In Santiago, thousands celebrated the 70th anniversary of the UDHR with a focus on women

11 de December, 2018

Photo: OHCHRActivities included talks by women human rights defenders of South America and a mass concert by Francisca Valenzuela

SANTIAGO (11 December 2018) – The United Nations celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in Chile, with a special focus on the role of women human rights defenders.

The activities took place at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, in Santiago, and included talks by women human rights defenders of South America and a mass concert by Chilean singer Francisca Valenzuela.

The event was opened by the Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Chile, Mr. Hernán Larraín, the UN Resident Coordinator in Chile, Ms. Silvia Rucks, the Representative for South America of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Ms. Birgit Gerstenberg and the Director of the Museum of Memory, Mr. Francisco Javier Estévez.

The Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on Disability and Accessibility, Ms. María Soledad Cisternas, the Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union, Ms. Stella Zervoudaki; the Director of the National Human Rights Institute of Chile, Ms. Consuelo Contreras; and Ambassador Ricardo Rojas, of the Chilean Foreign Ministry also delivered remarks.

Authorities and guests underscored the continued relevance of the principles enshrined in the UDHR, 70 years after its adoption by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948.

South American women leaders

The celebration also included a series of talks by women human rights defenders from nine countries of South America, who shared their experiences as activists and thoughts on the key role played by women in the defense of human rights.

The featured speakers were Pamela Martín García (Argentina), sexual and reproductive rights activist; Martina Barra (Bolivia), Afro-Bolivian defender; Maria da Penha (Brasil), violence against women activist; Emilia Schneider (Chile), campaigner against sexism in education; Rocío Rosero (Ecuador), women’s rights activist; Tina Alvarenga (Paraguay), indigenous and environmental leader; Beatriz Caritimari (Peru), indigenous peoples’ activist; Brenda Sosa (Uruguay), representative of women victims of dictatorship; and Alejandra González (Venezuela), migrants’ rights defender.

The event ended with a mass concert by Chilean musician and activist Francisca Valenzuela, who performed her greatest hits in front of over 4,000 people at the Museum of Memory’s plaza. The artist invited the women human rights defenders on stage, and they received a standing ovation.

The activity was organized in partnership with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice and Human Rights of Chile, the National Human Rights Institute, the Delegation of the European Union and the Embassy of Norway in Chile.

The regional celebration in Santiago was part of a series of 14 events promoted by OHCHR and partners across seven time zones worldwide, spotlighting the centrality of rights to the daily lives of people everywhere. More about Human Rights Day in the world: https://bit.ly/2Qv80LS

ENDS

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the UN General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris three years after the end of World War II. It was the product of 18 months’ work by a drafting committee, with members and advisers from all across the world, and – in the words of one of its principal architects, René Cassin – “at the end of one hundred sessions of elevated, often impassioned discussion, was adopted in the form of 30 articles on December 10, 1948.”

A series of 30 short articles on each of the 30 Articles of the Universal Declaration

More details about the events and campaigns linked to the 70th anniversary

More information on the UDHR itself

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Video

New representative assumes direction of OHCHR-South America

24 de May, 2018

Photo: ECLAC/Carlos VeraSANTIAGO (24 May 2018) – As of May 2018, Ms. Birgit Gerstenberg has assumed office as regional representative for South America of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

A national of Germany, Ms. Gerstenberg has over 30 years of professional experience and an extensive career in the United Nations, particularly in the field of human rights, representing OHCHR in different duties and geographic areas.

“The High Commissioner mandated me to continue consolidating OHCHR’s work in South America, focusing on the promotion and protection of human rights in the countries of the region”, Ms. Gerstenberg said.

“In this endeavour, my Office and I hope to keep constant dialogue and strengthen our cooperation relations with all social sectors, namely the States but also civil society and other key stakeholders, with an emphasis on those persons and groups who are frequently discriminated against or left behind”, she added.

International experience

As part of her international experience, Ms. Gerstenberg has acted as the High Commissioner’s representative in Uganda and as human rights advisor to the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Jamaica.

The new representative was also the coordinator of the OHCHR office in Darfur (Sudan) and has carried out OHCHR technical functions in the UN peacekeeping missions in El Salvador and Guatemala, as well as in the High Commissioner’s office in Colombia, among other roles.

Based in Santiago, Chile, the OHCHR regional office for South America has the mission of observing, promoting and protecting human rights in nine countries of the region: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

ENDS

For more information or media requests, please contact: María Jeannette Moya, public information officer, OHCHR-South America: (mmoya@ohchr.org / +56222102977).

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightshttp://www.standup4humanrights.org/en/index.html

Tag and share: Twitter: @UNHumanRights and Facebook: unitednationshumanrights

 

Committee on the elimination of racial discrimination examines Peru’s report

27 de April, 2018

Foto: UN WebTVThe Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the combined twenty-second and twenty-third periodic report of Peru on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Miguel Angel Soria Fuerte, Deputy Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Peru, began his presentation of the report by condemning in the strongest terms the assassination of the leader of the indigenous people Shipibo-Konibo, Olivia Arévalo, and of Canadian citizen Sebastian Paul Woodroffe.  In continuation, Mr. Soria Fuerte noted that Peru was a country committed to the rule of law, the promotion and protection of human rights, fundamental liberties and democracy, and to the fight against corruption.  The Committee’s concluding observations of 2014 had fed into the country’s policies aimed at fostering multiculturalism, equality and respect for diversity.  The Government had strengthened its public policies to combat racial discrimination through the National Plan on Human Rights 2018-2021, which would for the first time be translated into indigenous languages and would be delivered to leaders of indigenous communities.  In addition, Peru had approved dozens of regional and municipal guidelines on fighting racial discrimination.  According to the Criminal Code, the crime of discrimination carried a prison sentence, whereas grounds for discrimination included race, religion, nationality, age, gender, sexual orientation, language, ethnic or cultural identity, opinion, economic status, migration status, disability, health condition, affiliation, and other factors.  

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts inquired about the reform of the Criminal Code to bring the criminalization of racial discrimination in line with the Convention, prior consultation with indigenous communities and Afro-Peruvians, the lack of constitutional recognition of Afro-Peruvians, improved access to justice for indigenous peoples and Afro-Peruvians, forced sterilization of indigenous women, inter-cultural education and efforts to combat illiteracy, illegal mining and mercury pollution, indigenous land ownership, forced labour, access to healthcare and education for migrants, political representation of women, indigenous peoples and Afro-Peruvians, police violence against social protesters, use of force by private security forces, protection of human rights defenders, implementation of the National Human Rights Plan 2018-2021, and of the National Plan for the Development of the Afro-Peruvian Population 2016-2020, and the diffusion of racial stereotypes in the mass media.
 
In his concluding remarks, Pastor Elias Murillo Martinez, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Peru, welcomed the legislative initiatives of Peru, notably those on constitutional recognition of Afro-Peruvians, improved access to justice, cultural education, and a draft law on inter-cultural coordination of justice.  Mr. Murillo Martinez encouraged the State party to consider including indigenous peoples in the deliberations on climate change, and to include Afro-Peruvians in the implementation of the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169.   

Mr. Soria Fuerte thanked Committee Experts for their questions, which would help the country come up with better public policies, and reminded that since 1974 Peru had been showing before United Nations treaty bodies progressive efforts to guarantee human rights to its people.  

Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue and encouraged the State party to take all the necessary steps to follow on various recommendations of the Committee.  Mr. Amir reminded that the Committee would ask for immediate follow-up on several recommendations.

The delegation of Peru included representatives of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, the Supreme Court, and the Permanent Mission of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva.  

The Committee will next meet in public today at 3 p.m. to consider the combined fourth to ninth periodic report of Saudi Arabia (CERD/C/SAU/4-9).  


Report

The Committee has before it the combined twenty-second and twenty-third periodic report of Peru: CERD/C/PER/22-23.

Presentation of the Report

MIGUEL ANGEL SORIA FUERTE, Deputy Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Peru, began his presentation by condemning in the strongest terms the assassination of the leader of the indigenous people Shipibo-Konibo, Olivia Arévalo, and of Canadian citizen Sebastian Paul Woodroffe, adding that the crime would be carefully investigated by the Peruvian national police.  Continuing with his presentation, Mr. Soria Fuerte noted that Peru was a country committed to the rule of law, the promotion and protection of human rights, fundamental liberties and democracy, and to the fight against corruption.  Peru would scrupulously comply with its international obligations, and combatting racial discrimination meant delivering on those obligations.  The Committee’s concluding observations of 2014 had fed into the country’s policies aimed at fostering multiculturalism, equality and respect for diversity.  Additionally, the 2017 national census included questions on mother tongue and ethnic composition of the population.  The authorities had promoted the campaign “I am proud of who I am” before the census.  The results of the census would be available in July 2018 and the Government would convey them to the Committee.  The Government had strengthened its public policies to combat racial discrimination through the National Plan on Human Rights 2018-2021, which would for the first time be translated into indigenous languages and would be delivered to leaders of indigenous communities.  In March 2018, the authorities had carried out the first national survey on perceptions and attitudes towards racial and ethnic discrimination and diversity.  In addition, Peru had approved dozens of regional and municipal guidelines on fighting racial discrimination.  According to the Criminal Code, the crime of discrimination carried a prison sentence.  Grounds for discrimination included race, religion, nationality, age, gender, sexual orientation, language, ethnic or cultural identity, opinion, economic status, migration status, disability, health condition, affiliation, and other factors.  

Mr. Soria Fuerte explained that the authorities had undertaken several affirmative actions for indigenous peoples and had set up a cross-sectoral roundtable for urgent action with an objective to guarantee access to basic public services, improving living conditions, and the development of indigenous communities, with an emphasis on the Amazon region.  In that respect, Mr. Soria Fuerte highlighted the multifaceted role played by the Itinerant Social Action Platforms, which offered basic public services to the most remote indigenous communities in the Amazon region, such as health, education, culture, development and social inclusion.  In addition, the authorities had launched actions to reverse mercury pollution in indigenous areas with a high level of illegal mining activities, namely the Amazon regions of Madre de Dios and Loreto.  Another example of development programmes for indigenous communities was the National School Nutrition Programme, securing nutrition to school-age indigenous boys and girls in the Amazon region.  With respect to the right to education, Mr. Soria Fuerte said that the Government had elaborated a language map with 38 codified languages. 

As for the consultation process with indigenous communities, Mr. Soria Fuerte reminded that the authorities had conducted consultation processes in the sector of hydro-energy and mining.  The Government had developed norms regarding self-determination through the Concept of Indigenous Peoples’ Voluntary Isolation.  The Plan for Integral Reparation provided for programmes of reparations concerning the education, economy, health, environment and civil rights of indigenous peoples breached during the period of violence between 1980 and 2000.  Turning to the use of force by the police in the context of indigenous social protests, Mr. Soria Fuerte explained that the Government had updated several guidelines for the policy to deal with social protests in a manner that was consistent with respect for human rights.  Peru had undertaken a complex effort to create a registry of victims of forced sterilization between 1995 and 2001, in order to provide reparation to victims.  In 2016, the Government had set up the Working Group for Strengthening the Political Participation of Indigenous Peoples.  In addition, the Ministry of Culture had created the Working Group on Indigenous Policies, and the Working Group on Afro-Peruvians.  In the upcoming regional and municipal elections, there would be quotas in 20 out of 24 departments, and in 131 of 196 provinces.  In terms of access to justice, the State had developed concrete actions to improve access to justice in general, but particularly for vulnerable populations, such as indigenous and peasant communities (campesinos), and Afro-Peruvians, through the provision of interpreters in several indigenous languages, Mr. Soria Fuerte concluded. 

Questions from the Country Rapporteur

PASTOR ELIAS MURILLO MARTINEZ, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Peru, noted that the delegation did not include a representative from the Ombudsman’s Office.  Mr. Murillo Martinez reminded of the problem of corruption, and the fact that the past five presidents of Peru had been indicted for crimes of corruption.  He praised the anti-corruption efforts by Peru, thanks to the independence of the judiciary.  

Mr. Murillo Martinez reminded of the challenges in the process of inclusion of indigenous peoples and Afro-Peruvians, namely high poverty rates.  What actions was the State party carrying out to implement a constitutional reform that would better reflect the diversity of the population?  Had it considered adopting a law on equal opportunities?  What special measures had been adopted to level the playing field for indigenous peoples and Afro-Peruvians in particular?  

Would the State party consider reforming the Criminal Code to fully eliminate racial discrimination and fully bring it in line with the Convention?  As for prior consultation with indigenous peoples, Mr. Murillo Martinez reminded of the arbitrary use of force by private police forces.  There was a situation of insecurity for environmental human rights defenders in Peru.  Prior consultation with indigenous communities was often not taken too seriously, and was carried out at the last minute.  What were agreements with indigenous communities based on?  What resources had been devoted to making progress in that area?

Turning to the situation of indigenous and Afro-Peruvian women, Mr. Murillo Martinez underlined that more than 1,000 women had been assassinated, whereas rape and abuse were frequent.  Afro-Peruvian women were particularly susceptible to abuse.  Mr. Murillo Martinez also expressed concern about the judicial circumstances of the case of Ms. Azucena Algendones and the fact that she had to undergo three different trials.  

Had the State party considered ratifying the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169 on domestic workers, and the Minamata Convention on Mercury?  How many legislative measures would be subjected to prior consultation with indigenous communities with respect to the Minamata Convention?  How would the State party implement the International Decade for People of African Descent?

Mr. Murillo Martinez asked how the State party concretely planned to enhance access to justice for indigenous peoples and Afro-Peruvians.  He also referred to the negative impact of television programmes that negatively portrayed Afro-Peruvians.    

Questions from the Committee Experts

GUN KUT, Committee Rapporteur for Follow-up to Concluding Observations, informed that Peru had submitted an interim report on four follow-up issues, namely on the rights of indigenous persons with respect to extraction of natural resources, victims of armed conflict and forced sterilizations, use of force against indigenous peoples protesting against extracting projects, and negative stereotypes about indigenous peoples and Afro-Peruvians.   

An Expert welcomed the introduction of legal interpreters for indigenous languages.  However, he noted that there were no reports of racial discrimination due to fear of harassment and intimidation.  

In the cases of forced sterilization, the Government had a responsibility to shed light on them because they could even amount to genocide.  

What was inter-cultural education?  Who was targeted by bilingual inter-cultural education?  What was Peru doing in practice to fight racial discrimination at the national level?  

What was the percentage of illegal mining in the country and the percentage of mercury poisoning by illegal mining?  What were the procedures for determining indigenous land reserves?

Experts inquired about the standardization of various data collection efforts on different populations in the country.  

What measures had been taken to combat school illiteracy, particularly among Afro-Peruvian and indigenous children?  What specific measures had been adopted to promote access for Afro-Peruvian and indigenous women to education, labour, property and ownership of land? 

An Expert reminded that the Ministry of Mining and Energy was one of the focal points for the implementation of the National Plan for Human Rights 2018-2021, noting that mining poised several threats to human rights.  What would be done to protect human rights defenders?  

There were many challenges in access to healthcare and education for migrants and refugees, particularly migrants from Venezuela, due to the fact that many migrants were undocumented.  How many migrants from Venezuela were there in Peru?  What was the number of foreign students in the country?  

The problem of forced labour in Peru was a complex matter that particularly affected people from poorer backgrounds and coming from the isolated communities in the Amazon region.  How did forced labour affect indigenous peoples, Afro-Peruvians and migrants?  In which sectors was forced labour prevalent?  

How was the State party’s report drafted?  Was it an inclusive process?  What had been the concrete impact of the way the report was drafted?  Was there a standing national body responsible for developing reports and follow-up to recommendations?

What was the representation of Afro-Peruvians and indigenous peoples in the public administration and law-making?  What was the current status of the draft National Strategy for Eradicating Racial and Ethnic Discrimination, and what budget had been dedicated to it?

Referring to the March 2018 national survey on perceptions and attitudes towards racial and ethnic discrimination and diversity, Experts asked about the measures that the State party was contemplating to promote tolerance and diversity. 

How many complaints of racial discrimination had led to convictions?  How long did trials tend to last?  As for police violence, there was an average of nine deaths following police interventions.  How many investigations had led to the conviction of police officers?  

An Expert inquired about the definition of discrimination used in rulings of judicial bodies.  Why was there a need for specific municipal guidelines on discrimination?  

 Replies by the Delegation

MIGUEL ANGEL SORIA FUERTE, Deputy Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Peru, informed the Committee that two days ago a draft law on the constitutional recognition of Afro-Peruvians had been presented.  In addition, in January 2017, the Criminal Code had been amended to sentence the crime of racial discrimination in line with international standards.  The Peruvian Government believed that the criminalization of discrimination was comprehensive and covered any type of discrimination.  There had been four draft laws aimed at modifying the Criminal Code.  

Mr. Soria Fuerte explained that the National Plan for the Development of the Afro-Peruvian Population 2016-2020 targeted sub-national authorities in order to better assess the situation of Afro-Peruvians and indigenous communities.  The National Human Rights Plan 2018-2021 was the result of a broadly participative process, containing 44 strategic goals, 150 strategic actions, 281 indicators, and 373 outcomes.  As part of that plan, the Government had also taken on an obligation to implement a mechanism for the protection of human rights defenders, which would be elaborated in cooperation with civil society representatives.  Responding to Experts’ questions about dealing with social protests, Mr. Soria Fuerte noted that the State had the duty to restore order during times of conflict, and that it equally had to protect protesters and law enforcement officers.  

The Government had proposed the formulation of a national strategy for the elimination of ethnic and racial discrimination, and to make racism visible as a violent social phenomenon.  As for the results of the national survey on perceptions and attitudes towards racial and ethnic discrimination and diversity, they were made part of public policies to fight racism and racial discrimination, Mr. Soria Fuerte explained.    

Turning to prior consultation, he noted that the Council of Ministers monitored agreements with indigenous communities.  Some 75 per cent of the agreements had been implemented.  The Government had concluded 36 consultation processes with indigenous peoples with respect to extractive investment projects.  With respect to the Afro-Peruvian population, Peru would respect their right to prior consultation under the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169 when they were covered by the scope of relevant agreements.    

As for the political representation of indigenous peoples and Afro-Peruvians, there was no quota at the level of the Congress.  Nevertheless, there were indigenous and Afro-Peruvian parliamentary representatives.  At the regional and provincial level, there had been an increase in indigenous representation, Mr. Soria Fuerte explained.

With respect to the use of force, Mr. Soria Fuerte clarified that the Government had strengthened the link between human rights and the use of force.  The use of private security forces was governed by degree No. 003-2017-IN, as well as by 80 agreements between the national police and private entities.     

Turning to the issue of the diffusion of racial stereotypes in the mass media, Mr. Soria Fuerte said that Peru had self-regulation mechanisms outlined in the Law on Radio and Television.  The Government had through the Ministry of Culture issued numerous communications to the media with respect to racial and cultural stereotypes.  Even though it had done its utmost to curb racial messages, the State faced certain limitations when interfering with freedom of expression.  

CLAUDIO DE LA PUENTE RIBEYRO, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva, explained that the concept of inter-culturality recognized cultural differences as a pillar of a democratic and equitable society.  Inter-cultural bilingual education aimed to educate people to allow them to exercise their citizenship as protagonists in the construction of a democratic and pluralistic society.  It was based on the cultural heritage of peoples and on the recognition of their cultural traditions.  Some 11,640 primary-level institutions in the country provided inter-cultural bilingual education to 607,790 students.  

In terms of the provision of healthcare, Mr. de La Puente Ribeyro said that through the Inter-Cultural Health Plan 2017-2021, the Ministry of Health had carried out 175,000 interventions through 26 itinerant brigades in 245 indigenous communities in 2017.   The Ministry also worked to treat 3,323 persons affected by heavy metals.  

Turning to indigenous land ownership, Mr. de La Puente Ribeyro informed that some 15.77 per cent of the land in Peru belonged to indigenous communities.  The Government had established territorial oversight in reserves of indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation.  In the context of illegal mining activities, the use of mercury in Peru was linked with small-scale mining taking place in an informal manner.  Accordingly, the future elimination of the use of mercury, as well as the formalization of illegal mining activities, were priorities for the Government.  The authorities had set up nine monitoring studies on the use of mercury in the mining zones, Mr. de La Puente Ribeyro underlined.  

The delegation informed that the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations had created two working groups to promote the rights of indigenous and Afro-Peruvian women, in cooperation with civil society, the Ministry of Culture, and the Office of the Ombudsman.  Their objective was to coordinate, promote and implement actions for indigenous and Afro-Peruvian women, and ensure non-discrimination and gender equality.  
 
The delegation clarified that the Peruvian Government currently offered Venezuelan migrants with refuge in case of persecution, and with temporary residence status, which allowed them to work.  Migrants could open a bank account, and access primary education and healthcare on an equal footing with Peruvian citizens.  There was an ongoing dialogue with civil society in order to improve access to healthcare for migrants, including Venezuelan citizens.  There had been an enormous increase in the number of Venezuelan migrants recently – out of some 200,000 persons that had entered Peru, the majority were Venezuelan.  

The Government would present the third National Plan for the Fight against Forced Labour in May 2018, and it would work to establish a baseline for the population at risk of forced labour.  The Government would also provide technical assistance for regional authorities to formulate regional plans for the fight against trafficking in persons and forced labour.

The authorities had taken concrete actions to facilitate and promote access to justice for vulnerable populations through training programmes for judges and judicial personnel, also provided in indigenous languages, training with a gender focus, legal counsel centres, and protocols on persons with disabilities.  Currently, there were 82 judicial interpreters, whereas another 35 judicial interpreters would be licensed.  In addition, judicial proceedings involving indigenous peoples could also be pronounced in the aymara and quechua languages.  The judiciary had concluded 31 cases of racial discrimination in the period 2015-2016. 

Ms. Azucena Algendones had been found responsible for the crime, the delegation explained.  But because of the ultima ratio nature of the case, she had not been given a sentence.  If she wanted to challenge the outcome of the court decision, there were pathways for that in the judicial system, the delegation stated.

Second Round of Questions by Experts

PASTOR ELIAS MURILLO MARTINEZ, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Peru, reminded that about 80 per cent of the productive land in Peru was owned by only two per cent of the population.  There seemed to be limitations to land ownership rights of indigenous peoples.  How would the State guarantee the effective use of land by indigenous peoples?  

The most consistent complaint of indigenous peoples with respect to prior consultation was that it was not sufficiently upstreamed, and that women did not sufficiently participate in it, Mr. Murillo Martinez noted.  There was a huge challenge in managing social protests by indigenous peoples.  What strategies did the State have in that respect?  

Turning to the issue of media and freedom of expression, the State had the responsibility to address television programmes that denigrated the dignity of Afro-Peruvian people, Mr. Murillo Martinez stressed.

An Expert inquired about the percentage of the budget dedicated to education, and about the educational needs of Afro-Peruvians.  Despite the legal framework of equality of citizens, the Committee remained troubled by the fact that Afro-Peruvians continued to face structural gaps and poverty, and that they remained unrecognized by the Constitution as a separate group.  How could the very low educational outcome for Afro-Peruvians be improved (only some 3.3 per cent completed their education)?  How did the State plan to address the high school dropout rates in rural areas?  In what way was the population of African descent in Peru different from the one in Colombia?  

Who were the owners of extractive industries in Peru, especially of foreign mining companies?  Were Peruvian policies in line with the United Nations Guidelines on Business and Human Rights?  Did private security forces have the same limits on the use of force?  Did civil liabilities apply to foreign companies?  What percentage of the productive land in Peru was owned and controlled by indigenous communities?

Was the fact that there were 38 indigenous alphabets an attempt to make them more Spanish/Castilian?  Were there any Roma in Peru? 

There was information that 50 per cent of one of the isolated indigenous communities was affected by diseases brought by settlers, who might have been paid by extractive industries, one Expert noted.

Experts also inquired about the establishment of a more independent mechanism for the protection of human rights defenders, improved access to healthcare by migrants, the shortfall in the collection of data on forced labour, and training on forced labour.  

One Expert warned that the abuse of freedom of expression should not be allowed to undermine the human dignity of individuals or peoples.     

What was the representation of women in the legislative and executive branches, and at the municipal level?  Did women enjoy freedom of association, and did they have access to justice?

Replies by the Delegation

The delegation emphasized that the Government guaranteed access to healthcare to all people on the territory of Peru without any preconditions and regardless of their migration status.  There was a small population of Roma in the country that had first arrived in the nineteenth century.  

Women in Peru were not marginalized.  On the contrary, the Government had been doing its utmost to empower women in various spheres of life.  In the executive branch, there were five female ministers out of 18 ministers, while out of 130 members of the Parliament, 36 were women.  In the Supreme Court, four out of 20 judges were women.  Thus, there was an increasing political representation of women, and women participated in non-profit organizations and businesses.

CLAUDIO DE LA PUENTE RIBEYRO, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stated that the alleged intention of the State to make indigenous languages more Spanish was not true.  The authorities wanted to preserve those languages.  Mr. de La Puente Ribeyro stressed the important contribution of Afro-Peruvians to Peruvian culture and society.  As for mercury pollution, he said that there was no credible link between illegal mining and such pollution.  The top five producers of gold, copper and zinc operated in Peru and carried out their activities in a regular fashion.      

MIGUEL ANGEL SORIA FUERTE, Deputy Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Peru, clarified that Afro-Peruvians had the right to prior consultation.  In line with the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169, that right was applied to communities of people of African descent brought to Peru from Suriname during the colonial period.  The Peruvian Government respected the binding provisions of international law and was committed to uphold those norms in the case of Afro-Peruvians.  Mr. Soria Fuerte reiterated that two days ago a bill had been presented to modify the Constitution and recognize Afro-Peruvians as a separate people. 

Television programmes which disseminated negative stereotypes about Afro-Peruvians concerned the Government, Mr. Soria Fuerte noted, adding that the authorities had held many discussions about that problem.

Concluding Remarks

PASTOR ELIAS MURILLO MARTINEZ, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Peru, welcomed the legislative initiatives of Peru, notably those on constitutional recognition of Afro-Peruvians, access to justice, cultural education, and a draft law on inter-cultural coordination of justice.  Mr. Murillo Martinez encouraged the State party to consider including indigenous peoples in the deliberations on climate change, and include Afro-Peruvians in the implementation of the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169.   It was positive that Peru had ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury.  There remained a huge problem of violence against women, and of land ownership by indigenous peoples.

MIGUEL ANGEL SORIA FUERTE, Deputy Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Peru, thanked Committee Experts for their questions, which would help the country come up with better public policies.  Since 1974 Peru had been showing before United Nations treaty bodies progressive efforts to guarantee human rights to its people.  

NOUREDDINE AMIR, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue and encouraged the State party to take all the necessary steps to follow on various recommendations of the Committee.  Mr. Amir reminded that the Committee would ask for immediate follow-up on several recommendations.

For use of the information media; not an official record

– Source: https://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/BFF4802651C5B42BC125827B004828AF?OpenDocument 

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Chile: comment of OHCHR-South America on the situation of Celestino Córdova

24 de April, 2018

SANTIAGO (23 April 2018) – The Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is closely following the hunger strike of Celestino Córdova, a machi of the mapuche indigenous people, and expresses concern about his health condition.

In this regard, OHCHR urges the State of Chile to act in accordance with its role as guarantor, in light of international standards of human rights and of indigenous peoples.

OHCHR encourages all parties to remain committed to urgently find a solution, through dialogue in good faith, to guarantee the right to life that belongs to every person, without discrimination.

ENDS

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.

Tag and share: Twitter: @UNHumanRights and Facebook: unitednationshumanrights

Argentina: UN human rights expert on torture urges authorities to respect human dignity

23 de April, 2018

Foto: ONU ArgentinaGENEVA / BUENOS AIRES (23 April 2018) – Argentina has come a long way in dealing with its past but much remains to be done to make sure there is no impunity for the crimes committed under the dictatorship and to ensure truth, justice and rehabilitation for victims and their families, says the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer.

