Thai officials must drop all the ongoing prosecutions under the Emergency Decree

CIVICUS and various civil society organisations have written a letter expressing concern over the use of the Emergency Decree to restrict human rights and silence dissent in Thailand. 


 Joint Letter Thailand09112022 2

Dear Honorable Ambassador,

We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations, are writing to express our serious concern regarding the ongoing impact of the implementation of the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation B.E. 2548 (“Emergency Decree”) in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Thailand. We are troubled by reports of the continuing prosecution of individuals charged under the Emergency Decree, despite the end of the declaration of the “emergency situation” in all areas of Thailand as well as the effect of regulations, announcements, and orders issued thereunder.

We urge you to call on Thailand to cease all intimidation, harassment and prosecution of all individuals solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, information, peaceful assembly, movement, and public participation through the abuse of laws and administrative regulations, and to immediately drop all charges, issue non-prosecution orders, and refrain from further charges, against any individual, including those facing prosecution solely for peacefully exercising their human rights for alleged violation of the Emergency Decree.

Purportedly to combat the Covid-19 outbreak, Thailand had been operating under a state of emergency since 26 March 2020, with the executive government having extended the declaration of an emergency situation 19 times since then. During this period, a series of regulations containing several Emergency Decree measures have been periodically announced pursuant to Emergency Decree powers. These include several vague and overbroad restrictions on the rights to freedom of movement, expression, peaceful assembly and public participation.

READ THE FULL LETTER IN ENGLISH | THAI

 

Myanmar: civil society groups raise concern over ASEAN’s approach to the ongoing human rights crisis

To: ASEAN Leaders

H.E. Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Prime Minister of Brunei Darussalam
H.E. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia
H.E. Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia
H.E. Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
H.E. Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob, Prime Minister of Malaysia
H.E. Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, Jr., President of the Republic of the Philippines
H.E. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore
H.E. Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand
H.E. Phạm Minh Chính, Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Subject: Open letter from civil society organizations concerning ASEAN’s approach to the ongoing political, human rights and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar

Your Excellencies,

We, the 457 undersigned Myanmar, regional and international civil society organizations, call on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (‘ASEAN’) to cease inviting all political and non-political representatives of the Myanmar military junta to all summits and meetings, and revise the mandate of the Special Envoy to Myanmar. We further call on ASEAN under the Indonesian Chairship, as a regional bloc and as individual states, to move beyond the failed Five-Point Consensus (‘5PC’), enable effective humanitarian assistance, and publicly recognize the National Unity Government. 

For the past 20 months since the failed coup, ASEAN has been largely ineffective in responding to the escalating crisis in Myanmar. ASEAN’s “dialogue” demonstrates a selective approach to the 5PC and yields no results to stop the ongoing crisis in Myanmar. Despite being put on notice for non-compliance with the 5PC in a joint communique in August 2022, the junta has continued committing atrocity crimes against the Myanmar people. Just one month after the warning, the junta’s airstrikes on a school in Sagaing Region killed 11 children.

The exclusion of the junta from ASEAN Summits in October 2021 and November 2022 was a step in the right direction. We also note positive stances taken by Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore, and welcome the bloc’s statement in July 2022. Nevertheless, any engagement with the junta is in breach of the ASEAN Charter. The crimes that are being committed by the Myanmar military amount to acts of a terrorist organization under international legal definitions and Myanmar’s domestic laws. The Myanmar military stands accused of atrocity crimes at the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, and under a universal jurisdiction case in Argentina. We are alarmed that this illegal entity holds sway in ASEAN’s actions. 

READ THE FULL LETTER


Civic space in Myanmar is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

 

Joint Letter to Secretary-General António Guterres on his visit to Vietnam

Mr. António Guterres

Secretary-General

United Nations

UN Headquarters, S-3800

New York, NY 10017

Re: October visit to Vietnam

Dear Secretary-General,

We are writing ahead of your visit to Vietnam later this week. You have emphasized the importance of combatting climate change, but this cannot be achieved without the role of environmental rights defenders. During your trip, we urge you to publicly call on the Vietnamese government to release the four environmental human rights defenders who were sentenced on trumped-up charges of “tax evasion” earlier this year. These political prisoners are emblematic victims of a new wave of repression in Vietnam which, through a combination of threats and judicial harassment, is threatening progress in combatting climate change, protecting human rights and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The persecution of environmental defenders is only the tip of Vietnam’s broader crackdown on dissent. Organizations that monitor the situation have documented how Vietnam is currently holding hundreds of political prisoners. UN Human Rights Mechanisms have noted that once arrested, most of these people are prosecuted for vaguely worded national security crimes, subjected to prolonged periods of incommunicado detention, and denied access to legal counsel and family visitation, often while being subjected to willful neglect or mistreatment. These are people who have been persecuted for exercising their civil and political rights. These are people who should not be prosecuted, and should not be in prison.

The United Nations should urgently press the Vietnamese government to end its policies and practices that are subverting rather than supporting human rights, and emphasize that there can be no progress on climate change and development without an active civil society that can freely exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. We call on you to remind Vietnam that, as a newly elected member of the UN Human Rights Council, it has an obligation to uphold the highest human rights standards. Specifically, we urge you to:

  • Publicly urge Vietnam to protect, promote and fulfill human rights obligations enshrined in the international human rights treaties signed and ratified by the government.
  • Publicly urge Vietnam to cease criminalizing policy advocacy and the operation of advocacy coalitions by civil society. Specifically, Vietnam should implement the recommendations provided by the UN Human Rights Council’s independent experts in response to what they describe as Vietnam’s “undue restrictions on civil society…in violation of…international human rights law.”
  • Publicly urge Vietnam to immediately and unconditionally release the four environmental defenders Nguy Thi Khanh, Mai Phan Loi, Bach Hung Duong, and Dang Dinh Bach.
  • Publicly urge Vietnam to commit to stop arbitrarily arresting and detaining any additional environmental defenders, and all other human rights defenders, including journalists.
  • Publicly urge Vietnam to fundamentally amend Decree 58/2022/ND-CP on international civil society groups working in Vietnam to ensure that those regulations fully comply with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a state party.
  • Publicly urge Vietnam to clarify if, and in what circumstances, non-governmental development organisations are required to pay corporate tax. Specifically, the Vietnamese government should address ambiguity in and inconsistencies between the 2013 Science and Technology Law and the 2019 Law on Tax Administration in relation to the tax obligations of science and technology organisations.[1] These regulations represent a contradictory policy framework that is open to politically motivated attacks on civil society organisations.

Finally, we believe that the UN system in Vietnam has an important role to play in this process. We urge you to call on the UN Resident Coordinator and UN agencies to publicly and pro-actively demand serious improvements to the government’s atrocious human rights record and to start holding it to account. The best way that the UN can do this is by making itself more accountable to Vietnamese civil society.

Sincerely,

  1. Access Now
  2. Amnesty International
  3. Asia Democracy Network (ADN)
  4. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  5. ARTICLE 19
  6. CIVICUS
  7. Defend the Defenders
  8. FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights
  9. Frontline Defenders
  10. Human Rights Watch
  11. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  12. Legal Initiative for Vietnam
  13. The 88 Project
  14. Safeguard Defenders
  15. Quê Me: Vietnam Committee on Human Rights

[1] For example, Article 143.2 (“Tax evasion”) of the 2019 Law on Tax Administration stipulates: “Failure to record the revenues relevant to calculation of tax payable in the accounting books.” Similarly, Article 200.1.b (“Tax evasion”) of the 2015 Criminal Code stipulates: “Failure to record revenues related to the determination of tax payable in accounting books.” However, Article 4.7 of the 2008 Law on Corporate Income Tax, describes “Tax-exempt incomes” as “received financial supports used for educational, scientific research, cultural, artistic, charitable, humanitarian and other social activities in Vietnam.” Similarly, Decree 218 (218/2013/NĐ-CP), providing guidance on implementation of Law on Corporate Income Tax, stipulates that only organisations that improperly use financial aid are subject to corporate income tax.


  Civic space in Vietnam is rated as "closed" by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

India: Concerns around the judicial harassment against Oxfam India

Mr. Amit Shah
Union Minister of Home Affairs of India
Ministry of Home Affairs
Government of India

Dear Excellency,

We are writing to you to convey our concerns around the harassment of Oxfam India, a non-governmental organisation that has worked for more than 70 years in the country to end discrimination and create a free and just society.

Oxfam India has been instrumental in assisting communities during the COVID-19 crisis and contributed significantly to building community resilience during the pandemic in 16 states of India. It has provided lifesaving medical and diagnostic equipment to 150 District Hospitals, 172 Primary Health Centres, and 166 Community Health Centres in 16 states.

Therefore, we are concerned about the recent raid on and investigation of the organisation by India’s Income Tax Department. On 7 to 9 September 2022, officials from the Income Tax (IT) Department conducted what was presented as an income tax ‘survey’ of Oxfam India, during which members of the organisation were not allowed to leave the premises. The staff were also denied access to communication devices and the internet was shut down by the authorities, preventing them from contacting families and relatives. The survey team confiscated private mobile phones belonging to the Senior Leadership Team and the Finance lead and took all of the data from the Oxfam India server.

We believe that this was the latest attempt to harass and intimidate the staff of the organisation. Hindering Oxfam India’s work will affect thousands of people who already benefit from its services. Further, such raids create a chilling effect on civil society and highlight the broad powers the authorities have.

This is not the first time Oxfam India has been targeted by the authorities. In January 2022, it was reported that the Central government refused to renew Oxfam India’s Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) licence. Oxfam India was among the 6,000 groups whose FCRA registration was revoked and rejected for renewal on 1 January 2022. The NGO subsequently filed a revision petition which is still pending.

We are alarmed by the increasing use of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 - which regulates the acceptance and use of foreign funding for civil society – to target critical civil society organisations. Among other things the law has been used to limit access to funding and impose a heavy burden on bureaucratic procedures under the pretext of combating foreign influence in India.

As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), India must respect, protect and fulfil the right to freedom of association as enshrined in Article 22 of the Covenant and should ensure that national security practices must comply with international human rights law and must never be used to stifle the legitimate works of civil society. In 2016, three UN human rights experts urged the government to repeal the FCRA, stating that it was being used to ‘obstruct’ access to foreign funding and fails to comply with international human rights standards.

Therefore, we urge your government to immediately and unconditionally halt the harassment of Oxfam India and other civil society organisations working to defend human rights. We further reiterate our call to the government of India to review or repeal the FCRA to bring compliance with the ICCPR and to create a safe and enabling environment for civil society organisations to conduct their legitimate work.


Signatories:

  1. Alianza ONG, Dominican Republic
  2. Asia Development Alliance
  3. Cemefi- Mexico
  4. Civil Society Capacity Building Center (CESC), Mozambique
  5. CNSC-TOGO
  6. Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations (CEHRO)
  7. Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC)
  8. FINESTE. Haiti
  9. Fingo, Finland
  10. Instituto de Comunicacion y Desarrollo (ICD), Uruguay
  11. JOINT - Liga de ONG's em Moçambique
  12. Mozambican Chapter of Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA Mozambique)
  13. Network of Estonian Non-profit Organizations
  14. NGO Federation of Nepal
  15. Nigeria Network of NGOs
  16. Pakistan Development Alliance
  17. Pakistan NGOs Forum
  18. RACI Argentinas
  19. Red Venezolana de Organizaciones de Sociedad Civil.
  20. REDECIM, Mexico
  21. Redlad.
  22. Regional Initiative Rendir Cuentas
  23. Unión Nacional de Instituciones para el Trabajo de Acción Social (UNITAS) Bolivia
  24. Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD)

 Civic space in India is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

Letter to UK Foreign Secretary on Salma al-Shehab

CIVICUS and other civil society organisations call on Rt Hon James Cleverly to address the treatment of political prisoners in Saudi Arabia who have been imprisoned for expressing themselves.

 

Letter to the UN Secretary-General on UN agencies engagement with the Myanmar junta

Re: UN agencies, funds, programmes and other entities engagement with the military junta

UN entities must stop legitimizing the Myanmar military junta and instead present letters of appointment, sign letters of agreement and MoUs with the legitimate government of Myanmar, the National Unity Government, and ethnic revolutionary organizations

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned 638 civil society organizations (CSOs), condemn in the strongest terms the recent public signing of new agreements and presenting of letters of appointment to the illegitimate Myanmar military junta by UN agencies, funds, programmes and other entities working inside Myanmar. We urge you to intervene for a principled, coordinated UN response to the crisis in Myanmar. We call on you and all UN entities to immediately cease all forms of cooperation and engagement that lends legitimacy to the illegal murderous junta. Instead, letters of appointment and agreements must be presented to the legitimate government of Myanmar, the National Unity Government (NUG), and ethnic revolutionary organizations (EROs).

On 10 December 2021, 256 Myanmar CSOs urged UN entities to not engage with the junta in any way that lends them legitimacy. Despite these consistent calls from the people of Myanmar and CSOs, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) all signed new agreements with and presented credentials to the junta in August and September 2022. The public ceremonies, which were arranged with photographs, were used as propaganda by the military junta in its ongoing attempts to assert their legitimacy. The people of Myanmar have categorically rejected its attempts to seize power since its illegal attempted coup on 1 February 2021.

For nearly a year and a half, the people of Myanmar have sacrificed their lives and livelihoods to defend democracy and their rights by engaging in political defiance and armed resistance – as a last resort. Their aim is to prevent the illegal military junta from taking over the country, as it is attempting to do through inflicting immense suffering on the people.

The recent public actions by UN entities are direct interventions that clearly side with the military junta, undercutting the ongoing collective resistance efforts and sacrifices by the Myanmar people to end the Myanmar military’s tyranny and establish a federal democracy. This breaches the principles of democracy, human rights and humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality, independence and “do no harm” outlined in the UNs’ Joint Operating Standards and frame work of engagement, for which UN entities must comply with and hold themselves accountable.

Furthermore, in December 2021, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to endorse the recommendations of the UN Credential Committee that had rejected the credentials of the military junta and allowed the incumbent Ambassador, U Kyaw Moe Tun, who represents the National Unity Government (NUG) and thus represents Myanmar, to maintain his position at the UN General Assembly. UN entities, and agencies, funds and programmes in Myanmar should be guided by this decision and should be engaging publicly with the NUG and not the military junta.

 

Open letter: Stop reprisals against Mongolian human rights defender Sukhgerel Dugersuren

CIVICUS and over 120 civil society organisations have signed a joint letter to urge the authorities in Mongolia to stop reprisals against human rights defender Sukhgerel Dugersuren and to ensure that environmental defenders, and communities impacted by development projects, can freely and safely defend human rights and protect the environment without fearing reprisals.

 

Serious concerns over ongoing violations of human rights in Nicaragua and lack of accountability for perpetrators

His Excellency António Guterres 

Secretary-General United Nations 

405 East 42nd Street New York, NY, 

10017 USA 30 

By email: and  

Dear Secretary-General, 

We, the undersigned civil society groups working across different regions, write to bring to your attention the ongoing erosion of the rule of law and systemic violations of human rights in Nicaragua. President Daniel Ortega and his Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, (FSLN) party are executing a sustained campaign that targets civil society organisations, human rights defenders and the political opposition and are silencing any form of alternative views.  

Independent institutions including the judiciary and other public bodies are controlled by the government, making it impossible for President Ortega and his administration to be held accountable for any human rights violations they perpetuate. The government has  repeatedly ignored regional and international recommendations to stop these human rights violations and if nothing is done urgently, there will be no space left for civil society and independent voices to operate.  We are very concerned about the following; 

Unprecedented deregistration of civil society organisations and restrictions on free associations 

We are concerned that over the last four years, the Nicaraguan authorities have systematically targeted civil society organisations and outlawed over 400 NGOs accusing them of undermining the regime, acting as “foreign agents,” or failing to provide financial statements. The number and types of organisations targeted is unprecedented including organisations that provide much needed assistance to improve the health of children, those that work on development projects for rural communities, excluded and marginalised groups, and aid organisations. For example, the Matagalpan Women’s Collective, whose legal status was cancelled in 2021,  provided much needed care to women and children and to libraries and community homes for more than three decades. Others include the Nicaraguan Coordinating Federation of NGOs Working with Children and Adolescents which brought together organisations working to promote the rights of children and adolescents for over three decades. 

Multiple human rights organisations, environmental groups, professional associations, cultural and educational institutions and religious organisations have also been impacted. The targeting of these organisations have been preceded and backed by a series of decrees sponsored by the FSLN. For example, in May 2022, the National Assembly approved four legislative decrees that led to the cancellation of the legal status of 94 civil society organisations and Foundations. The authorities have followed some of these actions by appropriating the assets of some organisations including the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights.  

To further restrict the right to freedom of association, the authorities promulgated the General Law for the Regulation and Control of Non-Profit Organisations on 6 May 2022. The law imposes additional restrictions for the registration of organisations and provides the government with the discretion to demand information about the activities, funding and beneficiaries of organisations. The Nicaraguan authorities are empowered to first authorise activities of organisations before they are implemented and organisations are prohibited from participating  in political activities - which is broadly defined.  

Criminalisation of independent media outlets and targeting of journalists 

We are concerned about the ongoing censorship of independent media outlets and the arrests and intimidation of journalists. Since 2018, more than 20 media outlets have been closed down and at least 120 journalists have fled Nicaragua to avoid reprisals from the state.  On 10 June 2022, journalist Juan Lorenzo Holmann of the La Prensa newspaper was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of “money laundering.” He was arrested in August 2021.  On 16 February, journalist Miguel Mendoza was sentenced to nine years in prison and banned from holding political office after he was found guilty of “conspiring to undermine national integrity” and “disseminating false news.” 

Judicial persecution, intimidation and detention of human rights defenders and members of political parties 

The FSLN regime continues a campaign of repression, persecution and detention of human rights defenders, activists members of the political opposition and those who are critical of the government. Dozens of human rights defenders and the political opposition were arrested in the period leading to the elections and charged with security-related offences under the Penal Code and the  Sovereign Law.  In most cases the trials of those arrested are characterised by irregularities and many are not tried in court but at the Directorate of Judicial Assistance (DAJ) of the prison also known as the Chipote.  

Most of the trials are rushed and sentences are handed to those detained without due process. Those convicted include activist Yader Parajon who demanded justice for victims of government repression and was found guilty of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity” on 2 February 2022. Ana Margarita Vijil, a feminist activist and former President of the opposition group Unamis, was convicted on 2 February 2022. The persecution and detention of activists continue despite the fact that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has  expressed concerns over the deplorable and inhumane detention conditions, including those for women.  Because of these restrictions, Nicaragua is rated Closed by the CIVICUS Monitor

We request that you urge the government of Nicaragua to; 

  1. Reverse all restrictive policies and laws used to outlaw civil society organisations and create an enabling environment for them to operate without fear of reprisals.
  2. Lift all restrictions and civil society organisations imposed by the government so they can continue carrying out their activities.
  3. Release all human rights defenders, members of the political opposition, activists and other arrested and detained and drop all charges against them.  
  4. Take steps to review the General Law for the Regulation and control of Non-Profit Organisations together with civil society with a view to amending its restrictive provisions. 
  5. Respect the rule of law at all times and guarantee the independence of the judiciary and state institutions 
  6. Respect the rights of members of the political opposition and their supporters and create an enabling environment for political participation

 

Egypt: CSOs urge German Ministers to raise human rights with President Al-Sisi ahead of COP27

Arabic

Civil society groups have written a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Baerbock and State Minister and Special Envoy Morgan urging them to press President al-Sisi to open civic space ahead of COP27


 Dear Foreign Affairs Minister Baerbock and State Minister and Special Envoy Morgan,

Ahead of the 18-19 July 2022 Petersberg Climate Dialogue, which you will co-chair with Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi, we 21 national, regional and international civil society organisations are writing to urge you to press President al-Sisi, publicly and privately, to take prompt and effective measures to reopen civic space in Egypt ahead of the COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh and release all the individuals arbitrarily detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. If taken, these important steps must not be reversed after the COP27, since they are necessary to guarantee the survival of independent civil society in Egypt and promote its resurgence.

We stress our alarm at the Egyptian authorities’ unlawful restrictions on the rights to freedom of the press, freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, the severe constraints they have imposed on civil society, as well as their repression of peaceful political opposition and misuse of counterterrorism legislation to silence peaceful critics. Thousands continue to be arbitrarily detained in Egypt for peacefully practicing their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association. This includes staff of Egyptian independent civil society organisations, human rights defenders and activists in the field of economic, social, and cultural rights, and minority rights, as well as lawyers, journalists, academics, women social media influencers and artists. We consider that immediately and unconditionally releasing them, according to Egypt’s obligations under international law, would signal that the Egyptian government is committed to ensuring that participants at COP27 may speak and assemble freely at the COP27 conference, without fear of reprisals.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association’s 2021 report details the essential role played by civil society in addressing the climate crisis, and calls on States “to recognize publicly at the highest levels the work of civil society and the importance of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association as essential to the advancement of climate action and just transition” towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies. Indeed, for a productive COP27, the crucial roles of civil society as well as independent media are more necessary now than ever, as many states are failing to meet their climate pledges and others are unable to finance measures to make their development sustainable. The visibility and positive pressure created by civic mobilisation is needed if COP27 is to be a success. The rights to freedom of assembly, association, and expression at COP27 must be upheld for all, including Egyptian civil society activists and journalists who are currently facing harsh repression for exercising these human rights.

Therefore, it is urgent that at and around the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, you urge the Egyptian authorities to take action now, before COP27:

  • To go beyond the conditional release of a limited number of persons from arbitrary detention, to effect a real policy change by immediately and unconditionally releasing all persons arbitrarily detained for exercising their rights to the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association. In line with the criteria outlined by local NGOs, the mechanism established to release prisoners should comply with four standards: fairness, transparency, inclusiveness, and promptness. Prominent activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah, on hunger strike for over 100 days and at risk of death, must be prioritized.
  • To ensure civic space is reopened, notably by setting out transparent and inclusive processes to provide civil society with meaningful opportunities to inform decision-making around climate and other vital areas of public policy.
  • To expedite the necessary changes in legislation and practice – including in the NGO law, the Counter-terrorism Law, the Cybercrime Law, the Protection of Public Facilities Law, the Assembly Law, and the Terrorist Entities Law – to guarantee and protect space for civil society, including independent human rights defenders, to speak, meet, and work without fear of intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrest or detention, torture, enforced disappearance, or any other form of reprisal or retaliation; including lifting the existing travel bans and asset freezes imposed on activists and human rights defenders.
  • To end the harsh restrictions imposed by law and in practice on media and digital freedom, to cease blocking the websites of independent media outlets and civil society organizations and release all media workers who have been detained or jailed for carrying out their work.

We understand that many African states support the selection of Egypt as host of COP27, on the assumption that Egypt could be a strong voice for the continent’s climate justice needs and demands, notably climate finance. Yet there are serious and unresolved concerns around the full and meaningful participation of activists, mainly from the global South, in terms of accessing visas to enter the country. If the Egyptian authorities do not change course, they risk jeopardizing COP27’s success, and there will be well-grounded concerns for the safety and security of civil society activists from African states, from Europe, and elsewhere, who may seek to participate in peaceful events in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Minister Baerbock, your nomination eight months ago as federal Foreign Affairs Minister gave much new hope and expectation that you would be determined and able to set a clear foreign policy approach toward countries with abusive human rights records, and upholding your government commitments to human rights, the rule of law, justice, and accountability within a climate-friendly and feminist foreign policy. The federal coalition government agreement text also bolstered that hope. Today, we call on you both to bring these hopes to fruition and demonstrate your leadership for climate justice with Egypt, through an inclusive approach to environmental policy rooted in the principle that there can be no climate justice without respect for human rights.

Sincerely,

Amnesty International

Association for the Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)

Associazione ricreativa culturale italiana (ARCI)

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

Centre National de Coopération au Développement (CNCD-11.11.11)

CIVICUS

Civil Rights Defenders

Committee for Justice (CFJ)

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)

Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR)

Egyptian Human Rights Forum (EHRF)

EgyptWide for Human Rights

EuroMed Rights

Freedom House

Front Line Defenders

Human Rights Watch

HuMENA for Human Rights and Civic Engagement

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)


 Civic space in Egypt is rated as "Closed" by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

Open Letter to ASEAN Defence Ministers

To:
H.E. General Tea Banh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence, Cambodia 

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulahibni Al-Marhum, Minister of Defense, Brunei Darussalam

H.E. Prabowo Subianto, Minister of Defence, Indoensia

H.E. General Chansamone Chanyalath, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence, Lao PDR

The Honourable Dato' Seri Hishammuddin bin Tun Hussein, Senior Minister of Defence, Malaysia

H.E. Delfin N. Lorenzana, Secretary of National Defense, Philippines

H.E. Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence, Singapore

H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Thailand

H.E. General Phan Van Giang, Minister of National Defence, Viet Nam

 

June 15 2022

Re: Myanmar junta participation in ADMM

Your Excellencies,

We, the undersigned 677 Myanmar, regional and international civil society organizations, appeal to you not to extend an invitation to the Myanmar military junta's Minister of Defence at the upcoming ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM). 

The Myanmar military junta's acts meet the definition of terror under international and national law and are responsible for ongoing violations of international human rights and humanitarian law following the military's illegal coup attempt. Since the military's illicit attempt coup, almost 700,000 people have been forcibly displaced as the junta waged a terror campaign against the Myanmar people. In the face of mass public resistance, the junta has murdered more than 1,900 people, arbitrarily arrested over 14,000 more, committed widespread torture, indiscriminate airstrikes and shelling, burnt villages and looted public property. 

In the upcoming 16th ADMM, scheduled for June 22, we understand that the Junta defence minister General Mya Tun Oo will be representing Myanmar. General Mya Tun Oo plays a leading role in managing the military, responsible for committing ongoing atrocity crimes with total impunity. Mya Tun Oo's direct responsibility for international law violations has been recognized by the USA, U.K., EU, Canada and New Zealand, which sanctioned him. In its designation, the U.K. stated that Mya Tun Oo has "command responsibility for these violations and can therefore be held responsible for these actions." Mya Tun Oo is also a member of the State Administration Council (SAC). The E.U. recognized that "as a member of the SAC, General Mya Tun Oo has been directly involved in and responsible for decision making concerning state functions and is therefore responsible for undermining democracy and the rule of law". Mya Tun Oo should be held accountable for his role in the military's attempted coup and the junta's atrocity crimes and not rewarded through participation in ADMM.

We welcome ASEAN's exclusion of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing from the 2021 ASEAN Summit and the exclusion of the junta foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin from the 2022 Foreign Ministers' Retreat. However, we note with concern that ADMM has invited the junta to participate in meetings, including at the ministerial level, since its illegal coup attempt, which is inconsistent with decisions made by ASEAN not to invite General Min Aung Hlaing and Wunna Maung Lwin. ADMM's engagement with the junta, which has included military exercises, may likely amount to aiding and abetting the junta's war crimes and crimes against humanity.  

It is imperative that ASEAN does not award legitimacy to the Myanmar military junta, upholds its charter and respects international human rights and humanitarian law by excluding the junta from ADMM. In allowing the junta to participate in ADMM, ASEAN is further risking complicity in the junta's atrocity crimes by providing support and legitimacy to the military and encouraging a military that is waging a nationwide campaign of terror. 

As ASEAN defence ministers, we appeal to you to disinvite Mya Tun Oo from the 16th ADMM and all future meetings. Engage with the National Unity Government as the legitimate government of Myanmar, and work to resolve the crisis in Myanmar. 

For any further inquiries, please contact:

Khin Ohmar, Progressive Voice,  

Debbie Stothard, ALTSEAN-Burma,  

Salai Za Uk Ling, Chin Human Rights Organization,  

 

List of Signatories

The list of signatories below includes 299 Myanmar, regional and international organizations and 378 Myanmar civil society organizations that have chosen not to disclose their names.

Signed by: 

  1. "Do" farmer Organization

  2. 8888 Generation (New Zealand)

  3. 8888 New Generation (Mohnyin)

  4. Action Against Myanmar Military Coup (Sydney)

  5. Action Committee for Democracy Development

  6. Active Youths (Kalaymyo)

  7. Ah Nah podcast- Conversation with Myanmar

  8. Ah. La. Ka (12) Hta Khwe, Primary Education Student Union

  9. All Arakan Students and Youths' Congress

  10. All Burma Democratic Face in New Zealand

  11. All Burma Student Democratic Front - Australia Branch

  12. All Religions Strike Column

  13. All Young Burmese League (AYBL)

  14. Alliance for Free Burma Solidarity

  15. Alternative Solutions for Rural Communities (ASORCOM)

  16. ALTSEAN-Burma

  17. Anti Dictatorship in Burma DC Metropolitan Area

  18. Anti-Myanmar Dictatorship Movement

  19. Anti-Myanmar Military Dictatorship Network (AMMDN)

  20. Arakan CSO Network

  21. Arakan Humanitarian Coordination Team- AHCT

  22. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)

  23. Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)

  24. Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition

  25. Asian Cultural Forum on Development (ACFOD) Philippines

  26. Asian Cultural Forum on Development Foundation (ACFOD) Thailand

  27. Asian Dignity Initiative

  28. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development

  29. Association for Advancement of Freedom of Religion or Belief in Vietnam (AAFORB-VN)

  30. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters

  31. Athan - Freedom of Expression Activist Organization

  32. Auckland Kachin Community N.Z.

  33. Auckland Zomi Community

  34. Aung Myay Thar Zan Education Schools Strike Column

  35. Aung Pin Lae Main Strike Column

  36. Australia Burma Friendship Association, Northern Territory

  37. Australia Karen Organization WA Inc.

  38. Australia Myanmar Doctors, Nurses and Friends

  39. Australia Myanmar Youth Alliance (AMYA)

  40. Australian Burmese Muslim Organisation

  41. Australian Chin Community (Eastern Melbourne Inc)

  42. Australian Karen Organisation (AKO)

  43. Australian Karen Organisation Inc

  44. Back Pack Health Workers Team

  45. Bamar Community Tasmania

  46. BCC (စစ်ကိုင်း)

  47. Blood Money Campaign

  48. Buddhist Solidarity Association

  49. Burma Action Ireland

  50. Burma Campaign U.K. 

  51. Burma Human Rights Network

  52. Burma Lawyers' Council (BLC)

  53. Burma Medical Association

  54. Burma Soumalaiset (Finland)

  55. Burmese Community - South Australia

  56. Burmese Community Development Collaboration (BCDC)

  57. Burmese Community Group (Manawatu, N.Z.)

  58. Burmese Community Support Group (BCSG)

  59. Burmese Friendship Association

  60. Burmese Medical Association Australia (BMAA)

  61. Burmese Rohingya Organisation U.K. 

  62. Burmese Rohingya Welfare Organisation New Zealand

  63. Burmese Women's Union

  64. Cambodian Americans and Friends for Democracy and Human Rights Advocate

  65. Campaign for a New Myanmar

  66. Canberra Karen Association

  67. CDM Support Team Mandalay (CSTM)

  68. Chan Mya Thar Si Township People Strike Column

  69. Chin Community - South Australia

  70. Chin Community of Auckland

  71. Chin Community of Western Australia Inc.

  72. Chin Community Tasmania

  73. Chin Human Rights Organization

  74. Chin MATA Working Group

  75. Chin Resources Center

  76. Chin Youth Organization (Matupi)

  77. Citizen of Burma Award - New Zealand

  78. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

  79. Committee Representing Mandalay Region Hluttaw

  80. Cooperative University Student Strike Column 

  81. CRPH & NUG Supporters Ireland

  82. CRPH Funding Ireland

  83. CRPH Support Group, Norway

  84. CRPH, NUG Support Team Germany - Deutschland

  85. CRPH/NUG support group Australia

  86. Dawei Development Association

  87. Dawei Probono Lawyer Network

  88. Democracy for Myanmar - Working Group (N.Z.)

  89. Democracy, Peace and Women's Organization

  90. Democratic Youth Council

  91. Doh Atu - Ensemble pour le Myanmar

  92. Dragon Dawn

  93. Education and health care for Myanmar-Thailand Association

  94. Education Family (Anti - Fascists Education Strike Columns Coordination Committee) 

  95. Educational Initiatives Myanmar

  96. Equality Myanmar

  97. Ethnic Youth General Strike Committee

  98. Falam Community - South Australia

  99. Federal Myanmar Benevolence Group (N.Z.)

  100. Foundation of Khmer Samaki

  101. Free Burma Campaign (South Africa)

  102. Free Expression Myanmar (FEM)

  103. Free Rohingya Coalition

  104. Future Light Center

  105. Future Thanlwin

  106. General Strike Committee of Nationalities - GSCN

  107. Generation Wave

  108. Generations (မျိုးဆက်)

  109. GenY For Revolution Japan

  110. German Solidarity with Myanmar Democracy e.V.

  111. Global Myanmar Spring Revolution 

  112. Global Myanmar Spring Revolution - Japan

  113. Global Myanmar Spring Revolution - Korea

  114. Golden Heart Organization

  115. Grass-root People

  116. Human Rights Educators' Network

  117. Human Rights Foundation of Monland

  118. In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) Philippines

  119. India For Myanmar

  120. Industrial Training Centre (ITC) Family Sydney

  121. Info Birmanie

  122. Initiatives for International Dialogue

  123. Institute for Asian Democracy

  124. Inter Pares

  125. Interfaith Youth Coalition on Aids in Myanmar (IYCA-Myanmar)

  126. International Campaign for the Rohingya

  127. International Karen Organisation

  128. JASS Southeast Asia

  129. Joint Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (JACDB)

  130. Justice 4 Myanmar - Hope & Development

  131. Justice Movement for Community-Innlay

  132. Justice For Myanmar

  133. Kachin Association Australia

  134. Kachin Association of Australia WA Inc.

  135. Kachin Human Rights Watch

  136. Kachin State Women Network

  137. Kachin Women's Association Thailand

  138. Kachin Women's Union

  139. Kadu Youth Development Association (KYDA)

  140. Kalyarna Metta Association (Khin U)

  141. Kanbung Youth (Matupi)

  142. Kanpetlet Land Development Organization

  143. Karen Community - South Australia

  144. Karen Human Rights Group

  145. Karen Peace Support Network

  146. Karen Swedish Community (KSC)

  147. Karen Women's Organization

  148. Karenni Community of Western Australia Inc.

  149. Karenni Federation of Australia

  150. Karenni Human Rights Group

  151. Karenni Society New Zealand

  152. Kayan Internally Displacement Supervising Committee (KIDSC)

  153. Kayan Women’s Organization

  154. Kayin Community Tasmania

  155. Keng Tung Youth

  156. Khanthar Farmers Network

  157. Khumzup Local Development Committee

  158. Kurawal Foundation

  159. Kyauktada Strike Committee

  160. LA COMMUNAUTÉ BIRMANE DE FRANCE

  161. LGBTIQ Strike of Mandalay

  162. Maha Aung Myay Township People Collective Strike Column

  163. Mandalar University Student Strike  Column 

  164. Mandalay Alliance Strike Collective Column 

  165. Mandalay Based People Strike Column 

  166. Mandalay Civil Society Organizations 

  167. Mandalay Engineer Group

  168. Mandalay Engineer United Force

  169. Mandalay University Student Alumni Union 

  170. Mandalay Wholesale Strike Column

  171. Mandalay Youth Association

  172. Mandalay Youth Strike Column

  173. MATA Sagaing Region

  174. Matu Chin Community - South Australia

  175. Matu Forum Committee

  176. Matu Women Association

  177. Medical Family – Mandalay

  178. Metta Campaign Mandalay

  179. MIIT Student Strike Column

  180. MilkTeaAlliance Calendar

  181. MilkTeaAlliance Galleries

  182. Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc. (MPI)

