Tag Archives: OMCT

Bangladesh: CAT findings on torture: UN body recommends independent inquiry into allegations against law enforcers

August 10, 2019

The UN Committee Against Torture has expressed concern over the allegations of routine torture, ill-treatment by Bangladeshi law enforcement


The United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) has recommended that the Bangladesh government commission independent inquiry into allegations of torture and ill-treatment raised against the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).

The UN agency unveiled its findings on human rights records in Bangladesh, along with several recommendations, yesterday, according to a news release forwarded by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.

The findings, officially termed concluding observations, contain positive aspects of Bangladesh in implementing the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, highlight the UN body’s main matters of concern in terms of human rights violation, and make recommendations regarding the allegations of such violations.

In the report, the Committee Against Torture expressed concern at consistent reports alleging widespread and routine torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials for the purpose of obtaining confessions or to solicit the payment of bribes, the lack of publicly available information on these cases, and failure to ensure accountability for law enforcement agencies, particularly the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).

The committee is seriously concerned at numerous, consistent reports of arbitrary arrests, unacknowledged detention and enforced disappearances, and reports of excessive use of force, including in the context of recent elections and public demonstrations.

The other observations

The UN Committee Against Torture expressed concern about alleged pressure on the judiciary that constrains fundamental legal safeguards. The limited use of the mandate of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to investigate torture was noted as an issue.

It also expressed concern about inadequate prison conditions, violence against women and ethnic and religious minorities, and corporal punishment in law and against children. It is also concerned about trafficking, including that of the Rohingyas. It noted that civil society activists and human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists have faced harassment and violence for dealing with torture cases and other serious human rights violations.








Maldives: Open Letter: Ongoing threats against human rights defenders

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih

The President’s Office
Boduthakurufaanu Magu,
Male 20113
Republic of the Maldives

By email: info@po.gov.mv 

8 August 2019

RE: Ongoing threats against human rights defenders in the Maldives

Dear Mr. President,

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), is writing to you to express its deepest concern over the ongoing threats and harassment against human rights defenders in the Maldives.

The Observatory has received information that at least 15 human rights defenders, including journalists, lawyers, and non-governmental organisation (NGO) workers, have been subjected to repeated acts of harassment and intimidation online since you took office in November 2018. In many cases, such acts have amounted to hate speech and death threats, which foster a dangerous environment for human rights defenders and impede them from doing their work.

Human rights defenders who have advocated for the respect of human rights, gender equality, and accountability for violations, as well as those who have expressed their support for religious tolerance, have been especially targeted. Online news outlet Vaguthu Online, Facebook page Siru Arts, and the now defunct Telegram channel Murtad Watch [‘Apostate Watch’] Mv have been the preferred platforms for religious extremists to attacks human rights defenders and label them as “un-Islamic”, “anti-religious” or “apostates.” Such platforms have also encouraged users to directly threaten human rights defenders with violence, often hiding behind anonymous Twitter or Facebook accounts.


Egypt: New crackdown to terrorise civil society

July 23, 2019

At least 83 persons, including political opposition activists, journalists and human rights defenders, have been arrested in Egypt over terrorist charges since June 25 for their alleged implication in a plot against the State. FIDH, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) denounce this new crackdown and call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release and end any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against all peaceful activists, in particular political opponents and human rights defenders in Egypt. 
Former member of Parliament and human rights lawyer Zyad al-Elaimy was arrested on June 25, 2019 by a dozen of plainclothes national security agents after leaving a friend’s house in Cairo’s Maadi district, around 2 a.m. Seven political opposition figures were also arrested on the same night. In a statement, the Ministry of Interior abusively accused Mr. Zyad al-Elaimy and the other detainees of involvement in a plan financed through leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood – which was banned and declared a terrorist organisation in Egypt in 2013 – abroad “to carry out violent and disorderly acts against State institutions simultaneously with creating a state of revolutionary momentum”.“ Mr. Zyad al-Elaimy was involved in the creation of a movement bringing together political parties and social movements on a pro human rights agenda ”, said Neil Hicks, Senior Director for Advocacy at CIHRS. The Egyptian authorities, relayed by the official media, have renamed it the “Hope Plan”, and wrongly accused its alleged supporters of terrorism and undermining State security, in a typical attempt to silence dissidence.The pre-trial detention of Mr. Zyad al-Elaimy and the other detainees has been renewed by the State Security Prosecution since then, pending investigation into State Security case No. 930/2019, in which the defendants face charges of “engaging with a terrorist group to achieve its goals” and “spreading false news and statements”.





