human rights council

 

  • Statement: Countries of concern at the UN Human Rights Council

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Interactive Dialogue on Countries of Concern

    CIVICUS is deeply concerned by the grave situation in Sudan, and we call once again on the Council to take immediate steps to address this crisis, at the very least by establishing a fact-finding mission to monitor, verify and report on the situation to prevent further bloodshed and ensure that the perpetrators of these atrocities are held to account.

    In Saudi Arabia, human rights defenders face continued unwarranted detention. A wave of further arrests in April targeted those supporting the women’s rights movement and detained activists.  Saudi Arabia is not above Human Rights Council scrutiny and we reiterate calls on the Council to establish a monitoring mechanism over human rights violations in the country and call explicitly for the immediate and unconditional release of the detained Saudi women human rights defenders.

    In Guatemala, human rights defenders are being criminalized and harassed. Cases filed against Claudia Samoyoa Pineda and Jose Martinez Cabrera is illustrative of the authorities’ growing intolerance of independent dissent, including of those working on land and environmental defense. This is just one example of targeted reprisals levelled against civil society organisations and human rights defenders that have mobilised against a series of attacks on Guatemala's democratic institutional framework.

    Civic space in Afghanistan remains under serious threat. Violence against human rights defenders and journalists continues with impunity and state actors also have been implicated in violations against journalists. Women, civil society and victim's groups have been excluded from the peace processes, which threatens to undermine all hard-won gains. 

    Lastly, we are deeply concerned at the situation in the Philippines. Despite progress on a bill to protect human rights defenders, the situation on the ground remains dire. Dozens of activists have been killed since 2016 under the Duterte administration and the work of CSOs, media and human rights defenders have been severely undermined by smear campaigns by the government.

    We call on the Council’s continued attention to, and call for urgent action on, these issues of serious concern.

     

  • Statement: Equatorial Guinea's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Joint statement on Equatorial Guinea's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    Mr President, EG Justice, Centro de Estudios e Iniciativas para el Desarrollo, ONG – Cooperación y Desarrollo, and CIVICUS welcome the government of Equatorial Guinea’s engagement with the UPR process and particularly for accepting 202 of 221 UPR recommendations.

    We regret that since its last examination, recommendations pertaining to safeguarding civic space and fundamental freedoms have not been implemented by the Equatorial Guinean government. Serious restrictions to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, and expression have increased. And the general situation of human rights has worsened.

    We are deeply concerned by the government’s recent pronouncements that it has closed the Center for Studies and Initiatives for the Development of Equatorial Guinea (CEID) – one of the few civil society organisations raising concerns over human rights violations. Human rights defenders, activists and members of the political opposition continue to be subjected to violence, repression, intimidation, arbitrary arrests, detention and harassment. Human rights defender Alfredo Okenve was brutally assaulted by security agents in November 2018 and was arrested and his movement restricted in March 2019 after he was invited to receive an award for his human rights activities. In February 2019, activist Joaquin Elo Ayet was arbitrary arrested, tortured and detained for an extended period without charges for his campaigns against corrupt practices and human rights violations.

    Freedom of expression is severely constrained as most media outlets are controlled by the state or the family of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema and the intimidation and harassment of journalists force many to self-censor. Freedom of association is restricted by onerous registration processes for civil society and the refusal of the government to recognize labour unions.

    EG Justice, Centro de Estudios e Iniciativas para el Desarrollo, ONG – Cooperación y Desarrollo, and CIVICUS call on the Government of Equatorial Guinea to immediately and urgently take proactive measures to implement all UPR recommendations, particularly pertaining to removing restrictive laws and practices that undermine civic space, and to create an enabling environment for journalists and human rights defenders and activists to work without fear of reprisals.

     

  • Statement: Eritrea's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    The Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR), Eritrea Focus, and CIVICUS welcome the government of Eritrea’s engagement with the UPR process and for its acceptance of 131 UPR recommendations. We also welcome the Declaration of Peace and Friendship signed between Eritrea and Ethiopia in July 2018, and the shared commitments to make progress towards achieving sustainable peace in the region.

    But regional overtures towards peace have not translated into national policy and practices. Since Eritrea’s last review, it has failed to implement any recommendations it accepted pertaining to civic space and fundamental freedoms.

    Instead, the human rights situation in the country continues to worsen, civic space continues to be severely suppressed, and serious restrictions to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, and expression prevail.

    Mr President, we are deeply concerned by the closure of 20 health centres administered by Catholic churches, and the arbitrary arrest and detention of four Christian bishops based in Debre Bizen monastery and of 141 Christians in Mai Temenai district in June 2019, which followed a call by the Catholic Church for genuine dialogue on peace and reconciliation in Eritrea. Such actions illustrate the willful failure of the Eritrean government to implement UPR recommendations and improve the repressive environment for civic space and basic freedoms.

    We note with concern the lack of constitutionalism in Eritrea, a situation that perpetuates human rights violations and abuses by government institutions with impunity, where activists, journalists and human rights defenders continue to be arrested and illegally detained.

    Mr President, Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights, Eritrea Focus, and CIVICUS call on the Government of Eritrea to immediately and urgently take proactive measures to implement all UPR recommendations, particularly pertaining to removing restrictive laws that undermine civic space and create an enabling environment for journalists and human rights defenders to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. 

     

  • Statement: Ethiopia's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Joint statement on Ethiopia's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    Mr President, CIVICUS and Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE) welcome the government of Ethiopia’s engagement with the UPR process and particularly for accepting 131 out of 327 UPR recommendations. We also welcome the gradual reopening and operational civic space for civil society organisations (CSOs) in Ethiopia; and the Declaration of Peace and Friendship signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea in July 2018, in a continued spirit to make progress towards achieving sustainable peace in the region.

    Notwithstanding some positive developments, we regret that since the UPR review in January 2019, recommendations pertaining to civic space and fundamental freedoms have not been fully implemented by the Ethiopian government. We also note with concern that institutional and legal impediments for sustained political space remain an encumbrance to the development of a vibrant civil society. Independent investigations and accountability for perpetrators of years of human rights violations, including torture and extrajudicial killings of dissidents and protesters, remain insufficient.