  183. Mindat Chin Community NSW

  184. Mindat Community - South Australia

  185. Mindat Emergency Response Team (MERT)

  186. Mizo Community - South Australia

  187. Mon Families Group

  188. Mon National Council (MNC)

  189. Mung Chying Rawt Jat (MRJ) 

  190. Muslim Youth Network

  191. Muslim Youth Union 

  192. Mya Taung Strike Column

  193. Myanmar Accountability Project

  194. Myanmar Action Group Denmark

  195. Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability 

  196. Myanmar Buddhist Community of South Australia

  197. Myanmar Community Coffs Harbour (MCC)

  198. Myanmar Cultural Research Society (MCRS)

  199. Myanmar Democracy and Peace Committee (Australia)

  200. Myanmar Democratic Movement (MDM)

  201. Myanmar Diaspora Group Finland

  202. Myanmar Engineering Association of Australia (MEAA)

  203. Myanmar Engineers - New Zealand

  204. Myanmar Gonye (New Zealand)

  205. Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)

  206. Myanmar People from Ireland

  207. Myanmar People Residing in Canberra

  208. Myanmar Professionals Association Australia (MPAA)

  209. Myanmar Railway, Region (3) CDM Strike Column

  210. Myanmar Students' Association Australia (MSAA)

  211. Myanmar Students' Union in New Zealand

  212. Netherlands Myanmar Solidarity Platform

  213. Network for Advocacy Action

  214. Network for Human Rights Documentation Burma (ND-Burma)

  215. New Zealand Doctors for NUG

  216. New Zealand Karen Association

  217. New Zealand Zo Community Inc.

  218. NLD Solidarity Association (Australia)

  219. No 7 State High School Alumni Strike Column 

  220. No Business With Genocide

  221. Northern Spectrum Youth Association

  222. NSW Karenni (Kayah) Communities

  223. OCTOPUS (Youth Organization)

  224. Open Development Foundation

  225. Overseas Mon Association, New Zealand

  226. Pan Pa Wash People Strike Column

  227. Patriotic War Vetrans of Burma (PWVB)

  228. Peace and Culture Foundation

  229. People's Hope Spring Revolution

  230. Phayagye Peace Strike Column

  231. Private Pre-school Teachers Association 

  232. Progressive Voice

  233. Pusat Komas 

  234. Pyi Gyi Ta Gon Strike 

  235. Pyithu Gonye (New Zealand)

  236. Queensland Kachin Community (QKC)

  237. Queensland Myanmar Youth Collective (QMYC

  238. Queensland Rohingya Community

  239. Rohingya Action Ireland

  240. Rvwang Community Association New Zealand

  241. Sangha Samaga Strike Column

  242. Save and Care Organization for Women at Border Areas

  243. SAVE MYANMAR - USA

  244. Save Myanmar Fundraising Group (New Zealand)

  245. Sein Pan Strike Column

  246. Shan Community (New Zealand)

  247. Shan MATA

  248. Shan Women Development Network

  249. Shape-Sea

  250. Shwe Youth Democratic Alliance (SYDA)

  251. Shwechinthae Farmers Network

  252. Sisters 2 Sisters

  253. Sitt Nyein Pann Foundation

  254. Social Garden 

  255. Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet)

  256. Southern Youth Development Organization

  257. Strike Column of Representatives of Arbitrarily Arrested People

  258. Strike Column of Teachers from Universities and Degree Colleges of Mandalay 

  259. Students & Youth Congress of Burma (SYCB)

  260. Support for Myanmar

  261. Swedish Burma Committee

  262. Swedish Foundation for Human Rights

  263. Sydney Friends for Myanmar Unity

  264. Ta'ang Women's Organization

  265. Taekwando Sport Association 

  266. Tanintharyi MATA

  267. Tanintharyi Nationalities Congress

  268. Tanintharyi People's Voice

  269. Tanintharyi Women's Network

  270. Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB)

  271. Thapaynyo News Letter

  272. The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)

  273. The Institution of Professional Engineers Myanmar (IPEM)

  274. Together Thanlyin

  275. Twitter Team for Revolution

  276. U.S. Campaign for Burma

  277. Uakthon Local Social Development Organization

  278. United Myanmar Community of South Australia  

  279. Victorian Burmese Care Community (VBCC)

  280. Victorian Myanmar Youth (VMY)

  281. Way Way Nay

  282. We Pledge CDM (Australia)

  283. Western Australia Myanmar Community (WAMC)

  284. Western Australia Myanmar Democratic Network (WAMDN)

  285. Winemaw Civil Society Network

  286. Winemaw Lisu Development Association

  287. Women Activists Myanmar (WAM)

  288. Women Advocacy Coalition-Myanmar

  289. Women's League of Burma

  290. Women's Peace Network

  291. Zo Community - South Australia

  292. Zomi Association Australia Inc.

  293. Zomi Community - South Australia

  294. Zomi Community Queensland

  295. ခုနစ်စင်ကြယ်အဖွဲ့

  296. ဒို့မြေကွန်ရက် (LIOH)

  297. ဒေါင်းစစ်သည်

  298. ပွင့်ဖြူလယ်ယာမြေကွန်ရက်

  299. ပဲခူး MATA

 

Mexico: Criminalisation and arbitrary detention of the human rights defender Kenia Hernández

To:

Mr. Andrés Manuel López Obrador

 President of the United Mexican States 

Dr Adán Augusto

 Interior Minister  

Ms. Evelyn Salgado Pineda

Constitutional Governor of the State of Guerrero  

Mr Alfredo del Mazo
Constitutional Governor of the State of Mexico 

Mr. Alejandro Gertz Manero

Attorney General of the Republic 

 

 

In Geneva-Paris, May 11, 2022

Warm greetings from the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory), a joint program of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH; the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders (IM-Defensoras); Front Line Defenders (FLD); CIVICUS; and the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Mexico (“Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en México, RNDDHM”).

On this occasion, the Observatory, IM-Defensoras, FLD, CIVICUS, and the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Mexico address you to express our deep concern about the continued criminalisation and arbitrary detention of Ms Kenia Inés Hernández Montalván, as well as the discrimination based on her gender and her belonging to the indigenous Amuzga people in the legal proceedings against her.

The undersigned organisations have repeatedly called on the Mexican authorities to release Ms Kenya Hernández and halt the legal proceedings against her, believing that her detention is part of the criminalisation of social protest and human rights defenders in Guerrero throughout Mexico. 

Kenia Hernández, an indigenous Amuzga woman and lawyer from Xochistlahuaca, Guerrero, advocates for women's rights, land rights, and indigenous rights. As coordinator of the Collective Libertarian “Zapata Vive”, co-founder and member of the Movement for the Freedom of Political Prisoners of the state of Guerrero (“Movimiento por la Libertad de Los Presos Políticos del Estado de Guerrero”, MOLPEG), Ms Kenya Hernández accompanies survivors of male violence and relatives of victims of feminicide, defends the rights of the unjustly imprisoned and of people affected by the activities of multinational extraction companies on Mexican territory. However, precisely because of her legitimate work in defence of human rights, Ms Kenya Hernández has been held in solitary confinement in the maximum-security prison in the state of Morelos since October 2020. To date, for bureaucratic reasons, she has been denied access to her legal representatives, as well as in-person participation in the hearings of the various legal cases pending against her, on the grounds that she is a maximum-security prisoner. In addition, Ms Kenya Hernández was denied the right to visit her relatives on the grounds of COVID-19 prevention. As a result of these facts, Ms Kenya Hernández went on hunger strike twice in May and October 2021 for two months, which exacerbated her vulnerability and risk. 

The Observatory, IM-Defensoras, FLD, CIVICUS and the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Mexico have followed with great dismay the criminalisation processes that have been underway since June 2020 against Ms Kenya Hernández for the alleged commission of "attacks on public roads as a gang" and "robbery with violence using a weapon" to the detriment of Caminos y Puentes Federales (CAPUFE) and Autovías Concesionaria Mexiquenses. Of the nine criminal cases against her, two are being tried at the local level in the state of Mexico, and the other seven at the federal level in the states of Guerrero, Guanajuato and Morelos. Ms Kenya Hernández was sentenced to 11 years and 3 months and 10 years and six months in prison, respectively, in two of these cases. Both sentences are currently under appeal.

These criminalisation processes, linked to multinational extraction companies, aim to punish and put an end to the legitimate work in defence of human rights of Ms Kenya Hernández, especially her peaceful participation in demonstrations demanding the appearance of the life of human rights lawyer Arnulfo Cerón, the release of human rights defenders and members of the Council of Ejidos and Communities Against the Dam of La Parota (CECOP), and the protection of women victims of male violence in the Costa Chica region of Guerrero.

It should be noted that the status of Ms Kenya Hernández as a human rights defender has been recognised both by the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which she joined in 2019, due to death threats she received for her work and by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), which has repeatedly called for her right to due process to be respected.

The organisations signing this letter express their concern about the discrimination to which Ms Kenya Hernández is subjected due to her status as an indigenous woman. Throughout the trial, the human rights defender repeatedly requested that she be provided with an interpreter for the Amuzgo language, which was denied by the judge in charge, who considered that translation was not necessary because she had studied and spoken Spanish, in violation of Article 2 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States. Also, Ms Kenia Hernández's request to apply a gender perspective throughout the judicial proceedings was rejected by the judge on the grounds that this only applied to "submissive women" or women who had been victims of gender-based violence in the domestic environment.

Similarly, the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Ms Kenya Hernandez, as a mother and sole provider for her minor children, violates the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners (the Bangkok Rules), specifically Rules 4, 26, and 64, which provide, that female prisoners be placed in detention facilities close to their homes, taking into account their care responsibilities; that they are allowed contact with their families, including their children, by all reasonable means; and that women with dependent children be given priority for non-custodial sentences. 

The undersigned organisations note with concern the restrictions on the right to social protest and the misuse of criminal law against Ms Kenya Hernández and call on the Mexican authorities to take the necessary measures to end her arbitrary detention and the numerous criminalisation proceedings against her.  

The undersigned organisations also hope that the right to a fair and impartial trial, with a gender perspective and taking into account the cultural specificities of Ms Kenya Hernández as an indigenous woman, will be guaranteed throughout the legal proceedings against her.

We thank you in advance for your attention, and we are at your disposal for any further information.

Yours sincerely,

- World Organization against Torture, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

- FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

- CIVICUS

- Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders (IM-Defensoras)

- Front Line Defenders (FLD)

- National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Mexico (“Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en México”, RNDDHM)


References:

- IM-Defensoras Urgent Alert, February 10, 2022, available here; FLD Urgent Alerts available here; CIVICUS interview with Kenya Hernandez's attorney, Antonio Lara Duque, March 9, 2022, available here.

  

 

Thailand’s abusive draft law on not-for-profit organizations

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. 

The White House

Washington, DC 

 

Dear President Biden, 

We, the undersigned non-profit organisations, are writing to express our serious concerns regarding Thailand’s Draft Act on the Operations of Not-for-Profit Organizations, which the Thai Cabinet approved in principle on January 4, 2022. The passage of this draft law would systematically violate the rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression of non-profit groups. So we urge you to call on the Thai government to scrap this draft law when you meet with the Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha and his delegation at the upcoming US-ASEAN special summit at the White House in May 12-13, 2022. 

The draft law would enable officials to unilaterally order the temporary or permanent shutdown of any non-profit organisation (NPO) operating in Thailand if they conduct activities or make public representations that the Thai government considers adversely affects Thailand’s “relations between countries”; “affect the happy, normal existence of other persons”; affect “public interest, including public safety”; infringe on “public order,” or “people’s good morals;” or “cause divisions within society.” Non-profit organisations also are forbidden from doing anything that infringes on “the rights and liberties of other persons” or impacts the “government’s security, including the government’s economic security.” None of these terms is defined, providing maximum discretion to officials, including the military and national security officials who are the originators of this draconian, rights-abusing legislation, to act against any organisation arbitrarily. 

If this bill becomes law, we anticipate that many organisations signing and supporting this letter will face punitive action, including intrusive investigations, public threats, and ultimately orders from government authorities to end operations. 

As you may know, in addition to the laudable work done by Thai civil society organisations in supporting human rights, social welfare, civic activity, and humanitarian work in Thailand, there is also a regional dimension to civil society in Thailand, with important international humanitarian and human rights organisations operating in Thailand to assist refugees and displaced persons fleeing the crisis in Myanmar (Burma) and supporting the provision of assistance into Myanmar. These efforts will also be put at risk if the draft law passes, given the provision that prevents civil society from undertaking actions that ostensibly jeopardise Thailand’s friendly relations with its neighbouring countries. 

Similarly, Thailand has long served as a refuge for political and rights activists fleeing from repressive governments in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, and non-profit organisations supporting these refugees would also face significant threats of being shut down if this bill is enacted. 

Protecting Thai civil society

To comply with relevant provisions of the Thai constitution, the Thai government, led by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, organised a public comment process between late January 2022 and the end of April 2022. In response to this rudimentary consultation process, a total of 1,867 non-profit organisations across Thailand released a joint statement and subsequently held a public rally to call for the Thai government to withdraw this bill. 

The core message of our coalition is that we are civil society groups working on a wide range of issues. As organisations, we work across many sectors, and among other things, we strengthen democratic processes; safeguard the environment; reduce poverty; feed families; support children, people with disabilities, and older people; stop human trafficking; investigate business supply chains; protect human rights; support civil initiatives; expose government corruption and malfeasance; protect whistleblowers, and help people to access adequate health care and education. 

Thai civil society and international supporters make Thailand a better, more inclusive democracy, and they should not face draconian restrictions of the sort that the current Thai government is proposing. 

Risks of the bill

The draft law threatens the important work of civil society, and the Thai government has provided no rationale for this law, except that other countries in the region have similar laws. The drafters openly espouse following the example of India, where government restrictions forced the closure of many international nongovernmental organisations. The Thai government claims that they are aiming to create “transparency” in the non-profit sector has no basis, given that Thailand already has adequate laws and regulations to regulate non-profit organisations. This draft law is a massive extension of government power over every aspect and every grouping of civil society in Thailand. 

The specific language of the law states that: “‘Not-for-profit organisation’ means a collective of private individuals who form themselves as any form of grouping to conduct activities in society without intending to seek profits to be shared. However, it shall not include a group of people gathering to implement a particular, one-time activity, or conduct an activity to serve only the group's interests, or a political party.” Moreover, the law states that “Any NPOs which have been established under any specific law, in addition to acting in compliance with that law, shall also be subject to the provisions of this Act.” 

Given the broad definition of “non-profit” organisation, the law will encompass everything from foreign chambers of commerce to farmer groups, organisations supporting vulnerable persons like people living with HIV/AIDS, migrant worker collectives, LGBTQ+ organisations, aggrieved villagers protesting land expropriation, forestry and environmental groups, community sports clubs and local foundations, human rights organisations, and community development groups. There are no apparent limits for the groups that will be adversely affected by this law. 

Put simply, the Thai government hopes that the international community will be looking the other way while it severely restricts basic freedoms across Thailand. In a nation of nearly 70 million people with a government infused with military influence at top levels, it is explicit that this bill would be applied arbitrarily to severely restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and other human rights.

A closer look at the bill

As mentioned above, the draft law’s language is very vague. The subjective language means that almost any action could violate the law’s provision. Below, non-profit organisations are asked to make sure they are not tainting people’s “good morals” or “disturbing the normal happy existence of persons”—or pay a daily fine of 10,000 baht (US$295). 

Section 20: A Not-for-Profit Organization must not operate in the following manner: 

(1) Affect the government’s security, including the government’s economic security or relations between countries. 

(2) Affect public order, or people’s good morals, or cause divisions within society. 

(3) Affect public interest, including public safety. 

(4) Act in violation of the law. 

(5) Act to infringe on the rights and liberties of other persons or affect the happy, normal existence of other persons. 


Section 26: Any NPO which fails to stop its operations as ordered by the registrar under Section 20, paragraph 2 or Section 21 where Section 20 paragraph 2 applies, shall be liable to a fine not exceeding 500,000 baht and a daily fine of 10,000 baht throughout the period of the breach or until it is operating correctly.

The draft law will also effectively prevent organisations helping communities throughout Thailand from accessing the funding they need to do their crucial work. The restrictions and reporting requirements on funding support from outside Thailand are contrary to international law. They also inhibit a crucial funding source for organisations that help people in Thailand every day.

Section 21: A Not-for-profit Organization which receives funding or donations from foreign sources is required to act as follows: 

(1) Inform the registrar of the name of the foreign funding sources, the bank account receiving the funds, the amount received, and the purposes for the disbursement of the funds.

(2) Must receive foreign funding only through a bank account notified to the registrar. 

(3) Must use the foreign funding only for the purposes notified to the registrar in the article (1). 

(4) Must not use foreign funding for any activity characteristic of pursuing state power or facilitating or helping political parties. 

The draft law moves Thailand further down the slippery slope to a loss of privacy and the right to freedom of association. 

Section 19: To ensure transparency and to keep the public informed about the operations of NPOs, an NPO is required to disclose information regarding its name, founding objectives, implementation methods, sources of funding, and names of persons involved with its operations to ensure such information is easily accessible to government agencies and the public.

Civil society organisations, the individuals who work for them, and the communities who benefit from these groups have the right to come together, express their opinions, and contribute to their communities. Those core civil and political rights are enshrined in international law, notably the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Thailand is a state party to and is obligated to uphold. 

Recommendations

We respectfully call on you and your administration to press the Thai government to immediately withdraw the Draft Act on the Operations of Not-for-Profit Organizations and ensure that other laws and regulations that Thailand proposes pertaining to non-profit organisations strictly adhere to international human rights law and standards. 

Sincerely,

  1. Amnesty International
  2. APCOM

  3. Asian Cultural Forum on Development (ACFOD)

  4. Asia Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)

  5. Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN)

  6. Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN)

  7. Article 19

  8. Asia Democracy Network (AND)

  9. Be Slavery Free

  10. Campaign Committee for Human Rights (CCHR)

  11. Campaign for Popular Democracy (CPD)

  12. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

  13. Community Resource Center (CRC)

  14. Cross Cultural Rights Foundation (CrCF)

  15. CSO Coalition for Ethical and Sustainable Seafood (CSO Coalition)

  16. Democracy Restoration Group (DRG)

  17. EnLAW

  18. Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF)

  19. Equal Asia Foundation

  20. Finnwatch

  21. Fishwise 

  22. Fortify Rights

  23. Forum Asia (Asian Forum for Rights and Development)

  24. Freedom Fund

  25. Freedom United

  26. Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Foundation

  27. Glom Duayjai 

  28. Green America 

  29. Greenpeace Thailand

  30. Greenpeace USA

  31. Human Rights Watch

  32. Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF)

  33. Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA)

  34. Humanity United Action 

  35. ILGA Asia (Asian Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) 

  36. Inter Mountain People's Education and Culture in Thailand Association

  37. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)

  38. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

  39. International Justice Mission (Thailand)

  40. Jaringan Mangsa Dari Undang–Undang Darurat (JASAD)

  41. Justice for Peace Foundation

  42. Kru Kor Sorn 

  43. Labour Protection Network (LPN)

  44. Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC)

  45. Manushya Foundation

  46. MAP Foundation (Migrant Assistance Program)

  47. MobNews

  48. NGOs for the People 

  49. Patani Human Rights Organization (HAP)

  50. Peace and Human Rights Resource Center (PHRC)

  51. Protection International

  52. SEA Junction

  53. SHero Thailand 

  54. Solidarity Center 

  55. Stop Drink Network Thailand (SDN)

  56. Thai Action Coalition for Democracy in Burma (TACDB)

  57. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)

  58. Thai Teachers for Child Rights Association (TTCR)

  59. Togetherness for Equality and Action (TEA)

  60. Union for Civil Liberty (UCL)

  61. United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration

  62. Verite 

  63. Women4Oceans

  64. Workers’ Union (Thailand)

  65. Young Pride Club (YPC)

 

cc:     Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State

         Wendy R. Sherman, Deputy Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State

 

 

 

 

We Stand in Solidarity with Ukraine!

As the conflict in Ukraine rages on, the Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA) and CIVICUS have prepared this solidarity statement for CIVICUS members and civil society in Ukraine in which we highlight the actions that have been undertaken by civil society and others in response to the conflict.  The statement condemns Russia’s aggression and informs CIVICUS members and civil society in Ukraine that we stand in solidarity with them during these difficult times and are doing our utmost to mobilise different responses using the networks we are all part of.  

***************************Please endorse the statement at the bottom of the page**************************

 

NGO letter to EU Ministers on rule of law and human rights situation in Poland

As the EU General Affairs Council prepares to hold a hearing on 22 February on the rule of law in Poland under the Article 7.1 TEU procedure, the undersigned civil society organisations would like to draw your attention to some alarming developments. Since the Council last discussed the situation in June 2021, a severe and steady decline in the respect for EU values in Poland has continued unabated. Despite the numerous actions undertaken by EU institutions since the procedure was launched in 2017, the Polish government has continued to systematically infringe upon those standards and ignore EU recommendations and the EU Court’s rulings.

 

Citizens' Security Law under reform, Rule of Law in Spain at stake

Commissioner Didier Reynders
European Commission
Rue de la Loi 200 / Wetstraat 200, 1040 Brussels
Cc: Vice President Vera Jourová, Commissioner Helena Dalli

 

Objectif: Citizens’ Security Law under reform, the right to freedom of peaceful

assembly and expression, rule of law in Spain at stake

Honourable Mr Reynders,

This letter is sent on behalf of No Somos Delito, a broad coalition of more than one hundred associations and social movements belonging to a significant segment of the Spanish civil society, together with Defender a quien Defiende, European Civic Forum, CIVICUS and Civil Society Europe.

In 2015, a very restrictive law, the Organic Law on the Protection of Citizen Security (2015/4, commonly known as Gag Law), was adopted in Spain. This Law has strained freedom of assembly and expression, including targeting journalists covering police actions during public gatherings, with negative repercussions on the Rule of Law. The Law is currently in the process of reform.

We are writing to call on the European Commission to implement its mandate of ensuring the Rule of Law is upheld in a key moment for the guarantee of fundamental freedoms and Rule of Law in Spain by:

  • Meeting relevant Spanish CSOs that have been working to mitigate the negative impact of the Law on fundamental rights and the Rule of Law;
  • Expressing publicly with a statement on the Law reiterating the analysis of the 2021 rule of law report on Spain, calling for impact assessment and engagement of civil society in the reform process and for ensuring the reform will address concerns raised;
  • Engaging in dialogue with the Spanish Government to ensure the guarantee of fundamental freedoms and Rule of Law in Spain.

Already in 2015, several UN Special Rapporteurs denounced that this Law represents a threat to fundamental rights and should be rejected[1]. More recently, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe issued an opinion pointing at the disproportionate and arbitrary nature of the restrictions on fundamental freedoms imposed by this Law[2]The European Commission 2021 rule of law report on Spain also stated with regards to the Law that if a "norm leads to abuses in practice, this norm should be changed, circumscribed, or accompanied by additional safeguards" and called for an in-depth assessment of its impact on fundamental rights[3].

After many years of pressure by civil society and human rights groups, finally, the Government started a process of reform of this Law. However, the reform in its current form does not overcome the repressive nature of the Law as it does not address the more detrimental articles concerning the right to freedom of assembly, expression, and information, as well as other human rights.

  • The draft reform does not put in place measures to guarantee the right to freedom of information with regards to the recording of images or video of police officers on duty, which is crucial to ensure police accountability. The sanction for recording police images and personal data "that could endanger the safety of the agents" is not eliminated but qualified. The recording will still be sanctioned when "it entails a certain danger", and it will be the police to decide on this possibility (art. 36.23, serious offence, fine of 601 to 30.000€). This provision has been applied against journalists covering the actions of the law enforcement forces during public demonstrations.
  • The draft reform fails to withdraw the 'presumption of the veracity of police officers (art. 52) from the Law, which continues to allow police arbitrariness and to violate the right to a fair trial (Art.6 ECHR) and the right to an effective remedy (Art. 13 ECHR).
  • The draft reform does not withdraw the most applied offences in the repression of protest, namely "Disobedience" (Art. 36.6) and "Disrespect" (art. 37.4). As pointed out by the Commission of Venice in March 2021, the vague terms allow police arbitrariness and undermine legal certainty[4], putting at risk the Rule of Law.
  • The draft reform fails to guarantee the principle of non-discrimination in the regulation of identifications (art. 16), searches (art. 18) and frisks (art. 20). It does not prohibit ethnic and racial profiling, nor does it implement effective mechanisms for its prevention, as recommended by the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent on its mission to Spain in 2018[5]. Specific measures should also be taken to guarantee the rights of the LGTBIQ+ community. Such measures would contribute to implementing the EU Anti-racism action plan principles and the LGBTIQ Equality strategy.
  • The draft reform also fails to establish mechanisms of control to ensure police accountability, such as proper identification of police officers and to ban the use of rubber bullets as an anti-riot material. This weapon does not allow compliance with international human rights standards because of its lack of precision and traceability[6]. Rubber bullets have been used against journalists while performing their professional duties in public demonstrations[7], which constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of information as sentenced by the European Court of Human Rights[8].

The Citizens' Security Law reform process is a crucial opportunity to strengthen the Rule of Law and protect civic space in Spain. However, without the inclusion of these provisions, the repressive nature of the Citizens' Security Law will remain unaffected and continue to have a negative impact on rights and freedoms. For this reason, we call on your institution to support civil society to protect the Rule of Law in Spain.

Yours sincerely,
No Somos Delito (Spain)
Defender a quien Defiende (Spain)
European Civic Forum (Europe) 
Civil Society Europe (Europe)
CIVICUS (Global)

The civic space in Spain is rated as 'Narrowed' by the CIVICUS Monitor.


1- For more information, see

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15597&LangID=E.

2- For more information, see https://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-AD(2021)004-e.

3- European Commission,  Rule of Law Report Country Chapter on the rule of law situation in Spain, 2021.

4- Opinion by The Venice Commission (22 March 2021)

5- See: https://undocs.org/en/A/HRC/39/69/Add.2

6- Novact and Irídia (2021), Stop Balas de Goma. Report - Executive summary.

7- For more information, see: https://www.eldiario.es/catalunya/jueza-no-identifica-policia-disparo-bala-goma-periodista-protestas-sentencia-proces-archiva-caso_1_6752210.html

8- Najafli c. Azerbaijan (oct.), no. 2594/07, ECHR 2012

 

 

 

Request for support to free imprisoned HRD Dr Abduljalil AlSingace

We, the undersigned human rights organisations, are writing to raise urgent concerns about Bahraini human rights defender Dr Abduljalil AlSingace, who has been on hunger strike since 8 July 2021, to protest the confiscation of his academic research on Bahraini culture. He turns 60 on 15 January 2022. He has been in prison for over a decade in violation of his freedom of expression and assembly rights.

 

Cambodia: Halt crackdown on striking trade union activists

H.E. Dr. Ith Sam Heng
Minister of Labour and Vocational Training
Russian Federation Blvd (110),
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Your Excellency,

Cambodia: Halt crackdown on striking trade union activists

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global alliance of civil society organisations (CSOs) and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. Founded in 1993, CIVICUS has more than 10,000 members in more than 175 countries throughout the world.

We are writing to you with regards to our concerns around the crackdown against union activists from the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld (LRSU), a casino workers’ union. On 18 December 2021, around 2000 members from LRSU went on strike in the capital Phnom Penh demanding, among other things, the reinstatement of 365 workers laid off by the company in April 2021. They had refused to accept termination packages from the Hong Kong-listed casino group NagaCorp.

According to human rights groups, the layoffs unfairly targeted union members and leaders. Union leaders have filed complaints to the Ministry of Labour and Arbitration Council arguing the company violated Cambodian law and several ILO conventions. The layoffs were also often accompanied by improper compensation, according to LRSU leaders.

According to a report received, the authorities have attempted to disrupt the strike and arrested union activists involved. Soon after the strike had begun, representatives from the Phnom Penh municipal court read out a provisional disposition declaring the strike action to be illegal and ordering striking workers to resume work.

On the evening of 31 December 2021, there was a large presence of police around the strike site and a drone was seen flying over despite it being a drone-prohibited area. The police then detained eight union members from the union’s office in Chamkarmon district. They include Chhim Sokhorn, Kleang Soben, Sun Sreypich, Hai Sopheap, Ry Sovandy, Rin Phalla, Eng Sreybo and Sun Sreymom. Police arrested a ninth worker, Touch Sereymeas, on her way back home after the strike. The police claimed that arrests were made because of the union’s ‘illegal strike’ affecting public order and social security. The police also attempted to arrest another LRSU member, Choup Channat, who was often on a megaphone at the strike site in front of Naga World. However, Channat managed to get away from the site.

While three activists were released after signing contracts with the police, six were questioned at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on 3 January and formally charged with ‘incitement’ under Articles 494 - 495 of the Criminal Code. They are all being held in pre-trial detention at Correction Centre 2 (CC2) prison.

On 3rd January, as the six union activists were being questioned, 17 more protesters were arrested. 16 of them were detained at the Phnom Penh Municipal Police headquarters while one, who is a pregnant woman, was released.

Three other union activists were arrested on 4 January are also facing ‘incitement’ charges. The nine include Ry Sovanndy, Sun Sreypich, Hai Sopheap, Klang Soben, Touch Sereymeas, Chim Sokhon, Sok Narith, Sok Konkhea and Chim Sithar, the LRSU union leader. Sithar was arrested with excessive force by plain clothes police outside the Australian Embassy, as she entered the barricades cordoning off the workers’ strike.

The arrest and charges against the union activists are a violation of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly that are guaranteed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by Cambodia in 1992. These freedoms are also guaranteed in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia (articles 41 and 42) the Law on Peaceful Assembly (article 2) and the Labour Law (article 320). We are also concerned about the use of vaguely worded ‘incitement’ provisions under article 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code which has been systematically used to obstruct and punish the legitimate activities of human rights defenders and critics.

As such, we urge the Cambodian authorities to take the following steps as a matter of priority:

  • Drop the charges against the union activists, release them immediately and unconditionally, and refrain from conducting further reprisals against them;
  • Halt the harassment of the LRSU Union and respect and protect their right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest;
  • Create a safe and enabling environment for activists, human rights defenders and other members of civil society to peacefully exercise their civic freedoms without intimidation, harassment, arrest or prosecution.

We express our sincere hope that you will take these steps to address the concerns highlighted above.

Yours sincerely,

David Kode
Advocacy & Campaigns Lead.
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Cc:

H.E. An Sokkhoeurn, Cambodia's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva

H.E. Mr. Yeap Samnang, Cambodia’s Permanent Representative to ASEAN

H.E. Mrs Polyne Hean, Representative of Cambodia to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)

Ms. Irene Khan, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression

Mr. Clément Voule, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association

Prof. Vitit Muntarbhorn, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia


 Civic space in Cambodia is rated as "repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

Thailand: Withdraw the Draft Act on Not-for-Profit Organisations

Cabinet Ministers of the Royal Thai Government
Government House
1 Phitsanulok Road Dusit
Bangkok, Thailand

Cc: Council of State
All members of the National Assembly of Thailand
National Human Rights Commission of Thailand

Re: The Draft Act on the Operations of Not-for-Profit Organizations B.E…

 

South Korea: Joint letter calling for the immediate passage of a comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Law

National Assembly of the Republic of Korea

1 Uisadang-daero, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul 07233

Republic of Korea

 

ICC urged to resume its investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in the Philippines

Honourable Karim A. A. Khan QC
Prosecutor
The Office of the Prosecutor
International Criminal Court
Oude Waalsdorperweg 10, 2597 AK Den Haag, Netherlands

To ICC Prosecutor Karim A. A. Khan

We, human rights organisations working on the Philippines, call on your office to resume its investigation into alleged crimes against humanity, in relation to the country’s ‘war on drugs’.