Egypt arrests 8, including ex-lawmaker and secular activists

Egypt detains prominent opposition leader over alleged anti-government plot

EGYPT: New crackdown to terrorise civil society

https://ecesr.org/?p=775972&fbclid=IwAR2ok8M619FKa5M1ZHd9t24mZYjRRXTyNFT7Jnfffm7oOhZhmeOKvF7UVS8 (ARABIC)

https://daamdth.org/archives/5380 (ARABIC)

https://thedailycases.com/egitto-nuovo-giro-di-vite-per-terrorizzare-la-societa-civile/ (ITALIANO)


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Tajikistan: Oral statement to Human Rights Committee

July 1, 2019

Oral statement to Human Rights Committee

Today Lawyers for Lawyers delivered an oral statement during the 126th session of the Human Rights Committee for the review of Tajikistan’s compliance with it’s international human rights obligations. In July 2018, Lawyers for Lawyers submitted a submission for the List of Issues for this review, to inform the Committee about the situation of lawyers in Tadzjikistan.


Lawyers for Lawyers highlighted the failure of the authorities of the Republic of Tajikistan to ensure that all persons have effective and equal access to legal services provided by an independent legal profession.

Firstly, The legal profession lacks institutional independence. The admission to and the continued practice within the legal profession is controlled by the executive branch. The 2015 Law “On Advokatura and Advocates’ Activities” requires all lawyers to renew their accreditation and go through a new examination process, which must be redone every five years. Since the reform, the number of licensed lawyers in Tajikistan has fallen precipitously. This seems detrimental to access to justice. The process also carries the risk of misuse by authorities seeking to exclude or disbar lawyers.

Secondly, professional rights and privileges of lawyers who are still able to practice law are violated. Lawyers are repeatedly denied access to clients in detention and to appropriate information. Lawyer-client confidentiality and lawyers’ rights to freedom of expression and association are not respected. Furthermore, lawyers involved in sensitive cases are identified with their clients or their clients’ causes. These lawyers have been subjected to intimidation, harassment as well as arbitrary arrests, prosecutions and convictions. Some of them are now in prison after closed, unfair trials, or were forced to flee the country due to fears of reprisal. An emblematic case is the prosecution of Buzurgmehr Yorov, who is serving a combined sentence of 28 years in prison. As a result of these problems, lawyers are unable to provide effective legal representation.

Oral statement to Human Rights Committee



Tajikistan: ICJ calls for immediate release of imprisoned lawyer

UN committee offers grim view Tajikistan’s human rights record




Honduras: Amenaza de criminalización contra el abogado Mario Portillo en Intibucá


HND 003 / 0619 / OBS 053



21 de junio de 2019

El Observatorio para la Protección de los Defensores de Derechos Humanos, programa conjunto de la Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT) y de la FIDH, solicita su intervención urgente ante la siguiente situación en Honduras.

Descripción de la situación

El Observatorio ha recibido información del Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH) sobre la criminalización y amenaza contra la libertad del abogado defensor de derechos humanos Sr. Mario Amilcar Portillo Contreras en la ciudad de la Esperanza, departamento de Intibucá en Honduras.

Según la información recibida, el 20 de junio de 2019, el Sr. Mario Portillo, en ejercicio de su profesión, actuó en la defensa de un menor de edad y otras tres personas que habían sido detenidas en el desarrollo de una protesta social en la ciudad de la Esperanza y quienes fueron objeto de tratos inhumanos y degradantes. Unas horas más tarde las tres personas fueron liberadas y el Sr. Mario Portillo firmó ante la Policía un documento en calidad de representante.

No obstante, la detención de estas cuatro personas produjo el rechazo de los manifestantes, quienes llegaron hasta la delegación policial a reclamar su liberación. Esta protesta fue dispersada por la Policía a la fuerza, mediante el uso de gases lacrimógenos y se produjeron serios disturbios. En ese contexto tres personas más fueron detenidas.

Durante los disturbios la Policía solicitó al defensor Mario Portillo su mediación para calmar los ánimos de los manifestantes a lo que él accedió. La situación retornó a la normalidad y, posteriormente, las otras tres personas detenidas fueron liberadas y entregadas a una comisión que había sido nombrada por parte de la comunidad para recibirlos.

