Civil society organisations urge Human Rights Council to condemn crackdown in Bahrain and Yemen

Johannesburg. 7 June 2011. Silence by the international community in the face of the massive crackdown on protestors, civil society and the media in both Yemen and Bahrain makes it complicit in these actions said CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) today. Echoing civil society representatives at a side event at the United Nations Human Rights Council yesterday, CIVICUS and CIHRS call on the international community to condemn the on-going repression in both countries.

“Civil society activists and citizens have been peacefully protesting for their rights in Yemen and Bahrain, yet they’ve been met by repression from their own government and silence from the international community,” said Adam Nord, Lobbying and Engagement Manager at CIVICUS. “The international community and the UN Human Rights Council in particular need to be explicit in their support for the peaceful pursuit of human rights in both countries and insist on the immediate end to violence.”


Press Statement CIVICUS urges the international community to address human rights abuses by corporations

Johannesburg. 31 May 2011. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation urges the international community to act on “deeply concerning” human rights abuses by certain transnational corporations as the final report of Prof John Ruggie, the UN Special Representative on Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises, was submitted to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.

“In an increasingly globalised and interlinked world we believe that there is a real necessity for UN member states to standardise practices in relation to business compliance with human rights through the adoption of a universally binding framework,” said CIVICUS UN Representative, Renate Bloem.

“We remain deeply anxious about the activities of trans-national corporations and other business enterprise resulting in human rights abuses, including the right to a clean and healthy environment; access to land and natural resources; and adequate and decent standards of work,” Bloem said.
In a submission, CIVICUS has referred to the “failure” of state-owned business to uphold human rights standards when operating outside their state jurisdictions.


Press Statement Botswana: Mounting tension must end says South African Civil Society coalition

Johannesburg 27 May 2011. A coalition of South African based civil society groups have called on Botswana security forces and striking civil servants to exercise restraint, or risk fuelling a severe humanitarian crises. Botswana authorities should instead heed the call from the Botswana Centre for Human Rights asking President Khama to negotiate a peaceful end to union led protests, which have brought public services to a standstill for the past six weeks. The group also calls for the immediate release of all children detained by Botswana state police.

Media reports have documented that over 100,000 public servants, including around 1,500 considered essential workers, have been on strike since 18 April, calling for a 16 per cent wage increase. Botswana civil society groups told South African partners that the protests were increasingly becoming violent as security forces sought to silence the group by "what ever means possible". Several student protestors in Ramotswa, Molepolole and Mochudi, have been arrested following protest action in response to the absence of teachers.


International community must end “double standards” and act in Syria

Johannesburg. 25 May 2011. The United Nations Security Council decision to act resolutely in Libya and failure to issue resolution on Syria smacks of double standards, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation said today. The international community and particularly the Arab League should make clear to the Syrian government that it has lost its legitimacy as a member of the international community.

Since anti-government protests started two months ago, about 1100 people have been killed by Syrian security forces. At least 60 people were killed within the space of two days on Friday May 20 and Saturday May 21 alone.  Reports indicate that thousands of civilians and prisoners of conscience have been detained.


CIVICUS calls on world leaders to make countries accountable for failing aid commitments at OECD summit

Johannesburg. 24 May 2011. World leaders should use the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 50th anniversary forum to press for concrete improvements in sustainable development and fighting poverty, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation said as the two day summit opened today in Paris.

The 34-member institution should make clear that real improvements in poverty eradication depend on countries living up to aid commitments and the effectiveness of international aid, CIVICUS said.
"Rather than being an occasion for delegates to pat each other on the back and celebrate the amount of aid money that has been given to the world’s poorest countries, it is critical that OECD leaders assess the impact of their efforts and the policies being advanced by international financial institutions to tackle poverty and climate change," said Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS.

The gap between commitments and aid pledges in 2011 has widened. In 2005, members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) collectively promised to commit 0.56 per cent of gross national income to aid. However, in 2010 aid has reached just 0.32 per cent.


Belarusian authorities must end suppression of citizens, says CIVICUS

Johannesburg. 19 May 2011. The recent detention of 14 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) activists in Minsk is just one more incident in an on-going crackdown on civil society in Belarus, said CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation today. The arrests came as local LGBT groups were gathering in Minsk to commemorate the International Day of Anti-Homophobia on 17 May.