    These restrictions have recently led to the closure of the Sidama Media Network (SMN) and the arrest and illegal detention of two of its managers and two board members in 18 July 2019. Such actions are illustrative of the government’s failure to systematically implement UPR recommendations pertaining to freedom of expression.

    Mr President, we are deeply concerned by the government’s failure to adequately respond to ethnic tensions across a number of regions that recently saw the Amhara regional governor and two other government officials killed in June 26, 2019. About 820,000 people were uprooted in Gedeo district and 150,000 in the bordering West Guji zone of Oromia when the violence flared in 2018 remain displaced with deplorable human rights situations. We remain equally alarmed by ethnic violence on 18 July in the Sidama zone leading to the displacement of more than 900 people, mostly women and children.

    Mr President, AHRE and CIVICUS call on the Government of Ethiopia to immediately and urgently take proactive measures to implement all UPR recommendations, particularly those pertaining to efforts to address intercommunal violence, and ensure protection of people displaced by interethnic disputes.

     

  • Statement: Grave human rights abuses continue in Eritrea

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Interactive Dialogue on the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea

    CIVICUS, along with eight other Africa-based organisations, (see below) welcomes the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Eritrea and we ask the UN Human Rights Council as a matter of urgency to renew the mandate, so that the Special Rapporteur can continue its vital monitoring of and reporting on the human rights situation in Eritrea.

    There remain significant and urgent human rights concerns in Eritrea, despite recent diplomatic and bi-lateral developments between Eritrea and Ethiopia and its ongoing dialogues with Djibouti. Civic space is closed, with freedom of expression and peaceful assembly wilfully subverted by the authorities. There is no independent media, and at least 16 journalists remain in detention without trial since the country’s free press was shuttered two decades ago. As the Special Rapporteur highlighted in her report, there exists a culture of impunity for the perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses, including arbitrary and incommunicado detention.

    We regret that the Eritrean government refuses to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Eritrea, and other UN Human Rights Council mechanisms. Eritrea has never received any mandate holder. This lack of the bear minimum of engagement is unacceptable for a member of the Human Rights Council.

    The Special Rapporteur presented a number of welcome benchmarks for human rights progress in her report, and we would like to ask her to elaborate how to operationalize such benchmarks for follow up.

    Mr. Vice President, if the mandate of the Special Rapporteur is not renewed, the Council risks losing this opportunity to address in any way the grave serious human rights abuses occurring in one of its member states. The Council therefore must ensure the continuation of this mandate We call on the government of Eritrea to fully cooperate and allow comprehensive access to all UN Human Rights Council mechanisms.

    1. Africa Monitors
    2. CIVICUS
    3. Eritrean Diaspora in East Africa (EDEA)
    4. Eritrea Focus
    5. Eritrean Law Society (ELS)
    6. Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMHDR)
    7. Network of Eritrean Women
    8. RSF Afrique
    9. PEN Eritrea

     

  • Statement: Investigation needed into human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    35th session UN Human Rights Council
    Statement on situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo 
    20 June 2017

    CIVICUS shares the concern of the High Commissioner over the widespread human rights violations committed in the Kasai Central and Kasai Oriental provinces of the DRC since August 2016. 

    Extrajudicial executions of civilians and other atrocities have been systematically carried out forcing over 30.000 people to flee to neighbouring countries and leaving approximately 1.27 million others internally displaced.

    We are concerned by the threats and increased violence targeting journalists including those who covered the massacres in the Kasai region.  We express alarm over the closure of private media outlets deemed critical of the government.

    Mr. Vice President, peaceful protests held recently were violently repressed and security forces carried out widespread arrests of people suspected of organising or participating in such protests.  

    We are also concerned about the arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights defenders for exposing failures of the national economy, the provision of social services and democratic reform. 

    Sadly, some of these human rights defenders are being held in undisclosed locations without access to family members and lawyers. Others have been tortured while in detention.  

    We urge the Council to launch an independent  international investigation into the atrocities committed in the Kasai region and for all perpetrators to be held accountable for their actions.

     

  • Statement: Macedonia's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    The Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN), The Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation (MCIC) and CIVICUS welcome the government of North Macedonia's engagement with the UPR process. We also welcome improvements in legislation and practice to promote civic space, particularly the Government’s decision to end the financial inspections of the 22 civil society organisations (CSOs) critical of the previous government and the public conclusion clearing them of any wrongdoing.

    The Government has revised the legal framework to safeguard freedom of expression and opinion and improved the general climate, particularly for independent journalists. We welcome changes in law, relating to the urgent reform priorities, and efforts to enhance the independence of the public broadcasting service and regulatory body. However, despite this positive trajectory, we remain concerned over the frequency of threats being made towards independent journalists. 

    In light of this concern, our recent joint UPR Submission documented that since its last review, North Macedonia has only partially implemented the eight recommendations relating to freedom of expression and opinion.

    We encourage the Government to amend existing legislation which undermines freedom of association. Namely, the Penal code, where legal representatives of associations and foundations are defined as public officials and carry the same responsibilities. Similarly, the recently proposed “Law on Lobbying” could subvert recent improvements by stifling civil society participation in policy dialogue.

    Finally, while improvements were made in the Law on Police, there is still a need to improve the Law on Public Assemblies. Worryingly, this legislation contains burdensome obligations for organisers and requires foreign persons to receive permission before organising protests. While authorities have facilitated numerous gatherings that were peaceful, we remain dismayed at the use of disproportionate force against protesters. In June 2018, police used tear gas and shock bombs, leading to the injury of 25 people. Media coverage of the protest was also hampered by the violence.

    Mr President, BCSDN and MCIC and CIVICUS call on the Government of North Macedonia 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.

     

  • Statement: Mass arrests and killings of protesters in Venezuela

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Interactive Dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner on Venezuela 

    CIVICUS thanks the High Commissioner for her report, which shows how deeply the human rights situation has deteriorated in Venezuela.  The escalating political crisis has precipitated a significant increase in violations of civic freedoms: according to the local NGO Foro Penal, as of May 2019 there were 857 political prisoners. Many have reportedly been tortured. Reports of serious reprisals against human rights defenders and humanitarians show the increasing danger of simply carrying out legitimate work to provide humanitarian support in the midst of a crisis, or protect human rights as violations escalate.