In its 10 November 2021 letter, the Philippine Government raised issues of complementarity, citing that it has domestic mechanisms in place to investigate the killings. However, we reiterate concerns that of an estimated tens of thousands killed in the ‘war on drugs’, only a small number were covered in the review of documents by the country’s Department of Justice. Of these cases, the Justice Department cited only procedural errors, and most police officers involved in human rights violations merely received suspensions, raising concerns on the Philippines’ commitment to justice.

The government likewise refuses to investigate the national policy landscape that enabled these killings, including the National Police Commission’s Memorandum Circular, which launched Operation Double Barrel, implementing the President’s ‘war on drugs’. On this account, the highest officials most responsible for the widespread human rights violations are escaping official domestic investigations.

The Philippines’ human rights record speaks for itself. There has only been one criminal conviction out of the huge number of estimated extrajudicial killings. The government continues to refuse to work with the National Human Rights which has done intensive investigations into many cases of such killings.

To date, there has been no independent body established and relatives of victims remain fearful of reprisals should they cooperate with independent investigations.The country’s President has incited violence against his critics while assuring protection to the police officers involved in the ‘war on drugs’. In light of this, what we see is a government that has used domestic mechanisms only to shield perpetrators from international accountability.

We reiterate that the ICC investigation has wider implications beyond the Philippines. When the investigation was announced, it sent a message of hope to victims in the country and across the region where people continue to face State-sponsored violence. Civil society had hoped that the ICC would serve as a deterrent to human rights atrocities perpetrated by many authoritarian leaders across Asia. However, an order of deferment may be used to incite a disregard for international accountability.

We have, over the past five years, documented cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and other crimes against humanity. We work with victims, who, until this day, are afraid to speak because of the real threat of reprisals. The ‘war on drugs’ has expanded into a war on civic space and a war against its people, where critics and civil society opposing the ‘war on drugs’ have been systematically targeted.

As perpetrators of these violations once again try to take power in the coming 2022 national elections, any deferment poses risks that this cycle of impunity will only continue. The ICC was established to provide justice to victims of the gravest violations. We remain committed in supporting the Court in the pursuit of this mission.

Signatories

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
BALAOD Mindanaw
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Karapatan Alliance Philippines
DAKILA - Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism
Human Rights Online Philippines (HRonlinePH)
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDefend)
LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women's Rights)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights)
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)

Civic space in the Philippines is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

Call on INTERPOL to ban the illegal junta from representing Myanmar at its General Assembly

To: Kim Jong Yang, INTERPOL President; Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL General Secretary; the INTERPOL Executive Committee and INTERPOL Member Countries

Dear INTERPOL President Kim Jong Yang, INTERPOL Vice Presidents Benyamina Abbad and Šárka Havránková,INTERPOL General Secretary Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Executive Committee Delegates Khaled Jameel Al Materyeen, Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi, Jean-Jacques Colombi, Rogerio Galloro, Robert Guirao Bailén, Destino Pedro, Olushola Kamar Subair, Jannine Van den Berg, and Member Countries.

We, the undersigned 259 organizations, call on INTERPOL to immediately ban the Myanmar military junta from representing Myanmar as a member of INTERPOL. We demand you ensure that the military junta is excluded from the upcoming 89th INTERPOL General Assembly and all benefits and future cooperation that membership entails.

According to media reports, the Myanmar military junta’s police force is currently representing Myanmar in INTERPOL and its members, led by the Head of Police and Deputy Home Affairs Minister Lieutenant-General Than Hlaing, will act as delegates for the Myanmar government at the INTERPOL General Assembly. This is a matter of grave concern to us and raises serious credibility issues for INTERPOL itself for the following reasons:

  1. The military junta does not represent the government of Myanmar. The international community has refused to recognise the military junta as the legitimate government of Myanmar and has prevented members of the military junta from participating in international forums including the UN General Assembly, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and the ASEAN Summit.
  2. The attempted coup on 1 February 2021, under the leadership of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing by violent means violated the Myanmar Constitution, international law and the principle of rule of law.
  3. The head of the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar recently stated that since the attempted coup the Myanmar military junta’s widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population amounts to crimes against humanity.
  4. The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar, composed of international experts including former members of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar and a former Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, has recently argued that, in addition to crimes against humanity, the Myanmar military is engaging in terrorism and should be classified as a terrorist organization.
  5. Lt. General Than Hlaing, as the junta’s Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Chief of Police, is directly responsible for decision making concerning repressive policies and violent actions committed by police against peaceful demonstrators and is therefore responsible for serious human rights violations in Myanmar/Burma.
  6. For this and other reasons, Lt. General Than Hlaing has been placed by the European Union under a travel ban and asset freeze as of 3 March 2021.
  7. Targeted sanctions against Lt. General Than Hlaing also remain in place by the US, UK, and Canada (overview with links here).
  8. Lt General Than Hlaing has been appointed to lead operations in Chin State. Escalating military attacks against civilians there and in Sagaing and Magwe Regions have caused rights groups to draw similarities to “clearance operations” used to violently oppress the ethnic Rohingya population – now at issue in the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice

INTERPOL’s vision is to connect police for a “safer world” and to support security for the world’s citizens. The people of Myanmar are in dire need of safety and security. The single biggest threat to their security is the Myanmar military junta, who is attempting to represent Myanmar in INTERPOL and use the General Assembly as a platform for political gain and international legitimacy. This will embolden the Myanmar military to continue to commit international crimes with blanket impunity.

We note that countering the threat of terrorism is the first of INTERPOL’s seven Global Policing Goals, and INTERPOL has a responsibility to counter and disrupt terrorism wherever it occurs, including in Myanmar.

We draw your attention to condemnation by the UN Security Council regarding the junta following the February 2021 coup, including a November 2021 statement by the Council’s President Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez citing “deep concern at further recent violence across Myanmar”.

We note that upholding human rights is central to INTERPOL’s mandate. We implore you to meet the commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated in Article 2 of the Constitution of the ICPO-INTERPOL. Recognizing the Myanmar military junta, responsible for systemic and grave human rights violations would be a clear violation of this article.

We appeal to you to adhere to INTERPOL’s commitment to political neutrality stated in Article 3 of the INTERPOL Constitution. Awarding an unlawful military junta that lacks domestic and international recognition with legitimacy would violate this article, and amount to a partisan intervention that would embolden the military to continue to commit international crimes with total impunity.

Instead of legitimizing the military junta through INTERPOL membership, we appeal to you to uphold international law by supporting the ongoing investigation at the International Criminal Court concerning crimes of genocide against the Rohingya, and future investigations, to bring all perpetrators of Myanmar atrocities to account. The Myanmar military must be recognized as a terrorist organization, not recognized as representatives of the Myanmar people who are the very victims of the junta’s daily barrage of violence that INTERPOL aims to protect.

We therefore call on INTERPOL to:

  • Ban the Myanmar military junta from INTERPOL, including the 89th General Assembly.
  • Support efforts to bring Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing, Lt Gen Than Hlaing and all other perpetrators of atrocity crimes to justice by identifying and arresting suspects.
  • Take all measures available to prevent the Myanmar military junta’s continued acts of terrorism by disrupting terrorism movement and tracing and disrupting their international revenue and arms supply networks.

At this fragile and crucial time in Myanmar, INTERPOL and their member countries must act in the interests of the safety and security of Myanmar people, victims and survivors of crime and in accordance with international law and norms.

-----

For more information, please contact:

Khin Ohmar, Progressive Voice,

Veronica Pedrosa, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights,

Annie Boyajian, Freedom House,

Signed by:

  1. 8888 Generation (New Zealand)
  2. Action Committee for Democracy Development
  3. Activists Group for Human Rights ‘BARAM’
  4. Albany Karen Community, Albany
  5. All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress
  6. All Burma Democratic Face in New Zealand
  7. ALL FOR LITTLE ONE
  8. Alliance for Gender Inclusion in Peace Process (AGIPP)
  9. Alternative Solutions for Rural Communities (ASORCOM)
  10. ALTSEAN-Burma
  11. Arizona Kachin Community
  12. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights – APHR
  13. Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
  14. Asian Dignity Initiative
  15. Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
  16. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
  17. Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
  18. Auckland Kachin Community NZ
  19. Auckland Zomi Community
  20. B-Farm
  21. Blood Money Campaign
  22. Boat People SOS
  23. Burma Action Ireland
  24. Burma Campaign UK
  25. Burma Human Rights Network
  26. Burma Rohingya Organisation UK
  27. Burmese Relief Center - Japan
  28. Burmese Rohingya Welfare Organisation New Zealand
  29. Burmese Women’s Union
  30. Calgary Karen Community Association (CKCA)
  31. California Kachin Community
  32. Campaign for a New Myanmar
  33. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights Committee (CENTRAL)
  34. Chin Community of Auckland
  35. CHRF
  36. Christian Solidarity Worldwide
  37. Citizen of Burma Award-New Zealand
  38. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  39. Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA)
  40. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
  41. Committee for Religions Freedom in Vietnam
  42. COVIL
  43. CRPH & NUG Supporters Austria
  44. CRPH & NUG Supporters Ireland
  45. CRPH Funding Ireland
  46. Dallas Kachin Community
  47. DANA
  48. Decency & Clarity
  49. DEEKU-Karenni Community of Amarillo, TX
  50. Democracy for Myanmar - Working Group (NZ)
  51. Democracy, Peace and Women’s Organization – DPW
  52. DONEUIDONG
  53. Dongjadong Sarangbang
  54. Edmonton Karen Community Youth Organization
  55. Education Community Woorijari Social Cooperation
  56. Equality Myanmar
  57. European Karen Network
  58. Federal Myanmar Benevolence Group (NZ)
  59. Federation of General Workers Myanmar
  60. Federation of Workers' Union of the Burmese Citizen in Japan
  61. Freedom House
  62. Future Light Center
  63. Future Thanlwin
  64. Gangbuk Housing Welfare Center
  65. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
  66. Gender Equality Network
  67. Georgia Kachin Community
  68. Global Movement for Myanmar Democracy (GM4MD)
  69. Global Myanmar Spring Revolution
  70. Gwangju Asia sisterhood
  71. Gyeonggi Association of Self-Sufficiency Promotion Center
  72. HANBARAGI
  73. Houston Kachin Community
  74. Human Rights Foundation of Monland
  75. Incorporated Organization Shilcheon Bulgyo
  76. Independent Trade Union Federation (INTUFE)
  77. Info Birmanie
  78. Initiatives for International Dialogue
  79. International Campaign for the Rohingya
  80. International Child Rights Center
  81. International Karen Organisation
  82. International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
  83. Iowa Kachin Community
  84. Jangsuwon
  85. JCMK
  86. JPIC of Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill
  87. Junta Denouncing Committee Korea
  88. Justice For Myanmar
  89. Kachin American Community (Portland – Vancouver)
  90. Kachin Community of Indiana
  91. Kachin Community of USA
  92. Kachin Gender Star Group
  93. Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
  94. Kaesong Tourism Center
  95. Kansas Karenni community, KS
  96. Karen American Association of Milwaukee, WI
  97. Karen Association of Huron, SD
  98. Karen Community of Akron, OH
  99. Karen Community of Canada (KCC)
  100. Karen Community of Czech Republic
  101. Karen Community of Finland
  102. Karen Community of Hamilton
  103. Karen Community of Iowa, IA
  104. Karen Community of Ireland
  105. Karen Community of Israel
  106. Karen Community of Kansas City
  107. Karen Community of Kitchener & Waterloo
  108. Karen Community of Leamington K
  109. Karen Community of Lethbridge
  110. Karen Community of London
  111. Karen Community of Minnesota, MN
  112. Karen Community of North Carolina
  113. Karen Community of Ottawa
  114. Karen Community of Regina
  115. Karen Community of Saskatoon
  116. Karen Community of Thunderbay
  117. Karen Community of Toronto
  118. Karen Community of Windsor
  119. Karen Community of Winnipeg
  120. Karen Community Society of British Columbia (KCSBC)
  121. Karen Human Rights Group
  122. Karen Organization of America
  123. Karen Organization of Illinois, IL
  124. Karen Thai Group
  125. Karen Women’s Organization
  126. Karen Youth Education Pathways
  127. Karen Youth Networks
  128. Karen Youth of Norway
  129. Karen Youth of Toronto
  130. Karen Youth Organization
  131. Karenni Civil Society Network
  132. Karenni Community of Arizona, AZ
  133. Karenni Community of Arkensas, AK
  134. Karenni Community of Austin, TX
  135. Karenni Community of Bowling Green, KY
  136. Karenni Community of Buffalo, NY
  137. Karenni Community of Chicago, IL
  138. Karenni Community of Colorado, CO
  139. Karenni Community of Dallas, TX
  140. Karenni community of Des Moines, IA
  141. Karenni Community of Florida, FL
  142. Karenni Community of Fort Worth, TX
  143. Karenni Community of Georgia, GA
  144. Karenni Community of Houston, TX
  145. Karenni Community of Idaho, ID
  146. Karenni Community of Indianapolis, IN
  147. Karenni Community of Massachusetts, MA
  148. Karenni Community of Michigan, MI
  149. Karenni Community of Minnesota, MN
  150. Karenni Community of Missouri, MO
  151. Karenni Community of North Carolina, NC
  152. Karenni Community of Portland, OR
  153. Karenni Community of Rockford, IL
  154. Karenni Community of San Antonio, TX
  155. Karenni Community of Sioux Falls, SD
  156. Karenni Community of Utah, UT
  157. Karenni Community of Utica, NY
  158. Karenni Community of Washington, WA
  159. Karenni Community of Wisconsin, WI
  160. Karenni Human Rights Group
  161. Karenni National Women’s Organization
  162. Karenni Society New Zealand
  163. Karenni Society of Omaha, NE
  164. Karenni-American Association
  165. Keng Tung Youth
  166. Kentucky Kachin Community
  167. Kijamii Table
  168. Kim Wan Sik (MR)
  169. Korea Christian Solidarity for Democracy and Human Rights in Myanmar
  170. Korea Karen Organization
  171. Korea Karen Youth Organization
  172. Korea Women's Associations United (KWAU)
  173. Korean House for International Solidarity
  174. Korean Solidarity for Overseas Community Organization
  175. Let’s Help Each Other
  176. Louisiana Kachin Community
  177. Maryland Kachin Community
  178. May18 Seoul Memorial Society
  179. Metta Campaign Mandalay
  180. Michigan Kachin Community
  181. Migrant Health Association in Korea WeFriends
  182. Milk Tea Alliance (Friend For Myanmar)
  183. MINBYUN - Lawyers for a Democratic Society International Solidarity Committee
  184. Minnesota Kachin Community
  185. Myanmar Accountability Project
  186. MYANMAR Action Supporters
  187. Myanmar Community Austria
  188. Myanmar Democratic Force (Denmark)
  189. Myanmar Engineers - New Zealand
  190. Myanmar Family Community in Ireland
  191. Myanmar Gonye (New Zealand)
  192. Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)
  193. Myanmar Students Organization
  194. Myanmar Students' Union in New Zealand
  195. National Clergy Conference for Justice and Peace
  196. NeT Organization
  197. Network for Advocacy Action
  198. Network for Human Rights Documentation Burma (ND-Burma)
  199. Neutinamu
  200. New Bodhisattva Network
  201. New York Kachin Community
  202. New Zealand Doctors for NUG
  203. New Zealand Karen Association
  204. New Zealand Zo Community Inc.
  205. No Business With Genocide
  206. North Carolina Kachin Community
  207. NUG & CRPH Supporter Denmark
  208. Nyan Lynn Thit Analytica
  209. Olive Organization
  210. Omaha Kachin Community
  211. Organization of Social Welfare Service Bokumjari
  212. Oversea Karen Organization Japan
  213. Overseas Mon Association. New Zealand
  214. Pa-O Youth Organization
  215. Pennsylvania Kachin Community
  216. People’s Initiatives for Development Alternatives
  217. People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD)
  218. Progressive 3.0
  219. Progressive Korea
  220. Progressive Voice
  221. Pyeongchang
  222. Pyithu Gonye (New Zealand)
  223. RCSD/FSS Chiang Mai University
  224. Rvwang Community Association New Zealand
  225. SAMYANG CITIZENS NETWORK
  226. SARANGBANG Group for Human Rights
  227. Save and Care Organization for Ethnic Women at Border Areas
  228. Save Myanmar Fundraising Group (New Zealand)
  229. Shan Community (New Zealand)
  230. Shan MATA
  231. Sisters 2 Sisters
  232. Sitt Nyein Pann Foundation
  233. Social Action for Community and Development (SACD)
  234. Solidarity for Another World
  235. South Carolina Kachin Community
  236. Support Group for Democracy in Myanmar (Netherlands)
  237. Supporters group for migrant workers in Korea
  238. Suwon Migrants Center
  239. Swedish Burma Committee
  240. Synergy – Social Harmony Organization
  241. Ta’ang Women’s Organization
  242. Ta'ang Legal Aid
  243. Tanintharyi Women Network
  244. Tennessee Kachin Community
  245. The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  246. The People Center for Development and Peace (PDP-Center)
  247. Tongirinreoygeo
  248. Union of Karenni State Youth
  249. US Campaign for Burma
  250. Utica Karen Community, NY
  251. Virginia Kachin Community
  252. Washington Kachin Community
  253. West Virginia Kachin Community
  254. With Gilbut Welfare Foundation
  255. Women Advocacy Coalition – Myanmar (WAC-M)
  256. Women’s League of Burma
  257. Women’s Peace Network
  258. Youth of Kim Dae-jung Foundation
  259. Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP)

Civic space in Myanmar is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

International human rights orgs: Stop ‘paid prioritisation’ bill

 한국어  

Moon Jae-in
President of the Republic of Korea
1 Cheongwadae-ro, Jongno-gu
Seoul 03048
Republic of Korea

Joint open letter to President Moon Jae-in

Re: Respect Net Neutrality, Oppose Bill Mandating ‘Paid Prioritization’ for Content Producers

Dear Mr. President Moon,

We the undersigned thirty (30) human rights and freedom of expression organizations are concerned by your recent apparent support for an amendment to the Telecommunications Business Act that would allow Korean internet service providers (ISPs) to impose financial barriers on content providers’ (CPs) network access. The proposed amendment risks eroding net neutrality in contravention of international standards regarding access to the internet. We call on you to oppose the proposed amendment, and to instead take steps to protect net neutrality in Korea.

The proposal, if passed, would impose the world’s first law mandating paid prioritization by requiring content providers like Naver, Kakao, Netflix, and Google to pay Korean ISPs termination fees based on network usage in order to have their content be sent to the ISP’s customers. This amendment comes a year after the Telecommunications Business Act was last revised to include vaguely defined requirements on content providers to ensure stable internet service, foreboding imposition of some sort of burdens on content providers. Since 2016, Korea has already imposed the world’s first mandatory Sending Party Network Pays (SPNP) rule albeit only among ISPs, where ISPs charge one another for sending data to other ISPs resulting in high internet connectivity charges for content providers.

The new amendment allows ISPs in Korea to restrict access to content based on how much money has been paid by the sender or to block traffic from CPs unable to pay network usage fees. This would contradict the principle of net neutrality, which protects internet users’ rights to access content, applications, services, and hardware of their choice by ensuring all data is treated without discrimination. The plurality and diversity of expression and information on the internet risks being stifled if ISPs are allowed to use their control of network infrastructure to slow, block, or prioritize content depending on whether money has been paid for its delivery.

Net neutrality principles have been upheld as an international human rights standard. In particular, in his 2017 report to the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression stated that “the State’s positive duty to promote freedom of expression argues strongly for network neutrality in order to promote the widest possible non-discriminatory access to information.” Speaking specifically in regards to paid prioritization, as now proposed in Korea, the Special Rapporteur explained that paid prioritization schemes give preferential treatment to certain types of traffic over others for payment, which undermines user choice and forces them to engage with content that has been prioritized without their knowledge. In its 2021 resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet, the UN Human Rights Council further called on States to “ensure net neutrality” and “to prohibit attempts by Internet access service providers to assign priority to certain types of Internet content or application over others for payment or other commercial benefit.”

From a comparative perspective, such practices as now proposed in Korea have previously been banned in the United States under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2011 Preserving the Open Internet order and that ban was also included in the 2015 Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet order . Even though these rules were revoked in 2017 under the Trump administration, the Biden administration in 2021 issued an executive order to restore them and their reimposition is now under review by the FCC. In Europe the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication already rejected a similar proposal in 2012. When the European Union  adopted their Open Internet Regulation in 2015 that protects the principle of Net Neutrality union-wide, a similar decision was made by the European Parliament and the Council of EU member states to not establish a ‘Sending Party Network Pay’-regime that would charge termination fees..

Proponents of the amendment claim that content providers are “free-riding” on Korean ISPs and not paying their fair share, but in reality all users of the internet, including individuals and companies, are already paying for bandwidth and access to content delivery systems. Domestic content providers in Korea are already paying high fees to connect to domestic ISPs, who in turn pay to connect to overseas ISPs, thereby connecting Korea to the world. Small foreign content providers pay to connect to their home ISPs who pay to connect to higher-tier foreign ISPs who help deliver their data to Korean ISPs, while the big foreign content providers like Google and Netflix are spending their own resources to deliver directly to domestic ISPs in Korea or nearby either through sub-sea cables or cache servers. Once connected, these network routers are bound by a mutual promise of delivering data packets to their neighbor routers without discrimination based on origin, type, content, or whether or how much the sender has paid for delivery. It is through this promise of net neutrality and the mutually cooperative efforts to connect to one another that the world has entered the golden age of communication where an ordinary person can start a movement or a business of global scale from his or her computer.

President Moon, you were a human rights lawyer and should understand how, in addition to its economic promise, internet access is crucial to and has become a necessary ingredient of the global democratization and human rights movement. Without net neutrality, people’s ability to share their ideas with many will be severely restricted by the imposition of charges for data delivery. This will impact more than the delivery of streaming media; it will impact the global spread of ideas in the fight for democracy and human rights.

We, therefore, reiterate our call that you immediately oppose the proposed amendments to the Telecommunications Business Act and take positive steps to protect net neutrality in line with Korea’s obligations to protect the right to freedom of expression and access to information. This includes repealing or amending existing laws that challenge net neutrality, such as the requirement on CPs to ensure service stabilization measures and the 2016 SPNP rules.

Signatories:

Human Rights Watch

Article 19

Wikimedia Foundation

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Electronic Frontier Foundation

European Digital Rights (EDRi)

Access Now

PEN America

Public Knowledge

epicenter.works – for digital rights

Open Net Association

Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet

Software Freedom Law Center of India
Internet Freedom Foundation

Southeast Asian Freedom of Expression Net

Citizen D / Državljan D

Wikimedia France

Ubunteam

Last Mile4D

i freedom – Uganda Network

Campaign for Human Rights and Development International

Sassoufit Collective

Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC) Nigeria

Elektronisk Forpost Norge

Chaos Computer Club (Germany)

IT-Pol Denmark

Point of View

Derechos Digitales

MediaJustice

Fight for the Future

Civic space in the Republic of Korea is rated as narrowed by the Civicus Monitor 

 

Another Wave of Atrocity Crimes in Chin State UN Security Council Must Act Now to End Myanmar Junta’s Campaign of Terror

We, the undersigned 521 Myanmar, regional and international civil society organizations, call on the UN Security Council to urgently convene a meeting on the escalating attacks in Chin State, and address the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian, human rights and political crisis in Myanmar. We call for the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution to consolidate international action to stop the military's violent assault against the people of Myanmar. The UN Security Council must also impose a global arms embargo to stop the flow of weapons and dual-use goods to the Myanmar military junta.

It has been nine months since the attempted coup by the brutal Myanmar military. 1,236 people have been killed and 9,667 arbitrarily detained as of 3 November, 2021. The junta has continued its violent assault throughout Myanmar, recently deployed troops and increased its attacks against civilians in Chin State, Sagaing and Magwe Regions in north-western Myanmar, while continuing its attacks in Karenni, Karen and Shan States.

On Friday 29 October, the Myanmar military began shelling the town of Thantlang in Western Chin State, setting as many as 200 houses and at least two churches on fire. Soldiers also deliberately torched houses at random.

Save the Children - whose office in Thantlang was set on fire alongside local civil society organizations including Chin Human Rights Organization - strongly condemned the recent attacks stating “the incident is further evidence of a deepening crisis in Myanmar” as the violence continues to affect large numbers of children across the country. Such indiscriminate attacks against civilians and humanitarian organizations are violations of international law and constitute war crimes.

Following the 1 February attempted coup, Chin State has been at the forefront of some of the strongest resistance to the Myanmar military junta. This has been met with fierce attacks by the military, including use of fighter jets and heavy artillery used against civilians while hundreds have been arbitrarily detained, and dozens killed. Prior to this most recent attack, approximately 10,000 residents had already fled Thantlang as the military junta indiscriminately shot into homes and set off fires by shelling in September. At the time, a Christian pastor who was attempting to put out the fires was shot dead, and his ring finger cruelly cut off and removed, along with his wedding ring. Those displaced have taken shelter in nearby villages and others have sought refuge in India. Many of those who have been displaced have been unable to access humanitarian aid as the junta weaponizes aid for their own political benefit, often blocking access or destroying it in an effort to weaken the resistance.

In early October, amid increasing deployment of heavy weapons and troops by the military junta, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged “the international community to speak with one voice, to prevent the commission of further serious human rights violations against the people of Myanmar.” The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights also warned of greater human rights catastrophe and further mass atrocity crimes amid the deployment of tens of thousands of troops stating, “These tactics are ominously reminiscent of those employed by the military before its genocidal attacks against the Rohingya in Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017.” Echoing these concerns, 29 Rohingya organizations have urged the Council not to repeat the mistakes it made in 2017 by failing to act on warnings of an impending military offensive against the Rohingya.

Since the start of the attempted coup nine months ago, hundreds of Myanmar and international society organizations have repeatedly and vehemently called for the UN Security Council to act. This includes a statement from 92 Chin civil society organizations and Burma Campaign UK, who have called on the UK as the “penholder” of Myanmar at the UN Security Council to urgently act. The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar have also called for the UN Security Council to “issue a resolution to consolidate international action towards resolving the crisis.”

Yet, the Security Council has failed to take any effective actions beyond statements. As the offensives escalate in Chin State, the UN Security Council must act before it is too late. It must convene an urgent meeting on the escalating attacks in Chin State and the overall deepening political, human rights and humanitarian crisis as a result of the Myanmar military leaders search for power and greed that has caused immense suffering. The human security risk not only threatens the people of Myanmar but also regional and thus global security and peace. The Council must immediately build on previous statements with concrete action by adopting a resolution that consolidates international action to resolve the deepening crisis, a global arms embargo to stop the flow of weapons, including dual-use goods, and refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court. The Council must demonstrate that it will take concrete actions to stop the junta from committing further atrocity crimes and posing further risk to human security of the people of Myanmar.

The UN must not continue to fail the people of Myanmar.

For more information, please contact:

  • Khin Ohmar, Progressive Voice,
  • Salai Za Uk, Chin Human Rights Organization, 
  • Tun Khin, Burmese Rohingya Organization UK,

Signed by 521 Myanmar, regional and international civil society organizations* including:

 

