October 10, 2017
Last time the European Union and Tajikistan held high-level talks on human rights in summer 2016, Tajik authorities were in the midst of the worst crackdown in the country’s recent history. Six days before talks took place, the country’s supreme court had sentenced the leaders of Tajikistan’s leading opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan to cruelly long prison sentences. The trials were politically motivated, and the defendants tortured. There was no evidence of the activists’ involvement in non-peaceful activities.
This Thursday, the human rights dialogue will once again take place in Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe. But this year, things are even worse.
More than 150 political activists, including at least three human rights lawyers – Shuhrat Kudratov, Buzurgmehr Yorov, and Nuriddin Makhkamov – remain unjustly jailed. Kudratov, who’s already served three years, was to have been released last year but authorities kept him behind bars. And just last week information surfaced that Yorov – who along with Makhkamov is serving 25 years – has been brutally beaten by prison guards recently and thrown into solitary.
October 11, 2017
The Venezuelan opposition, a Guatemalan indigenous leader and an imprisoned Eritrean writer were shortlisted on Tuesday (10 October) for the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov human rights prize.
The parliament said the three finalists for 2016 are Guatemalan Aura Lolita Chavez Ixcaquic, Venezuela’s democratic opposition and Swedish-Eritrean journalist and playwright Dawit Isaak.
The shortlist was decide by a vote by the members of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs and development committees.
Named after the dissident Soviet scientist Andrei Sakharov, who died in 1989, the prize is awarded every year to honour individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression, often falling foul of their governments as a result.
The winner, the Parliament said in a statement, will be chosen on 26 October by the presidents of the European Parliament’s political groups and Parliament President Antonio Tajani.
Aura Lolita Chavez Ixcaquic is a member of the Council of Ki’che’ Peoples, which fights to protect natural resources and human rights from the expansion of mining, logging, hydroelectric and agro-industry sectors, the parliament said, adding she has faced threats.
Also on the list is Venezuela’s democratic opposition, led by National Assembly leader Julio Borges and including all political prisoners who were also Sakharov finalists in 2015. The names of Leopoldo López, Antonio Ledezma, Daniel Ceballos, Yon Goicoechea, Lorent Saleh, Alfredo Ramos and Andrea González are mentioned.
“The situation in Venezuela has been seriously deteriorating as regards democracy, human rights and socio-economy, in a climate of growing political and social instability,” it said.
July 19, 2017
The European Union on Wednesday warned Poland’s right-wing government to put on hold controversial reforms to the country’s courts or risk unprecedented sanctions.
In a worsening 18-month standoff between Warsaw and Brussels, the European Commission said Poland’s draft reforms could have a “very significant negative impact on the independence” of the courts.
“We are very close to triggering article seven,” Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told a press conference in Brussels, following a high-level meeting on the issue.
If article seven of the EU treaty is activated — and the matter could be discussed as early as next week — Poland could see its voting rights suspended in the council of ministers, the EU’s highest decision-making body.
But it was not immediately clear whether the commission could muster the support required from the other 27 member countries, particularly from Poland’s ally Hungary.
Timmermans said the stakes were high as “these laws considerably increase the systemic threats to the rule of law in Poland.”
Planowane zmiany w ustawie o Krajowej Radzie Sądownictwa, ustroju sądów powszechnych oraz Sądzie Najwyższym godzą w konstytucyjną zasadę podziału władzy. Wspieraj nasze działania w obronie praw człowieka w Polsce i kup symboliczną cegiełkę na http://sklep.amnesty.org.pl/
(Amnesty International Polska Facebook)
July 15, 2017
Opposition parties and human rights groups say this would erode the independence of the judiciary.
The governing Law and Justice party says the reforms are needed because the judiciary is corrupt and serves only the elite.
The bill must now be signed by the president in order to become law.
A demonstration against the changes is scheduled to take place in the capital Warsaw on Sunday.
Since it came to power in 2015, the government of the conservative, populist Law and Justice party (PiS), has passed a series of controversial reforms, triggering mass protests.
Polish senators backed the legislation in a vote in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Earlier this week, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro had argued that the changes were necessary because the current system of appointing judges was undemocratic.
“We want to end corporatism and introduce the oxygen of democracy there. Because Poland is a democracy based on the rule of law.
“This is not court-ocracy,” the minister said.