    CIVICUS is deeply concerned by mass arrests and killings of protesters during demonstrations. Since the beginning of the year, 60 protesters have reportedly been killed in the protests. Of five killed by security forces during protests calling for the resignation of Nicolas Maduro on 30 April and 1 May, three were not yet 18.

    Venezuela’s indigenous communities have been among those hardest-hit by the humanitarian crisis. A siege of the Pemon indigenous community, imposed after the community attempted to help humanitarian aid enter the country, forced more than 700 hundred members of the community to leave their lands. At least 7 people were killed and 62 arbitrarily arrested during the confrontation. We call for the special protection of indigenous communities.

    We are concerned by politically-motivated internet restrictions and the blockage of online content, including that of BBC and CNN International. Online censorship has affected over 20 online media outlets, severely restricting citizens’ right to information.

    We welcome the agreement reached between the office of the High Commissioner and the Venezuelan Government for a team of human rights officers based in the country, and we hope this is the first step towards enhanced monitoring and reporting on the worsening human rights crisis in Venezuela, including measures to ensure accountability for perpetrators and reparations to the thousands who have fallen victim to human rights abuses.

    We echo the High Commissioner’s remarks in her June statement that ‘the people of Venezuela cannot afford further deterioration of the situation. We ask the High Commissioner what immediate steps the Council and its member states can take to support those in Venezuela who are advocating for the protection of their rights and those seeking redress for the harm they have suffered?

     

  • Statement: Nicaragua not implementing human rights recommendations

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Joint statement on Nicaragua's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    Red Local and CIVICUS welcome the government of Nicaragua's engagement with the UPR process.

    However, our joint UPR submission documents that since its previous review Nicaragua has not implemented any of the 26 recommendations it received relating to civic space, 17 of which concern freedom of expression and access to information. We also regret that during the current cycle, recommendations regarding the provision of access to and cooperation with regional and international human rights mechanisms, the investigation of human rights abuses perpetrated against demonstrators, and the safety and freedom of jailed journalists and HRDs were not accepted by the government.

    As detailed in our submission, Nicaraguan legislation still treats slander and insult as criminal offences, and the freedom of the press continues to be limited by the manipulated allocation of official advertising, denial of access to cover government activities, tight control of the flow of information from the top of the state apparatus, and media concentration in the hands of the presidential family and their allies. Acts of explicit censorship have also been recorded.

    As also documented in our submission, legislation regulating the establishment, operations and dissolution of CSOs is applied arbitrarily, with the aim of hindering and intimidating the staff of independent CSOs, which have also been affected by legal or de facto restrictions on receiving external funding and sustaining international collaboration. Land rights defenders, women’s and LGBTI rights activists, journalists and bloggers are also routinely stigmatised, harassed, criminalised, arbitrarily arrested and physically attacked.

    The exercise of freedom of peaceful assembly is subjected to de facto and legal barriers, from authorisation requirements to hold demonstrations and a Sovereign Security Law that broadly defines security threats to criminalise common tactics of protest movements, to the illegal use of excessive and deadly force against demonstrators, which between April and August 2018 resulted in at least 300 people killed.

    We call on the Government of Nicaragua 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.

     

  • Statement: Qatar's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Joint statement on Qatar's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    CIVICUS and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights note that since its 2nd UPR cycle in 2014, Qatar acceded to the ICCPR and the ICESCR as a major step towards realizing human rights in the country. However, there remain critical gaps in implementation, particularly around civic space. Of the 31 recommendations related to civic space, 24 were accepted and seven were noted. However, Qatar has not implemented 13 of these recommendations, including to revise all laws which restrict freedom of assembly and association.

    Mr President, civic space in Qatar remains closed. Law No. 12 of 2004 and Law No. 18 still place considerable hurdles, restrictions and fines on civil society looking to form associations or peacefully assemble. Furthermore, while revisions have been made to Qatar’s Kafala (sponsorship) system, authorities continued to place limitations on the rights of foreign workers to join unions or engage in peaceful strike action.

    Human rights defenders continue to face restrictions in their work. On 28 April 2018, Dr Najeeb Al-Nuaimi, a well-known human rights lawyer who voluntarily defends prisoners of conscience in Qatar, received the latest in a series of travel bans. Few human rights defenders confidently continue their work under the constant threat of detainment. Furthermore, freedom of expression remains under threat in Qatar. On 16 April 2019, authorities arbitrarily closed the Doha Centre for Media Freedom, an organization committed to freedom of expression.

    Moreover, the 2014 Cybercrimes Prevention Law places heavy penalties on journalists and researchers including fines of up to a maximum of 500,000 Riyals (approx. US$137,500) and prison sentences ranging from one to 10 years. We are therefore concerned that Qatar did not accept a number of recommendations under this UPR cycle relating to online expression, including to reform the repressive Cybercrime Law.

    Mr President, in this context, civic space remains under constant threat in Qatar. We call on the government to fully adopt and implement the provisions of the ICCPR and ICESCR into national legislation as per their obligations, and take all the necessary steps to protect and promote civic space both in law and in practice in the country, by implementing all UPR recommendations related to these rights.

     

  • Statement: Reprisals at the national level against experts who report back to the Human Rights Council

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Our organisations are gravely concerned by the proliferation of reprisals against Special Procedures mandate holders and members of Expert Mechanisms and Commissions of Inquiry (COI) by States, including members of the Council, as well as threats against the Special Procedures system as a whole.

    Special Procedures are the eyes and ears of the Council and ensure that this body’s work remains relevant and informed by the reality of human rights on the ground. Reprisals aim to discredit, intimidate, deter and silence these experts, and to prevent civil society from engaging with them.

    We are alarmed by a pattern of reprisals and non-cooperation by Council-member, the Philippines. The government has threatened the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings with physical violence on numerous occasions. It has made terrorism accusations against the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

    Burundi and Eritrea are also engaged in patterns of reprisals, with the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea and members of the COI’s on both Burundi and Eritrea having been attacked on multiple occasions, at the Council, the GA or in the media. The Maldives has accused the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief of spreading anti-Islamic activities, resulting in death threats against him online. The Special Rapporteur on Myanmarhas faced reprisals and has also experienced violent threats on social media.