  1. 8888 Generation (New Zealand)
  2. Action Committee for Democracy Development
  3. African Great Lakes Action Network
  4. All Burma Democratic Face in New Zealand
  5. All Burma IT Student Union
  6. Alternative Solutions for Rural Communities (ASORCOM)
  7. ALTSEAN-Burma
  8. America Rohingya Justice Network
  9. American Baptist Churches USA
  10. American Rohingya Advocacy
  11. Ananda Data
  12. Anti-Dictatorship in Burma - DC Metropolitan Area
  13. Arakan CSO Network
  14. Arakan Institute for Peace and Development
  15. Arakan Rohingya Development Association – Australia
  16. Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO)
  17. Arakan Rohingya Union
  18. Arizona Kachin Community
  19. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
  20. Asho University Students Association (AUSA)
  21. Asho Youth Organization
  22. Asian Dignity Initiative
  23. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  24. Asian Resource Foundation
  25. Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition
  26. Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
  27. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
  28. Association of Women for Awareness & Motivation (AWAM)
  29. Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
  30. Auckland Kachin Community Inc.
  31. Auckland Zomi Community
  32. Australian Burmese Rohingya Organisation
  33. Backpack Health Workers Team
  34. Balaod Mindanaw
  35. Bangkok Chin University Student Fellowship
  36. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM)
  37. Baptist World Alliance
  38. Blood Money Campaign
  39. British Rohingya Community in UK
  40. Buddhist Solidarity for Reform
  41. Burma Action Ireland 
  42. Burma Campaign UK 
  43. Burma Human Rights Network
  44. Burma Medical Association
  45. Burma Task Force
  46. Burmese American Millennials
  47. Burmese Community Support Group (Australia)
  48. Burmese Democratic Forces
  49. Burmese Rohingya Association in Queensland-Australia (BRAQA)
  50. Burmese Rohingya Association Japan (BRAJ)
  51. Burmese Rohingya Association of North America
  52. Burmese Rohingya Community Australia (BRCA)
  53. Burmese Rohingya Community in Denmark
  54. Burmese Rohingya Community of Georgia
  55. Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
  56. Burmese Rohingya Welfare Organisation New Zealand
  57. Burmese Student Association at UCSB
  58. Burmese Women’s Union
  59. California Kachin Community
  60. Calvary Burmese Church 
  61. Campaign for a New Myanmar
  62. Canadian Burmese Rohingya Organisation
  63. Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative
  64. Cantors' Assembly
  65. CAU Buddhist
  66. CDM Supporter Team (Hakha)
  67. Central Chin Youth Organization (CCYO)
  68. Centre for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia
  69. Cherry Foundation (Yangon), Burma/Myanmar
  70. Chin Baptist Association, North America
  71. Chin Baptist Churches USA
  72. Chin Civil Society Network (CCSN)
  73. Chin Community of Auckland
  74. Chin Community of USA-DC Area 
  75. Chin Education Initiative (CEI)
  76. Chin Human Rights Organization
  77. Chin Humanitarian Assistance Team Rakhine State (CHAT)
  78. Chin Leaders of Tomorrow (CLT)
  79. Chin Literature and Culture Committee (Universities of Yangon)
  80. Chin Student Union - Kalay
  81. Chin Student Union - Pakokku
  82. Chin Student Union - Sittwe
  83. Chin Student Union of Myanmar
  84. Chin University Student Fellowship – Paletwa
  85. Chin University Students in Rakhine State (CUSRS)
  86. Chin Women Organization (CWO)
  87. Chin Women's Development Organization (CWDO)
  88. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  89. Coalition for Democracy
  90. Community Resource Centre (CRC)
  91. Dallas Kachin Community
  92. Darfur and Beyond, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
  93. DEEKU-Karenni Community of Amarillo, TX
  94. Democracy for Ethnic Minorities Organization
  95. Democracy for Myanmar - Working Group (NZ)
  96. Democracy, Peace and Women's Organization – DPW
  97. Equality Myanmar
  98. European Rohingya Council (ERC)
  99. Falam Phunsang Tlawngta Pawlkom
  100. Federal Myanmar Benevolence Group (NZ)
  101. Fidi Foundation (Hakha)
  102. Florida Kachin Community
  103. Free Burma Action Bay/USA/Global
  104. Free Myanmar Campaign USA/BACI
  105. Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC)
  106. Freedom for Burma
  107. Freedom, Justice, Equality for Myanmar
  108. Future Light Center
  109. Future Thanlwin
  110. Gender and Development Institute – Myanmar
  111. Gender Equality Myanmar
  112. Generation Wave
  113. Georgia Kachin Community
  114. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  115. Global Justice Center 
  116. Global Movement for Myanmar Democracy
  117. Global Myanmar Spring Revolution
  118. Global Witness
  119. Globe International Center
  120. Grassroots Movement for Burma
  121. Green Party Korea International Committee
  122. Hakha Campaign for Justice
  123. Hakha University Student Organization (HUSO)
  124. Houston Kachin Community
  125. Human Rights Alert
  126. Human Rights Development for Myanmar
  127. Human Rights Foundation of Monland
  128. Human Rights Watch
  129. Imparsial
  130. Incorporated Organization Shilcheon Bulgyo
  131. Infinite Burma
  132. Initiatives for International Dialogue
  133. Institute for Asian Democracy
  134. Inter Pares
  135. International Campaign for the Rohingya
  136. International Karen Organisation 
  137. Iowa Kachin Community
  138. Ipas
  139. Jewish World Watch
  140. Jogye Order Chapter of Korea Democracy Union
  141. Justice For Myanmar
  142. Kachin Alliance
  143. Kachin American Community (Portland – Vancouver)
  144. Kachin Community of Indiana
  145. Kachin Community of USA
  146. Kachin National Organization USA
  147. Kachin Peace Network (KPN)
  148. Kachin State Women Network
  149. Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
  150. Kanpetlet University Student Organization
  151. Kansas Karenni Community, KS
  152. Karen American Association of Milwaukee, WI
  153. Karen Association of Huron, SD 
  154. Karen Community of Akron, OH 
  155. Karen Community of Iowa, IA 
  156. Karen Community of Kansas City, KS & MO 
  157. Karen Community of Minnesota, MN 
  158. Karen Community of North Carolina, NC 
  159. Karen Environmental and Social Action Network
  160. Karen Human Rights Group
  161. Karen Organization of America
  162. Karen Organization of Illinois, IL
  163. Karen Organization of San Diego
  164. Karen Peace Support Network
  165. Karen Rivers Watch
  166. Karen Women’s Organization
  167. Karen Youth Education Pathways 
  168. Karenni Civil Society Network
  169. Karenni Community of Arizona, AZ
  170. Karenni Community of Arkensas, AK
  171. Karenni Community of Austin, TX
  172. Karenni Community of Bowling Green, KY
  173. Karenni Community of Buffalo, NY
  174. Karenni Community of Chicago, IL
  175. Karenni Community of Colorado, CO
  176. Karenni Community of Dallas, TX
  177. Karenni Community of Des Moines, IA
  178. Karenni Community of Florida, FL
  179. Karenni Community of Fort Worth, TX
  180. Karenni Community of Georgia, GA
  181. Karenni Community of Houston, TX
  182. Karenni Community of Idaho, ID
  183. Karenni Community of Indianapolis, IN
  184. Karenni Community of Massachusetts, MA
  185. Karenni Community of Michigan, MI
  186. Karenni Community of Minnesota, MN
  187. Karenni Community of Missouri, MO
  188. Karenni Community of North Carolina, NC
  189. Karenni Community of Portland, OR
  190. Karenni Community of Rockford, IL
  191. Karenni Community of San Antonio, TX
  192. Karenni Community of Sioux Falls, SD
  193. Karenni Community of Utah, UT
  194. Karenni Community of Utica, NY
  195. Karenni Community of Washington, WA
  196. Karenni Community of Wisconsin, WI
  197. Karenni Human Rights Group
  198. Karenni National Women’s Organization
  199. Karenni Society New Zealand
  200. Karenni Society of Omaha, NE
  201. Karenni-American Association
  202. Kaung Rwai Social Action Network
  203. Keng Tung Youth
  204. Kentucky Kachin Community
  205. Korean Ashram
  206. L'chaim! Jews Against the Death Penalty
  207. Los Angeles Rohingya Association
  208. Louisiana Kachin Community
  209. Manyou Power People
  210. Maryland Kachin Community
  211. Matupi University Student Fellowship
  212. Metta Campaign Mandalay
  213. Metta-Vipassana Center
  214. Michigan Kachin Community
  215. MINBYUN - Lawyers for a Democratic Society International Solidarity Committee
  216. Mindat University Student Union
  217. Minnesota Kachin Community
  218. Mizo Student Fellowship
  219. Myanmar Advocacy Coalition
  220. Myanmar Cultural Research Society (MCRS)
  221. Myanmar Engineers - New Zealand
  222. Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation in Malaysia
  223. Myanmar Gonye (New Zealand)
  224. Myanmar Peace Bikers
  225. Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)
  226. Myanmar Students' Union in New Zealand
  227. Nationalities Alliance of Burma USA
  228. NeT Organization
  229. Network for Human Rights Documentation (ND-Burma)
  230. Never Again Coalition
  231. New Bodhisattva Network
  232. New York Kachin Community
  233. New Zealand Doctors for NUG
  234. New Zealand Karen Association
  235. New Zealand Zo Community Inc.
  236. Ninu (Women in Action Group)
  237. No Business With Genocide
  238. North Carolina Kachin Community
  239. Nyan Lynn Thit Analytica
  240. Olive Organization
  241. Omaha Kachin Community
  242. Overseas Mon Association. New Zealand
  243. Pa-O Women’s Union
  244. Pa-O Youth Organization
  245. Pennsylvania Kachin Community
  246. People’s Initiative for Development Alternatives
  247. People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD)
  248. Progressive Voice
  249. Pyithu Gonye (New Zealand)
  250. Rohingya Action Ireland
  251. Rohingya American Society
  252. Rohingya Arakanese Refugee Committee
  253. Rohingya Community in Netherlands
  254. Rohingya Community in Norway
  255. Rohingya Culture Centre Chicago
  256. Rohingya Human Rights Initiative
  257. Rohingya Human Rights Network (Canada)
  258. Rohingya Organisation Norway
  259. Rohingya Refugee Network
  260. Rohingya Society Malaysia
  261. Rohingya Women Development Network (RWDN)
  262. Rohingya Youth Development Forum (RYDF)
  263. Rvwang Community Association New Zealand
  264. Save and Care Organization for Ethnic Women at Border Areas
  265. Save Myanmar Fundraising Group (New Zealand)
  266. Save the Salween Network
  267. SEA Junction
  268. SEGRI
  269. Shan Community (New Zealand)
  270. Shan MATA
  271. Sitt Nyein Pann Foundation
  272. Solidarity for Another World
  273. South Carolina Kachin Community
  274. Spring Revolution Interfaith Network
  275. Stepping Stone for Peace
  276. Students for Free Burma
  277. Support the Democracy Movement in Burma
  278. Swedish Burma Committee
  279. Swedish Rohingya Association
  280. Synergy - Social Harmony Organization
  281. Ta’ang Women’s Organization
  282. Tedim Youth Association (TYA)
  283. Tennessee Kachin Community
  284. Thantlang Revolutionary Campaigner
  285. Thantlang University Student Organization (TUSO)
  286. Thantlang Youth Association (TYA)
  287. The Center for Freedom of Information
  288. The Pastors Fellowship
  289. The Sound of Hope
  290. The Spring University Myanmar (SUM)
  291. Thint Myat Lo Thu Myar
  292. S. Campaign for Burma 
  293. UION
  294. Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)
  295. Union of Karenni State Youth
  296. Unitarian Universalist Association
  297. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)
  298. Virginia Kachin Community
  299. Washington Kachin Community
  300. West Virginia Kachin Community
  301. Women Peace Network 
  302. Women’s Advocacy Coalition – Myanmar
  303. Women’s League of Burma
  304. WOREC Nepal
  305. Yeollin Seonwon
  306. Zomi Federal Union (ZFU)
  307. Zomi Siamsim Kipawlna - Myanmar
  308. Zotung Student Society (ZSS - Myanmar)

*Note: 213 organizations' names are not disclosed at their request due to security concerns.

Civic space in Myanmar is considered repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

Myanmar’s presence at the ASEAN Summit

To: ASEAN Leaders
H.E. Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Prime Minister of Brunei
H.E Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia
H.E Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia
H.E Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of Laos
H.E Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri, Prime Minister of Malaysia
H.E Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Philippines
H.E Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore
H.E Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand
H.E. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Vietnam

CC: ASEAN Dialogue Partners
H.E. Will Nankervis, Ambassador of Australia to ASEAN
H.E. Diedrah Kelly, Ambassador of Canada to ASEAN
H.E. Deng Xijun, Ambassador of China to ASEAN
H.E. Igor Driesmans, Ambassador of the European Union to ASEAN
H.E. Shri Jayant N. Khobragade, Ambassador of India to ASEAN
H.E. Chiba Akira, Ambassador of Japan to ASEAN
H.E. Lim Sungnam, Ambassador of Korea to ASEAN
H.E. Pam Dunn, Ambassador of New Zealand to ASEAN
H.E. Alexander Ivanov, Ambassador of Russia to ASEAN
H.E. Melissa A. Brown, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., U.S. Mission to ASEAN

Your Excellencies,

We, the undersigned organisations, write to you to urge you not to extend an invitation to Myanmar's military junta to the upcoming ASEAN Summit on 25 to 28 October because of the military’s blatant disregard for the Five Point Consensus agreed at the ASEAN Leaders' Meeting and continuing refusal to cooperate with ASEAN towards its implementation.

We welcome the remarks made by the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia and Malaysia who questioned whether the junta should be invited to the Summit and urge the other Member States to come to the same conclusion.

ASEAN's credibility depends on its ability to act decisively and bring an end to the Myanmar military junta’s relentless violence against the people of Myanmar. A lack of decisiveness and consequences for the military’s total contempt for the ASEAN’s leaders' agreement risks undermining the bloc’s legitimacy as a key regional player that can bring peace and stability.

On 24 April 2021, the leaders of nine Member States and the Myanmar junta, represented by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, agreed on a consensus that included the "immediate cessation of violence", constructive dialogue among all parties, the appointment of an ASEAN special envoy on Myanmar, humanitarian assistance to be delivered to the country, and for the Special Envoy and delegation to visit Myanmar to "meet with all parties concerned".

Myanmar's junta has failed to respect this consensus on every single count.

Since the Myanmar junta agreed to immediately cease the violence on 25th April till the end of September there have been 3,534 attacks either on civilians by the military or armed clashes that failed to protect civilians - that’s an 840% increase from the same period in 2020 (376). Thousands have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety. Violent acts amounting to crimes against humanity have been documented. It is clear that junta leader Min Aung Hlaing will not stop in his attempts to crush the democratic opposition to his rule.

The military junta has also continually opposed any form of dialogue. Zaw Min Tun, the military's spokesman, recently said that dialogue between the ASEAN Special Envoy and the State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the National Unity Government and People's Defence Forces could not take place because they have been declared by the junta as "illegal organizations". The junta's stalling tactics also contributed to the delay in announcing Brunei's Foreign Affairs Minister II Erywan Yusof as ASEAN's special envoy to Myanmar.

While we note aid commitments made to the AHA Centre and delivered through the Myanmar Red Cross, it is important to recall that the Myanmar military’s own actions are creating the current humanitarian crisis engulfing the country. According to the United Nations (UN), three million people require assistance. That number has tripled over the last eight months. In addition to that, there are now 20 million people living below the poverty line – nearly half the population. Yet, the military junta is weaponizing humanitarian aid; blocking the distribution of supplies, placing travel restrictions on humanitarian workers, hoarding and destroying aid, and attacking civilians, health and humanitarian aid workers.

It is clear that Myanmar's military has displayed a flagrant lack of respect for ASEAN, and in fact since the coup, it appears to have used the bloc to try to gain legitimacy while at the same time increasing its brutal reprisals against the people.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also warned that the opportunity to prevent the Myanmar junta from entrenching its rule could be narrowing. He has called for unified regional and international action to prevent the crisis from becoming a large-scale conflict and multi-faceted “catastrophe” in Southeast Asia and beyond.

It is time for ASEAN to act decisively. This starts by denying the Myanmar junta the legitimacy it craves, and which has been rejected constantly by the people of Myanmar. The junta has refused to cooperate with regional and international neighbors, failed to stand by the commitments it has made, and exposed to the world not only its barbaric brutality but also an inability to deal with the deepening social and economic disaster currently taking place in the country, which includes the dereliction of public health services amid the global pandemic.

Reiterating the remarks of Malaysia and Indonesia's foreign ministers, a firm united response by the other Member States is required. The Myanmar junta’s actions must not be accepted as “business as usual.” They are endangering the stability, prosperity, peace and health of the region.

We therefore call on ASEAN leaders to deny the head of the Myanmar military junta a seat at the table and display to him that his callous disregard for the people, and his regional neighbors, does not come free of consequences.

Sincerely,

Signatories:

1. A Lin Thitsar
2. A Lin Yaung Pan Daing
3. A Naga Alin
4. Action Committee for Democracy Development
5. All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress
6. ALTSEAN Burma
7. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
8. Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
9. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
10. Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
11. Backpack Health Workers Team
12. Burma Medical Association
13. Burmese Women’s Union
14. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
15. Democracy for Ethnic Minorities Organization
16. Democracy, Peace and Women's Organization – DPW
17. Equality Myanmar
18. FORUM-ASIA
19. Freedom and Labor Action Group
20. Future Light Center
21. Future Thanlwin
22. Generation Wave
23. Human Rights Foundation of Monland
24. Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
25. Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN)
26. Karen Human Rights Group
27. Karen Peace Support Network
28. Karen River Watch (KRW)
29. Karen Women’s Organization
30. Karenni Civil Society Network
31. Karenni Human Rights Group
32. Karenni National Women’s Organization
33. Keng Tung Youth
34. Let’s Help Each Other
35. Metta Campaign Mandalay
36. Myanmar Peace Bikers
37. Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)
38. Network for Advocacy Action Tanintharyi Women Network
39. Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma (ND-Burma)
40. Olive Organization
41. Progressive Voice
42. Save and Care Organization for Ethnic Women at Border Areas
43. Save the Salween Network (SSN)
44. Shan MATA
45. Southern Youth Development Organization
46. Spring Revolution Interfaith Network
47. Synergy - Social Harmony Organization
48. Tanintharyi MATA
49. Thint Myat Lo Thu Myar
50. Union of Karenni State Youth
51. Women Advocacy Coalition – Myanmar
52. Women’s League of Burma
     1. Burmese Women's Union (BWU)
     2. Kachin Women's Association-Thailand (KWAT)
     3. Karen Women's Organization (KWO)
     4. Karenni National Women's Organization (KNWO)
     5. Kayan Women's Organization (KyWO)
     6. Kuki Women's Human Rights Organization (KWHRO)
     7. Lahu Women's Organization (LWO)
     8. Pa-O Women's Union (PWU)
     9. Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN)
    10. Ta'ang Women's Organization (TWO)
    11. Tavoy Women's Union (TWU)
    12. Women for Justice (WJ)

Civic space in Myanmar is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

Singapore: Withdraw Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Bill

Today, eleven undersigned organizations called on the Government of Singapore to withdraw the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Bill (‘FICA’). FICA’s provisions contravene international legal and human rights principles – including the rights to freedom of expression, association, participation in public affairs, and privacy – and will further curtail civic space, both online and offline.

On October 4, 2021, the Parliament of Singapore passed FICA, three weeks after it was tabled on September 13 by the Ministry of Home Affairs purportedly to “prevent, detect and disrupt foreign interference in (...) domestic politics”. This was despite serious concerns that the law could undermine civic freedoms – raised by members of the public, civil society, legal fraternity, independent media, political opposition, academia and industry in Singapore. The bill went through both its second and third readings in one parliament sitting and FICA was passed without significant amendments to address key concerns.

While the protection of national security may be a legitimate aim, FICA contravenes the rule of law and the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality under international human rights law. Overbroad and ambiguous provisions draw within its scope a wide range of conduct, activities and communications “directed towards a political end in Singapore”. As a result, almost any form of expression and association relating to politics, social justice or other matters of public interest in Singapore may be ensnarled within the ambit of the legislation – making it difficult, in turn, for the average individual to reasonably predict with precision what conduct may fall foul of the law. Vague provisions also allow for unfettered executive discretion in interpretation and implementation of the law. Unlimited executive discretion – together with severe penalties under the law – can result in executive overreach into what it deems permissible as civic discussion and public debate. FICA also provides no mechanism for independent judicial oversight or provision of remedy where human rights violations occur as a result of the enforcement of its provisions. The law thus fails to provide for the least intrusive mechanisms to achieve its stated aim of protecting national security while greatly enhancing the risk of executive abuse.

FICA empowers the Minister for Home Affairs to order the removal or disabling of online content – undermining the right to freedom of expression. The Minister is, for example, empowered to order publication of mandatory messages drafted by the authorities, ban apps from being downloadable in Singapore, and order disclosure of private communications and information, when the Minister “suspects or believes” that someone is undertaking or planning to undertake online communications activity “on behalf of a foreign principal”, and that it is in the “public interest” to act. The law makes it a criminal offence to undertake “clandestine” electronic communications on behalf of a foreign principal under certain circumstances, including when that activity “diminishes or is likely to diminish public confidence in (...) the Government or a public authority” or “is likely to be directed towards a political end in Singapore”. Activity “directed towards a public end” includes conduct influencing or seeking to influence government decisions or public opinion on matters of “public controversy” or “political debate” in Singapore. The government can also designate individuals as “politically significant persons” after which they can be required to follow strict limits on sources of funding and disclose all links with foreigners or foreign entities.

FICA’s provisions can also facilitate violations of the rights to freedom of association and participation in public affairs. “Conduct” committed in connection with a “foreign principal” and “directed towards a political end in Singapore” is criminalized where this involves “covert” communication or “deception” – which is defined as including any “deliberate” use of “encrypted communication platforms”. The expansive and vaguely worded definition of activities “directed towards a political end” can cover a broad range of activities – including social justice advocacy, artistic commentary, academic research, social enterprise or journalistic reporting – carried out by, among others, members of civil society, academia, media, the arts and industry. Meanwhile, the overbroad configuration of connection with a “foreign principal” as “arrangements” with any “foreigner” or “non-Singapore registered entity” that can be “written or unwritten” brings within the law’s remit nearly all forms of cross-border collaboration or engagement. Use of “encrypted platforms” as a reflection of “covert” communications also allows for criminal intent to be inferred from a wide range of modes of communications via modern electronic devices and platforms – including through encrypted messaging and email services; and the use of online platforms through secure connection services, such as virtual private networks (VPNs).

FICA will disproportionately impact members of civil society, independent journalists, academics, researchers, artists, writers and other individuals who express opinions, share information and collaborate to advocate on socio-political issues and matters of public interest. As their work can involve critical opinions and is often underpinned and supported by cross-border collaboration, research and funding, they are exposed to increased scrutiny and sanctions under FICA. The issues on which they work will also come under increased State oversight and control. Executive oversight and control can, in turn, infringe not only their rights to freedom of expression and association but the rights of other individuals in Singapore who rely on their work to participate in public affairs, which includes conduct of citizens to “exert influence through public debate and dialogue with their representatives or through their capacity to organize”.

Severe penalties under FICA are disproportionate. In addition, many of those penalties may be imposed without adequate independent oversight or remedy in case of human rights violations, which can result in a chilling effect on civic space and discussion. Directions can be issued by the authorities to censor, restrict or block access to online content, accounts, services, apps or locations deemed to violate the law. The law also allows for the authorities to designate “politically significant” individuals and entities and order them to “disclose foreign affiliations” and “arrangements” or to end “reportable arrangements”. However, there is a lack of independent oversight over these restrictions and designations. These directions may only be appealed to a Reviewing Tribunal appointed by the President on advice of the Cabinet, and decisions made by this Tribunal cannot be appealed to the High Court except for non-compliance with procedural requirements. Further, individuals can face criminal sanctions under the law for “clandestine foreign interference by electronic communications activity” and non-compliance with directions, which may result in steep fines and imprisonment terms. These criminal offences are arrestable and non-bailable.

These penalties and restrictions not only risk undermining the right to privacy, but increase the risk of individuals self-censoring and deliberately deciding not to participate in or engage with cross-border networks to avoid potentially falling foul of the law. Their negative impacts can be particularly severe on independent online platforms, which can be banned from receiving funding or other financial support from foreign individuals or entities, and on journalists, political commentators, civil society members and community researchers who often nurture public opinion and debate through information, opinions and advocacy shared online.

In light of these significant concerns, we request that the Government of Singapore withdraw FICA. The law risks imminently and substantially narrowing already limited civic space in the country – particularly where this space is significantly restricted through abuse of other existing laws such as defamation and contempt of court provisions; the Protection Against Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), the Public Order Act and the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act. The imminent enactment and future enforcement of FICA will significantly undermine the Government of Singapore’s obligations under international law to protect, promote and fulfil human rights – instead allowing for the State to expand curtailment of civic freedoms to the detriment of its people.

Signatories:

Access Now
Amnesty International
ARTICLE 19
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Digital Defenders Partnership
Human Rights Watch
International Commission of Jurists
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
Wikimedia Foundation

Summary Legal Analysis

International legal principles are clear that even as the protection of national security is a legitimate purpose for the restriction of certain rights, restrictions must be narrowly defined, strictly necessary and proportionate to this aim. The UN Human Rights Committee has clarified that this three-part test of legality, necessity and proportionality applies to freedom of expression. Limitations on this right must “conform to the strict tests of necessity and proportionality” and be “directly related to the specific need on which they are predicated”. Restrictions on the right to freedom of expression also negatively impact upon the rights to association and participation in public affairs as freedom of expression underpins the “free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens, candidates and elected representatives”. Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has noted that the three-part test also applies to the right to privacy in the digital age – noting that any interference with privacy must be “necessary and in proportion to” a legitimate aim, “be the least intrusive option available,” and “not render the essence of the right meaningless”.

Overbroad and ambiguous provisions

FICA’s overbroad and ambiguous provisions allow for abusive interpretation and implementation by the authorities, while failing to provide clarity to the public on what conduct would fall foul of the legislation. Its potential to encompass a wide range of conduct fails to ensure compliance with the principle of legality and confers overbroad discretion in interpretation and implementation upon those charged with enforcement of the law.

FICA applies to “conduct” engaged on behalf of a “foreign principal” directed “towards a political end in Singapore”. (ss 4; 8) This includes “arrangements” with any “foreigner” or “non-Singapore registered entity” that can be “written or unwritten” to “influence or seek to influence” “public opinion” on matters of “public controversy” or “to promote or oppose political views, or public conduct relating to activities that have become the subject of a political debate”. (ss 4; 5; 8(f); 8(g))

Criminal penalties apply where a person “undertakes electronic communications activity on behalf of a foreign principal” in a “covert” or other manner that “involves deception” which results in the publication in Singapore of “information or material” which “is likely to be prejudicial” to “public tranquillity” or “public order”; “likely to diminish public confidence in the Government” or is “likely to be directed towards a political end.” (ss 17-19)

The expansive and vaguely worded definition of activities “directed towards a political end” encompasses a broad range of activities – including social justice advocacy, artistic commentary, academic research, social enterprise or journalistic reporting relating to a “political” issue – of civil society, academia, media, the arts and industry, amongst others. Individuals and organizations are therefore unable to accurately define what conduct can risk violating the law. Engagement “on behalf of a foreign principal”, for example, can also cover collaboration with foreign actors to conduct and share research; receive funding to hold events or implement projects; and cross-border training and education.

Matters of “public controversy” and “political debate” can also overbroadly apply to pertinent issues of public interest on which individuals engage – potentially limiting their rights to freedom of expression, association and participation in public affairs. This risks impacting particularly on civil society engaging in research and advocacy – whose purpose is specifically to nurture and direct “political debate” on matters of public interest, including “controversy”, and to oversee and check powers of the executive. There is a risk that the authorities may bring within FICA’s remit civil society’s cross-border engagement and information-sharing, both of which are fundamental to policy and advocacy work, thereby negatively affecting collaboration among civil society actors in Singapore and organizations based outside the country, such as the organizations that are signatories to this statement.

“Public tranquillity” and matters which “likely diminish public confidence in the Government” also allow for an overly broad interpretation to target critical commentary on government policy even in the absence of any legitimate reason to limit freedom of expression. “Covert” conduct includes “deliberately moving onto encrypted communication platforms” (p. 205), which can apply to the use of most modern electronic devices and be relied on to infer criminal intent from a broad range of potential communications – including through encrypted messaging and email services; and the use of online platforms through secure connection services, such as virtual private networks (VPNs).

Unfettered executive discretion

FICA allows for unfettered executive discretion to censure expression and association deemed impermissible by the State. In fact, it provides for wide potential for the authorities to encroach on the rights to free expression, association, participation in public affairs, and privacy, even in circumstances when such encroachment is not strictly necessary to achieve the purported aim of protecting national security.

FICA allows authorities to designate individuals and entities as “politically significant” if their activities are “directed in part towards a political end” and if “it is in the public interest”. (ss 47, 48) This can result in any individual being potentially targeted under the law for expression or advocacy on issues relating to politics or public interest in Singapore. It can also apply to any individual currently working on these issues for a foreign organization or in collaboration with foreign actors – either through academic, civil society or other modes of arrangement.

Designated “politically significant” individuals and entities can be ordered to “disclose foreign affiliations” and “arrangements” through reports to the authorities on their activities, even where they are “not directed towards a political end in Singapore”. (ss 76, 78) The authorities can also direct these “reportable arrangements” to end. (s 84) This can result in infringements of the rights to privacy and association of designated individuals working on issues of social concern in Singapore – particularly journalists, academics and researchers who may be required to reveal information and communications with foreign actors in contravention of professional ethics. Designated “politically significant” journalists and independent media outlets can also be issued a “transparency directive” – requiring them to disclose any “political matter with a foreign link” published in Singapore and identify the author’s name and nationality and any links to a “foreign principal”. (s 81)

FICA also prohibits “politically significant” individuals and entities from accepting “donations” from “impermissible donors” who are not Singaporean individuals or companies (ss 55, 56); caps anonymous donations at S$5,000 a year (ss 57, 58); and bans foreigners from provision of “voluntary labour” to such individuals and entities. (ss 55, 56) These provisions risk being abused to muzzle social justice initiatives, civil society organizations and independent media outlets that rely on independent funding and potential support of individuals who are not Singaporeans to volunteer work or research time.

Notably, FICA empowers the authorities to order any person to “provide any document or any information or material” on activities “directed towards a political end in Singapore” where it is deemed “necessary” for the exercise of powers under FICA. (s 108) This potentially violates the rights to privacy and association of any individual in connection with any individual or entity in relation to any matter under FICA – with a penalty of a fine of up to S$5,000 (approx. US$3,685) and continuing fines of up to S$500 (approx. US$368) for “every day or part of a day” of non-compliance. (s 108)

Severe penalties

Severe penalties can result in a chilling effect on the free exercise of the rights to expression, association, and participation in public affairs. Directions can be issued by the authorities under Part 3 of the law to “stop”, “disable” or “block access to” online content; and “restrict accounts or services” and “remove apps” for apparent violations. An online location which is deemed a “proscribed online location” by the Minister (s 24) on a Part 3 direction can then be prohibited from “soliciting or procuring” “any expenditure to operate” or for “services” provided for the platform. (s 39) Non-compliance with these restrictions amounts to a criminal offence, which is arrestable and non-bailable. Individuals can be slapped with severe criminal sanctions for alleged “clandestine foreign interference by electronic communications activity” – they can be fined up to S$100,000 (approx. US$74,000) and/or imprisoned for up to fourteen years. (ss 17 – 19)

The UN Human Rights Committee has noted that criminal sanctions constitute severe interference with the right to freedom of expression and are disproportionate responses in all but the most egregious cases. These severe penalties are likely to exert a chilling effect on everyone, and particularly on journalists, political commentators, civil society members, academics and community researchers, who often publish information and opinions online.

Lack of independent judicial oversight

FICA does not provide for any independent oversight or remedial mechanism to address potential human rights violations. Appeals against Part 3 directions and Part 4 designations are provided for under the law – however, they are to first be made to the Minister in charge of issuing the order in the first place (ss 92, 93) and/or to a “Reviewing Tribunal” chaired by a Supreme Court Judge but consisting of three individuals closely linked to the government, “each of whom is appointed by the President on the advice of the Cabinet”. (s 94) The rules for such Tribunal’s proceedings are to, in turn, be determined by the Minister for Home Affairs. (s 99)

Independent judicial review is severely limited as any appeal decision made by the Reviewing Tribunal, Minister or other authorities is “final” and “not to be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed or called in question in any court” – except where the requested review of the Tribunal’s or Minister’s decision refers to procedural requirements, that will not analyze substantive questions relating to executive implementation of the law. (s 104) This limitation on the judiciary’s review powers undermines the rule of law, which requires judicial oversight as a check and balance against the executive’s exercise of discretionary power. Lack of oversight accentuates risks of violations perpetuated by severe penalties and the law’s stipulation that non-compliance with any order is an offence with penalties incurred from the time of alleged offending, regardless of any appeal.

Civic space in Singapore is rated as "obstructed" by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

UAE: Appeal for UAE to release detained human rights activists ahead of Dubai Expo

UAE Open Letterعربي

 

Your Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan,

As the Expo Dubai 2020 opens for six months starting on 1 October 2021 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) under the motto “Connecting Minds and Creating the Future through sustainability, mobility and opportunity”, we the undersigned call on the Emirati authorities to demonstrate their commitment to these values by releasing all imprisoned human rights defenders and activists, detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

We further call on the UAE authorities to comply with international standards for prisoners, including by allowing regular family visits, access to healthcare and regular consultations with their lawyers, and ending the practice of holding them in solitary confinement.

Approaching ten years behind bars, the group of pro-democracy advocates, known as the “UAE 94”, remain unjustly jailed for signing an online petition calling for political reform in 2011. Following a grossly unfair mass trial, 69 members of the UAE 94 were sentenced to between seven and 15 years, including eight in absentia. They are held in Al-Razeen prison, a maximum-security facility in the desert of Abu Dhabi, where activists, government critics and human rights defenders are commonly held. They face arbitrary and unlawful disciplinary measures, such as solitary confinement, deprivation of family visits, and intrusive body searches.

Sentenced to seven years in prison, four of these political prisoners remain imprisoned even after completing their sentences, according to Emirati activists. Abdullah Al-Hajiri, Omran Al-Radwan Al-Harathi and Mahmoud Hasan Al-Hosani completed their sentences in 2019, and Fahd Al-Hajiri in 2020. Instead of being granted release, these prisoners were transferred to a so-called Munasaha centre, a “counselling centre” within Abu Dhabi’s Al-Razeen prison facility. Three UAE 94 prisoners currently serving 10-year sentences are human rights lawyers Dr. Mohammed Al-Roken and Dr. Mohammed Al-Mansoori, and Mohammed Abdul Razzaq Al-Siddiq.

Prior to the authorities’ arbitrary dissolution of the UAE’s Jurists Association in 2011, Dr. Al-Roken and Dr. Al-Mansoori served terms as its president. In 2012, they were arbitrarily arrested for signing the 2011 reform petition and for their dedicated work as human rights lawyers defending victims of repression. Detained in Al-Razeen prison, the men reported that they were tortured, as well as subjected to arbitrary disciplinary measures such as denial of family visits, according to Emirati activists.

In 2011, Dr. Al-Roken bravely defended five human rights activists in a case known as the “UAE5”. Among them were prominent human rights activist and poet Ahmed Mansoor and academic Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith. Although the defendants in the case were pardoned by presidential decree at the time, both Mansoor and bin Ghaith were given 10-year prison sentences in subsequent cases, which involved grossly unjust trials on spurious charges.

Ahmed Mansoor serves on the advisory boards of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division and won the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015. Since his second arrest in March 2017, he has been held in solitary confinement in a 4 x 4 meter cell with no bed or mattress in Al-Sadr prison, Abu Dhabi. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in May 2018. In protest, he went on two hunger strikes in March and September 2019, which have severely impacted his health. His condition has been further exacerbated by the denial of adequate medical care.

Economist Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith has faced similar mistreatment in prison, where he had to resort to three separate hunger strikes to attempt to bring attention to his unjust conviction and inhumane detention conditions. Dr. Bin Ghaith, a lecturer at the Abu Dhabi branch of Paris-Sorbonne University, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his online criticism of the Emirati and Egyptian authorities. Despite his hunger strikes, prison authorities have consistently denied Dr. Bin Ghaith appropriate medical care, including his prescribed blood pressure medication.

In September 2021, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for “the immediate and unconditional release of Ahmed Mansoor, Mohammed al-Roken and Nasser bin Ghaith as well as all other human rights defenders, political activists and peaceful dissidents." The resolution insists that the Emirati government “guarantee that human rights defenders in the UAE are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities in all circumstances, both inside and outside the country, without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment.” This is far from being the case: the UAE authorities have squashed dissenting voices to such a degree in recent years that it can now be said that there are no human rights defenders left in the country, and freedom of expression and civic space are virtually non-existent.

In light of the upcoming Dubai Expo, and the UAE’s candidacy for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2022, we urge the Emirati government to consider using this opportunity to prove to the international community a true commitment to human rights by unconditionally releasing all jailed human rights defenders. In particular, we urge the authorities to free all prisoners who have been denied release after the completion of their sentence. Their ongoing detention constitutes an outrageous violation of both domestic and international law.

Pending their release, we appeal to Your Highness to ensure that prisoners are granted access to basic amenities in their cells such as a bed, blankets in winter and air conditioning in summer, to have regular family visits, and to be allowed outside their cells to have contact with other prisoners in the canteen or the yard, as provided for by the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. With the spotlight on the UAE from October 2021 to March 2022, the Emirati government has a unique opportunity to show good-will and a commitment to international law by addressing the aforementioned human rights abuses, including by releasing from prison our jailed friends and colleagues.