“From the trials of the military junta in 1985 to the verdicts in the so-called ‘death flights’ case last year, Argentine society has won many battles against impunity, and has courageously stood up for democracy, accountability and human dignity,” Mr. Melzer said in a statement at the end of his first fact-finding visit to the country.

“However, in the shadows of these exemplary achievements, some structural, cultural and institutional elements from the past have survived and are still festering in the security and penitentiary system of the country.

“Throughout Argentina, there seems to be a significant hardening of criminal policy in response to popular concerns about violent crime and public security, prompting a sharp increase in the number of people behind bars and a dramatic deterioration of detention conditions,” Mr. Melzer said.

“While I am genuinely impressed by the sophisticated system of safeguards and mechanisms in place to prevent torture and ensure adequate conditions of detention, and by the personal dedication of countless officials at all levels, the sobering truth is that these safeguards have not sufficiently translated into practical results.

“The country’s prisons and police stations are chronically overcrowded and the conditions in many places of detention are clearly incompatible with human dignity.

“Although there are significant differences between individual institutions, I am genuinely shocked that, in some places, prisoners are locked up in cells infested with rats and cockroaches. Many inmates get as little as one square metre of space, and some sleep without mattresses on bare cement or metal racks. Others have no artificial light, broken electrical and sanitary installations, no access to toilets during the night and, in extreme cases, no access to sunlight for periods of up to six months,” the Special Rapporteur stressed.

In many places, prisoners were also found to be deprived of adequate nutrition, hygiene and medical care, or reported to have been exposed to violence or corruption from other inmates and prison officials, Mr. Melzer said.

He also expressed concern that juveniles were being held in excessively harsh detention conditions, and some psychiatric patients were institutionalised in completely unacceptable conditions.

“It is my considered opinion that, in allowing this situation to arise, continue and further exacerbate despite repeated appeals on the part of civil society and international mechanisms, Argentina has become responsible for widespread and persistent violations of the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. There can be no justification, whether economic, political, legal or otherwise, to expose human beings to such intolerable conditions,” the UN expert emphasized.

“I have also received numerous accounts of excessive force being used during demonstrations, and of arbitrary police violence, harassment and corruption during searches, evictions and arrests, with some victims reporting to have been shot, slapped, kicked, threatened with firearms, and even suffocated with plastic bags,” said Mr. Melzer.

“These abuses appear to be targeted particularly at marginalised segments of society, such as inhabitants of poor neighbourhoods, migrants of African descent, indigenous peoples and sexual minorities,” he added. “Furthermore, institutional violence does not appear to be effectively investigated in practice.

“Today, as we prepare to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I appeal to all authorities in Argentina, as a matter of urgency, to commit the necessary resources to improve the conditions of detention throughout the country.

“Moreover, the judiciary should avoid any unnecessary influx of inmates into the existing detention system, and facilitate the release or implementation of alternative measures for any prisoner whose detention is not imperatively required. Where necessary, the legislative branch should provide the legal basis allowing to ease pressure on the detention system, and the Executive should take effective measures to prevent and punish any act of corruption, extortion or ill-treatment on the part of security or prison officials.

“In the past three decades, Argentinian society has repeatedly proven to be capable of standing up against violence, torture and abuse. Today, I appeal to the Argentinian people to live up to that promise, in the name of humanity.”

The Special Rapporteur will present a report of his full findings, observations and recommendations to a forthcoming session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

ENDS

 

Mr. Nils Melzer (Switzerland) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in November 2016. Mr. Melzer has previously worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and is currently Professor of International Law at the University of Glasgow and the Human Rights Chair of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

 

For inquiries and media requests, please contact: Ms. Krystel Abi Habib (+41 79 444 51 72 / kabihabib@ohchr.org) or Ms. Alia El Khatib  (+41 79 500 0032 / aelkhatib@ohchr.org), or write to sr-torture@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Jeremy Laurence (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

 

Source: OHCHR

 

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org

At regional forum, OHCHR highlighted the key role of human rights in sustainable development

20 de April, 2018

Photo: ECLAC

*Photo gallery: https://bit.ly/2F4lGDA

SANTIAGO (20 April 2018) – The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) participated this week in the second meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development. The forum was held at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile.   

The forum gathered hundreds of participants, including state representatives from 28 countries of the region, as well as United Nations agencies with presence in the continent, academics, civil society and private sector organizations.

During the activity, participants shared good experiences, assessed the progress made and discussed challenges for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Latin America and the Caribbean.

OHCHR’s representative Birgit Gerstenberg was mandated by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to participate in the forum. She attended several meetings and previous events in the framework of the regional meeting.

The participation of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the forum was coordinated by the OHCHR’s offices in New York and in South America (based in Santiago).

Human rights and sustainable development

In the name of OHCHR, Birgit Gerstenberg underlined how the UN human rights mechanisms are working as supporting tools for the implementation of the SDGs. She recalled that the 2030 Agenda is the strongest proof of the integration of the human rights in sustainable development.

During her intervention in the meeting “The Regional Dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: contributions of the United Nations system“, Ms. Gerstenberg highlighted the importance of the effective participation of all sectors of civil society in the implementation of the SDGs. The OHCHR envoy emphasized that effective participation is the right way to achieve inclusive development, to close inequality gaps and to tackle discrimination. 

At a side event jointly organized by OHCHR, the governments of Ecuador and Denmark, the Human Rights Ombuds office of Argentina and the Danish Institute of Human Rights, Ms. Gerstenberg recalled that the full exercise of public freedoms –namely freedom of opinion, expression and information, of association and peaceful meeting- is fundamental to achieve greater, meaningful participation. She also stated that in recent years, the exercise of these rights has been limited in many countries of the region, and that reports of UN human rights mechanisms have particularly noted serious rights violations against defenders of indigenous peoples, the environment, women, migrants, LGBT, among others.

Additionally, OHCHR expressed that Latin America is the region with the best practices in the development of human rights indicators: for example, the adoption of human rights indicators of health, access to justices, water, environment, etc. by the governments of Mexico, Paraguay, Bolivia and Ecuador is an experience that can be replicated in other countries of the region.

During a workshop for delegates of the countries that will submit voluntary reports for the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), Ms. Gerstenberg explained how the human rights tools can provide support in order to prepare country reports on the implementation of the SDGs.

In coordination with ECLAC, OHCHR also facilitated a dialogue that gathered nine UN Resident Coordinators from the region. The activity aimed at identifying experiences, challenges and good practices in the integration of human rights on the implementation of the SDGs.

Experiences were also shared on how to support the dialogue with authorities, particularly in identifying those people and groups that are “left behind” more often, as well as in the fight against discrimination and inequalities and in ensuring the effective participation of all actors.

ENDS

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.

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Racial discrimination: UN Committee to review Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Nepal, Peru, Saudi Arabia and Sweden

19 de April, 2018

Photo: ohchr.orgGENEVA (April 19, 2018) – The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is meeting in Geneva from 23 April to 11 May 2018 to review the following countries: Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Nepal, Peru, Saudi Arabia and Sweden.

The above are among the 179 States Parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. They are required to submit regular reports to the Committee, which is composed of 18 international independent experts. 

CERD will also hear from NGOs and national human rights institutions. 

The public review of each State runs from 15:00 to 18:00 and then from 10:00 to 13:00 on the following day. The public sessions will be held at the ground floor conference room at Palais Wilson in Geneva and live webcasts can be viewed here.

More information, including States’ submitted reports, lists of issues, and information from civil society can be found here.

The Committee will publish its findings, officially known as concluding observations, on 11 May 2018.

ENDS

For more information and media requests please contact Julia Gronnevet at +41 (0) 22 917 9310 jgronnevet@ohchr.org.

For media accreditation, please see here.

Background

Members of CERD are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty. More information on the Committee here.

Source: OHCHR

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Bolivia: UN Human Rights Committee concludes that the political rights of two former lawmakers were violated

18 de April, 2018

Photo: UN PhotoGENEVA (18 April 2018) – In two decisions made public today, the UN Human Rights Committee concluded that Bolivia violated the political rights of two former members of the Bolivian Congress, who were barred from running for mayors in their respective cities in the 2015 sub-national elections.

The Human Rights committee found a violation of the political rights of former lawmakers Rebeca Elvira Delgado Burgoa and Eduardo Humberto Maldonado Iporre, after examining the complaints they submitted to the Committee, in accordance with the Optional Protocol of the International Convenant of Civil and Political Rights.

The decisions of the committee are available here:
– http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CCPR%2fC%2f122%2fD%2f2628%2f2015&Lang=en 
– http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CCPR%2fC%2f122%2fD%2f2629%2f2015&Lang=en

More information (in Spanish): http://acnudh.org/bolivia-comite-de-derechos-humanos-de-la-onu-concluye-que-se-violaron-los-derechos-politicos-de-dos-exparlamentarios/  

Source: OHCHR

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.

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Statement by UN Human Rights Office on Venezuela jail deaths

29 de March, 2018

Foto: UN Photo/Harandane DickoGENEVA (29 March 2018)We are appalled at the horrific deaths of at least 68 people in Venezuela after a fire swept through a police station jail on Wednesday amid reported clashes between detainees and security forces.

We urge the Venezuelan authorities to carry out a prompt, thorough and effective investigation to establish the cause of these deaths, provide reparations to the victims’ families, and, where applicable, identify and bring those responsible to justice.   

We are also concerned at reports that security forces used tear gas to disperse relatives who had gathered in front of the police station in Valencia, Carabobo State, to demand information about their loved ones. We call on the authorities to respect the families’ right to information and to peaceful assembly.  

There is widespread overcrowding and dire conditions in Venezuela’s prisons and also in police jails, which are often used as permanent detention centres. These conditions, which often give rise to violence and riots, are exacerbated by judicial delays and the excessive use of pre-trial detention.

States are guarantors of the lives and physical integrity of persons deprived of their liberty. We call on the Venezuelan government to adopt immediate measures to address the conditions of detention to ensure that they comply with international human rights norms and standards, including the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

To this end, we urge the authorities to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, so as to enable independent prison monitoring by an international body. 

ENDS

 

For more information and media requests, please contact: Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)

 

Source: OHCHR

 

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Brazil: UN experts alarmed by killing of Rio human rights defender who decried military intervention

26 de March, 2018

Foto: UN Photo/Nektarios MarkogiannisGENEVA (26 March 2018) – UN human rights experts* said the killing of prominent Afro-Brazilian human rights defender Marielle Franco who decried the military’s use of force in Rio de Janeiro was deeply alarming.

Ms Marielle Franco and her driver, Mr Anderson Pedro Gomes, were shot dead in their car on 14 March while they were returning from a public event called “Young Black Women Moving Structures”.

Ms Franco was a fierce critic of the Decree of 16 February that authorizes federal intervention on matters of public order in Rio.

“Her killing is alarming as it clearly aims to intimidate all those fighting for human rights and the rule of law in Brazil,” said the experts.

“We urge the Brazilian authorities to use this tragic moment to thoroughly revisit their choices in the promotion of public security and, particularly, to substantially step up the protection of human rights defenders.”

As a city councillor, Ms Franco was supposed to integrate a task force to monitor security interventions in Rio. According to information received by the experts, a few days before the killing, Ms Franco denounced military police’s use of force in the favela of Acari in the Northern region of the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Last weekend, eight people reportedly died in a police operation in a Rio favela. “Public security should never be used at the expense of human rights,” said the experts. “Repressive responses targeting and marginalizing the poor and Afro Brazilians are unacceptable and counter-productive”.

“We urge the authorities to put an end to the violence, to publicly reaffirm the important and legitimate role of women’s rights defenders and condemn violence and discrimination against them,” they added.

The experts called for a prompt and impartial investigation into the killings while noting that Ms. Franco’s execution was an alarming symptom of the levels of violence in Brazil today.

“Ms Franco was a remarkable human rights defender. She defended the rights of people of African descent, LGBTI, women and young people living in the poorest slums in Rio. She will be remembered as a symbol of resistance for historically marginalized communities in Brazil,” they concluded.

ENDS

 

The experts: Ms. Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequencesMs. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intoleranceMr. Michal Balcerzak, Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African DescentMr. Victor Madrigal-BorlozIndependent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identityMs. Alda Facio, Chairperson of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practiceMr. Juan Pablo BohoslavskyIndependent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rightsMr. Michel ForstSpecial Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defendersMr. Philip AlstonSpecial Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rightsMs Leilani FarhaSpecial Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context.

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

 

For more information and media requests, please contact: Thibaut Guillet (+41 22 917 9674 / tguillet@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

 

Source: OHCHR

 

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.

 

2018 United Nations Human Rights Prize call for nominations

23 de March, 2018

Photo: OHCHR14 March 2018 – The 2018 United Nations Human Rights Prize will be given out at the United Nations in New York on Human Right Day, 10 December. Nominations are open until 6 April 2018.

This year’s award will coincide with the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The prize to recognize individuals or organization for outstanding achievements in the field of human rights is given out every five years.

It was last awarded in 2013. The winners were Mr. Biram Dah Abeid of Mauritania for his fight against slavery; Ms. Hiljmnijeta Apuk of Kosovo* for her campaign for the rights of people of disproportionately short stature; Ms. Liisa Kauppinen of Finland for her fight for the rights of the deaf; Ms. Khadija Ryadi of Morocco for championing a variety of human rights causes; the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico for its role in the constitutional protection of the human rights of Mexicans; and Ms. Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan for championing, at considerable risk, girls’ right to education.

The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights is an honorary award given to individuals and organizations in recognition of outstanding achievement in human rights. The Prize was established by the General Assembly in 1966 and was awarded for the first time on 10 December 1968, the twentieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Prize has since been awarded in 1973, 1978, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2013.

The Prize is an opportunity not only to give public recognition to the achievements of the recipients themselves, but also to send a clear message to human rights defenders the world over that the international community is grateful for, and supports, their tireless efforts to promote all human rights for all. 

How are the winners of the Prize chosen? 

An important feature of the Prize is that nominations can be received from a broad variety of sources: “Member States, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations in consultative status and from other appropriate sources.” 
Once nominations have been received by the UN Human Rights Office, a consolidated list is presented to a committee that selects the winners. The five members of this committee are: the President of the General Assembly; the President of the Economic and Social Council; the President of the Human Rights Council; the Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women; and the Chair of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee. 

Nominations for the 2018 Prize 

The UN Human Rights Office has already sent written requests for nominations to Member States, UN programmes and agencies, non-governmental organizations and the national human rights institutions.

Nominations may be made by submitting the online nomination form with basic identifying information about the nominee and the reasons for making the nomination.

Hard copies can, alternatively, be sent by post to: Human Rights Prize, OHCHR New York Office, Room S-1306, United Nations, New York, NY 10017. A printable form for submitting a nomination by post is available for download here.

The deadline for submission of nominations is 6 April 2018, 23:59 hours Eastern Standard Time.

* Reference to Kosovo should be understood in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.

 

Tag and share: Twitter: @UNHumanRights and Facebook: unitednationshumanrights

 

Uruguay must improve prison conditions, says UN torture prevention body

20 de March, 2018

Foto: INDDHH UruguayGENEVA (20 March 2018) – The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT), which from 4 to 15 March carried out its first visit to Uruguay, noted with special concern that the juvenile justice system resembles a prison system, encouraging the State to opt for a system that guarantees the rehabilitation and education of adolescents.

The SPT’s visit to Uruguay was in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), ratified by the State in 2005.

“We urge the Uruguayan State to allocate the necessary financial and human resources to ensure that persons deprived of their liberty are treated in accordance with international standards, particularly the Nelson Mandela and Bangkok rules,” said Felipe Villavicencio, head of the SPT delegation.

“We also encourage the State to strengthen the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture so that it can adequately and independently fulfil its prevention and monitoring functions, and extend its coverage and visibility throughout the country”, said Mr. Villavicencio, adding that the SPT would continue monitoring and providing technical assistance to the National Mechanism.

The delegation visited places of detention in different parts of Uruguay, including police stations, prisons, detention centres for adolescents and psychiatric units. The SPT conducted confidential and individual interviews with persons deprived of their liberty, prison system officials, police officials and health personnel and also met with Government officials, Uruguay’s National Human Rights Institution, the National Preventive Mechanism, and representatives of civil society.

Following its visit, the SPT will present a confidential report to the Government of Uruguay, which it encourages the Uruguayan State to make public. The report will include the SPT’s observations and recommendations for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty.

The delegation was comprised of the following SPT members: Felipe Villavicencio Terreros (Head of Delegation; Peru), Nora Sveaass (Vice-President of the SPT, Norway) and Emilio Ginés Santidrián (Spain).

ENDS

For media inquiries or for more information about the visit, please contact:

In Geneva: Julia Gronnevet, +41 (0) 22 917 9310 / jgronnevet@ohchr.org

Background:

The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has, to date, been ratified by 87 countries. The SPT communicates its recommendations and observations to States by means of a confidential report and, if necessary, to National Preventive Mechanisms. However, States parties are encouraged to request that the SPT makes these reports public.

The SPT is composed of 25 independent and impartial experts from different regions of the world. For more information on the mandate of Subcommittee, please visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/OPCAT/Pages/OPCATIndex.aspx

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Bolivia: OHCHR South-America carried out first official visit to the country

20 de March, 2018

Photo: UN BoliviaSANTIAGO (20 March 2018) – From 12 to 13 March, representatives of the Regional Office for South America of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-South America) carried out their first official mission to La Paz, Bolivia, in order to meet with State authorities, with representatives of civil society organizations and with the United Nations System in the country.

During the visit, national counterparts were informed about the Regional Office’s working strategies on technical cooperation and monitoring of human rights situations in Bolivia, in charge of covering the country after the OHCHR country office in Bolivia concluded its activities, in December 2017.

The regional representative a.i. of the OHCHR-South America, Mr. Guillermo Fernández Maldonado, together with the deputy representative, Mr. Xavier Mena, met with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bolivia, María del Carmen Almendras and other authorities of the portfolio, in order to exchange opinions on the progress and challenges of the human rights situation in the country, with a view to establishing lines of work and mutual cooperation.

Likewise, the OHCHR-South America staff members held meetings with representatives of civil society organizations, to explain how OHCHR will keep working with Bolivia through its Regional Office, as well as to explore support modalities and mutual exchanges.

Meetings were also held with the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Bolivia, Mr. Mauricio Ramírez, and representative of the UN agencies in the country, which explained how OHCHR will continue working in coordination and supporting the UN Country Team from its Regional Office based in Santiago, Chile.

ENDS

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Comment by UN Human Rights Office Spokesperson Liz Throssell on the killing of Rio de Janeiro councillor Marielle Franco

15 de March, 2018

OHCHR_logo_EN_bluexGENEVA (15 March 2018) – We condemn the deeply shocking murder in Brazil of Rio de Janeiro city councillor Marielle Franco and her driver. Franco was a well-known human rights defender who campaigned against police violence and for the rights of women and people of African descent, particularly of those living in poor areas.

We understand that the authorities have promised a full investigation into the killings which happened in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday night. We call for such an investigation to be carried out as soon as possible, and it must be thorough, transparent and independent if it is to be seen as credible. Strenuous efforts must be made to identify those responsible and bring them before the courts.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact: Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)

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Universal Periodic Review: Human Rights Council adopted Argentina’s report

15 de March, 2018

argentina-epuSANTIAGO (15 March 2018) – The Human Rights Council adopted today in Geneva, Switzerland, the outcome report of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Argentina. 

– Download the outcome report of the UPR Argentina (A/HRC/37/5): http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/37/5

– Download the Addendum with views on conclusions and/or recommendations, voluntary commitments and replies presented by the Argentine State (A/HRC/37/5/Add.1), in Spanish: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/37/5/Add.1

According to the report presented by the national delegation, Argentina accepted 175 of the 188 recommendations made by the States of the Human Rights Council during the third cycle of the UPR, and 13 were noted by the State.

Adoption ceremony

During the ceremony, the ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Argentina to the UN in Geneva, Marcelo Cima, informed that human rights are a fundamental part in the design of State policies in Argentina, and that the UPR is a tool that contributes to strengthen the national human rights protection systems.

Likewise, the authority highlighted that in November 2017 Argentina launched its first National Human Rights Plan, which comprises the period 2017-2020. Mr. Cima pointed out that the plan was elaborated in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals, the recommendations of the UPR, and the observations of the UN human rights mechanisms.

The Argentine representative also explained that the country assumed several voluntary commitments in that framework, such as consolidating the human rights institutions –including the National Plan, the Ombuds Office and the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture. In the same way, he expressed the importance of continuing with policies for the construction of memory, truth and justice; advancing in development policies, inclusion and integration to reduce poverty; promoting reforms to improve transparency standards and access to information in human rights matters; as well as preventing and fight against the institutional violence, including train the security forces and the penitentiary system.  

Finally, Mr. Cima highlighted that broad debates on the decriminalization of abortion and the universalization of sexual education are being promoted.

During the adoption of the UPR of Argentina, representatives of the State, the UN and civil society groups identified areas in which Argentina can continue making process in terms of human rights, expressing concern in matters such as women’s rights, sexual and reproductive rights, racial discrimination, discrimination grounded on religious or sexual orientation, the situation of the penitentiary system and the use of force, among other issues.

You can find the video of the UPR on Argentina adoption’s ceremony at the following link:  http://bit.ly/2IpbOY2

More information (in Spanish): http://acnudh.org/examen-periodico-universal-consejo-de-derechos-humanos-adopto-informe-final-de-argentina/

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.

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UN women’s rights experts issue findings on Chile

13 de March, 2018

Foto: ACNUDHGENEVA (12 March 2018) – The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has published its findings on the following countries which it examined during its session from 19 February to 9 March in Geneva: Chile, Fiji, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Suriname.

The findings cover how the respective State is doing with regard to women’s rights, detailing positive developments, main areas of concern, and recommendations for action. The findings, officially known as concluding observations, can be found here:  http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1157&Lang=en

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is composed of 23 international independent experts, who monitor implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, ratified to date by Rights of the Child, ratified to date by 189 States.

The Committee will next meet from 2 to 20 July 2018 in Geneva to review Australia, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, State of Palestine and Turkmenistan. More information may be found here:  http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1171&Lang=en

ENDS

 

For more information and media requests, please contact: Julia Gronnevet jgronnevet@ohchr.org /+41 22 917 93 10

 

Background

CEDAW members are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty. More information: http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/cedaw/pages/cedawindex.aspx

 

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today.  #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at

http://www.standup4humanrights.org

 

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Brazil: OHCHR and IACHR express concern over federal intervention in Rio de Janeiro

13 de March, 2018

acnudhcidhLOGOWashington, D.C./Santiago (13 March 2018) – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the South America office of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed their “deep concern” over the presidential decree that authorizes a federal intervention regarding matters of public order in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The agencies observed that Decree No. 9288, signed on February 16 and approved by the National Congress, grants extensive powers to the armed forces to restore order and places the police forces under the command of an Army general.

“We are concerned about the fact that this decree does not sufficiently specify its scope and implementation terms, nor the conditions that justify adopting an exceptional measure of this nature,” the OHCHR and the IACHR noted. “Without these safeguards, the implementation of a federal intervention can result in serious violations of human rights, in particular the rights to life and personal integrity.”

The entities recalled that States should limit the use of the armed forces to control internal disturbances as much as possible, given that the training they receive is aimed at militarily defeating an enemy, not at the protection and control of civilians.

Recalling that the use of force by State agents must always follow the principles of legality, proportionality and necessity, the OHCHR and the IACHR expressed their concern over statements by authorities responsible for implementing the federal intervention, referring to a supposed need to lead a “war” on drugs and organized crime in Rio de Janeiro.

“We urge the Brazilian State to develop, in a broad and participatory manner, a drug policy based on human rights, with a comprehensive approach on social reintegration, which prioritizes a public health approach and refrains from focusing on repressive and criminalization actions ” they stated.

The IACHR and OHCHR also pointed out that the federal intervention can have a disproportionate impact on the human rights of people of African descent, adolescents and those living in poor areas. The entities note the creation of a Human Rights Observatory of the Federal Intervention in Public Security in the State of Rio de Janeiro (ObservaRIO) by means of a Ministry of Justice decree, and call on this mechanism to ensure effective participation by civil society organizations and affected communities.

Finally, the IACHR and OHCHR recall that on October 13, 2017, they rejected the modification of the military penal code to permit malicious homicides of civilians committed by agents of the armed forces be tried by military tribunals. The organisms underlined at that time that the State should guarantee that criminal proceedings against military personnel be examined in courts of ordinary jurisdiction and not in the criminal military jurisdiction, in order to avoid impunity for human rights violations.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is mandated to promote and protect the enjoyment and full realization, for all persons, of all rights set forth in the Charter of the United Nations and international laws and treaties of human rights. OHCHR develops its work in the light of the mandate entrusted to it by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 48/141. Its global headquarters is located in Geneva, Switzerland. The OHCHR Regional Office for South America is located in Santiago, Chile and covers the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

No. 047/18

*See this press release at the IACHR’s website: http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2018/047.asp

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org. 

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Human rights of women and girls of African descent: achievements and triumphs

9 de March, 2018

Photo: OHCHR9 March 2018 – In Latin America, poverty rates are high for women, but even higher for women of African descent; in the USA, 37 percent of households head by African-American woman live below the poverty line; and First Nations Canadian and Afro-Canadian women and girls have less opportunity for education and academic achievements.

These were some of the findings of a booklet called Women and girls of African descent: human rights achievements and challenges. The publication, by the UN Human Rights Office and the UN Department of Public Information, is based on the UN Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent to the UN General Assembly last year. It contains analysis of the findings of human rights mechanisms and illustrates the realities of discrimination against women and girls of African descent.

When it comes to experiencing human rights, women and girls of African descent often face obstacles that are as much based on their race and ethnicity as it is their gender.

“We have gathered here to recall, honor and celebrate the achievements of women and girls of African descent, said UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore. “For in the face of entrenched discrimination, still women and girls of African descent rise; in their uniqueness, talent and through their resilience, despite barrier, opposition and exclusion, they have made and are making indelible marks on science, development, sport, law, family, arts, politics and through activism.”

Gilmore made her speech during the launch of the booklet in the UN Library on International Women’s Day. In addition to statics on challenges facing women and girls of African descent, the booklet provides an overview on the enjoyment of human rights by women and girls of African descent, drawing from work by international human rights mechanisms, as well as information provided by key stakeholders to a survey from the UN Human Rights office.

Along with the challenges, live the achievements. The booklet points out that some countries have integrated protective measures for people of African descent into laws and constitutions, have adopted national action plans to combat racial discrimination and have launched awareness campaigns to combat prejudice against people of African descent.

Among the activities undertaken by OHCHR in the context of the International Decade, the OHCHR’s fellowship programme for people of African descent was launched. It prioritizes women leaders of African descent providing them with a learning opportunity to deepen their understanding of the United Nations human rights system and instruments.

The booklet sets out recommendations that if followed, would help to “eat away at the legacy of centuries of structural race and sex discrimination,” Gilmore said.

“The Decade for People of African Descent together with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development give us the essential ingredients of a significant opportunity to robustly transform laws that will tangibly and materially better respect, protect and fulfil the rights of millions of women and girls of African descent,” she said.

You can download “Women and girls of African descent: human rights achievements and challenges” here.

ENDS

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High Commissioner’s global update of human rights concerns

7 de March, 2018

Photo; UN WebTV

37th session of the Human Rights Council
Item 2: Annual Report and Oral Update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the activities of his Office and recent human rights developments
Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

7 March 2018

Distinguished President,
Excellencies,
Colleagues, Friends,

A few days ago, we celebrated the centenary year of Nelson Mandela’s birth. We spoke of his example; his fortitude, his suffering and compassion, while recalling also the declaration that he and my predecessor Mary Robinson signed in 2000 on diversity and tolerance.

And it was right for us – not just to have remembered Mandela’s greatness, but to have, almost unconsciously, contrasted it with all the narrow politicians who continue to proliferate across the face of the world. Authoritarian in nature, many of them are wily political in-fighters, but most are of thin mind and faint humanity – prone to fan division and intolerance and just for the sake of securing their political ambition. While some do this more openly than others, all are well aware what they practise comes at the expense of vulnerable humans.