    We call on States to cooperate in good faith and end all reprisals against Special Procedures and those who cooperate with them. The President and States must act immediately in meetings when such reprisals occur. This Council must safeguard its Special Procedures from all efforts to undermine them through reprisals or other dangerous initiatives.

    Article 19
    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
    Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
    Concelho Indigenista Missionário CIMI
    Conectas Direitos Humanos
    DefendDefenders
    Franciscans International
    Human Rights Law Centre
    International Commission of Jurists
    International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (FIDH)
    International Humanist and Ethical Union
    International Service for Human Rights
    World Movement Against Torture (OMCT)

     

  • Statement: Severe restrictions to fundamental freedoms persist in Myanmar

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Interactive Dialogue on the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

    We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s oral update on Myanmar and urge the Government to resume its cooperation and grant access to the Special Rapporteur, and to address the situation on the ground.

    We are particularly concerned that severe restrictions to fundamental freedoms persist in Myanmar. Peaceful protesters continue to face arbitrary arrest and excessive use of force by the police. In the last few months, protesters have been charged under the Penal Code or the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for their activism.

    A Resolution adopted at the last Session of this Council called on Myanmar to immediately and unconditionally release journalists, human rights defenders and activists detained under various restrictive laws. While journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo may have been freed, restrictive laws including the Telecommunications Law, Unlawful Associations Act, Official Secrets Act and defamation provisions in the Penal Code continue to be used to prosecute activists and journalists in Myanmar. Irrawaddy editor U Ye Ni is facing defamation charges for an article on the conflict on the Rakhine state which the Myanmar military deemed “one-sided”.

    Those who criticize the military, even satirically, are persecuted. Members of the Peacock Generation troupe face defamation charges after live-streaming on Facebook a satirical performance which criticized the military. In April, prominent filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi was detained in connection with a series of social media posts in which he criticised the military-drafted 2008 Constitution.

    We are deeply concerned by increasing restrictions to humanitarian access in Rakhine State, deliberately denying support to a population which is gravely in need of it, and willfully obstructing independent reports of the atrocities which are being committed there.

    Myanmar’s backsliding on democratic norms compounds the gross human rights violations outlined in the Special Rapporteur’s report. We urge the government of Myanmar to cooperate fully with the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and all other Human Rights Council mechanisms and, in the absence of such cooperation, we ask the Special Rapporteur what action she would suggest that states and national and international civil society could take in order to hold Myanmar accountable to upholding democratic norms?
     

     

  • Statement: The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and association 
    Joint statement by ICNL, Article 19, CIVICUS, ECNL, and World Movement for Democracy

    Activists, peaceful protesters, and civil society have harnessed the power of the Internet and digital technologies, to share information, and to build and mobilise communities at unprecedented scale and speed. 

    Whilst this Council has repeatedly affirmed the maxim that “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online,” online civic space is under intense, and increasing pressure, worldwide. 

    We therefore share the Special Rapporteur’s concern that many States, including members of this Council, misuse emerging technologies to surveil civil society groups and peaceful protesters, harass human rights defenders online, deliberately obstruct access to online information, and abuse vague legislation restricting online expression to target dissenting voices. 

    In Sudan, we condemn the recent Internet shutdowns by the TMC, in an attempt to conceal the brutality of the unlawful and wholly disproportionate crackdown by the military against protesters, including the use of lethal force and disturbing accounts of sexual violence. This Council must hold Sudan to account, including by establishing a fact-finding mission. 

    In Russia, merely posting about a protest online can attract reprisals. Just this month, prominent opposition activist Leonid Volkov - who webcast a protest in September 2018 - was arbitrarily detained for his alleged role in “organising” a protest and “inciting disorder”. 

    In Turkey, the presence of secure communication apps on individuals’ devices has been used as the basis of bogus terrorism charges against journalists, and civil society. 

    In Liberia this month, targeted shutdowns saw access to social media, email services and news agencies cut off in response to protests against state corruption.

    These and all other efforts to frustrate the exercise of assembly and association rights online, and choke off civic space, demand the urgent attention of this Council. Our organisations encourage the Special Rapporteur to continue his work on this important area.

    Mr President, 

    We agree that as “gatekeepers” to online spaces, the private sector plays a vital role in safeguarding civic space online. The Ruggie Principles on business and human rights provide a clear framework to ensure human rights standards guide their policies and practices.

     

  • Statement: Vietnam's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Mr President, VOICE, CIVICUS and FORUM-ASIA welcome the government of Vietnam's engagement with the UPR process including its decision to accept 241 recommendations on a range of human rights issues.

    We welcome the commitment of the government of Vietnam to extend cooperation with UN Special Procedures  and in the spirit of such cooperation we urge the authorities to extend an invitation to the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders, the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

    We note that Vietnam accepted recommendations to guarantee  and lift  restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression. However, we regret that since the review activists have been arrested or convicted for online posts including Le Minh The, and Nguyen Ngoc Anh. We are also disappointed that the recommendations pertaining to the release of political prisoners including Tran Thi Nga and Hoang Duc Binh were not accepted by the government. According to human rights groups an estimated 264 political prisoners remain in jail. Many have been ill-treated in prison and detained thousands of kilometers from their families.

    We note that Vietnam accepted recommendations to guarantee  and improve protection  of freedom of peaceful assembly. Despite these commitments, over a hundred protesters who participated in the nationwide demonstrations against bills on Special Economic Zones and Cybersecurity in June 2018 have been convicted and jailed, or are at risk of physical attacks, since the review. We remain concerned about the restrictive legal framework use to suppress the formation of independent CSOs. 

    Mr President, VOICE and CIVICUS call on the Government of Vietnam 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.

     

  • States falling short on protecting migrants' rights defenders

    Joint statement at the 45th Session of the UN Human Rights Council -- delivered by International Service for Human Rights

    General debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development


    As the High Commissioner recognised in her opening remarks to this session, States have a responsibility to ensure that migrants' lives are protected and their human rights upheld; she made clear that the dire precarity of migrants in camps on Lesvos, and the risks to life of migrants facing collective pushback and expulsions, underscored ‘the need for solidarity and shared responsibility among EU Member States’. 