Sincerely,


Signatories:


1. ACAT Cameroon
2. ACAT Canada
3. ACAT Central African Republic
4. ACAT Germany
5. ACAT Italia
6. ACAT UK
7. Access Center for Human Rights (Wousoul)/Centre d'accès pour les droits de l'homme (ACHR)
8. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) Belgium/Belgique/Belgie
9. ActiveWatch
10. Africa Freedom Information Centre (AFIC)
11. Albanian Media Institute (AMI)
12. ALQST for Human Rights
13. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
14. Amman Center for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS)
15. Amnesty International
16. Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights
17. Arab Organisation for human Rights in the UK
18. Article 19
19. Association Marocaine des droits de l’Homme
20. Bahrain Press Association BPA
21. Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights
22. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM)
23. Bytes for All, Pakistan
24. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
25. Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility
26. CIVICUS
27. Detained International
28. Emirates Detainees Advocacy Centre (EDAC)
29. European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)
30. Federal Association of Vietnamese Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany
31. FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
32. Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Économiques et Sociaux (FTDES)
33. Freedom Expression Institute (FXI)
34. Front Line Defenders
35. Global Voices Advox
36. Globe International Center
37. Greek Helsinki Monitor
38. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
39. Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners
40. Human Rights Sentinels
41. Human Rights Watch
42. IFoX Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey
43. Independent Journalism Center
44. Innovation for Change Middle East and North Africa (I4C MENA)
45. International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL)
46. International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE)
47. International Press Centre (IPC)
48. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
49. Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI)
50. JusticeMakers Bangladesh
51. Landless Workers Movement (MST)
52. Lawyers for Lawyers
53. Lebanese Center for Human Rights
54. Ligue Algérienne de défense des droits de l’Homme
55. Media for West Africa (MFWA)
56. Media Institute for Southern Africa, Zimbabwe (MISA)
57. Medical Action Group, Inc.
58. MENA Rights Group
59. Metro Center For Journalists Rights & Advocacy
60. Mwatana for human rights
61. Odhikar
62. PEN America
63. PEN Canada
64. PEN International
65. Programme Against Custodial Torture and Impunity (PACTI)
66. Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
67. Promo LEX Association, Republic of Moldova
68. Social Media Exchange (SMEX)
69. SOHRAM-CASRA Centre Action Sociale Réhabilitation et Réadaptation pour les Victimes de la Torture, de la guerre et de la violence
70. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression
71. The South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEEMO)
72. Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD)
73. UIA-IROL (Institute for the Rule of Law of the International Association of Lawyers)
74. Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State
75. World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)
76. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Civic space in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is rated as 'closed' by the CIVICUS Monitor.

 

Indonesia: Government should immediately withdraw arbitrary charges against Fatia Maulidiyanti & Haris Azhar

The Indonesian government should put an end to the judicial harassment against human rights defenders Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar, and uphold the right to freedom of expression, a group of human rights organisations said.

‘The Government of Indonesia must uphold its international human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as well as its own national constitution which protects the right to freedom of expression,’ said the groups.

The groups urged the Indonesian government to ensure that all persons can express their opinions without fear of reprisals and to ensure its actions are compliant with Indonesia’s Constitutional protections for human rights and the ICCPR, of which Indonesia is a State Party. The National Human Rights Institution, Komnas HAM, must also work towards ensuring the protection of defenders facing judicial harassment, the groups said.

On 22 September, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment filed a police report against human rights defenders Fatia Maulidiyanti, Coordinator of the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras), and Haris Azhar, Founder of Lokataru Foundation. The police report alleges that the two individuals violated criminal defamation provisions (Article 310 (1) of the Penal Code), and the controversial Electronic Information and Transaction law (EIT Law). Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has reportedly demanded IDR 300 billion, approximately USD 21 million, in compensation.

The report was filed after subpoenas were earlier sent to the two human rights defenders, following a talk show on Haris Azhar’s YouTube channel, titled ‘Ada Lord Luhut di balik Relasi Ekonomi-Ops Militer Intan Jaya!! Jenderal BIN Juga Ada!!’, (There is Lord Luhut behind the relation of Economy-Military Operation Intan Jaya!! General of State Intelligence Agency is also there!!) in which Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti discussed the findings of a multi-stakeholder report revealing the alleged involvement of active and retired Indonesian army officials in the business operations of the gold mining sector.

In the report, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan was identified as being affiliated with mining company PT Madinah Qurrata'ain, which holds the Derewo River Gold Project permit in Papua Province's Intan Jaya Regency, located along the Derewo fault zone, northwest of Grasberg and Wabu.

Through shareholding, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan is affiliated with PT Toba Sejahtera, whose subsidiary PT Tobacom Del Mandiri or PT Tambang Raya Sejahtra is said to have acquired a 30 percent stake in PT Madinah Qurrata'ain. 

The report also recorded the escalation of violent and armed conflict triggered by military operations, one of which occurred in the Intan Jaya Regency. The conflict resulted in the loss of civilian lives and the displacement of thousands of people, including children and women.

‘The legal actions by the Coordinating Minister constitute judicial harassment and abuse of power. It criminalises the rights of these two human rights defenders to express their opinions on public affairs and creates a chilling environment for individuals who criticise the government,’ the groups said. 

‘We call on the Indonesian government to amend all repressive laws and legal provisions that hinder the protection of freedom of expression, and ensure the laws align with international human rights standards. The criminalisation of defamation is an inherently disproportionate and unnecessary restriction to the right to freedom of opinion and expression, under international human rights law. Indonesia must immediately drop the charges against Fatia and Haris and take steps towards preventing the misuse of litigation against human rights defenders and civil society that erode the exercise of their rights,’ they concluded.

Endorsed by the following organisations:

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
ASEAN Regional Coalition to #StopDigitalDictatorship 

  • Manushya Foundation
  • SAFEnet
  • Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
  • Access Now
  • ELSAM
  • ALTSEAN-Burma

Asia Democracy Network (ADN)
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Front Line Defenders (FLD)
Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) 
Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) 
Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) 
OMCT (World Organisation Against Torture), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Civic space in Indonesia is rated 'obstructed' by the CIVICUS Monitor.


CONTACT INFO:

For further information or to request interviews with CIVICUS staff, please contact:

 

Thailand: Concerns regarding the right to peaceful assembly

 

1 September 2021

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha
Royal Thai Government
1 Pitsanulok road
Dusit, Bangkok 
Thailand

Re: Concerns regarding the right to peaceful assembly in Thailand

Dear Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha,

We, the 13 undersigned organizations, write to express our concern regarding violence and the excessive use of force by police at recent protests in Bangkok. We are troubled by the disproportionate response of riot police to provocations by protesters. We are also concerned by the arbitrary detention of protest leaders who have recently faced new criminal charges and have been denied bail and detained. Thailand needs to do more to protect protesters from violence and ensure that the public can safely exercise the right to peaceful assembly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent weeks, both riot police and protesters have contributed to a significant escalation in violence at political protests in Bangkok. In August alone, police have forcibly dispersed at least ten demonstrations using rubber bullets, water cannons, and tear gas. At several protests, demonstrators threw rocks and Molotov cocktails, launched fireworks, and used slingshots to shoot nuts and bolts at riot police. Many of the clashes have occurred near Din Daeng intersection, which is close to the headquarters of the 1st Infantry Division of the Royal Guard. Youth participation in these protests has been high, with a large proportion of protesters under the age of 18.

Crowd control measures and other actions taken by law enforcement officers have frequently violated the human rights of protesters and international standards on the policing of protests. Police officers have repeatedly fired rubber bullets at protesters in an indiscriminate fashion. Footage from a recent protest shows riot police firing rubber bullets from a highway overpass at a distance too great to ensure the targeting of violent individuals in a manner consistent with international standards. In other videos, police officers appear to shoot rubber bullets at individuals passing on motorcycles, including at point blank range. Journalists, including those who visibly identified themselves as press, have also reported being hit with rubber bullets at protests.

Police have reportedly fired tear gas canisters directly at protesters. On 13 August 2021, a protester, Thanat Thanakitamnuay, was hit in the face by an object believed to be a tear gas canister fired by police at Din Daeng intersection and has reportedly lost sight in his right eye.

The recent use of firearms by unknown assailants at a protest raises further grave concerns. On 18 August 2021, three teenage protesters were shot with live ammunition in front of the Din Daeng Police Station. One of the victims—a 15-year-old boy—was hit by a bullet in the neck and remains in intensive care. According to a hospital report he is suffering from paralysis of both arms and legs and is not responding to stimulus. The other two injured protesters were reportedly 14 and 16 years old. The police have denied using live ammunition during the protest and said they are investigating the shooting.

In addition to cracking down on street protests, Thai authorities have continued their harassment of protest leaders and participants through legal processes. Since July 2020, more than 700 individuals, including at least 130 children, have been investigated in connection to their protest activities.[1] Between 7 and 9 August 2021, at least 32 protest leaders and participants were arrested and charged with a variety of offences. Ten were arbitrarily denied bail and subjected to pre-trial detention.

Two of the protesters who were arrested, Arnon Nampa and Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, are Gwangju Prize for Human Rights laureates. Arnon was charged, inter alia, with lèse-majesté (defaming the monarchy) in relation to a speech he gave on monarchy reform at a protest in Bangkok on 3 August 2021. Jatupat was charged with, inter alia, violating a COVID-19 emergency regulation after he organized a protest in front of Thung Song Hong Police Station on the same day. Seven other protest leaders—Parit Chiwarak, Nutchanon Pairoj, Sirichai Natueng, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Panupong Chadnok, Thatchapong Kaedam, and Panadda Sirimatkul—were all charged, inter alia, with violating a COVID-19 emergency regulation as a result of their participation in a peaceful protest in front of the Border Patrol Police Region 1 Headquarters on 2 August 2021. Sam Samart, a 19-year-old, was arrested on 7 August and charged, inter alia, with violating a COVID-19 emergency regulation in relation to the protest in front of the Border Patrol Police Region 1 Headquarters on 2 August 2021.

Many of these activists have previously been detained, prosecuted, and imprisoned for their protest activities. In 2016, Jatupat was sentenced to two-and-a-half years’ imprisonment after he was convicted of lèse-majesté. Earlier this year, Parit was detained for 91 days on similar charges. Arnon, Panupong, and Phromsorn were also arrested earlier this year and were released from pre-trial detention in June.

The court determined that the activities of key protest leaders including Arnon, Parit, and Jatupat violated the bail conditions connected to their previous lèse-majesté cases, which prohibited them from participating in political protests or further defaming the monarchy. They could face years of pretrial detention.

At least eight of the detained protesters have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 while jailed. On 26 August 2021, the Court of Appeal granted bail to Sirichai Natueng, Panadda Sirimasakul, and Sam Samart, and they were released from custody. Even though prisons are overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, the other seven protest leaders remain in pre-trial detention, each having been denied bail at least twice.

Thailand’s obligations under international law and relevant standards

Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand ratified in 1996, guarantees the right to peaceful assembly. While some restrictions on assembly are permissible under international law, any restriction on this right must be ‘imposed in conformity with the law and . . . necessary in a democratic society.’[2] ICCPR Article 21 enumerates a list of the permissible justifications for a restriction on assembly: to protect national security, public safety, public order, public health, public morals, or the rights and freedoms of others.[3] No other governmental interest can justify a restriction on peaceful assembly.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Thailand ratified in 1992, protects children’s right to freedom of peaceful assembly.[4]

In its General Comment No. 37, the UN Human Rights Committee elaborated on the importance of the right to peaceful assembly:

Together with other related rights, [the right to freedom of peaceful assembly] constitutes the very foundation of a system of participatory governance based on democracy, human rights, the rule of law and pluralism. Peaceful assemblies can play a critical role in allowing participants to advance ideas and aspirational goals in the public domain and to establish the extent of support for or opposition to those ideas and goals. Where they are used to air grievances, peaceful assemblies may create opportunities for the inclusive, participatory and peaceful resolution of differences.[5]

The right to peaceful assembly is foundational to many other rights and, in particular, helps to ensure economic, social, and cultural rights are upheld. Moreover, protest is often one of the most effective tools available for marginalized individuals and groups to successfully advocate for change.[6]

For these reasons, international law is especially protective of protests with a political nature. According to the Human Rights Committee, ‘assemblies with a political message should enjoy a heightened level of accommodation and protection.’[7] As such, the creation of perimeters around government buildings or official locations that demarcate where assemblies may not take place ‘should generally be avoided, inter alia, because these are public spaces. Any restrictions on assemblies in and around such places must be specifically justified and narrowly circumscribed.’[8]

The threat to public health posed by the COVID-19 pandemic may justify narrow restrictions on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, but such restrictions must meet the requirements of legality, necessity, and proportionality under international human rights law.[9] In assessing whether a measure is necessary and proportionate to a legitimate aim, consideration should be given to whether the measure in question is the least intrusive means of achieving that aim. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued guidance on issues affecting civic space in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that:

States should ensure that the right to hold assemblies and protests can be realized, and only limit the exercise of that right as strictly required to protect public health. Accordingly, States are encouraged to consider how protests may be held consistent with public health needs, for example by incorporating physical distancing.[10]

In April 2020, UN Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups warned against the excessive use of force to enforce COVID-19-related restrictions on protesters, stating, ‘emergency measures can be a more direct threat to their life, livelihood, and dignity than even the virus itself.’[11] Moreover, aggressive police action against protesters may defeat the purpose of emergency measures. Arrest, detention, the use of force, and dispersal of protests can increase the risk of virus transmission for protesters and law enforcement officials alike.[12]

States have an obligation to protect journalists, monitors, and members of the public - as well as public and private property - from harm.[13] As such, state actors must take steps to ensure that protesters can exercise their rights safely, while exerting the ‘minimum force necessary’ to reduce the likelihood of injuries and property damage.[14]

In a joint statement, the UN Special Rapporteurs on the freedoms of association and expression declared that there is ‘no such thing in law as a violent protest’.[15] Rather, there are only violent protesters who should be dealt with individually. According to the Special Rapporteurs and Human Rights Committee, the right to peaceful assembly is an individual right, not a collective right, and must be treated as such.[16] Any isolated act of violence by some participants must not be attributed to other participants in the assembly. In addition, so long as organizers take reasonable efforts to encourage peaceful conduct during an assembly, they may not be held responsible for the violent actions of others.[17] 

State authorities may only disperse assemblies when ‘strictly unavoidable,’ such as when there is clear evidence of an imminent threat of serious violence that cannot be dealt with by targeted arrests or other less drastic actions.[18] Before dispersing a crowd, law enforcement officers must take all reasonable measures to enable the assembly by providing a safe environment. Even if some protesters act violently, all those involved retain all their rights under the ICCPR, including, of course, the right to life and protection against arbitrary detention.[19]

Law enforcement officers should only resort to force in ‘exceptional’ circumstances.[20] Any use of force must only be the minimum amount necessary, targeted at specific individuals, and proportionate to the threat posed.[21] The restrictions on the use of force at assemblies are even more important when police use lethal force, including the use of firearms. When policing an assembly, firearms may only be used when strictly necessary to counter an imminent threat of death or serious injury.[22]

Rubber bullets can also be deadly. The OHCHR Guidance on Less Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement states that ‘kinetic impact projectiles should generally be used only with the aim of striking the lower abdomen or legs of a violent individual and only with a view to addressing an imminent threat of injury to either a law enforcement official or a member of the public.’[23] Rubber bullets should not be used as a general tool to disperse protesters, nor should they be fired indiscriminately into a crowd.[24]

Tear gas and other ‘area weapons’ also pose risks to protesters and should only be used in response to widespread violence with the sole purpose of dispersal and as a measure of last resort after giving an audible warning and providing reasonable time for protesters and bystanders to vacate the area.[25] Tear gas cartridges and canisters may not be aimed at individuals or used in confined spaces.[26] Their use on a person who is already restrained amounts to a violation of the prohibition against torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under international law.

According to the Human Rights Committee, states should ‘consistently promote a culture of accountability for law enforcement officials during assemblies.’[27] As such, it is essential that police receive adequate training to facilitate assemblies. Law enforcement officers must understand the legal framework governing assemblies, their obligation to enable peaceful assemblies, and the importance of political assemblies in a rights-respecting society. They should receive training on proper techniques to manage crowds and how to avoid escalation while responding to violence by protesters.[28] Any use of force must be investigated to determine whether the force was necessary and proportionate.[29] States have ‘an obligation to investigate effectively, impartially and in a timely manner any allegation or reasonable suspicion of unlawful use of force or other violations by law enforcement officials … in the context of assemblies’.[30]

In March 2020, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged all states to release ‘every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners, and those detained for critical, dissenting views’ in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[31] By continuing to detain protest leaders despite high infection rates and overcrowding in prisons, the Thai government is unnecessarily putting their lives at grave risk.

Conclusion

In order to fulfill its human rights obligations, the Thai government should not only refrain from suppressing protests but also needs to create a safe and enabling environment for members of the public to exercise their rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We call on the Thai government to ensure that law enforcement officials only resort to the use of force against protesters in full compliance with international human rights law and standards. In particular, authorities must not use greater force than necessary to achieve a legitimate objective and must not cause greater harm than the harm they seek to prevent. Any use of force must be proportionate to a legitimate law enforcement objective, such as meeting any threat of violence. We further call on your government to ensure that all law enforcement personnel present at protests have been properly trained in strategies and tactics that comply with international human rights law and standards. Authorities should promptly, effectively, impartially, and independently investigate any violations of domestic law and international standards and ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.

We further call on the Thai government to immediately end its harassment of protest leaders and participants. Individuals detained solely because of their exercise of the right to peaceful assembly, including protest leaders recently denied bail, should be immediately and unconditionally released. No one should be detained merely for exercising a human right, such as the rights to peaceful assembly or freedom of expression.

We urge you to initiate a review of all laws and policies impacting the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in Thailand. Laws and policies that unjustifiably restrict the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression should be amended in line with international law and standards.

Thank you for your attention to the issues and recommendations raised in this letter. We would welcome the opportunity to assist and support the Thai government in meeting its human rights obligations.

Sincerely,
Amnesty International
ARTICLE 19
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
Asia Democracy Network
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Civil Rights Defenders
FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights
Fortify Rights
Human Rights Watch
International Commission of Jurists
Manushya Foundation


CC:
Police General Suwat Jangyodsuk,
Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police
Rama I Rd, Pathum Wan
Bangkok 10330 


Civic space in Thailand is rated Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor


[1] Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, ‘สถิติคดี 1 ปี หลังเยาวชนเริ่มปลดแอก: ยุติการใช้ “กฎหมาย เป็นเครื่องมือปราบปรามทางการเมือง’, 18 July 2021, available at: https://tlhr2014.com/archives/32258.  

[2] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 21.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 15.

[5] Human Rights Committee General Comment No. 37, UN Doc. CCPR/C/GC/37, para. 1, (23 July 2020) [hereinafter General Comment No. 37]. Unofficial Thai language translation is available at: https://www.icj.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/1.-ไทย_GC-37.pdf

[6] Id. at para. 2.

[7] Id. at para. 32.

[8] Id. at para. 56.

[9] See Human Rights Committee General Comment No. 37, UN Doc. CCPR/C/GC/37, para. 45, (23 July 2020) [hereinafter General Comment No. 37].

[10] Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘Civic Space and COVID-19: Guidance’, 4 May 2020, available at: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/CivicSpace/CivicSpaceandCovid.pdf.

[11] UN OHCHR, ‘COVID-19 security measures no excuse for excessive use of force, say UN Special Rapporteurs’, 17 April 2020, available at: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25802&LangID=E.

[12] Amnesty International, ‘COVID-19 Crackdowns: Police abuse and the global pandemic’, 2020, p. 25, available at: https://policehumanrightsresources.org/content/uploads/2020/12/ACT3034432020ENGLISH.pdf?x96812

[13] Id. at paras. 74, 76.

[14] Id. at paras. 76, 79.

[15] UN OHCHR, ‘UN rights experts urge lawmakers to stop “alarming” trend to curb freedom of assembly in the US’, 30 March 2017, available at: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21464&LangID=E.

[16] Id. See also: General Comment No. 37 at para. 4.

[17] Joint report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on the proper management of assemblies, U.N. Doc A/HRC/31/66, 4 February 2016, at para. 26 [hereinafter HRC 31/66].

[18] HRC 31/66 at para 61; General Comment No. 37 at para. 85.

[19] General Comment No. 37 at para. 9.

[20] HRC 31/66 at para. 57.

[21] Id. at paras. 57–58.

[22] General Comment No. 37 at para 88; HRC 31/66 at para. 59. See also: Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, principles 9 and 14; Amnesty International, Dutch Section, ‘Use of Force: Guidelines for the implementation of the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials’, August 2015, section 2, available at: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/files/use_of_force.pdf, [hereinafter Amnesty International, ‘Use of Force’].

[23] United Nations Human Rights Guidance on Less Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement, para. 7.5.8, available at: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/CCPR/LLW_Guidance.pdf [hereinafter Guidance on Less Lethal Weapons].

[24] Amnesty International, ‘Use of Force’, section 7.4.2.

[25] Id. at para. 87.

[26] Guidance on Less Lethal Weapons, paras. 7.3.6-8.

[27] General Comment No. 37 at para. 89.

[28] HRC 31/66 at para. 42.

[29] General Comment No. 37 at para. 91.

[30] Id. at para. 90.

[31] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, ‘Urgent action needed to prevent COVID-19 “rampaging through places of detention”’, 25 March 2020, available at: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25745&LangID=E.

 

Over 390 orgs urge Australian government to protect Afghan civil society

More than 390 civil society organisations from over 60 countries call on the government of Australia and other governments to ease travel requirements and processes for human rights defenders and representatives of civil society fleeing Afghanistan.

We the undersigned, civil society organisations from different regions of the world, write to you in connection with the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, that followed the collapse of President Ashraf Ghani’s government. We are writing because of the urgency required from the international community to support human rights defenders, representatives of civil society, and journalists who are trying to flee Afghanistan to escape the potentially violent actions of the Taliban.  In the coming weeks, there are huge concerns that any progress made in the achievements of human rights over the last 20 years in Afghanistan will be swiftly eroded.  

As you are aware, human rights defenders, particularly those who defend the rights of women, journalists and those associated with civil society groups have been subjected to violent attacks, threats and intimidation by the Taliban.  Over the past several years, CIVICUS and other human rights organisations have documented these attacks and the state of utmost impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators. The Afghan Human Rights Defenders’ Committee (AHRDC) recently reported that 17 human rights defenders were killed between September 2020 and May 2021 alone.  Over 200 human rights defenders and media representatives reported receiving serious threats. In light of the present conflict conditions and political instability, these threats have magnified.

The Taliban have a track record of abusing human rights and attacking civilians with impunity.  Women and children have borne the brunt of these attacks and many have been prevented from working and have limited access to education and healthcare.  The statement by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres of 16 August 2021 urging the international community to speak with one voice to uphold human rights in Afghanistan is a step in the right direction. We also note the concerns expressed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights about early indications that the Taliban are imposing severe restrictions on human rights in the areas under their control, particularly targeting women.

As is expected, many human rights defenders are trying to leave the country and we have received reports that some are being prevented from boarding planes as foreign missions have prioritised evacuating their own nations and staff. Others have gone into hiding and fear for their lives and others are waiting for the inevitable to happen to them.  Women who have campaigned for years for equal rights and equal participation in public spaces including the peace process have faced reprisals. 

We note reports that at least 3000 Afghan refugees will be able to move to Australia in the next ten months and that Afghan visa holders currently in Australia will not be asked to return to Afghanistan while their security is at risk. However, much more needs to be done. The international community has a responsibility under international human rights and humanitarian law to protect the rights of Afghans and one way of doing so is to provide a safe passage to those whose lives are at risk if they stay in Afghanistan. 

Honourable Prime Minister, we urge your government to hold urgent conversations with relevant Ministries in Australia to develop a National Action Plan to guide Australia’s response to the Afghan crisis.  

We request that you prioritise the following actions in the action plan; 

  • Publicly call on the Taliban to respect human rights, including the rights of girls and women and fundamental freedoms in line with international human rights law and standards.
  • Prioritise providing safe passage and travel documents for Afghans at heightened risk of persecution from the Taliban because of their past work or status, along with their immediate family members.
  • Urge Australian embassies and missions across the world to ease the travel requirements for human rights defenders and representatives from civil society from Afghanistan who may be seeking to travel to Australia. 
  • Create an enabling environment in Australia conducive for all Afghans  who flee  recover from the psychosocial pressures they endured in Afghanistan and the anxieties they may experience settling in a new country 
  • Pledge new support for civil society groups inside and outside of Afghanistan that assist with refugee resettlement, and otherwise promote humanitarian and human rights needs. 
  • Support the creation of an independent and gender-sensitive investigative and accountability mechanism at the United Nations Human Rights Council Special Session on Afghanistan scheduled for 24 August 2021 

Signatories:

  1. #TrustYourStruggleMovement
  2. ABAC
  3. Abraham's Children Foundation
  4. ACAT TOGO
  5. Accountability Lab
  6. ACDIEF
  7. ACP-DYSS
  8. ACT FOR CHANGE OU AGIR POUR LE CHANGEMENT 
  9. Action des Volontaires pour la Solidarité et le Développement AVSD
  10. Action for Community Transformation Initiative South Sudan
  11. Action for Humanity & Social Progress
  12. Action for Socio-political and Economic Change
  13. Actions Collectives pour le Développement Social, ACODES
  14. Actions for Development and Empowerment
  15. Actions pour la Lutte Contre les Injustices Sociales (ALCIS)
  16. Adult Learning Forum 
  17. Advance Centre for peace and credibility international and One Life Count Empowerment Foundation
  18. AFEDI
  19. AFeJE Bénin ONG
  20. Africa Rise Foundation 
  21. African Center for Solidarity and Mutual Aid between the Community (CASEC|ACSAC)
  22. African Development and Peace Initiative (ADPI)
  23. AFRICAN FOUNDATION FOR ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT (AFED)
  24. African Leaders Hub
  25. African Network of Youth Policy Experts
  26. African Youth Empowerment and Capacity Building Academy AYECBA 
  27. Afrihealth Optonet Association
  28. Agrupación Fe
  29. AJAD (Association des Jeunes Africains pour le Développement Durable)
  30. Alliance for Development and Population Services-ADEPS
  31. Alliance for Gender Justice and Human Rights
  32. ALUCHOTO
  33. Alvin tech 
  34. Amahoro Human Respect 
  35. Amani community based organization
  36. América Diversa Inc
  37. Amicale des Jeunes Chrétiens pour le Développement, AJECDE
  38. Amnesty International
  39. Angels in the Field
  40. Anuesp
  41. APPUI SOLIDAIRE POUR LE RENFORCEMENT DE L AIDE AU DEVELOPPEMENT
  42. Arcfrancis Foundation
  43. AROHI
  44. ARPE
  45. Asaasiam Vision International
  46. Asian Academy for Peace, Research and Development
  47. Asociación Civil, Colectivo para la Participación de la Infancia y Juventud 
  48. Asociacion Desplazada Nuevo Renacer
  49. Asociación Unión de Talleres 11 de Septiembre 
  50. Association des Amis de la Nature 
  51. Association des Jeunes pour le Développement et la Protection des Droits de l'Homme
  52. Association for Advancement of Human Rights 
  53. Association For Promotion Sustainable Development 
  54. Association for Reproductive and Family Health Burundi 
  55. Association Nigérienne pour la Démocratie et la gouvernance inclusive
  56. Association pour les victimes du monde
  57. Badhon ManobUnnayan Sangstha
  58. Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR)     
  59. Banlieues Du Monde Mauritanie 
  60. Bareedo Platform Somalia 
  61. Beautiful Hearts NGO
  62. Benimbuto
  63. BIHDP
  64. Biso peuple
  65. BOACSE TANZANIA
  66. Breaking Out Mental Health
  67. Brothers keeper NGO
  68. Burundi Child Rights Coalition (BCRC)
  69. CA Comrades Association Namibia
  70. CAHURAST, Nepal
  71. Campaña Defender la Libertad: Asunto de Todas
  72. Capellanes Conacce
  73. Care for Social Welfare International 
  74. CareMe E-clinic
  75. Center for civil society development PROTECTA
  76. Center for Communities Education and Youth Development
  77. Center for Public Health Laws Social Economic Rights and Advocacy
  78. Center for Social Integrity 
  79. Centre d’Actions pour le Développement 
  80. Centre de support aux personnes handicapées
  81. Centre for environment, media and development communication
  82. Centre for Good Governance and Social Justice
  83. Centre for Inclusion and Empowerment
  84. Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ)
  85. Centre for Social Mobilization and Sustainable Development(CENSODEV)
  86. Centre for Sustainable Development and Education in Africa
  87. Centre Oecuménique pour la Promotion du Monde Rural
  88. Centro Cultural Equidad y Género
  89. Centro de Análisis Político
  90. Centro de Estudios y Apoyo al Desarrollo Local
  91. Cercle de Réflexion sur le Développement Humain et les Changements Climatiques CERDHUCC
  92. CFF-Ghana 
  93. CHALLENGES International
  94. Chambre Transversale des Jeunes Entrepreneurs du Burundi
  95. CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE LIVING FOR PEACE(CYPLP)
  96. Children and Youth for Peace Agency - Sierra Leone (CYPA-SL)
  97. Chinland Development Network CDN Myanmar, and Pyinkhonegyi Phunsang Pawlkom -3P
  98. Civic Engagement Initiatives Trust
  99. CIVICUS
  100. Centre International de Formation des de l'homme pour le Développement  de Kisangani, Province de la Tshopo
  101. Climate Tracker 
  102. CO-OPERATIVE FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE
  103. Coalition des organisations pour la promotion des droits des travailleurs de sexe et transgenre
  104. Coalition of youth organizations SEGA
  105. Colectivo Jóvenes Por El Cambio
  106. Colectivo Seres, A.C.
  107. Commission internationale des droits de l'homme au Tchad
  108. Commission on Human Rights
  109. Community Development Foundation
  110. Community for Peace Foundation(COPEF)
  111. Community Health Education Sports Initiative Zambia
  112. Community Support Center / CSC-Asbl
  113. Comunidad de Organizaciones Solidarias
  114. Connecticut Institute for Social Entrepreneurship
  115. Connecting Gender for Development 
  116. Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations
  117. Construisons Ensemble le monde
  118. consultando soluciones
  119. ControlaTuGobierno A.C.
  120. Convention Nationale pour le Dialogue et le Règlement Pacifique des conflits au Tchad _CONDIRECT 
  121. COSAD BENIN
  122. Crisis Resolving Centre (CRC) 
  123. DAKILA
  124. Determined Society Organization
  125. Development and Service Centre (DESC)
  126. Differentabilities
  127. Digital Rights Activist 
  128. Earthforce Fight Squad NGO
  129. East Eagle Foundation
  130. Ecology Africa Foundation
  131. Edtech for Africa 
  132. EJO YOUTH EMPOWERMENT
  133. ELOSAN VISION
  134. Entaxis - Action for inclusion and Education
  135. Equality Rights Africa Organization
  136. Espérance Mères et Enfants en RDC "EME-RDC"
  137. Ethiopian Initiative for Human Rights 
  138. Euphrates Institute-Liberia
  139. Euro-Mediterranean Resources Network
  140. Fair Africa
  141. FAMA
  142. Family Visions Child Trust
  143. FEDERACION PROVINCIAL DE ORGANIZACIONES CAMPESINAS DE ZAMORA CHINCHIPE
  144. Fédération des ONG de la région du Goh
  145. Feminist Centre 
  146. Fight Against Aids Guinee West Africa
  147. FINESTE
  148. Forums Territorial de la Jeunesse Martiniquaise 
  149. Fraternity Foundation For Human Rights 
  150. FSM Alliance of NGOs (FANGO) 
  151. Fundacion Arcoiris por el respeto a la diversidad sexual
  152. Fundación Ciudadanía y Desarrollo
  153. Fundación Ecuatoriana Equidad
  154. Fundación T.E.A. Trabajo, Educación, Ambiente
  155. Fundación Váyalo
  156. Fundimma
  157. Future leaders Society
  158. Gender Accountability for Peace and Security 
  159. Gender Equality Club
  160. Ghana Youth Environmental Movement
  161. Gibson Chisale
  162. Gidan Dutse Multipurpose Concept 
  163. Give Hope Uganda
  164. Global Participe
  165. Global Socio-economic and Financial Evolution Network (GSFEN)
  166. Global Young Greens
  167. Golden Change for Concerned Youth Forum
  168. Grassroot Development Support and Rural Enlightenment Initiative
  169. Gutu United Residents and Ratepayers Association-GURRA
  170. H.E.R.O.
  171. Haakro Welfare Association
  172. HAKI Africa
  173. Halley Movement Coalition
  174. Hamdam Foundation
  175. Hear Their Voice International (HTVI)
  176. Hidden and Emerging Treasures Initiative
  177. Hondureños Contra el SIDA
  178. Hope for Vulnerable Children Association
  179. Hope Porters Foundation 
  180. Hope Worldwide-Pakistan 
  181. Hub Ciencia Emprende
  182. Human Rights
  183. HuMENA for Human Rights and Civic Engagement 
  184. I BAMBINI DELL 'AFRICA ONLUS
  185. IAW
  186. ICCA asbl(Icirore C'Amahoro asbl)
  187. ICYE Nigeria
  188. IDA Rwanda
  189. Ikage
  190. Imbali Western Cape and Adult Learning Forum
  191. Inclusive Bangladesh
  192. Independent humanitarian worker
  193. India Youth For Society
  194. Infinite hope for vulnerable Africa
  195. Initiatives des Femmes en Situations Difficiles pour le Développement Durable et Intégré, IFESIDDI
  196. Innpactia
  197. Inspirers
  198. Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea
  199. Institute of Youth, women welfare
  200. Instituto de asilencia para adictos a.c.
  201. Instituto de Educación Cibernética Automotriz Robótica y Electrónica 
  202. Integrated Agricultural Association (I.A.A)
  203. Intelligent initiative for Peace & Security Consciousness  
  204. INTER-ACTIONS ONG
  205. Intercedes youth empowerment
  206. International Association for Migrant Support
  207. International Association for Political Science Students
  208. International Development Opportunity Initiative
  209. International Human Rights Council 
  210. International Society for Peace and Safety 
  211. Intersection Association for Rights and Freedoms
  212. Jade Propuestas Sociales y Alternativas al Desarrollo, A.C.
  213. Jesmak health & Safety Center
  214. Jesus Vazquez Garcia
  215. JEUNES LEADER DU MALI
  216. Jeunesse Assistance
  217. Justice Call
  218. Justice Initiative for the Disadvantaged and Oppressed Persons
  219. JusticeMakers Bangladesh 
  220. Kadiwaku Foundation
  221. Kanika Khurana
  222. kathak academy(KA)UNCSO(ECOSOC)
  223. Kenneth and Jacob's House
  224. Kijana Hai Foundation 
  225. KITUMAINI ASBL
  226. Knit Together Initiative 
  227. Koneta 
  228. Kwapda'as Road Safety Demand Foundation
  229. Lamu coastal indigenous people's rights for development (LCIPRD)
  230. Leaders for Leaders Champion 
  231. Leadership Development Association Bangladesh
  232. Liberia Sexual Gender Base Violence Movement LSGBV 
  233. Ligue Burundaise des droits de l'homme Iteka
  234. Local Communities Development Initiative 
  235. LOCAL SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES ORGANISATION (LOSCO)
  236. Locate i
  237. Love Alliance Foundation for Orphans, Disabled and Abandoned Persons in Nigeria 
  238. Lupus Initiative Uganda 
  239. Lutheran world federation
  240. Mahatma phule samaj seva mandal 
  241. Manica Youth Assembly 
  242. Masombo The Life/NGO
  243. Mémorial des victimes des conflits armés en République Démocratique du Congo
  244. Men 4 Equality
  245. MENA Research and Conferences
  246. Mercy Sisters 
  247. Merowa junior school Kampala
  248. Mike’s New Generation Vision
  249. MILES CHILE
  250. Mouvement Citoyen Ras-Le-Bol
  251. Mouvement INAMAHORO, Femmes & Filles pour la Paix & la Securite
  252. Movilizatorio
  253. Movimiento Juvenil Indígena de la Moskitia - Mark Rivas (MOJIMM) 
  254. MPS GABON
  255. MUDDH - MOVIMIENTO UNIDO POR LA DEFENSA DE LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS
  256. Municipal youth network-Nepal
  257. MUP'S COMMUNICATION
  258. Ñañaykuna
  259. National  Women Sudanese Association
  260. National Association of Youth Organizations (NAYO)
  261. National Campaign for Sustainable Development Nepal
  262. NEW ERA MOVEMENT
  263. NGO Federation of Nepal (NFN)
  264. Nigeria Youth SDGs Network
  265. Nigerian Global Affairs Council
  266. Noem Elderly Iutreach Uganda
  267. North Rift Human Rights Network
  268. North-East Affected Area Development Society (NEADS)
  269. Northern Initiative for Community Empowerment
  270. Nouveaux Droits de l'homme Congo Brazzaville
  271. Observatoire National pour la Démocratie et l’Environnement ONADE
  272. Oil Refinery Residents Association
  273. Onelife Initiative for Human Development
  274. ONG ADOKA
  275. ONG CRI DES JEUNES ET FEMMES VULNERABLES, CJFV.
  276. ONG Good Neighbors
  277. ONG ICON Niger 
  278. ONG ITODJU
  279. ONG María Acoge
  280. Organisation Internationale des volontaires des Nations Unies 
  281. Organisation pour la protection des droits de l'homme 
  282. Organizando Trans Diversidades (Asociación OTD Chile)
  283. Organization of the Justice Campaign
  284. OTRANS-RN 
  285. Otro Tiempo México AC
  286. Pahel Pakistan 
  287. Pan - African Peacemakers Alliance (PAPA)
  288. PARIVARTHANA
  289. PAWA - Pacific Australian Womens Association
  290. Peace Education and Practice Network (PEPNET)
  291. People's health movement
  292. People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
  293. Peoples Federation for National Peace and Development (PEFENAP)
  294. PJUD-BENIN ONG
  295. Plateforme des Femmes pour la Paix en Casamance 
  296. Plateforme nationale des organisations de la société civile pour la lutte contre le VIH et Tuberculose 
  297. POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE (PDI)
  298. Programme d'Appui à la Lutte contre la Pauvreté pour l'Emergence et la Restauration d'un développement durable
  299. Progressive Single Mothers Network
  300. Red de Desaparecidos en Tamaulipas 
  301. REDECIM
  302. Redemption Research for Health and Educational Development Society(RRHEDS)
  303. Redlad
  304. REFUGEES PARLIAMENTARIANS FOR PEACE-RPP 
  305. Regional Network of Children and Young People Trust 
  306. Réseau des Organisations de la Société Civile pour l'Observation et le Suivi des Élections en Guinée (ROSE) 
  307. Réseau Nigérien Anti-Corruption
  308. RIHRDO (Rural Infrastructure and Human Resource Development Organization )
  309. Rising Winners Youth Empowerment Initiative (RWYEI)
  310. RNDDH
  311. Rotary Club of Alabang Madrigal Business Park
  312. RUKIGA FORUM FOR DEVELOPMENT (RUFODE)
  313. Rural Development Foundation
  314. Ryht Group 
  315. Safe employee and volunteer
  316. Sahiba Foundation
  317. SAPI Child international
  318. Save the Climat
  319. Savie asbl NGO LGBTIQ PGEL Congo DRC
  320. Sehzoor Life Organization 
  321. Service Workers In Group Foundation Uganda 
  322. Shanduko Yeupenyu Child Care
  323. She & Peer
  324. Shibganj Integrated Development Society
  325. Sierra Leone School Green Clubs (SLSGC)
  326. Sierra Leone Unites
  327. Siyakholwa Support Care Centre 
  328. Social Action For Empowerment and Relief 
  329. Social democracy movement 
  330. Social Voice Networking Forum - Pakistan
  331. Société Civile Engagée 
  332. Somali Action for Transformation (Somact)
  333. SOPEVUDECO ASBL
  334. SORETO
  335. SOS Jeunesse et Enfance en Détresse " SOS JED
  336. Sout To Support Women's Rights 
  337. South African National Civic Organisation
  338. South Sudan Youth Peace and Development Organization (SSYPADO)
  339. Southwest Genesis Consultancy
  340. Swabalambee Foundation
  341. TARGET 4.7 Education for Global Citizenship & Sustainability 
  342. Tariro Foundation of Zimbabwe Trust
  343. The Environment Ameliorators
  344. The Institute of Caribbean Studies/SMART Futures Movement 
  345. The Young Republic
  346. Timely performance care center
  347. Today for tomorrow foundation
  348. Tomorrow for human rights 
  349. Toto Centre Initiative 
  350. Tournonslapage 
  351. Tremendas Panamá 
  352. Uganda Diversity Network
  353. UGONMA FOUNDATION
  354. Ukana West 2 Community Based Health Initiative
  355. Umbrella for Journalists in Kasese (UJK)
  356. UN SDGs Programme
  357. Unión Nacional de Instituciones para el Trabajo de Acción Social - UNITAS 
  358. United nations Youth Association-Ghana
  359. United World Against Diabetes 
  360. Universal Union For Consumer Protection and Civil Abuse "UNUCOPCA" NGO
  361. University of Western Cape
  362. VEILLE CITOYENNE TOGO 
  363. Venezuela Diversa AC
  364. VIE +
  365. Vivace Youth  Centre 
  366. Volunteer Activists
  367. Warembo Forum
  368. Welfare Taskforce for Malaysian Students Abroad
  369. WELFARE TOGO
  370. West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI)
  371. Western Youth Empire 
  372. Women and Children Empowerment Network-South Africa
  373. Women in Action-WINA
  374. WOMEN WITHOUT POVERTY (WOWIPO) 
  375. World Mission Agency
  376. World Youth Union S/L
  377. YACAP INTERNATIONAL
  378. YES We Can
  379. yesaid society (Kenya)
  380. Young African change makers
  381. YOUNG AFRICAN FIGHTERS ORGANIZATION 
  382. Young Men Association
  383. Youth Advocacy Network
  384. Youth Advocates for Change
  385. Youth Against Drug Abuse YADA International 
  386. Youth Arm Org
  387. Youth Association of Sierra Leone
  388. Youth Development Initiative Trust 
  389. Youth Enrichment for Success
  390. Youth for the Mission
  391. Youth Forum for Social Justice
  392. Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana
  393. Youth innovation centre 
  394. Youth Leadership Parliament, Nigeria
  395. Youth Network for Positive Change

