Council from all regional groups at the 37th session, and similar joint statements delivered by Fiji on behalf of 10 incoming members at the 40th session; and by the Marshall Islands on behalf of nine incoming members at the 43rd session. 

    Analysis by our organisations, set out below, shows that all of the criteria identified in the joint statement have been partially or fully met in the case of Nicaragua. 

    Call for action by the UN SG, HC or another relevant UN organ, body or agency?
    The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed deep concerns and explicitly called on the HRC to renew and strengthen her Office’s monitoring and reporting mandate in the report presented to the HRC in September 2019.

    Recommendation for action by a group of Special Procedures?
    Since the beginning of the crisis Special Procedures have consistently raised their concerns publicly through joint statements, as well as Urgent Actions, including:

    • Joint statement: Nicaragua must stop reprisals against journalists, say human rights experts, 26 August 2019.
    • Joint statement: Nicaragua must stop repression of human rights – UN experts, 22 November 2018.
    • Joint statement: Nicaragua must end "witch-hunt" against dissenting voices, say UN experts, 9 August 2018.
    • Joint statement: Nicaragua: Government must end violence and reinstate political dialogue, say UN, 14 June 2018.
    • Joint statement: Nicaragua: Experts say appalled by Government’s violent response to peaceful protests, 27 April 2018.

    Does the State concerned have an “A status” NHRI? If so, has that institution drawn the attention of the international community to an emerging situation and called for action?
    Nicaragua’s NHRI has been downgraded to B status following a recommendation by the Sub-Committee on Accreditation of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), based on its failure “to adequately speak out […] in response to credible allegations of serious human rights violations.”

    Has the State concerned been willing to recognise that it faces particular human rights challenges and laid down a set of credible actions, including a time-table and benchmarks to measure progress, to respond to the situation? Is the State concerned engaging in a meaningful, constructive way with the Council on the situation?
    The OHCHR report to the HRC in September 2019 noted the authorities’ continued denial of responsibility for the serious violations and abuses, reporting that they “have instead blamed social and opposition leaders, human rights defenders and demonstrators for what they call the ‘coup-related violence’ and the negative impact on the country’s economy.” 

    The government’s continued refusal to accept, or engage in dialogue and cooperation to address, the human rights crisis was clearly evidenced in their claims that the report, conclusions and recommendations of the OHCHR were intended to continue a smear campaign against the government and to facilitate “political convictions and action against the Nicaraguan people.”

    Is the State concerned effectively cooperating with HRC Special Procedures, including by allowing country visits?
    Nicaragua has not allowed access to the Special Procedures since a visit by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food in 2009. Six Special Procedure mandates have requested access since 2016, including the Working Group on arbitrary detention and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, but have been unable to carry out visits. Nicaragua has also failed to respond to the vast majority of communications sent by the Special Procedures. 

    Is the State concerned engaging with OHCHR, including in the field of technical assistance and effective engagement with the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies? 
    In August 2018, the OHCHR team on the ground was expelled from Nicaragua the day after they published a report on the patterns of human rights violations and abuses committed in the country. In 2020, the OHCHR continues to be barred from monitoring the human rights situation from the ground. The OHCHR Regional Office for Central America has therefore had to continue their monitoring of the human rights situation remotely.
    Nicaragua is overdue with its reporting obligations to the majority of the treaty bodies (CCPR 6 years, CAT 5 years, CEDAW 8 years, CERD 7 years, CESCR 5 years, CRC 3 years).

    Has a relevant regional mechanism or institution identified the situation as requiring the attention of the international community? Is the State concerned cooperating with relevant regional organisations?
    In 2018, the IACHR formally established two mechanisms to monitor and investigate the human rights situation in agreement with the Nicaraguan government: The Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI) and the GIEI. In December 2018, Nicaragua expelled both the MESENI and GIEI from Nicaragua, a day before GIEI´s report was due to be released. Following their expulsion from the country GIEI released their report concluding that abuses in the country, including murder, arbitrary detentions, and persecution, amounted to crimes against humanity. Following a resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in June 2019, the Permanent Council appointed, in August 2019, a Commission to address the political and social crisis in Nicaragua. In September 2019, the government denied the Commission on Nicaragua access to the country. Despite the refusal of the government of Nicaragua to meet the Commission, the Commission was able to submit a report as mandated. After receiving numerous testimonies that reported ongoing harassment and intimidation suffered by those perceived as government opponents, arbitrary detentions, inhuman treatment and restrictions to the exercise of political rights and freedom of expression; the Commission concluded that “Nicaragua is experiencing a critical human rights situation that urgently demands the attention of the Inter-American community and the world at large.”

    Is the State concerned facilitating or obstructing access and work on the part of humanitarian actors, human rights defenders and the media?
    Our organisations have documented the repeated censorship, attacks and threats against the media, journalists, and human rights defenders and their families by police and pro-government armed groups during the protests.  The government has raided the offices of independent media outlets, filed criminal charges against journalists, cancelled the legal registration of nine civil society organizations, and expelled foreign journalists and international human rights monitors from the country.

    These concerns have been expressed by the regional and international mechanisms. On  26 August 2019, a group of Special Procedures issued a statement calling on Nicaragua to stop reprisals against journalists, in follow up to an earlier statement issued in November 2018 “urging the Government of Nicaragua to immediately put an end to the repression and reprisals against those who speak out against the Government and cooperate with the UN, including human rights defenders, journalists and peaceful protesters.” In November 2019, in a press statement, OHCHR called on the government to “end the persistent repression of dissent and the ongoing pattern of arbitrary arrests and refrain from criminalizing and attacking human rights defenders, political opponents and any other dissenting voices.”

    The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has expressed concern over the “new stage of repression in Nicaragua aimed at silencing, intimidating and criminalizing those opposed to the Government, human rights organizations and the independent media in the country.” In December 2019, the IACHR granted precautionary measures to 17 women human rights defenders who had been subjected to harassment, intimidation, death threats and attacks in this context. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has also had to grant provisional measures to protect members of two local NGOs, because of the serious risks to their lives and physical integrity. 


    See our wider advocacy priorities and programme of activities at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

     

  • Nicaragua: Over 100 political prisoners remain detained

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    -Interactive dialogue on the report from the High Commissioner on Nicaragua
    -Joint statement from CIVICUS & Red Local

    We note that the government of Nicaragua has yet to comply with some of the agreements reached with the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy during negotiations earlier this year. While we welcome the release of 56 political prisoners by the Nicaraguan government, 104 political prisoners are still arbitrarily detained, and over one hundred are missing. We reiterate calls for the immediate release of those unjustly incarcerated and urge the government to take urgent steps to investigate the whereabouts of those who have been disappeared.

    The government furthermore agreed to put in place a security protocol for political prisoners and those forced into exile. This has not been done. . We call for its immediate implementation to ensure the full enforcement of their rights, and the return of assets. We also call on the government to put in place measures to guarantee the safe return of those in exile.

    The Nicaraguan government’s severe repression of anyone standing up for their rights has continued, reflected in the High Commissioners’ oral update. Free expression and assembly is severely restricted. Local civil society organisations have been stripped of their legal status and of their assets, and human rights defenders and journalists are harassed.

    Given the grievous human rights violations, we are particularly concerned that the Amnesty Law recently established by the Nicaraguan government will subsume the essential truth and reparations process needed to address the severe human rights violations prevalent in the country, and hinder any opportunity for full accountability. The law on comprehensive care for victims was pushed though in a process which saw civil society and victims themselves completely side-lined.

    We are further deeply concerned that the government of Nicaragua continues to block the return of international human rights bodies to the country, including the special mechanism of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and OHCHR. Such bodies shine a crucial light on human rights violations and are critical for ensuring accountability of perpetrators. Victims of human rights violations have the right to truth, justice and reparation. The government of Nicaragua should guarantee those rights and put a complete stop to their strategy of repression.