    Her statement follows on the heels of timely and incisive reporting by the Special Procedures – including of course the report of the SR on Migrants to HRC44, but also those by mandates addressing human rights defenders, freedom of association and assembly, and international solidarity. 

    For the human rights of migrants to be fully protected, the right of individuals and organisations to defend migrants’ rights – whether through humanitarian assistance and search-and-rescue, legal aid, policy advocacy, or civil disobedience – must also be fully protected. This should no longer be up for discussion. 

    And yet, the concerns – and calls to action – have fallen on deaf ears. 

    In Europe, the work of think tanks and NGOs such as the ReSOMA project has led to the documentation of at least 171 individuals in 60 cases of criminalisation of migrant rights defenders over the period 2014-2019. The ‘crimes’ of which they stand accused are based on simple acts of human kindness: giving someone a ride in their car in a mountainous area so that they won’t get hypothermia; saving someone who is drowning at sea; giving someone food or shelter; or lending a cell phone. 

    While rarely involving sentencing, the cases show a worrying trend of abuse of short-term detentions (with police often failing to substantiate charges) or, where charges are brought, lengthy and expensive judicial proceedings that put peoples’ lives on hold and their livelihoods at risk. This has a deeper chilling effect on defenders who are themselves migrants, and whose work may put their residence permits, homes and jobs in jeopardy. 

    The EU and many Member States at this Council can and do speak out in support of human rights defenders, which is an important contribution, but we must be clear: these practices can and often do constitute judicial harassment. This is not something that happens only ‘abroad’, nor a practice that can be excused if it happens within your borders. 

    ISHR and the co-signatories to this statement have grown increasingly concerned about the reluctance of this Council to contribute meaningfully to advancing the protection of the human rights of migrants in multilateral, regional and national spaces. We urge all governments to fully apply the OHCHR Guidelines on Migrants in Vulnerable Situations, including by providing a safe and enabling environment for all migrant rights’ defenders. 

    And we urge members and observers of the Human Rights Council to model a rights-based approach for other intergovernmental bodies, by bringing the voices of migrants and their supporters to speak to the serious, often life-altering impacts to which their border policies give rise. 

     

  • States should defend environmental human rights defenders


    Joint Letter at the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Our organisations are calling on all UN Member States to demonstrate their support to environmental human rights defenders. 


    March 12, 2019
    To: UN Member States

    We all want to breathe clean air, drink safe water, and to be able to provide sustenance and a healthy, dignified life for our families. Human survival and well-being rests on a biodiverse and healthy environment and a safe climate. Environmental human rights defenders help us to achieve that - they defend the planet and their communities from the impact of harmful resource extraction or pollution by unscrupulous companies or governments. Their work is essential to attaining the sustainable development goals and ensuring that no-one is left behind.

    We need your support to defend environmental human rights defenders.

    At its current 40th session, the Human Rights Council is discussing a draft resolution on environmental human rights defenders. This is a timely and important initiative as UN agencies, human rights organisations and the media have documented unprecedented killings and attacks against people defending land and the environment.

    It is important for the Council to adopt a resolution that reflects the gravity and the reality of the situation defenders face every day. We therefore call on members of the UN Human Rights Council to ensure that the resolution adopted by the Council clearly:

    • Outlines the root causes of the threats against environmental human rights defenders, including development and commercial activities with adverse social and environmental impacts, or those imposed on communities without meaningful consultation and respect for their rights;
    • Recognises that environmental human rights defenders confront multiple adverse interests when challenging State and corporate activities, and highlights the collusion between different actors which hinders the work of defenders and aggravates their vulnerable position;
    • Clearly names the industries and activities most dangerous to defenders, such as the mining industry, natural resource exploitation, agribusiness and large-scale development projects;
    • Acknowledges the wide number of States that have recognised the right to a healthy environment in their internal legal order;
    • Recognises that the lack of effective access to information, access to participation and access to justice causes environmental conflicts and leads to violence against defenders
    • Calls for the development of protection mechanisms for environmental human rights defenders in line with best practice identified by the Special Rapporteur;
    • Articulates the specific risks women and indigenous human rights defenders face and the need for an intersectional approach in assessing and designing protection measures for defenders;
    • Calls on States to ensure that all communities are meaningfully consulted and can participate genuinely in matters that affect their rights and, in particular the use, management and conservation of their land and natural resources;
    • Calls on States to guarantee the right to free, prior and informed consent for indigenous peoples;
    • Calls on States to adopt legislation that creates due diligence obligations for companies registered in their jurisdictions and those of their subsidiaries;
    • Articulates the responsibility of businesses to respect the rights of human rights defenders and highlights measures companies should take to contribute to addressing their insecurity;
    • Adequately articulates the responsibility of investors and the obligations of development finance institutions to respect human rights in the context of their investments and to develop and implement effective policies to prevent and address threats; and
    • Stresses that an open civic space, including respect for the rights to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association and movement, as well as the right to participate in the conduct of government and public affairs, is vital to the protection of both a healthy and sustainable environment and environmental human rights defenders.

    The draft being negotiated in Geneva contains some of these essential elements, which must be defended, but also offers significant potential for strengthening.

    As negotiations enter the final stretch, we urge you to actively support the development of a resolution which clearly recognises the vital contribution of environmental human rights defenders to sustainable development and the effective enjoyment of human rights and formulates concrete asks of the States, development finance institutions and companies with the power of safeguarding that contribution.

