Daily Archives: 12/09/2021

The Whole Generations Of Human Rights Defenders May Perish In Afghanistan

12/09/21

AFGHAN JOURNALIST TORTURED AND BEATEN BY TALIBAN

In the weeks before the deadline of August 31, hundreds of people were evacuated from Afghanistan. The evacuation, as challenging as it was, was additionally affected by bombing that left hundreds of people dead or injured, and resulted in the premature termination of some evacuation efforts. Hundreds of people who wish to leave remained in Afghanistan and now fear for their lives. Among them are generations of human rights defenders including judges, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists, those who spent years working to make Afghanistan a country that affirms and protects the human rights of all. Now that the Taliban has taken over, they feel that a target has been placed on their back and that it is a matter of time before the Taliban will knock on their doors. All those wishing to leave the country should be allowed to do so. However, opportunities are very limited. 

Shortly before the August deadline, the Taliban stated that foreigners wishing to leave would be able to do so but the Taliban was very clear that they wanted Afghan talents to remain home and “work in their own specialist areas.” 

However, this promise should not be taken at face value. The Taliban do not mean all talents. Female talents are most likely to be confined to their homes. Indeed, shortly after the takeover, the Taliban proclaimed that all female workers were to stay home, for the time being, as justified by security situation. Subsequently, universities received communique that they should segregate female and male students and continue education separately. To name only a few examples. 

The threat faced by human rights defenders is real. Among human rights defenders, female lawyers and judges are at particular risk. Not only because of their sex and daring to have high-flying careers. No. It is because many of them were involved in the trials of Taliban fighters. Now that prisoners are being released, including those who they put in jail, they have a constant target on their backs. Women in any position of power, whether judges, lawyers, politicians, who are spared, would be confined to their homes and dependant on a male escort to leave the house.

Women protesting against the over-night decline of women’s rights in the country are facing Taliban fighters using whips to silent them. 

Journalists, especially those shedding light on the dire situation in the country, are at risk as well. Two journalists from the Kabul-based media outlet Etilaat-e Roz, Taqi Daryabi and Nemat Naqdi, were reportedly detained and attacked for covering a women’s protest. 

Human rights defenders in all shape and forms are seen as the enemy of the Taliban because they fight for what the Taliban do not agree with – human rights. 

In the U.K., Baroness Kennedy QC, a distinguished barrister and director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, took on the challenge to assist the human rights defenders in Afghanistan. As she stated “I am working with a large team of pro-bono lawyers in the United Kingdom and across the world to save the brave female Judges, lawyers, women’s rights activists, and human rights defenders. They are in immense danger and need help immediately.” She called upon the international community to provide them with help.

[…]

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2021/09/12/the-whole-generations-of-human-rights-defenders-may-perish-in-afghanistan/

https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/news/general/afghan-female-judges-at-particular-risk-amid-taliban-takeover-law-societies/359531

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/09/afghanistan-dispatches-terrible-changes-and-disasters-have-come-upon-society/

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-12/australian-women-help-afghan-women-flee-taliban-regime/100453724

https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-afghan-judges-lawyers-womens-activists (PLEASE CONTRIBUTE!)

https://www.france24.com/en/asia-pacific/20210911-afghanistan-uae-operating-aid-air-bridge-to-kabul-as-pakistan-s-pia-to-resume-commercial-flights (FRANCAIS)

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Iran: Mostafa Nili, Arash Keykhosravi and Mehdi Mahmoudian Denied Phone Calls and Held in Solitary Confinement

09/09/21

Mostafa Nili, Arash Keykhosravi and Mehdi Mahmoudian Denied Phone Calls and Held in Solitary Confinement

Three weeks after the arrest of lawyers Mostafa Nili and Arash Keykhosravi, and activist Mehdi Mahmoudian, they are still denied phone calls to their families and access to their lawyers. So far, their lawyer has not been granted access to the case.

According to information obtained by Iran Human Rights, Mostafa Nili, Arash Keykhosravi and Mehdi Mahmoudian were arrested as part of a group of seven when they went to file a complaint against the National Task Force Against Coronavirus and the Supreme Leader at the Tehran Citizen’s Rights Protection Association on August 14. They have so far been denied phone calls to their families and access to their lawyers, and are being held in solitary confinement.

The other four detainees, lawyers Mohammad Hadi Erfanian, Mohammadreza Faghihi and Leila Heydari, and activist Maryam Afrafaraz were released days later.