     

  • Nicaragua: Resolution adopted at Human Rights Council

    Resolution on Nicaragua adopted at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

     

  • Nicaragua: The Council must establish an investigation and accountability mechanism at its next Session

    High Commissioner’s intersessional update on Nicaragua

    Delivered by Debora Leao, CIVICUS Monitor Research Officer for the Americas

     

  • Nicaragua: UN must take action as over 100 activists remain in prison

    Statement at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council delivered by Amaru Ruiz, Fundación del Río

    The crisis in Nicaragua persists and systematic repression of demonstrations has effectively suppressed mobilisations. As a result, the CIVICUS monitor has included Nicaragua on its Watchlist of countries. Human rights defenders, journalists, and political opponents face criminalisation and harassment from security agents and pro-government civilian groups. At the end of 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported that there were still more than 100 political prisoners in Nicaragua.

    While hundreds of political prisoners were released in 2019 and 2020, many are still subjected to surveillance, retaliation and re-imprisonment. In recent months there has been an increase in the use of common criminal charges, such as possession of drugs and weapons, to convict those perceived as opponents of the government while denying their status as political prisoners.

    The Nicaraguan authorities have tried to silence the independent press, including by arresting journalists and seeking to curtail their activities. Since late 2020, pro-government lawmakers have stepped up attacks on civil society, enacting a series of laws designed to reduce the space for freedoms of association, assembly and expression. Such laws include the Foreign Agents Law, the Special Law on Cyber ​​Crimes, and an amendment to the country's Penal Code that allows preventive detention without charges for up to 90 days.

    A recent report on freedom of association by Fundación del Rio and Fundación Popolna revealed the process of systematic deterioration of an enabling environment for social organisations, with patterns of lack of access to justice and due process. This situation is leading to the eventual forced closure of several Nicaraguan civil organisations and the departure from the country of international organisations unwilling to submit to the legal framework of criminalisation that has been institutionalised.

    With elections set for later this year, we are seriously concerned that repression will escalate, putting human rights defenders and broader civil society at even greater risk.

    The member states of the Human Rights Council should support a strong resolution calling for greater monitoring by the High Commissioner to promote accountability processes and prevent the situation from deteriorating further as Nicaragua heads toward elections.


     Nicaragua is rated as 'Repressed' by the CIVICUS Monitor

     

  • Nicaragua: Violence and repression continue

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    -Interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report on Nicaragua
    -Joint statement from CIVICUS & RedLad

    It has been more than a year since the crisis began in Nicaragua, and violence and repression continue unabated. Thousands have been arbitrarily detained and hundreds have been criminalized for exercising their right to peaceful assembly. A recent report, “The Articulation of Social Movements of Nicaragua,” identifies two new phases of political repression during 2019: harassment of activists, restriction of public freedoms and extrajudicial executions.

    CIVICUS and REDLAD welcome the recent release of political prisoners. However, the Amnesty Law under which they were released establishes that no investigation will be carried out to investigate the use of lethal violence by the State to repress the protests, perpetuating impunity for those responsible for these crimes. The report of the Articulation of Social Movements of Nicaragua indicates that there are still 121 political prisoners and prisoners held by the Nicaraguan State.

    Further attacks on civic space are ongoing. Repression of dissenting voices through arrest, shutting down of protests and closing of organisations represent an alarming unwillingness of the government to engage with and listen to those it governs.

    Human rights violations remain widespread in rural and cross-border territories of the country.  The environment for those who live in communities under militarized police forces is particularly dire, resulting in persecution of citizens who participate in protests, sieges by the National Police, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and harassment of authorities of opposition municipalities.

    Like the High Commissioner, we are concerned at the lack of political will to guarantee truth, justice and reparation for the victims of repression and their families. There are no guarantees that the negotiations will be restarted, which were canceled unilaterally by the government, or that the commitments agreed between the parties will be fulfilled.

    In this climate, international scrutiny on Nicaragua remains as crucial now as ever. Nicaragua is falling far short on its responsibility to ensure accountability and justice. We welcome the OHCHR’s continued monitoring and reporting on Nicaragua and call on the Council to establish an independent investigative mechanism as the first step towards accountability for crimes and redress for those affected.

     

  • Niger : Recommandations sur l'espace civique pour l'Examen Périodique Universel des Droits de l'Homme

    CIVICUS présente des contributions conjointes à l'Examen Périodique Universel (EPU) des Nations Unies sur l'espace de la société civile au Niger

    L'Examen Périodique Universel du Conseil des Droits de l'Homme des Nations unies est un processus unique qui consiste à examiner le bilan des 193 États membres des Nations unies en matière de droits de l'homme tous les quatre ans et demi.


    CIVICUS, le Réseau ouest-africain des défenseurs des droits humains et le Réseau nigérien des défenseurs des droits humains mettent en évidence le niveau de mise en œuvre des recommandations reçues par le Niger lors de son précédent examen en 2016. Malgré les garanties constitutionnelles sur la liberté de réunion pacifique, d'expression et d'association, le gouvernement nigérien a pris pour cible les défenseurs des droits humains et les a soumis à des arrestations arbitraires et à des persécutions judiciaires. Les rassemblements pacifiques sont réprimés et les manifestations prévues sont interdites, tandis que des journalistes sont détenus pour avoir fait des reportages sur des questions touchant l'État. Des lois restrictives comme la loi de 2019 sur les cybercrimes sont utilisées pour poursuivre les représentants de la société civile.

    Lire l'intégralité des recommandations
    https://www.civicus.org/documents/NigerUPRSubmission.FR.2020.pdf 

     

  • Nigeria: Adoption of Universal Periodic Review Report

     

    UN Human Rights Council – 40th Session
    15 March 2019
    Oral Statement

    The Nigeria Network of NGOs and CIVICUS welcome the Government of Nigeria’s engagement in the 3rd cycle of the UPR process, including accepting a range of recommendations presented by the UPR Working Group in November 2018.

    We note that since the 2nd UPR review, the government has worked towards strengthening security operations through retraining law enforcement personnel in interrogation. However, we urge Nigeria to put effective measures in place to curb police brutality through a comprehensive reform of the police force.

    It is disappointing to note that despite the continued harassment of the press and of civil society organisations, the national report of Nigeria barely addressed the issue of restrictions on civic space. Arrests, detentions and harassment of human rights defenders continues. Maryam Awaisu, one of the leaders of the #ArewaMeToo movement, was arrested in her office in February 2019. In January, the Abuja and regional offices of the Media Trust Limited, publishers of the Daily Trust newspapers, were raided by soldiers. The paper’s regional editor and a reporter were arrested and later released.

    Although the Non-Governmental Organisations Regulatory Bill was rejected, we note with concern a new bill that is before the Senate, the Establishment of the Federal Charities Commission of Nigeria, which seeks to regulate the activities of NGOs. We urge Nigeria not to adopt laws that would further undermine civic space.

    We call on the Nigerian government to consider the 12 recommendations made by delegates relating to civic space and the operations of security personnel whilst fully implementing the eight accepted recommendations from the previous review relating to the protection of journalists, human rights defenders and civil society activists.


    Civic space in Nigeria is rated as Obstructed by the CIVICUS Monitor

    See our joint submission on Nigeria for the UN Universal Periodic Review 

     

  • No country is above scrutiny -- resolution needed for human rights emergency in USA

    Statement at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Like so many, we have watched with horror as protesters seeking justice and equality in the US have been met with state-sanctioned violence and their attackers with impunity. Journalists, protest monitors and medical teams alike have been deliberately targeted by law enforcement officials.

    We are inspired by worldwide solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests to end systemic racism, and by the changes that the protests have already brought about. Laws have been introduced at the local level. Overdue conversations have begun. But piecemeal modifications are no substitute for systemic change.

