Tag Archives: UN

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)

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Ukraine/Kazakhstan/Russia/Moldova: Defence for the defenders: Lawyers and attorneys under attack for participation in politically motivated cases

June 29, 2018

The right to defence is one of the fundamental human rights that is enshrined in a number of international agreements. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims the principle of equality of all before the law, the presumption of innocence, and the right to be examined openly and with all the requirements of justice by an independent and impartial court.

In order to exercise their right to defence, prosecuted persons must have full access to legal services provided by independent lawyers and attorneys. According to the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, everyone has the right to ask any lawyer for help in defending their rights and protecting them at all stages of criminal proceedings.

According to the opinion of the European Court of Human Rightslawyers play a key role in maintaining public confidence in the judicial system and act as intermediaries between the public and courts. Thus, they are an important element of the rule of law.

As noted in paragraph 16 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions in an environment free from intimidation and improper interference. Also, lawyers shall not be prosecuted or sanctioned for any acts committed as part of their professional duties.

Unfortunately, in countries where democratic institutions are poorly developed and the rule of law does not work, lawyers and attorneys often become victims of persecution as well as various kinds of pressure and restrictions. This especially concerns those who participate in politically motivated cases.

Lawyers and attorneys are attacked both by state institutions and authorities and by various criminals, against which the state is unable to protect them. This prosecution also involves professional associations that proclaim their aim to protect the rights and interests of lawyers, but are not independent of state bodies.

At the moment, there are no effective mechanisms for monitoring the interference of the state and other entities in the activities of lawyers and attorneys. The solution could consist of adopting a special document that would protect lawyers and attorneys at the international level.

The statutory goals of the Open Dialog Foundation provide for the protection of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the post-Soviet space. This report examines cases of harassment and attacks on lawyers and attorneys in countries such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine,and Turkey. The latter is not a post-Soviet state, but it is a member of the Council of Europe and therefore has international obligations in the field of standards of law, democratic development, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.

https://en.odfoundation.eu/a/8707,defence-for-the-defenders-lawyers-and-attorneys-under-attack-for-participation-in-politically-motivated-cases

#DayoftheEndangeredLawyer

Belarus: Joint NGO Letter on Belarus: UN Human Rights Body Should Renew the Mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur

June 18, 2018

Human Rights Watch

To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the UN Human Rights Council

 

Excellency,

We, the undersigned international human rights organizations, urge your delegation to support the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus under Item 4 at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

At its 38th session in June, the Human Rights Council (HRC) will consider the human rights situation in Belarus. Since the creation of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur in 2012, there has been no systematic improvement in the human rights situation in Belarus. On the contrary, all legislative and systemic restrictions on freedom of expression and association remain in place, and violations of civil and political rights are coupled by economic and social rights’ abuses. The peaceful demonstrations on March 25th 2018, also known as Freedom Day, and which are organized every year, were once again met with preemptive house arrests of civic and political activists and journalists as well as the arbitrary arrest of about a hundred of peaceful marchers[1].

Calls by civil society, the Special Rapporteur and the European Parliament to end the most recent blocking of the charter97.org website have been ignored while the amendments to the Law on Media currently before the Parliament aim to further control access to sources of information, particularly online, including via social networks. Under the proposed law, the authorities would be able to block any online content without a court order on even vaguer grounds than at present.

Authorities continue to pressure human rights defenders, independent journalists and opposition activists, using the court system to harass them, impose preventive or administrative detention and levy severe fines. Moreover, in September 2017, eight  lawyers defending clients in a criminal case assessed by human rights defenders as politically motivated were subject to a qualification process controlled by the Ministry of Justice[2]. As a result, Anna Bakhtina, renown for her work in defending political prisoners, lost her practicing license while the license of the remaining lawyers was prolonged conditionally for 6 months. Even if they all passed the “examination” procedure in March 2018, the legislation that allows the authorities to arbitrarily revoke a lawyer’s license remains in place.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/18/joint-ngo-letter-belarus-un-human-rights-body-should-renew-mandate-un-special

https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/florian-irminger-valiantsin-stefanovi/death-penalty-belarus-must-be-accountable-to-someone

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

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/BY/Pages/SRBelarus.aspx

Poland: Poland’s Top Judge Rings Alarm as Populist Makeover Takes Hold

June 7, 2018

As Italy’s new government prepares to challenge the European Union, Poland has a timely lesson for how quickly a particular brand of politics can change a country.