To them I say: you may seize power, or stubbornly hold onto it, by playing on and stoking the fears of your followers. You may congratulate yourselves for this and you may think yourself so clever for it. But we know all you’ve done is copy the behaviour of previous generations of once strong, but ultimately catastrophic, leaders and politicians. Yours will in the end become a mouse-like global reputation, never the fine example of the leader you think you are – and never even close to a Mandela. To deserve global respect, you must begin to follow his example – committing to the spirit and letter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

What makes it so difficult for us to understand this Declaration, its universality and how to view our fundamental sameness relative to our differences? We are all humans. We are almost identical genetically – on average, in DNA sequence, each human is 99.9% the same as any other human. We have the same organs, we all have to breathe, eat, sleep and, to survive as a species, reproduce. We have feelings, we love, we think, we have hopes and, if fortunate, we will grow old before expiring. This is the core of what it is to be a human being.

Everything that’s bolted on – that is colour, race, ethnicity, gender and all the rest – comes only afterthe acquisition by each of us of our rights as human beings. And this is what the adoption of the Universal Declaration formalized seventy years ago. The present-day hatred, and its corresponding rising uncertainties, seem to come from humans who view the relationship between the core and the bolted–on characteristics in reverse. In their view, the differences decide everything. But this approach, if each of us were to adopt it, and act upon it, would be an open invitation to human self-annihilation. It cannot be – it simply cannot be!

Mr President,

Since my last update to this Council I have conducted missions to Libya, Peru, Uruguay, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. Recognising that not all States will accept a visit, I express my deep appreciation for these invitations, which demonstrate commendable openness to discussing human rights issues. In my statement to the Council in June, I will be addressing the issue of refusals of access to international human rights mechanisms, and to my Office.

In every instance, I encourage the concerned States to embark on deeper dialogue and cooperation with my Office and the human rights mechanisms. Before I begin what will sadly prove to be a very long list of human rights violations and abuses, I would like to highlight a sample of advances which are underway in several countries.

In Ecuador, I commend the Government for conducting a very broad dialogue, including with media and human rights defenders, as a first step towards overcoming the country’s polarization. In Saudi Arabia, I note with great interest the royal directive stipulating that all government services must from now on be provided to women without prior approval from male guardians. I commend The Gambia for its announcement of a moratorium on the death penalty last month. In Somalia, I welcome a number of positive developments, including the establishment of a national human rights commission with a diverse composition, and I encourage the Government to continue its efforts to build institutions and bring peace. Portugal has made noteworthy strides towards ending discrimination against Roma, sharply increasing the number of Roma aged 16 to 24 engaged in work, training or education.

Mr President,

Many people have suffered the violence of extremist and terrorist groups over the past few months, and I want to emphasise that I and my Office condemn acts of terrorism wherever they occur, unreservedly. There can be no justification of this blind violence which lashes out against ordinary people.

I will now turn to the geographic sections of my statement, emphasising the urgency of two situations: Syria, where the horror of eastern Ghouta needs to be spoken of time and again; and Myanmar, where the most recent reports gathered by my Office point to the continuation of ethnic cleansing in Rakhine State.

Mr President,

As this Council session opened, the conflict in Syria entered a new phase of horror. In addition to the staggering bloodshed in Eastern Ghouta, which was discussed in urgent debate last week, escalating violence in the province of Idlib is placing some two million people in danger. In Afrin, the offensive by Turkey is also threatening large numbers of civilians. People in Government-controlled Damascus are suffering a new escalation of ground-based strikes. And the offensive against extremist groups has resulted in large-scale loss of civilian life.

More than 400,000 people have reportedly been killed in the Syrian conflict, and more than a million injured, many very severely; many are children. Hundreds of thousands of people are living under sieges, the vast majority imposed by Government forces and their allies. Over 11 million people have been forced to leave their homes. Tens of thousands of people are detained, frequently in inhuman conditions, including torture; many others have been forcibly disappeared. Hospitals, schools and marketplaces have been massively, and in some cases, deliberately, damaged and destroyed: in 2017, one health centre was attacked every four days. My Office also documented over a thousand airstrikes and ground-based strikes in 2017, and numerous intolerable human rights violations and abuses by all parties to the conflict: Government forces, their allied militias, international actors, and armed opposition groups – among them, ISIL.

It must be recalled how the massive violations committed by the Government of Syria and its local allies, beginning in 2011, created the initial space in which extremist armed groups later flourished. Remember the Shabeehah? Recent attempts to justify indiscriminate, brutal attacks on hundreds of thousands of civilians by the need to combat a few hundred fighters – as in Eastern Ghouta – are legally, and morally, unsustainable. Also, when you are prepared to kill your own people, lying is easy too. Claims by the Government of Syria that it is taking every measure to protect its civilian population are frankly ridiculous.

This month, it is Eastern Ghouta which is, in the words of the Secretary General, hell on earth; next month or the month after, it will be somewhere else where people face an apocalypse – an apocalypse intended, planned and executed by individuals within the Government, apparently with the full backing of some of their foreign supporters. It is urgent to reverse this catastrophic course, and to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.

Mr President, 

The conflict in Yemen continues to escalate, creating a humanitarian disaster of new magnitudes. Civilians suffer indiscriminate shelling and sniper attacks by Houthi and affiliated forces, as well as airstrikes conducted by the Saudi-led Coalition forces; these remain the leading cause of civilian casualties, including child casualties, in the conflict. I am particularly concerned about the hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in the city of Taiz. The Council will receive a detailed update of my concerns on 21 March.

My Office will brief this Council on Libya on 20 March. During my mission there in October I was alarmed by the near-complete lawlessness throughout the country, with almost total impunity for even the most serious crimes. I encourage all States to support the International Criminal Court’s investigation into crimes against humanity committed in the country. 

The Council will be briefed on 21 March on the human rights situation in Afghanistan, where my concerns continue to deepen on protection of civilians, with ever larger suicide attacks in Kabul and other urban areas. Accountability for those responsible is imperative, and I welcome the ICC prosecutor’s decision in November to proceed with an investigation of the situation.

I deplore Iran‘s odious practice of executing people for crimes committed when they were children. I am also concerned about the excessive use of force against demonstrations in December and January for economic and social rights, as well as the subsequent deaths of a number of protestors held in custody. Widespread resentment at high levels of youth unemployment, inequality, lack of accountability of State institutions and the greater demand for rights should be addressed through dialogue and reforms. Repressive measures – such as arrests and prosecutions of human rights defenders, journalists, international environmental activists and women protesting against the compulsory hijab – can only deepen the people’s resentment. The Secretary General’s report on Iran will be presented to the Council on 21 March.

In Egypt, I am concerned by the pervasive climate of intimidation in the context of this month’s Presidential elections. Potential candidates have allegedly been pressured to withdraw, some through arrests. Legislation prevents candidates and supporters from organising rallies. Independent media have been silenced, with over 400 media and NGO websites completely blocked. My Office continues to receive reports pointing to the ongoing targeting of human rights defenders, journalists, civil society activists and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as reports of torture in detention. Egyptians have legitimate aspirations to live in a free, inclusive and democratic country, and I urge much greater respect for their fundamental freedoms and rights. I note Egypt’s recent invitations to a number of Special Procedures mandate holders and invite the authorities to engage in discussions with my Office.

In Iraq, the application of Anti-Terrorism Law 13 of 2005 remains of particular concern, especially in regard to lack of respect for due process and fair trial standards, and the large number of death sentences handed down following convictions under this law. It is essential that the Government take urgent action to ensure that due process and fair trial standards are implemented fully in domestic law – including the Anti-Terrorism law – and observed in practice. I also remain concerned about reports of violations by forces linked to the Government; forced displacement of civilians; and the continuing unknown status of several hundred men and boys who disappeared in Saqlawiyah in June 2016, after coming in contact with armed groups. I urge the Government to fully investigate these incidents, publish the findings, and hold those responsible to account.

In Bahrain, human rights defenders and civil society organisations continue to suffer from intimidation, harassment and restrictions. The recent, and deeply regrettable, five year sentence against Nabeel Rajab over a tweet is yet another serious setback for Bahrain’s international reputation.

Six reports will be presented to the Council regarding the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, under Item 7. Regarding the Council’s request to my Office to produce a database of business enterprises engaged in specific activities related to Israeli settlements, a total of 206 companies have been screened in, out of 321 companies reviewed, and we expect to release further details after we have reviewed the detailed responses of all 206. In the coming days, my Office will issue a report on what has been a significant expansion of illegal settlements over the past year, despite Security Council Resolution 2334. We will also release a report on the dramatic deterioration of the situation in Gaza, where complete economic and institutional collapse grows ever more likely. I am also concerned that human rights defenders have been detained by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities, their movement is restricted and their funding is in jeopardy.

Mr President,

The situation of the Rohingya community in Myanmar, and of some 900,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, continue to be of intense concern. As the Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights announced this week, following his mission to Bangladesh, my Office believes that ethnic cleansing is still underway in Rakhine State. While the township of Maungdaw has been essentially emptied of its Rohingya community, people continue to flee to Bangladesh because of systematic – though lower-intensity – persecution and violence in other towns and villages. Victims have reported killings, rape, torture and abductions by the security forces and local militia, as well as apparently deliberate attempts to force the Rohingya to leave the area through starvation, with officials blocking their access to crops and food supplies. This Council is aware that my Office has strong suspicions that acts of genocide may have taken place in Rakhine State since August. I am therefore not surprised by reports that Rohingya villages which were attacked in recent years, and alleged mass graves of the victims, are being bulldozed. This appears to be a deliberate attempt by the authorities to destroy potential evidence of international crimes. I have also received reports of the appropriation of land inhabited by Rohingya and their replacement by members of other ethnic groups.

A recent announcement that seven soldiers and three police officers will be brought to justice for the alleged extra-judicial killing of ten Rohingya men is grossly insufficient. The Government must take steps towards real accountability for these violations, and must fully respect the rights of the Rohingya, including to citizenship. While awaiting the final report of the Fact Finding Mission, I again recommend that this Council ask the General Assembly to establish a new independent and impartial mechanism to prepare and expedite criminal proceedings in courts against those responsible. Any repatriation agreement should lay out a clear pathway to citizenship and put an end to the discrimination and violence inflicted on the Rohingya; these conditions are clearly not in place today. I thank Bangladesh for hosting almost one million refugees, and I will continue to call on member states for long-term support for host communities, as well as to uphold the refugees’ rights to education and a livelihood.

Access for independent human rights monitoring is practically non-existent across Myanmar, but it appears clear that longstanding discriminatory policies and practices also continue against other groups. In Shan and Kachin states, civilian casualties continue to be reported as a result of attacks by the security forces. I am also alarmed by a dramatic erosion of freedom of the press; journalists have in recent months faced escalating intimidation, harassment, and death threats. 

In Cambodia, I am seriously concerned at increasing moves to repress dissent and close political and civil society space. Broadly-worded legal provisions have been used to silence civil society organizations, journalists and members and supporters of political parties. Since this Council last met, the Supreme Court has dissolved the principal opposition party, disenfranchising opposition voters. Recently adopted amendments to the Constitution and Criminal Code are likely to further erode political rights and fundamental freedoms. I note and welcome recent improvements in social protection and the minimum wage, but I call on the Government to guarantee the political rights of the people, to respect the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and to release human rights defenders and political actors. 

Given the scale and gravity of reported violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, I remain convinced that the situation should be referred to the International Criminal Court. Pursuant to this Council’s resolution 34/24, my Office is moving forward with an Accountability Project to document human rights violations, particularly those which may amount to crimes against humanity. The Council will receive a briefing from my Office in this regard on 14 March.

 Turning to China, President Xi has called for “people-centred development for win-win outcomes as part of a community of shared future for mankind,” a commendable ambition. Sadly, China’s global ambitions on human rights are seemingly not mirrored by its record at home. My Office continues to receive urgent appeals regarding arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and discrimination, emanating from human rights defenders, lawyers, legislators, booksellers, and members of communities such as Tibetans and Uyghurs. Many of these cases involve people struggling against economic, social and cultural injustices, such as cases of corruption; illegal seizure of land and forced evictions; destruction of cultural sites; constraints on religious practices and restrictions on use of local languages. I look forward to resolving some of these issues with the Chinese Government as we move towards China’s UPR review in November.

In the Philippines, following the International Criminal Court’s announcement of plans to open a preliminary examination, the authorities announced their willingness to work with the UN on drug-related challenges. I deplore President Duterte’s statement last week to élite police units that they should not cooperate “when it comes to human rights, or whoever rapporteur it is” and the continued vilification of this Council’s Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings by the authorities. The Government has a duty to uphold human rights and to engage with persons appointed by this Council. I am concerned by deepening repression and increasing threats to individuals and groups with independent or dissenting views, including opposition Senators, current and former public officials, the Commission on Human Rights, human rights defenders and journalists. Several cases for impeachment or dismissal have been launched against members of the Supreme Court, the Office of the Ombudsman and other institutions representing democratic safeguards. Senator de Lima has now been arbitrarily detained for over a year, without clear charges. This authoritarian approach to governance threatens to irreparably damage 30 years of commendable efforts by the Philippines to strengthen the rule of law and respect for the human rights of the people. I further deplore President Duterte’s encouragement to troops to violate fundamental rules of international humanitarian law, including his statement that they should shoot women fighters in their genitals because this would render them “useless”.  

More broadly, I urge all States to examine the effectiveness and human rights impact of their current approaches to the so-called “War on Drugs”. I urge more comprehensive implementation of the Outcome Document of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem of 2016, including its 15 operational recommendations on human rights and related issues. The cross-cutting UNGASS 2016 approach constitutes a new and better linkage of the objective of drug-control – protection of the health and welfare of humanity – with the key priorities of the UN system, including the SDGs. I encourage the continuation of this structure for future UN drug policy debates. In this context, I note and commend the International Narcotics Control Board’s recent call to all States to implement international drug control conventions in accordance with their commitments to human rights treaties and the rule of law.

In Thailand, restrictions continue to be imposed on the freedom of expression, opinion and assembly, and I continue to receive reports of judicial harassment and intimidation against human rights defenders, journalists, politicians and civil society activists for legitimately expressing their opinions on political and social matters. If Thailand is committed to transitioning to democratic rule through the general elections, it is imperative that restrictions on fundamental freedoms, including on political activities, be immediately lifted. I welcome the decision of the government to mainstream human rights in its development agenda, Thailand 4.0, and I look forward to further discussions with the authorities on measures to uphold human rights in this context.

On Pakistan, I would like to begin by recognising the loss of a giant and champion for human rights, Asma Jahangir, whose work has inspired many in the human rights community. Turning to the situation of human rights in the country, I am concerned by continuing reports of violence against journalists and other independent voices – in some cases apparently committed by members of Pakistan’s security forces – and by the high number of outstanding cases of enforced disappearances. Not a single case of enforced disappearance or extrajudicial killing has been successfully prosecuted. Minorities remain vulnerable to violence and discrimination, and in several cases officials have reportedly incited hatred against minority religious groups. In this context, I welcome the Government’s passage of the Hindu Marriage Act, offering the first possibility for Hindu marriages to be registered. A Christian marriage law is also in development.

In India, I am increasingly disturbed by discrimination and violence directed at minorities, including Dalits and other scheduled castes, and religious minorities such as Muslims. In some cases this injustice appears actively endorsed by local or religious officials. I am concerned that criticism of government policies is frequently met by claims that it constitutes sedition or a threat to national security. I am deeply concerned by efforts to limit critical voices through the cancellation or suspension of registration of thousands of NGOs, including groups advocating for human rights and even public health groups.

With respect to Kashmir, on both sides of the Line of Control, regrettably unconditional access continues to be refused to my Office, and I will report on this issue at greater length in June.

In the Maldives, rather than comply with a Supreme Court ruling which ordered the release of nine arbitrarily detained political leaders, including former President Nasheed, the Government declared a state of emergency last month – suspending key rights, as well as the entire Criminal Procedure Code, and opening the door to completely arbitrary decisions. The measure was followed by a wave of arrests, including of 80-year-old former President Gayoom, Members of Parliament, and the Chief Justice. While noting the Government’s acceptance of an immediate mission by my Office, I am deeply concerned that the rule of law, which is the foundation of any democratic state, is being undermined. Moreover, this crisis could have drastic effect on the lucrative tourist sector. I urge the complete reversal of these recent measures.

In Sri Lanka, I am very alarmed by recurring and continuing episodes of mob violence targeting ethnic and religious minorities, particularly Muslims, including most recently in Ampara and in several locations in the Kandy district, leading to the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency for 10 days. There should be no impunity, either for the incitement that led to the attacks, or the attacks themselves. I have repeatedly urged the Government to advance its implementation of the transitional justice agenda. I regret the absence of meaningful progress. It is urgent for the sake of the victims that progress be made on accountability and transitional justice. In the absence of such progress I would encourage Member States to explore the use of universal jurisdiction. The Council will be fully briefed on 21 March.

During my recent mission to Fiji, I encouraged the Government to match its strong performance on climate change internationally, with greater progress at the domestic level on civil and political rights – particularly in relation to women’s rights, the rights of other discriminated groups, and freedom of expression.

The Government of Indonesia has made progress in recent years in upholding human rights. I urge the authorities to address my concerns about increasing hostility towards religious and sexual minorities, which appears to be a recent and essentially foreign import to a traditionally tolerant nation. I encourage deeper consideration of the Faith for Rights Declaration of March 2017, which draws together commitments common to many religions and beliefs, and notes that “violence in the name of religion defeats its basic foundations: mercy and compassion.” I am concerned about conditions in West Papua and thank the authorities for giving my Office access to the area.

In Papua New Guinea, violence against women remains a major concern, and I am hopeful the Government’s Sorcery National Action Plan, and other essential measures, will have positive impact.

Mr President,

I am deeply concerned about sharply deteriorating economic and social conditions in a number of African States where conflicts and insecurity are escalating. Economic, social and cultural rights are also being undermined by climate change, which contributes to displacement of people from their land, as well as to conflicts between pastoralists and farmers, in particular across the Sahel and in Nigeria. The drastic collapse of oil revenues in several countries of Central Africa has further diminished the authorities’ capacity to respond to basic social needs. I welcome recent statements by the African Union Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who has emphasized the importance of human rights for the future of Africa and the need for leaders to fulfill the human rights demands of their people. I look forward to increasing partnership with the AU on numerous issues.

In Burundi, gross violations of human rights continue to occur with complete impunity. Since campaigning began for a vote on the Government’s plan to revise the Constitution, new crackdowns have seen many civil society activists, and some remaining political opponents, arrested. Recent threats to my staff in Burundi are completely unacceptable, and I deeply regret the continued suspension of our cooperative assistance. The Council will be briefed on my concerns on 13 March.

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan has identified more than 40 senior officials who may bear individual responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and has found evidence of “a clear pattern of ethnic persecution,” for the most part by Government forces. Fighting continues unabated, irrespective of the signature of another ceasefire agreement in December. I am alarmed by the suffering of the civilian population, including the more than 200,000 people who remain in the UNSMISS Protection of Civilian sites, in a clearly unsustainable situation. Government forces pose the single biggest threat to the protection of civilians in the country, followed by opposition armed groups, and I deplore the recent promotion of three South Sudanese Generals who in 2015 were identified by the Security Council Sanctions Committee as responsible for grave human rights violations. Violations committed by the security forces, and the Government’s repression of voices perceived to oppose its views, contravene the Government’s commitments to a National Dialogue, electoral processes, truth-seeking and reconciliation. I applaud the call made by the Chair of the AU for sanctions to be adopted against the main perpetrators of human rights violations in South Sudan, and urge the Government of South Sudan to sign the Memorandum of Understanding for the Hybrid Court without further delay.

In Sudan, I am concerned that civilians in Darfur continue to suffer attacks by militias and state security forces – including the Rapid Support Force in which many Janjaweed militia members have been integrated. I am deeply concerned about the plight of 2.5 million displaced people who face continuing violence by both security forces and militias. Since January, my Office has received a new wave of reports of arrests and detentions of human rights defenders, political activists and journalists across the country, following demonstrations for economic and social rights.

The Council will receive a detailed update on the Central African Republic on 21 March. Hope for national reconciliation continues to be undermined by violence committed by armed groups. I urge the authorities to operationalize without further delay the Special Criminal Court, alongside the on-going trials before Assize courts, in order to respond to the people’s calls for justice.

In Mali, I welcome efforts to control the very volatile security situation by the G5 Sahel countries, but it is essential that their coordinated security responses integrate respect for human rights in all operations. I am glad to report that my Office is helping to put in place an appropriate human rights and international humanitarian law compliance framework, developed in the context of the implementation of UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy. Reported violations of human rights by the national security forces, including allegations of torture, arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killings, are deeply counterproductive and undermine national cohesion. I urge that a comprehensive strategy be employed to address the root causes of insurgency and extremism, by eliminating conditions and inequalities which lead people to develop grievances.

In Cameroon, what appears to be long-standing structural discrimination in the Anglophone region of the country has led to continuing clashes between security forces and separatist groups. The arrest, in Nigeria, of 47 Anglophone community leaders, and their extradition to Cameroon has reportedly led to renewed violence in the south-west and north-west of the country. Allegations of summary executions of civilians by members of the security forces have been reported, and are generating widespread resentment. I regret that my Office has not been given access to verify these allegations. Acknowledging the complex challenges facing the authorities – including renewed displacement from the Central African Republic and the increase in Boko Haram attacks in the north – I urge the Government to make every effort to de-escalate the conflict in the Anglophone regions, and to allow unimpeded access to human rights monitors so that accurate information on the situation can inform constructive engagement on the way forward.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I deplore the continued repression of fundamental rights, as well as assaults on churches and religious sites by members of the youth wing of the ruling party. The Government is not creating an environment conducive to free or credible elections. The Council will be fully briefed on 20 March, and my Office will be releasing a detailed report in the coming days.

In Kenya, I am concerned that recent government actions against the press contravene freedom of the media, a pillar of democracy. I am also concerned by threats against civil society: Kenya’s impressive civil society groups are an inspiration for many, and the current regression is disturbing. There have also been incidents of harassment and arrest of leading opposition figures. I urge respect for the independence of the Kenyan judiciary and encourage the Government to implement the decisions of the courts. It is essential that Kenya ensure accountability for the scores of human rights violations reported during the 2017 elections, including sexual violence and unlawful killings.

I draw this Council’s attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in Tanzania, including heavy-handed restrictions on media freedoms and on civil society, and an increasing number of attacks on, and arrests of, Government critics. The Government has also taken an increasingly repressive approach to important social issues, with arrests of LGBTI activists, growing attacks on the LGBTI community, and attacks and threats against people working to provide reproductive health-care. The Government’s policy of permanently refusing any further education to girls who become pregnant is shocking, and I am disturbed by the High Court’s finding that such a policy is not discriminatory.

In Equatorial Guinea, I am deeply concerned about the arrest and detention of more than a hundred leaders and opposition members, in the aftermath of the legislative elections of November 2017, and the failed coup plot which was announced by the Government in January. I urge transparent and comprehensive investigations, and scrupulous respect for due process guarantees.

In Ethiopia, I welcome the release of more than 7,000 detainees in January and February, including several high profile figures. I am concerned about the declaration of a second State of Emergency last month. Reforms can only be carried out successfully through truly inclusive dialogue and political processes. I urge the authorities to investigate and prosecute those responsible for recent killings in the country, and I reiterate my request for access to affected regions.

In Zimbabwe, I encourage the newly formed Government to enact economic reforms to address inequalities and lay the foundations for truly sustainable and inclusive development based on human rights. It is also time to open civic and democratic space in the country, allowing all citizens to participate, associate and express their opinions freely. In this connection, I am concerned about the recent amendments to the Constitution which roll back gains on the independence of the judiciary – a real set-back for reform.

In the Republic of the Congo, I welcome the cease-fire agreement between the Government and armed groups to end the crisis in the Pool region. My Office is discussing with the Government the need for a genuinely independent and effective national commission of inquiry on allegations of serious violations since 2015, as repeatedly recommended by our assessment and follow-up missions.

Despite Eritrea’s increased engagement with the human rights mechanisms, I am concerned about the very serious lack of progress on human rights issues. Eritrea will be the subject of an interactive dialogue on 12 March and an oral update on 14 March.

Mr President, 

In Turkey, respect for fundamental rights continues to deteriorate. My Office has received credible reports of arbitrary mass dismissals; arbitrary closure of civil society organizations; arbitrary detention of people arrested on broad allegations of links to terrorist organizations; torture in detention; restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of movement; arbitrary expropriation of private property; and collective punishment targeting family members of individuals suspected of offences. Given these deepening concerns, we will be releasing a detailed report in the coming days on the human rights situation in the context of the state of emergency, including an update on the situation in the southeast.

Over two-thirds of the national Parliaments in European Union countries now include political parties with extreme positions against migrants, and in some cases, Muslims and other minority communities. This discourse based on racism, xenophobia and incitement to hatred has now expanded so significantly that in several countries it is dominating the political landscape – as we saw during the election campaign in Italy in recent weeks.

On migration policy, I am deeply concerned about the current overriding focus of EU States on preventing migrants from reaching Europe, and rushing to deport many who do I welcome the EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship’s recent statement indicating that plans are underway to enhance regular channels for migration. I emphasise that measures which in effect externalise the borders of the European Union put the human rights of migrants at risk, by subcontracting their protection to States with often fewer resources. Support to the Libyan Coast Guard by the EU and some of its member states is one such example. The EU and its members need to review the approach they are taking in the Mediterranean, to ensure that they are not indirectly supporting the return of migrants to Libya, where they face a real risk of torture, sexual violence and other serious violations. I also call on the EU to adopt a human rights due diligence approach to their support to any Libyan authorities. 

In Austria, the new government, which includes an openly anti-migrant party, has announced it will embark on stringent surveillance, financial restrictions or closure of associations, Muslim schools and places of worship; broad criminalization of irregular migrants, with the stated intention to automatically expel them; and the adoption of extremely restrictive language on integration and citizenship. With respect to the Government’s so-called “security package”, which would considerably expand surveillance of encrypted internet communication and the retention of data, I remind the authorities that broad-based discussion with all stakeholders is essential, and that any such measures must comply with human rights commitments. 

In Hungary, I am shocked at the contempt for migrants, and more broadly for human rights, expressed by senior Government officials, including in this very chamber a few days ago. I also deplore newly proposed laws which would further restrict the work of civil society organizations. The most recent proposals would require Interior Ministry authorisation for any civil society group that seeks to help migrants, including advocacy, food, shelter or even simply giving out information materials, and impose punitive taxes on their funding from abroad. The impact of anti-Roma hostility is also evident: according to EU data, discrimination against Roma in employment and health worsened in the period between 2011 and 2016, while segregation in education remained entrenched.

 In Poland, over the past several years, reforms targeting the Constitutional Court and the judiciary have paved the way for partisan interpretation of the Constitution and domestic laws, and severely weakened checks and balances. Other measures introduced by the Government have compromised the right to freedom of assembly, politicised the Office of the Prosecutor General, increased the powers of the secret services, and led to a significant strengthening of control by the executive branch over the judiciary, the media, civil society, and other spheres of public life. I am also concerned about measures undermining the right to privacy and rights to sexual and reproductive health. I again call on the Government to reverse or amend these problematic measures, and to implement the recommendations of this Council’s Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. I am disturbed by widespread reports that the Government frequently takes a passive approach to the growing number of hate crimes and incidents of hate speech against minority communities and migrants, and by the extraordinary recent legislation which could lead to up to three years’ imprisonment for those who refer to the Nazi concentration camps in Poland as “Polish”. Plans to establish a task force to strengthen efforts to tackle hate speech and xenophobia are welcome, and I emphasise the need for it to include the participation of independent civil society voices.

