Tag Archives: HRW

Maldives/HRW: Opposition, Media Under Attack

August 16, 2018

Police officers detain an opposition protester demanding the release of political prisoners during a demonstration in Malé, Maldives, February 2, 2018.

The Maldives government’s intimidation of the political opposition and media threatens prospects for free and fair elections in September 2018, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The government of this Indian Ocean archipelago has also interfered with the judiciary and the national electoral commission in order to tighten its grip on power.

“The Maldives government has cracked down on any and all dissent, from activists and journalists to Supreme Court judges,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Immediate steps are needed to restore political freedoms and democratic rule to ensure free and fair elections in September.”

The 52-page report, “‘An All-Out Assault on Democracy’: Crushing Dissent in the Maldives,” documents how the government of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has used decrees and broad, vaguely worded laws to silence dissent and intimidate, arbitrarily arrest, and imprison critics. These include counterterrorism laws widely used against opposition activists and politicians; anti-defamation laws used against the media and social media activists; and restrictions on assembly that prevent peaceful rallies and protests. Religious extremists and criminal gangs – including many that enjoy political protection – have assaulted and sometimes murdered dissenters with impunity. This has had crippling effects on the Maldives’ nascent democracy and struggling civil society.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/08/16/maldives-opposition-media-under-attack

https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/08/16/all-out-assault-democracy/crushing-dissent-maldives

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/hrw-maldives-election-threat-crackdown-dissent-180816095250583.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supreme_Court_of_the_Maldives

http://www.supremecourt.gov.mv/eng/?decision=eng

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Belarus: Controls on lawyers endangering human rights

June 29, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, an FIDH-OMCT partnership, in collaboration with the Paris Bar and Human Rights Centre “Viasna”, today released a report documenting restrictions on the independence of lawyers in Belarus. Based on an investigation conducted in January 2018, the report criticises the executive power’s stranglehold on the capacity of lawyers defending cases which the authorities consider to be ‘sensitive’ to practise their profession.

 

In Belarus, lawyers defending cases considered by the authorities to be ‘troublesome’ are generally exposed to retaliatory measures which can culminate in their expulsion, against a background of changes to the legal framework that have gradually placed Belarusian bars, and lawyers themselves, under the direct authority of the Ministry of Justice. Such retaliatory measures are often initiated following repression by the authorities of large-scale protests, as in 2010 and 2017.

In the course of the past few years, the bars have been stripped of their primary function, which is to guarantee independence and ensure the regulation of the profession. Access to the profession and its organisation now fall under the almost exclusive competence of civil servants in the Ministry of Justice.

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/belarus-controls-on-lawyers-endangering-human-rights

http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/reports-and-publications/belarus/2018/06/d24946/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/25/un-rights-body-strengthen-scrutiny-human-rights-belarus

https://www.fidh.org/fr/themes/defenseurs-des-droits-humains/belarus-le-controle-des-avocats-met-en-peril-les-droits-humains (FRANCAIS)

Egypt/Turkey: Human rights advocates under threat worldwide

December 10, 2017

Mohamed Zaree (picture alliance/AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

“It’s very difficult trying to hide where I’m going from my kids, and trying to make my mom feel that everything will be fine – with them knowing I’m lying,” Egyptian human rights lawyer Mohamed Zaree, looking visibly tense, told a TV reporter on May 23, 2017, one day prior to his court hearing in Cairo. The authorities have alleged that Zaree represents a security threat and that he has tarnished his country’s reputation.

“These charges could put me in jail for 25 years,” Zaree explained. And added: “My kids will grow up without me. I’m concerned about all of this; there are so many things on my mind.”

The following day, Zaree was released on bail. But the charges against him have not been dropped. During his time as the Egypt office director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Mohamed Zaree co-authored a 2014 report on the country’s human rights situation. UN member states are expected to regularly produce such “Universal Periodic Reviews” and submit them to the United Nations Human Rights Council to help assess human rights situations in each country.

Protective human rights awards

This year, Mohamed Zaree won the Martin Ennals Award — a prize that is sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize for human rights”.

http://www.dw.com/en/human-rights-advocates-under-threat-worldwide/a-41728317

http://www.martinennalsaward.org/hrd/mohamed-zaree/

Tajikistan: How EU Should Tackle Tajikistan Crackdown

October 10, 2017

2015-9-eca-tajikistan-IRPT

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.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/10/how-eu-should-tackle-tajikistan-crackdown

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/12/greece-tajik-activist-faces-extradition

https://www.rferl.org/a/eu-accused-of-weak-statement-after-human-rights-visit-tajikistan/28794296.html

The Philippines: International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers Preliminary Report on Lawyers Killed Under Duterte’s “Law and Order” Presidency

August 17, 2017

Gill Boehringer, Stuart Russell and Kristian Boehringer

On August 15, 2017 yet another lawyer was killed in the Philippines. This makes 10 since Rodrigo Duterte began his term of office as President on July 1, 2016. The International Association of Peoples’ Lawyers has been monitoring killings, and other attacks, on lawyers in the Philippines as well as countries around the globe. We presently list 115 countries where there have been credible reports of attacks on lawyers in recent years. In the Philippines the number of lawyers killed since January 1999 is about 130.