 

Poland is so far the biggest example of how the sort of populism pioneered by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has inspired anti-establishment firebrands across Europe. With the new Italian cabinet’s euroskeptic rhetoric and budget-busting spending plans spooking financial markets, the concern is those tendencies are spreading and will undermine the world’s biggest trading bloc.

 

Two-and-a-half years after winning power and setting out to drain the Polish swamp, the Law & Justice party has propelled a deep transformation of the nation’s 29-year democracy. The head of the country’s Supreme Court says that a “terrifying” new system is emerging, where a single party makes all the rules and puts pressure on independent judges.

 

“Poland is on a path to authoritarian rule and judges are being bullied,” Malgorzata Gersdorf, the chief justice, said in an interview last month. “What can still be salvaged from Poland’s democracy? I don’t know. Maybe the Supreme Court can be safe for some time.”

Unprecedented Conflict

The Supreme Court and Gersdorf herself are at the heart of Poland’s unprecedented conflict with the EU over what the 28-nation bloc’s executive says is an erosion of the rule of law. The government says its efforts to overhaul the judiciary are meant to modernize a justice system weighed down by red tape and the influence of what it calls a self-serving “caste” of communist-era judges.

 

The standoff has turned the country of 38 million people from a poster-child for eastern Europe’s transition to democracy and market economy to one of the EU’s biggest headaches, while raising the prospect of political sanctions and risking billions of euros in aid.

https://www.bloombergquint.com/politics/2018/06/06/top-polish-judge-raises-alarm-over-populist-court-revamp

https://www.politico.eu/article/poland-article-7-test-for-eu-on-rule-of-law/

https://vaaju.com/poland/the-un-criticizes-the-reform-of-the-polish-judiciary-report-details/

https://www.liberties.eu/en/short-news/21912/21912

http://www.dw.com/en/poland-ex-president-lech-walesa-leads-fight-against-judicial-reform/a-44162285

The Philippines: Philippines Duterte tells U.N. human rights expert: ‘Go to hell’

June 3, 2018

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has told a U.N human rights expert who said the country’s judicial independence was under threat to ‘go to hell’, warning against interference in domestic affairs.

The Philippine Supreme Court voted last month to remove Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whom Duterte had called an “enemy” for voting against controversial government proposals, citing violations in the way she was appointed.

Her dismissal is sending a chilling message to other supreme court judges and members of the judiciary, Diego García-Sayán, special U.N rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said on Friday.

“Tell him not to interfere with the affairs of my country. He can go to hell,” Duterte told a news conference late Saturday night, prior to leaving for an official visit to South Korea.

The outspoken Philippine leader is known for defying international pressure and his diatribes against critics.

In particular, he has railed against former U.S. President Barack Obama and U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, for criticizing the bloody war on drugs, his signature public safety project.

Sereno, the first chief justice to be removed by her peers, had voted against several of the Duterte’s proposals including the extension of martial rule in the volatile southern Philippines.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-duterte-un/philippines-duterte-tells-un-human-rights-expert-go-to-hell-idUSKCN1IZ063

http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2149020/philippine-president-rodrigo-duterte-tells-un-expert-go

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2018/06/03/philippines-duterte-tells-un-expert-to-go-to-hell/

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/996939/duterte-to-un-rapporteur-go-to-hell

https://www.rappler.com/nation/203903-un-diego-garcia-sayan-judicial-independence-philippines-under-attack

http://www.ryt9.com/es/prg/212694

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/06/03/1821183/sc-quo-warranto-ruling-full-errors-sereno

http://manilastandard.net/opinion/columns/eagle-eyes-by-tony-la-vina/267285/sereno-decision-as-teaching-moment.html

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/06/04/1821564/hrw-dutertes-latest-tirade-vs-un-expert-same-old-rhetoric

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/655732/sereno-allies-rally-as-sc-resumes-full-court-sessions/story/

http://www.manilatimes.net/serenos-p17-m-piatco-fees-illegal/405267/

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/06/07/1822319/quo-warranto-case-filed-vs-duterte

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/06/07/1822534/duterte-sereno-lost-cause-full-gimmicks

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/03/23/1799441/gadon-faces-disbarment-disgraceful-conduct

http://manilastandard.net/opinion/columns/eagle-eyes-by-tony-la-vina/267631/dissents-in-republic-vs-sereno.html

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

https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1118878/philippines-duterte-dit-a-un-expert-de-lonu-daller-au-diable.html (FRANCAIS)

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

http://www.tgcom24.mediaset.it/mondo/filippine-presidente-duterte-insulta-esperto-onu-vai-all-inferno_3143802-201802a.shtml (ITALIANO)

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The Philippines: Judicial independence in Philippines is under threat, says UN human rights expert

June 1, 2018

A UN human rights expert has expressed grave concerns about public threats issued against the Philippines’ Chief Justice by the country’s President, saying her dismissal, that followed those threats, is sending a chilling message to other supreme court judges and members of the judiciary posing a serious threat to judicial independence.