Según las mismas informaciones, las autoridades departamentales de Intibucá, civiles, policiales y militares habrían decidido presentar cargos contra el abogado defensor responsabilizándolo de ser el coordinador de las protestas y de los daños ocasionados durante los disturbios ocurridos. Su captura podría producirse en las próximas horas.




Turkey: Condemnation de l’avocat des droits humains et Présidente de l’Association des Droits Humains (IHD) Eren Keskin


New information

TUR 003 / 0618 / OBS 087.2


Judicial harassment


May 28, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the sentencing of human rights lawyer and co-president of the Human Rights Association (İHD) Ms. Eren Keskin[1] and her ongoing judicial harassment. An honorary member of the Paris Bar Association, Eren Keskin is the winner of multiple international awards for her peace and human rights work, including the 2018 Helsinki Civil Society Award[2], and was the 2018 finalist of Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders[3].

According to the information received, on May 21, 2019, İstanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court convicted Ms. Eren Keskin for “propaganda on half of a terrorist organisation” – namely the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) – under Article 7(2) of the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713), and sentenced her to 3 years and 9 months of prison. Ms. Eren Keskin attended this final hearing, which was also followed by foreign diplomats. The sentence will be taken to the Regional Court of Appeal.

Since 2016, Ms. Eren Keskin and seven other defendants, columnists or rotating editors of the closed newspaper Özgür Gündem, have faced charges for “disrupting the unity of the state”, “openly inciting to commit crime”, “being a member of a terrorist group”, “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” and “publishing and spreading statements of terrorist organisations” in relation with articles published in Özgür Gündem (see background information below).


Sentencing of Eren Keskin: another blow against freedom of expression in Turkey


Eren Keskin in Turkey sentenced to prison and more to come..


http://www.haberdar.com/gundem/hakkinda-143-dava-acilan-eren-keskin-baskiyla-nasil-bas-ediyor-ben-size-bas-egmedim-duygusu-insani-besler-h136373.html (TURKCE)

https://euromedrights.org/fr/publication/condamnation-deren-keskin-un-nouveau-coup-dur-contre-la-liberte-dexpression-en-turquie/ (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eren_Keskin (FRANCAIS)

https://www1.wdr.de/nachrichten/tuerkei-unzensiert/eren-keskin-emine-algan-de-100.html (DEUTSCH)

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India: New acts of harassment against Ms. Indira Jaising, Mr. Anand Grover and the Lawyers Collective

OMCT LogoOMCT logo

 IND 004 / 0519 / OBS 043


May 16, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about new acts of harassment against Ms. Indira Jaising and Mr. Anand Grover, human rights lawyers and founders of the Indian NGO Lawyers Collective. Both Ms. Jaising and Mr. Grover are internationally renowned human right professionals who have a long history of engaging with the United Nations (UN) system. Ms. Jaising is a former member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Mr. Grover is a former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health. Lawyers Collective is a prominent public interest service provider in India with an established record of setting high standards in human rights advocacy, legal aid and litigation.

According to the information received, on May 8, 2019, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi issued a notice in a petition filed on May 6 by an organisation called ‘Lawyers Voice.’ The petition demanded that the Government of India initiate criminal proceedings against Lawyers Collective, Ms. Jaising, and Mr. Grover for the alleged misuse of foreign funding under the 2010 Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

The bench issued the notice despite the fact that the petition did not provide any supporting information. The Observatory further recalls that Lawyers Collective’s FCRA was suspended and subsequently cancelled in 2016 – a measure that is being challenged by Lawyers Collective before the Bombay High Court (see background information).

Ms. Jaising recently expressed strong criticism regarding the handling of proceedings in a case that involves allegations of sexual harassment against CJI Ranjan Gogoi by a former Supreme Court employee.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern for the harassment against Lawyers Collective, Ms. Indira Jaising and Mr. Anand Grover and condemns the use of FCRA to impede legitimate activities of human rights organisations.

The Observatory calls upon the Indian authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them and to amend FRCA in a manner that is consistent with international standards of freedom of association, including Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Background information:

On June 3, 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs suspended the FCRA registration of Lawyers Collective. In addition, the Ministry of Home Affairs leaked the suspension notice to the press before Lawyers Collective received a copy of it. This suspension of the FCRA registration was based on allegations that Lawyers Collective, in particular Ms. Jaising and Mr. Grover, violated FCRA regulations.





NGO v. NGO: Supreme Court issues notice in PIL seeking action against Lawyers Collective, Indira Jaising, Anand Grover




Indira Jaising