In Czechia, I am deeply concerned about discrimination against the Roma and the longstanding segregation of Roma children in schools, which according to the EU has remained unchanged since 2011. I join calls for remedy and compensation of the thousands of women – most of them Roma, along with others including women with disabilities – who were forcibly sterilised from the 1960s to 2004. I also urge an immediate end to the programme of surgical castration of convicted sex offenders.

In the Russian Federation, I am deeply concerned at what appears to be an orchestrated and coordinated campaign of violence and threats against members of a leading human rights group, Memorial Human Rights Centre in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan. I call on the authorities to conduct prompt and impartial investigations and to ensure the perpetrators are held to account. I also urge the authorities to fully uphold the right to political participation in the context of this month’s Presidential vote; to conduct policing of public gatherings in line with international standards; and to ensure freedoms of peaceful assembly, association and expression.

 The Council will be briefed on the human rights situation in Ukraine on 21 March, including my recommendations for protecting the civic space ahead of the 2019 elections. In line with General Assembly resolution 72/190, in December, my Office is seeking to ensure that human rights monitoring mechanisms have access to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and City of Sevastopol, and we are preparing a second thematic report on the human rights situation there.     

In Spain, I was dismayed by the violence which broke out during October’s referendum on independence in Catalonia. Given what appeared to be excessive use of force by police, the Government’s characterisation of police action on 1 October as “legal, legitimate and necessary” is questionable. I remind the authorities that pre-trial detention should be considered a measure of last resort. I encourage resolution of this situation through political dialogue. 

Mr President,

The human rights situation in Venezuela is deeply alarming. Malnutrition has increased dramatically throughout the country, affecting in particular children and the elderly, and credible reports indicate that government assistance programmes are often conditioned on political considerations. I am also deeply alarmed by the possibility that crimes against humanity have been committed, and by the erosion of democratic institutions. The fundamental principle of separation of powers has been severely compromised, as the National Constituent Assembly continues to concentrate unrestricted powers. Two main opposition parties have been disqualified by the Electoral Council, and the official opposition coalition has been invalidated by the Supreme Court. Freedom of expression, opinion, association and peaceful assembly are being repressed and severely restricted. My Office has also received credible reports of hundreds of extra-judicial killings in recent years, both during protests and security operations. I am seriously concerned that this context does not in any way fulfill minimal conditions for free and credible elections. I am deeply disturbed by the growing exodus of Venezuelans from their country, many of them in search of access to food and basic services. Once again, I encourage the Council to consider mandating a Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations in Venezuela.

In Mexico, I am concerned that a new internal security law authorises use of the armed forces in law enforcement without adequate guarantees and oversight, and does not meet international human rights standards. I welcome the entry into force of new laws against torture, in June 2017, and against enforced disappearances, in January 2018. I look forward to assisting the authorities to ensure their prompt and effective implementation, with full participation of civil society and victims. I urge the State to create an effective and independent Attorney General’s Office. I am concerned that the systematic detention of migrants and their expedited return has become the general rule, seriously undermining due process guarantees and protection from refoulement. In the coming days, I will issue a report on elements of the investigation into the disappearance of 43 students in the town of Iguala more than three years ago. 

In Brazil, I am concerned by the recent adoption of a decree that gives the armed forces authority to fight crime in the state of Rio de Janeiro, and places the police under army command. The armed forces are not specialized in public security or investigation. I deplore calls by high-ranking army officials for measures amounting in effect to a preventive amnesty for any troops who may commit human rights violations. I urge the Government to ensure that security measures respect human rights standards, and effective measures are taken to prevent racial profiling and the criminalization of the poor. I acknowledge the creation of a Human Rights Observatory last week to monitor military actions during the intervention, and I emphasize the importance of civil society participation in this body.

In Honduras, I am alarmed at the surge in threats and intimidation against human rights defenders, journalists, media workers, and social and political activists. My Office will release a report in the coming days detailing excessive use of force and mass arrests in response to protests which took place following the 2017 November elections, and the Council will be briefed on 21 March.

In Colombia, I am increasingly alarmed by the murders of human rights defenders and activists; more than 20 reports of killings were received by my Office in just the first six weeks of this year. My Office will update the Council on these and other concerns on 21 March.

In the United States, I am shocked by reports that migrants intercepted at the southern borders, including children, are detained in abusive conditions – such as freezing temperatures – and that some young children are being detained separately from their families. Detentions and deportations of long-standing and law-abiding migrants have sharply increased, tearing families apart and creating enormous hardship. In addition, the US Government has terminated the Central American Minors Refugee and Parole Programme, which offered adolescents and children a lifeline to safety, and put an end to Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of people. I deplore the continuing uncertainty about beneficiaries of the DACA programme. I am also concerned about the US decision to revoke the planned closure of the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay. Indefinite incarceration in this facility, without trial and in frequently inhumane conditions, constitutes a breach of international law. I am also concerned about proposals that could drastically reduce social protections, particularly in the light of the concerns expressed by the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, following his visit to the US in December.

In Haiti, I regret the lack of action regarding development of a national Plan of Action to implement recommendations of human rights mechanisms, and I remain concerned about continuing allegations of serious violations committed by elements of the National Police. The Council will be briefed in greater detail on 21 March.

In Guatemala, I am alarmed by increasingly regressive legislative proposals, including a draft law on amnesties and the reform of the Penal Code to expand the definition of the crime of terrorism. I reiterate the critical importance of the Attorney General’s work in past years with the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala led by Ivan Velasquez. I encourage the nomination of an independent and qualified new Attorney General. The Council will be briefed on 21 March on these and other concerns.

In Peru, I was dismayed by the release of former President Alberto Fujimori, who was convicted in 2009 for severe human rights violations tantamount to international crimes. I note that he may now be tried for his alleged role in the death-squad murders of six farmers. During my mission in October I urged the authorities to strengthen accountability for crimes against women, and to ensure effective implementation of the law on consultation with indigenous peoples.

In my meetings with the authorities in Uruguay, I commended their very significant efforts to integrate human rights into public policies. I trust we will see progress regarding violence against women and the very difficult conditions for adolescents in detention.

In El Salvador, I am alarmed by consistent reports of extra-judicial killings by the security forces, fuelled by very weak accountability for these crimes. Moves to disband or restructure police units which have been accused of extra-judicial killings do not replace the need to hold perpetrators to account. The situation of women and girls in the country continues to be deeply troubling, with rates of murder and violence against women among the highest in the region, and frequently committed with impunity.

Mr President,

During my mission to El Salvador in November, I was shaken by the draconian impact of the country’s absolute prohibition of abortion. As of October last year, at least 159 women have been imprisoned since 1998 under this legislation, more than 20 of them for “aggravated homicide” and sentenced to between 30 and 40 years in jail. Many say they in fact suffered miscarriages or other obstetric emergencies – and all of those currently detained happen to be poor.

Time and again, it is always the poor everywhere who, having no access to strong legal counsel, no family connections, no money with which to travel outside the country, suffer terribly – always, always the poor.

One young woman, whom I met in detention, was recently released following the commutation of her 30-year jail sentence. However, she has not been declared innocent, and has received no reparations for the more than 10 years that she has spent in jail. And when many in the country want to raise the penalty beyond 30 years, to 50 years, it brought home to me how cruel we humans can be, and the unchallengeable need for human rights. I do not mind telling Council members: all of us who heard the testimony of the young women at the Ilopango detention centre wept, openly, with them. El Salvador should halt further application of this poorly conceived legislation, and immediately review all cases where women have been detained for abortion-related offences.

It takes real courage to stand up for women’s rights – including sexual and reproductive rights – in many parts of the world, in this 21st century. In countries across every region, women are suffering from increasingly regressive legislation, threats against activists and a renewed obsession with controlling their decisions. In the past year, a new movement for justice has risen up to combat the abuse and sexual exploitation of women: the MeToo movement, an expression of solidarity and a force for dignity that is much needed, including in the wealthiest societies. Wherever I have travelled I have been privileged to meet women who defy restrictions on their freedom. These resilient and powerful women teach us ­– have, indeed, taught me – that every individual can help to reshape society, and the world.

I don’t much like the phrase “speaking truth to power” because in reality it is not rank which confers moral value: the power is in truth itself.

I commend the many civil society movements fighting for decency and respect for human rights, including the rights of indigenous people facing unprincipled and lawless business activities; for LGBTI people whose Governments do not ensure their equal rights or protect them adequately from violent assault; and the rights of Afrodescendants, Roma and other ethnic, religious or caste-based communities which frequently endure discrimination. In this 70th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they are standing up for the fundamental principles which will bring a better future to all our children. I am deeply grateful for the surge of hope they bring.

I thank you Mr President.

Source: OHCHR

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#MeToo: “A transformative moment, liberating and empowering”

6 de March, 2018

Photo: UN Photo

International Women’s Day 8 March 2018

GENEVA (6 March 2018) – UN human rights experts* have lauded the powerful global movement that has shone the spotlight on sexual violence against women and gender inequality, and paid tribute to those who have dared to speak out and demand change.

“Through their courageous actions, these women have launched a global movement of women breaking the silence on sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence too often tolerated,” the independent experts said in a joint statement** to mark International Women’s Day on March 8.

“It is a time to pay tribute to the countless women throughout history who have dared to stand up, to protest, and to say no to discrimination against women and girls and one of its worst manifestations: violence. Their courage and revolt have been the driving force behind every bit of progress made,” they said.

The experts hailed the movement, known by its social media hashtag MeToo, as a tipping point for women’s rights, and offered full support of the UN human rights mechanisms.

“This is a transformative moment, a liberating and an empowering moment,” they said in the statement. “By speaking out on this scale, women are shaking centuries-old established discriminatory norms which normalise, accept and justify sexual violence against women and have constrained women in well-defined roles of inferiority and subordination.

“This is what is so significant about the moment. It is no longer just about individuals, it is about society. It is not about so-called morals and honour, it is about women’s rights as human rights. It is the system of the concentration of power and domination that is being challenged.”

The experts said the question being asked now is no longer whether to believe the woman, but rather what is wrong with our society. “How can sexual violence exercised against women exist on such a massive and endemic scale in a time of peace and in the most ordinary places of life: work places, schools, universities, on the streets, in public transportation, and at home?

“From North to South, from East to West, sexual violence crosses lines of culture, religion, ideology, stages of economic development and touches women of all social backgrounds and in all professional settings, whether it is in political parties, financial institutions, or the media and entertainment industry, academic institutions and the humanitarian field. It happens in the family. It is truly a universal plague.”

With the advent of this movement, the experts said the shame and fear is starting to shift from the victims to the side of abusers and perpetrators of sexual violence, who have to face the consequences of their unacceptable behaviour in many cases and criminal acts in others.

“The all-powerful are no longer the untouchable who can enjoy impunity with peace of mind. Their ability to buy silence and cover-up is being questioned and their power of intimidation evaporating,” the statement said. “We have a moment where the complacence of others and the indifference of our institutions are no longer accepted without challenge.

“We need to maintain the momentum to make it a truly global movement which reaches all the women and girls in places where breaking silence on violence against women is still taboo and where women have little resort to justice and no choice other than carrying the burden of shame and blame,” stressed the experts.

“It is in these places, far away from the spotlights of international media, that the voices of women need to be heard and must be heard. We are all here to support this movement  in line with our respective mandates and to join forces for its continuation in all parts of the world,” said the experts.

They said the existence of law and policy in combating sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence was important but not sufficient. “Equality between women and men is a struggle of humanity, a struggle for both men and women. In the face of sexual violence and discrimination, everyone is concerned and everyone needs to act,” they said.

Attention broadcast media:

B-roll footage will be made available at 1100 (Geneva time) on Wednesday, 7 March 2018. It can accessed here.

ENDS 

(*) The UN experts: Alda Facio, Elizabeth Broderick, Ivana Radačić, Meskerem Geset Techane,Melissa Upreti, Chair-Rapporteur and members of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; Dubravka Šimonovic, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

(**) View the full statement by the UN experts marking International Women’s Day (Tuesday 6 March 2018) – “Confronting sexual violence, demanding equality”.

The Working Groups and Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.  

For more on UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice

For more on the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
Find out more about CEDAW:  

For more information and media requests, please contact Hannah Wu (+41 22 917 9152, hwu@ohchr.org) or Bernadette Arditi (+41 22 917 9159, barditi@ohchr.org )

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org. 

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UN expert on human rights and the environment presented a report on Uruguay

5 de March, 2018

Photo: UN WebTV– Download the expert’s report on his visit to Uruguay: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/37/58/Add.1

GENEVA (5 March 2018) – It is high time that the international community recognized the human right to a healthy environment, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John H. Knox, said on Monday.    

Knox presented a report at the Human Rights Council in Geneva setting out framework principles for States to ensure the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment* within the context of human rights. 
   
“There can no longer be any doubt that human rights and the environment are interdependent,” he stressed.

“A healthy environment is necessary for the full enjoyment of many human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and development. At the same time, the exercise of other freedoms, including the rights to information, participation and remedy, is vital to the protection of the environment.

“The relationship between human rights and the environment has countless facets, and our understanding of it will continue to grow for many years to come.”

Knox emphasized that while the right to a healthy environment had been recognized in regional agreements and in most national constitutions, it has not been adopted in a human rights agreement of global application.

“As Victor Hugo famously declared, it is impossible to resist an idea whose time has come,” the Special Rapporteur said. “I hope the Human Rights Council agrees the the right to a healthy environment is an idea whose time is here. The Council should consider supporting the recognition of this right in a global instrument.”

ENDS

* The Special Rapporteur’s framework principles can be found through the link below: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/SREnvironment/Pages/Annualreports.aspx

(*) The UN Human Rights Council appointed Mr. John H. Knox in 2012 to serve as Independent Expert, and reappointed him in 2015 as Special Rapporteur on human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment

The Council requested him, a professor of international law at Wake Forest University in the United States, to clarify the application of human rights norms to environmental protection, and to identify best practices in the use of human rights obligations in environmental policy-making.  

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.
For inquiries and media requests, please contact: Jamshid Gaziyev (+41 22 917 9183 / jgaziyev@ohchr.org); Soo-Young Hwang (+4122 917 9267/ shwang@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.

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UN torture prevention body to visit Uruguay

2 de March, 2018

Photo: OHCHRGENEVA (2 March 2018) – The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) is due to make its first visit to Uruguay from 4 to 15 March to assess the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty and the measures taken for their protection against torture and ill-treatment. The SPT will also meet with the country’s detention monitoring body, also known as the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), which has been operating since 2013.

Among the places the SPT delegation is due to visit are prisons, police stations, psychiatric institutions, and correctional centers for women and juveniles. The delegation will meet State officials, and United Nations and civil society representatives. They will also hold discussions with the NPM to evaluate their situation and working methods.

“People who are deprived of liberty are particularly exposed to ill-treatment. Our aim is to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect and are free from any violence. During our visit we will assess the current situation in the country, advise the authorities on the practical steps to prevent torture and ill-treatment and discuss the functioning of the NPM,” said Felipe Villavicencio Terreros, who will head the SPT delegation.

At the end of the visit, the delegation will present its confidential preliminary observations to the Government as well as to the NPM.

The SPT delegation will comprise the following members: Felipe Villavicencio Terreros (Head of Delegation; Peru), Nora Sveaass (Norway) and Emilio Ginés Santidrián (Spain).

ENDS

For media inquiries or for more information about the visit, please contact:

In Uruguay: Gianna Sanchez Moretti, +41 (0) 79 444 5172 / gmoretti@ohchr.org 

In Geneva: Julia Gronnevet, +41 (0) 22 917 9310 / jgronnevet@ohchr.org 

 

Background:

The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has, to date, been ratified by 87 countries. The SPT communicates its recommendations and observations to States by means of a confidential report and, if necessary, to National Preventive Mechanisms. However, States parties are encouraged to request that the SPT makes these reports public.

The SPT is composed of 25 independent and impartial experts from different regions of the world. For more information on the mandate of Subcommittee, please visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/OPCAT/Pages/OPCATIndex.aspx

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In Bogotá, OHCHR and IACHR offices laid out joint actions in favour of human rights defenders

1 de March, 2018

Foto: ACNUDHSANTIAGO (28 February 2018) – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Central America, South America, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, held a meeting to coordinate actions for the protection of human rights defenders in the region. The meeting occurred within the framework of the IACHR’s 167th Period of Sessions, which is taking place in Bogotá, Colombia.

The meeting was held on 26-27 February and gathered together focal points from IACHR and the OHCHR offices in the region.

During the meeting, participants advanced in the consolidation of the “Joint Actions Mechanism to contribute to the protection of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas”, a cooperation plan between OHCHR and the IACHR to address the situation of defenders, one of the most pressing concerns in the region.

“This Mechanism was put in place after recognising the serious situation that defenders face in the region and after identifying the need to coordinate our contributions to assist States in complying with their obligations of protecting and guaranteeing human rights”, said at the meeting Mr. Guillermo Fernández Maldonado, a.i. representative of the OHCHR Regional Office for South America.

During the event, the OHCHR offices and IACHR agreed to continue their coordinated work in order to assist States to guarantee a safe and enabling environment for the full exercise and free defence of human rights in the region. They also produced concrete proposals for 2018 in five priority areas: joint studies; monitoring and protection; incidence; promotion; and technical assistance.

“We agreed with IACHR to carry out periodic information exchanges, joint analyses of especially concerning issues and the implementation of concrete actions to contribute to a timely and effective protection of defenders at risk”, Mr. Fernández Maldonado completed.

Joint actions mechanism

The Joint Actions Mechanism is an initiative by OHCHR and IACHR seeking to intensify its coordinated work in favour of human rights defenders, drawing on their complementary strengths and creating stronger connections between their staff.

The initiative was launched on 25 October 2017 by commissioners of IACHR and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in the city of Montevideo, Uruguay. “Human rights defenders are vital for the healthy functioning of societies, and yet in recent years they have been increasingly targeted in the Americas”, he said in that event.

Since the launch of the Mechanism, both entities have carried out joint actions such as increasing the exchange of information and analysis, issuing joint statements on situations of mutual concern and a public consultation about the Mechanism itself, which took place on 5 December 2017 in Washington, D.C., in the United States.

ENDS

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

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States must protect human rights defenders assisting people on the move – UN expert

1 de March, 2018

Photo: UN WebTVGENEVA (1 March 2018) – States have an obligation to protect human rights defenders who often put their own lives on the line to assist the hundreds of thousands of people on the move1 each year, a United Nations expert has told the Human Rights Council.   

Introducing his latest report* in Geneva, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, said defenders of people on the move are currently facing unprecedented threats and restrictions to their work, as well as pervasive disqualification and criminalization. He said States are failing to address these concerns.

“It has been two years and a half since the sordid image of the body of Alan Kurdi, a three-year old boy fleeing war in Syria and found lying lifeless in a Turkish beach, galvanized popular opinion around the world. Today, such images continue to emerge, deeply shocking our conscience. As many regions are facing devastating humanitarian crisis, human rights defenders help prevent similar tragedies and protect the rights of some of the most disenfranchised groups of our societies,” Forst said.

“The main aim of my report is to underline the importance of incorporating the issue of defenders in the current discussions on policies about people on the move,” Forst said. “This includes notably the negotiation of the two global compacts on refugees and on safe, orderly and regular migration.” 

According to the study, defenders face obstacles to their work mainly stemming from restrictions to access people on the move, criminalization and stigmatization, and threats by non-State actors, such as organized crime or State-outsourced entities providing services to people on the move.

“Defenders of people on the move are very often people on the move themselves, sharing the vulnerabilities of the people they defend,” Forst said.

“The challenges faced by defenders are marked by the commodification of the people whose rights they champion, the shift in public discourse towards a securitized approach to people on the move, and the use of the notion of citizenship to deprive people on the move of their basic rights.

“This report is a call to States and global stakeholders to protect the work of those who are not only shocked by the death of Alan Kurdi and those sharing his fate, but who decide to take a step forward and actively defend the rights of people on the move.”

(*) View the Special Rapporteur’s report: 
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/AnnualReports.aspx

ENDS

Mr. Michel Forst (France) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in 2014. Michel Forst has extensive experience on human rights issues and particularly on the situation of human rights defenders. In particular, he was the Director General of Amnesty International (France) and Secretary General of the first World Summit on Human Rights Defenders in 1998. He is a former UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Haiti.

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests please contact: 
Adriana Zarraluqui (+41 22 917 9965 / azarraluqui@ohchr.org) or write to defenders@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: 
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.

1. The term “People on the move” includes migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, internally displaced people, stateless people, among other groups

Source: OHCHR

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UN expert on adequate housing presented report on Chile

28 de February, 2018

Foto - UN WebTVSANTIAGO (28 February 2018) – The UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Ms. Leilani Farha, presented today in Geneva, Switzerland, the report on her mission to  Chile, produced after her visit to the country in 2017. The report was presented within the framework of the 37° session of the UN Human Rights Council, which is being celebrated in the Swiss capital until 23 March.

­– Download the report: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/37/53/Add.1

At the invitation of the government, the expert carried out a mission in Chile from 20 to 28 April 2017. She visited Santiago, Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, Temuco and Antofagasta and met with high government officials at a national, regional and municipal level, as well as with residents and community and civil society organizations.

Presenting her report on Chile, Ms. Farha recognized that “a large percentage of the population has now security of tenure” in terms of housing, which she assessed as a considerable achievement for the country. Nevertheless, the expert highlighted the “paradox” that comes as many of these housings are of “low quality” and have been provided on the outskirts of cities. “The result has been social segregation of people who are poor which has contributed to their marginalization and experiences of discrimination”, she pointed out at the Human Rights Council.  

During her speech, Ms. Farha also expressed concern about the conditions of living for homeless people, as well as about discriminatory situations regarding the right to adequate housing faced by migrant, indigenous and women’s populations.

The expert also welcomed the fact that the national authority “recognizes and is responding to some of these problems” and urged the government to continue with these types of initiatives. “I encourage Chile to continue to progressively realize the right to housing and in this regard to ensure that the necessary legislative provisions are available to do so”, she added.

In addition to her report on Chile, the expert also presented a thematic report on housing strategies based on human rights. Download the thematic report here: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/37/53

ENDS

*Including information from the UN Office in Geneva: https://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/AE5F6F10C274B699C1258242005E8EC5?OpenDocument

Additional information

– VIDEO: UN expert presents report on visit to Chile (28/02/2018): http://webtv.un.org/watch/clustered-id-ie-on-foreign-debt-and-sr-on-adequate-housing-8th-meeting-37th-regular-session-human-rights-council/5742256033001/

– Official website of the 37° session of the Human Rights Council: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/Home.aspx

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Human rights principles to assess austerity are needed, says UN expert

28 de February, 2018

Foto: OHCHRGENEVA (28 February 2018) – The negative impact of austerity measures on human rights should no longer be ignored, and effective action to avoid the impact is long overdue, the UN’s expert on foreign debt, finance and rights has told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
 
“There are well-documented lessons about the negative impact of economic measures adopted in times of financial crisis,” said Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, who presented a full report on the issue to the Council.
 
“Some of these lessons date back decades, but they remain neglected in decision-making, and so the same mistakes are made over and over again. The instrumental role that human rights can and must play in designing and implementing economic reforms has not been effectively incorporated.”
 
His report is the first in a series aimed at highlighting the known shortcomings of economic reform policies, including austerity measures, which have severe consequences on human rights, especially in social security, work, health and housing. These measures have also weakened democratic institutions and can lead to insecurity, conflict and violence.
 
Mr. Bohoslavsky has embarked on a year-long project to develop guiding principles for States and other relevant parties to assess economic reform policies from a human rights perspective, and to learn from past and present mistakes. Preliminary aspects of these principles are outlined in the report presented today, and aim at triggering discussion and broad participation.
 
“Managing economic and fiscal affairs is a core government function, intimately linked to its human rights obligations,” Mr. Bohoslavsky underlined.
 
“The extent to which budget cuts undermine human rights depends entirely on who is consulted, what priorities are established and how such cuts are implemented.”
 
The UN expert added: “Ultimately, the critical questions to ask are whether budget cuts will worsen existing inequalities, and who will be the most affected by those measures.”
 
The Independent Expert also presented three reports on his 2017 visits to Tunisia, Panama and Switzerland, which all include assessment of the progress made on curbing illicit financial flows.
 
“Tax justice is a pressing human rights issue,” said Mr. Bohoslavsky. “The more emphasis we place on its international dimensions and human rights implications, and on the need for all countries to engage domestically and internationally in fighting tax evasion, tax fraud and overall opacity, the closer we will come to meaningful changes.”
 
ENDS
 
Join the Independent Expert and other key panellists in a side-event to discuss the thematic report, Palais des Nations, room XXVII, Friday 2 March, 12:00 to13:30. 
 
 
Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky (Argentina) was appointed as Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and human rights by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 8 May 2014.  He has previously worked as a Sovereign Debt Expert for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) where he coordinated an Expert Group on Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing. He is independent of any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.  
 
Follow the Independent Expert’s work on twitter at: @IEfinanceHRs 
 
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
 
For more information and media requests, please contact:
Juana Sotomayor, Human Rights Officer- OHCHR/ SPB (+41 22 917 9445 or +41 78 77 60 371,  jsotomayor@ohchr.org) and Frédérique Bourque , Associate Human Rights Officer (+41 22 917 9946 fbourque@ohchr.org) or write to ieforeigndebt@ohchr.org
 
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)
 
This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.

Source: OHCHR

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Brazil: public hearing on the UPR celebrated the 70° anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

27 de February, 2018

Photo: PFDC - MPFSANTIAGO (27 February 2018) ­­– On 27 February, the Regional Office for South America of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-South America) engaged in a public hearing in Brasilia (Brazil), organized by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office for Citizens Rights of the Federal Public Ministry. During the event, participants discussed national follow-up actions to the recommendations received by the country during the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The event occurred within the framework of the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will be marked on 10 December.

The deputy representative of the OHCHR-South America, Mr. Xavier Mena, participated in the activity, alongside with several governmental authorities, lawmakers and members of the judiciary, as well as representatives of civil society groups.

At the event, Mr. Mena highlighted that “this 70th anniversary is an opportunity for the world to celebrate again the gift that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights means, and also to reaffirm the human rights principles and standards it helped to establish”. In addition, he invited attendees to join the campaign promoted by the OHCHR-South America throughout the year calling on all people to stand up for human rights.  

“It is necessary to adopt a comprehensive, efficient and sustainable approach for the implementation of the obligations under the treaties ratified by Brazil and the UPR recommendations, which are related to the same”, he said, adding that “the dialogue and consultation with civil society is also a significant step”. 

Participants also debated about implementation and monitoring measures at the municipal, state and national levels of the over 240 recommendations received by the country in the latest UPR. Several civil society organizations also referred to human rights concerns in the country and to follow-up mechanisms for the UPR recommendations. In this context, representatives of Paraguay and Uruguay announced their follow-up and implementation mechanisms of the recommendations of international human rights mechanism and shared best practices in this regard.

The event was attended by the Attorney General of Brazil, Ms. Raquel Dodge; the Federal Prosecutor for Citizen’s Rights, Ms. Deborah Duprat; the Minister of Human Rights a.i., Mr. Gustavo Rocha; and the director of the Department of Human Rights and Social Issues of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Alexandre Ghisleni. Participants also were the chair of the Human Rights an Participatory Legislation of the Federal Senate, sen. Regina Sousa; the chair of the Commission on Human Rights and Minorities of the Lower House, dep. Paulão; the head of the National Council of Human Rights, Ms. Fabiana Severo; the Federal General Public Defender, Mr. Carlos Eduardo Barbosa; and the executive secretary of the Brazilian Committee of Human Rights and External Policy, Juana Kweitel, among others.

ENDS

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High Commissioner opened 37th session of the Human Rights Council

26 de February, 2018

Photo: UN WebTV37th session of the Human Rights Council

Opening statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

26 February 2018

Distinguished President of the General Assembly,
Distinguished Secretary General,
Excellencies,
Friends,

May I begin by welcoming the Security Council’s unanimous decision in relation to a 30-day ceasefire in Syria, which came after intense lobbying by our Secretary-General and others, and we applaud Sweden and Kuwait for their leadership in the Security Council on this.  We insist on its full implementation without delay.  However, we have every reason to remain cautious, as airstrikes on eastern Ghouta continue this morning.  Resolution 2401 (2018) must be viewed against a backdrop of seven years of failure to stop the violence: seven years of unremitting and frightful mass killing.

