November 2, 2016
Germany’s outspoken economy minister, visiting China, on Wednesday met activists who have criticized the Beijing government and urged it to free jailed human rights lawyers.
Human rights is a sensitive subject in China where President Xi Jinping’s administration has tightened control over civil society, saying it needs to increase security in what activists say is the most sweeping crackdown on dissent in decades.
Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel met nine activists at the German Embassy in Beijing, including Sakharov Prize winner Hu Jia; Chen Guiqui, the wife of a jailed lawyer; and writer and blogger Murong Xuecun.
“These were all people who have had difficult experiences with the state apparatus,” Gabriel, the deputy to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told reporters accompanying him during a stopover in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu.
He said he was urging Chinese authorities to release dozens of human rights lawyers jailed by security forces for alleged subversion. It was unclear whether Gabriel had already discussed this with Chinese officials during his trip.
“We hope that these lawyers will be released,” said Gabriel. He would make this position clear in forthcoming talks with Chinese officials “and I will also write”, said the minister.
October 31, 2016
Lawyers Husnu Al Suood and Ali Hussain have been suspended from representing clients at any Maldives court.
According a statement issued by the Department of Judicial Administration on Monday, Supreme Court has decided to “temporarily” suspend both attorneys from representing clients at any court in the country.
It said that the bans were being imposed on the two for violating the sanctity of the courts, and that the bans will only be lifted after the investigation on the matter completes.
The statement said that the step was taken to protect the sanctity of the courts.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court issued a warning saying that lawyers violating the sanctity of the courts “will be temporarily or permanently” banned from the courts.
It said that individuals, including lawyers have been violating the sanctity of the courts, and that the necessary action will be taken against any lawyers proven to have done so.
Following the ban, Suood tweeted that the Supreme Court had “disbarred” him and that the “voice of justice and human rights cannot be silenced.” His tweet was re-tweeted by the U.S. Ambassador to the Maldives, Atul Keshap.
October 20, 2016
The government of Azerbaijan continues to wage a vicious crackdown on critics and dissenting voices. The space for independent activism, critical journalism, and opposition political activity has been virtually extinguished by the arrests and convictions of many activists, human rights defenders, and journalists, as well as by laws and regulations restricting the activities of independent groups and their ability to secure funding. Independent civil society in Azerbaijan is struggling to survive.
However, even as the government released some activists, bloggers, and journalists, authorities have arrested many others on spurious criminal and administrative charges to prevent them from carrying out their legitimate work. None of those released had their convictions vacated, several face travel restrictions, others left the country fearing further politically motivated persecution, or had to halt their work due to almost insurmountable bureaucratic hurdles hampering their access to funding. Authorities have also harassed the relatives of those attempting to carry out their activism from abroad, in some cases by bringing criminal charges against them. Numerous lawyers representing government critics in legal proceedings have been disbarred on questionable grounds, apparently to prevent them from carrying out their work.
November 1, 2016
Since Human Rights Watch’s March 2016 submission ahead of Uganda’s next Universal Periodic Review, there have been ongoing violations of free assembly, expression, and association.
Between February and May after the general elections, police raided and sealed off the opposition political party Forum for Democratic Change headquarters, arrested party officials, and beat their supporters on several occasions. In May, opposition leader Kizza Besigye was charged with treason and remanded in prison. In July after the High Court granted him bail, police brutally beat Besigye’s supporters and other bystanders with sticks and batons as he drove through the streets of Kampala.
Opposition activists brought a private prosecution for torture against the Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura for his alleged involvement in beating opposition supporters in July. The possibility of a trial on the merits fell apart in August. Kayihura failed to appear in court, and police-backed demonstrators physically threatened the lawyers who brought the case and tried to prevent them from leaving the court. They were forced to hide in a magistrate’s office to avoid being assaulted by those voicing support for the police.
November 1, 2016
Human Rights Watch on Tuesday slammed a “well-funded” clampdown on Gulf Arab rights activists and urged the six monarchies to implement “much-needed reforms” instead of jailing peaceful critics.
The New York-based watchdog made its latest call for reform in Gulf Cooperation Council states as it launched an interactive website with the profiles of 140 prominent Gulf activists — reflecting Twitter’s 140-character limit — who have been arrested, tried and sentenced for voicing their opinions online over the past six years.
They include prominent Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab, who is on trial on charges of “spreading false information and posting online insults,” and Saudi activist Waleed Abulkhair who is serving a 15-year jail sentence.
Also among those listed is Emirati lawyer Mohammed al-Roken, who was jailed in 2013 with 69 people for 15 years after being convicted of plotting to overthrow the regime.
“The Gulf states have engaged in a systematic and well-funded assault on free speech to subvert the potentially transformative impact of social media and internet technology,” said HRW’s Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson.