Tag Archives: UN Special Rapporteurs

Afghanistan: The Taliban continues to target activists, journalists and stifle protests by women with impunity

16/06/22

The state of civic space in Afghanistan remains repressed. Following the Taliban takeover of the country in August 2021, a human rights and humanitarian crisis has ensued. Human rights defenders face systematic intimidation throughout the country and dozens have been threatened, abducted or attacked. Protests, especially by women activists, have been stifled by the Taliban with the use of excessive force to disperse crowds, leading to deaths and injuries of peaceful protesters. Journalists have also been at increased risk.

In May 2022, Taliban authorities in Afghanistan dissolved five key departments including the country’s human rights commission, deeming them unnecessary in the face of a financial crunch.Also dissolved was the high council for national reconciliation (HCNR), the once high-powered national security council, and the commission for overseeing the implementation of the Afghan constitution.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, appointed in April 2022, undertook his first visit to the country from 15th to 26th May 2022. Following his visit, he stated that Afghanistan is facing a plethora of human rights challenges, but the Taliban have failed to acknowledge or address the magnitude and gravity of abuses, many of which were committed in their name.

Among other issues, he was alarmed about reports of ongoing extrajudicial and revenge killings of former members of the security forces and officials, and door-to-door searches. The high number of reports of intimidation, harassment, attacks, arrests and, in some cases, the killing or disappearance of journalists, prosecutors, judges and civil society members, was another serious concern. Bennet also said the erasure of women from public life was especially concerning, citing measures such as the suspension of girls’ secondary education, severe barriers to employment and limits on freedom of movement, association and expression.

[…]

https://monitor.civicus.org/updates/2022/06/16/taliban-continues-target-activists-journalists-and-stifle-protests-women-impunity/

https://www.ohchr.org/en/statements/2022/06/high-commissioner-updates-human-rights-council-afghanistan

https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/06/1120492

https://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/news/high-court-grants-the-judicial-review-claims-of-two-afghan-judges-against-the-governments-refusal-of-their-claims-to-relocate-to-the-uk

Iran: UN experts alarmed by civil society crackdown

15/06/22

UN human rights experts* today expressed serious concerns about a violent crackdown against civil society in Iran, including members of workers’ unions and teachers arrested for protesting against their low salaries and poor working conditions, and urged those responsible for using excessive force to be held to account through comprehensive and independent investigations.

“We are alarmed at the recent escalation of allegedly arbitrary arrests of teachers, labour rights defenders and union leaders, lawyers, human rights defenders and other civil society actors,” the experts said.

In the past year, the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association has organised several nation-wide protests over working conditions and low wages, as well as to protest the arrest of teachers and restrictions on public education for all. On 1 May 2022, on the occasion of the International Workers’ Day and the Teachers’ Day in Iran, teachers held protests in a number of cities across the country, joined by workers’ unions, including the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company.

Prior to the 1 May protests and until 24 May 2022, over 80 teachers were arrested or summoned by security forces or the judiciary, and the houses of several trade unionists and teachers were raided. None of the teachers were given access to a lawyer. The authorities issued statements claiming that the arrests were due to “infiltration of foreign-affiliated elements into the ranks of teachers and workers” which threatened the order and security of the country. State television broadcast footage of several of the arrested teachers and labour rights defenders, accusing them of engaging with “hostile enemies” and calling their unions illegal.

“The space for civil society and independent associations to carry out their legitimate work and activities is becoming impossibly narrow, exemplified by the large scale arrests of civil society actors and the recent Court of Appeals decision to dissolve the Imam Ali Popular Students Relief Society,” the experts said.

[…]

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/06/iran-un-experts-alarmed-civil-society-crackdown

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/15/UN-experts-alarmed-by-Iran-violent-crackdown-on-protests

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2103996/middle-east

Afghanistan/USA: Afghan Women Judges Visual Storytelling Project Launched

10/06/22

Newly announced, the Afghan Women Judges Visual Storytelling Project seeks to collect the stories of Afghan women judges before the rise of the Taliban, and the challenges and adjustments they have faced since. The project is designed in three phrases; video portraits; a media repository and a documentary. The Visual Storytelling Project is reaching out to people who want to share their stories and who want to collaborate or support the project. Contact: DocumentaryEducation@gmail.com.  Read more on the attached précis of the project.

https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/40760/afghan-judge-receives-human-rights-award

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/24/afghan-female-judge-awarded-prestigious-human-rights-prize

https://www.lawsociety.ie/gazette/in-depth/afghan-women-judges

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/may/17/afghan-judges-hoping-for-uk-asylum-not-treated-consistently-say-lawyers