According to one organiser, Sergei Androsenko, head of the organisation Gay Belarus, the protestors were planning to gather peacefully with the goal of spreading tolerance and understanding, but were detained pre-emptively by police before they could assemble. The fourteen detainees, including Androsenko, were taken to a local police precinct, where they were finger-printed, harassed with slurs and had some of their personal effects confiscated, including a thousand flyers advertising the campaign to ‘legalise love’, before being released.


Donors must improve on Istanbul summit pledge to world's poorest

Budget squeeze no excuse to let targets slip

BRUSSELS, 6th May, 2011: The first UN summit for the world's poorest countries in a decade must ensure that developed nations make good on commitments to help the most destitute, a global coalition of over 1000 civil society organizations said today.

"Richer nations cannot use the economic crisis as an excuse not to follow through on their engagements," said Tony Tujan, co-chair of BetterAid.

"This week's conference must ensure the immediate flow of 0.15 percent - 0.20 percent of the total gross national income of developed countries to the less developed countries, in line with previous commitments."

The four-day United Nations conference on the 48 Less Developed Countries opens in Istanbul on 9 May. The so-called LDC-4 summit will adopt an "action program" for the coming decade that is likely to include a target of cutting the number of people suffering from poverty and hunger by half.

BetterAid insists the Istanbul summit must go beyond good intentions to produce concrete results that go beyond the limited achievements of the last LDC conference in 2001.


CIVICUS: Ending poverty needs serious introspection and hard decisions

Johannesburg, 10 May 2011. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation calls on the United Nations Least Developed Countries (LDC) IV Conference to examine the current development paradigm and ensure progress on commitments related to development aid funding.

It is vital that practical, innovative and time bound approaches to development are prioritised along with a reaffirmation of commitments under the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action.

"After decades of empty promises, missed deadlines and opportunities, the international community must agree that concrete measures need to be taken to ensure domestic ownership of aid. Conditionalities tied to aid packages hinder rather than promote the effective utilisation of aid," said Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS. "On the other hand, it is equally important that ownership of development processes is democratised at the national level through the inclusion of parliaments, civil society and local communities in developing policies around resource utilisation."


Azerbaijan: End attacks on peaceful protestors

Johannesburg. 8 April 2011. The Government of Azerbaijan should immediately order its security forces to cease the use of violent force against peaceful protesters and free those arbitrarily detained without charge after mass arrests, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation said today.

At least 200 people were arrested and dozens beaten on 2 April 2011 when security forces shut down a largely peaceful anti-government protest in the capital city of Baku. According to a statement released by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Internal Affairs on 4 April, 17 activists and organisers were arrested in the days leading up to the protest.

CIVICUS partners in the country said leaders of opposition political parties, journalists and members of civil society organisations were among those detained. Currently authorities continue their crackdown on civil society in Azerbaijan, promising to halt another planned protest slated for 16 April.


CIVICUS: International community must protect pro-democracy protestors in Yemen and Syria

Johannesburg. 28 March 2011. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation reiterates solidarity with pro-democracy protestors in Yemen and Syria. The international community must take concrete steps to ensure the safety of the protestors against deadly attacks.

"As the world's attention turns to the crisis in Libya, it's important that the international community doesn't lose sight of the legitimate struggles for democratic rights being waged by the Yemeni and Syrian people," said Netsanet Belay, Policy and Research Director of CIVICUS. "Thousands of people in these countries are risking their lives by coming out onto the streets to express their revulsion at the decades of repression by their governments. They must be protected in the exercise of their rights."


CIVICUS Report: Torture "daily reality" in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan prisons

23 March 2011. Johannesburg. Government paid security personnel employed at Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan prisons have been implicated in alleged widespread torture and abuse, said CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation in a report released today.

The 40-page report, a compilation of personal narratives and analysis presented as a briefing to United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights entitled "Torture and Arbitrary Detention in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan" identifies torture as a common practice in the Turkmen and Uzbek penal systems used to interrogate, punish alleged criminals of all varieties, silence perceived and actual dissent, or for no apparent reason. Long administrative detentions, medical malpractice, and other illegal activities often occur in conjunction with abuse.

The report, presented to the UN last week in Geneva, details 12 cases of specific abuse and examines the impact of the governments' observed complicity in said abuse. It calls on UN special mechanisms to guide an independent investigation into the deaths, torture and arbitrary detention of Turkmen and Uzbek citizens.


Zimbabwe: End arrests, free detainees

1 March 2011. Johannesburg. The Zimbabwean government should immediately free 45 trade unionists, students, lawyers and workers arrested during the recent country-wide clampdown against a perceived plot to stage mass demonstrations against President Robert Mugabe, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation said today.

The group was arrested at the Labour Law Centre in Harare on 19 February and taken to the Harare central Prison where they remain.

Based on reports, the accused were allegedly watching video footage of the protests that led to the ousting of former presidents Zine Al - Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt when the arrests took place. The police seized DVDs with footage of the protests in Tunisia and Egypt, a laptop computer and a banner with “incriminating evidence” at the time of the arrest.

Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, like his former Egyptian counterpart has ruled the country since 1981 and has used violence in the past to silence dissenters and opposition figures.


Libya: UN must invoke 'Responsibility to Protect' to prevent unlawful killings

Johannesburg. 22 February 2011. The situation in Libya is escalating with mass killings of protestors, resulting in the commission of crimes against humanity. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation calls upon the UN Security Council to invoke the principle of 'Responsibility to Protect' to deal immediately with the threat posed to international peace and security. 

A number of Libyan diplomats and the Justice Minister have quit their positions in protest against the indiscriminate brutal gunning down of protestors by Colonel Muammar Gadaffi's regime.

Conservative figures from credible sources indicate that at least 250 people have died in the violent crackdown by the government that began a week ago. Others estimate a much higher death toll that is growing hourly.  Libya's Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim al Dabashi, has described the situation in the country as "genocide". Two senior Libyan fighter pilots have defected to Malta refusing to obey orders to rain bombs on the protestors. There are also reports of mercenaries being unleashed on the protestors, and helicopter gunships and snipers carrying out wanton killings.


Call on members of the UN Security Council to act now

Dear CIVICUS friend,

The UN Security Council (UNSC) is holding a closed-door meeting today (22 Feb) to discuss the crisis in Libya and there is something you can do about it!

The situation in Libya is escalating with mass killings of protestors, resulting in the commission of crimes against humanity. The ongoing cruel and wanton murder of protestors by Libyan government forces is a serious risk to humanity that the UN Security Council must address now. Failure to act will not only result in the deaths of large numbers of innocent people, which constitutes a crime against humanity, but will also embolden other despotic regimes to use similar measures against their populations.

We believe that there is a strong case for the UNSC to invoke the doctrine of 'Responsibility to Protect' to deal immediately with the threat posed to international peace and security.


CIVICUS urges the International Community to unequivocally pressure Egypt's President Mubarak to step down

*URGENT Update from CIVICUS partner in Egypt*

Johannesburg. 2 February 2011. Today, the situation in Egypt worsened as violence erupted between pro and anti-Mubarak protesters. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation has received the following update from its partners on the ground in Egypt:

"Today (2 February 2011), after 8 days of the Egyptian Revolution which started on 25 January, an ‘opposition' revolution supporting Mubarak's regime began. Members of the remaining police system in civilian costumes, in collaboration with bullies and thugs using white weapons, terrorised the peaceful protestors in Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo with acts of violence and bullying," reports the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE). "Bullies, who were identified later to be part of the police, received 100 Egyptian Pounds, meals and transportation to Tahrir Square. Riding camels and horses, they terrorised the peaceful protestors using weapons to beat them. The army who played a great role in protecting the protestors from last Friday (called 'Anger Friday') up till yesterday is no longer protecting the protestors and leaves the harassers to beat and kill the protestors. It must be known that more than 100 people were killed since 25 January and more than 1000 people were injured."


Gay activist murder part of trend of deteriorating rights: CIVICUS

Johannesburg. 28 January 2011. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is greatly saddened by the news of the tragic murder of prominent gay rights activist David Kato in Uganda on 26 January 2011. CIVICUS calls upon the government of Uganda to carry out an immediate and independent investigation into the murder and bring the perpetrators to justice.


CIVICUS deplores the conviction of well respected Indian human rights activist - Dr. Binayak Sen

Johannesburg. 14 January 2011. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is appalled at the life sentence imposed on eminent Indian civil society activist Dr Binayak Sen, and is concerned that the ruling is verification of a deterioration in the state of India's political system.

Dr Binayak Sen - Vice President of one of India's best respected civil liberties groups, the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) - is a well known pediatrician who has dedicated a significant portion of his medical career to helping impoverished communities. On 24 December 2010 he was convicted of sedition and criminal conspiracy under India's colonial era penal code. Dr Sen was also convicted under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of providing assistance to and supporting the activities of outlawed Maoist groups. 


Governments must do more to protect civil society

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