Informed sources have told IHR that Mostafa Nili, Arash Keykhosravi and Mehdi Mahmoudian are being held in the solitary confinement cells of Ward 241 of Evin Prison and were only permitted to make a short phone call to their families once.

According to Shargh newspaper, their lawyer, Zahra Minouyi, has been going to the Prosecutor’s Office and Evin Prison every working day but has been denied access to their case.

Following their arrest, the Human Rights Commission of the Central Bar Association issued a statement calling for the immediate release of all detainees and for those responsible to be held accountable.

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https://iranhr.net/en/articles/4877/

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Sri Lanka: Hejaaz Hizbullah held in prolonged pre-trial detention for anti-hate speech work

07/09/21

On 8 July 2021, I wrote a letter with seven other UN Human Rights experts regarding the continued detention of human rights defender Mr. Hejaaz Omer Hizbullah, who has been charged with terrorism- related offences.

Mr. Hejaaz Omer Hizbullah is a prominent lawyer and a human rights defender, and member of the Muslim minority in Sri Lanka. Mr. Hizbullah is a strong advocate against hate speech in the country and has been involved in a number of high- profile cases, including with regard to violence and discrimination towards the Muslim minority in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Hizbullah was the subject of one previous communication sent on 22 June 2020 (LKA 4/2020). In this communication we expressed concern over the arrest and detention of Mr. Hizbullah on 14 April 2020 and his lack of access to legal counsel. Mr. Hizbullah was initially under investigation for his alleged involvement in the Easter Sunday attacks of 2019, before the focus of the investigation was changed to his involvement with the Save the Pearls charity. The Government did not respond.

ALLEGATIONS

On 19 August 2020, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) filed a report regarding an ongoing investigation into Mr. Hizbullah’s activities. The report allegedly claimed that Mr. Hizbullah had acted as counsel on several occasions for individuals involved in terrorism and unlawful activity, and that he had been collecting data and information on various attacks on Muslims.

As previously communicated, the evidence allegedly incriminating Mr. Hizbullah was related to phone calls he made with a suicide bomber at the Easter Sunday attacks. It has been alleged that Mr. Hizbullah made 14 phone calls to this individual over a period of five years, being his legal representative in civil property dispute cases.

Mr. Hizbullah later faced accusations that he radicalised children at the charity, Save the Pearls. He is the only member of the organisation that has been arrested. Since his arrest, leading figures of the organisation have sworn affidavits attesting to the falsity of rumours that children were radicalised. And The former Head of Counter- Terrorism at the Sate Intelligence Services of Sri Lanka, who is also a member of the organisation, has sworn an affidavit attesting to the fact that the activities of the charity were entirely legitimate, in housing and educating vulnerable children.

During the first nine months of his arrest and detention that took place on 14 April 2020, Mr. Hizbullah was permitted just four visits from his legal counsel, all of which were supervised by the authorities. His lawyers filed a petition to the Court of Appeal, which was granted on 15 December 2020, allowing him to speak with his lawyers confidentially for the first time since his arrest. His access to lawyers is still reportedly limited and he can speak only occasionally to his family over the phone.

On 8 January 2021, at 2pm, Mr. Hizbullah was due to make his first appearance before the Colombo Fort Magistrate. At 1:55pm, Mr. Hizbullah’s lawyer was informed that Mr. Hizbullah had contracted COVID-19 and would be taken to a quarantine centre. No further information was given about Mr.
Hizbullah’s condition or recovery. On 18 January 2021, Mr. Hizbullah was returned to his original cell.

On 18 February 2021, Mr. Hejaaz Hizbullah was produced before the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court. The court decided the extension of his custody until 3 March 2021.

On 3 March 2021, Mr. Hizbullah was charged with “inciting communal disharmony” under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act section 2(1)(h). A few days later, on 9 March 2021, the Government issued a regulation expanding the application of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. According to
the text of the regulation – The Prevention of Terrorism (De- radicalisation from holding violent extremist religious ideology) Regulations No. 1 of 2021 – persons suspected of acts of, or incitement to violence or religious, racial or communal disharmony, would be held in custody and undergo a process of “ rehabilitation ” at an undefined “ Centre ” for a maximum period of two years, instead of having the relevant authorities instituting the established judicial procedures against them.

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Immediate Release of Lawyer and Prisoner of Conscience Hejaaz Hizbullah

https://www.ft.lk/news/UN-Special-Rapporteur-expresses-concern-over-vague-terrorism-charges-brought-against-Hizbullah/56-722893

Seven UN rapporteurs express concern over the detention of Hejaaz Hiszbullah