Tag Archives: United Nations

Egypt/UN/EU: Open Letter to EU Member States Ahead of the Universal Periodic Review of Egypt

September 17, 2019

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Your Excellency,

The next Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Egypt’s human rights record is scheduled for 13 November 2019, under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. We are writing to strongly urge your government to use this occasion to address the ongoing human rights crisis in Egypt.

Since the last review of Egypt’s record in 2014, human rights violations have increased sharply and the undersigned organisations and our partners have documented unprecedented levels of repression against human rights organisations and human rights defenders. The UPR is an opportunity for States to contribute to reversing these trends and promoting respect for human rights in Egypt.

We urge your government to take part in the UPR process and to make concrete recommendations to the Egyptian authorities to urgently address the following issues:

Immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders, civil society activists and all those detained or imprisoned solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, including lawyers, journalists, labour rights activists, minority rights activists, and LGBTQI activists. Put a stop to excessive police probation measures and the use of prolonged pre-trial detention to punish dissenters, close Case 173/2011 against Egyptian NGOs and lift arbitrary travel bans on human rights defenders.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/09/17/open-letter-eu-member-states-ahead-universal-periodic-review-egypt

https://www.omct.org/monitoring-protection-mechanisms/statements/egypt/2019/09/d25507/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/09/17/un-address-egypts-assault-rights

China: Int’l Day of the Disappeared: China must put a halt to secret detention and all forms of enforced disappearances

August 30, 2019

televised confessions

August 30 is set aside each year as the International Day of the Disappeared to raise awareness of the victims of enforced disappearances and to end the terrifying state practice.

The practice involves authorities taking someone using agents of the state, or those acting on their behalf, followed by a refusal to acknowledge that person’s fate or whereabouts. For those who are taken, the risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment is high.

In a report presented at the September session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances highlighted that from February to May alone, it had responded to 20 new cases of enforced disappearances in China. Recently, the group had had sent other forms of communications to the Chinese government, including a joint letter last August on the use of Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL), following a submission from Safeguard Defenders, which I am a co-founder of, along with the International Service for Human RightsNetwork for Chinese Human Rights Defenders, and the Rights Practice.

RSDL empowers police to take and hold someone in secret for up to six months. But seldom are they released after six months. Although the law ostensibly provides for the right to legal counsel or the notification of family members, exceptions in the law that have become the rule permit for the denial of procedural safeguards, important for preventing enforced disappearances and torture. Safeguard Defenders and others have extensively documented cases of abuse in RSDL.

Responding to the Working Group three months later, China claimed that disappearances under RSDL do not exist, which is an abject falsehood. This echoed China’s denial of extrajudicial “black jails” following the UN’s 2009 Universal Periodic Review before the Human Rights Council. Although a few years later, China acknowledged the existence of “black jails” and claimed that they were abolished. This happened conspicuously around the time that RSDL came into law.

China continues to mask its human rights abuses behind the rhetoric of the rule of law.

Land of disappearances

As I argued in The People’s Republic of the Disappeared, China has institutionalised arbitrary and secret detention, from extrajudicial to formalised criminal procedures.

China must abolish those sections of domestic law that permit secret detention. It must pass new legislation that defines and criminalizes enforced disappearances, and ensures the effective right to prompt access to legal counsel, requires all detainees’ real names be recorded in registers that include the date, time, location and all interrogation records, and other measures in line with international norms to end enforced disappearances. It must also protect the rights of victims and family members to seek remedy and know the truth.