    Protests worldwide are routinely brutally suppressed, and accountability for violence by law enforcement is rare. This is not unique to the US; nor is systemic racism. But racism and white supremacy are entrenched in the country. Similarly entrenched issues of police violence, impunity and militarization impact harmfully and disproportionately the Black community in the US.

    The Human Rights Council has a role to play in addressing both the systemic racism that plagues our institutions, as well as its implications – from over-policed communities, to violence meted out on peaceful protesters, to murder with impunity.

    The credibility of the council is at stake. It must show that human rights are universal and no country is above scrutiny for grave human rights violations.

    CIVICUS supports a resolution mandating an independent investigation into systemic racism in the US, and into excessive use of force against peaceful protests in US cities since the murder of George Floyd. These measures would bring accountability, justice and equality one small but necessary step closer. As we heard with such power yesterday, individuals, their loved ones, and whole communities have been failed by the national institutions that are supposed to protect them. The international community must step up.


    Civic space in the United States is currently rated as Narrowed by the CIVICUS Monitor

    See our wider advocacy priorities and programme of activities at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

     

  • No safety of journalists in the digital age if impunity persists

    Statement at the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council


     Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression

    Delivered by Nicola Paccamiccio

    Thank you Mr President,

    We welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur and share the concerns over the increasing vilification, targeting and criminalisation of journalists and media workers.

    Journalists play a critical role in reporting on violations of fundamental rights, and the ability of journalists to work safely and without fear is a critical component of civic space.

    In Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan, journalists have been attacked and arrested while reporting on protests. In Kenya and Mexico, attacks against journalists have continued unabated, with impunity. In Hungary, political interference by the government has significantly undermined media freedom. All five countries, along with Chad, are currently on CIVICUS’s Watchlist for their serious, and rapid decline in respect for civic space.

    The digital age has reinforced these existing threats and created new ones to the safety of journalists.

    “Fake news’’ laws are used to target journalists and media workers not in line with governments’ official positions. In Russia, journalists can face criminal penalties of up to 15 years in prison for disseminating allegedly ‘false information’ about Russian armed forces in Ukraine.

    Digital surveillance is increasingly used to monitor journalists. In India, the Pegasus Spyware has been employed to target at least 300 journalists, diplomats, and activists. Biometric technologies are utilised to identify and target protesters and journalists covering protests.

    Given that the digital age has brought further menaces to the safety of journalists and a chilling effect on freedom of expression, we ask the Special Rapporteur what States should do to end impunity for human rights violations against journalists and media workers?

     We thank you.

     

  • Now is the time for greater transparency and broader participation

    Statement at the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Interactive Dialogue onthe High Commissioner’s Annual Report

    Delivered byLisa Majumdar

    We thank the High Commissioner for her report, and for her work during her term.

    We fully agree that these are times for greater – not less - transparency and broader space for civic engagement and participation. Too many States are falling short in these respects.

    We see this in China, where civic space is closed and space for dissent is all but non-existent. Activists have been detained and indicted for speaking up, and thousands have been detained in legalised form of enforced disappearance.

    In Russia, a systematic dismantling of dissent has created an internal environment in which aggression can thrive. It has become all too clear that repression does not engender security, but rather its opposite.

    In these situations, it is even more important that the international human rights institutions, including this Council and your office, steps up in support. No country can be above effective scrutiny, regardless of the geopolitical power they wield.

    We stress again that civil society restrictions can and should be seen as early warnings for further deterioration in human rights protections. We look particularly at India, where increasing restrictions threaten the ability of civil society to carry out its work and where authorities continue to suppress peaceful protests.

    With a focus this session on the rights that protect civic space, we call on States to speak out on country situations where patterns of restrictions are evident, and to use this session to take action on the most egregious of these.

    We ask the High Commissioner, as your term draws to a close – what action should be taken by the Council and its members in these cases of systematic repression of civil society?


    Civic space ratings from the CIVICUS Monitor

    OPEN NARROWED OBSTRUCTED  REPRESSED CLOSED

     

  • Oman: Adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    Statement at the 47th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    CIVICUS, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) welcome the participation of Oman in the UPR process. In our UPR submission, we noted that since its last review, Oman has not implemented or taken any concrete steps to implement most of the recommendations relating to civic space since 2015.

    The Omani authorities continue to use restrictive legislation, including the Press and Publications Law and the Telecommunications Act to stifle freedom of expression and online freedoms and to target journalists, bloggers and online activists. In addition, the Omani authorities routinely suspend the social media accounts of activists and ban other internet platforms that facilitate communication.

    These laws are also used to ban publications and restrict travel for human rights defenders. In addition, the Penal Code (2018) has broad provisions which are used to restrict freedom of expression and criminalize criticism of the Sultan and impose harsh prison terms to those deemed to publish information that may harm the prestige of the state.

    Human rights defenders continue to be subjected to arbitrary arrests and judicial persecution for raising concerns over human rights violations or for questioning decisions made by the Sultanate. Environmental rights defenders continue to be targeted for their peaceful advocacy. In March 2021 for example Ahmed Issa Qatan was sentenced to six months in prison for his peaceful campaigns protecting the environment.

    Madame President, CIVICUS, GCHR and OAHR call on the Government of Oman to take proactive measures to address these concerns and implement recommendations to create and maintain, in law and in practice, an enabling environment for civil society.


    Civic space in Oman is rated is Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor.

     

  • Open Letter to UN member states: Urgent action needed on Myanmar

    To:Member and Observer states of the UN Human Rights Council
    Subject:Urgent action needed on Myanmar

    Dear Excellencies

    We write to you regarding the deeply concerning situation in Myanmar, particularly in Rakhine State. Reports estimate that more than 270,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh following the outbreak of violence two weeks ago, and this figure is expected to significantly increase. Thousands of non-Muslim residents have also been internally displaced. Reports have also emerged of entire villages being burnt and hundreds killed. On 31 August, three UN Special Rapporteurs expressed concern citing credible reports of death to villagers resulting from security force attacks, and the use of helicopters and rocket propelled grenades on the population. On 5 September, speaking to reporters, the UN Secretary General warned of a risk of ethnic cleansing. Access to northern Rakhine State has been denied to independent observers and humanitarian aid agencies while media has been tightly controlled – leaving the territory under a virtual information blackout and exacerbating a humanitarian catastrophe. We call on the UN Human Rights Council to urgently act – by passing a resolution on Myanmar calling for an end to abuses against the population and ensuring immediate humanitarian access.

    The UN Human Rights Council established a Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM) at its 34th session in March this year, following reports of alarming human rights violations in Rakhine State beginning in October last year. In February 2017, a report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and statements by the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar referred to reports of egregious violations targeting the Rohingya minority at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 – including the deliberate killing of children, the burning of homes with people inside them, rape, and sexual violence. The OHCHR report concluded that reports indicate the very likely commission of crimes against humanity. Military operations conducted during this period bear a close semblance to current operations which involve mass exodus of Rohingya fleeing violence, multiple reports of civilian deaths, and egregious violations under an information blackout, without independent access to observers or journalists.

    The current bout of violence began following reports of coordinated attacks on police posts by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an armed militant organisation, on 25 August – after which the Myanmar military launched a massive response. Weeks before the current outbreak of violence, on 11 August, the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar expressed concern on increasing military build-up in Rakhine State. The violence broke out immediately following the release of a report by an international commission headed by the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which called for reforms to address wide-ranging forms of discrimination faced by the Rohingya community. On 29 August, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights cautioned all sides on fuelling further violence and called on the government leadership to condemn the inflammatory rhetoric and incitement to hatred that is proliferating. He further expressed concerns on unsupported government allegations that international aid organizations were complicit in or supporting attacks, as this places aid workers in danger and may make it impossible for them to deliver essential aid.