President Duterte came to the Presidency with a substantial vote (about 40%) in a large field of candidates. He was a surprise winner as he had no experience as a national political figure and, in the manner of the winner of the recent USA Presidential election, Donald Trump, campaigned on a populist program that included a strong focus on law and order. Duterte promised to reduce crime and corruption, and to eliminate the drug problem in the country in his first six months. That goal eluded him so he asked for another six months to complete the job. That extension expired with the war on drugs raging. Recently he has admitted he cannot finish the job in his six-year term, but assured the people that it would “ruthlessly” continue to the end of his tenure.

Despite his failure on the drugs front, Duterte claims, on the basis of statistics from the Philippine National Police indicating that the crime rate is trending down, that his promise to make the people feel safe on the streets again has been fulfilled. Whether the police statistics are accurate and comprehensive, and how to interpret them is beyond the scope of this preliminary report. To answer the questions that arise from those statistics would, at the least, require an investigation into citizen willingness to report crime (and other issues about crime statistics well known to criminologists) given the fear of reprisals from corrupt police and “vigilantes” in the context of the “drug war”. According to Dean Chel Diokno of Manila’s La Salle University Law School, that war has taken the lives of an estimated 10-12 thousand victims, most of whom were executed because they were suspected of being a drug user or pusher.

draft iapl report re duterte lawyer killings aug 17 final

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/08/17/1730083/amnesty-international-duterte-government-going-new-depths-barbarity

http://bulatlat.com/main/2017/08/17/grave-numbers-continued-killing-legacy-duterte/

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-drugs-idUSKCN1AX0BO

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/death-toll-continues-rise-duterte-war-drugs-170817044816257.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/16/philippines-police-bloodiest-night-duterte-war-drugs

https://www.cfr.org/interview/human-rights-and-dutertes-war-drugs

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/08/18/1730371/58-dead-3-days-renewed-philippine-anti-drug-bloodshed#undefined.gbpl

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/17/human-rights-watch-philippines-president-duterte-threat

http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/philippines/2017/08/d24490/

http://www.courrierinternational.com/article/philippines-des-raids-meurtriers-de-la-police-salues-par-le-president?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook#link_time=1502978023 (FRANCAIS)

https://www.amnesty.org/es/latest/news/2017/08/philippines-32-killed-in-a-day-as-dutertes-war-on-drugs-hits-new-levels-of-barbarity/ (ESPANOL)

Israel/Palestine: HRW denounces Israeli military court system amid trial of Palestinian activists

July 16, 2017

International NGO Human Rights Watch has reiterated its condemnation of the Israeli military court system, amid the ongoing trial of two Palestinian human rights defenders facing charges related to their activism.

Issa Amro, founder of the Hebron-based group Youth Against Settlements, and Hebron-based lawyer Farid al-Atrash, who is the head of the southern division of Palestinian statutory watchdog Independent Commission of Human Rights, were both arrested for participating in a peaceful protest in February 2016.
They were later charged with “demonstrating without license,” “entering a closed military zone,” “incitement,” and “obstructing an officer.”
The march in question commemorated the 22 years since extremist American-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslim Palestinian worshipers, killing 29 and injuring more than 120 in Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994.
The demonstration also called for the reopening of al-Shuhada street, which was shut down soon after the massacre, and called for the removal of discriminatory restrictions on movement placed on Palestinians in the city.
Al-Atrash has vehemently denied charges claiming he attacked Israeli soldiers, with video footage of the arrest showing him standing and holding a poster peacefully in front of Israeli soldiers when he was pushed, dragged, and then violently arrested by a number of soldiers.

https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=778129

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-military-trial-begins-for-prominent-palestinian-activist/

https://in.news.yahoo.com/israel-begins-trial-against-palestinian-031629884.html

China: Chinese Rights Lawyer Still Jailed After Sentence Suspended

May 1, 2017

Chinese human rights lawyer, Li Heping.

The politically motivated case against prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Li Heping has reached a new low. On April 28, a court in Tianjin found Li guilty of “subversion of state power” and handed him a three-year suspended sentence. But the real kicker is that despite the suspended sentence, the authorities haven’t released Li, nor said where he is and when they plan to do so.

Li allegedly “used foreign funding” to “attempt to instigate discontent towards [China’s] social system among some people who do not know the facts.” It is not clear what funds the court was referring to, but shrewd netizens quickly noted the court’s hypocrisy – a 2015 Supreme Court report in which the court boasted of having received funding from the British government for rule of law research. “How come you people are not subverting state power?” human rights lawyer Zhang Lei asked.

While strangers were allowed to attend Li’s verdict announcement, his family was not even informed of it, or his secret trial on April 25. Li’s lawyer – assigned by the police after they forced Li to fire the lawyers his family chose for him – was also not in the courtroom. Instead, that lawyer traveled with the police to Beijing to help them pressure Li’s wife, Wang Qiaoling, to go to Tianjin to meet with Li, whom she has not seen since he was detained in July 2015.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/05/01/chinese-rights-lawyer-still-jailed-after-sentence-suspended