Eastern Ghouta, the other besieged areas in Syria; Ituri and the Kasais in the DRC; Taiz in Yemen; Burundi; Northern Rakhine in Myanmar have become some of the most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times, because not enough was done, early and collectively, to prevent the rising horrors.  Time and again, my office and I have brought to the attention of the international community violations of human rights which should have served as a trigger for preventive action. Time and again, there has been minimal action. And given this is my last address as High Commissioner at the opening of a March session, I wish to be blunt.

Second to those who are criminally responsible – those who kill and those who maim – the responsibility for the continuation of so much pain lies with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.  So long as the veto is used by them to block any unity of action, when it is needed the most, when it could reduce the extreme suffering of innocent people, then it is they – the permanent members – who must answer before the victims.    

France has shown commendable leadership among the P5 in championing a code of conduct on the use of veto; the United Kingdom has also joined the initiative, now backed by over 115 countries.  It is time, for the love of mercy, that China, Russia and the United States, join them and end the pernicious use of the veto.

Mr. President,

A few miles away, at CERN, physicists try to understand what our planet, and the universe or universes, are made of.  What matter is, at the most basic level, and how it all fits together.  To understand the physical world, we humans have long realised we must tunnel deeply, beyond molecular biology and geology; and go to those sub-atomic spaces for answers. 

Why do we not do the same when it comes to understanding the human world?   Why, when examining the political and economic forces at work today, do we not zoom in more deeply?  How can it be so hard to grasp that to understand states and societies – their health and ills; why they survive; why they collapse – we must scrutinize at the level of the individual: individual human beings and their rights.  After all, the first tear in the fabric of peace often begins with a separation of the first few fibres, the serious violations of the rights of individuals – the denial of economic and social rights, civil and political rights, and most of all, in a persistent denial of freedom. 

There is another parallel with physics. Gravity is a weak force, easily defied by a small child raising a finger, but there is also a strong force governing the orbits of planets and the like.  So too with human rights. Some States view human rights as of secondary value – far less significant than focusing on GDP growth or geopolitics.   While it is one of the three pillars of the UN, it is simply not treated as the equal of the other two. The size of the budget is telling enough, and the importance accorded to it often seems to be in the form of lip service only.  Many in New York view it condescendingly as that weak, emotional, Geneva-centred, pillar — not serious enough for some of the hardcore realists in the UN Security Council. 

Yet like in physics, we also know human rights to be a strong force, perhaps the strongest force.  For whenever someone in New York calls a topic “too sensitive,” there’s a good chance human rights are involved.  And why sensitive?  Because a denial of rights hollows out a government’s legitimacy.  Every time the phrase “too sensitive” is used, it therefore confirms the supreme importance of human rights, and their effect as a strong force. 

For no tradition, legal or religious, calls for or supports oppression – none.  Discussions about rights are avoided by those who seek deflection because of guilt, those who shy away from difficult decisions and those who profit from a more superficial, simple, and ultimately useless, analysis.  Better just leave it to Geneva, they say  – and the crises continue to grow.

To understand the maladies of societies, grasp the risks of conflict, and prevent or resolve them we must — like particle physicists – work ourselves into the smaller spaces of individuals and their rights, and ask the most basic questions there.  The most devastating wars of the last 100 years did not come from countries needing more GDP growth.   They stemmed from – and ¡ quote from the Universal Declaration – a “disregard and contempt for human rights”.   They stemmed from oppression.

Today oppression is fashionable again; the security state is back, and fundamental freedoms are in retreat in every region of the world.  Shame is also in retreat.  Xenophobes and racists in Europe are casting off any sense of embarrassment – like Hungary’s Viktor Orban who earlier this month said “we do not want our colour… to be mixed in with others”.  Do they not know what happens to minorities in societies where leaders seek ethnic, national or racial purity?  When an elected leader blames the Jews for having perpetrated the Holocaust, as was recently done in Poland, and we give this disgraceful calumny so little attention, the question must be asked: have we all gone completely mad?

Mr. President,

Perhaps we have gone mad, when families grieve in too many parts of the world for those lost to brutal terrorism, while others suffer because their loved ones are arrested arbitrarily, tortured or killed at a black site, and were called terrorists for simply having criticized the government; and others await execution for crimes committed when they were children.  While still more can be killed by police with impunity, because they are poor; or when young girls in El Salvador are sentenced to thirty years imprisonment for miscarriages; when transgender women in Aceh are punished and humiliated in public.  When Nabeel Rajab is sentenced to five years for alleging torture; or when 17 year-old Ahed Tamimi is tried on 12 counts for slapping a soldier enforcing a foreign occupation.  When journalists are jailed in huge numbers in Turkey, and the Rohingya are dehumanized, deprived and slaughtered in their homes – with all these examples bedevilling us, why are we doing so little to stop them, even though we should know how dangerous all of this is?

It is accumulating unresolved human rights violations such as these, and not a lack of GDP growth, which will spark the conflicts that can break the world.  While our humanitarian colleagues tend to the victims – and we salute their heroism and their selflessness – their role is not to name or single out the offenders publicly.  That task falls to the human rights community, that it is our task.  For it is the worst offenders’ disregard and contempt for human rights which will be the eventual undoing of all of us.   This, we cannot allow to happen.

We will therefore celebrate, with passion, the 70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which incarnates rights common to all the major legal and religious traditions.  We will defend it, in this anniversary year, more vigorously than ever before and along with our moral leaders – the human rights defenders in every corner of the globe – we will call for everyone to stand up for the rights of others. 

This is, in the end, a very human thing to do.  Artificial intelligence will never fully replicate the moral courage, the self-sacrifice and, above all, the love for all human beings that sets human rights defenders apart from everyone else.  As I close out my term as High Commissioner in the coming months, I wish to end this statement by saying it has been the honour of my life to have come to know many of these defenders; to have worked with them, and for them.

Thank you

Source: OHCHR

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Ecuador: Regional representative carried out human rights activities

25 de February, 2018

SANTIAGO (25 February 2018) – The regional representative a.i. of the Regional Office for South America of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-South America), Mr. Guillermo Fernández Maldonado, carried out a visit to Ecuador from 21 to 23 February.

During his mission, the regional representative held meetings with State authorities, representatives of civil society organizations and the academy, as well as with representatives of the United Nations System in Ecuador.

During his meeting with authorities of the National Secretariat of Planning and Development (SENPLADES), both institutions identified possible lines of technical cooperation, which will give continuity to the Ecuadorian experience of linking national development planning with human rights.

Mr. Fernández Maldonado also held meetings with representatives from the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One of the main issues addressed during the meetings was following-up on the recommendations of the human rights mechanism and particularly the national Information System on Human Rights (SIDERECHOS), presented to the public in 2014. They also discussed the advantages of receiving -in an innovative and flexible way- the advice and expertise of special procedures, according to their role of supporting the States to fulfil their obligations in human rights matters.

The regional representative also discussed with authorities of the Ombudsman’s office to address the general situation in Ecuador and the main current challenges in terms of human rights. 

Mr. Fernández Maldonado held several meetings with civil society representatives, for example of the Platform for the Defence of Democracy and Human Rights, with leaders of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities in Ecuador and other organizations associated to the subject of social participation, defence of territories and environment, protection of human rights defenders, among other topics. In addition, a specific meeting was held to address gender issues with women’s organizations and LGBTI people. 

Finally, the OHCHR representative participated in a workshop with the UN Country Team in Ecuador on the formulation of the new United Nations Cooperation Framework for the next four years, which ratified the importance of incorporating a human rights approach in the diagnosis, planning and implementation of the work carried out by the agencies, funds and programs of the UN System in the country.

ENDS

 

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Chile: UN Committee examined the situation of the rights of women in the country

22 de February, 2018

Photo: Twitter SegegobSANTIAGO/GENEVA (22 February 2018) – The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), considered on 21 February in Geneva the seventh periodic report of Chile about the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in the country.

Chile is one of the 189 States that have ratified the Convention, and therefore it is subject to periodic reviews by the CEDAW Committee, composed of 23 international independent experts.

Interactive Dialogue

Headed by the chairperson of the CEDAW Committee, Dalia Leinarte, members of the UN treaty body dialogued with a high-level delegation of the Chilean government.

The Chilean delegation was led by the minister for Women and Gender Equality, Claudia Pascual Grau, and also had the participation of the minister of the General Secretariat of the Government, the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, as well as the vice-minister of Justice and Human Rights. Representatives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Interior and Public Security, the Ministry of Health, as well as the Supreme Court, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Permanent Mission of Chile to the United Nations Office at Geneva, also integrated the country delegation.

The Committee received a national report submitted by the Chilean State. During the process, the experts also received information from the civil society organizations, the National Institute for Human Rights and from other human rights groups

Watch the videos of the meeting in the following links:

– Part 1: http://webtv.un.org/search/consideration-of-chile-1574th-meeting-69th-session-committee-on-the-elimination-of-discrimination-against-women/5737592611001/?term=chile&sort=date

– Part 2: http://webtv.un.org/search/consideration-of-chile-contd-1575th-meeting-69th-session-committee-on-the-elimination-of-discrimination-against-women/5737592619001/?term=chile&sort=date

Main issues

Member of the CEDAW Committee asked the Chilean delegation about legislative reforms aimed at tackling discrimination against women, and about the ratification process of the CEDAW’s Optional Protocol. The experts also requested additional information about the measures adopted in Chile in case of rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

On the occasion, participants also discussed measures to investigate and condemn those responsible for violence against women and girls; as well as on sexual and labour exploitation; and about human trafficking. Together with the Chilean delegation, the CEDAW Committee also addressed issues related to sexual and reproductive rights, as well as the limitations of the current law regulating abortion in the country. 

Committee members also remarked the importance of increasing the presence of women in high political positions and reducing the gender wage gap. Likewise, the experts asked the delegation about measures to guarantee the right to education in the country, especially to indigenous and rural women, as well as to encourage their participation in local decision-making processes, among other issues.

Committee’s concluding observations

Chile was examined during the 69th session of the CEDAW Committee, which takes place from 19 February to 9 March. During the session, the Committee will also review Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Fiji, Saudi Arabia, Suriname, Luxembourg and the Marshall Islands.

CEDAW’s findings, officially termed concluding observations, on the countries reviewed, will be published on Monday, 12 March 2018, here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1157&Lang=en 

ENDS

*With information of the UN Office at Geneva

CEDAW Committee 

CEDAW members are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty. For more information, please see here 

For more information and media, requests please contact: Julia Gronnevet (+41(0) 22 917 9310) jgronnevet@ohchr.org 

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Women’s rights: UN Committee to review Chile

15 de February, 2018

Photo: OHCHRGENEVA (15 February 2018) – The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)  is meeting in Geneva from 19 February to 9 March 2018 to review women’s rights in the following countries: Malaysia, Chile, Republic of Korea, Fiji, Saudi Arabia, Suriname, Luxembourg, and Marshall Islands.
 
The above countries have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and are reviewed regularly by CEDAW on how they are implementing the Convention. The Committee, which is composed of 23 international independent experts on women’s rights, will hold dialogues with delegations from the respective governments and will also be briefed by NGOs and national human rights institutions.
 
The Committee’s dialogues with the delegations will take place from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00 at the Palais des Nations in Room XVI on the following dates: Malaysia (20 February), Chile (21 February), Republic of Korea (22 February), Fiji (23 February), Saudi Arabia (27 February), Suriname (28 February), Luxembourg (1 March), Marshall Islands (2 March).
 
Live webcasts of these meetings can be viewed at http://webtv.un.org/
 
CEDAW’s findings, officially termed concluding observations, on the countries reviewed, will be published on Monday, 12 March 2018, here.
 
ENDS
 
For more information and media requests please contact: Julia Gronnevet (+41(0) 22 917 9310) jgronnevet@ohchr.org 
 
For media accreditation, please see here.
 
Background
 
CEDAW members are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty. For more information, please see here.
 
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OHCHR’s regional representative carried out activities in Peru

15 de February, 2018

Photo: TwitterSANTIAGO (15 February 2018) – The regional representative a.i. of the Regional Office for South America of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-South America), Mr. Guillermo Fernández Maldonado, carried out a visit to Peru from 7 to 9 February. The visit takes part the Office’s actions to follow up on the issues raised during the official mission to Peru of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in October 2017. 

Mr. Guillermo Fernández Maldonado held meetings with several counterparts, in order to discuss possible lines of cooperation on human rights in the country, for instance in terms of transitional justice, equality and non-discrimination and the implementation of the recently adopted National Human Rights Plan of Peru.   

During the visit, possibilities for technical assistance from the OHCHR-South America emerged on innovative issues, such as the human rights-based approach to public policy and indicators on access to justice. The importance of exploring new forms of interaction between the State and the UN human rights mechanisms -particularly special rapporteurs, working groups and the independent experts of the Human Rights Council- was also highlighted.  

Dialogues with the State, civil society and the UN

During his mission, Mr. Fernández Maldonado engaged with high-level authorities of the State, such as the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Mr. Enrique Mendoza; the Minister of Culture, Mr. Alejandro Neyra; as well as the vice minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Néstor Popolizio; the vice minister of Women, Ms. Silvia Loli, and the vice minister of Vulnerable Populations, Ms. Ana Peña. He also held important meetings with the President of the Judiciary, Mr.Duberlí Rodríguez, and with the Ombudsman of Peru, Mr. Walter Gutiérrez.

With the civil society, the representative of OHCHR-South America participated in a meeting with the National Coordinator for Human Rights, entity that brings together more than 80 organizations across the country. He also gathered with relatives of victims of serious human rights violations and with representatives of indigenous organizations.  

The OHCHR representative also held meetings with members of the UN country team in Peru, in order to strengthen the use of the human rights-based approach in their activities. Finally, Mr. Fernández Maldonado held a meeting with the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mr. Diego García-Sayán, to analyse new ways of implementing his mandate in the region.

ENDS 

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Asma Jahangir: “A giant within the global human rights movement”

14 de February, 2018

Photo: OHCHR14 February 2018 – UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran Asma Jahangir died this week in her home country of Pakistan. She was 66.

“Asma was a giant within the global human rights movement,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. In statement to UN Human Rights Office staff, he described Jahangir as “a legendary human rights defender: pioneering, determined, calm and courageous.”

Jahangir had many firsts and awards.  She was the woman to serve as the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association in Pakistan. She was the founder of a home-grown human rights movement in Pakistan and co-founded and served as Chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. She won international awards in recognition of her human rights work including the Martin Ennals Award in 1995, the UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of Culture of Human rights and honoured as an Officier de la Legion d’honneur by France.

With the UN Human Rights Office, Jahangir made several unique contributions, including serving as an independent expert on a few occasions. Zeid highlighted some of achievements including serving as expert in the Investigation on Sri Lanka, a member of International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and a trustee of the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery.

She was also a long-standing prominent member of the human rights special procedures system, having served as Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Special Rapporteur on the freedom of religion or belief. Jahangir’s last and current engagement was as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Zeid recalled how Jahangir selflessly stood up for people’s rights. For example in 1983 she participated in the movement for the restoration of political and fundamental rights during the military regime. For this she was put under house arrest and later imprisoned. She was also under house arrest in 2007, when she served as one of the leaders of the Lawyer’s Movement, after the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan. Yet, she never wavered from her commitment, Zeid said.   

“Asma was a fearless voice of justice for women, children and the most marginalized, disposed and discriminated globally,” he said. “She never lost her sense of hope.”

Source: OHCHR

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Venezuela: Dire living conditions worsening by the day, UN human rights experts warn

9 de February, 2018

Photo: UN Photo/Shareef SarhanGENEVA (9 February, 2018) – Vast numbers of Venezuelans are starving, deprived of essential medicines, and trying to survive in a situation that is spiralling downwards with no end in sight, according to a group of UN human rights experts*. They made an urgent plea to the government to take action to tackle the crisis, and called on the international community to adopt measures to avoid an unfolding tragedy of immense proportions.

“Millions of people are suffering a lack of food and essential medicines, a shortage of goods including those for personal hygiene, power cuts, and dire housing and living conditions. Conditions are worsening by the day putting many lives at risk,” the experts said in a joint statement.

“2016 estimates pointed to over 50 percent of the population facing extreme poverty, a figure that has undoubtedly increased when taking into account the reported 2,400 percent inflation of 2017.

“Venezuelans are suffering multiple breaches of their human rights,” the experts said. “Many people are suffering from lack of food and malnutrition, while the health situation has reached unbearable levels, especially for patients with chronic and terminal diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease and cancer.

“Health centres continue to report serious shortages of medicines, basic equipment and medical supplies causing many preventable deaths. Even essential health services like kidney dialysis are unavailable in many parts of the country, affecting the health and putting at risk the lives of 15,000 people with kidney disease.

“By the end of last year, a family needed to earn the minimum wage 63 times over, simply to buy basic food. Other statistics suggest that the country now has 1.3 million undernourished people, and an average of five to six children dying every week from malnutrition,” said Hilal Elver, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

“Financial constraints, do not exempt States of their core obligations and needed austerity measures should not affect the minimum content of economic, social and cultural rights,” said one of the experts, Dainius Pūras, Special Rapporteur on the right to health.

“In terms of the right to health, States must ensure, at the very least, essential primary health care for everyone and the provision of essential medicines, especially for medically vulnerable groups.”

Leilani Farha, the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, drew attention to reports of forced evictions, adding to the dire circumstances people were already facing.

“We have received information that individuals and families have been forcibly evicted from their homes with excessive use of force, and rendered homeless,” she said. “Many homes have been demolished and personal belongings confiscated or destroyed. Due process and rule of law have been abandoned in these cases.”

The experts noted that a lack of updated official data on food, health and power cuts made it impossible to assess the full scale of the crisis and whether the Venezuelan Government was protecting and fulfilling its international obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“We call on the Government to address the appalling living conditions, tackle the food and health crisis, and to restore electricity,” the experts said. “If necessary, the Government should seek international cooperation to ensure the rights of Venezuelans are protected.

“We also urge the Government to re-examine the policies and decisions that have been taken that have brought Venezuela, a wealthy country, to this critical human rights situation.” 

The experts added: “We cannot fail to note that these violations of economic, social and cultural rights come in parallel with the weakening of democratic institutions, the persecution of political opponents and an overall disrespect for civil and political rights in the country.”

In December 2017, several UN experts wrote to the Government of Venezuela, raising concerns over the situation regarding extreme poverty and economic, social and cultural rights. Their letter and the Government’s reply will be made public in the following link: https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/ before the 37th session of the Human Rights Council, which starts on 26 February.

ENDS

*The UN experts: Leilani FarhaSpecial Rapporteur on the right to adequate housingHilal ElverSpecial Rapporteur on the right to foodDainius Pūras,Special Rapporteur on the right to health;Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Councils independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Proceduresexperts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights country page – Venezuela

For inquiries and media requests, please contact:
Juana Sotomayor ( +41 22 917 9445 / +41 78 77 60 371/ jsotomayor@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Jeremy Laurence (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.

Source: OHCHR.ORG

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Director of Chile’s NHRI visited OHCHR-South America

9 de February, 2018

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaSANTIAGO (06 February 2018) –  The regional representative a.i. of the Regional Office for South America of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-South America), Mr. Guillermo Fernández Maldonado, held a meeting with the director of the National Human Rights Institute (INDH) of Chile, Ms. Consuelo Contreras.

The meeting -which was held at the request of INDH-, took place on Tuesday 6 of February 2018 OHCHR’s Regional Office for South America, located in Santiago de Chile.

During the protocol meeting, Ms. Contreras provided a copy of the “INDH’s report on the Observation Mission SENAME 2017”, referred to the National Service for Minors of Chile.

ENDS

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IACHR and U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights express concern over a lawsuit on quilombola peoples in Brazil

7 de February, 2018

logo-acnudh-cidhWashington D.C. / Santiago, Chile – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the South America Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-South America) express their concern about potential restrictions on the rights of Afro-descendant tribal peoples (quilombolas).

The Federal Decree 4.887/03, enacted in 2003, established a legal framework on the rights of quilombolas peoples, by widening the scope of their right to territory expanding its aims to the physical, social, economic and cultural reproduction of these traditional communities. In addition, in accordance with the Brazilian constitutional framework, it established specific procedures for the titling of their territories. The Direct Action of Unconstitutionality 3.239, which was originally filed before the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court in 2012, could have effects such as the undermining of the rights to territory in cases of lands pending regularization and those already titled.

The Commission and the Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights observe that the atmosphere of judicial uncertainty concerning quilombolas’ access to territory and, above all, their traditional way of life undermines the defense of their rights.  According to information received by both institutions, since 2015 there has been a consistent increase in violence against members of the quilombola communities.  According to Brazilian civil society organizations, in 2017 14 members of the quilombola communities have been killed.  The judicial uncertainty generated by the lack of territorial recognition exacerbates these conflicts and the situation of vulnerability that these communities suffer when dealing with actors with economic interests in those territories.

Through a communication sent on August 9, 2017 the Commission requested information from the State of Brazil on the public policy and judicial decisions adopted with respect to the land rights of quilombola communities, the request included queries on the Direct Action on Unconstitutionality 3.239. The State of Brazil replied said request for information by affirming that, based on article 5, XXXV of the Federal Constitution, any judicial review of regulatory acts is allowed. Thus, the IACHR and the OHCHR trust that the Brazilian Supreme Court decision will be the most favorable towards the protection of these communities and vulnerable minorities in accordance with the constitutional rules and principles and with the legal standards of the inter-American and universal human rights protection systems.

The IACHR and the OHCHR recall that States have a special obligation to protect and respect the rights of tribal communities, guaranteeing and promoting the full effectiveness of their social, economic and cultural rights, respecting their social and cultural identity, their customs, traditions and institutions. This obligation is reflected in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the American Convention on Human Rights, and ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries.

At the same time, the Commission and the Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reiterate that all State powers are obligated to implement international human right standards in such a way as to guarantee that the effectiveness of international treaties do not decrease.  The organs of the Judicial Power exercise not only the control of constitutionality, but also the control of conventionality of the laws and internal decrees.

Finally, the Commission and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) highlight that States have a duty to implement well-articulated legislative, political and institutional measures to protect and guarantee the rights to non-discrimination and equality. Due diligence requires immediate action to prevent, investigate and punish all acts of racism, discrimination and violence.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is mandated to promote and protect the enjoyment and full realization, by all people, of all rights established in the Charter of the United Nations and in international human rights laws and treaties. OHCHR is guided in its work by the mandate provided by the General Assembly in Resolution 48/141. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The South America Regional Office of OHCHR is located in Santiago, Chile, and covers the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

No. 022/18

You can access this press release also at the website of IACHR: http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2018/022.asp

 

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Note – OHCHR South America

1 de February, 2018

logollSANTIAGO (1 February 2018) – The Regional Office for South America of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-South America) informs that Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra concluded his functions as OHCHR’s Regional Representative for South America by the end of 2017, on the occasion of his retirement.

Mr. Guillermo Fernández Maldonado –OHCHR’s Deputy Representative in Colombia- is currently acting as Officer in Charge of OHCHR’s Regional Office for South America, based in Santiago-Chile.

The mission of OHCHR’s Regional Office for South America is to observe, promote and protect human rights in nine countries of the region: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

ENDS

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In Chile, OHCHR-South America carried out activites related to the International Decade for People of African Descent

29 de January, 2018

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaSANTIAGO (29 January 2018) – On 24 January, the Regional Office for South America of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-South America) carried out several human rights activities in Arica (in northern Chile), within the framework of the International Decade for People of African Descent.

During this visit, a meeting was held with elected senators of the region and civil society groups, in order to discuss the opportunity that the Decade provides to renew efforts towards accomplishing international human rights commitments adopted by the Chilean state with regards to people of African descent.

OHCHR-South America engaged in a roundtable discussion with indigenous organizations from the region, which was coordinated by the National Human Rights Institute of Arica and Parinacota (INDH). During the event, representatives from civil society organizations raised their main concerns, such as the application of the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Convention no. 169, as well as issues related to the country’s Indigenous Constituent Consultation process and socio-environmental conflicts in the region.  

Finally, OHCHR-South America participated in the Intercultural Training Course for Afro-descendants, imparted by the University of Tarapacá, together with the Afrochilean Lumbanga NGO.

ENDS

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Time to end leprosy stigma, says new UN human rights expert

28 de January, 2018

Foto: UN Photo/Martine PerretWorld Leprosy Day
28 January 2018

 
GENEVA (25 January 2018) – People affected by leprosy continue to suffer discrimination and lack of access to medical care, a newly appointed UN human rights expert specialising in the disease has warned, citing latest statistics that show over 200,000 new cases a year.

Leprosy remains a neglected disease, with the highest number of cases in India, Brazil and Indonesia. The World Health Organization has identified 22 priority countries where action is needed, including Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria and the Philippines.

Figures for 2016 show that 214,783 new cases of leprosy were reported, including 12,437 where people had suffered serious disabilities. 

“This level of serious disability is alarming and completely unnecessary,” said Special Rapporteur Alice Cruz, in a statement to mark World Leprosy Day on 28 January.

“No one with leprosy needs to be left with disabilities. The disease can be easily cured with multidrug therapy if it is detected and treated early enough. Left untreated, it can cause severe immunological reactions that lead to disability and chronic pain. 

“The fact that this is still happening in 2018 shows that there are delays in diagnosis and lack of access to high-quality treatment. Children are among those suffering unnecessarily.

“Tackling social vulnerability is key to reducing the transmission and prevalence of leprosy,” she added. 

Cruz said discrimination was perpetuating people’s unnecessary suffering and it was essential to tackle the root causes.

“Too many people with leprosy remain trapped in a never-ending cycle of discrimination and disability,” she said. “On the surface, discrimination is linked with old stigmas that still lead to segregation and human rights violations of people affected by leprosy. This misconception must be tackled with information and education. 

“However, this stigma is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of why people continue to be denied their more basic human rights. The root causes of leprosy-related discrimination are the same as those that make some groups more vulnerable to structural and multiple discrimination than others, such as discrimination based on gender, ethnic or racial group, religious background, age, disability, migration or poverty. Not only individuals affected suffer stigma and discrimination, but so do their families, particularly in leprosy colonies. 

“In countries where leprosy is endemic, it is associated with social inequities and mainly affects poorer communities. In other countries, new challenges arise such as the increase of cases among foreign-born people and the discrimination associated with it,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“States must address the vicious circle of discrimination, exclusion and disability. They must act on their human rights obligations to tackle leprosy-related discrimination and stigma, including by ending discriminatory laws on segregation, immigration, marriage, vote, public transportation, employment and housing which remain on the statute books in some countries.”  

The UN expert praised the ongoing work by the worldwide leprosy community to raise public awareness and press for action by States. 
 
ENDS
 

Note to editors: Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium leprae that mainly affects the skin and peripheral nerves. Leprosy has a long incubation period. The disease is not highly infectious and most persons who are in contact with leprosy do not contract it. Leprosy can be cured with multidrug therapy (MDT) which is available free of charge worldwide. However, if not early detected and treated, leprosy can cause severe immunological reactions that lead to disability, such as neuropathy, disfigurement, blindness, loss of sensation and limbs and chronic pain.
 

Ms. Alice Cruz (Portugal) was appointed in November 2017 as the first UN Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination of persons affected by leprosy and their family members. Ms. Cruz is an External Professor at the Law School of University Andina Simón Bolívar in Ecuador. Ms. Cruz has conducted fieldwork in Portugal, Brazil, South Africa, Bolivia and Ecuador, and has researched and written on the subject of eliminating leprosy and the stigma attached to it. She has interacted with various stakeholders including public health professionals, medical doctors, civil society as well as people affected by leprosy. 
 