    Myanmar has so far failed to restore full humanitarian access following the preceding period of violence that began in October 2016. The Myanmar government has hitherto been reluctant to cooperate with the FFM and has denied allegations relating to violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law. The government has also refused to reform discriminatory laws that affect the Rohingya community and deny them full citizenship rights, leaving the community in a vulnerable situation.

    It is imperative for the UN Human Rights Council to urgently address the escalating situation in Myanmar through a resolution at the upcoming 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council. The establishment of the FFM was considerably delayed for technical reasons. The lack of access to the country by independent investigators as well as the current outbreak of violence have further increased the magnitude of the body's work ahead of its March 2018 reporting deadline. In this context, the Council should pass a resolution on Myanmar which:

    1. Extends the time available for the FFM beyond March;
    2. Makes provision for the FFM to provide a preliminary report to the UN General Assembly in September 2017 and a final report to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly in 2018;
    3. Calls on Myanmar to urgently grant full access to the FFM;
    4. Emphasises the responsibility of Myanmar to prevent and seek accountability for any retaliation or reprisal against individuals for engaging with the FFM;
    5. Expresses grave concern over recent allegations of violations and calls for an immediate end to attacks on the civilian population; and
    6. Urges full access for humanitarian aid and independent observers.

    Please accept the assurance of our highest consideration.

    1. ALTSEAN-Burma (Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma)
    2. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
    3. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    4. Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC)
    5. Awaz Foundation Pakistan - Centre for Development Services (AwazCDS-Pakistan)
    6. Burma Campaign UK
    7. Bytes for All, Pakistan (B4A)
    8. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    9. Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
    10. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)
    11. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    12. Civil Rights Defenders
    13. Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (kontraS)
    14. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
    15. Conectas Direitos Humanos
    16. Defend Defenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    17. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
    18. FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights
    19. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
    20. Human Rights Watch
    21. Human Rights Working Group (HRWG)
    22. INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre
    23. Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC)
    24. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    25. Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP)
    26. Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS)
    27. Madaripur Legal Aid Association
    28. National Commission for Justice and Peace, Pakistan
    29. Odhikar
    30. Partnership for Justice
    31. People's Empowerment Foundation, Thailand
    32. People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR)
    33. PILIPINA Legal Resources Center (PLRC)
    34. Pusat KOMAS
    35. Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit
    36. Safeguard Defenders
    37. South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM)
    38. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
    39. Think Centre
    40. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

     

  • Outcomes & Reflections from 39th Session of UN Human Rights Council

    This session, the Council adopted landmark resolutions on several country situations, further enhancing its contribution to the protection of human rights. 

    On Myanmar, we welcome the creation of the independent investigative mechanism, which is an important step towards accountability for the horrific crimes committed in Myanmar, as elaborated in the Fact Finding Mission’s report to this session. The overwhelming support for the resolution, notwithstanding China’s shameful blocking of consensus, was a clear message to victims and survivors that the international community stands with them in their fight for justice. 

    On Yemen, the Council demonstrated that principled action is possible, and has sent a strong message to victims of human rights violations in Yemen that accountability is a priority for the international community, by voting in favor of renewing the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts to continue international investigations into violations committed by all parties to the conflict. 

    Furthermore, we welcome the leadership by a group of States on the landmark resolution on Venezuela, and consider it as an important step for the Council applying objective criteria to address country situations that warrant its attention. The resolution, adopted with support from all regions, sends a strong message of support to the Venezuelan people. By opening up a space for dialogue at the Council, the resolution brings scrutiny to the tragic human rights and humanitarian crisis unfolding in the country.  

    While we welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Burundi, to continue its critical investigation and work towards accountability, we regret, however, that the Council failed to respond more strongly to Burundi's record of non-cooperation and attacks against the UN human rights system. 

    We also welcome the Council’s adoption of the resolution on Syria, which among other things condemns all violations and abuses of international human rights law and all violations of international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict.

    However, on other country situations including China, Sudan, Cambodia and the Philippines, the Council failed to take appropriate action. 

    On Sudan, we are deeply concerned about the weak resolution that envisions an end to the Independent Expert’s mandate once an OHCHR office is set up; a "deal" Sudan has already indicated it does not feel bound by, and which is an abdication of the Council’s responsibility to human rights victims in Sudan while grave violations are ongoing. At a minimum, States should ensure the planned country office monitors and publicly reports on the human rights situation across Sudan, and that the High Commissioner is mandated to report to the Council on the Office’s findings.  

    We also regret the lack of concerted Council action on the Philippines, in spite of the need to establish independent international and national investigations into extrajudicial killings in the government's 'war on drugs', and to monitor and respond to the government's moves toward authoritarianism. 

    In addition, we regret the Council’s weak response to the deepening human rights and the rule of law crisis in Cambodia, failing to change its approach even when faced with clear findings by the Special Rapporteur demonstrating that the exclusive focus on technical assistance and capacity building in the country, is failing.

    We share the concerns that many raised during the session, including the High Commissioner, about China’s human rights record, specifically noting serious violations of the rights of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province. It is regrettable that States did not make a concrete and collective call for action by China to cease the internment of estimates ranging up to 1 million individuals from these communities. 

    On thematic resolutions, we welcome the adoption of the resolution on equal participation in political and public affairs but would have preferred a stronger endorsement and implementation of the guidelines.

    The resolution on safety of journalists, adopted by consensus, sets out a clear roadmap of practical actions to end impunity for attacks. Journalism is not a crime - yet too many States in this room simply imprison those that criticize them. This must end, starting with the implementation of this resolution. 

    We welcome the adoption by consensus of the resolution on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights in humanitarian settings. Women and girls affected by conflict have been denied accountability for too long. The implementation of this resolution will ensure that their rights, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights, are respected, protected and fulfilled. 

    Finally, the Council’s first interactive dialogue on acts of reprisals and intimidation was an important step to ensure accountability for this shameful practice, and we urge more States to have the courage and conviction to stand up for human rights defenders and call out countries that attack and intimidate them.

    Signatories:
    The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)
    Amnesty International 
    Article 19
    Center for Reproductive Rights
    CIVICUS
    DefendDefenders
    FIDH
    Forum Asia 
    Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)
    Human Rights Watch 
    International Commission of Jurists
    International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

     

  • Outcomes & reflections from the UN Human Rights Council

    Joint statement at the end of the 41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    By renewing the mandate of the Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), the Council has sent a clear message that violence and discrimination against people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities cannot be tolerated. It reaffirmed that specific, sustained and systematic attention is needed to address these human rights violations and ensure that LGBT people can live a life of dignity. We welcome the Core Group's commitment to engage in dialogue with all States, resulting in over 50 original co-sponsors across all regions. However, we regret that some States have again attempted to prevent the Council from addressing discrimination and violence on the basis of SOGI.

    This Council session also sent a clear message that Council membership comes with scrutiny by addressing the situations of Eritrea, the Philippines, China, Saudi Arabia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This shows the potential the Council has to leverage its membership to become more effective and responsive to rights holders and victims. 

    The Council did the right thing by extending its monitoring of the situation in Eritrea. The onus is on the Eritrean Government to cooperate with Council mechanisms, including the Special Rapporteur, in line with its membership obligations. 

    We welcome the first Council resolution on the Philippinesas an important first step towards justice and accountability. We urge the Council to closely follow this situation and be ready to follow up with additional action, if the situation does not improve or deteriorates further. We deeply regret that such a resolution was necessary, due to the continuation of serious violations and repeated refusal of the Philippines – despite its membership of the Council– to cooperate with existing mechanisms. 

    We deplore that the Philippines and Eritrea sought to use their seats in this Council to seek to shield themselves from scrutiny, and those States who stood with the authorities and perpetrators who continue to commit grave violations with impunity, rather than with the victims.