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct41vv

https://www.lawsociety.ie/gazette/in-depth/afghan-women-judges

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/06/07/speak-behalf-afghan-women

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/06/09/tougher-steps-needed-against-afghanistans-taliban

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/06/10/afghanistan-taliban-torture-civilians-panjshir

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO2205/S00361/facing-critical-human-rights-challenges-afghanistan-at-a-crossroads-says-un-expert-in-kabul.htm

Uganda/UN: UN experts gravely concerned by election clampdown

29/12/20

UN human rights experts* today expressed serious concerns about the violence ahead of Uganda’s presidential election, and urged authorities to put an end to the arrest, detention and judicial harassment of political opponents, civil society leaders and human rights defenders.

Media outlets have reported that three journalists were hurt on Sunday after being hit by tear gas canisters in Masaka. Opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, said one of his bodyguards died after being hit by a military truck later the same day. The military has denied this, saying he fell from a speeding car.

“We are gravely concerned by the election-related violence, the excessive use of force by security personnel, as well as the increasing crackdown on peaceful protesters, political and civil society leaders and human rights defenders,” said the experts.

“Since the publication of the guidelines on the conduct of elections during COVID-19 in June by the Uganda Electoral Commission, we have witnessed gradual shrinking of civic space, and misuse and abuse of health-related restrictions to curb dissent in the country ahead of the election on 14 January. Time and again, we have emphasised that the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic should not be used as a pretext to infringe on fundamental freedoms.”

On 23 December 2020, Nicholas Opiyo, a prominent human rights defender, was arrested along with four other individuals. According to the official statement made by the authorities, he is accused of money laundering and will be tried accordingly. Opiyo was involved in the defence of four NGOs whose assets were frozen on 12 December by the government on charges of financing terrorism, and was vocal against actions taken by the State security forces amidst the electoral context. The Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET), the National NGO Forum, the Women International Peace Centre, and the Alliance of Finance Election Monitoring (AFEM) have been active in election campaigns encouraging the participation of women and youth.

“Combatting terrorism should never be used as a justification to undermine the credibility of associations or to unduly impede their legitimate work,” the UN experts said. “We are gravely concerned about this attack on human rights defenders, civil society actors and those who defend them. The prosecution of Nicholas Opiyo and other lawyers, as well as the judicial harassment of those who express dissent, appear to be strictly related to the electoral context, and fictitious charges being used to justify them.”

[…]

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-uganda-politics-un/un-rights-experts-urge-uganda-to-halt-pre-election-violence-arrests-idUSKBN2931C5

https://news.trust.org/item/20201229133300-wgtki/

https://reliefweb.int/report/uganda/uganda-un-experts-gravely-concerned-election-clampdown

Tale: The Nicholas Opiyo I know by Robert Kirunda

https://www.dw.com/en/uganda-sees-no-end-to-election-related-violence/a-56083180

https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-Homepage/39849/sakharov-fellowship-calling-human-rights-defenders_ky

https://www.pressafrik.com/Violente-repression-a-l-encontre-des-medias-et-de-l-opposition-en-Ouganda-Museveni-doit-arreter-_a225698.html (FRANCAIS)

https://news.un.org/zh/story/2020/12/1074732 (MANDARIN)

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says ""The "Theyue more you refuse to hear my voice, the louder I will sing." Labi Siffre #FreeNicholasOpiyo"
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Human Rights Violation – Unlawful Arrest and Detention: Nicholas Opiyo –  Freedom Uganda

Sri Lanka: TGTE Launches Petition Calling for UN Response to Recent Attack on Tamil Lawyers in Sri Lanka

October 9, 2019

In light of the police-facilitated mob violence perpetrated with impunity against Tamil lawyers outside the Mullaitivu Magistrate court in North-East Sri Lanka on Monday, September 23, 2019, as well as the state-sanctioned and police-facilitated open public defiance of a court injunction that precipitated the assault, Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE)has launched a petition calling on the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mr. Diego García-Sayán, to secure a country visit to Sri Lanka without delay in order to investigate, document and report on the historic and ongoing gross violations of the independence of Tamil judges and security of Tamil lawyers, in the island of Sri Lanka.

“The events of September 23rd were not an isolated incident but rather only the most recent episode in Sri Lanka’s long history of blatant disregard for the rule of law, the separation of powers, and human rights when it serves the Buddhist Sinhalese ethnocratic state agenda,” said TGTE Prime Minister Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran. “These events have provoked moral anger among lawyers and human rights activists worldwide.”