    1. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    2. Amnesty International
    3. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum Asia)
    4. CIVICUS
    5. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    6. Earth Justice
    7. Front Line Defenders
    8. Global Witness
    9. JASS (Just Associates)
    10. IM-Defensoras
    11. Christian Development Alternative (CDA)
    12. Nigerian Women Agro Allied Farmers Association
    13. Social Justice Connection
    14. Franciscans International
    15. Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos - Guatemala (UDEFEGUA)
    16. Geneva for Human Rights
    17. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
    18. Réseau Ouest africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains/West African Human Rights Defenders' Network
    19. Coordination des associations et des particuliers pour la liberté de conscience
    20. La'o Hamutuk
    21. Karapatan Philippines
    22. Human Rights House Foundation
    23. HETAVED SKILLS ACADEMY AND NETWORKS
    24. International Commission of Jurists
    25. Conectas Direitos Humanos
    26. World Movement for Democracy
    27. Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE)
    28. Center for Civil Liberties
    29. Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights
    30. Human Rights Concern - Eritrea (HRCE)
    31. International Women's Development Agency (IWDA)
    32. Humanitaire Plus (Togo)
    33. Coalition Burkinabé des Défenseurs des Droits Humains
    34. AMARA
    35. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
    36. Odhikar
    37. Freedom House
    38. Red Internacional Unión Latinoamericana de Mujeres - Red ULAM
    39. Freedom House
    40. Rivers without Boundaries Mongolia
    41. Asian Legal Resource Centre
    42. OYU TOLGOI WATCH
    43. Ligue Burundaise des droits de l’homme Iteka
    44. International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES)
    45. AVIPA association des victimes parents et amis du 28 septembre 2009 Guinée
    46. Porgera Red Wara (River) Women's Association Incorporated (PRWWA INC.)
    47. KRuHA - people's coalition for the right to water
    48. Asia Pacific Network of Environment Defenders (APNED)
    49. EMPOWER INDIA
    50. EarthRights International
    51. Dawei Probono Lawyer Network (DPLN)
    52. Africa Network for Enivironment and Economic Justice(ANEEJ)
    53. Partnership for Justice, Nigeria
    54. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
    55. Huridocs
    56. Steps Without Borders NGO
    57. Humanists International
    58. Coalition Togolaise des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CTDDH)
    59. Labour,Health and Human Rights Development Centre
    60. Institute for Multi-Resource Development (IMdev)
    61. Not1More
    62. Patrons of Khuvsgul lake movement
    63. Liberia Coalition of Human Rights DefendersHuman Concern, Inc
    64. Brot für die Welt
    65. ARTICLE 19
    66. Peace Brigades International
    67. Metro Center Journalists Rights & Advocacy
    68. World Uyghur Congress
    69. 350.org
    70. International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
    71. Latinamerikagrupperna
    72. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
    73. Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
    74. SUDIA
    75. Synergia - 36/5000 Initiatives for Human Rights
    76. Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc.
    77. Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
    78. Center for Women's Global Leadership
    79. Transformative and Integrative Build Out For All
    80. Institute for Strategic & Development Studies
    81. Reseau de Femmes du mMlieu Rural Haitien
    82. East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
    83. FIFCJ
    84. Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
    85. Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)
    86. Zo Indigenous Forum
    87. MADRE
    88. FOKUS Forum for women and development
    89. Bougainville Women's Federation
    90. Human Rights Council-Ethiopia
    91. Environment Defenders Advocacy
    92. Porgera Women's Rights Watch
    93. Independent Human Rights Analyst and Strategy Advisor
    94. Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organisation (BIRUDO)
    95. Community Resource Centre Foundation
    96. MANUSHYA FOUNDATION
    97. Equitable Cambodia
    98. Friends with Environment in Development
    99. Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB)
    100. Association For Promotion Sustainable development
    101. WoMin Afrcan Alliance
    102. Both ENDS
    103. Child Rights Connect
    104. CONSEIL REGIONAL DES ORGANISATIONS NON GOUVERNEMENTALES DE DEVELOPPEMENT
    105. Enda Lead Afrique Francophone
    106. Human Rights Law Centre
    107. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
    108. World Voices Uganda
    109. Africa Center for Policy Facilitation
    110. Estonian Forest Aid
    111. Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE)
    112. Collectif Camerounais des Organisations des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie (COCODHD)
    113. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    114. North-East Affected Area Development Society (NEADS)
    115. Sangsan Anakot Yawachon Development Project
    116. Forum Syd Sweden
    117. COALITION AGAINST LAND GRABBING (CALG) - PHILIPPINES
    118. UNLAD-BLFFA
    119. Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC)
    120. BankTrack
    121. CORE Coalition
    122. The Gaia Foundation
    123. Labour Behind the Label
    124. Bataris Formation Center
    125. Salva la Selva
    126. Observatoire d'etudes et d'appui a la responsabilite sociale et environnementale ( OEARSE )
    127. REd de Género y Medio Ambiente
    128. London Mining Network
    129. Abibiman Foundation
    130. Ecodesarollo
    131. The Kesho Trus
    132. Organisation mondiale contre la torture
    133. PAPUA NEW GUINEA MINING WATCH GROUP ASSOCIATION INC
    134. 11.11.11 - Koepel van de Vlaamse Noord-Zuidbeweging
    135. Center for Global Nonkilling
    136. Centro salvadoreño de Tecnología Apropiada
    137. Coalition Ivoirienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CIDDH)
    138. Friends of the Earth NI
    139. Forest Peoples Programme
    140. Environmental Investigation Agency
    141. Fundación para el Desarrollo de Políticas Sustentables (FUNDEPS)
    142. Bank Information Center
    143. Africa development Interchange Network
    144. Voluntariados Intag
    145. Mangrove Action Project
    146. IUCN NL
    147. Community Self Reliance Centre (CSRC)
    148. Amazon Watch
    149. HRM @Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan@
    150. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
    151. Asociación ambiental e cultural Petón do Lobo
    152. Asociación galega Cova Crea
    153. Amigos e Amigas dos Bosques "O Ouriol do Anllóns"
    154. Réseau Camerounais des Organisations des Droits de l'Homme (RECODH)
    155. CNCD-11.11.11
    156. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    157. Rainforest Foundation Norway
    158. Women Working Worldwide
    159. Greenpeace
    160. AMDH- Maroc
    161. In Difesa Di , per i diritti umani e chi li difende
    162. Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines
    163. Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organisation (BIRUDO) - Uganda

     

  • Strengthen the work of UN Special Procedures that can protect human rights

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Joint Statement: 20 NGOs express support for the Coordination Committee’s process to strengthen the work of the Special Procedures

    We deliver this statement on behalf of 20 NGOs. 

    We note the concerns in the Declaration of the Special Procedures’ mandate holders at the Annual Meeting 2019 and share their concern about the global retrenchment against the values and obligations embedded in international human rights law and the challenges they spell out with regard to non-cooperation. 