    We welcome the written statement by 22 States on Chinaexpressing collective concern over widespread surveillance, restrictions to freedoms of religion and movement, and large-scale arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. We consider it as a first step towards sustained Council attention and in the absence of progress look to those governments that have signed this letter to follow up at the September session with a resolution calling for China to allow access to the region to independent human rights experts and to end country-wide the arbitrary detention of individuals based on their religious beliefs or political opinions.

    We welcome the progress made in resolutions on the rights of women and girls: violence against women and girls in the world of work, on discrimination against women and girls and on the consequences of child, early and forced marriage. We particularly welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls under its new name and mandate to focus on the intersections of gender and age and their impact on girls. The Council showed that it was willing to stand up to the global backlash against the rights of women and girls by ensuring that these resolutions reflect the current international legal framework and resisted cultural relativism, despite several amendments put forward to try and weaken the strong content of these resolutions. 

    However, in the text on the contribution of developmentto the enjoyment of all human rights, long standing consensus language from the Vienna Declaration for Programme of Action (VDPA) recognising that, at the same time, “the lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights” has again been deliberately excluded, disturbing the careful balance established and maintained for several decades on this issue. 

    We welcome the continuous engagement of the Council in addressing the threat posed by climate changeto human rights, through its annual resolution and the panel discussion on women’s rights and climate change at this session. We call on the Council to continue to strengthen its work on this issue, given its increasing urgency for the protection of all human rights.

    The Council has missed an opportunity on Sudanwhere it could have supported regional efforts and ensured that human rights are not sidelined in the process. We now look to African leadership to ensure that human rights are upheld in the transition. The Council should stand ready to act, including through setting up a full-fledged inquiry into all instances of violence against peaceful protesters and civilians across the country. 

    During the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial and summary executions, States heard loud and clear that the time to hold Saudi Arabia accountable is now for the extrajudicial killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. We recall that women human rights defenders continue to be arbitrarily detained despite the calls by 36 States at the March session. We urge States to adopt a resolution at the September session to establish a monitoring mechanism over the human rights situation in the country. 

    We welcome the landmark report of the High Commissioner on the situation for human rights in Venezuela; in response to the grave findings in the report and the absence of any fundamental improvement of the situation in the meantime, we urge the Council to adopt a Commission of Inquiry or similar mechanism in September, to reinforce the ongoing efforts of the High Commissioner and other actors to address the situation.

    We welcome the renewal of the mandate on freedom of peaceful assembly and association. This mandate is at the core of our work as civil society and we trust that the mandate will continue to protect and promote these fundamental freedoms towards a more open civic space.

    We welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus. We acknowledge some positive signs of re-engagement in dialogue by Belarus, and an attempted negotiation process with the EU on a potential Item 10 resolution. However, in the absence of systemic human rights reforms in Belarus, the mandate and resolution process remains an essential tool for Belarusian civil society. In addition, there are fears of a spike in violations around upcoming elections and we are pleased that the resolution highlights the need for Belarus to provide safeguards against such an increase.

    We welcome the renewal of the quarterly reporting process on the human rights situation in Ukraine. However, we also urge States to think creatively about how best to use this regular mechanism on Ukraine to make better progress on the human rights situation.

    The continued delay in the release of the UN databaseof businesses engaged with Israeli settlements established pursuant to Council resolution 31/36 in March 2016 is of deep concern.  We join others including Tunisia speaking on behalf of 65 states and Peru speaking on behalf of 26 States in calling on the High Commissioner to urgently and fully fulfil this mandate as a matter of urgency and on all States to cooperate with all Council mandates, including this one, and without political interference.

    Numerous States and stakeholders highlighted the importance of the OHCHR report on Kashmir; while its release only a few days ago meant it did not receive substantive consideration at the present session, we look forward to discussing it in depth at the September session. 

    Finally, we welcome the principled leadership shown by Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, in pursuing accountability for individual victims of acts of intimidation and reprisalsunder General Debate Item 5, contrasting with other States which tend to make only general statements of concern. We call on States to raise all individual cases at the interactive dialogue on reprisals and intimidation in the September session. 

    Signatories:

    1. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    2. DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    3. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    4. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    5. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    6. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
    7. Center for Reproductive Rights 
    8. ARTICLE 19
    9. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    10. Human Rights House Foundation 
    11. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    12. Franciscans International 
    13. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
    14. Amnesty International
    15. Human Rights Watch
    16. International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) 

     

  • Outcomes & reflections from UN Human Rights Council

    38th Session of the Human Rights Council
    End of Session Joint Civil Society Statement

    Our organisations welcome the adoption of the resolutions on civil society space, peaceful protest, on violence against women and girls and on discrimination against women and girls and the Council’s rejection of attempts to impede progress on protecting civil society space, peaceful protest and the rights to sexual and reproductive health.

    On civil society space, the resolution recognizes the essential contribution that civil society makes to international and regional organisations and provides guidance to States and organisations on improving their engagement with civil society.  On peaceful protest, it sets out in greater detail how international law and standards protect rights related to protests. 

    On violence against women and on discrimination against women, we consider that ensuring sexual and reproductive health and rights are vital in efforts to combat violence and discrimination against women, online and offline, as well as to ensure targeted and specific remedies to victims. We appreciate that the work of women human rights defenders towards this is recognised. 

    We consider the adoption of the resolution on the contribution of the Council to the prevention of human rights violations as an important opportunity to advance substantive consideration on strengthening the Council’s ability to deliver on its prevention mandate.

    Following challenging negotiations, we welcome the adoption by consensus of the resolution on human rights and the Internet, reaffirming that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, and calling on States to tackle digital divides between and within countries, emphasising the importance of tools for anonymity and encryption for the enjoyment of human rights online, in particular for journalists, and condemning once more all measures that prevent or disrupt access to information online.

    We welcome continued Council attention to Eritrea's abysmal human rights record. This year's resolution, while streamlined, extends expert monitoring of, and reporting on, the country and outlines a way forward for both engagement and human rights reform. We urge Eritrea to engage in long-overdue meaningful cooperation. 

    We welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus under item 4 with an increased vote - as it is still the only independent international mechanism to effectively monitor human rights violations in Belarus - while remaining concerned over a narrative to shift the mandate to item 10 in the absence of any systemic change in Belarus. 

    We welcome the consensus resolution on the Democratic Republic of Congo, putting in place continued monitoring and follow up on the expert’s recommendations on the Kasais. However, given violations and abuses throughout several regions in the country, occurring against the backdrop of an ongoing political crisis, delayed elections, and the brutal quashing of dissent, we urge the Council to promptly move towards putting in place a country-wide mechanism that can respond to events on the ground as they emerge.

    We welcome the strong resolution on Syria, which condemns violations and abuses by all parties, and appropriately addresses concerns raised by the COI about the use of chemical weapons, sexual and gender-based violence, and the need to address situations of detainees and disappearances. The Council cannot stay silent in the face of continued atrocities as the conflict continues unabated into its seventh year.

    We welcome the joint statements delivered this session on Cambodia, the Philippines,and Venezuela. We urge Council members and observes to work towards increased collective action to urgently address the dire human rights situations in these countries.  

    On the Philippines, we emphasise that the Council should establish an independent international investigation into extrajudicial killings in the ‘war on drugs’ and mandate the OHCHR to report on the human rights situation and on moves toward authoritarianism.  

    The joint statement on Cambodia represents a glimmer of hope after the Council's failure to take meaningful action against clear sabotage of democratic space ahead of elections. Close scrutiny of the human rights situation before, during and after the elections is paramount and the Council must take immediate action on current and future human rights violations in this regard.