On 11 May 2018, the Supreme Court voted 8-6 to remove Maria Lourdes Sereno from her job on the grounds she had failed an ‘integrity test’. Chief Justice Sereno was appointed the country’s top judge position in 2010.

“The decision of the Supreme Court was issued two days after the President of the Philippines publicly threatened the Chief Justice by saying that she was his enemy and that she should be removed from her job or resign,” said Diego García-Sayán, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.

“The unprecedented decision of the Supreme Court of the Philippines seems directly related to the threats made against the Chief Justice in relation to her professional activities in defence of the independence of the judiciary.”

http://www.ryt9.com/es/prg/212694

http://www.thaipr.net/general/863929

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/996446/intl-jurists-group-slams-cj-removal

http://politics.com.ph/let-rule-of-law-prevail-icj-urges-sc-to-reinstate-sereno-as-chief-justice/

https://news.mb.com.ph/2018/05/31/criticizing-the-supreme-court-is-no-disrespect/

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/996711/sereno-ouster-worries-un-expert-hes-misinformed-says-palace

http://manilastandard.net/news/top-stories/267099/un-executive-weighs-in-on-sereno-ouster.html

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/655406/un-expert-sees-link-between-duterte-s-threats-sereno-s-ouster/story/

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/996816/sereno-camp-welcomes-comment-of-un-expert-on-ouster-of-chief-justice-sereno-sc-un-special-rapporteur-deinla

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/06/02/1820859/senators-mull-withdrawal-signatures-quo-warranto-case

https://thedailyguardian.net/option/dismantling-democracy/

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

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(Stand With CJ Facebook, 2/6/18)

Turkey: Turkish gov’t jails not only journalist Karaca, but also his lawyers and judges who ruled to release him

March 7, 2018

The trial of Turkish journalist Hidayet Karaca (55) has already taken its place in judicial history because not only has he been persecuted by the Turkish government led by autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan but also both his lawyers and the judges who ruled to release him from jail have been imprisoned.

Hidayet Karaca, Ph.D., is an experienced Turkish broadcaster who also served as chairman of the board of directors of number of media associations such as Television Broadcasters Association and Television Audience Measurement (TİAK) in Turkey for years. After working as the bureau chief of the Zaman daily in İzmir and Ankara provinces, he was transferred to the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group in 1999 and served as Executive Director of the group for 17 years.

However, he was taken under custody by the police officers, who raided the television where he was in charge on December 14, 2014. He has been deprived of his freedom for about 4 years. Karaca was sentenced to 31 years of imprisonment in a trial. He has also been tried for another another case with almost the same accusations. This time aggravated life sentence has been demanded for him.

“I am defending myself under very difficult circumstances. Some of my lawyers have left, some of them were arrested. I could not even find a lawyer to write a petition for me,” said Hidayet Karaca during a hearing at a Turkish court where he was tried in August 2016.

https://stockholmcf.org/turkish-govt-jailed-not-only-journalist-karaca-but-also-his-lawyers-and-judges-who-ruled-to-release-him/

https://stockholmcf.org/intl-bar-associations-urge-turkish-govt-to-stop-arbitrary-detentions-torture/

https://stockholmcf.org/commentary-erdogan-govt-attacks-un-for-raising-rights-violations-in-turkey/

https://turkeypurge.com/outspoken-lawyer-banned-taking-gulen-linked-cases

https://stockholmcf.org/turkish-govt-detains-8-more-lawyers-43-people-over-alleged-links-to-gulen-movement/

http://communities.lawsociety.org.uk/human-rights/interventions/2018/intervention-letter-on-cases-of-detention-of-lawyers-and-human-rights-defenders-in-turkey/5064419.fullarticle

Seven respected international organisations address a joint statement to the United Nation on the mass arrests of Turkish lawyers, judges & prosecutors

https://ahvalnews.com/torture/international-lawyers-demand-un-action-torture-turkey

https://ahvalnews.com/press-freedoms/chilling-turkish-trial-slammed-press-groups

https://rsf.org/en/news/istanbul-trial-ends-jail-sentences-25-turkish-journalists