 

Uganda: End Repression of civil society

Joint statement on Uganda’s NGO Bureau suspension of 54 NGOs in the country

Uganda’s NGO Bureau, the country’s regulatory authority for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), should immediately rescind the decision to suspend 54 organizations that they have classified as NGOs, which comes in the context of intensifying intimidation and harassment of civil society organizations. The suspension is intended to restrict the rights to freedom of expression and association and stop the activities of independent civil society organizations that are perceived as critical of the authorities.

On 20 August 2021, the National Bureau for NGOs (NGO Bureau) ordered the immediate suspension of these organizations claiming that they had failed to comply with NGO legislation, including by operating with expired permits, failing to file accounts, or failing to register with the Bureau.

According to the Uganda National NGO Forum, most of the organizations were not informed of the Uganda NGO Bureau’s decision or given an opportunity to respond in advance.

Uganda’s 2016 NGO Act imposes burdensome requirements for application for permits for NGOs with multiple layers of registration with periodic renewal applications, and organisations are required to have memorandums of understanding with the district they operate in. There is also lack of clarity over which organizations fall under this regulatory regime.

The suspension of the organizations is arbitrary, as it goes against Section 33 (2) of the NGO Act, which requires the Bureau to give 30 days’ notice in writing to permit holders to enable them to show cause why the permit should not be revoked. Suspension of independent civil society organizations simply for carrying out their work is an attack on human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and association. Suspending civil society organizations also exposes those organizations to additional legal risks if they are unable to pay staff or suppliers.

Many of the organizations affected work in critical areas such as legal practices to help poor or marginalized people. Others work on accountability and transparency in the oil sector, and some monitored human rights in the context of the elections. To shut down organizations working so closely with Ugandans abruptly will hurt people who rely on their services or advocacy.

The rights to freedom of expression and association are guaranteed under Articles 9 and 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Uganda is a state party. Accordingly, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights issued guidelines on freedom of association and assembly as provided for in the African Charter, that among other things prohibits states from compelling associations to register to be allowed to exist and to operate freely. Further, informal organisations shall not be punished or criminalized under the law or in practice based on their lack of formal status. This decision by the NGO Bureau is a clear demonstration of the repressive nature in which Ugandan authorities have continued to clamp down on civic space and human rights.

The NGO Bureau is mandated to play a regulatory and facilitative role in creating an enabling environment for non-profit organizations in Uganda, but this has not been the case in the recent past.

We acknowledge the positive discussions held between the Minister of Internal Affairs and Civil Society Leaders on 24 August and implore the minister to expeditiously follow through the commitments made to redress the anomalies in the suspension of some of the affected NGOs and establish an Adjudication Committee as required by the law. We further call on authorities in Uganda to ensure that civil society actors involved in promoting fundamental rights can freely exercise their rights consistent with Ugandan Constitution and the country’s international human rights obligations including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Signed off by the following civil society organizations:

1. ActionAid International Africa
2. Advocacy Network for Africa (AdNA)
3. AfricanDefenders (the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network)
4. Amnesty International
5. Asylum Seeker, Refugee & Migrant Coalition (ASRM Coalition)
6. Campaign for Good Governance (CGG – Sierra Leone)
7. Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI)
8. Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD – Ethiopia)
9. Center for Constitutional Governance
10. Center for International Governance, Peace and Justice (CIGPJ – South Sudan)
11. Center for Youth Advocacy and Development (CEYAD)
12. Centre for Democracy and Development (CCD)
13. Change Tanzania
14. Chapter One Foundation Zambia
15. CIVICUS
16. Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia
17. Civil Society Reference Group - Kenya
18. Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations (CEHRO)
19. Crown The Woman – South Sudan
20. Digital Society of Africa
21. DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights
22. Echoes of Women in Africa Initiative (ECOWA – Nigeria)
23. Ethiopian Human Rights Defenders Center (EHRDC)
24. FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
25. Foundation for Democratic and Accountable Governance (FODAG – South Sudan)
26. Haki Africa
27. Haki Kenya Organisation
28. Human Rights Defenders Network (HRDN – Sierra Leone)
29. Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)
30. Independent Human Rights Investigators (IHRI – Liberia)
31. Initiative for Equality and Non-discrimination (INEND)
32. Inuka Kenya Ni Sisi!
33. Institute for Democracy and Leadership – Swaziland
34. Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)
35. Khulumani Support Group
36. Kongamano La Mapinduzi Movement
37. Mozambique Human Rights Defenders Network
38. Network of the Independent Commission for Human Rights in North Africa
39. Nigerian Human Rights Defenders Network
40. Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)
41. Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU)
42. Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf)
43. Partnership for Justice (PJ)
44. Protection International Kenya
45. Resource Rights Africa (RRA)
46. South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network (SSHRDN)
47. Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN)
48. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC)
49. World March of Women - Kenya
50. Yiaga Africa
51. Youth and Society (YAS - Malawi)
52. Youth Forum for Social Justice
53. Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
54. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

Civic space in Uganda is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor.

*Photo credit: Chaper Four Uganda

 

Hungary: concerns over the erosion of the rights of LGBTQIA+ persons

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, UN Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity 

Irene Khan, UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression  

Tlaleng Mofokeng, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Physical and Mental Health 

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Palais Wilson, 52 Rue des Pâquis

1201 Geneva, Switzerland 

Hungary: concerns over the erosion of the rights of LGBTQIA+ persons

We are writing to you with regards to serious concerns about the rights of LGBTQIA+ persons in Hungary. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hungarian government, under Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the Fidesz party, has passed several pieces of legislation, including amendments to the Constitution, which undermine the rights of LGBTQIA+ persons in the country. In addition the government and non-state actors continue to publicly smear and vilify LGBTQIA+ persons. These developments are in violation of the right to freedom of expression and non-discrimination and will lead to further violence and discrimination against LGBTQIA+ persons on the basis of their gender identity and sexual orientation.

Anti-LGBTQIA law 

Despite mass protests staged in Budapest, on 15th June 2021 the Hungarian Parliament passed an anti-LGBTI law which bans any content, including media, advertising and educational materials, that is deemed to “popularise” or even depict, consensual same-sex conduct or the affirming of one’s gender to children. As a reaction to the Russian-style anti-LGBTI+ law, the European Union launched legal proceedings against Hungary's government. On 6 August 2021 a government decree implementing the law was adopted, banning the sale of products popularising or depicting homosexuality and transgender identities within 200m of schools, children or youth institutions and churches, and prescribing that such products targetting children be sold in special packaging separate from other products in any other shops.

The law, which conflates homosexuality with paedophilia, is part of an intense anti-LGBTQIA+ government campaign ahead of the upcoming parliamentary election in 2022. In addition, on 30th July 2021, Hungary’s National Election Committee approved the government's request for a referendum, which is meant to protect the new anti-LGBTQIA legislation from “the attacks of Brussels”. The referendum is set to take place in early 2022 before the parliamentary election. Hungarians will be asked whether they support the holding of sexual orientation workshops in schools without parental consent and whether they believe that gender re-assignment should be promoted amongst children and made available to them. 

The law comes on the back of several cases where media or books promoting LGBTQIA+ content has been banned. For example, a children’s book which retells fairy tales with LGBTQIA characters was banned in kindergartens by the local Fidesz-party mayor in one of the districts of Budapest, smeared and labelled as “homosexual propaganda”. In another case, the government ordered the Labrisz Lesbian Association,to print disclaimers in their book stating “behaviour inconsistent with traditional gender roles”. A fine of 250, 000 HUF(840 USD) was imposed on a bookshop for selling a children’s book featuring rainbow families together with other children’s books. Independent broadcaster RTL media group is facing legal proceedings initiated by Hungary’s media regulator for broadcasting an advertisement which raised awareness about LGBTI families. The Council, which is made up of members appointed by the ruling Fidesz party, stated that it had received complaints that the advert was not suitable for young children and should have been aired after 9pm for this reason. 

The European Commission has launched infringement procedures against Hungary in relation to these developments. 

Constitutional Amendments

The government has made several amendments to the Constitution, reinforcing institutionalised homophobia and transphobia. On 15th December 2020, the parliament amended the Hungarian Constitution to include the following sentence to Article L which relates to family and marriage: “The mother is a woman, the father is a man”The second change, Article XVI (1) states that “Hungary protects the right of children to self-identify according to their sex at birth and provides an upbringing in accordance with the values based on Hungary’s constitutional identity and Christian culture”. With direct reference to the latter constitutional provision, amendments were also made to the Civil Code and the Child Protection Act which state that single parents will be able to adopt only under special circumstances and their adoption must be approved by the minister of family. As same sex marriage is not legalised in Hungary, this amendment effectively denies adoption rights to same-sex couples. 

In addition, on 10th November 2020, the Justice Committee of the Hungarian Parliament presented legislation that would abolish the Equal Treatment Authority (ETA), with the Hungarian Commissioner for Fundamental Rights absorbing its activities, which according to the government will  provide a more efficient institutional structure. Throughout the years, the ETA has been the most successful body addressing discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community. Although the mandate of the institution will not change, it will be subordinate to the Commissioner, who, in contrast to the ETA, has not shown interest in defending LGBTQIA+ rights in recent years.

Legal gender recognition 

On 19th May 2020 the Hungarian parliament passed an omnibus bill changing the Registry Act to only recognise “sex at birth”. The new law makes the legal recognition of transgender and intersex persons impossible and will lead to further discrimination of these persons. While the law is being legally challenged, transgender activists have described this development as “traumatic” and having serious mental health consequences for an already excluded group. The National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information foundthat the law violates the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In March 2021, Hungary’s Constitutional Court ruled that a legal ban on changing gender does not apply retroactively. It stated that people who began changing their gender before the law came into effect must be allowed to complete the process. However, the Budapest Government County Office which was responsible for handling legal gender recognition applications prior to the amendment still fails to process these applications appropriately. The law itself still remains in force pending legal challenge.

Requested Actions:

We respectfully urge you to condemn these regressive and anti-LGBTQIA legislative developments in Hungary through a communication, in your individual capacities or jointly with other special procedures, notably by:

  • Calling on the Hungarian government to refrain from attacking and smearing LGBTQIA persons in general and especially in the context of the upcoming election in 2022
  • Calling on the Hungarian government to reverse regressive legislation which directly  attacks and discriminates against LGBTQIA+ persons
  • Calling on the EU and its leaders to launch an infringement procedure against Hungary regarding the outlawing of legal gender recognition, and continue infringement on the anti-LGBTQIA law and its application

Signatories

  1. CIVICUS
  2. Hatter Society
  3. Civil Liberties Union for Europe
  4. European Civic Forum
  5. Hungarian Helsinki Committee 
  6. Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU)
  7. New Europeans International
  8. International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPFEN)
  9. CNVOS Slovenia 
  10. Peace Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  11. Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol)
  12. Nyt Europa 
  13. European Movement, Italy 
  14. Human Rights House Zagreb 
  15. ACCEPT Romania
  16. Euroregional Center for Public Initiatives (ECPI)
  17. Identity.Education
  18. PRIDE Romania
  19. Rise Out
  20. Estonian LGBT Association
  21. Osservatorio Repressione 
  22. Statewatch
  23. Netherlands Helsinki Committee 

Civic space in Hungary is rated as "Obstructed" by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

Rights Groups Urge Bahrain to Release Dr Abduljalil AlSingace, Jailed Academic on Hunger Strike

Dr Abduljalil AlSingace, an imprisoned opposition activist and human rights defender, has been on hunger strike since 8 July 2021. He is protesting against persistent ill-treatment at the hands of Jau Prison authorities, the main prison in Bahrain, restrictions imposed during COVID19 limiting prisoners contact to only five numbers, and to demand that a book he wrote in prison that was confiscated be immediately handed to his family, a coalition of 16 rights groups stated today.

A respected academic and blogger, Dr AlSingace has spent the last decade in prison serving a life imprisonment sentence. He was amongst 13 opposition activists arrested between 17 March and 9 April 2011, including high-profile political opposition leaders, activists and human rights defenders, who were then convicted by a military tribunal for their roles in the 2011 pro-democracy protest movement.

According to the 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, Bahraini authorities placed Dr AlSingace in solitary confinement for two months and subjected him to torture following his arrest, including being repeatedly beaten and “sexually molested”.

Dr AlSingace launched a hunger strike on 8 July 2021 in response to degrading treatment he was subjected to by a prison officer, to protest the restriction of being permitted to call only five numbers during the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, and to demand the return of his book, confiscated by prison guards on 9 April 2021, and on which he worked for at least four years. We understand the book to be a study of linguistic diversity among Bahraini Arabic dialects, without any political content, yet the book has not been returned despite repeated promises by prison authorities.

On 19 July, the Office of the Public Prosecution referred AlSingace’s case to the Ombudsman of the Ministry of Interior (the Ombudsman). The statement from the Public Prosecution incorrectly provided that AlSingace’s hunger strike was also related to “the refusal of the [Jau’s Reformation and Rehabilitation] centre’s administration to allow him to contact his relatives”.

According to the Ombudsman, who cleared the prison officials from any wrongdoing and accused Dr AlSingace for alleged “smuggling” of his own work, Dr Al Singace “was not subjected to mistreatment”. This conclusion was reached without Dr AlSingace’s testimony as he refused to be interviewed. Human Rights Watch has found that the Ombudsman has repeatedly failed to investigate credible allegations of prison abuse or to hold officials accountable. The UN Committee against Torture has also raised concerns that these bodies were neither independent nor effective.

Although the Ombudsman states that prison authorities “did not intend to confiscate the papers”, it confirms “that the reason for [Dr AlSingace’s] hunger strike was the confiscation of the papers he wrote” and that his work cannot be returned until a “legal decision” is taken.

Many imprisoned political leaders in Bahrain are older and suffer from pre-existing health conditions and consequences of their torture in 2011, which today make them particularly vulnerable to diseases like COVID-19. Dr AlSingace has several chronic illnesses, suffering from post-polio syndrome, vertigo, causing him to lose his balance and fall, a slipped disk in his back and neck, causing chronic pain, and paresthesia in his muscles and limbs. Consequently, AlSingace requires the use of crutches or a wheelchair and is among those most at risk. Dr AlSingace has faced sustained medical negligence by prison authorities throughout his 10-year imprisonment, namely the prison’s regular refusal to take him to appointments with medical specialists over the past four years.

We are thus deeply disturbed receive reports from family members that on 18 July 2021 Dr AlSingace was transferred to the Ministry of Interior medical facility in al-Qalaa for monitoring and to be given intravenous fluids; by 29 July AlSingace had reportedly already lost 10kg. Recent outbreaks of COVID-19 reported at Jau Prison create an additional threat to Dr AlSingace’s health.

Since his imprisonment, the international community has made consistent calls for his immediate and unconditional release, including the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders, leading international human rights organisations, and American, British and European legislators.

The confiscation of Dr AlSingace’s book is an unjust punishment and the authorities must ensure the protection of his rights, including the return of his intellectual property. We call for Dr AlSingace’s immediate and unconditional release and for his work to be immediately given to his family.

Signatories

1. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
2. Amnesty International
3. Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR)
4. Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
5. CIVICUS
6. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
7. English PEN
8. European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)
9. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
10. Human Rights First
11. IFEX
12. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
13. PEN International
14. Scholars at Risk
15. REDRESS
16. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

Civic space in Bahrain is rated as Closed by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

Sri Lanka: Release Hejaaz Hizbullah and others denied due process under abusive law

We, the undersigned organisations express deep concern for the ongoing detention of lawyer and minority and civic rights activist Hejaaz Hizbullah, who has been held under Sri Lanka’s notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) for 15 months. In the absence of any credible evidence presented before a court of law, Hejaaz Hizbullah should be released immediately and unconditionally. 

Stand with Hejaz

Hejaaz Hizbullah was arrested on April 14, 2020 under the PTA. He was accused by the police of aiding and abetting Inshaf Ahamed (who was involved in the April 21, 2019 bombings), an accusation that has since been withdrawn. Since Hejaaz Hizbullah has been in detention the allegations against him have changed several times and his detention has been extended for over 15 months. 

The latest allegation on which an indictment was filed against Hejaaz Hizbullah in the High Court on February 18, 2021, is a speech-related offence of “causing communal disharmony,” one of a number of overly broad offences provided under the PTA. The indictment is based on a statement to the Criminal Investigation Department of the police made by a child regarding a speech allegedly made by Hizbullah in Puttalam. Other children who were questioned at the same time by the same officers filed fundamental rights cases claiming they were coerced by police officers to falsely implicate Hejaaz Hizbullah. Combined with the repeated changes in the allegations, this leads us to believe the allegations against him are unsupported by any credible evidence.

The PTA allows for the prolonged incarceration, based on mere suspicion, of any person who “causes or intends to cause commission of acts of violence or religious, racial or communal disharmony or feelings of ill-will or hostility between different communities or racial or religious groups.” The same provision has been used in the past to prevent and effectively punish the exercise of freedom of expression particularly critics of the government, including journalists.  

Hejaaz Hizbullah is a vocal critic of the government. He is a minority rights advocate in a climate increasingly hostile to Sri Lanka’s religious and ethnic minorities. He is also one of the lawyers who challenged the dissolution of the parliament in 2018 in the Sri Lankan Supreme Court. Since the Sri Lankan authorities have so far been unable to show any evidence of wrongdoing, it appears he is being targeted solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression. We call for Hejaaz Hizbullah’s immediate release and for the charges against him to be dropped.  

Since the time of his arrest Hejaaz Hizbullah has been repeatedly denied the right to due process safeguards recognized by international law. He was not informed of the reason for his arrest and has been held in prolonged administrative detention without judicial oversight to monitor his wellbeing, without access to bail. While in police custody he was prevented from accessing his legal counsel in private until an order was made by the Court of Appeal. In February, he was charged and moved to judicial remand custody, where he was able to speak with his family for the first time in 10 months. Thereafter visitation rights were restricted, and he has not been allowed any access to his family or counsel since April 2021. Under international human rights law, particularly under article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Sri Lanka is a state party, all detainees have a right of reasonable access to their family and lawyers. 

Hejaaz Hizbullah is one of many people detained for inordinate lengths of time without due process under Sri Lanka’s draconian counter-terrorism laws. In a study published in December 2020, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka found that many PTA prisoners were in remand for up to 15 to 20 years. This is abuse of detainees held under the PTA and is a flagrant violation of the right to liberty and the right to a fair trial, as protected under articles 9 and 14 of the ICCPR. Many PTA detainees have also been allegedly tortured or ill-treated in custody.

We are deeply concerned by Sri Lanka’s continuing use of the PTA to enable arbitrary detention, despite commitments made to repeal the Act. The government of Sri Lanka should: 

  • Guarantee the protection of the human rights of all PTA detainees including guarantees of due process and a fair trial, and protection from arbitrary arrest, detention, torture or other ill-treatment, including; 
    • Immediately review the detention of those held under the PTA, ensuring adequate access to fair bail hearings, and immediate release for all those not facing internationally recognisable charges;
    • Ensure that all PTA detainees have regular access to legal counsel on a confidential basis and to family members and friends at regular intervals;
    • Ensure the right to a fair trial, including pre-trial rights, of those accused under the PTA;
  • Repeal the PTA and issue an immediate moratorium on its use; and
  • Facilitate access to effective remedies and reparations to those whose human rights have been violated due to the use of the PTA.

Signed by:

  1. Amnesty International
  2. Article 19
  3. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  4. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  5. Front Line Defenders
  6. Human Rights Watch
  7. International Bar Association’s Human Rights Initiative
  8. International Commission of Jurists
  9. International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
  10. International Working Group on Sri Lanka 
  11. Sri Lanka Campaign for Truth and Justice

 

Global Letter in solidarity with Belarusian civil society

Russian | Belarusian

‘You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep the Spring from coming’
Pablo Neruda

161 human rights organisations demand an end to the repression against the Human Rights Center Viasna and all other human rights defenders in Belarus. We condemn the systematic arbitrary arrests, beatings and acts of torture they are subjected to. Despite all-out repression by the Belarusian authorities, human rights defenders in Belarus continue to strive to protect human rights. Inspired by their courage, we will not stop fighting until they are all released and able to continue their human rights work freely and unhindered.

Over the past few days, we have witnessed another wave of raids and detentions against Belarusian human rights defenders and activists. This repression is a blatant retaliation for their work denouncing and documenting human rights violations ongoing since the brutal crackdown against peaceful protesters in the wake of the August 2020 election. Since August 2020, more than 35,000 Belarusians were arrested for participating in peaceful protests, around 3,000 politically motivated criminal cases were initiated, at least 2,500 cases of torture of Belarusian citizens were documented. We believe these systematic and widespread human rights violations may amount to crimes against humanity. As of July 19, 561 persons in Belarus are considered political prisoners.

Between July 14 and 16, 2021, more than 60 searches were conducted at the homes and offices of Belarusian human rights organisations and their staff, including the Human Rights Centre ‘Viasna’, two member organisations of the International Committee for the Investigation of Torture in Belarus, Human Constanta and Legal Initiative, as well as the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the Belarusian Association of Journalists, the Legal Transformation Center LawTrend, Ecodom and many others. Documents and IT equipment, including laptops, mobile phones and computers were seized during the searches.

During these latest raids, more than 30 people were interrogated. 13 of them were detained for a 72-hour period, reportedly in connection to an investigation into public order violations and tax evasion. Most of them were subsequently released, namely, Mikalai Sharakh, Siarhei Matskievich, and Viasna members Andrei Paluda, Alena Laptsionak, Yauheniya Babaeva, Siarhei Sys, Viktar Sazonau, Ales Kaputski and Andrei Medvedev. Several of them, however, remain under travel ban and face criminal charges. Notably, Ales Bialiatsky, Viasna Chairperson Valiantsin Stefanovic, Viasna Deputy Head and Vice-President of the FIDH, and Uladzimir Labkovich, a lawyer and Viasna member, remain detained. On July 17, all four were transferred to a pre-trial detention center “Valadarskaha”. Four other Viasna members Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsiana Lasitsa, Marfa Rabkova and Andrey Chapyuk, as well as Aleh Hrableuski of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, remain in pre-trial detention since late 2020 or early 2021.

Viasna, one of the country’s top human rights organisations, and a member of the OMCT and FIDH networks, has been targeted by the Belarusian government for over two decades. In August 2011, its chairperson Ales Bialiatsky was sentenced to four and a half years of imprisonment on trumped-up charges, and released in June 2014 after spending 1,052 days in arbitrary detention in appalling conditions. In retaliation for Viasna’s courageous work and unwavering stance for human rights, the Belarusian authorities are trying to destroy the organisation by putting seven of its members behind bars.

The raids started only one day after the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution condemning the situation of human rights in Belarus, demanding the release of all persons arbitrarily detained and an investigation into allegations of torture and other human rights violations.

On July 8-9 and July 16, 2021, the authorities also raided the homes and premises of various independent media outlets and their staff, including ‘Nasha Niva’, one of country’s oldest independent newspaper, and detained three of its journalists. The offices of RFE/Radio Liberty and Belsat, the largest independent TV channel covering Belarus, were also searched, and several of their journalists were detained. As of now, over 30 media workers and dozens of bloggers remain in detention.

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, condemn the massive human rights violations perpetrated by the Belarusian authorities, which we fear may trigger more violence. This latest wave of repression, together with the brutal crackdown over the last months, demonstrates that the authorities aim at having every human rights defender either detained or exiled.

We stand in solidarity with our colleagues and friends who are detained, harassed, and persecuted for their brave work. We regard their struggle with great concern and sorrow, and we are inspired by their commitment and resilience.

We urge the Belarusian authorities to stop the harassment and intimidation of critical voices, and to free all unjustly detained human rights defenders, journalists and activists.

We call on the international community to take a strong stance in support of the Belarusian human rights community, and to speak out for the release of all those who are still behind bars, and whose only crime is to demand a society based on justice instead of fear.