    We welcome the joint statement delivered by Luxembourg  calling on the HRC President to provide short oral updates on cases of alleged intimidation or reprisal, including actions taken, at the start of the Item 5 general debate of each Council session and also provide States concerned with the opportunity to respond.

    Finally, the new Council member to replace the United States should demonstrate a principled commitment to human rights, to multilateralism and to addressing country situations of concern by applying objective criteria. 

    Joint Statement by Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), the Association for Progressive Communications, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project), Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF), International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 

     

  • Outcomes and reflections from the UN Human Rights Council

    The 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council sat from 22 February - 24 March, 2021 and there were a number of critical human rights resolutions up for debate and for the 47 Council members to address. An overview of outcomes and civil society participation in our joint end of session statement with 14 other organisations:

    Civil society participation

    We welcome some important advances such as the possibility for NGOs to make video statements, which should be maintained and expanded after the pandemic for all discussions, including in general debates. We object to the removal of access details for online informal negotiations from Sched without explanation or justification, effectively restricting CSO access to negotiations and favoring CSOs based in Geneva or with existing contacts with diplomats. In addition, the lack of webcast archives in all UN languages, and the lack of accessibility measures such as closed captions and sign language interpretation for most HRC discussions all impede participation, accountability for States’ positions and commitments, and ultimately for the Council’s work. We are concerned by the renewal for another year of the ‘efficiency’ measures piloted in 2020, despite their negative impact on civil society participation in a year also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge States to reinstate general debates in the June sessions, to preserve their open-ended nature, and maintain the option of video intervention also in general debates.

    Environmental justice

    It’s high time the Council responds to calls by States and civil society to recognize the right of all to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and establish a new mandate for a Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change.

    We welcome the joint statement calling for the recognition of the right of all to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment that was delivered by the Maldives, on behalf of Costa Rica, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland and supported by 55 States. We call on all States to seize this historic opportunity to support the core-group as they continue to work towards UN recognition so that everyone in the world, wherever they live, and without discrimination, has the right to live in a safe, clean and sustainable environment.

    We welcome the joint statement that was delivered by Bangladesh, on behalf of 55 States, calling the Council to create a new Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change. We believe this new mandate would be essential to supporting a stronger human rights-based approach to climate change, engaging in country visits, normative work and capacity-building, and further addressing the human rights impacts of climate responses, in order to support the most vulnerable. This mandate should be established without further delay.

    Racial Justice

    Over 150 States jointly welcomed that the implementation of HRC Resolution 43/1 will center victims and their families. We urge the Council to respond to the High Commissioner’s call to address root causes of racism including the “legacies of enslavement, the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans, and its context of colonialism”. The Council must answer to the demands of victims’ families and civil society’s, and establish - at its next session - an independent inquiry to investigate systemic racism in law enforcement in the United States and a thematic commission of inquiry to investigate systemic racism in law enforcement globally, especially where it is related to legacies of colonialism and transatlantic slavery.

    Right to health

    The resolution on ensuring equitable, affordable, timely, and universal access by all countries to vaccines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a welcome move in highlighting the need for States not to have export and other restrictions on access to safe diagnostics, therapeutics, medicines, and vaccines, and essential health technologies, and their components, as well as equipment and encouraged States to use all flexibilities within TRIPs. However, a revised version of the resolution tabled was further weakened by the deletion of one paragraph on stockpiling of vaccines and the reference to ‘unequal allocation and distribution among countries”. The specific deletion highlights the collusion between rich States and big pharmaceuticals, their investment in furthering monopolistic intellectual property regimes resulting in grave human rights violations. The reluctance of States, predominantly WEOG States who continue to defend intellectual property regimes and States’ refusal to hold business enterprises accountable to human rights standards is very concerning during this Global crisis.

    Attempts to undermine HRC mandate

    We regret that once again this Council has adopted a resolution, purportedly advancing ‘mutual beneficial cooperation’ which seeks to undermine and reinterpret both the principle of universality and its mandate. Technical assistance, dialogue and cooperation must be pursued with the goal of promoting and protecting human rights, not as an end in itself or as a means of facilitating inter-State relations. We reiterate our call on all States, and especially Council members, to consider country situations in an independent manner, based on objective human rights criteria supported by credible UN and civil society information. This is an essential part of the Council’s work; reliance on cooperation alone hobbles the Council’s ability to act to support the defenders and communities that look to it for justice.

    Country-specific resolutions

    We welcome the new mandate for the High Commissioner focused on the human rights situation in Belarus in the context of the 2020 Presidential election. It is now essential for States to support the High Commissioner’s office, ensuring the resources and expertise are made available so that the mandate can be operationalised as quickly as possible. We welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran, and we urge Council to consider further action to hold Iranian authorities accountable, in view of the systematic impunity and lack of transparency surrounding violations of human rights in the country.

    We welcome the call for additional resources for the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, increased reporting by OHCHR as well as the work of the IIMM. Lack of international monitoring on, the imposition of martial law in Myanmar to prosecute civilians, including protesters, before military courts, the dangerous escalation of violence by the Tatmadaw and the widespread human rights violations amounting to crimes against humanity demand more efforts to ensure accountability.

    We welcome the renewal and strengthening of the OHCHR’s monitoring and reporting mandate on Nicaragua, in a context of steady human rights deterioration marked by the Government’s refusal to cooperate constructively with the Office, over two years after its expulsion from the country. The adopted resolution lays out steps that Nicaragua should take to resume good faith cooperation and improve the situation ahead of this year’s national elections. It is also vital that this Council and its members continue to closely follow the situation in Nicaragua, and live up to the resolution’s commitments, by considering all available measures should the situation deteriorate by next year.

    We welcome the increased monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka. However, in light of the High Commissioner’s report on the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation and Sri Lanka’s incapacity and unwillingness to pursue accountability for crimes under international law, the Council should have urged States to seek other avenues to advance accountability, including through extraterritorial or universal jurisdiction.

    While we welcome the extension of the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (CHRSS), we regret the adoption of a competing resolution under the inadequate agenda item 10. This resolution sends a wrong signal as myriads of local-level conflicts and ongoing SGBV and other violations of fundamental rights continue to threaten the country’s stability. We urge South Sudan  to continue cooperating with the CHRSS and to demonstrate concrete progress on key benchmarks and indicators. On Syria, We welcome the report by the Commission of Inquiry on Syria on arbitrary imprisonment and detention and reiterate the recommendation to establish an independent mechanism “to locate the missing or their remains”, and call on States to ensure the meaningful participation of victims and adopt a victim-centered approach, including by taking into consideration the Truth and Justice Charter of Syrian associations of survivors and families of disappeared when addressing arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance.

    Country-specific State statements

    We welcome States’ leadership and statements on human rights situations that merit the HRC’s attention.

    We welcome the joint statement on the situation in Ethiopia's Tigray region and urge all actors, including the Ethiopian Federal Government, to protect civilians and ensure unhindered humanitarian access. Those responsible for crimes under international law, including Ethiopian soldiers, members of armed militias and non-State groups, and Eritrean soldiers involved in Tigray, must be held criminally accountable. The HRC should mandate an independent investigation and reporting by the High Commissioner.

    For the first time in seven years, States at the HRC have united to condemn the widespread human rights violations by Egypt and its misuse of coutner-terrorism measures to imprison human rights defenders, LGBTI persons, journalists, politicians and lawyers and peaceful critics. We welcome the cross-regional joint statement by 32 States and we reiterate our call supported by over 100 NGOs from across the world on the HRC to establish a monitoring and reporting mechanism on the situation.

    We welcome the joint statement by 45 States focused on the human rights situation in Russia, including the imprisonment of Alexi Navalny and the large number of arbitrary arrests of protestors across Russia. The statement rightly expresses concern for shrinking civil society space in Russia through recent legislative amendments and Russia using its “tools of State” to attack independent media and civil society. In the context of mounting international recognition that Israel imposes an apartheid regime over the Palestinian people, we welcome Namibia’s call for the "restoration of the UN Special Committee on Apartheid in order to ensure the implementation of the Apartheid Convention to the Palestinian situation."