Int’l Day of the Disappeared: China must put a halt to secret detention and all forms of enforced disappearances

http://www.businessinsider.fr/us/chen-qiushi-simon-cheng-china-crackdown-hong-kong-2019-8

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/family-08142019110446.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-47406389

https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-china-blog-39974953

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

https://international.thenewslens.com/article/124112

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

https://www.un.org/en/events/disappearancesday/

https://www.un.org/zh/events/disappearancesday/ (CHINESE)

https://www.un.org/fr/events/disappearancesday/ (FRANCAIS)

#InternationalDayoftheDisappeared

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#余文生
– 2002年開始執業成為律師,專責人權案,尤其有關宗教自由、刑事辯護、土地權、訪民案件、行政和民事訴訟
– 曾代表已經被拘禁三年的709律師王全璋
– 律師執照於2018年被註銷
– 於2018年1月18日曾經發表公開信呼籲修憲,翌日就被刑事拘留,同年4月19日被正式拘捕
– 自此被失蹤,失去自由外,亦失去了見代表律師以及家人的權利
– 今年5月11日被秘密審訊
———————————————————–
#YuWensheng
– Began legal career in 2002, specializing in human rights cases regarding freedom of religion, criminal defense, land rights, petitioners’ rights, administrative and civil litigation
– Represented 709 lawyer Wang Quanzhang who has been detained for three years
– License invalidated in 2018
– Published open letter recommending amendments to the Chinese constitution on 18 January 2018, taken away the next day by the police, and formally arrested on 19 April 2018
– Has been a victim of enforced disappearance since, having been denied his right to meet with his defense lawyers and his family
– Put on a trial in secret on 9 May

(China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group / 中國維權律師關注組 Facebook, 30/08/19)

王全璋是中国维权律师,在#中国政府打压维权律师的#“709镇压”中于2015年8月被失踪。直到2018年7月12日律师才见到他,其妻才得知其下落。他现在狱中服刑。

王全璋的妻子李文足为丈夫长期不懈地呼吁。中国人权支持和声援王全璋、他的家人和亲友。
#被失踪者

(Human Rights in China Facebook, 30/08/19)

Thailand: Ensure truth, justice, and reparations for victims of enforced disappearance | Written Statement to the UN Human Rights Council

August 29, 2019

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Joint written statement* submitted by Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, non-governmental organization in special consultative status, and Asian Legal Resource Centre, non-government organization in general consultative status

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), NGO without consultative status, also shares the views expressed in this statement.

Unforgotten in Thailand: Ensure truth, justice, and reparations for victims of enforced disappearance

  1. Introduction: Persistent impunity for enforced disappearances

 A pattern of impunity for enforced disappearances[1] persists in Thailand despite years of promises to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (UNCED)[2] and to pass legislation making enforced disappearance a crime.[3] The United Nations (UN) Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) reports 82 unresolved cases of enforced disappearances since 1980.[4] This number represents a fraction of Thailand’s enforced disappearances since the 1950s,[5] as families and witnesses remain silent for fear of reprisals.[6] Those most vulnerable to enforced disappearances belong to minorities or indigenous peoples. Also at risk are human rights defenders (defenders) or peaceful government critics.[7]Thailand’s current laws foster impunity for enforced disappearance; when a body is not found, murder charges are not laid.[8] No public officials have ever been held accountable for suspected involvement in enforced disappearances. The persistent pattern of impunity for enforced disappearances constitutes a grave violation of Thailand’s obligations under customary international law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand acceded in 1996.[9]

The risk of enforced disappearances is heightened by the practice of incommunicado detention of political opponents, suspects in national security cases, and suspected insurgents in southern provinces.[10]

Thailand: Ensure truth, justice, and reparations for victims of enforced disappearance | Written Statement to the UN Human Rights Council

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/03/11/thai-lawyers-disappearance-unsolved-15-years

15 years since disappearance Somchai Neelapaijit

Thailand: at event marking 15th anniversary of the enforced disappearance of Somchai Neelapaijit, ICJ calls for effective measures to tackle the crime

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/03/11/14-years-disappearance-thai-rights-lawyer

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

https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/sgsm19716.doc.htm

https://www.un.org/en/events/disappearancesday/

https://international.thenewslens.com/article/124112

https://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/enforced-disappearance-in-bangladesh-thousand-days-wait-1792822

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/syria-new-testimonies-families-disappeared-mark-day-disappeared

https://iran-hrm.com/index.php/2019/08/29/enforced-disappearances-in-iran-and-the-1988-massacre/

https://www.un.org/fr/events/disappearancesday/ (FRANCAIS)

enforced disappearances

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Cameroon: Rights groups seek UN intervention to end Cameroon atrocities | Press release

August 26, 2019

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Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), supported by the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR), has submitted a statement to the 42nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council seeking an end to catastrophic atrocities taking place in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon.