Signatories

1. Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran - Iran
2. ACAT Belgique - Belgium
3. ACAT Burundi - Burundi
4. ACAT España-Catalunya (Acción de los Cristianos para la Abolición de la Tortura) - Spain
5. ACAT Germany (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture) - Germany
6. ACAT Italia - Italy
7. ACAT République Centrafricaine - Central African Republic
8. ACAT République Démocratique du Congo - Democratic Republic of Congo
9. ACAT Suisse - Switzerland
10. ACAT Tchad - Tchad
11. ACAT Togo - Togo
12. Action Against Violence and Exploitation (ACTVE) - Philippines
13. Action des Chrétiens Activistes des Droits de l’Homme à Shabunda (ACADHOSHA) - Democratic Republic of Congo
14. Advocacy Forum – Nepal - Nepal
15. Agir ensemble pour les droits humains - France
16. Albanian Human Rights Group
17. ALTSEAN-Burma - Myanmar
18. Anti Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) - Malaysia/Asia-Pacific
19. Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial - Belgium
20. ARTICLE 19
21. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights - Indonesia
22. Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC) - Philippines
23. Asociación para una Ciudadanía Participativa (ACI PARTICIPA) - Honduras
24. Asociación pro derechos humanos (Aprodeh) - Peru
25. Association Mauritanienne des droits de l'homme (AMDH-Mauritanieuri) - Mauritania
26. Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) - India
27. Association Tchadienne pour la promotion et la Défense des Droits de l'Homme (ATPDH) - Tchad
28. Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates - Tunisia
29. Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF France) - France
30. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) - India
31. Belarusian-Swiss Association RAZAM.CH - Switzerland
32. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee - Bulgaria
33. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) - Cambodia
34. Capital Punishment Justice Project (CPJP) - Australia
35. Center for Civil Liberties - Ukraine
36. Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) - United States of America
37. Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR), University of York - United Kingdom
38. Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (CDDHR) - Russia
39. Centro de Derechos humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas A.c. (Frayba) - Mexico
40. Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte - Mexico
41. Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH) - Honduras
42. Centro de Prevención, Tratamiento y Rehabilitación de Victimas de la Tortura y sus familiares (CPTRT) - Honduras
43. Centro de Salud Mental y Derechos Humanos (CINTRAS) - Chile
44. Changement Social Bénin (CSB) - Benin
45. CIVICUS
46. Civil Rights Defenders (CRD) - Sweden
47. Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH-RD) - Dominican Republic
48. Coalition Burkinabé des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CBDDH) - Burkina Faso
49. Coalition Marocaine contre la Peine de Mort - Morocco
50. Coalition Tunisienne Contre la Peine de Mort - Tunisia
51. Collectif des Associations Contre l'Impunité au Togo (CACIT) - Togo
52. Comisión de derechos humanos – COMISEDH - Peru
53. Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH) - Honduras
54. Comité de solidaridad con los presos políticos (FCSPP) - Colombia
55. Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) - Northern Ireland (UK)
56. Crude Accountability - United States of America
57. Czech League of Human Rights Czech Republic
58. Death Penalty Focus (DPF) - United States of America
59. Defenders of human rights centre - Iran
60. DEMAS - Association for Democracy Assistance and Human Rights - Czech Republic
61. DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights - Botswana
62. Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) - Belgium
63. Eleos Justice, Monash University - Australia
64. Enfants Solidaires d'Afrique et du Monde (ESAM) - Benin
65. Federal Association of Vietnam-Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany - Germany
66. FIDU - Italian Federation for Human Rights - Italy
67. Finnish League for Human Rights - Finland
68. Free Press Unlimited - The Netherlands
69. Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos (INREDH) - Ecuador
70. GABRIELA Alliance of Filipino Women - Philippines
71. German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (GCADP) - Germany
72. Greek Helsinki Monitor Greece
73. Helsinki Citizens' Assembly – Vanadzor - Armenia
74. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights - Poland
75. Citizens' Watch Russia
76. Human Rights Alert - India
77. Human Rights Association (İHD) - Turkey
78. Human Rights Center (HRC) - Georgia
79. Human Rights Center (HRC) "Memorial" - Russia
80. Human Rights House Foundation
81. Human Rights in China (HRIC) - USA
82. Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) - Lithuania
83. Human Rights Mouvement “Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan” - Kyrgyzstan
84. Human Rights Organization of Nepal - Nepal
85. Humanist Union of Greece (HUG) - Greece
86. Hungarian Helsinki Committee - Hungary
87. IDP Women Association "Consent" - Georgia
88. Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) - Kenya
89. Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay (IELSUR) - Uruguay
90. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) - Kenyan Section - Kenya
91. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) - France
92. International Legal Initiative - Kazakhstan
93. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) - Belgium
94. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) - Switzerland
95. Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society - India
96. JANANEETHI - India
97. Justice for Iran (JFI) - United Kingdom
98. Justícia i Pau - Spain
99. Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law - Kazakhstan
100. Kharkiv Regional Foundation "Public Alternative" - Ukraine
101. La Strada International - The Netherlands
102. La Voix des Sans Voix pour les Droits de l'Homme (VSV) - Democratic Republic of Congo
103. Latvian Human Rights Committee (LHRC) - Latvia
104. Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights YUCOM - Serbia
105. League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) - Iran
106. Legal Policy Research Centre (LPRC) - Kazakhstan
107. Libereco Partnership of Human Rights - Germany/ Switzerland
108. LICADHO - Cambodia
109. Lifespark - Switzerland
110. Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos Humanos - Civitas (LPDHC) - Portugal
111. Liga voor de Rechten van de Mens (LvRM) (Dutch League for Human Rights) - The Netherlands
112. Ligue des droits de l'Homme (LDH) - France
113. Ligue Tchadienne des droits de l'Homme - Tchad
114. Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) - Maldives
115. Martin Ennals Foundation - Switzerland
116. Minority Rights Group - Greece
117. Mouvance des Abolitionnistes du Congo Brazzaville - Congo Brazzaville
118. Mouvement Ivoirien des Droits Humains (MIDH) - Côte d'Ivoire
119. Mouvement Lao pour les Droits de l'Homme - Laos
120. Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos (MNDH) - Brazil
121. Netherlands Helsinki Committee - The Netherlands
122. Norwegian Helsinki Committee - Norway
123. Observatoire du système pénal et des droits humains (OSPDH) - Spain
124. Observatoire Marocain des prisons - Morocco
125. Odhikar - Bangladesh
126. OPEN ASIA|Armanshahr - France
127. Organisation contre la torture en Tunisie (OCTT) - Tunisie
128. Organisation Guineenne de Defense des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen (OGDH) - Guinea
129. Österreichische Liga für Menschenrechte ÖLFMR - Austria
130. Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) - Palestine
131. Pax Christi Uvira - Democratic Republic of Congo
132. People's Watch India
133. Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea) - Venezuela
134. Promo LEX Association - Republic of Moldova
135. Protection International (PI)
136. Public Association "Dignity" - Kazakhstan
137. Public Association Spravedlivost Human Rights Organization - Kyrgyzstan
138. Public Verdict Foundation - Russia
139. Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme RADDHO - Senegal
140. Repecap Academics - Spain
141. Réseau des Defenseurs des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (REDHAC) - Cameroon
142. Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH) - Haïti
143. Rights Realization Centre - UK
144. Rural People's Sangam - India
145. Salam for Democracy and Human Rights - UK, Lebanon, Bahrain
146. Social-Strategic Researches and Analytical Investigations Public Union (SSRAIPU) - Azerbaijan
147. SOHRAM-CASRA - Centre Action Sociale Réhabilitation et Réadaptation pour les Victimes de la Torture, de la guerre et de la violence - Turquie
148. SOS-Torture/Burundi - Burundi
149. SUARAM - Malaysia
150. Syndicat national des agents de la formation et de l'education du Niger (SYNAFEN NIGER) - Niger
151. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) - Philippines
152. Thai Action Committee for Democaracy in Burma (TACDB) - Thailand
153. The Advocates for Human Rights - United States of America
154. The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House (BHRH) - Lithuania
155. The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) - Indonesia
156. The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)
157. Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights United States of America
158. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) - France
159. World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) - France
160. World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) - Switzerland
161. Xumek asociación para la promoción y protección de los derechos humanos - Argentina

Civic space in Belarus is rated as Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

Nearly 70 human rights groups condemn state violence in Eswatini

To the Government of Eswatini and the international community:

 

Malaysia: Drop investigation and halt intimidation of activists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hamzah Zainudin
Minister of Home Affairs of Malaysia
Block D1, D2 & D9, Complex D, 
Federal Government Administrative Centre 
62546 Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur

We are writing on behalf of five civil society organisations including CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Asia Democracy Network (ADN), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Front Line and WITNESS with regards to our concerns around police investigations into at least six activists and human rights defenders around an animated film about torture in police custody. 

The four-minute animated film, titled “Chilli Powder & Thinner”, is based on the testimony of a 16-year-old boy who was allegedly arrested and beaten up by police along with two other individuals. One method illustrated in the film - the application of chili powder and paint thinner to the skin - is the source of the film’s name.

On 2 July 2021, Freedom Film Network co-founder Anna Har and cartoonist Amin Landak were called in by the police for questioning around the film. An hour later, police also raided the office of the Freedom Film Network as well as the home of Amin Landak. The police confiscated computers, modems, routers, pen drives, microphones and related equipment.

The two activists are being investigated under Section 500 of the Penal Code for defamation, Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code for statements that could cause public alarm and distress, and Section 233 (1) (a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act for improper use of network facilities. 

On 6 July 2021, three members of human rights groups SUARAM including Sevan Doraisamy, Mohammad Alshatri, Kua Kia Soong and a guest panel speaker at the forum from Misi Solidariti, Sharon Wah, were also called in for questioning by the police in relation to the film. 

We are extremely concerned about the probe into the six activists by the police for their work in creating awareness around police abuse. The right to freedom of opinion and expression includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” This right is guaranteed in the Malaysian Constitution as well as Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Instead of targeting them, the authorities should rather focus on investigating the allegations of police abuse highlighted in the film.

Our organisations are also concerned about the raids on their office and home which we believe are aimed to intimidate them and to create a chilling effect for those who would like to speak up and expose abuses by the authorities.

Further, the laws being used against them are extremely broad and vague and inconsistent with international law and standards. These “catch-all” provisions have been systematically used to arrest and investigate human rights defenders for the activism as well government critics. 

These actions highlight a broader pattern of human rights violations by the Perikatan Nasional government which has initiated baseless criminal proceedings against government critics, human rights defenders, journalists, and individuals expressing critical opinions, since coming to power in March 2020. It has also attempted to silence peaceful protesters and impede the formation of political parties.

It is also disappointing that such actions are being taken at a time when Malaysia is seeking for candidacy of the UN Human Right Council and has made pledges to respect and protect human right including freedom of expression. 

As such, we urge Malaysia authorities to take the following steps as a matter of priority: 

  • Immediately and unconditionally drop all investigations and stop all acts of intimidation against all the civil society activists associated with the animated short film and lift all restrictions on the exercise of their human rights;
  • Create a safe and enabling environment for activists, human rights defenders and other members of Malaysia civil society to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly without intimidation, harassment, arrest or prosecution;
  • Review all provisions that criminalises freedom of expression in the Penal Code, the Communications and Multimedia Act and other laws and bring them in line with international law and standards.

We express our sincere hope that you will take these steps to address the human rights violations highlighted above. 

Signatories:

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global alliance of civil society organisations (CSOs) and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. Founded in 1993, CIVICUS has more than 10,000 members in more than 175 countries throughout the world.

The Asia Democracy Network (ADN) is a civil society-led multi-stakeholder platform dedicated to defending and promoting democracy in Asia. ADN aims to strengthen solidarity and a collective voice among Asian civil society engaged in democracy, human rights and development at the global, regional, national and local levels.

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is a regional network of 81 member organisations across 21 Asian countries, with consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and consultative relationship with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. Founded in 1991, FORUM-ASIA works to strengthen movements for human rights and sustainable development through research, advocacy, capacity-development and solidarity actions in Asia and beyond. Its regional secretariat is in Bangkok, and it has sub-regional offices in Geneva, Jakarta, and Kathmandu. 

Front Line Defenders is the Ireland-based international human rights organization that works for the security and protection of human rights defenders at risk (HRDs) around the world.

WITNESS help people use video and technology to protect and defend human rights.

Cc:

Dr. Ahmad Faisal Muhamad
Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations Office in Geneva
Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani
Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Malaysia 

 

Thailand: Halt prosecution of pro-democracy activists and protesters

His Excellency Somsak Thepsuthin
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice,
The Government Complex,
Chaeng Wattana Rd., Laksi Bangkok 10210
Thailand

Thailand: Halt prosecution of pro-democracy activists and protesters

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global alliance of civil society organisations (CSOs) and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. Founded in 1993, CIVICUS has more than 10,000 members in more than 175 countries throughout the world.

We are writing to you with regards to our concerns around civic freedoms in Thailand. Since the beginning of 2021, scores of activists and critics have been charged for lèse majesté, sedition and other violations. Cases we are particularly concerned by include:

  • On 19 January 2021, a woman was jailed for 43 years for criticising the royal family online. Anchan Preelert, a food seller and former civil servant, faced 29 counts of “insulting the monarchy”, or lèse majesté, under Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code and provisions of the Computer Crime Act[1]. She was arrested in January 2015 and detained for nearly four years until November 2018, when she was released on bail. Anchan was initially detained incommunicado in a military camp for five days before her transfer to a detention facility. She was repeatedly denied bail.
  • On 9 February 2021, the authorities indicted[2] pro-democracy activists Arnon Nampha, Parit Chiwarak, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, and Patiwat Saraiyaem on lèse majesté charges for their onstage speeches during a September 2020 political rally. Each accused faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. The activists were also charged with sedition under Article 116 of the penal code, which carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison. The four have pleaded not guilty to the charges. The Bangkok Criminal Court also denied bail requests and ordered the activists into pretrial detention. The order could condemn them to detention for years until their trial is concluded. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk and Parit Chiwarakan were granted bail on 23 April and 11 May 2021 respectively.[3]
  • On 8 March 2021, three activists - Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok and Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa - were charged with lèse majesté and denied bail in connection with a demonstration in Bangkok in September 2020. The activists were also charged with sedition. Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul and Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa have since been released on bail. 15 other activists were also charged for their involvement in the pro-democracy protests, including with sedition or organising illegal gatherings, and granted bail. [4]
  • On 1 April 2021, prosecutors indicted five pro-democracy activists on charges of ‘attempting to harm the queen’ during a street demonstration in October 2020, during which some protesters shouted slogans critical of the monarchy. The five – veteran activist Ekachai Hongkangwan, Mahidol University student Bunkueanun Paothong, Suranart Paenprasert and two others - pleaded not guilty in a Bangkok criminal court to violating section 110 of the criminal code, which states that whoever attempts an act of violence against the queen or the royal heir faces 16-20 years’ imprisonment. All five deny any wrongdoing and were released on bail. Queen Suthida was not in any evident danger in the incident, which occurred when a limousine carrying the queen passed through a small crowd of protesters.[5]
  • On 24 May 2021, the Central Juvenile and Family Court informed 17-year-old Thanakorn Phiraban that he had been indicted on lèse majesté under charges related to his speech at a pro-democracy rally in December 2020 in Bangkok.[6]

In February 2021, UN human rights experts said lèse majesté laws have “no place in a democratic country.” They expressed serious concerns about the growing number of lèse majesté prosecutions and harsh prison sentences that courts in Thailand have meted out to some defendants.[7]

We are also concerned about attempts to restrict protests which resumed in February 2021 and the use of excessive force by the security forces.

  • On 28 February 2021, authorities barricaded[8] a road facing a compound of army barracks in an attempt to block pro-democracy protesters who had marched from Victory Monument in Bangkok to military barracks on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, housing the prime minister’s residence. Razor wire was placed to prevent pedestrians from using the bridge in front of the barracks. The Thai police shot rubber bullets and used water cannon and tear gas against the protesters; in response, protesters threw bottles and other objects at the police. At least 16 people were injured.[9]
  • On 20 March 2021, scores of people were injured and arrested in Bangkok after police used water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a rally by pro-democracy protesters calling for the release of detained activists, constitutional changes and reform of the nation’s monarchy.[10] The organisers of the rally had said they planned to have demonstrators throw paper planes with messages over the palace walls. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, a watchdog organisation, reported 32 detained. Among those arrested were seven unaccompanied minors. They faced six charges, which include breaking the Emergency Decree’s ban on mass gatherings, causing public disturbance and resisting arrests. At least 33 people were reported injured, including 13 police officers and two reporters were hit by rubber bullets.

These actions are inconsistent with Thailand’s international obligations, including those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which Thailand ratified in 1996. These include obligations to respect and protect fundamental freedoms which are also guaranteed in Thailand’s Constitution.

As such, we urge Thai authorities to take the following steps as a matter of priority:

  • Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against the pro-democracy protesters and lift all restrictions on the exercise of their human rights;
  • Pending their release, ensure that they are protected from torture and other ill-treatment and have regular access to lawyers of their choice, their family members and to medical care;
  • Revoke emergency measures imposing restrictions on the rights to freedom of assembly and expression
  • Create a safe and enabling environment for activists, human rights defenders and other members of Thailand’s civil society to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly without intimidation, harassment, arrest or prosecution

We express our sincere hope that you will take these steps to address the human rights violations highlighted above.

Yours sincerely,

David Kode
Advocacy & Campaigns Lead.
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Cc:
Mr. Wongsakul Kittipromwong
The Attorney General of the Kingdom of Thailand

His Excellency Don Pramudwina,
Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand

His Excellency Sek Wannamethee, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] ‘Thai woman jailed for record 43 years for criticising monarchy’, BBC News, 19 January 2021 

[2] ‘Four Thai Activists Denied Bail Ahead of Next Month's Trial’, VOA News, 9 February 2021 

[3] ‘Thai Court Grants Bail to Pro-Democracy Activist on Hunger Strike’, Benar News, 11 May 2021

[4] ‘3 More Thai Pro-Democracy Protest Leaders Jailed on Royal Defamation Charges’, Benar News, 8 March 2021

[5] ‘Thailand pro-democracy activists charged over protest near queen's motorcade’, The Guardian, 1 April 2021

[6] ‘Thailand: Child Prosecuted for Insulting Monarchy’, Human Rights Watch, 27 May 2021

[7] ‘Thailand: UN experts alarmed by rise in use of lèse-majesté laws’, OHCHR, 8 February 2021

[8] ‘Police clash with protesters, rubber bullets, tear-gas fired’, Thai PBS, 28 February 2021

[9] ‘Thai protesters, police clash near PM’s residence’, Al Jazeera, 28 February 2021

[10]‘Thailand protests: scores injured as police clash with pro-democracy activists’, The Guardian , 21 March 2021


Civic Space in Thailand is rates as Repressed by the CIVICUS Moitor 

 

Civil society calls on UN member states to address Israeli attacks against Palestinians

Regional and international civil society organisations from around the world call on United Nations Member States to address the escalating and institutionalised Israeli attacks against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line during the 30th HRC Special Session

Your Excellency, 

Israel’s repression against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line escalated in May 2021 in response to widespread Palestinian demonstrations against Israel’s imminent threat of eviction and displacement of eight Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem. Notably, this is only the latest example of Israel’s institutionalized regime of racial domination and oppression, which the Palestinian people have endured for decades. While the international community has ensured Israel’s impunity since 1948, enabling Israel to continue to commit widespread and systematic human rights violations, Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line and refugees and exiles abroad continue to oppose and stand steadfast against 73 years of Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid. 

As Israel intensifies its crackdown on Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank, conducts military strikes against civilians in the Gaza Strip, which have been living under a comprehensive land, air, and sea closure for 14 years, and targets Palestinians inside the Green Line, the undersigned civil society organizations, from around the world, urge your delegation to  engage in the 30th Special Session by the UN Human Rights Council and  address all violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law, including the root causes of Israeli violations against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line.

Since 13 April 2021, the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Israeli occupying forces (IOF) have systematically targeted and attacked Palestinians in Jerusalem. The attacks escalated when the occupation police targeted worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, with tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber-coated metal bullets, resulting in hundreds of injured Palestinians. The occupation police prevented paramedics from accessing the compound to treat the injured and even directly targeted emergency responders by firing tear gas and wastewater containers on volunteers, paramedics, and ambulances. In other parts of the West Bank, Israel has violently suppressed demonstrations calling for an end to Israeli oppression, including by shooting live ammunition at demonstrators, killing 14 Palestinians between 14 and 18 May 2021. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, between 7 and 19 May, 5164 Palestinians were injured, 578 with live ammunition. 

These attacks come in the context of increasing Palestinian mobilization against Israel’s policies and practices of racial domination and oppression, in response to the imminent eviction of eight Palestinian families, totaling 19 households of around 87 individuals, from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem. The forcible transfer of Palestinians from Jerusalem is a war crime and likely amounts to a crime against humanity as it is being perpetrated in a widespread and systematic manner. Principle 6 of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, prohibits arbitrary displacement, including “when it is based on policies of apartheid, ‘ethnic cleansing’ or similar practices aimed at/or resulting in altering the ethnic, religious or racial composition of the affected population.” All of these criteria are applicable to Israeli practices, policies and laws implemented with the intention of maintaining Jewish Israeli domination over the Palestinian people. 

The Israeli police have also violently repressed Palestinian demonstrations inside the Green Line. Since 10 May 2021, thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel came out to protest the evictions of Palestinian refugee families in Sheikh Jarrah, the use of extreme violence and attacks on worshippers and protestors by the police in Al-Aqsa Mosque and elsewhere, and the Israeli military attacks in Gaza. The Palestinian protestors were subjected to police violence and human rights violations, including denial of emergency medical care. High Commissioner Bachelet highlighted “reports of excessive and discriminatory use of force by police against Palestinian citizens of Israel”. Since 10 May, the  police have arrested 1097 Palestinians. 

Moreover, Israeli settlers have intensified attacks against Palestinians living in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, with the support of the IOF. Inside the Green Line, far-right Jewish Israelis organized and coordinated the arrival of armed Israelis to attack Palestinians in al-Lydd, Ramle, Akka, Haifa, and Yafa, among other cities and areas. Moreover, the IOF has allowed Israeli settlers coming from the West Bank entry into Israel to target Palestinian neighborhoods and villages and provided support and protection as they attacked Palestinian residents and destroyed Palestinian property. In response, the Israeli police has not taken any action against and in some cases cooperated and supported the mob violence. High Commission Bachelet raised concern at “reports that Israeli police failed to intervene where Palestinian citizens of Israel were being violently attacked, and that social media is being used by ultraright-wing groups to rally people to bring ‘weapons, knives, clubs, knuckledusters to use against Palestinian citizens of Israel.” 

In the Gaza Strip, the IOF continues to target civilian structures, in particular homes, wiping out whole families, and inflicting widespread destruction and collective punishment on the entire, trapped population. Since 10 May 2021, human rights organizations documented Israel’s use of disproportionate, indiscriminate, and unnecessary military force in violation of international law. Residential blocks are “being targeted pursuant to an apparent policy agreed by Israel's military and political leadership”. The number of residential buildings targeted now stands at 94, including six towers—three of which were completely destroyed—ultimately destroying 371 residential units. In addition, hundreds of private properties, as well as tens of governmental sites, schools, banks, and mosques have sustained significant damages. Israel’s airstrikes have also led to the large-scale destruction of power and water networks, as well as thousands of square meters of vital paved roads. 

Israel’s extensive and systematic attacks on buildings, and the shelling of residential areas, especially those near the separation fence, force civilians—men, women, and children—to flee their homes in search of safety. Around 41,900 people have moved to 53 UNRWA schools, and the numbers are still increasing. Displaced people are experiencing appalling humanitarian conditions, especially when UNRWA schools have not officially been opened as shelters. 

As of 2 pm on 17 May, 231 Palestinians, including 65 children and 39 women were killed; 1212 others have been injured in the attacks, including 277children and 204women. According to Israeli media, ten Israelis have been killed following rocket fire from Gaza. 

It is again clear that civilians are paying the price of Israel’s pervasive impunity. Any firing of rockets or attacks must meet assessments of proportionality and the requirement for a concrete and direct military advantage. Indiscriminate attacks or targeting of civilians not taking a direct part in hostilities constitute a grave violation of international law. In order to protect all civilians, the Human Rights Council should address the root causes of Israel’s settler colonialism and apartheid to achieve lasting justice. 

We call on your missions to:

 

  • Engage in the 30th UN Human Rights Council Special Session and address the escalating Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people, including the root causes of Israeli violations against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line.
  • Establish a commission of inquiry to:
  • Monitor, document and report on all violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including the escalating attacks against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line since April 2021;
  • Include and address the root causes of Israel’s institutionalized regime of racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people in line with the 2019 Concluding Observations on Israel by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) which highlighted Israeli policies and practices against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line are in violation of Article 3 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) pertaining to racial segregation and apartheid;
  • Identify individuals responsible for serious crimes; 
  • Collect and preserve evidence related to violations to be used for accountability in relevant judicial bodies and transfer evidence to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Endorsing organisations 

  1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies 
  2. International Service for Human Rights 
  3. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) 
  4. International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW AP)
  5. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  6. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) 
  7. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights 
  8. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  9. Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN)
  10. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) 
  11. Women League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
  12. Sexual Rights Initiative
  13. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  14. 11.11.11 
  15. The Center for Reproductive Rights 
  16. Baytna 
  17. Bytes For All, Pakistan 
  18. Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign 
  19. Human Rights solidarity 
  20. Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP) 
  21. European Legal Support Center 
  22. Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement Pour Une Paix Juste
  23. Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine
  24. The Niagara Movement for Justice in Palestine-Israel (NMJPI) 
  25. ICAHD Finland
  26. Association belgo-Palestinienne WB
  27. Viva Salud
  28.  Intal
  29. CNCD-11.11.11
  30. EuroMed Rights
  31. The Palestinian Human Rights Organization (PHRO) - Lebanon 
  32. Scottish Palestinian Forum
  33. Trócaire
  34. European Trade Union Network for Justice in Palestine (ETUN)
  35. Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice (IIMA)
  36. UPJB (Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique)
  37. Akahatá
  38. Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS)
  39. Habitat International Coalition – Housing and Land Rights Network
  40. Canadian BDS Coalition
  41. ASGI - Association for juridical studies on immigration
  42. Network for Immigration, Development and Democracy (IDD)
  43. Aegis for Human Rights
  44. Geneva Bridge Association
  45. Association of Maghreb Workers in France
  46. Association for the Promotion of the Right to Difference
  47. El Na aura Association, Belgium
  48. Coordination for Maghreb Human rights Organizations (CMODH)
  49. SAM organization for Rights and Liberties
  50. Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights
  51. Dameer Foundation for Rights and Freedom
  52. INSAF Center for Defending Freedoms and Minorities
  53. Abductees’ Mothers Association
  54. Together We Raise (Social Association) 
  55. Watch for Human Rights 
  56. Mwatana for Human Rights 
  57. Hadramout Foundation For Legal Support and Training
  58. Yemeni Observatory of Mines
  59. Mwatana for Human Rights
  60. Social Peace Promotion and Legal Protection
  61. Al-Haq Foundation for Human Rights 
  62. Al-Rakeezeh Foundation for Relief and Development 
  63. Growth foundation for development & improvement
  64. Namaa Foundation for Development and Improvement 
  65. Lebanese Center for Human Rights
  66. Freedom of Thought and Expression
  67. Committee for Justice
  68. Belady Center for Rights and Freedoms
  69. Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  70. Egyptian Human Rights Forum
  71. The Freedom Initiative
  72. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
  73. Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance
  74. Libyan Center for Freedom of the Press
  75. February 17 Organization for Environment and Human Rights
  76. Shiraa Association to fight AIDS and drugs
  77. Thought Pioneers Organization Mattress
  78. Mattress Youth Organization
  79. Al-Tebyan Association for Human Rights Dirj
  80. Al-Massar Organization for Youth and Culture Dirj Branch
  81. Mediterranean Organization for Development and Humanitarian Relief
  82. International Arabic Organization for Women’s Rights
  83. Nass for Nass organization to support youth Misurata
  84. Defender Center for Human Rights
  85. Libyan Crimes Watch
  86. Libyan Organization for Legal Aid
  87. Human rights solidarity
  88. The Tunisian General Labor Union 
  89. The Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Tunisia
  90. The Tunisian Organization Against Torture
  91. The Tunisian Association for the Defense of Individual Liberties
  92. The Tunisian Association 23-10 for the Support of the Democratic Transition Process
  93. The National Observatory for the Defense of the Civic Character of the State
  94. The Tunisian Association for the Defense of Minorities
  95. Hassan Saadaoui Association for Democracy and Equality
  96. The National Union for Tunisian Journalists
  97. Vigilance for Democracy and Civic State       
  98. The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights
  99. Democratic Association of Tunisians in France
  100. Association Aswat Nissa
  101. Tunisian Federation for Citizenship on both shores
  102. Tunisian Union for Citizenship Action
  103. Tunisian Center for Press Freedom
  104. EuroMaghreb Network: citizenship and culture
  105. Vigilance for Democracy in Tunisia (Belgium)
  106. Ga3 Kifkif Network
  107. Algerian Feminist Journal Foundation
  108. Tharwa N'Fadhma N'Soumeur organisation
  109. Action for Change and Democracy in Algeria (ACDA)
  110. Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH)
  111. Autonomous Union of Public Administration Personnel (SNAPAP)
  112. General Autonomous Confederation of Workers in Algeria (CGATA)
  113. Riposte Internationale
  114. Collective of the Families of the Disappeared in Algeria (CFDA)
  115. National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD)
  116. SHOAA for Human Rights
  117. Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Morocco (ASDHOM)
  118. Organization for freedoms of Media and Expression
  119. Libyan Organization for Independent Media 
  120. Youth for Tawergha 

 

Joint Letter to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on Egypt

As the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) celebrates its 30 anniversary, several organisations have written a letter asking the bank to reflect on its core values - democracy, pluralism and sustainable development, which still seem far out of sight.

 

Urgent call to release Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja on his 60th Birthday &10th anniversary of his detention

To: United Nations Secretary General and diplomatic Missions

United Nations Special Rapporteurs/Targeted Governments (to be amended based on recipient)

Re: Urgent call to release Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja on his sixtieth Birthday and Tenth anniversary of his detention

Your Excellencies,

We the undersigned, representing civil society organisations from around the world, write to bring to your urgent attention the continued detention of human rights defender Abdul-Hadi Abdulla Hubail al-Khawaja. As you may be aware, al-Khawaja, who is a dual Bahraini-Danish citizen, is currently serving a life sentence for his peaceful human rights activities.  As he marks his 10th year in prison and commemorates his 60th birthday on 5 April 2021, we urge the United Nations through its Secretary General, governments around the world and representatives of the diplomatic community to urgently call on  Bahraini authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally. 

Al-Khawaja’s active campaigning for human rights began when he was 16 years old. Spanning decades of activism, he is the co-founder of both the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) for which he was also President. Until early 2011, al-Khawaja worked as MENA Protection Coordinator for human rights group Frontline Defenders. He also previously took part in a fact-finding mission to Iraq in 2003 with Amnesty International and is a member of the International Advisory Network of the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. He is a peaceful advocate of human rights and the recipient of several human rights awards, including the “World without Torture” Award which he received in October 2013 in recognition of his struggle for human rights.  

He was arrested on 9 April 2011 for his role in organising peaceful protests to defend the realisation of human rights of Bahrainis and for political reform during the popular ‘Arab Spring’ movements which began in Bahrain in February 2011.  He was violently detained by security forces as detailed in a report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) published in November 2011 at the request of the King of Bahrain.  He is serving a life prison sentence in Jau prison following unfair trials in courts that did not comply with Bahraini criminal law or international fair trial standards.

At its 63rd session in April/May 2012, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered that al-Khawaja’s arrest was arbitrary as it resulted from his exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

On 17 March 2021, GCHR in co-operation with its human rights partners Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (AHRDB), BCHR, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), released a report detailing some of the ill-treatment and torture al-Khawaja has faced during his arrest and subsequent arbitrary detention. This has included severe physical, psychological and sexual torture.

During his early detention, al-Khawaja suffered multiple fractures to his jaw and has undergone multiple surgeries but still suffers from chronic pain and requires additional intervention as he has not healed properly. His facial bone structure is permanently damaged. In January 2021, over 100 NGOs appealed to the Danish government to help free al-Khawaja so he could travel to Denmark for treatment.

In a January 2021 phone call, al-Khawaja listed four concerns including that prison authorities placed restrictions on his phone calls with the family (that have replaced their in-person visits) and confiscated hundreds of his books and other materials.  He also stated that prison authorities arbitrarily deny him adequate healthcare and refuse to refer him to specialists for the urgent surgeries he requires.  Denying a prisoner needed medical care violates the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, known as the Nelson Mandela Rules. 

Al-Khawaja continues to protest the arbitrary detention to which he is subjected.  Since his arrest, he has undertaken six-hunger strikes, one lasting 110 days in 2012 to protest conditions in Jau Prison and his unjust imprisonment. 

In March 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bahrain released 1,486 prisoners, 901 of whom received royal pardons on “humanitarian grounds.” However, al-Khawaja and other prominent human rights defenders - many of whom are older or suffer from underlying medical conditions - were not among those released. 

On 11 March 2021, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in a plenary session to adopt an urgent resolution condemning human rights abuses in Bahrain, including the persecution of human rights defenders, lawyers and other civil society figures, while calling on Bahrain’s government to enact reforms. The resolution calls for the release of al-Khawaja and others “who have been detained and sentenced for merely exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

On al-Khawaja’s 60th birthday and the 10th anniversary of his arrest we appeal to you to personally hold talks with the government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release him.

The undersigned,

  1. Activista Moviment
  2. African National Congress Youth League
  3. Amnesty International
  4. Association El Ghad pour les droits de l’homme
  5. Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)
  6. Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
  7. Brothers Keeper NPO
  8. Bytes For All, Pakistan
  9. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  10. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
  11. CIVICUS
  12. Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE)
  13. Danish PEN
  14. FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  15. Front Line Defenders
  16. Globe International Center, Mongolia
  17. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
  18. Human Rights Sentinel
  19. IFEX
  20. International Media Support
  21. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)              
  22. Intersection Association for Rights and Freedoms
  23. Iraqi Journalism Rights Defence Association
  24. Kuza Livelihood Improvement Projects
  25. Maharat Foundation
  26. Media Institute of Southern Africa
  27. OMCT (World Organisation Against Torture), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  28. Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)
  29. Protection Adolescent Organization
  30. South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
  31. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
  32. The Community Human Rights Defenders Network - ACPDH
  33. Universidade do Minho
  34. Vigilance for Démocracy and Civic state
  35. Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State
  36. منظمة الفيصل لمناهضة الاعتقال والتعذيب والإخفاء القسري (Al-Faisal Organization Against Detention, Torture and Enforced Disappearance)

 

Philippines: Halt judicial harassment and investigate killing of activists

Hon. Menardo Guevarra

Secretary, Department of Justice

Padre Faura St., Ermita, Manila,

Philippines 1000

 

Dear Secretary Guevarra,

RE:  Halt judicial harassment and investigate killing of activists in the Philippines

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global alliance of civil society organisations (CSOs) and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. Founded in 1993, CIVICUS has more than 10,000 members in more than 175 countries throughout the world.