“We cannot let these actions go unanswered. An attack on an Eelam Tamil lawyer is a threat to all Eelam Tamil lawyers to perform their legal obligations. The international community, especially institutions that consider themselves human rights guardians, cannot afford to turn a blind eye in this matter. Silence in the wake of events like these is what allows impunity to reign.”, Mr. Rudrakumaran added.

The specific court injunction defied was one prohibiting the administration of Buddhist funeral rites on the grounds of a Hindu temple in Mullaitivu, part of the traditional Tamil Homeland. The Sri Lankan police sent to the area did not take any action to prevent the criminally-intended group of Buddhist adherents from successfully violating the injunction. Instead, Sri Lankan police escorted the group as it carried out the prohibited funeral rites and also barred Tamils from entering the area. Then, when members of the group harassed and physically attacked the Tamil lawyers present who had worked to secure the injunction and who attempted to question why the cremation was proceeding despite the legal order, the police merely watched. It is elucidating that, as reported in the Tamil Guardian, one monk “taunted the Tamil objectors by stating that Buddhist monks held supremacy in Sri Lanka.”

https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/498685739/tgte-launches-petition-calling-for-un-response-to-recent-attack-on-tamil-lawyers-in-sri-lanka

https://www.tamilguardian.com/content/lawyers-continue-strike-across-north-east-after-assaults-buddhist-monks

http://newsonair.nic.in/Main-News-Details.aspx?id=371997

Indonesia/UN/Australia: Indonesia Condemns Statement by UN Experts on Papua Unrest

September 20, 2019

Indonesia has condemned a press statement issued by five independent United Nations Human Rights Council special rapporteurs in which they expressed serious concern over recent development in Papua.

The five rapporteurs also urged the Indonesian government on Tuesday to drop all charges against human rights lawyer Veronika Koman, whom they said had been “subjected to harassment and abuse online for her work on alleged human rights violations in Papua.”

Police have declared Veronika a suspect, accusing her of spreading false information and provoking unrest in Papua and West Papua by publishing reports on the protests and attacks against Papuan students in East Java.

Sporadic unrest in broke out in several cities in Indonesia’s two easternmost provinces after racial animosity by hardline Muslims and members of the police and military against Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java, in August.

The government said false information and provocative content spread on social media, including by Veronika, had contributed to the unrest.

https://jakartaglobe.id/context/indonesia-condemns-statement-by-un-experts-on-papua-unrest

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/09/18/un-calls-indonesia-protect-veronica-koman.html

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-18/veronica-koman-pro-papua-lawyer-may-be-hiding-australia/11516246

https://en.tempo.co/read/1250173/veronica-koman-fugitive-police-issue-red-notice-for-interpol?TerkiniUtama&campaign=TerkiniUtama_Click_1

https://regional.kompas.com/read/2019/09/20/16510971/fakta-terkini-kasus-veronica-koman-resmi-masuk-dpo-hingga-polisi-minta (INDONESIAN)

https://surabaya.kompas.com/read/2019/09/20/12190111/polda-jatim-tetapkan-veronica-koman-sebagai-buronan?page=all (INDONESIAN)

Iran: UN Rapporteur: Freedom of Expression in Iran is More Restricted

August 18, 2019

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran says freedom of expression in Iran has been curtailed. In his second report in six months, he expressed concern about the impact of sanctions on Iran’s “food and drug safety.” Javid Rahman submitted his second report to the UN General Assembly on Friday and it emphasized that in the past year freedom of expression in Iran has been curtailed and human rights abuses have continued.

Rahman said that the information was provided by various sources including non-governmental organizations. He has also contacted representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran. his report highlights the devastating impact of natural disasters over the past six months from flooding that occurred in a significant part of Iran’s territory. Concerns have been raised about the impact of sanctions on “food security, food availability, and the availability of medicines and medical equipment” in Iran. The UN report emphasizes that sanctions had the greatest impact on the lives of ordinary people in Iran.

Rahman then examined the human rights situation in Iran over the past six months and emphasized that the right to freedom of expression, the right to liberty and the right to a fair trial in Iran have been restricted. He also reported harassment of human rights activists, minorities, especially Baha’i citizens of Iran, lawyers, journalists, labor activists, and women protesters who have been forced to wear the hijab. The UN report cited a decline in executions in Iran– five deaths per year– but says Iran still tops the list of countries with the highest number of executions.