Since October 2016, Anglophones in Cameroon have been the target of extreme violence and persecution by the Cameroon government. There is evidence of human rights violations that amount to crimes against humanity. A separatist movement has responded with violent acts against the State’s defence forces. Government officials and armed insurgency groups have reportedly perpetrated sexual assault, torture, and public humiliation of women and girls throughout Anglophone regions.

Other reported crimes against humanity in the Anglophone regions include murder and lethal force against civilian populations, mass arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture of persons in State custody, and deportation and forcible transfer of Anglophone populations.

To date, approximately 500,000 civilians have been forcibly displaced. Many internally displaced persons have relocated to remote bush areas with inadequate access to food, potable water, clothing, basic hygiene, or medical assistance for resulting diseases, including dysentery and malaria.

“Cameroon is now one of the largest sources of displaced persons in the world,” explained Pearl Eliadis, Senior Fellow at the RWCHR and co-author of the report ‘Cameroon’s Unfolding Catastrophe: Evidence of Human Rights Violations and Crimes Against Humanity.’ “The international community needs to work in solidarity to resolve this human rights crisis.”

“The gross human rights violations against unarmed civilians in the Anglophone Regions are horrendous,” added Felix Agbor Nkongho, Chair of the CHRDA and co-author of Cameroon’s Unfolding Catastrophe. “There must be accountability for these egregious crimes,” urged Nkongho, a lawyer who was himself arbitrarily detained by Cameroon authorities from January to August 2017.

Cameroon: Rights groups seek UN intervention to end Cameroon atrocities | Press release

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/20/cameroon-anglophone-separatist-leader-ayuk-tabe-handed-life-sentence

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/08/cameroon-trial-of-soldiers-for-killing-women-and-children/

https://theconversation.com/what-it-would-take-to-break-the-impasse-in-cameroons-deadly-crisis-122134

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/08/20/cameroon-detainees-tortured

https://www.dw.com/en/a-new-surge-of-people-fleeing-cameroons-anglophone-regions/a-50186298

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

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https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2019/08/20/cameroun-des-detenus-tortures (FRANCAIS)

https://www.voaafrique.com/a/human-rights-watch-d%C3%A9nonce-la-torture-de-d%C3%A9tenus-au-cameroun-/5049668.html (FRANCAIS)

https://lanouvelletribune.info/2019/08/cameroun-maurice-kamto-bientot-devant-un-tribunal-militaire/ (FRANCAIS)

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

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

https://www.raoulwallenbergcentre.org/irwin-cotler-fr (FRANCAIS)

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

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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.

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2019/08/10/cat-findings-on-torture-un-body-recommends-independent-inquiry-into-allegations-against-law-enforcers

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bangladesh-torture/bangladesh-must-investigate-rife-torture-un-rights-body-idUSKCN1UZ1YT

https://www.ohchr.org/FR/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24884&LangID=E

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/07/29/bangladesh-heed-un-recommendations-torture

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/foreign-affairs/2019/08/01/review-of-bangladesh-un-committee-against-torture-observations-on-aug-9

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/international/rights-groups-accuse-bangladesh-of-using-torture-in-custody-against-dissenters

http://www.omct.org/reports-and-publications/2019/06/d25408/

Tajikistan: Tajikistan Under Review: A Familiar Litany of Human Rights Concerns

July 25, 2019

Tajikistan Under Review: A Familiar Litany of Human Rights Concerns

To put it mildly, the Human Rights Committee has a lot of concerns about Tajikistan. In its concluding observations, a 12-page document, half a page includes an introduction and “positive aspects,” while the remainder catalogs “principle matters of concern and recommendations.”