    We also express appreciation for the process set in place by the Special Procedures Coordination Committee to discuss ways in which the work can be strengthened including by seeking input from a wide range of stakeholders. This process presents the most appropriate way to ensure the effectiveness of the Special Procedures in protecting and promoting human rights, and to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation and address situations where there may be concerns regarding the actions of individual mandate holders. 

    We hope that this process will also provide an opportunity to discuss issues of chronic underfunding, non-cooperation of States with the Special Procedures, acts of reprisal and intimidation against human rights defenders and ad hominem attacks against mandate holders and how to make non-cooperation including selective cooperation by states more costly. 

    Amnesty International
    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    Association for Women’s Rights in Development
    Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    Center for Reproductive Rights
    Child Rights Connect
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation 
    Colombian Commission of Jurists
    Defence for Children International 
    Geneva for Human Rights
    ILGA World
    International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute
    International Commission of Jurists
    International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
    International Service of Human Rights
    Peace Brigades International
    Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI)
    Swedish Association for Sexuality Education
    Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
    World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

     

  • Sudan: Ensure continued public debates on the human rights situation

    To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (Geneva, Switzerland)

    Excellencies,

    Following the military coup of 25 October 2021,[1] the UN Human Rights Council took urgent action by holding a special session, on 5 November 2021, and adopting a resolution re­ques­ting the High Commis­sioner to designate an Expert on Human Rights in the Sudan.[2]

    As per resolution S-32/1, which was adopted by consensus with the support of the Group of African Sta­tes, the Expert’s mandate will be ongoing “until the restoration of [Sudan’s] civi­lian-led Govern­ment.” The Council made it clear that the term of office for the designated Expert will conclude “upon the restoration of [Sudan’s] civilian-led Government.”[3]

    Ahead of the Council’s 50th session (13 June-8 July 2022), we, the undersigned non-governmental organisations, are writing to urge your delegation to support the adoption of a resolution that ensures continued attention to Sudan’s human rights situation through enhanced interactive dia­logues at the Council’s 52nd and 53rd regular sessions.

    While the Expert’s mandate is ongoing, a resolution is required for the Council to hold public de­bates and continue to formally discuss the situation. A resolution at the Council’s 50th session would ope­ra­tio­nalise resolution S-32/1, which in its operative paragraph 19 called upon “the High Commis­sioner and the designated Expert to monitor human rights violations and abu­ses and to continue to bring information thereon to the attention of the Human Rights Council, and to advise on the further steps that may be needed if the situation continues to deteriorate.”

    *   *   *

    As the de facto military authorities are consolidating their power[4] and human rights violations continue, including against peaceful protesters[5] and in Darfur and other conflict areas,[6] once-yearly reporting by the High Com­mis­sioner as part of her reports and updates under the Council’s agenda item 2, followed by a ge­neral debate, would be insufficient to maintain an adequate level of atten­tion to the country.

    The Council has a responsibility to follow up on its meaningful action on Sudan. It should ensure that the High Commissioner publicly and regularly reports on the human rights situation and that dedicated public debates continue to be held. The High Commissioner, with the assistance of the desi­gna­ted Expert on Human Rights in the Sudan, should be able to present updates and reports on the situ­ation of human rights in Sudan.

    Programme budget implications (PBIs) are required for the formal presentation of reports to the Council and holding of interactive dialogues and enhanced interactive dialogues. A resolution with the necessary PBIs could be approached from a technical perspective; it could be a procedural text that achieves just this: mobilising budget for reports and public debates on Sudan.

    We believe that interactive dialogues on Sudan’s hu­man rights situation should be held in an enhanced format, allowing for the participation of various stakeholders, including UN agency and civil society representatives. We also believe that the Council should discuss the human rights situation in Sudan at least twice a year. Furthermore, we believe that to avoid any risk of a public reporting gap, the Council should act at its 50th session – the last session during which presentation of a comprehensive written report is currently planned.

    Ahead of the Council’s 50th session, we therefore urge your delegation to support the adoption of a resolution that:

    • Recalls resolution S-32/1, including its request that the High Commis­sioner and the desi­gna­ted Expert continue to report on human rights violations and abu­ses com­mitted in Sudan and to advise on the further steps that may be needed;
    • Requests the High Commissioner, with the assistance of the designated Expert on Human Rights in the Sudan, to update the Council at its 52nd session, in an en­han­ced interactive dialogue, on the situation of human rights in Sudan; and
    • Further requests the High Commissioner, with the assistance of the designated Expert on Human Rights in the Sudan, to present to the Council, at its 53rd session, a comprehensive written report focusing on the situation of human rights in Sudan, to be followed by an enhanced interactive dialogue, and to continue to report on the situation of human rights in Sudan to the Council twice a year.

    We thank you for your attention to these pressing issues and stand ready to provide your delegation with further information as required.

    Sincerely,

    1. Act for Sudan
    2. African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)
    3. African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)
    4. AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network)
    5. Amnesty International
    6. Association of Sudanese-American Professors in America (ASAPA)
    7. Atrocities Watch
    8. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
    9. CIVICUS
    10. CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide)
    11. Darfur Bar Association
    12. Darfur Network for Monitoring and Documentation
    13. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    14. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
    15. Geneva for Human Rights / Genève pour les Droits de l’Homme (GHR)
    16. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P)
    17. Governance Programming Overseas
    18. HAKI Africa – Kenya
    19. HUDO Centre
    20. Human Rights and Advocacy Network for Democracy – Sudan
    21. Human Rights Watch
    22. International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)
    23. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
    24. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    25. International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)
    26. International Service for Human Rights
    27. Investors Against Genocide
    28. Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) – Sudan
    29. Justice Africa Sudan
    30. Justice Centre for Advocacy and Legal Consultations – Sudan
    31. Kamma Organisation for Development Initiatives (KODI)
    32. Lawyers for Justice Sudan
    33. Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
    34. Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur
    35. Never Again Coalition
    36. Nubsud Human Rights Monitors Organization (NHRMO)
    37. Physicians for Human Rights
    38. REDRESS
    39. Regional Centre for Training and Development of Civil Society (RCDCS) – Sudan
    40. Regional Coalition for WHRDs in MENA (WHRDMENA Coalition)
    41. Rights for Peace
    42. Rights Realization Centre (RRC)
    43. Sudan and South Sudan Forum e.V.
    44. Sudan’s Doctors for Human Rights
    45. The Sudanese Archives
    46. Sudanese Human Rights Initiative (SHRI)
    47. Sudanese Lawyers and Legal Practitioners’ Association in the UK
    48. Sudanese Women Rights Action
    49. Sudan Human Rights Monitor (SHRM)
    50. Sudan Transparency and Policy Tracker
    51. Sudan Unlimited
    52. SUDO (UK)
    53. Waging Peace

     

    [1] DefendDefenders et al., “Sudan: The UN Human Rights Council should act urgently and hold a special session,” 28 October 2021, https://defenddefenders.org/sudan-the-un-human-rights-council-should-act-urgently-and-hold-a-special-session/ (accessed 4 May 2022).