Increasing pressure on human rights activists

Another part of the report referred to the intimidation of human rights lawyers, including Nasrin Sotoudeh, who defended women protesters about a forced veil in Iran. She was sentenced to five lashes and a long prison sentence. Eight prominent human rights lawyers were subsequently arrested for defending political prisoners and human rights activists, including Amir Salar Davoodi, who was sentenced to imprisonment and four lashes.

UN Rapporteur: Freedom of Expression in Iran is More Restricted

https://www.rferl.org/a/un-rapporteur-rehman-rights-violations-iran/30114404.html

https://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/reports-and-publications/iran/2019/08/d25480/

https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/08/1044371

Heavy sentences for women’s rights activists condemned internationally

https://www.iranfocus.com/en/human-rights/33796-un-blasts-iran-for-imprisonment-of-dual-nationals-and-human-rights-defenders

https://www.dawn.com/news/1500194/executions-in-iran-among-the-worlds-highest-un

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/IR/Pages/SRIran.aspx

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

https://www.csdhi.org/index.php/actualites/repression/12984-selon-le-rapporteur-des-nations-unies-la-liberte-d-expression-en-iran-est-de-plus-en-plus-restreinte (FRANCAIS)

https://www.ohchr.org/FR/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/IR/Pages/SRIran.aspx (FRANCAIS)

http://www.ilgiornale.it/news/milano/milano-mette-velo-1741063.html (ITALIANO)

#FreeNasrin

Image may contain: Reza Khandan, text and close-up

Iran/UN: UN Experts: Iran Must Protect Women’s Rights Advocates

November 29, 2018

Farhad Meysami (left), Nasrin Sotoudeh (middle) and Reza Khandan were all arrested in 2018 for peacefully advocating for human rights, including the right of women to choose whether to wear a hijab.

UN human rights experts* have called on Iran to guarantee the rights of human rights defenders and lawyers who have been jailed for publicly supporting protests against the mandatory wearing of the hijab in Iran.

“We urge the Government to immediately release all those who have been imprisoned for promoting and protecting the rights of women,” the experts said.

In particular, the experts expressed alarm at the critical health of Farhad Meysami, a medical doctor, who was arrested in July after his advocacy in support of women protesting against the hijab law. Mr. Meysami began a hunger strike in August in protest at the charges and the lack of access to a lawyer of his choosing. Reports indicate that he has been moved to the medical centre in the prison, where he has been restrained in a bed and given intravenous injections. He is being held in isolation.

The experts said they were deeply disturbed by the reported lack of due process guarantees and said authorities had an obligation to respect the wishes of those who use hunger strikes as a form of protest.

The experts also reiterated their concern at the in-absentia conviction and subsequent imprisonment of Nasrin Sotoudeh, legal counsel for a number of the women protesters. She was convicted on security-related charges which appear to stem from her work representing the protesters. In September, her husband, Reza Khandan was arrested for “spreading propaganda against the system”, amongst other charges, and was accused of “promoting the practice of appearing in public without a veil”.

The experts called on Iran to urgently address Mr. Meysami’s grievances, and to guarantee the rights of Mr. Meysami, Ms. Sotoudeh, and of Mr. Khandan to not be deprived arbitrarily of their liberty. They also urged authorities to guarantee their right to fair proceedings before an independent and impartial tribunal.

The UN experts have notified the Government of Iran about their concerns.

https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2018/11/un-experts-iran-must-protect-womens-rights-advocates/

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23947&LangID=E

http://radioallen.cl/2018/iran-27/

https://www.rferl.org/a/un-rights-experts-call-on-iran-to-protect-women-s-rights-advocates/29630800.html

https://women.ncr-iran.org/iran-women-news/5604-nasrin-sotoudeh-begins-hunger-strike-in-evin-prison

https://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2018-11-29/news/iranian-political-prisoner-suggested-for-honorary-degree/

https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2018/11/prominent-imprisoned-lawyer-nasrin-sotoudeh-hunger-strikes-for-fellow-prisoner-farhad-meysami/

https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2004

https://sensday.wordpress.com/2018/11/30/amir-saalaar-daavudi-human-rights-lawyer-arrested/

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

http://www.ludovictrarieux.org/uk-index.htm

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

https://persian.iranhumanrights.org/1397/09/new-charge-for-receiving-sakharov-prize-for-nasrin-sotoudeh/?fbclid=IwAR1JZjJlTs-ehPpXxuJJIQ7jEL-rWD4m1u1EUA85mw6pvuZNiRkmCQKyhkA (FARSI)

https://www.courrierinternational.com/article/en-iran-les-combats-de-lavocate-nasrin-sotoudeh (FRANCAIS)

 

https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2005 (ARABIC)

#FreeNasrin

Image may contain: Reza Khandan, textImage may contain: Reza Khandan, textImage may contain: Reza Khandan, text

India: Bhima Koregaon case: Do not criminalise human rights defenders, UN experts urge India

October 5, 2018

They said they were concerned the terrorism charges were being used to silence people who work to protect the rights of Dalit, tribal and indigenous groups.