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 
 

For more information on the activities planned to celebrate World Leprosy Day on 28 January 2018, please see http://ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Leprosy/Pages/LeprosyIndex.aspx 
 
For inquiries and media requests, please contact: Marina Narvaez (+41-229179615/mnarvaez@ohchr.org)
 
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Jeremy Laurence – (+ 41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org

 

Source: OHCHR 

 

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

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Holocaust remembrance and education: our shared responsibility

27 de January, 2018
Foto: ACNUDH

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, 27 January 2018

“Human history will be forever scarred by our memory of the Nazi Holocaust, which is symbolized by Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest extermination centre, liberated on this day 73 years ago.

Every year we honour the victims of the Shoah – millions of Jews, Roma, homosexuals and political opponents who were brutally murdered, and others who survived. Every year, fewer of them remain among us as living memories of that time, and we must redouble our efforts to recall the horror they experienced, and the wisdom they learned.

As Simone Veil – a heroic French survivor of Auschwitz who died last summer – once said, “Our legacy is in your hands. The task of vigilance is yours. The Shoah was unique in the history of humanity; but the poison of racism, anti-Semitism, the rejection of the ‘Other,’ and hatred are not limited to any one era, culture or people. To varying degrees and in various forms, they have been daily threats everywhere and always, in the past and in the new century that dawns … Our testimony calls on you to embody and defend the democratic values rooted in absolute respect for human dignity, which are our most precious legacy.” 

And indeed, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was conceived out of the Holocaust and two world wars, driven by the urgent need to forever prevent such horror and destruction. When it was adopted, on 10 December 1948, the world’s leaders acknowledged that only justice and respect for human dignity, equality and rights can ensure enduring peace. 

Even today – perhaps especially today – these messages need to be absorbed by a growing number of world leaders who view human rights as a tiresome constraint. Nationalists are once again stirring up discrimination, hatred and violence against vulnerable scapegoats, seeking to profit from messages of ethnic or religious supremacy. Across the world, many people are suffering atrocities and mass campaigns of killings. International human rights law is being violated and undermined. 

But every individual is worthy of rights. And the solemn promise to respect the rights of minorities and uphold fundamental freedoms and protections made by every State in signing the Universal Declaration is the only possible path to sustainable development and peace. It is not a passive philosophical ideal, but a practical plan of action that grows increasingly urgent, if humanity is to survive, and thrive. 

We must learn the lessons of the 20th century. As we mourn and honour the victims of the Holocaust, we must also push back against today’s monstrous denials of human rights, which create more victims and generate more threats to peace. In every country where there is still space to express thoughts, participate in decisions, raise one’s voice, I urge everyone to stand up for the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: equality, dignity, freedom and justice.”

ENDS
 
For media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org).
 
This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70thanniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.

 

Source: OHCHR

 
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The Committee against Enforced Disappearances closes its Urgent Action on the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado

24 de January, 2018

Photo: OHCHR24 January 2018 – On August 7 of 2017, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) sent a petition for urgent action to the Government of Argentina, according to art. 30 of the Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearance, requesting for immediate action to search and locate Mr. Santiago Maldonado who had, according to information received by the Committee, disappeared during or after clashes between security forces and demonstrators in the Chubut province. The Committee also asked the Government to fully comply with its obligation to carry out an integral and independent investigation of the causes and circumstances of the disappearance, and to enable the participation of the family of Mr. Maldonado in the search and investigation, in compliance with articles 12 and 24 of the Convention.

In compliance with the procedure of article 30, this initial petition for urgent action was followed by a series of exchanges between the Government of the State party, the authors of the Urgent Action request and the Committee.

The Committee was informed that a body was found in the river Chubut, which was identified on 20 October 2017 by a team of forensic experts as Mr. Santiago Maldonado. The family also recognized the body.

According to article 30 of the Convention, the “Committee shall continue its efforts to work with the State Party concerned for as long as the fate of the person sought remains unresolved.  The person presenting the request shall be kept informed.” With the location and full identification of the body, the Committee considers the purpose of the urgent action that the “disappeared person should be sought and found” to be completed. It therefore decided on 23 January 2018 to close the Urgent Action request of reference.

The Committee, however, recalls that the location of Mr. Santiago Maldonado does not release the State party from its conventional obligation:

 

– To carry out an exhaustive and independent investigation of the circumstances of Mr. Santiago Maldonado’s disappearance from 1 August 2017 to 20 October 2017;

– To guarantee the full participation of the family of Mr. Maldonado and their representatives in the investigation;

– To protect the family and their representatives from all forms of pressure, acts of intimidation or reprisal;

– In case it is demonstrated that Mr. Santiago Maldonado was subject to enforced disappearance, to prosecute and punish the perpetrators accordingly and to ensure the right to reparation to the victims.

 

Source: OHCHR

 

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The Sustainable Development Agenda

19 de January, 2018

Foto: ACNUDHOn 1 January 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit — officially came into force.  Over the next fifteen years, with these new Goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

The SDGs, also known as Global Goals, build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty. The new Goals are unique in that they call for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and addresses a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.

While the SDGs are not legally binding, governments are expected to take ownership and establish national frameworks for the achievement of the 17 Goals.  Countries have the primary responsibility for follow-up and review of the progress made in implementing the Goals, which will require quality, accessible and timely data collection. Regional follow-up and review will be based on national-level analyses and contribute to follow-up and review at the global level.

 

Source: UN

OHCHR requests information about missing persons and human rights

19 de January, 2018

desaparicion19 January 2018 – The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is currently receiving contributions from civil society organizations with suggestions and information related to the implementation of resolution no. A/RES/71/201 of the UN General assembly, about missing persons.

The information will be received until 2 March 2018. Learn more: http://bit.ly/2mTFN14.

ENDS

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

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Sexual orientation and gender identity: UN expert hails historic legal opinion issued in Americas

12 de January, 2018

Foto: ACNUDHGENEVA (12 January 2018) – An independent expert appointed by the United Nations hailed a landmark opinion by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that recognises the right to gender identity and protection of family ties between same-sex couples.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, said Advisory Opinion OC-24 issued by the Court on 9 January 2018 was a significant step toward upholding the dignity and human rights of persons with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity.

Pathologizing persons with diverse gender identities, including trans women and men, is one of the root causes behind the grave human rights violations against them. Madrigal-Borloz underlined that the Court concluded that requiring medical or psychological certifications or other unreasonable requirements for gender recognition was not in line with the American Convention.

“I am very pleased with the Court’s reasoning, which is permeated in equal measure by legal rigour and human understanding. Advisory Opinion OC-24 is a veritable blueprint for States to fulfil their obligation to provide quick, transparent and accessible legal gender recognition without abusive conditions, respectful of free/informed choice and bodily autonomy, as was also exhorted last May by a group of United Nations and international human rights experts,” he said.

The Court also recognized that the American Convention protects family ties between same-sex persons and that the protection extends to ensuring that same-sex couples have access, without exception, to all forms of legal recognition of relationships and families that are available to heterosexual couples.

“In my view, the protections described by the Court in this Advisory Opinion will have an extremely positive impact in addressing stigma, promoting socio-cultural inclusion and furthering legal recognition of gender identity, all of which have been identified by my mandate as fundamental to address the root causes of violence and discrimination,” concluded the Independent Expert.

ENDS

 

Mr. Victor Madrigal-Borloz (Costa Rica) assumed the role of UN Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for a three years period starting on 1 January 2018. He serves as the Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), a global network of over 150 rehabilitation centres with the vision of full enjoyment of the right to rehabilitation for all victims of torture and ill treatment. A member of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture from 2013 to 2016, Mr Madrigal-Borloz was Rapporteur on Reprisals and oversaw a draft policy on the torture and ill-treatment of LGBTI persons. Prior to this he led technical work on numerous cases, reports and testimonies as Head of Litigation and Head of the Registry at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and has also worked at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Copenhagen, Denmark) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (San José, Costa Rica).

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For inquiries and media requests, please contact Ms. Catherine de Preux De Baets (+41 22 917 93 27 /cdepreuxdebaets@ohchr.org).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Jeremy Laurence – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 / 
jlaurence@ohchr.org

 

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

 

 Source: OHCHR

How to train cabin crews to identify trafficking victims

4 de January, 2018

Photo: OHCHR4 January 2018 – “Something in the back of my mind told me that something was not right,” Shelia Fedrick, a flight attendant working for Alaska Airlines, told reporters. “The girl looked like she had been through hell.”

Fedrick was working on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco, United States, when she noticed on board a well-dressed older man travelling with a teenage girl that she said looked “dishevelled and out of sorts.”

Fedrick tried to speak to the pair but the girl remained silent and the man became defensive. It was at that moment that the flight attendant decided to leave a note for the girl in the restroom and instructed her discreetly to go to the restroom.

“She wrote on the note that she needed help,” said Fedrick who immediately informed the pilot. Police officers were waiting at the plane’s terminal in San Francisco on arrival and were able to confirm that the young girl was a victim of human trafficking.

Fedrick, who has been a flight attendant for over ten years, said the incident reminded her of her training; although she felt that she could have seen other victims without being fully aware that they were being trafficked.

“If you see something, say something,” Fedrick told reporters.

Human trafficking is considered the third most lucrative illegal activity on the planet, after the illegal sale of arms and drugs, and its clandestine nature makes it difficult to quantify with precision.
 
Men, women and children are recruited, transferred, harboured or received, through the use of force or deception, to be exploited into prostitution rings, forced labour, domestic servitude or the removal of their organs.

In 2017, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that some 40.3 million people worldwide were subjected to forced labour and modern slavery. Further, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its 2016 Global Report revealed that the majority of trafficking victims, 51%, were women.

International efforts to address trafficking can be traced back to at least a century and a fundamental shift is taking place in how the international community thinks about human trafficking. For instance, the US Department of Homeland Security indicates that during the fiscal year 2017, its Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch rescued or identified 518 victims.

In 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted a Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, calling on States to adopt national action plans to end trafficking. Specialized UN agencies also have their role to play: the UN Human Rights Office has been working with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop guidelines for airlines operators to train cabin crews in identifying and reporting trafficked individuals.

“Cabin crewmembers are in a unique situation where they can observe passengers over a certain period of time allowing them to use their observation skills to identify a potential victim of trafficking,” the document reads. “If cabin crewmembers suspect a case of trafficking in persons on board, a proper assessment of the situation is necessary before any response can be initiated.”

The Guidelines document gives examples of indicators for cabin crews on how to identify potential victims. These include situations where a passenger is not in control of their documentation or has false identity documents; is not aware of their final destination; may not be allowed to speak for themselves directly; or has no freedom on the aircraft to separate themselves from those accompanying them.

If they believe they have identified a victim, cabin crew are advised to then follow specific reporting procedures whether the aircraft is in the air or on the ground, being always mindful to not jeopardize the victim’s and other travellers’ safety.

Source: OHCHR

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Peru: UN human rights experts appalled by Fujimori pardon

28 de December, 2017

800px-Flag_of_Peru.svgGENEVA (28 December 2017) – The pardon granted to the former President of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, is an appalling “slap in the face” to victims of human rights abuses, a group of United Nations human rights experts* have said.

“The presidential pardon granted to Alberto Fujimori on politically motivated grounds undermines the work of the Peruvian judiciary and the international community to achieve justice,” the experts said.

“We are appalled by this decision. It is a slap in the face for the victims and witnesses whose tireless commitment brought him to justice.

“It is also a major setback for the rule of law in Peru: a humanitarian pardon has been granted to someone convicted of serious crimes after a fair trial, whose guilt is not in question and who does not meet the legal requirements for a pardon.”

The experts stressed that the president’s constitutional right to pardon people could not be seen in isolation from the international conventions ratified by Peru. Cases that involves humanitarian releases require a rigorous, credible and transparent process that is compatible with international human rights standards.

“International human rights law restricts the granting of amnesties, pardons or other exclusions of responsibility in cases of serious human rights violations including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances,” they said, noting that a request of habeas corpus on Mr Fujimori’s health condition was already rejected by the judiciary.”  

“The Government should not give in to political pressure and ignore its domestic and international obligations.

“Mr. Fujimori must be treated like any other person convicted of serious human rights crimes. His treatment should be compatible with his state of health and in accordance with the established standards and procedures which apply to people deprived of liberty in Peru, added the experts, who have previously engaged with the Government of Peru on this issue.”

The Government should respect the victims and witnesses who fought for justice and should adopt a comprehensive transitional justice strategy as a matter of priority, the experts added.

Mr. Fujimori was serving a 25-year jail term for serious human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and kidnapping. His conviction, after a judicial process that met national and international fair trial standards, had been hailed as a major achievement in the fight against impunity.

Current President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s decision to pardon him was announced on 24 December, triggering street protests.

ENDS

* The UN experts: The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Ms. Agnès CallamardSpecial Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Mr. Pablo de GreiffSpecial Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests please contact:
Mr. Naveed Ahmad (+41 22 928 9477 / nahmed@ohchr.org )

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Jeremy Laurence – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someones rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

Source: OHCHR

Venezuela: UN independent expert welcomes government action after his visit

28 de December, 2017

Photo: United NationsGENEVA (28 December 2017) – One of the UN’s independent experts on human rights has praised the Government of Venezuela for introducing a series of measures in line with recommendations he made after a recent mission to the country.

Alfred de Zayas, the UN’s Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, highlighted a task force set up by the Foreign Ministry to strengthen cooperation with the UN system, in order to improve the distribution of food and medicine.

He also welcomed the announcement on 23 December that a number of people held in connection with public demonstrations were being released.

“I personally pleaded for the release of numerous detainees and was delighted to find many of their names among the list of those benefiting from the governmental decision. This constitutes a sign of movement towards national reconciliation and demonstrates that dialogue bears fruit,” said Mr. de Zayas.

“While those who were released should enjoy full freedom, the release of other detainees would be welcomed,” he said, adding that those accused of violent acts during the demonstrations should be guaranteed due process of law.

The expert encouraged all governments in the region to support dialogue taking place in the Dominican Republic between the Venezuelan Government and the opposition, adding: “Any resolution must be crafted and decided by all Venezuelans and enjoy international solidarity.”

Mr. de Zayas said: “I encourage all men and women of goodwill to support efforts to alleviate the scarcity of certain food and medical supplies, and to contribute to relieving other problems resulting in part from sanctions and boycotts against Venezuela that have only aggravated the suffering being endured by Venezuelans of all social classes.”  Inflation can also be addressed through measures to combat contraband in foods and medicines.

The expert said the measures already taken by the Government had formed part of the preliminary recommendations, which he presented to the Government in Caracas at the conclusion of his mission on 4 December 2017.

ENDS

Mr. Alfred de Zayas (United States of America) was appointed as the first Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order by the Human Rights Council, effective May 2012. He is currently professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy. Mr. de Zayas practiced corporate law and family law in New York and Florida. As a Human Rights Council mandate holder, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.

Statements issued following the official visit to Venezuela can be found at:

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22530&LangID=E

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22531&LangID=E 

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Councils independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Proceduresexperts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights country page – Venezuela

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Jeremy Laurence 
 Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someones rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

Peru: human rights office regrets decision to pardon former President Fujimori

26 de December, 2017

Photo: Agencia EFE/Mario RuizSANTIAGO (26 December 2017) – The Regional Office for South America of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) regrets the decision by the Peruvian President to pardon former President Alberto Fujimori, who was sentenced in 2009 to 25 years of prison for serious human rights violations.

OHCHR’s Representative for South America, Amerigo Incalcaterra, said that “the granting of pardons is a prerogative that requires a rigorous analysis in each case, considering the gravity of the facts in the framework of a transparent and inclusive process, in light of international human rights standards.”

“In that sense, the decisions of the authorities must always respect the obligation of the State to investigate, prosecute and punish human rights violations, avoiding any situation that may lead to impunity,” he continued.

Incalcaterra stressed that the sentence against Fujimori “marked a historic milestone for Peru and the Latin American region in the fight against impunity for serious human rights crimes.”

Incalcaterra emphasized, in addition, the importance that the main authorities of the country always take into account the victims and their families, as well as the impact of their decisions on them, who after several decades still suffer the consequences of these events.

“In every social process towards reconciliation, the recognition of victims and their families is a central element. Not putting the situation of the victims at the center of these decisions undermines the advances made by the Peruvian State in terms of truth, justice, memory and reparation,” he said.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact María Jeannette Moya, public information office OHCHR South America: mmoya@ohchr.org / +56222102970.

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Peru road-building law threatens survival of Amazon peoples in isolation – UN indigenous rights expert

20 de December, 2017

Foto: ACNUDHGENEVA (20 December 2017) – A new law promoting road-building in remote areas of the Peruvian Amazon would impact indigenous territories and threaten the very survival of the peoples living there, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, has warned.

The bill, awaiting presidential approval after being adopted by Congress, would permit road construction and trail conservation in the Ucayali region, affecting indigenous peoples, including groups living on the Kugapakori Nahua Nanti territorial reserve.

“This law could have irreversible consequences for the survival of these groups, whose isolation places them at higher risk of impacts on their human rights,” said Ms. Tauli-Corpuz.

“Past experiences in which road construction or similar activities led to forced contact have generated irreversible impacts, such as the physical and cultural extermination of indigenous peoples in isolation, owing to factors such as their immunological weakness.

“I urge the Government, before the final approval of this bill, to engage in a broader debate to consider alternatives and take into account the impact that this project would have on the human rights of the people living in this area.”

The bill, 1123/2016-PC, was adopted by Congress on the sole advice of the Committee on Transport and Communications, despite serious objections from other relevant government institutions – including those responsible for protecting indigenous peoples.

The Special Rapporteur noted that Peru had an existing law designed to protect indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact, and reminded the Government that these groups deserve special attention from their own governments and the international system.

“Defending the fundamental human rights of isolated indigenous peoples is an obligation of the States in which they live and of the entire international community,” she said.

“These fundamental rights are intimately linked to the respect and protection of their rights over their lands and natural resources, on which they depend for their survival and for their social and cultural well-being.

“The protection of their territories and resources against intrusion by third parties and environmental and other damage that may be generated by external people is the first step to protecting their human rights.”

The Special Rapporteur urged the government to gather input from indigenous and other expert organizations, and relevant agencies such as the Congress Commission on Andean, Amazonian and Afro-Peruvian Peoples, Environment and Ecology, the Vice-Ministry of Intercultural Affairs of the Ministry of Culture, the National Service of Natural Protected Areas and the Ministries of Health and the Environment.

“Peru has obligations towards indigenous peoples in its constitutional and legal framework that must be respected,” said Ms. Tauli-Corpuz.

“In future discussions, the Government of Peru should take into account the need to develop appropriate consultations with the affected indigenous peoples and communities, taking into account the special requirements in the case of indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact, as indicated by the inter-American human rights system reports and jurisprudence and the Guidelines for the Protection of Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation and Initial Contact,” the Special Rapporteur added.

ENDS

 

Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines), Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, is a human rights activist working on indigenous peoples’ rights. Her work for more than three decades has been focused on movement building among indigenous peoples and also among women, and she has worked as an educator-trainer on human rights, development and indigenous peoples in various contexts. She is a member of the Kankana-ey, Igorot indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region in the Philippines.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

See the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

See the Guidelines for the protection of indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact in the Amazon Basin, El Gran Chaco and the Eastern Region of Paraguay

 

UN Human Rights, country page: Peru

 

For inquiries and media requests, please contact: Ms. Christine Evans (+41 22 917 9197 / cevans@ohchr.org), Ms. Karina Rampazzo (+41 22 917 99 19 / krampazzo@ohchr.org), or write to indigenous@ohchr.org. 

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

 

Source: OHCHR

Ecuador and Venezuela: Rights expert urges greater cooperation with UN

12 de December, 2017

Foto: ACNUDHGENEVA (12 December 2017) – Progress in the social sector in Venezuela and Ecuador, consistent with the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, should be more generally known and recognized, a UN human rights expert has said.

In this context, regional integration and cooperation with international organizations should be boosted to ensure that social programmes are continued and improved, said Alfred de Zayas, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, after an official mission to study the two countries’ government programmes to advance social progress and improve standards of living, especially of the most vulnerable in society.

But social progress goes hand in hand with civil and political rights and must not be achieved at the expense of civil liberties, he added.

“Prioritization of human development is a governing approach that has a strong history in the region,” said Mr. de Zayas at the end of his two-week mission.

“Initiatives by both countries to reduce illiteracy, guarantee free education, expand medical care, provide affordable housing, create employment and eliminate discrimination are to be commended.

“On the other hand, I am also aware of endemic problems that persist or have worsened in the region, including poverty, corruption, scarcity of certain food items and medicines, failure to ensure free, prior and informed consent in the extractive sector, inflation, inefficient distribution, insufficient separation of powers, electoral irregularities and repression of dissent.

“Likewise, external realities, including the escape of national funds into tax havens, foreign incursions into the regulatory space of governments, counterproductive unilateral coercive measures, contraband in food and medicine, and a lack of mutual legal assistance when public resources are illicitly diverted, constitute serious obstacles to fulfilling human rights obligations, not only economic and social but also civil and political,” the expert said.

Recognizing that the underlying causes of the current situation were varied and inter-connected, Mr. de Zayas recommended that the government of Venezuela exercise more flexibility with its monetary policies, build technical capacity in public administration and regularly publish data on nutritional status, epidemiology, inflation and the budget.

In Ecuador, he proposed that the government strengthen programmes against corruption, institute a financial transactions tax and expand its prohibition of tax evasion to include private sector individuals and corporations.

 

Alongside calling for national initiatives to be strengthened, Mr. de Zayas urged increased international solidarity with the peoples of Venezuela and Ecuador, and unrestricted entry and distribution of food and medicines, with the aim of advancing civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.

He encouraged both governments to accept advice and assistance offered by the UN Human Rights Office, UNDP, WHO, ILO, UNICEF, UNAIDS and FAO.

During his visit, the Independent Expert met hundreds of people, including government officials, members of opposition groups, academics, economists, religious leaders, organizations representing women, indigenous people and marginalized sections of society, journalists, civil society members and representatives of regional and private sector organizations. He also met administrators and beneficiaries of social programmes.

Mr. de Zayas, whose visit took place from 26 November to 9 December 2017, thanked both governments for making every effort to answer his questions and provide documentation and statistics. In his preliminary recommendations to Venezuela he requested a number of urgent measures, including the release of people in detention.

A report on his mission – the first country visit since the mandate was created in 2010 – will be presented to the Human Rights Council in 2018.

ENDS

 

Mr. Alfred de Zayas (United States of America) was appointed as the first Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order by the Human Rights Council, effective May 2012. He is currently professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy.

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

 

UN Human Rights country pages: Venezuela and Ecuador

 

Read the full statement here.

For more information and media requests please contact:
Aminta Ossom (+41 22 917 9611 /  
aossom@ohchr.org) or  ie-internationalorder@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Jeremy Laurence – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

 

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

Source: OHCHR

 

MEDIA ADVISORY/CHILE (12-Dec): UN opens meeting on business and human rights

11 de December, 2017

Event: opening ceremony of the 3rd Regional Consultation for Latin America and the Caribbean on business and human rights

Venue: ECLAC, room Raúl Prebisch – 3477 Dag Hammarskjöld, Vitacura. Santiago, Chile

Time and date: 12 December 2017

Organizers: OHCHR South America, UN Working Group on business and human rights and NHRI of Chile.

SANTIAGO (11 December 2017) – Key representatives from businesses across the region will gather state delegates, civil society groups, academics, international organizations and other sectors to discuss new strategies in order to guarantee the respect for human rights in corporate areas.

Over 250 participants from all over the region will gather until 14 December for the Third Regional Consultation for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile.

Organized by the Regional Office for South America of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN Working Group on business and human rights and the National Human Rights Institute of Chile, the event seeks to contribute to strengthen the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles for business and human rights by States and businesses across the region.

Read more (in Spanish): http://acnudh.org/aviso-de-pautachile-12-dic-inauguran-reunion-onu-sobre-empresas-y-ddhh/

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Values enshrined in Universal Declaration of Human Rights under assault, must be defended – Zeid

10 de December, 2017

Foto: ACNUDHStatement by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on the occasion of Human Rights Day

“Human Rights Day falls on 10 December every year, the day when, back in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the world’s most widely translated* and possibly most influential document – was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, itself just three years old at the time.”

“Thanks to the Universal Declaration, the daily life of millions has been improved, untold human suffering has been prevented and the foundations for a more just world have been laid. While its promise is yet to be fulfilled, the very fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to the enduring universality of its perennial values of equality, justice and human dignity.”

“Next year – on 10 December 2018 – we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and this year’s Human Rights Day on Sunday marks the beginning of a year-long 70th anniversary commemoration.”

“It will also, I hope, be a year of intense and profound reflection on the continuing and vital importance of each and every one of the 30 articles contained in this extraordinary document.”

“The Universal Declaration was drawn up by a world wounded by war, the remedy prescribed by States to inoculate their populations against their own worst instincts and omissions. It was drawn up by representatives, and endorsed by leaders, of countries from all continents, who were – to quote from the Declaration’s preamble – fully, recently, sorely, aware that ‘disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.’”

“It was drawn up with the memory and knowledge of the Holocaust, and the attitudes and accumulation of policies and practices that made it possible, seared on the conscience of those who failed to prevent it.”

“It was drawn up to cover not only civil and political rights, but also social, economic and cultural rights, in the full understanding that you cannot have development without human rights and you cannot have a full enjoyment of human rights without development – and peace and security depend on both.”

“Today, as World War II and the Holocaust grow distant, that awareness appears to be evaporating at an alarming rate, and the enormous progress that has been achieved through progressive enactment of human rights principles, as laid out in the Universal Declaration, is being increasingly forgotten or wilfully ignored.”

“The universality of rights is being contested across much of the world. It is under broad assault from terrorists, authoritarian leaders and populists who seem only too willing to sacrifice, in varying degrees, the rights of others, for the sake of power.  Their combined influence has grown at the expense of liberal democratic order, peace and justice.”

“We see mounting cruelties and crimes being perpetrated in conflicts across the world; an antagonistic nationalism on the rise, with surging levels of racism, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination taking root, even in countries which had grown complacent in the belief these were problems of the past, rather than ones that could all too easily re-emerge and reassert themselves.”

“We see measures to end discrimination and promote greater justice – some of the fruits of the Universal Declaration and the immense body of law and practice it has spawned – starting to be being dismantled by those who seek profit from hatred and exploitation. We see a backlash against many human rights advances, including on the rights of women and those of many minorities, in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe.”

“We see political leaders who openly deny the fundamental truth of article 1 of the Universal Declaration which states that ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’ Political leaders who defy their forbears’ promise ‘to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.’”

“The Universal Declaration is a commitment, by all States, that they will protect and promote human rights. It is essential that we continue to hold those States to account. But human rights are too important to be left to States alone – too precious to all of us, and to our children.”

“As we enter the 70th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration, it is right that we should honour its achievements and pay tribute to its inspired architects.  At the same time, we should be under no illusions: the legacy of the Universal Declaration is facing threats on many fronts. If we let our commitment to uphold human rights drift – if we turn aside when they are abused – they will slowly shrivel and die. If that happens, the cost in human life and misery will be immense, and the whole of humanity will pay a heavy price.”

“Ultimately it is up to us, to ‘we the people,’ for whom this Declaration was written. It is up to me; to you; to everyone in every city, province and country where there is still space to express thoughts, participate in decisions, raise one’s voice. We need to act to promote peace, fight back against discrimination, and to uphold justice.”

“We must organize and mobilise in defence of human decency, in defence of a better common future. We must not stand by, bewildered, as the post-World War II system of values unravels around us. We must take a robust and determined stand:  by resolutely supporting the human rights of others, we also stand up for our own rights and those of generations to come.”

On Sunday 10 December, the High Commissioner will mark Human Rights Day and the launch of the 70th anniversary campaign alongside the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris — the historic site of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the General Assembly on 10 December 1948.