    Human rights situations that merits the HRC’s attention

    The next session will receive a report on pushbacks from the Special Rapporteur on human rights of migrants. The Council must respond to the severity and scale of pushbacks and other human rights violations faced by migrants and refugees in transit and at borders and the ongoing suppression of solidarity, including by answering the High Commissioner’s call for independent monitoring. The Council’s silence feeds impunity, it must build on the momentum of the joint statement of over 90 States reaffirming their commitment to protection of the human rights of all migrants regardless of status. While the OHCHR expressed deep concern about the deteriorating human rights situation and the ongoing crackdown on civil society in Algeria, and called for the immediate and unconditional release of arbitrarily detained individuals, the Council has remained largely silent. As authorities are increasingly arbitrarily and violently arresting protesters - at least 1,500 since the resumption of the Hirak pro-democracy movement on 13 February, we call on the Council to address the criminalisation of public freedoms, to protect peaceful protestors, activists and the media.

    Cameroon is one of the human rights crises the Council has failed to address for too long. We condemn the acts of intimidation and reprisal exercised by the Cameroonian government in response to NGOs raising concerns, including DefendDefenders. This is unacceptable behavior by a Council member. The Council should consider collective action to address the gross human rights violations and abuses occurring in the country.

    We echo the calls of many governments for the Council to step up its meaningful action to ensure that concerns raised by civil society, the UN Special Procedures and the OHCHR about the human rights situation in China be properly addressed, including through an independent international investigation. We also regret that a number of States have taken an unprincipled approach of voicing support to actions, such as those by the Chinese government, including in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, through their national and other joint statements.

    We call for the Council’s attention on the rapid deterioration of human rights in India. Violent crackdowns on recent farmers’ protests, internet shutdowns in protest areas, sedition and criminal charges against journalists reporting on these protests, and criminalisation of human rights defenders signal an ongoing dangerous trend in restrictions of fundamental freedoms in India. We call on India to ensure fundamental freedoms and allow journalists, HRDs and civil society to continue their legitimate work without intimidation and fear of reprisals.

    We once again regret the lack of Council’s attention on the human rights crisis in Kashmir. Fundamental freedoms in the Indian-administered Kashmir remains severely curtailed since the revocation of the constitutional autonomy in August 2019. Raids in October and November 2020 on residences and offices of human rights defenders and civil society organisations by India’s anti-terrorism authorities in a clear attempt at intimidation have further exacerbated the ongoing crisis. Also on India and Pakistan, we call on the OHCHR to continue to monitor and regularly report to the Council on the situation in both Indian and Pakistani administered Kashmir, and on Indian and Pakistani authorities to give the OHCHR and independent observers unfettered access to the region.

    Nearly six months since its adoption, the Council Resolution 45/33 on technical assistance to the Philippines has proven utterly insufficient to address the widespread human rights violations and persistent impunity. Killings in the war on drugs continue, and attacks on human rights defenders and activists have escalated. The killing of nine unarmed activists on 7 March 2021 clearly demonstrates that no amount of technical assistance will end the killings as long as the President and senior officials continue to incite violence and killings as official State policy. It is imperative that the Council sets up an international accountability mechanism to end the cycle of violence and impunity in the Philippines.


    The statement is endorsed by: International Service for Human Rights; Franciscans International; Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR); International Commission of Jurists (ICJ); International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR); Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA); African Centre For Democracy And Human Rights Studies; International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (FIDH); MENA Rights Group; International Lesbian and Gay Association; Impact Iran; Ensemble contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM); Siamak Pourzand Foundation; Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS); ARTICLE 19; CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation.


    Current council members:

    Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, BrazilBulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Côte d'Ivoire, CubaCzech Republic, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, FranceIndia, Gabon, GermanyIndonesia, Italy, JapanLibya, MalawiMarshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands,  PakistanPhilippinesPolandRepublic of Korea, RussiaSenegal, SomaliaSudan, Togo, UkraineUnited KingdomUruguay, UzbekistanVenezuela

    Civic space ratings from the CIVICUS Monitor

    OPEN NARROWED OBSTRUCTED  REPRESSED CLOSED

     

     

     

  • Outcomes from the 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council: Progress & Shortcomings

    Joint statement from the end of the United Nations' 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council


    12 organisations share reflections on the key outcomes of the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council, as well as the missed opportunities to address key issues including human rights situations in Afghanistan, China, Philippines, and Yemen.

    Thematic issues and resolutions

    We welcome that for the first time, the Council heard from two representatives of directly impacted communities from the podium in the enhanced interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner and the International Independent Expert Mechanism to AdvanceRacial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement: Collette Flanagan of Mothers against Police Brutality (MAPB) whose son was killed by U.S. police in 2013; and Jurema Werneck, director of Amnesty International in Brazil. As highlighted in the HC’s report, States are continuing to deny the existence and impact of systemic racism, especially institutional racism. Our view is that States actively protect the interests of police institutions in order to maintain the status quo which is designed to oppress Africans and people of African descent. We call on States to fully implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), to fully cooperate with the International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the context of Law Enforcement including accepting country visits, implement the recommendations from their report and the High Commissioner’s Agenda towards Transformative Change for Racial justice and Equality.

    We welcome the ‘from rhetoric to reality: a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance’ resolution. The resolution, interalia, strongly condemns the discriminatory treatment, unlawful deportations, excessive use of force and deaths of African migrants and migrants of African descent, including refugees and asylum-seekers, at the hands of law enforcement officials engaged in migration and border governance. It calls on States to ensure accountability and reparations for human rights violations at borders and to adopt a racial justice approach, including by adopting policies to address structural racism in the management of international migration. It reiterates that the Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans and colonialism were grave violations of international law that require States to make reparations proportionate to the harms committed and to ensure that structures in the society that are perpetuating the injustices of the past are transformed, including law enforcement and administration of justice and to dispense reparatory justice to remedy historical racial injustices.

    We welcome the HRC’s first discussion on the legacies of colonialism as a step towards challenging entrenched structures of racism and colonialism, including in its contemporary manifestations as exemplified by apartheid in the Palestinian context. Some of the most entrenched forms of systemic racism are the result of continuing legacies of slavery, the Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans and colonialism. The DDPA recognizes that colonialism has led to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and emphasises the structural forms of racism and racial discrimination that to this day require urgent attention, especially for Africans and people of African descent, Asians and people of Asian descent and Indigenous Peoples who were victims of colonialism and continue to be victims of its consequences. We concur with the Special Rapporteur on racism that “there can be no real way out of our most pressing global crises without meaningfully addressing the legacies of colonialism…[and] failure to address colonial legacies, especially by former and contemporary colonial powers is an important part of our global crises.” We call on the Council to keep colonialism on the agenda of the HRC until all of its manifestations are eradicated. A true decolonial approach must not only focus on the perceived “extreme” manifestations of racism and individual prejudice, but also on the systems of oppression that create an enabling environment for continued human rights violations.

    We welcome the resolution on the “human rights implications of new and emerging technologies in the military domain”and its request for a study examining these implications. The adoption of the resolution adds to the growing attention that UN human rights mechanisms are paying to the negative human rights impacts of arms, including new technologies that can be weaponised. It is undoubtable that concerns relating to the military domain should not be seen as only relevant to disarmament fora. In response to comments from some States on whether international humanitarian law (IHL) falls within the remit of HRC, we recall that international human rights law and IHL are complementary and mutually reinforcing, as the HRC itself has reiterated on several occasions in past resolutions. We welcome the inclusion of paragraph on the responsibility to respect human rights of business enterprises, and in this regard, we recall the Information Note by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights on the Arms Industry (“Responsible business conduct in the arms sector: Ensuring business practice in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”) published in August 2022. While we welcome the reference in the resolution to the role of human rights defenders and civil society organisations in raising awareness about the human rights impacts of the use of new and emerging technologies in the military domain, we regret that it does not include a specific mention of the risks that the use of these technologies can pose for human rights defenders and civil society organisations.