We are writing to you with regards to recent reports we have received on the judicial harassment of human rights defenders in the Philippines as well as allegations of extrajudicial killings of activists. We are concerned that harassment and attacks continue to be perpetrated against those who are “red-tagged” and accused of supporting the communist insurgency. The government’s anti- insurgency campaign has failed to distinguish between armed combatants and civilians, including human rights defenders. As a consequence, many groups and individuals have been targeted simply because of their critical views of the government. We set out our concerns in more details below.

Fabricated charges filed against human rights defenders

The chairperson of human rights group Karapatan Elisa “Tita” Lubi and Karapatan – Southern Mindanao Southern Mindanao Region Secretary General Jayvee Apiag are currently facing attempted murder charges which we believe have been fabricated. The charges were filed by Corporal Elvin Jay Claud in relation to an alleged 20 May 2018 armed encounter between elements of the New People’s Army and the Philippine Army’s 89th Infantry Battalion and 10th Infantry Division in Sitio Balite, Brgy. Salapawan, Paquibato District, Davao City. The case was only filed on 3 June 2020 — two years after the alleged encounter.[1]

Jayvee Apiag has testified that at the time of the incident he was at Barangay Madaum, in Tagum City, to conduct a fact-finding mission on the extrajudicial murder of Ariel Maquiran, a banana plantation worker.  Elisa “Tita” Lubi, has also shared evidence with the courts confirming her presence in Metro Manila preceding, during and following the alleged incident. In addition to exculpatory evidence, it is also implausible that Lubi was engaged in armed combat as she is 76 and is suffering from hypertension and arthritis.[2] We are also seriously concerned that Lubi and Apiag were also deprived of due process: they did not receive subpoenas to participate in the preliminary investigation of the case to assert their innocence and avail of appropriate remedies for the case’s dismissal.[3]

In a separate incident, on the morning of 21 March 2021, Karapatan human rights worker, Renalyn Tejero was detained after a raid on her apartment in Cagayan de Oro City by the Philippine National Police and Philippine Army. She was shown a warrant and was only able to read the words “homicide” and “RTC 34, Cabadbaran.” She was also interrogated without a lawyer, despite requesting one. Tejero is now facing murder and attempted murder charges which we believe to be fabricated. She has been accused by four soldiers of the 12th Scout Ranger Company of the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion of the Philippine Army in the alleged murder of Corporal Marion Suson, in an encounter with supposed New People’s Army members on 9 November 2019. Renalyn Tejero is currently being held at the Police Regional Office (PRO) 13’s headquarters at Camp Colonel Rafael Rodriguez in Butuan City. Previously, in November 2020, she was red-tagged by a group named "Movement against Terrorism," along with 32 other individuals from various progressive organizations in the Caraga region.[4]

CIVICUS believes these trumped-up charges are a clear form of reprisal on the human rights defenders’ efforts to hold government officials including President Rodrigo Duterte accountable.

Killing of nine human rights defenders and political activists

On 7 March 2021, police and military conducted raids across four provinces throughout the Southern Tagalog region that led to the killing of nine human rights defenders and political activists.

  • Ariel Evangelista was a human rights defender and leader of the progressive group for fisherfolk, People’s Solidarity Against Environmental and Land Destruction, UMALPAS KA) a community organization that monitors the impact of eco-tourism projects in Batangas.[5] His partner, Anna Mariz Lemita-Evangelista, was a staunch supporter of coastal protection in Batangas, and an educator and community organizer in Cavite.[6] Police shot dead both human rights defenders during a raid on their house in Barangay Calayo, Nasugbu, Batangas.
  • Emmanuel Asuncion, a labour organizer and the coordinator of the Cavite chapter of BAYAN, a left-wing group, was shot dead by policemen in the office of the Workers' Assistance Center (WAC) in Dasmariñas in Dasmariñas, Cavite.[7]
  • Melvin Dasigao[8] and Mark Bacasno[9] were human rights defenders, youth organisers, and members of SIKKAD K3, a group working for the rights of the urban poor, who were killed in Rodriguez.
  • Puroy Dela Cruz and Randy Dela Cruz of the indigenous Dumagat tribe were shot dead by the police in Sitio Mina, Barangay Sta. Inez, Tanay, Rizal.[10]
  • Urban poor activists Abner Esto and Edward Esto were killed by the police in sitio Macaingalan, Barangay Puray, Rodriguez, Rizal.[11]

Six others have been arrested: labour activists Esteban Mendoza, Elizabeth Camoral, Ramir Corcolon, Arnedo “Nedo” Lagunias and Eugene Eugenio; and human rights worker Nimfa Lanzanas. The raids were reportedly conducted as part of the joint operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army under Case Operation Plan ASVAL against individuals and organizations that they have red-tagged as members or fronts of “communist terrorist groups.” On 5 March 2021, two days before the raids, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the police and military to “kill” and “finish off” all communist rebels should they find themselves in an armed encounter, and to “forget human rights” in the process.

Security forces claimed that the nine killed during the raids resisted arrest or exchanged gunfire, and that firearms and explosives were recovered from those arrested[12]. Testimonies from their families, witnesses, and neighbors disprove these claims, asserting that they were unlawfully killed and the firearms and explosives recovered from the raids were planted. No one has been held accountable for their killings.

In a separate incident on 28 March, Dandy Miguel, a union leader and labour rights activist, was killed in the province of Laguna. He was gunned down by a still unidentified man while riding his motorcycle in Barangay Canlubang. Miguel, 35, was the vice chairperson of Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK-KMU), a labour rights center based in Southern Tagalog.[13]

International human rights obligations

The Philippines government has made repeated assurances to other states that it will investigate and address human rights violations. Indeed, such assurances have been used to deter further international scrutiny on the country. However, the charges brought against Elisa “Tita” Lubi, Jayvee Apiag and Renalyn Tejero highlight that an ongoing and unchanging pattern of the government targeting human rights defenders with trumped-up charges. Extrajudicial murders of human rights defenders with a complete lack of accountability brings into even starker question the Philippines’ intention and ability to uphold its commitments.

These actions are also inconsistent with Philippines’ international human rights obligations, including those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which Philippines ratified in 1986. These include obligations to respect and protect fundamental freedoms which are also guaranteed in the Philippines Constitution. The Philippines government has an obligation to protect human rights defenders as provided for in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and to prevent any reprisals against them for their activism.

The killings of the of the nine activists reflect findings from human rights groups as well as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ June 2020 report that there have been widespread and systematic human rights violations by the government, including the killing of human rights defenders, since 2016 when President Duterte took power.[14] These violations are in contravention of the right to life guaranteed under the ICCPR. Further, these actions contravene the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials which states that force should be used only as a last resort, in proportion to the threat posed, and should be designed to minimise damage or injury.

Therefore, we call on the Philippines authorities to:

  • Immediately dismiss the malicious and fabricated charges against Elisa “Tita” Lubi, Jayvee Apiag and Renalyn Tejero and release all other human rights defenders who have been arbitrarily detained for their activism;
  • Ensure prompt, thorough, and effective investigations into the reports of unlawful killings of the ten activists, and ensure that those suspected of involvement are brought to justice;
  • Send a clear public message to all security forces in the region, that unlawful killings are unacceptable and strictly prohibited at all times; and
  • Halt all forms of intimidation and attacks on human rights defenders, ensure independent and effective investigations into their killings and enact of a law for their protection.

We urge your government to look into these concerns as a matter of priority and we hope to hear from you regarding our inquiries as soon as possible.

David Kode,
Advocacy and Campaigns Lead,
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation


[1] ‘Rights workers challenge arrest warrants in Davao court’, Bulatlat, 30 March 2021,  https://www.bulatlat.com/2021/03/30/rights-workers-challenge-arrest-warrants-in-davao-court/

[2] ‘Rights group urge court to reinvestigate murder charges on chairperson and regional officer’, Davao Today, 31 March 2021, http://davaotoday.com/main/human-rights/rights-group-urge-court-to-reinvestigate-murder-charges-on-chairperson-and-regional-officer/

[3] Urgent appeal for action to dismiss trumped up and malicious charges against Filipino human rights defenders’ Karapatan, 1 April 2021, https://www.karapatan.org/urgent+appeal+for+action+to+dismiss+trumped+up+and+malicious+charges+against+filipino+human+rights+defenders

[4] ‘Fast Facts: Who is Renalyn Tejero, the Lumad activist arrested in Cagayan de Oro?’, Rappler, 24 March 20201, https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/things-to-know-renalyn-tejero-lumad-activist

[5] Ariel Evangelista and 4 Other HRDs killed and four arrests in coordinated raids by police and military’, Frontline Defenders, 12 March 2021, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/ariel-evangelista-4-other-hrds-killed-and-four-arrested-coordinated-raids-police-and-military

[6] ‘Chai Lemita-Evangelista, youth leader and community organizer’, Bulatlat, 16 March 2021, https://www.bulatlat.com/2021/03/16/chai-lemita-evangelista-youth-leader-and-community-organizer/

[7] ‘Bloody Sunday 'chase'? Cops search home, kill activist in another town’, Rappler, 8 March 2021, https://www.rappler.com/nation/police-search-home-kill-activist-another-town-cavite

[8] Melvin Dasigao, Frontline Defenders, 8 March 2021, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/melvin-dasigao  

[9] Mark Bacasno, Frontline Defenders, 8 March 2021, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/mark-lee-coros-bacasno

[10] ‘4 other victims of #BloodySunday killings identified’, Philippines Reporter, 12 March 2021,  https://philippinereporter.com/index.php/2021/03/12/4-other-victims-of-bloodysunday-killings-identified/

[11] Ibid.

[12] ‘Philippine police kill 9 in raids on suspected rebels’, Associate Press, 8 March 2021, https://apnews.com/article/philippines-police-manila-718cd406f3fad454c6a72e873b4aef45

[13] ‘Labor rights leader shot dead in Laguna’, 29 March 2021, Rappler, https://www.rappler.com/nation/labor-rights-leader-dandy-miguel-killed-laguna-march-28-2021

[14] ‘Philippines: UN report details widespread human rights violations and persistent impunity’, OHCHR, 4 June 2020,  https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25924&LangID=E


 The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, rates civic space – the space for civil society – in Philippines as Repressed

 

45 Human rights and foreign policy organisations call on Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton to speak out against the Saudi government’s human rights abuses

Fourty-Five organisations sent a joint letter to Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton calling on him to speak out against the Saudi government's human rights abuses and boycott the Formula 1 race scheduled to be held in Saudi Arabia in the latter part of 2021. 


 

Women’s rights defenders must be immediately and unconditionally released!

Arabic

Letter by civil society organisations calling for the release of Saudi women's rights defenders

 

Ladies European Tour community should #StandWithSaudiHeroes

بالعربية

Dear Organisers, Participants and Sponsors,

We, the undersigned organisations, are writing to ask you to reconsider your participation in the Ladies European Tour golf week taking place in Saudi Arabia and denounce human rights violations against women in the Kingdom. 

With the competition taking place from 12 to 19 November, domestic and international viewers from 55 countries worldwide will watch female players compete for a hefty cash prize, while women’s rights defenders in the Kingdom languish in prison, without access to legitimate legal redress. The 1.5 million dollar cash prize being offered to the winner comes directly from the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is chaired by Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman. Saudi PIF has invested billions into campaigns to whitewash their human rights abuses, including downplaying the abhorrent murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.    

While we acknowledge that such tournaments represent an important milestone in women’s golf, we are deeply concerned that Saudi Arabia is using this sports event as a public relations tool to sports-wash its appalling human rights record, including the discrimination against women and the crackdown on women’s rights defenders. 

In 2018, Saudi Arabia carried out a wave of arrests of Saudi women activists who were challenging the country’s discriminatory male guardianship system by peacefully campaigning for their right to drive. Among those who remain detained are Loujain al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Sadah, Nouf Abdulaziz, and Maya al-Zahrani; many reported they were subjected to torture in detention, including flogging, electric shocks, sexual harassment, and being held in solitary confinement. Several other women’s rights defenders have been temporarily released; however, many are still awaiting trial and could face lengthy prison sentences. We remain concerned that they will not be able to exercise their right to fair proceedings in accordance with the international human rights standards, which Saudi Arabia is obliged to adhere to.

Loujain al-Hathloul’s sister, Lina, recently expressed her outrage over the illegitimacy of the Saudi regime, and the wall between the government and the people. “Loujain has been in prison for two and a half years. We haven’t managed to have any contact with high-ranking Saudi officials. They don’t want to answer our questions… Loujain and the other activists have not yet had a trial, or been condemned. They have been tortured. Their only charge is that they were human rights activists,” she said. 

Women in Saudi Arabia, including foreign women residing in the country, are denied agency over their own lives, nor are they legally recognized as full human beings. Saudi law prohibits disobedience to husbands or male guardians, and women still do not have the right to choose who they want to marry, or how they want to give birth, without the approval of a male guardian.  In addition, Saudi women cannot pass their nationality on to their children and foreign wives of Saudi citizens are not permitted to return to their home countries without their husband’s permission. Despite the country’s domestic violence law endorsed under Royal Decree in 2013, men continue to exercise extreme power over women and children, leaving many of them trapped in abusive relationships. Furthermore, those who speak out on the reality of the status of women’s rights and other human rights issues are often arrested on trumped-up charges, or even forcibly disappeared. 

The only way to achieve true progress, in the eyes of the world, is to implement real reforms on women’s rights, and immediately release the activists who have been arrested for defending these rights. 

While we hope that Saudi Arabia can indeed develop its interaction with other countries around the world through hosting sports and other events in the Kingdom, we cannot ignore the country’s attempt to conceal its continued detention of women’s rights activists and discrimination against women by hosting a women’s sports tournament. 

Take Action!

In light of the above, the signatories call on Ladies European Tour organisers and players, to urge the Saudi authorities to drop all charges against Saudi women’s rights activists and immediately and unconditionally release them. Because you can genuinely make a difference in these activists’ lives and their struggle for freedom and gender equality, we are asking you to help increase awareness and show solidarity by sharing on social media messages of support and solidarity with #StandWithSaudiHeroes.

Yours Sincerely,

  1. ALQST for Human Rights
  2. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
  3. CIVICUS Alliance
  4. CODEPINK
  5. Equality Now
  6. European Center for Democracy and Human Rights 
  7. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor 
  8. Freedom Forward 
  9. Freedom Now
  10. Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties
  11. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
  12. HUMENA for Human Rights and Civic Engagement 
  13. International Service for Human Rights 
  14. Kurdistan Without Genocide Association (KWG)
  15. Le Collectif de Femmes pour les Droits de l'Homme – Paris 
  16. L’Association Francophone pour les Droits de l’Homme 
  17. MENA Rights Group 
  18. The Freedom Initiative
  19. Women’s March Global  

 

Open letter to the G20 Finance Ministers

Dear G20 Finance Ministers,

As you meet this week, we are writing to you to encourage you to take concrete actions in order to build a better future through a just recovery by investing in people and ensuring that funds being made available reach those that need them the most.

 

31 human rights groups call for urgent response to the Algerian government’s intensifying crackdown on civil society and journalists amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

عربى

We, the undersigned regional and international non-governmental organisations, write to draw your attention to the alarming and the intensified crackdown on Algerian civil society, targeting peaceful activists and journalists, including with arbitrary detention. We urge you to address these worrying developments, and to:

  • Strongly condemn the arbitrary and unlawful arrest, detention and judicial harassment of journalists, human rights defenders, civil society and other peaceful activists solely for expressing their views, for protesting peacefully and/or calling for democratic change; 
  • Call on the Algerian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release these individuals, arbitrarily detained;
  • Call on authorities to cease all judicial harassment and intimidation against them; and
  • Call on Algeria to ensure and guarantee the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly as included in the Algerian Constitution, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) ratified by Algeria.

Illustrative of this crackdown, in August, two journalists - Abdelkrim Zeghileche and Khaled Drareni – were sentenced respectively to two and three years in prison. Drareni’s appeal is set for 8 September. Human rights defender and activist Abdullah Benaoum has remained in pre-trial detention since December 2019, despite a very critical health condition. Opposition figure Amira Bouraoui was sentenced to a year in prison on 21 June and is awaiting her appeal on 24 September. On19 June 2020, about 500 peaceful protesters were subjected to mass arbitrary detentions.

The Algerian authorities’ relentless prosecution and harassment of civil society and journalists undermines human rights as the country undertakes its democratic transition process, ahead of a constitutional referendum to be held on November 1st, endangers the health of individuals detained given the heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 in the midst of an outbreak of the virus in Algerian prisons. This risk is illustrated by the recent death of two detainees and the infection of at least eight others.

In the 44th HRC session, civil society organisations urged the Council to increase its scrutiny of the situation in Algeria, knowing that within less than a month - between 30 March and 16 April 2020 - three communications were sent to the Algerian government by multiple special procedures in relation to arbitrary and violent arrests, unfair trials and reprisals against human rights defenders and peaceful activists. Despite these communications, and while President Tebboune announced his support for an open dialogue with the Hirak and his desire to break with previous repressive practices following controversial elections in December 2019, the reality on the ground shows that the level of repression has increased drastically.

We therefore call on you to raise these pressing and worrying developments in order to protect Algerian civil society as it strives to protect its democratic transition, and its freedom of assembly and expression.

We thank you for your consideration and look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

  • Adil Soz
  • Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC)
  • Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC)
  • Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
  • Amnesty International 
  • Article 19
  • Bytes for All (B4A)
  • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  • Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM)
  • Cartoonist’s Rights Network International (CRNI)
  • Civicus 
  • Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
  • Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Tunisia
  • Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
  • Globe International Center
  • Initiative for Freedom of Expression (IFoX) - Turkey
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
  • International Press Centre (IPC)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  • Maharat Foundation
  • Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
  • Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
  • Media, Entertainment &Artis Alliance (MEAA)
  • Metamorphosis
  • Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)
  • Reporters without Borders (RSF)
  • South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO)
  • World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)

Context

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, and the suspension of the peaceful protest movement called the Hirak, Algerian authorities have accelerated arbitrary prosecutions and harassment of journalists, peaceful activists, rights defenders, and citizens expressing dissenting opinions. Between March and June 2020, local rights groups estimate that at least 200 people were subjected to arbitrary arrests for expressing their opinion or for their alleged support to the Hirak, while more than 1,400 were prosecuted in relation to the protests since the start of the Hirak movement in February 2019. As of 25 August, and according to the National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD), at least 44 people are behind bars after being arbitrarily detained for expressing their opinion, and a number of them are in pre-trial detention. On 19 June 2020, about 500 peaceful protesters were subjected to mass arbitrary detentions. 

Among those recently sentenced or prosecuted: 

  • Political activist Samir Ben Larbi and national coordinator of the families of the disappeared Slimane Hamitouche (subject of a joint communication from UN Special Procedures), were sentenced on 10 August to two years in prison over online publications and their participation in peaceful protests. 
  • On 21 June, Amira Bouraoui, activist and opposition figure, was sentenced to a year in prison after criticizing President Tebboune online. She is awaiting her appeal, scheduled to take place on 24 September 2020. 
  • The pre-trial detention of Walid Kechida, creator of a satirical Facebook page, arrested in April for "contempt and offense to the President" and "attack on the divine entity", was renewed on 27 August 2020 for another 4 months.  
  • Activist Abdullah Benaoum’s health is in critical condition. He has remained in pre-trial detention since his participation in a peaceful demonstration in December 2019, although he suffers from a heart condition requiring an urgent surgical intervention. His petition for a pretrial release was rejected again on 2 September. 

Peaceful activists and journalists are sentenced on vague charges such as “weakening the morale of the army”, “undermining national unity” or “offending the President”, all stemming from exercising their right to free speech or peaceful assembly. The National Union of Magistrates (SNM) has recently denounced the abusive recourse to pre-trial detention

In addition, authorities have continued to clamp down on freedom of information by blocking news websites and multiplying the prosecution of journalists. In April 2020, the Parliament hurriedly passed vaguely worded amendments to the Penal Code allowing for people exercising free speech to be charged with “spreading false news”, harming “national unity” and “public order”, punishable by one to three years in prison. At least six online news websites covering the COVID-19 pandemic and the Hirak protests were made unavailable on Algerian networks in April and May. Two of them were blocked four days after the editor-in-chief of both websites published an op-ed criticizing President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s first 100 days in office. Minister of Communication Amar Belhimer admitted that the authorities, without prior notification, had blocked them pending "further legal proceedings" against the director for "defamation and insult" against President Tebboune.   

Among the journalists targeted:

  • Reporter Abdelkrim Zeghileche was sentenced to two years in prison on 24 August 2020 after he called for the creation of a new political party and criticized President Tebboune. He was accused of “endangering national unity” and “insulting the head of state”; 
  • Journalist Khaled Drareni, correspondent for TV5Monde and Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Director of the Casbah Tribune, was sentenced to three years in prison over his reporting on the Hirak protest movement on 10 August 2020; 
  • On 28 July 2020, Algerian authorities detained Moncef Aït Kaci, a former France 24 correspondent, Ramdane Rahmouni, a freelance producer and camera operator, and Mustapha Bendjama, a local journalist and advocate for the freedom of the press. They were released temporarily pending investigation, and Bendjama continues to face inappropriate criminal charges.
  • After a one-day trial, in April 2020, Algerian authorities also charged three journalists with “attack on national unity” over their reporting on the coronavirus pandemic.

Furthermore, members of the judiciary who demand respect for judicial independence have been sanctioned professionally. On February 10, the Justice Ministry ordered the arbitrary transfer of prosecutor Mohamed Belhadi 600 kilometers south of Algiers, after Belhadi requested the acquittal of 16 protesters. The spokesperson for the Algerian Magistrates Association, Saad Eddine Merzouk and other judges who called for the protection of judiciary independence, were summoned in an extraordinary session before the Superior Judicial Council on 1 June 2020. Back in November 2019, police had forcefully dislodged a peaceful gathering of magistrates on strike, in a courthouse in Oran, over the reshuffling of judicial positions. 

 

Algeria: Arbitrary detention of journalist Khaled Drareni another blow to democratic transition

العربية

The undersigned civil society groups are alarmed at the continued and escalating attacks on civic space in Algeria and call on the government to end their crackdown on journalistic and other public freedoms. Despite President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announcing his desire to break with previous repressive practices, freedom of expression especially has come under severe attack since March 2020, with several journalists facing arbitrary arrest and prosecution for conducting their work in the country.

Illustrative of this intensifying crackdown, journalist Khaled Drareni was arrested on 29 March 2020 for filming a protest and was sentenced to two years in prison on appeal on 15 September. We strongly condemn the harsh and arbitrary sentencing of Drareni, and call for his immediate release and for charges against him to be dropped.

Restrictions on free assembly have also intensified following the outbreak of COVID-19 and the decision taken by the Hirak grassroots pro-democracy movement to suspend its weekly protests that had started in February 2019. Included in these restrictions is the arbitrary detention and prosecution of individuals associated with the protest movement and those who express support for it in multiple forums.

Article 50 of the Algerian constitution guarantees freedom of expression, but the legal framework still infringes on this right. Law 12-05 of 2012 (or the Law on Information) requires publishing houses to seek prior approval from the media regulatory authority for publications and violations can include fines of up to 500,000 dinars (roughly US$3900.00). On 23 April 2020, the Algerian parliament further reinforced this repressive legal environment by adopting amendments to the Penal Code that include harsh prison sentences for the dissemination of false information during a public health crisis, or for accessing funding (whether local or international) that the state deems “likely to undermine state security, stability, or normal functioning of [state] institutions,” or to undermine “the fundamental interests of Algeria” or “public security and order.” Algeria is rated “repressed” on the CIVICUS Monitor and is ranked 146th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index, five places lower than in 2019 and 27 places lower than in 2015.

In this context, activists, artists and journalists have been increasingly detained for their journalist work and social media posts under the false and vague accusations of threatening national unity and inciting protests. The National Union of Magistrates (SNM) has also denounced the abusive recourse to pre-trial detention.

Under these worsening civic space conditions, and taking into consideration the health risks posed to detainees by COVID-19, the undersigned are notably concerned for:

  • Algerian journalists, activists, and lawyers, including Said Boudour (a journalist facing charges of ‘defamation’ and ‘insulting the regime’, Amel Hadjadj (a woman human rights defender facing ongoing intimidation, including an arbitrary arrest on 21 November 2019 where she was physically abused), and Halim Feddal (founder of the Algerian National Association Against Corruption sentenced to six month’s imprisonment on 3 March 2020). 
  • Reporter Abdelkrim Zeghileche, who was sentenced to two years in prison on 24 August 2020 after he called for the creation of a new political party and criticized President Tebboune, and
  • Activist Abdullah Benaoum, detained since December 2019, whose health is in very critical condition, and whose latest petition for pretrial release was rejected on 2 September 
  • Khaled Drareni, who was arrested alongside two protestors and activists, Samir Benlarbi and Slimane Hamitouche, and sentenced on appeal to two years’ imprisonment. 

Drareni, who is editor of the Casbah Tribune news site and correspondent for TV5 Monde and Reporters without Borders, has been arbitrarily detained since 29 March 2020 solely for doing his job as a journalist. According to Amnesty International, Drareni was arrested while filming police approach protestors on 27 March 2020. On 10 August 2020, he was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of “inciting an unarmed gathering” and “endangering national unity” for his work covering the Hirak protests over the past year. Drareni was also charged a fine of 50,000 Dinars (roughly, US$390). During the appeal hearing on 8 September, the prosecution had requested four years in prison and a 50,000 DA fine against Drareni.

Following his initial sentencing on 10 August, solidarity protests calling for his release have erupted across the country, beginning in Algiers. Drareni attended his appeal on 8 September and appeared thin and weak, which prompted the national and international Khaled Drareni Support Committees to call for his immediate release on urgent health grounds

In a joint statement issued on 16 September, UN Special Procedures condemned the jail sentence against the Algerian journalist and called for his release. The experts also called on Algeria to “halt the arrest and detention of political activists, lawyers, journalists, and human rights defenders, as well as any person who expresses dissent or criticism of the government,”, and affirmed that “Drareni, and all the others currently in prison, or awaiting trial simply for doing their job and defending human rights must be immediately released and protected.”

Given the current threats facing Drareni and all detained prisoners of conscience, urgent action is needed from the international community to ensure his release and call for an end to restrictions facing journalists, protestors and activists in Algeria. The undersigned specifically call on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UN Special Procedures; UN Member States; and the European Union, including Parliament, EEAS and Member States; to urge Algerian authorities to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release Khaled Drareni, dropping all charges against him;
  2. Immediately and unconditionally release all protestors, activists and journalists arbitrarily detained for their peaceful protests, activities and reporting, notably on the Hirak movement; 
  3. Revise the legal framework, including the Penal Code, the 2012 Law on Information and the Law No. 09-04 of August 5, 2009, in line with international best practice to protect the right to freedom of expression in the country;
  4. Devise a plan to roll back the April amendment designed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, are time-limited, in line with international human rights standards, to ensure that these do not unduly curtail civic freedoms; and
  5. Cease all judicial harassment and intimidation against all protestors, activists and journalists and those facing restrictions for expressing their opinions online.

The undersigned,

Article19
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
CIVICUS
Collectif des Familles de Disparus en Algérie
Freedom House
Freedom Initiative
Humena for Human Rights and Civic Engagement
MENA Rights Group
Reporters without Borders (RSF)

 

Global call for international human rights monitoring mechanisms on China

An open letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, UN Member States.

China

 

Over 30 rights organisations call on international powers to pressure Cambodia over human rights abuses

Joint Letter

We call on Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, to join the EU in its call to the Cambodian government to take concrete action to address the human rights situation in the country. Repressive laws that restrict human rights and civic freedoms in Cambodia have worsened during COVID-19.


Your excellency,

We, the undersigned 32 civil society organizations, urge the Governments of Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America to echo the European Union (EU) in its call for the respect of human rights in Cambodia. On August 12, 2020, the EU will partially suspend Cambodia’s “Everything But Arms” (EBA) tariff preferences in response to the Cambodian government’s “serious and systematic violations” of four human and labor rights conventions: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize No. 87 (1948), the ILO Convention concerning the Application of the Principles of the Right to Organize and to Bargain Collectively, No. 98 (1949), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966).

The Cambodian government continues to crack down on civil society, independent media, and the political opposition and human rights defenders to silence critical voices in the country. In the past three years it has adopted a series of repressive laws that unduly restrict human rights. In November 2019, the Cambodian authorities had arbitrarily detained nearly 90 people solely on the basis of the peaceful expression of their opinions or political views as well as their political affiliations. While 74 opposition members, detained on spurious charges, were released from detention in December 2019, the charges against them remain, and they risk re-arrest. Opposition leader Kem Sokha’s criminal trial for unsubstantiated treason charges has been marred by irregularities since it began in January. Sokha remains banned from politics and faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. The Prime Minister announced that the trial could drag on into 2021.

In April, the Cambodian government used the Covid-19 crisis to adopt an unnecessary and draconian state of emergency law that provides the authorities with broad and unfettered powers to restrict freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association – rights that have already been severely restricted during his 35 years in power. Currently, another 30 political prisoners are behind bars due to the Cambodian government’s continued onslaught on free speech in the guise of combating Covid-19.

Cambodia committed to protecting and promoting fundamental human rights, providing equal protection of the law, and holding genuine periodic elections when it ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Cambodian government ratified all of the fundamental ILO Conventions that protect the rights of workers and trade unions. Respect for human rights and the rule of law are essential for a stable and flourishing business environment over the long term.

Cambodia agreed that access to the EU’s Everything But Arms preferential trade scheme is conditional on adherence to the principles in 15 core human rights and labor rights conventions. The European Commission’s decision on February 12, 2020 to partially suspend Cambodia’s EBA preferences followed a yearlong process of ‘enhanced engagement’ between the EU and Cambodia during which the Cambodian government was given every opportunity to cooperate and make significant progress in improving its protection of human rights and labor rights. The European Commission concluded that Cambodia had failed to take necessary measures to retain full EBA benefits.

We agree. For example, on January 22, 2020, 23 companies and nongovernmental organizations, including major international garment brands sourcing from Cambodia, raised concerns about the labor rights situation and urged the government to amend or repeal two deeply problematic laws, the Trade Union Law and the Law on Associations and NGOs (LANGO), and drop all outstanding criminal charges against union leaders. The government’s tokenistic amendments to the repressive Trade Union Law fell considerably short of what was required to address that issue. More broadly, the government has demonstrated an unwillingness to take concrete and meaningful steps to improve the rights situation; to the contrary, Cambodia adopted further repressive laws and arrested more peaceful critics during the intensive monitoring and evaluation process.

We therefore call on Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, acting collectively and bilaterally, to echo the EU in its call to the Cambodian government to take concrete action without delay, including but not limited to the following, to address the human rights situation in the country:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners, including activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and members of the political opposition.
  2. Cease harassment, arbitrary arrests, and physical attacks against union leaders, land activists, human rights defenders, opposition members, and journalists.
  3. Immediately drop the baseless treason charges against opposition leader Kem Sokha.
  4. Conduct independent, impartial, prompt and thorough investigations into attacks, including killings, against critics of the government and hold those responsible to account. For example, the Cambodian government should establish an independent Commission of Inquiry to conduct an effective investigation into the extrajudicial killing of political commentator and human rights defender Dr. Kem Ley in July 2016.
  5. Repeal the Law on the Management of the Nation in State of Emergency.
  6. Reverse the three rounds of amendments to the Law on Political Parties that permit the arbitrary dissolution of political parties and ban party leaders from political activity without due process.
  7. Significantly amend the Trade Union Law in consultation with workers, labor advocates and other stakeholders to bring it into full compliance with ILO Conventions No. 87 (Freedom of Association) and No. 98 (Right to Organize and Collectively Bargain), both ratified by Cambodia.
  8. Repeal or significantly amend the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO), which violates Cambodia’s obligations under international human rights law.
  9. Cease the government’s arbitrary interference and surveillance of the online and offline media and end the use of repressive laws to censor and control independent media.
  10. Restore the work of the Arbitration Council by enabling it to hear all labour disputes, including termination of union leaders, and guaranteeing unrestricted access to all workers, irrespective of union status.
  11. Ensure prompt, fair and transparent resolution of all land conflicts by providing fair compensation to victims of land grabbing and introduce an effective and fair system of land titling, while ending the harassment of land rights activists and affected communities.
  12. Cooperate with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Special Procedures in order to allow them to fulfil their mandates without interference.

The Cambodian government should take meaningful measures that reverse the deterioration of Cambodia’s human rights situation in order to restore trade preferences or lift suspensions of bilateral aid.

We urge your government to call on the Cambodian government to comply with its obligations under international human rights law and to support the EU in its efforts to bring respect for human rights, rule of law, and democracy to the Cambodian people.

Yours sincerely,

Arab Network for Food Sovereignty - Regional
Article 19
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
Asian Democracy Network (ADN)
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC)
Civil Rights Defenders
CIVICUS
Clean Clothes Campaign East Asia
EarthRights International
Fair Labor Association (FLA)
FIAN Germany
Forest Peoples’ Programme
Front Line Defenders
Global Witness
Human Rights Now (HRN)
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX)
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek
People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) - Europe
People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) - Global
Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific - Regional
Roots for Equity, Pakistan
Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE), Cameroon
The B Team
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
Zambia Social Forum


Civic space in Cambodia is rated as Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor.

 

Egypt: End Reprisals, Harassment and Threats Against Civil Society Leader Mostafa Fouad

Arabic

The undersigned civil society organisations call on Egyptian authorities to immediately end their harassment of Egyptian activist and Deputy Director of HuMENA for Human Rights and Civic Engagement, Mostafa Fouad.


 

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