Visit our Human Rights Day and Stand Up 4 Human Rights website dedicated to the year-long campaign related to the 70th anniversary of the UDHR. See also: UN Human Rights Day web page

Specific projects designed to promote the relevance of the Universal Declaration include “Add Your Voice” which aims to promote and disseminate the UDHR in over 100 languages. An online application allows people to record themselves reading an article of the UDHR in their own language and share it on social media – encouraging others to do the same. Record yourself reading the Declaration and share: “Add Your Voice”

To join the thousands of people have already taken the Stand Up pledge:
go to: Take the Stand Up pledge

 

* The Universal Declaration of Human Rights holds the world record for the largest number of translations, with the current total standing at over 500 languages. See: The Universal Declaration in more than 500 languages

 

Source: OHCHR

Human Rights Day 2017

10 de December, 2017
Foto: ACNUDH“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. […] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70

 

Let’s stand up for equality, justice and human dignity

 

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December – the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, Human Rights Day kicks off a year-long campaign to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being — regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages.

Drafted by representatives of diverse legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. It establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person. Thanks to the Declaration, and States’ commitments to its principles, the dignity of millions has been uplifted and the foundation for a more just world has been laid. While its promise is yet to be fully realized, the very fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to the enduring universality of its perennial values of equality, justice and human dignity.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all. The principles enshrined in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. We need to stand up for our own rights and those of others. We can take action in our own daily lives, to uphold the rights that protect us all and thereby promote the kinship of all human beings.   

#StandUp4HumanRights

– The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all.

– Human rights are relevant to all of us, every day.

– Our shared humanity is rooted in these universal values.

– Equality, justice and freedom prevent violence and sustain peace.

– Whenever and wherever humanity’s values are abandoned, we all are at greater risk.

– We need to stand up for our rights and those of others.

 

It’s time to stand up for rights

8 de December, 2017

Photo: OHCHRAdopted in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person. Its principles are as relevant now as they were then.

Learn more: http://www.standup4humanrights.org/en/index.html

 

Stand up for Human Rights

29 de November, 2017

Photo: OHCHRUN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Human Rights Day 2017 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Learn more: http://www.standup4humanrights.org/en/index.html

 

UN Free & Equal: It’s Time

28 de November, 2017

Photo: OHCHR 

Hate and stigma affect millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world. The UN Free & Equal campaign is calling for change.
 

Uruguay: OHCHR delivers training on the Universal Human Rights system

22 de November, 2017

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaSANTIAGO (22 November 2017) – From 15-17 November, the Regional Office for South America of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-South America) carried out different training sessions in Montevideo, Uruguay, for public servants and civil society organizations about the follow-up and implementation of recommendations made to the country by the Universal Human Rights system.

The workshops were delivered for civil society representatives from all over the country, for staff of the National Human Rights Institution and Ombuds Office of Uruguay, and also staff working on the Human Rights Recommendations’ Monitoring system (SIMORE). Using a participatory methodology, participants strengthened their capacity to follow up on the implementation of recommendations made to the country by international human rights mechanisms.

Participants also prepared different actors for the process towards the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which will consider the human rights situation of Uruguay during the 32° period of session of the Human Rights Council, to be held in January-February 2019.

ENDS

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Brazil must act now to avoid losing ground in fight against modern slavery – UN experts

8 de November, 2017

Foto: ACNUDHGENEVA (8 November 2017) – United Nations human rights experts* have today called on the Government of Brazil to take urgent action to halt measures that could reduce people’s protection against modern slavery and weaken corporate regulations.

“Brazil has often played a leadership role in the fight against modern slavery, so it is surprising and disappointing to see measures that could see the country lose ground on this front,” said the experts in a joint statement.

The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary slavery, Urmila Bhoola, said a number of developments were causing concern, including ministerial order 1129, which narrows the definition of contemporary slavery and could reduce the number of victims detected.

“This order puts Brazil at risk of taking a step backward in the way it regulates businesses,” said Ms Bhoola. “It is essential that Brazil takes decisive action now to avoid undermining the anti-slavery measures that have been implemented over the last decade and which in turn weaken protection of the poor and excluded populations who are vulnerable to slavery.”

Surya Deva, who chairs the UN’s Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, also expressed concern that the Ministerial Order would set the country back in its battle against contemporary slavery.

“In the report on our visit to Brazil, presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2016, the Working Group acknowledged positive initiatives to combat modern slavery, such as the so-called “dirty list” that published information about employers found to be using slave labour, but also warned against another initiative to weaken the definition of slave labour (Senate bill No. 432/2013), said Mr Deva

“We are also concerned by other developments, including budget cuts to the labour inspectorate, which plays a key role in victim detection and slavery eradication.”

The experts welcomed the news that the Supreme Federal Court has ordered the temporary suspension of the ministerial order, and urged the Government to permanently reverse it. 

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*The UN experts: Ms Urmila BhoolaSpecial Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, and the Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, whose current members are: Mr Michael AddoMr Surya Deva (current chair), Mr Dante PesceMs Anita Ramasastry (current vice-chair) and Mr  Pavel Sulyandziga.

The experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent human rights monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. The experts are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

 

UN Human Rights country page – Brazil

 

For inquiries and media requests, please contact:
Eleanor Robb (+41 22 917 9800 / erobb@ohchr.org) or write to srslavery@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Bryan Wilson – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 / mediaconsultant2@ohchr.org

 

Source: OHCHR.org

 

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

 

Human rights must be centre-stage as Paris climate change deal takes effect, UN experts say

3 de November, 2017

Photo: UNFCCCGENEVA (3 November 2017) – Human rights must be central to the way the Paris climate change agreement is put into practice, a group of UN specialists has urged ahead of a major global conference.

The implementation guidelines for the COP 21 deal should also focus heavily on sustainable development, said the experts*, as UN agencies, governments and civil society groups prepare to meet in Bonn from 6-17 November for the COP 23 climate change conference, which will work on guidelines for how the deal will be implemented.

“The Paris Agreement marked an important global recognition of the devastating human rights impacts of climate change and the key importance of human rights in addressing this global challenge,” said the experts.

“It is crucial that this recognition is carried forward as the world works together to implement the plan and to create a sustainable shared future.”

They added: “All of us – from Governments and groups to communities and individuals – should come together in a spirit of cooperation, solidarity, creativity and determination to build on the Paris agreement, to shape a safe, healthy and sustainable world where all human rights and fundamental freedoms are realized.”

The COP 23 conference will discuss financing climate action, enabling countries to cooperate, adapt and build resilience, reporting progress, and creating an enabling environment for sustainable development.

“Each of these issues has a human rights dimension that must not be ignored,” the experts stressed. “The world must move forward to address climate change using the long-established principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

“The needs of the most vulnerable must always be at the forefront as climate finance and adaptation, prevention and resilience measures are decided. The world must also meet its obligations to cooperate across borders and to mobilize all available resources to progressively realize economic, social and cultural rights, and to advance civil and political rights and the right to development.”

The experts also emphasized the relationship between climate change and other major human rights challenges.

“We have already seen the very real effects that climate change has on people’s homes and livelihoods, on their rights to health, housing, food, water and sanitation, development and many others,” they said.

“The international community needs to respond in a way that safeguards the human rights of individuals and communities, especially migrants and refugees, indigenous peoples, children and people with disabilities.

“We must work for a global commitment to sustainability and shared prosperity, cooperating across borders to enable States to grow in new ways that respect human rights and meet people’s needs while guaranteeing a safe and healthy future for our environment and for present and future generations.”

The implementation guidelines discussed in Bonn should respect key human rights principles such as transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, meaningful and informed public participation, access to justice, and equality and non-discrimination, the experts said.

Particular attention should be paid to the gender dimensions of climate change and to inter-generational equity, they added, and implementation should complement other important global processes such as the Global Compact for Migration, the Global Compact for Refugees, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The experts said they embraced the Fijian Presidency’s vision of infusing the COP 23 with the Fijian “Bula Spirit” of inclusiveness, friendliness and solidarity.

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*The UN experts:  Mr John Knox, Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environmentMs Leilani Farha, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housingMr Obiora C. Okafor, the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarityMr Felipe Gonzalez Morales, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; and Mr Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development.

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For inquiries and media requests, please contact: Monica Iyer (+41 22 917 9668 / spbconsultant7@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Bryan Wilson – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 / mediaconsultant2@ohchr.org

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

Source: OHCHR

Peru’s human rights record to be reviewed by Universal Periodic Review

3 de November, 2017

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaGENEVA (3 November 2017) – Peru’s human rights record will be examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the third time on Wednesday, 8 November 2017 in a meeting that will be webcast live.

Peru is one of the 14 States to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group during its upcoming session taking place from 6 to 17 November.  Peru’s first and second UPR reviews took place in May 2008 and November 2012, respectively.

The documents on which the reviews are based are: 1) national report – information provided by the State under review; 2) information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; 3) information provided by other stakeholders including national human rights institutions, regional organizations and civil society groups.

Among the issues raised in the above-mentioned documents are: combatting discrimination in all its forms, including against indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, persons with disabilities and based on sexual orientation and gender identity; promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, their land rights, and preventing the extraction of natural resources on indigenous territories; ensuring indigenous peoples’ were able to participate in decision-making processes; the environmental impact on human rights; protecting human rights defenders, national human rights action plan; combatting discrimination and violence against women; reported cases of excessive use of force by police; addressing prison overcrowding; ensuring freedom of expression and of the media; tackling human trafficking; steps to eliminate child labour; women’s access to justice; steps to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape; ; the high rates of teenage pregnancy; birth registration; and education and bilingual intercultural education.

The three reports serving as the basis for the review of Peru on 8 November can be found here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/PEindex.aspx

Location: Room 20, Palais des Nations, Geneva

Time and date: 09.00 – 12.30, Wednesday, 8 November (Geneva time, GMT +1 hour)

The UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.  Since its first meeting was held in April 2008, all 193 UN member States have been reviewed twice within the first and second UPR cycles.  During the third UPR cycle, States are again expected to spell out steps they have taken to implement recommendations posed during their previous reviews which they committed to follow-up on, as well as to highlight recent human rights developments in the country.

The delegation of Peru will be headed by José Manuel Coloma Marquina, Vice Minister of Human Rights and Access to Justice, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.

The three country representatives serving as rapporteurs (“troika”) for the review of Peru are: Bolivia, Japan and Portugal.

The webcast of the session will be at http://webtv.un.org

The list of speakers and all available statements to be delivered during the review of Peru will be posted on the UPR Extranet at the following link [username:  hrc extranet (with space); password: 1session]: https://extranet.ohchr.org/sites/upr/Sessions/28session/Peru/Pages/default.aspx

The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the recommendations made to Peru at 17.30 on 10 November.  The State under review may wish to express its positions on recommendations posed to it during their review.  The recommendations will be shared with the media on this day in advance.   

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Rolando Gómez at +41 (0) 22 917 9711 / rgomez@ohchr.org , Sarah Lubbersen at +41 (0) 22 917 9689 / slubbersen@ohchr.org or Cédric Sapey at +41 (0) 22 917 9751 / csapey@ohchr.org

To learn more about the Universal Periodic Review, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx

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Argentina’s human rights record to be reviewed by Universal Periodic Review

2 de November, 2017

Photo: UN MultimediaGENEVA (2 November 2017) – Argentina’s human rights record will be examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the third time on Monday, 6 November 2017 in a meeting that will be webcast live.

Argentina is one of the 14 States to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group during its upcoming session taking place from 6 to 17 November.  Argentina’s first and second UPR reviews took place in April 2008 and October 2012, respectively.

The documents on which the reviews are based are: 1) national report – information provided by the State under review; 2) information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; 3) information provided by other stakeholders including national human rights institutions, regional organizations and civil society groups.

Among the issues raised in the above-mentioned documents are: investigating allegations of police abuse, including cases of police violence and arbitrary detention; improving conditions of detention and tackling prison overcrowding; prosecuting past human rights violations during military dictatorship; combatting discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity; addressing discriminatory stereotypes regarding the role of women; combatting domestic violence and trafficking in persons; ensuring education on sexual and reproductive rights and legal access to abortion; addressing shortage of adequate housing and improving living conditions in informal settlements; reducing poverty and tackling discrimination against indigenous peoples and Afro-descendent populations; demarcating lands traditionally occupied by indigenous people and protecting them from forced eviction.

The three reports serving as the basis for the review of Argentina on 6 November can be found here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/ARIndex.aspx

Location: Room 20, Palais des Nations, Geneva

Time and date: 14.30 – 18.00, Monday, 6 November (Geneva time, GMT +1 hour)

The UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.  Since its first meeting was held in April 2008, all 193 UN member States have been reviewed twice within the first and second UPR cycles.  During the third UPR cycle, States are again expected to spell out steps they have taken to implement recommendations posed during their previous reviews which they committed to follow-up on, as well as to highlight recent human rights developments in the country.

The delegation of Argentina will be headed by Claudio Avruj, Secretary of Human Rights and Cultural Pluralism of the Nation.

The three country representatives serving as rapporteurs (“troika”) for the review of Argentina are: Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba and the United Arab Emirates.

The webcast of the session will be at http://webtv.un.org

The list of speakers and all available statements to be delivered during the review of Argentina will be posted on the UPR Extranet at the following link [username:  hrc extranet (with space); password: 1session]: https://extranet.ohchr.org/sites/upr/Sessions/28session/Argentina/Pages/default.aspx

The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the recommendations made to Argentina at 15.30 on 10 November.  The State under review may wish to express its positions on recommendations posed to it during their review.  The recommendations will be shared with the media on this day in advance.   

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Rolando Gómez at +41 (0) 22 917 9711 /  rgomez@ohchr.org , Sarah Lubbersen at +41 (0) 22 917 9689 / slubbersen@ohchr.org or Cédric Sapey at +41 (0) 22 917 9751 / csapey@ohchr.org

To learn more about the Universal Periodic Review, visit: www.ohchr.org/hrc/upr

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Uruguay: Zeid recognises human rights record, urges more efforts to tackle violations

27 de October, 2017

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaGENEVA/MONTEVIDEO (27 October 2017) – Uruguay’s commitment to human rights at home and abroad is clear, but the country must address a series of challenges, including “inhumane” prison conditions, widespread violence against women and continuing impunity for violations committed during military rule, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said at the end of a two-day visit.

“The Uruguayan authorities have made significant efforts to integrate human rights into public policy, and there is clear political will to make progress in this area,” Zeid said, highlighting the adoption of laws and policies that aim to tackle discrimination, reduce poverty and enhance the rights of women and LGBTI persons.

The High Commissioner noted that Uruguay’s efforts to improve its overall situation are recognised domestically and internationally. “Uruguay is a country with tremendous potential, which has dared to make a difference in many areas. However, the progress made to date is not enough: the country can do more to  tackle the serious human rights violations that continue to occur,” he said.

“To do so, Uruguay must ensure that the strategies to respond to its most pressing challenges are firmly based on human rights, which also means that the Government, Congress and, very importantly, the judiciary, uphold and implement the country’s obligations under international human rights law,” Zeid said.

During his meetings with Uruguayan authorities and civil society representatives, the High Commissioner expressed concern about serious human rights issues in the country, such as the reportedly “appalling and inhumane” conditions in many detention centres. “In a country that has succeeded in so many ways, it is difficult to understand why the authorities are still unable to address the longstanding deficiencies of the prison system,” Zeid said.

The High Commissioner acknowledged the steps Uruguay has taken since 2010 to improve conditions in its jails, including through the Parliamentary Commissioner for Prisons. He also welcomed the adoption of a new Criminal Procedure Code, which will enter into force next November, and expressed hope that this new regulation will help to relieve the country’s overloaded prison system.

However, Zeid voiced alarm at the situation of adolescents in conflict with the law, particularly the excessive duration of pre-trial detention. He called on Uruguay to ensure that young offenders are protected from violence and discrimination, and can have a real opportunity for reintegration into society.  “In a country ageing as rapidly as Uruguay, the whole of society needs to realise that youth is their hope for the future,” he said.

Zeid also called on Uruguay to make every effort to ensure all allegations of torture or ill-treatment are investigated properly. “Uruguay needs to use imprisonment as a last resort, implement more non-custodial sentences and introduce more rehabilitation programmes,” he said.

“The persistently high rates of gender-based killings of women, in many cases by their partner or ex-partner, is troubling, as is the difficulty many women victims of violence face in accessing justice,” the High Commissioner said. He also urged the Government to remove any restrictions and barriers to reproductive health services, including safe abortion procedures, which were decriminalised in 2012, and post-abortion care.

During his visit, the High Commissioner met President Tabaré Vázquez and several Government ministers, including the Minister of Social Development. Zeid welcomed recent measures such as a new national integrated care system; the promotion of bills such as one on the right to work of persons with disabilities; and the recently adopted law on mental health.

However, he was disturbed by problems such as high dropout rates in the education system, as well as the persistent discrimination against some groups, including homeless people, Afro-Uruguayans, and persons with disabilities.

“Authorities must embrace the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which means leaving no one behind,” the High Commissioner said. “By doing so, the country will be able to address its main challenges in an inclusive manner, making its human rights situation coherent with the standards of living in a modern country like Uruguay,” he added.

The High Commissioner acknowledged the Government’s attempts to address impunity for past crimes committed during the military dictatorship of 1973 to 1985, but highlighted the lack of progress in providing victims with truth, justice and reparation. “It is 32 years since the dictatorship ended, but Uruguay has yet to deal adequately with a brutal period in its recent history. This is essential for society to look to the future without fear and for this, international human rights law is key,” he said.

Zeid also urged the authorities to pursue investigations into death threats made against officials, lawyers and human right defenders involved in the prosecution of criminal cases linked to serious human rights violations during the dictatorship.

The High Commissioner recognised Uruguay’s strong support for human rights on the international stage, including its work as an elected member of the Security Council on peace and security, and its engagement with the Human Rights Council where it has been the main sponsor of resolutions on a variety of issues.

“Uruguay has the opportunity to become a model country for others to follow. With the considerable strengths Uruguay has, and bearing in mind its international human rights obligations, I am convinced that the country is capable of overcoming its most pressing human rights challenges for the benefit of its people,” he said, adding that his Office, including through its Regional Office for South America, stands ready to continue providing support in this endeavour.

During his visit, Zeid also attended the 165th ordinary period of sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Montevideo, where he launched a joint action plan with the IACHR to contribute to the protection of human rights defenders in the Americas. He also met civil society representatives from across the region.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact: 
In Geneva: Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 97 67 / rcolville@ohchr.org), or Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 94 66 / ethrossell@ohchr.org
Travelling with the High Commissioner: Maria Jeanette Moya (+56979997907 / mmoya@ohchr.org)

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today.  #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

Tag and share – Twitter: @UNHumanRights and Facebook: unitednationshumanrights

Source: OHCHR

UN Human Rights Office, Inter-American Commission launch joint action plan on protection of human rights defenders in the Americas

26 de October, 2017

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaGENEVA (26 October 2017) – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the UN Human Rights Office have launched a new and deeper cooperation plan to address one of the most pressing problems in the Americas: the protection of human rights defenders.

IACHR President Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, IACHR Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders José de Jesús Orozco and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday launched their organisations’ Joint Action Mechanism to Contribute to the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas at a public event in Montevideo, where the Commission is holding its 165th ordinary period of sessions.

“Human rights defenders are vital for the healthy functioning of societies, and yet in recent years they have been increasingly targeted in the Americas. They are subjected to threats, smear campaigns, arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment, and even torture.  Many run the risk of violent, even fatal attacks, including by private individuals linked to business interests or powerful criminal gangs,” said High Commissioner Zeid.

In 2016, three out of every four recorded murders of human rights defenders worldwide took place in the Americas, and 41% of these killings were of people standing up against extractive or development projects, or defending the right to land and natural resources of indigenous peoples.

“Amid continuing impunity for perpetrators, we are seeing a worrying trend of the law being misused to criminalize the activities of human rights defender to silence them or punish them,” said Orozco. “This is one of the reasons why the launch of our joint action mechanism is so important and timely as, by acting together and systematically, we can have a greater impact.”

The IACHR and the UN Human Rights Office already cooperate extensively on emblematic human rights cases and situations of particular concern. The joint action mechanism intensifies this work for human rights defenders, building on their national, regional and international capacities, drawing on their complementary strengths and creating stronger connections between their staff.

Among the specific actions that are planned, the IACHR and the UN Human Rights Office will study the measures countries in the region have in place to protect human rights defenders, and produce a manual of best practices to protect human rights defenders.

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For more information and media requests, please contact: 
Rupert Colville – + 41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org or Liz Throssell – + 41 22 917 9466 /ethrossell@ohchr.org
Travelling with the High Commissioner: Maria Jeanette Moya (+56979997907 / mmoya@ohchr.org)

Source: OHCHR

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

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Put human rights at heart of development, Zeid urges Peru

25 de October, 2017

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaGENEVA/LIMA (25 October 2017) – Peru has made great strides over the last decade in reducing poverty, but needs to stand up firmly for human rights to ensure its economic model is sustainable and works for the benefit of all, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Tuesday at the end of a two-day visit to the country.

“I welcome Peru’s efforts to fight poverty and exclusion, and its economic progress is undeniable. The country must now consolidate such advances by continuing to strengthen the rule of law and the protection of human rights,” said Zeid, whose visit included meetings with President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, as well as with authorities from Congress and the Judiciary, civil society representatives and the private sector.

“Development, to be truly sustainable, should not leave anyone behind, and should never be at the expense of the rights of some members of society,” the High Commissioner stressed.

While expressing concern about the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights in the country, Zeid said: “Peru has a great opportunity to significantly improve its human rights situation. In this endeavour, it is crucial to recall that international treaties ratified by the country impose obligations not only on  the Government but also on  Congress, the Judiciary and all State institutions.”

The High Commissioner highlighted the Government’s development of a National Human Rights Action Plan and called for the meaningful participation of all sectors, particularly civil society groups and the Ombudsman’s Office in its elaboration.“It is our sincere hope that the resulting National Action Plan can adequately address Peru’s human rights needs, particularly those of the most vulnerable groups,” he said. Zeid also reiterated the readiness of the UN Human Rights Office, including through its Regional Office for South America, to continue providing support and technical expertise on this and other human rights initiatives.

There has been progress in consulting indigenous peoples on mining, energy and other development projects since the adoption in 2011 of a landmark law, Zeid said, but more needs to be done to ensure they can give their free, prior and informed consent for such projects, in line with international human rights standards.

“Speaking to civil society groups, I heard their burning sense of injustice that decisions affecting people’s land, lives and futures are made by others,” Zeid said, highlighting that dozens of social conflicts and protests erupt each year in Peru, many linked to the mining, oil and logging sectors. “This is why, in my talks with business leaders, I stressed the urgent need for companies to respect the human rights of indigenous peoples, human rights defenders and trade unionists. Meaningful consultation and dialogue do not undermine business, rather they serve to advance the human rights and business agenda.”

Zeid also urged the Government to implement without delay measures to increase the protection of human rights defenders. “Peru is no exception to a trend across the Americas – and indeed the world – of harassment, intimidation and alarming attacks on human rights activists,” he noted.

The implementation of the 2016 legal framework and national plan to search for people missing between 1980 and 2000 is also urgent, the High Commissioner said.

“Such steps are vital to help Peru come to terms with its painful past that saw so much suffering and bloodshed, but I am concerned that the recommendations made more than a decade ago by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have to date been insufficiently implemented,” he said.

“The high level of impunity for violations committed during this period is deeply troubling. The needs of victims and their relatives must be addressed, including their right to truth, justice and reparations. In addition, resources must be made available to ensure that the search for the missing can be fully carried out.”

Zeid also heard concerns about the possibility of a presidential pardon for former President Alberto Fujimori, who was sentenced in 2009 to 25 years in prison for very serious human rights violations. “Fujimori was convicted of crimes amounting to crimes against humanity, that is, crimes of interest to the international community as a whole. The international community must be approached and engaged in this highly important matter,” the High Commissioner recalled.

With women and girls at high risk of gender-based violence in Peru, the passing of laws designed to prevent and punish such violence, including domestic violence and femicide, is important, Zeid noted. Nevertheless, rigorous implementation and strong preventive measures are also required, because in too many cases the perpetrator escapes punishment. “I urge the Government to address the social and cultural attitudes that continue to be used to justify violence against women,” the High Commissioner said.

Zeid also called for improvements in the area of sexual and reproductive rights of women. The recent amendments by Congress to measures aimed at promoting gender equality and LGBTI rights were a “setback,” he added.

The High Commissioner welcomed Peru’s election as a Member State of the UN Human Rights Council. “I look forward to Peru’s full cooperation with the Council by upholding the highest human rights standards for the world, which must also be pursued at the national level,” he said.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact: 
In Geneva: Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 97 67 / rcolville@ohchr.org), or Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 94 66 / ethrossell@ohchr.org
Travelling with the High Commissioner: Maria Jeanette Moya (+56979997907 / mmoya@ohchr.org)

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today.  #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

Tag and share – Twitter: @UNHumanRights and Facebook: unitednationshumanrights

UN Human Rights Chief to visit Peru (23-24 Oct) and Uruguay (25-27 Oct)

20 de October, 2017

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaGENEVA (20 October 2017) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein will visit Peru and Uruguay next week to discuss progress and challenges concerning human rights in these countries. He will also launch a joint plan of action by the UN Human Rights Office and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to address the protection of human rights defenders in the Americas. 

Zeid will be in Peru from 23 to 24 October, at the invitation of the government, making the first visit to the country by a High Commissioner for Human Rights. He will meet high-level officials, including President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the Cabinet Chief and several ministers, as well as the presidents of Congress and the Supreme Court. He will also meet civil society representatives and business leaders.

The High Commissioner’s visit to Uruguay from 25 to 27 October, also at the invitation of the Government, includes meetings with President Tabaré Vázquez, several cabinet ministers, the presidents of Congress and the judiciary, and civil society representatives.

On 25 October, as part of the IACHR’s 165th ordinary period of sessions, Zeid and IACHR President Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli will unveil their organisations’ Joint Action Mechanism to Contribute to the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in the Americasat a public event in Montevideo at Palacio Santos, Avenida 18 de Julio 1177The High Commissioner is also due to meet civil society organizations from across the Americas.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Geneva: Rupert Colville (+41 79 506 1088 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)

Travelling with the High Commissioner: Maria Jeanette Moya (+56979997907 / mmoya@ohchr.org)

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Source: OHCHR

UN Human Rights Chief to visit Peru (23-24 Oct) and Uruguay (25-27 Oct)

20 de October, 2017

Foto: UN Photo/Rick BajornasGENEVA (20 October 2017) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein will visit Peru and Uruguay next week to discuss progress and challenges concerning human rights in these countries. He will also launch a joint plan of action by the UN Human Rights Office and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to address the protection of human rights defenders in the Americas.   

Zeid will be in Peru from 23 to 24 October, at the invitation of the government, making the first visit to the country by a High Commissioner for Human Rights. He will meet high-level officials, including President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the Cabinet Chief and several ministers, as well as the presidents of Congress and the Supreme Court. He will also meet civil society representatives and business leaders. 

The High Commissioner’s visit to Uruguay from 25 to 27 October, also at the invitation of the Government, includes meetings with President Tabaré Vázquez, several cabinet ministers, the presidents of Congress and the judiciary, and civil society representatives. 

On 25 October, as part of the IACHR’s 165th ordinary period of sessions, Zeid and IACHR President Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli will unveil their organisations’ Joint Action Mechanism to Contribute to the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in the Americasat a public event in Montevideo at Palacio Santos, Avenida 18 de Julio 1177The High Commissioner is also due to meet civil society organizations from across the Americas.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact: 

In Geneva: Rupert Colville (+41 79 506 1088 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 9466 /ethrossell@ohchr.org) 

Travelling with the High Commissioner: Maria Jeanette Moya (+56979996907 / mmoya@ohchr.org) 

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today.  #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org 

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UN experts urge Chile not to use anti-terrorism law against Mapuche indigenous peoples

6 de October, 2017

Photo: UN MultimediaGENEVA (6 October 2017) – UN experts* are urging Chile not to prosecute Mapuche indigenous peoples under the country’s anti-terrorism legislation.