    We welcome the resolution on arbitrary detention and especially the inclusion of a new paragraph on the necessity to fully implement the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The resolution recognises the role of HRDs, peaceful protesters, journalists and media workers in safeguarding the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of liberty and calls upon States to make sure that they are not arbitrarily detained as a result of their activities. We further commend the main sponsor, France, for having rejected any language that could have weakened the resolution, especially on the right to legal assistance.

    We welcome the adoption of the safety of journalistsresolution. It has now been a decade since the first resolution on this topic, and the HRC has since created an elaborate and robust set of international standards to protect journalists. This iteration of the resolution adds new strong commitments on multiple new and emerging issues affecting journalists, from strategic lawsuits against public participation to extraterritorial attacks. It also strengthens language on investigations into attacks against journalists, calling on authorities to exhaust lines of enquiry that determine whether such attacks are linked to their journalistic work. We now urge States to implement these commitments to their full extent.

    We welcome the approval by consensus by the Council of the resolution on terrorism and human rights, that has been updated with important paragraphs related to the centrality of the rule of law and human rights to counter terrorism, international human rights obligations in transfers of terrorist suspects, profiling of individuals, detention, the right to a fair trial and other due process guarantees, the right to privacy and freedom of expression, and in relation to children rights and civil society. We regret that paragraphs stemming from security based concerns have increased even though they are unrelated to the competence of the Council to promote human rights.

    Human rights situations on the Council’s agenda

    We warmly welcome the adoption of the resolution on the human rights situation in the Russian Federation, mandating a Special Rapporteur on Russia for the first time. Over the last several years, and particularly since Russia's renewed illegal invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February, the Russian authorities have engaged in a systematic campaign of repression of human rights and restriction of civic space including by shutting down independent media, intimidating and harassing human rights defenders and activists, banning peaceful protest, and imposing impermissible restrictions on the operations of independent civil society organisations in the country, including those that seek justice and effective remedies for human rights violations. The Russian Federation’s growing repressive policies, combined with the country’s exclusion from the Council of Europe – victims of new human rights violations committed by the Russian Federation from 17 September lost protection under the European Convention on Human Rights– and its diplomatic isolation from those States which have been supportive of human rights and civil society in Russia, have made it increasingly difficult for Russian human rights defenders, activists, and civil society organisations to engage with the international community. Russian civil society had been vocal in calling for a Special Rapporteur's mandate, strongly believing it will help to create a bridge between the United Nations and Russian civil society and the wider general public in Russia at an acute moment of widespread domestic human rights violations, both ensuring their voice is heard at an international level, and that the United Nations can further develop its understanding and analysis of the deterioration in Russia's domestic human rights situation and the implications that has had - and continues to have - for Russia's foreign policy decisions.

    We welcome the extension and strengthening of the OHCHR capacity to collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve evidence and information and to develop strategies for future accountability, as well as to extend the mandate for enhanced monitoring and reporting by the OHCHR on Sri Lanka. Given the complete lack of any credible avenues for accountability at the national level, the OHCHR’s Sri Lanka Accountability Project remains the only hope of justice, more than thirteen years after the war, for thousands of victims of war time atrocities and their families.

    We welcome the UN Secretary General’s reporton missing people in Syria; and urge States to support and implement the report’s findings, in line with resolution A/HRC/51/L.18 which underscored "the report’s finding that any measure towards addressing the continuing tragedy of missing persons in the Syrian Arab Republic requires a coherent and holistic approach going beyond current efforts, which must be inclusive and centered on victims". Addressing the issue of missing persons in Syria requires a "new international institution" mandated to clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing persons, to “work in cooperation and complementarity with existing mechanisms”, the body having “a structural element that ensures that victims, survivors and their families [...] may participate in a full and meaningful manner in its operationalization and work” as recommended in the study of the Secretary General.

    The Council has taken a vitally important step in renewing the mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuelaand of the reporting mandate of OHCHR for a further two years. In its most recent report, A/HRC/51/43, the Fact-Finding Mission deepened its investigation of alleged crimes against humanity, making clear that alleged perpetrators remain in power. The ongoing accountability drive through the work of the Mission allied with the work of OHCHR, is key to providing victims of violations with hope for justice. It is also key to the prevention of ongoing violations, particularly in the context of upcoming elections, and of encouraging political processes that respect human rights.

    Human rights situations which should be on the Council’s agenda

    We regret that the Council failed to respond adequately to several human rights situations including Afghanistan, China, Philippines, and Yemen.

    We welcome the extension and strengthening of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan. However, this in no way makes up for the Council’s repeated failure to respond to the calls from Afghan human rights defenders, especially women human rights defenders, and civil society for an independent accountability mechanism with a mandate and resources to investigate the full scope of violations abuses that continue to be committed in Afghanistan by all parties and to preserve evidence of these violations for future accountability. It is particularly concerning that despite the overwhelming evidence of gross violations and abuses in Afghanistan that the Council failed to muster consensus on even the bare minimum.

    We deplore that this Council was unable to endorse the proposal for a debate on Xinjiang, after the UN identified possible crimes against humanity committed by the Chinese government against Uyghurs and Turkic peoples. Dialogue is a pillar of multilateralism, and is fundamental, even on the hardest issues. Despite the leadership of the core group and all 18 States who voted in favour, this Council looked the other way. We strongly condemn the 19 countries who blocked this proposal, and regret all the abstentions that enabled it. We particularly regret that leading OIC States Indonesia and Qatar, as well as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, the UAE, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Sudan, Gabon, Cameroon and Eritrea, decided to abandon Uyghurs and Muslim minorities in China. We command Somalia for being the only Muslim Council member to stand up for Muslim minorities. Uyghur and international human rights groups won’t give up efforts to hold Chinaaccountable. We urgently call on current and future Council members to support efforts to prevent the continuation of atrocity crimes in Xinjiang, and uphold this Council’s credibility and moral authority.

    We are deeply disappointed that despite the High Commissioner’s clear recommendation and demands by victims and their families as well as civil society from the Philippines, the Council has failed to put forward a resolution mandating the High Commissioner to continue monitoring and reporting on the situation, allowing the Philippines to use the rhetoric of cooperation and the UN Joint Programme for Human Rights to window-dress its appalling human rights record without any tangible progress or scrutiny.

    We are dismayed by an Item 10 resolution that will not allow for reporting to the HRC on the human rights situation in Yemen.   Despite a truce that now looks in danger of collapsing, the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Yemen has not ended. The lives and well-being of millions of Yemen citizens continue to be threatened from attacks against civilians, one of the world's largest humanitarian crisis and widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Yet many governments at this Council have chosen silence and appeasement of the warring parties over the protection of victims and upholding the rule of law. To abandon the people of Yemen out of political convenience not only betrays the fundamental purposes of this Council but also encourages parties to the conflict to continue to use violence and war crimes as a means of accomplishing their goals.   Lasting peace in Yemen requires a sustained commitment by the international community to ensure accountability and redress for the millions of victims in Yemen. We call on UN member states to give meaning to the pledges they have made and begin to work toward the establishment of an international independent investigative mechanism on Yemen.

    Signatories:

    1. Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man
    2. American Civil Liberties Union
    3. ARTICLE 19
    4. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    5. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
    6. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    7. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
    8. Franciscans International
    9. International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)
    10. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    11. Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network
    12. The Global Interfaith Network (GIN-SSOGIE)