But opposition parties are concerned that the law would give parliament – dominated by PiS lawmakers – a greater say in appointing judges, violating the constitutional separation of powers.
Letter Poland – judicial reform July 2017
Unia Europejska zagroziła zastosowaniem art. 7 TUE jeśli procedowane reformy sądownictwa wejdą w życie. Naszym zdaniem to ważny krok: https://amnesty.org.pl/polska-grozba-zastosowania-art-7-tue-to-krok-w-dobra-strone/. Wezwij polskie władze do przestrzegania Konstytucji i prawa międzynarodowego. Podpisz petycję! https://amnesty.org.pl/akcje/prawo-do-bezstronnego-sadu-zagrozone/
(Amnesty International Polska Facebook)
June 19, 2017
The German Bar Association (DAV) has criticized the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which rejected applications concerning post-coup worker purges in Turkey on the grounds that domestic remedies had not been exhausted, Deutsche Welle reported on Sunday.
According to the report, DAV asked the ECtHR to ease the legal conditions necessary to accept applications from Turkey.
DAV Chief Ulrich Schellenberg, who criticized the rejection of applications from Turkey, said there was no working state of law in Turkey and that Turkey could not be compared with other European countries in terms state of law principles. Schellenberg added that the condition of exhausting domestic remedies had to be considered in a different light if one-third of judges and prosecutors were arrested in a short period of time and free advocacy could not be conducted due to oppression in a country.
A ruling by the ECtHR on last Monday turned down an application by a fired Turkish teacher on the grounds that he had not yet exhausted all domestic remedies. The European court referred to a commission that was announced by the Turkish government to review situations of state workers who have been dismissed by government decrees following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, as a means of solution for Gökhan Köksal, a Turkish primary school teacher who had submitted a petition for the court to hear his case.
Turkey’s Humanitarian Crisis Brought The ECtHR Into Disrepute
April 4, 2017
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the European Union, EU Ambassador Roland Kobia organised a ceremony in Yangon to grant the first ever “Schuman Awards”for outstanding merits in promoting universal values which the EU actively supports across the globe such as human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
The awards were granted to U Ko Ni (posthumous), Daw Ja Nan Lahtaw and U Aung Myo Min.
“The Schuman Award recognises the merits of those who stand out in promoting core values of the European Union – and indeed universal values of humanity. U Ko Ni, Daw Ja Nan Lahtaw and U Aung Myo Min have dedicated their lives to working towards a better future for their country and all the people who call Myanmar their home. They are ambassadors for peace, democracy, human rights and equality. With this award, the European Union would like to honour the important work of our first Schuman Laureates,” said EU Ambassador Roland Kobia.
The Schuman Awards – named after former French Foreign Minister and founding father of the European Union, Robert Schuman – were established in 2017 to recognise the merits of Myanmar personalities in defending core European values of peace, democracy and human rights.
December 9, 2016
Every year on 10 December the international community celebrates the anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This anniversary is an opportunity for both the EU and China to examine their progress in protecting the human rights of all persons.
In recent years, China has made considerable progress in a number of areas of human development, including improving the social and economic situation for hundreds of millions of its citizens. In the sphere of civil rights, we also see a reduction in the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty, increasing professionalisation of the judiciary as well as the introduction of China’s first national anti-domestic violence law.
However, we are also aware that there is an urgent need for additional progress with regard to the criminal justice system. In particular we are concerned about the failure to implement current legal protections and the adoption of laws and regulations which run contrary to China’s stated commitment to advance the rule of law. During the past year, we have been extremely troubled about the deterioration of the situation with respect to freedom of expression and association. This repression has led to the arrest, detention and conviction of human rights defenders, lawyers and others exercising rights such as freedom of religion or belief. We once again call for the release of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and Uighur academic Ilham Tohti. We remain extremely concerned about the cases of Zhang Haitao and Tashi Wangchuk and the ongoing detention and conviction of human rights lawyers and defenders detained in connection with the 9 July 2015 crackdown, including Li Heping, Wang Quanzhang, Xie Yang and in particular Jiang Tianyong. We are equally concerned about all human rights defenders and their family members who have been harassed and punished because of their work in promoting rights which are protected in China’s Constitution and international law.
DAY OF THE ENDANGERED LAWYER JANUARY 24, 2017 (CHINA):