    [2] DefendDefenders, “The UN Human Rights Council takes a step to address the crisis in Sudan,” 5 November 2021, https://defenddefenders.org/the-un-human-rights-council-takes-a-step-to-address-the-crisis-in-sudan/ (accessed 4 May 2022).

    [3] HRC resolution S-32/1, UN Doc. A/HRC/RES/S-32/1, available at https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G21/319/08/PDF/G2131908.pdf (operative paragraphs 15 and 17).

    [4] Sudan Information Service, “Sudan Uprising Report: Build up to the military coup of 25 October,” 6 November 2021, https://www.sudaninthenews.com/political-briefings (accessed 4 May 2022).

    [5] Human Rights Watch, “Sudan: Ongoing Clampdown on Peaceful Protesters 3 Months After Coup; Concrete Action Needed to End Repression,” 3 February 2022, https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/02/03/sudan-ongoing-clampdown-peaceful-protesters (accessed 4 May 2022).

    [6] African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), “West Darfur: 35 people killed and a dozen injured in Jebel Moon attack as security continues to deteriorate in Sudan,” 24 March 2022, https://www.acjps.org/west-darfur-35-people-killed-and-a-dozen-injured-in-jebel-moon-attack-as-security-continues-to-deteriorate-across-sudan/ (accessed 9 May 2022).

     

  • Sudan: Excessive force of protests continues under transitional government

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Statement on the situation of human rights in Sudan

    CIVICUS and the Sudanese Development Initiative are encouraged by the agreement reached between the Forces for Freedom and Change and the Transitional Military Council on 5 July 2019.  We applaud the African Union and Ethiopia for their role in mediating the Sudanese-led talks and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for its support to the process.

    Consequently, there has been some improvement, albeit minimal, in the human rights situation in Sudan. There are reports of activists and human rights defenders facing intimidation, arrests and government surveillance as well as Sudanese militia continuing to use excessive force to respond to peaceful protests. 

    Security personnel who used excessive force in June 2019 against peaceful protesters have not been held accountable and brought to justice. We are outraged that four school children were among five people shot dead by security forces during a peaceful protest in the Sudanese city - El-Obeid on 29 July 2019. 

    Mr. President, CIVICUS welcomes the agreement reached in August 2019 which includes a commitment to conduct an investigation into the violence perpetrated against peaceful protesters in June 2019. However, for sustainable peace and stability in Sudan, it is imperative for an independent, impartial and transparent investigation be immediately conducted into violations and abuses committed in relation to peaceful protests since December 2018 to ensure justice to all victims of such violence. 

    We call on the transitional government to ensure the release of detained activists, work towards locating missing individuals from the 3 June sit-in dispersal, and refrain from using force against peaceful protesters.  The transitional government should move away from Sudan’s turbulent past by  protecting  the right to freedom of expression for all persons, and work towards an effective and peaceful transition toward democracy.

    We urge the Sudanese authorities and citizens to continue their commitments and spirit of dialogue in addressing all the underlying causes of the protests which has resulted in this historic revolution. 

    We call on the Council to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert at this critical time, and we ask the Independent Expert on Sudan what steps the international community, including the Human Rights Council, should be taking to address the ongoing human rights violations in Sudan, and to ensure accountability for perpetrators and justice for those affected since December 2018?

     

  • Sudan: More than 100 people were killed when paramilitary forces dispersed peaceful protests

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Interactive dialogue on Sudan

    CIVICUS notes the efforts that have been made by the Sudanese authorities and Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) towards establishment of an OHCHR country office in Sudan in line with resolution 39/22 of the Human Rights Council.  We now urge the Sovereign Council of Sudan and OHCHR to sign the Memorandum of Understanding to operationalize the OHCHR office to provide technical advice, monitoring and public reporting with unrestricted access to all parts of the country, with a view to fulfilling Sudan’s human rights obligations and commitments.

    We welcome ongoing efforts between the Sudanese authorities and civilian leaders particularly those facilitated by the African Union and Ethiopia to finalise a peace deal that will guide the political transition and lead the country to elections in three years.  The current peace deal which is due to be finalized provides for an independent national investigation into all acts of violence committed since February 2019.   However, for the transition to be effective and stable, the scope of these investigations must include all violence against peaceful protesters and restrictions placed on fundamental freedoms since the protests started in December 2018. 

    In particular, the human rights violations committed by the paramilitary forces – the Rapid Response Forces and the National Intelligence and Security Forces (NISS) during the protests must be investigated by an independent, impartial, thorough inquiry. More than 100 people were killed and many more injured when paramilitary forces violently dispersed peaceful protesters when peace negotiations reached an impasse on 3 June 2019. We urge the Sudanese authorities to ensure that security forces respond to ongoing and future protests in line with the country’s international human rights obligations and address underlying causes of the protests.

    All human rights defenders, representatives of civil society and citizens still in detention in connection with the protests should be released unconditionally.  We also call on the Sudanese authorities to respect the rights of citizens to access and information and restore internet connections in all parts of the country where the internet was shut down in an attempt to conceal the brutality of the crackdown by the military against protesters.
      
    It is past time for the international community to take decisive action on the human rights situation in Sudan. We call on the Council to provide all necessary resources to carry out an independent, impartial inquiry into all acts of violence against protesters since December 2018, so that perpetrators can be held to account.