Bhima Koregaon case: Do not criminalise human rights defenders, UN experts urge India

Human rights experts from the United Nations on Friday expressed concern about the arrests of activists in the Bhima Koregaon case, and urged India to ensure that their cases are “promptly heard in line with international law”.

Ten activists have been arrested since June under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Five of them are in prison, four under house arrest, and one has been released since.

The human rights experts said the vague definition of “unlawful activities” and “membership of terrorist organisations” in the law “confers discretionary powers upon state agencies, which weakens judicial oversight and diminishes civil liberties in the process”.

The Pune Police had arrested activists Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale on June 6 as part of their investigation into violence during an event in Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1. On August 28, they arrested Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Varavara Rao.

On October 1, the Delhi High Court said Navlakha’s detention was untenable by law and ended his house arrest, but the Maharashtra government has now challenged it in the Supreme Court.

“We are concerned that terrorism charges brought in connection with the commemoration of Bhima-Koregaon are being used to silence human rights defenders who promote and protect the rights of India’s Dalit, indigenous, and tribal communities,” a statement by the UN experts said.

https://scroll.in/latest/897152/bhima-koregaon-case-do-not-criminalise-human-rights-defenders-un-experts-urge-india

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1810/S00037/india-terrorism-charges-are-pretext-to-silence-human-rights.htm

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/arun-ferreira-vernon-gonsalves-file-bail-pleas-in-pune-court/articleshow/66093187.cms

https://www.oneindia.com/india/bhima-koregaon-case-bail-application-filed-activist-arun-ferreira-in-pune-2788522.html

http://zeenews.india.com/india/bhima-koregaon-case-bail-application-filed-for-activist-arun-ferreira-in-pune-sessions-court-2146151.html

https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/activists-welcome-sc-verdict-say-arrests-diversionary-tactic/article25100171.ece

https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/bhima-koregaon-case-sc-not-interfere-arrest-5-activists-declines-sit-probe-89139

http://zeenews.india.com/india/bhima-koregaon-case-bail-applications-for-surendra-gadling-shoma-sen-to-be-heard-on-oct-10-2146366.html

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

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Chief_Minister_Release_activists_arrested_in_connection_with_Elgaar_Parishad_NOW/edit (SIGN THE PETITION!)

https://www.newsstate.com/india-news/bhima-koregaon-case-surendra-gadling-and-shoma-sen-bail-applications-adjourned-by-pune-court-article-64655.html (HINDI)

https://teles-relay.com/inde-le-gouvernement-du-maharashtra-engage-le-sc-contre-lordonnance-du-hc-mettant-fin-a-la-detention-a-domicile-du-militant-navlakha-inde-nouvelles/ (FRANCAIS)

https://www.lahaine.org/mm_ss_mundo.php/y-idonde-esta-la-izquierda (ESPANOL)

https://www.agenzianova.com/a/0/2111584/2018-10-03/india-operazione-anti-naxaliti-liberato-uno-dei-cinque-attivisti-arrestati-2 (ITALIANO)

Mexico: UN experts call for an independent and impartial investigation into the use of spyware against rights defenders and journalists

July 19, 2017

Image result for office of the high commissioner for human rights

A group of United Nations experts* today called on the Government of Mexico to carry out a transparent, independent and impartial investigation into allegations of monitoring and illegal surveillance against human rights defenders, social activists, and journalists.

The experts’ call comes a month after civil society organizations and the international media revealed allegations that the Mexican authorities deployed a spyware called ‘Pegasus’ to hack and monitor the mobile phones of people involved in the investigation and denunciation of cases of corruption and serious violations of human rights during 2015 and 2016.

“The allegations of surveillance, which represent a serious violation of the rights to privacy, freedom of opinion and expression, and freedom of association, are highly concerning and are evidence of the hostile and threatening environment that human rights defenders, social activists and journalists face in Mexico today,” the experts said.

The surveillance has reportedly targeted human rights defenders from the NGO Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Centro Prodh), as well as members of other civil society organizations such as Mexicanos Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad and Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad.

The Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and some members of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), appointed to take part in the investigation into the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, are also said to have been affected.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21892&LangID=E