To those familiar with Tajikistan, there are no surprises in the report. The list of concerns hits all the hot topics: corruption; discrimination; violence against women; problematic states of emergency regulations; ambiguity and overreach with regard to terrorism and extremism; reports of torture; the deaths of prisoners in custody; unfair and closed trials; harassment of journalists, lawyers, activists, opposition politicians; interference of the state into matters of religious practice; and more.

Tajikistan’s last such review, in 2013, was in many ways the same. The areas of difference are down to the examples, not the necessarily the core concerns themselves.

For example, in 2013 the review highlighted the fresh case of Zayd Saidov, a Tajik businessman and politician who announced the creation of a new political party “New Tajikistan” in April 2013 with eyes on contesting the presidential election later that year. He was soon after arrested. In the August 2013 review, the committee noted his case specifically:

In December 2013, Saidov was sentenced to 26 years in jail on a bevy of charges ranging from fraud to rape of a minor. The trial was held behind closed doors. In early 2015, his outspoken lawyer, Shukhrat Kudratov, was jailed for nine years, and then Saidov faced additional charges which resulted in the adding of three years to his sentence.

Jump ahead to 2019. It’s quite clear Dushanbe did nothing but ignore the committee. The 2019 review mentions not only Saidov, but also the leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT) and a handful of jailed human rights lawyers.

The period after 2013 marked a significant turning point for Tajikistan’s political climate. The downturn hit its full stride in 2015 with the banning of the IRPT and the persecution of its leaders, their lawyers, and their extended families.

https://thediplomat.com/2019/07/tajikistan-under-review-a-familiar-litany-of-human-rights-concerns/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/06/11/submission-un-human-rights-committees-review-tajikistan

https://thediplomat.com/2019/01/fighting-for-tajikistans-jailed-lawyers/

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-shukhrat-kudratov

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Turkey: Joint submission by the ALI, the ODF and the HRD on abuse of Anti-Terror Law and criminalization of legitimate exercise of the freedom of expression

July 18, 2019

A coalition consists of the Arrested Lawyers Initiative, the Open Dialogue Foundation and the Human Rights Defenders e.V. made a joint submission titled ‘ARBITRARY APPLICATION OF ANTI-TERRORISM LAWS AND CRIMINALIZATION OF USING AN I-MESSAGE APPLICATION (BYLOCK)‘ to the United Nations Human Rights Council for Turkey’s UPR session.

The Submission concluded that: 

  1. Criminalization of the use of ByLock constitutes the retroactive punishment because a) it is not foreseeable under Turkish laws, b) it is unprecedented in Turkish case-law, c) at the time of such alleged use it was not the object of sufficiently precise, valid law to which a sufficiently certain sanction was attached,
  2. The use of ByLock does not prove criminal guilt.23 Using an electronic communication software which was offered to public use via the most visited and famous online platform (i.e Apple and Google Play stores) is legitimate exercise of fundamental rights, namely the freedom of expression and the freedom of [confidential] communication, not a crime. Freedom of expression includes the right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, including all forms of electronic and internet-based modes of expression,
  3. A conviction may be based on correspondence which show a crime has been committed provided that such correspondences have been legally acquired and in any case it is supported with other concrete evidence,
  4. An arrest or detention that lacks any legal basis—in violation of the principle of legality—is arbitrary. Retroactive criminal punishment by detention amounts to arbitrary detention. Arrest or detention as punishment for the legitimate exercise of the rights as guaranteed by the ICCPR, such as freedom of expression, is arbitrary,

Joint submission by the ALI, the ODF and the HRD on abuse of Anti-Terror Law and criminalization of legitimate exercise of the freedom of expression

International Coalition consists of Bar Associations and NGOs made submission on rights violations in Turkey

The Arrested Lawyers made submission to the United Nations on ongoing crackdown against lawyers in Turkey

https://ahvalnews.com/purges/international-group-urges-un-action-over-purge-turkish-legal-professionals

SCF’s submission to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of Turkey

State of emergency measures still haunt Turkey on 3rd anniversary of failed coup

http://camerepenali.it/cat/10046/un_altro_processo_in_turchia_contro_degli_avvocati_.html (ITALIANO)

https://arrestedlawyers.org/

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