The call comes ahead of a hearing in the case of a group of four Mapuche community members who were arrested in June 2016 on charges of arson, and have remained in custody since then on pre-trial detention orders issued under the anti-terrorism law.

“The charges against these men should urgently be reviewed and they should be afforded the fair trial guarantees they would receive under the ordinary justice system,” the experts said.

“These members of an indigenous community have been deprived of their liberty for 16 months. The anti-terrorism law does not offer the necessary guarantees for a fair trial, and its use risks the stigmatization of the indigenous community.  It also puts in doubt the suspects’ right to be presumed innocent.”

They added: “We urge Chile to refrain from using the anti-terrorism law to deal with events that occurred in the context of social protests by Mapuche peoples seeking to claim their rights.”

The experts also stressed that legislation against terrorism had to be precisely worded to ensure that it applied only to situations that truly threatened national security.

“The anti-terrorism law must be revised to avoid using undefined legal terms, as they allow its application to situations that should be regulated by the ordinary justice system,” they added.

“The application of anti-terrorism legislation weakens the possibility of a fair trial and makes it less likely that the truth of what happened will be established.”

Chile had previously given assurances that the anti-terrorism law would not be used against Mapuche community members, they added, noting that this was not the first time that human rights concerns had been raised over the issue.

ENDS

*The UN experts: Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of indigenous peoples; the Working Group on Arbitrary DetentionMs. Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism.

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For inquiries and media requests, please contact Ms. Christine Evans (+41 22 917 9197 / cevans@ohchr.org), Ms. Hee-Kyong Yoo (+41 22 917 97 23 / hyoo@ohchr.org),  or  write to indigenous@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Bryan Wilson – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 / 
mediaconsultant2@ohchr.org

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

Source: OHCHR.org

UN Committee on Migrant Workers to review Ecuador

31 de August, 2017

 

Foto: UN Photo/Sylvain LiechtiGENEVA (31 August 2017) –The UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW*) is meeting in Geneva from 4 to 13 September to review: Ecuador, Indonesia and Mexico.

The above are among the 51 States Parties to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. They are required to submit regular reports to the Committee, which is composed of 14 international independent human rights experts.

The Committee will discuss a range of issues relating to the implementation of the Convention with the respective government delegations. The opening of the 27th session will start on 4 September at 10:00 am and will be held at Palais Wilson in Geneva.

The dialogues with States parties will start on 4 September at 15:15 to 18:00 Geneva time and resume the following day from 10:00 to 13:00. The consideration of the reports will take place as follows:  Ecuador on 4 (pm) and 5 (am) September, Indonesia on 5 (pm) and 6 (am) September and Mexico on 6 (pm) and 7 (am) September. 

The sessions will be webcast at http://webtv.un.org/.

Members will also hear from NGO representatives, national human rights institutions, UN bodies and specialised agencies. More information can be found here.

The Committee will publish its recommendations here on 15 September 2017.

For media accreditation please go here.

ENDS

 

For media requests please contact Nicoleta Panta, +41(0) 22 9179310 / npanta@ohchr.org

 

Background

*The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families is the most comprehensive international instrument to date on migrant workers. It provides a set of international standards to address (a) the treatment, welfare and rights of migrant workers and members of their families and (b) the obligations and responsibilities of States involved. These include sending States, States of transit, and host States, all of which benefit from the international migration of workers. Bilateral and regional agreements are important, but insufficient in addressing this global issue.

The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families seeks to play a role in preventing and eliminating the exploitation of all migrant workers and members of their families throughout the entire migration process. In particular, it helps prevent illegal or clandestine recruitment and trafficking of migrant workers. For more information about the UN Committee on Migrant Workers go here.

“There is no valid excuse not to ratify the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance” – UN experts

30 de August, 2017

Foto: ACNUDHGENEVA (29 August) – At a time when enforced disappearance is practiced in every region, and in many countries is increasing, a group of UN human rights experts* urge all Member States to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

To mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the UN experts highlight: “It is inadmissible that in 2017, enforced disappearances continue to happen. Every day we receive new cases of persons subjected to enforced disappearances across the world. When this happens, the life of entire families breaks in pieces and the very fabric of the society is damaged. This needs to end, and by ratifying the Convention, States can start the path towards achieving this aim”.

“There is no valid excuse for this Convention not to become universally ratified,” said Suela Janina, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances. “Following the ratification, States should introduce new legislation and ensure its application in practice”.

The Convention provides States with a basis for the establishment of a solid legal framework in the areas of prevention, punishment, reparation and non-recurrence of enforced disappearances as well as with a tool to protect disappeared persons and their relatives.

“By ratifying it, States are a step closer to ending this horrendous crime, ensuring justice for the victims and fight against impunity. Our aim is to double the number of States parties to the Convention in the next five years”, added Suela Janina.

The Convention also establishes the obligations for States to hold persons deprived of their liberty in officially recognized places of detention, to disclose their whereabouts and to provide accurate and prompt information on their detention to their family, their counsel, or other persons with a legitimate interest.

The Chair of the Working Group, Houria Es-Slami emphasized: “Relatives have a right, as victims themselves, to know the truth about the circumstances of the enforced disappearance, the whereabouts of their loved ones, the progress and results of the investigation, and ultimately the fate of the disappeared person”.

The UN experts also expressed their concern at the shrinking of democratic space for relatives and human rights defenders working on enforced disappearances, underlining the obligation of States to ensure that they can conduct their work effectively and without fear.

“We are extremely concerned that we continue to receive reports of acts of intimidation, threats, stigmatization and reprisals against those who work to shed light on cases of enforced disappearances. They should be helped and protected rather than threatened”, stressed Houria Es-Slami.

“We reaffirm our solidarity with and support to the victims of enforced disappearance, their relatives and those helping them in their struggle for truth and justice. The Committee and the Working Group will continue their work with resolve and determination to assist victims in the search for their loved ones”, concluded the experts.

ENDS

For media requests please contact:

Nicoleta Panta, +41(0) 22 9179310/npanta@ohchr.org

—————————————————————————————————————-

(*) The joint statement was issued by the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

 

For more information, log on to:
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx
Committee on Enforced Disappearances: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CED/Pages/CEDIndex.aspx

To download forms to submit urgent actions to the Committee on Enforced Disappearances: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CED/C/4&Lang=en

To download forms to submit urgent actions to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, please consult the section “How to report a case of enforced disappearance” from the main website: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx

 

Read the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CED/Pages/ConventionCED.aspx

 

For more information and media requests, please contact:
Ugo Cedrangolo (+41 22 917 9286 / ucedrangolo@ohchr.org) or write to wgeid@ohchr.org
Maria Giovanna Bianchi (+41 22 917 9189 / mgbianchi@ohchr.org) or write to ced@ohchr.org

 

Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en

 

Venezuela: Human rights violations indicate ‘policy to repress’ – UN report

30 de August, 2017

Foto: UN Photo/Jean-Marc FerréGENEVA (30 August 2017) – Extensive human rights violations and abuses have been committed in the context of anti-Government protests in Venezuela and point to “the existence of a policy to repress political dissent and instil fear in the population to curb demonstrations,” a report* by the UN Human Rights Office has found.

“The generalized and systematic use of excessive force during demonstrations and the arbitrary detention of protestors and perceived political opponents indicate that these were not the illegal or rogue acts of isolated officials,” the report says.
The report calls on the UN Human Rights Council to consider taking measures to prevent the human rights situation in Venezuela, currently a Council member, from worsening.

Analysis by the UN Human Rights Office indicates that of the 124 deaths linked to the protests being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office as of 31 July, the security forces were reportedly responsible for 46 and pro-Government armed groups, known as armed colectivos, for 27. Responsibility for the remaining 51 deaths has not yet been determined.

During the period covered by the report, 1 April to 31 July, the Attorney-General’s Office opened investigations into at least 1,958 cases of reported injuries in the context of demonstrations. The report’s analysis of injuries shows the use of force progressively escalated. In the first half of April, the majority of injuries were from inhaling tear gas; by July, medical personnel were treating gunshot injuries.

“The policies pursued by the authorities in their response to the protests have been at the cost of Venezuelans’ rights and freedoms,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. “The Government must ensure there are prompt, independent and effective investigations of the human rights violations allegedly committed by the security forces and of the abuses involving armed colectivos or violent protesters. This includes ensuring that the investigations initiated by the Attorney General during the period covered by this report continue and are scrupulously and visibly impartial,” he stressed.  
“The right to peaceful assembly was systematically violated, with protestors and people identified as political opponents detained in great numbers. The report also identifies serious violations of due process and patterns of ill-treatment, in some cases amounting to torture,” Zeid said.

According to reliable estimates from a local NGO, more than 5,000 people were detained since 1 April, with more than 1,000 reportedly still held as of 31 July. At least 609 civilians arrested in the context of protests were presented before military tribunals. The report calls on the Government to halt arbitrary detention and the use of military courts to try civilians.

Loosely organised groups of anti-Government protestors resorted to violent means, using improvised weapons ranging from rocks and slingshots to Molotov cocktails and homemade mortars, the report says. At least four people were allegedly killed by anti-Government groups or individuals and, according to the Government, nine members of the security forces had been killed as of 31 July. The report calls on the opposition parties to condemn all acts of violence, in particular when these originated from groups of violent protesters.

The report documents attacks against journalists and media workers by security forces that were apparently aimed at preventing them from covering demonstrations. “Demonstrators and journalists were labelled by high-level authorities as ‘enemies’ and ‘terrorists’ – words that did little to counter, and may even have contributed to, the climate of violence and polarization,” the High Commissioner said. 

While acknowledging that the number of demonstrations, detentions and deaths have decreased since 1 August, Zeid expressed concern about recent measures taken by authorities to criminalize leaders of the political opposition through the Commission of Truth, Justice and Peace.

“The Commission, recently established by the Constituent Assembly, does not meet the basic requirements of transparency and impartiality, to conduct investigations that are independent and free from political motivation on human rights violations and abuses,” he said.

The High Commissioner warned that amid continuing economic and social crises and rising political tensions, there is a grave risk the situation in Venezuela will deteriorate further.

“I encourage the Venezuelan Government to follow up on the recommendations made in the report and to use its findings as guidelines to seek truth and justice for the victims of human rights violations and abuses. I once again call on the Government to renounce any measure that could increase political tension in the country and appeal to all parties to pursue meaningful dialogue to bring an end to this crisis,” Zeid said.

ENDS

*As the Venezuelan Government did not respond to requests for access, a team of human rights investigators conducted remote monitoring from 6 June to 31 July. The report is based on their analysis of the information they gathered, including through some 135 interviews with victims and their families, witnesses, civil society organisations, journalists, lawyers, doctors, first responders and the Attorney General’s Office.

Read the full report here: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/VE/HCReportVenezuela_1April-31July2017_EN.pdf

Video interview with Hernán Vales, UN Human Rights Officer, about the report.  Link available for download for 7 days: https://we.tl/GpcWWlSXpP

For more information and media requests, please contact:
Rupert Colville – + 41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org
Liz Throssell – + 41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org 
Ravina Shamdasani + 41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today.  #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org 

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OHCHR Representative carried out human rights activities in Argentina

22 de August, 2017

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaSANTIAGO (22 August de 2017) – On 16-18 August he Representative for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra, carried out a visit to Buenos Aires (Argentina). The visit included various activities and bilateral meetings with authorities and experts in the area.

Presentations

On 17 August, Mr. Incalcaterra participated in an event on business and human rights, organized by the National Ombuds Office. The activity gathered over 300 attendants, including civil servants, representatives of companies and civil society organizations. Citing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Mr. Incalcaterra highlighted the importance of the prevention and mitigation of negative impacts of business activities. The member of the UN Working Group on business and human rights, Mr. Dante Pesce, was also a speaker.

The Regional Representative also participated in the launch of the National Voluntary Review of Argentina on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development in the country. The event was attended by representatives from all State entities and the UN Country Team in Argentina. Mr. Incalcaterra emphasized on the relevance of honouring the country’s human rights commitments during the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Bilateral meetings

During the trip, Mr. Incalcaterra met with Argentina’s Viceminister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Daniel Raimondi, in order to exchange ideas on the human rights situation in the region and also on the different activities carried out by OHCHR in the country.

He also held a meeting with the team of the National Human Rights Secretariat and his head, Mr. Claudio Avruj, to analyse matters of common interest and share concerns such as information received by the Regional Office on the situation of Mr. Santiago Maldonado, a young man who has recently disappeared in the province of Chubut.

On the same matter, Mr. Incalcaterra dialogued with the president of the Human Rights Commission of the National House of Representatives, Ms. Victoria Donda. They also analysed the human rights agenda of the Commission she leads.

During his visit, the Regional Representative also held a meeting with Mr. Santiago Cantón, Human Rights Secretary of the Buenos Aires province, on different issues and human rights situation in the province.

Additionally, Mr. Incalcaterra engaged in dialogue with Ms. Andrea Pochak, general director of human irghts of the Fiscal Public Ministry, on cooperation activities between this body and the Public Ministry of Chile, as well as on the ongoing investigation on the Santiago Maldonado case.

The OHCHR Representative finally held a meeting with Ms. Verónica Gómez, director of the master programme on human rights of the International Centre for Political Studies of the National University of San Martín, in order to strengthen cooperation ties between both institutions and to advance the programme of joint activities to be carried out in the near future.

ENDS

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Chile/Decriminalization of abortion: UN Human Rights Office submits report to Constitutional Court

17 de August, 2017

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaSANTIAGO (14 August 2017) – The Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) submitted today a report on international human rights standards to the Constitutional Court of Chile. The report was submitted in the context of the analysis by the aforementioned court of a request to declare unconstitutional the draft bill regulating the decriminalization of the voluntary interruption of pregnancy under three circumstances (Boletín N° 9895-11).

In the document, the Regional Office points out a series of international standards applicable to the regulation of the voluntary interruption of pregnancy. Such standards are enshrined in binding treaties ratified by Chile, as well as in other instruments of international human right law, such as recommendations by UN treaty bodies and experts.

Against this background, the OHCHR Regional Office’s report recommends the Constitutional Court of Chile to reject the request to declare unconstitutional the referred draft legislation.

“We bring to the attention of the Constitutional Court of Chile a wide range of international human rights standards, so that they can be taken into consideration during the ongoing juridical-constitutional process”, said Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra, OHCHR representative in South America. “We hope that this report will contribute to the process of harmonizing the Chilean law regulating abortion with the international obligations assumed by the State”, he added.

The OHCHR representative also highlighted that several human rights bodies and experts have urged Chile to revise and modify the legislation that criminalizes the voluntary interruption of pregnancy under all circumstances, as well as to adopt measures to strengthen and protect the sexual and reproductive rights of women.

In addition, Mr. Incalcaterra recalled that in June 2015 –and jointly with the Pan-American Health Organization and the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the OHCHR Regional Office sent a communication to the Commission of Health of the Chile’s House of Representatives, seeking that the parliamentary discussion was based on international human rights standards.

ENDS

Read here the report submitted by OHCHR to the Constitutional Court of Chile (in Spanish): http://acnudh.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Informe-TC-FINAL.pdf

Additional information

– Chile: declaración de ACNUDH, OPS/OMS Y UNFPA sobre proyecto de ley de despenalización del aborto en tres causales (25/06/2015): http://acnudh.org/chile-declaracion-de-acnudh-opsoms-y-unfpa-sobre-proyecto-de-ley-de-despenalizacion-del-aborto-en-tres-causales/

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Committee against Torture adopts concluding observations on Paraguay

11 de August, 2017

Photo: UN WebTVGENEVA (11 August 2017) – The Committee against Torture today concluded its sixty-first session after adopting concluding observations and recommendations on the reports of Antigua and Barbuda, Ireland, Panama and Paraguay on the implementation of the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  

The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the reviewed countries are available on the session’s webpage.
 
Summarizing the sixty-first session, Jens Modvig, Committee Chairperson, said that the Committee had adopted concluding observations on Antigua and Barbuda, Ireland, Panama and Paraguay.  It had undertook follow-up activities under articles 19 and 22 of the Convention and in relation to reprisals, and examined relevant matters under article 20 of the Convention concerning confidential inquiries.  So far, the Committee had adopted 13 decisions on individual complaints and would continue their consideration later today.
 
Following the completion of the first reading of its revised draft General Comment on article 3 of the Convention concerning non-refoulement, and the public consultations with all relevant stakeholders that had taken place during the sixtieth session of the Committee in May 2017, the Committee had considered during the current session the many written and oral contributions from States, United Nations human rights mechanisms, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, specialized agencies, regional bodies, academia and civil society representatives, and Mr. Modvig thanked all those who had provided their written and oral inputs on the draft General Comment.
 
The Committee held separate joint meetings with the Human Rights Committee, facilitated by the Geneva Academy, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, and benefited from an expert workshop on overcrowding organized by Penal Reform International, el Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation.
 
The Chairperson thanked the World Organization against Torture for its coordination role vis-à-vis non-governmental organizations as well as other civil society representatives who had made a special contribution to the session.
 
Turning to the programme of work for the next session, Mr. Modvig said that it would include a thematic briefing on ill-treatment in psychiatric institutions organized by the Association for the Prevention of Torture; and a joint plenary meeting with the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; as well as a plenary meeting with regional courts.  Furthermore, the Committee woud continue the discussion of the draft General Comment on article 3 of the Convention on non-refoulement.
 
Live webcast of the Committee’s public meetings is available at http://webtv.un.org/ and comprehensive meetings coverage of all public meetings held during this session, including the country reviews, here.
 
The sixty-second session of the Committee against Torture will take place from 6 November to 6 December 2017 at the Palais Wilson in Geneva, during which the reports of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Mauritius, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda and Timor-Leste, available here, will be considered.

 __________

For use of the information media; not an official record

Source: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21963&LangID=E

 

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Venezuela sanctions would worsen plight of suffering people, UN expert warns

11 de August, 2017

GENEVA (11 August 2017) – Sanctions are not the answer to the growing crisis in Venezuela and the international community should not impose them, United Nations Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy has said.

“Sanctions would worsen the situation of the people of Venezuela, who are already suffering from crippling inflation and a lack of access to adequate food and medicine,” Mr. Jazairy said.

The expert highlighted that efforts that damage the economy will lead only to violations of the rights of ordinary people. “Sanctions are disruptive for any State, and can have a particularly devastating impact on the citizens of developing countries when they impair the economy”

“Dialogue is the foundation of the peaceful settlement of disputes,” Mr. Jazairy noted. “States should engage in constructive dialogue with the Government of Venezuela to find solutions to the very real challenges being faced.”

His call echoed the comments of the Spokesman for the UN Secretary General, who noted that Secretary General “is convinced that the Venezuelan crisis cannot be solved through the imposition of unilateral measures, but requires a political solution based on dialogue and compromise.”

The expert drew attention to the UN Declaration on the Principles of International Law concerning friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, which urges States to resolve their differences through dialogue and peaceful relations, and to avoid the use of economic, political or other measures to coerce another State in regard to the exercise of its sovereign rights.

“It is vital that States observe these principles, particularly in difficult times,” Mr. Jazairy stressed.

“I urge all countries to avoid applying sanctions unless approved by the United Nations Security Council, as required by the UN Charter,” the Special Rapporteur concluded.

Mr. Idriss Jazairy was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the first Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. He took office in May 2015. Mr. Jazairy has extensive experience in the fields of international relations and human rights with the Algerian Foreign Ministry, the UN human rights system and international NGOs. He holds a M.A. (Oxford) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and an M.P.A. (Harvard). He also graduated from the Ecole nationale d’Administration (France). Mr. Jazairy is the author of books and of a large number of articles in the international press on development, human rights and current affairs. 
 
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests, please contact Stee Asbjornsen (+41 22 917 9827 / sasbjornsen@ohchr.org ) or write to ucm@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

You can access this press release online

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today.#Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

Source: OHCHR

World still lagging on indigenous rights 10 years after historic declaration, UN experts warn

9 de August, 2017

Photo: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples – Wednesday 9 August 2017  

GENEVA / NEW YORK (7 August 2017) – The world’s indigenous peoples still face huge challenges a decade after the adoption of an historic declaration on their rights, a group of United Nations experts and specialist bodies has warned. Speaking ahead of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August, the group says States must put words into action to end discrimination, exclusion and lack of protection illustrated by the worsening murder rate of human rights defenders. 

The joint statement from the Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples reads as follows: 

“It is now 10 years since the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly, as the most comprehensive international human rights instrument for indigenous peoples. The Declaration, which took more than 20 years to negotiate, stands today as a beacon of progress, a framework for reconciliation and a benchmark of rights.  

But a decade on, we need to acknowledge the vast challenges that remain. In too many cases, indigenous peoples are now facing even greater struggles and rights violations than they did 10 years ago.  

Indigenous peoples still suffer from racism, discrimination, and unequal access to basic services including healthcare and education. Where statistical data is available, it shows clearly that they are left behind on all fronts, facing disproportionately higher levels of poverty, lower life expectancy and worse educational outcomes.  

Indigenous peoples face particularly acute challenges due to loss of their lands and rights over resources, which are pillars of their livelihoods and cultural identities.  

Indigenous women face double discrimination, both as women and as indigenous peoples. They are frequently excluded from decision-making processes and land rights, and many suffer violence. 

We call on all States to ensure that indigenous women fully enjoy their rights as enshrined in the Declaration and emphasize that their rights are a concern for all of us. 

The worsening human rights situation of indigenous peoples across the globe is illustrated by the extreme, harsh and risky working conditions of indigenous human rights defenders.  

Individuals and communities who dare to defend indigenous rights find themselves labelled as obstacles to progress, anti-development forces, and in some cases, enemies of the State or terrorists.  

They even risk death. Last year alone, some sources suggest that 281 human rights defenders were murdered in 25 countries – more than double the number who died in 2014. Half of them were working to defend land, indigenous and environmental rights.  

We urge States to protect indigenous human rights defenders. Crimes committed against them must be duly investigated and prosecuted, and those responsible brought to justice.  

Indigenous peoples are increasingly being drawn into conflicts over their lands, resources and rights. Lasting peace requires that States, with the support of the international community, establish conflict resolution mechanisms with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples’, in particular indigenous women. 

Many States still do not recognize indigenous peoples, and in particular indigenous women and youth still face a lack of official recognition and direct political participation. Even in States where laws are in place, the Declaration has not been fully implemented. 

It is high time to recognize and strengthen indigenous peoples’ own forms of governance and representation, in order to establish constructive dialogue and engagement with international and national authorities, public officials and the private sector. 

The minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world, as set out in the Declaration, must now be met.  

These include the rights to identity, language, health, education and self-determination, alongside the duty of States to consult and cooperate with indigenous peoples to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing measures that may affect them. 

The Declaration represents important shifts in both structure and the practice of global politics, and the last 10 years have seen some positive changes in the situation of indigenous peoples and greater respect for indigenous worldviews. 

But we still have a long way to go before indigenous peoples have full enjoyment of their human rights as expressed in the Declaration. We call on all States to close the gap between words and action, and to act now to deliver equality and full rights for all people from indigenous backgrounds.” 

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was established in July 2000, is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council, with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. The Forum is made up of 16 members acting in an individual capacity as independent experts on indigenous issues. Eight of the members are nominated by governments and eight by the President of ECOSOC, on the basis of broad consultation with indigenous groups. It is currently Chaired by Ms. Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine. 

The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was established in 2007 by the Human Rights Council as a subsidiary body of the Council. Its mandate is to provide the Council with expertise and advice on the rights of indigenous peoples as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to assist Member States, upon request, in achieving the ends of the Declaration through the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the rights of indigenous peoples. It is composed of seven independent experts serving in their personal capacities, and is currently chaired by Albert K. Barume. 

For more information and media requests, please contact: 

· For the Special Rapporteur: Ms. Christine Evans (+41 22 917 9197 / cevans@ohchr.org), Ms. Hee-Kyong Yoo (+41 22 917 97 23 / hyoo@ohchr.org), or write to indigenous@ohchr.org. 

· For the Permanent Forum: Ms. Martina Volpe Donlon (+1 212 963 6816 / donlon@un.org) or Ms. Mirian Masaquiza (+1 917 367 9607 / www.un.org/indigenous) 

· For the Expert Mechanism: Mr. Juan Fernando Núñez (+41 22 928 9458 / jnunez@ohchr.org) 

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: 

Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

You can access this media statement online 

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today.#Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

 

 

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers the report of Ecuador

9 de August, 2017

Photo: UN WebTVGENEVA (9 August 2017) – The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the combined twenty-third and twenty-fourth periodic report of Ecuador  on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
 
Presenting the report, Rosana Alvarado, Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Culture of Ecuador, said that the 2008 Constitution recognized the right of all communities in Ecuador to freely maintain, develop and strengthen their identity, sense of belonging, ancestral traditions and forms of social organizations, and their right not to be subject to racism or any form of discrimination on the basis of origin, ethnic or cultural identity.  It also recognized communities’ right to prior, informed and free consent regarding the programmes and plans of exploitation and commercialization of their renewable resources and lands.  The National Plan for Good Living (Buen Vivir) 2013-2017 had laid down strategic guidelines for public management and the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.  Significant affirmative actions for Ecuadorians of African descent and indigenous peoples had taken place.  
 
Rodrigo Collahuazo, President of the National Council for the Equality of Peoples and Nationalities, reaffirmed that Ecuador was building equality, plurality and interculturality.  The mobilization of indigenous peoples in June 1990 had called for the establishment of a plurinational Ecuador, of a new democracy and a new economy, leading to the drafting of a new Constitution that was based on rights and the principle of intercuturality.  The National Council for the Equality of Peoples and Nationalities protected indigenous peoples, the Montubios and Ecuadorians of African descent.  It brought together the State and civil society to produce cross-cutting public policies and to monitor their implementation.  
 
In the ensuing discussion, Experts commended the efforts of the Ecuadorian State to recognize collective rights, namely those of indigenous peoples, the Montubios and Afro-Ecuadorians.  They inquired about how indigenous identity was determined, the indigenous justice system and its relationship with the ordinary justice system, the right to free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples, the situation of environmental activists, the implementation of the National Plan for Buen Vivir (Good Living), the structural link between poverty and discrimination, the promotion of stereotypes in the media, the availability of education in indigenous languages, administrative barriers for migrants and refugees, labour conditions of migrant workers, human trafficking, the concept of universal citizenship, evictions from indigenous ancestral lands and land ownership, recognition of indigenous marriages, the right to material equality, granting of water exploitation licenses, racial discrimination complaints, statelessness, and the possibility to invoke the Convention in indigenous courts.      
 
In her concluding remarks, Ms. Alvarado thanked Experts for their interest in Ecuador and the Government’s achievements.  She noted that the new legislative architecture was in place, but it was up to the society to combat discrimination, poverty, and lack of opportunity through economic policies.  Globally, Ecuador had spoken against tax havens which impeded the fight against poverty.  The main wealth came from taxes coming from the people who were able to contribute, and not from the most vulnerable groups.  
 
Pastor Elias Murillo Martinez, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Ecuador, commended Ecuador for having undergone a true citizen revolution in the past decade, with great strides taken in all social indicators, especially in eliminating extreme poverty.  He also welcomed the principle of universal citizenship, positive action measures for vulnerable populations, and ensuring that water remained a sovereign resource.     
 
Anastasia Crickley, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation and civil society for their participation in the dialogue, and she acknowledged Ecuador’s contribution to the Durban Conference, and its commitment to global tax justice.  
 
The delegation of Ecuador consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Human Rights and Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, the Public Attorney’s Office, and the Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations Office at Geneva.  
 
The Committee will next meet in public today at 3 p.m. to start considering the combined first and second periodic report of Djibouti (CERD/C/DJI/1-2).   
 
Report
 
The combined twenty-third and twenty-fourth periodic report of Ecuador can be read here: CERD/C/ECU/23-24.
 
Presentation of the Report
 
ROSANA ALVARADO, Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Culture of Ecuador, said that in 2008 the Ecuadorian people had voted to adopt a new Constitution, conforming plurinational Ecuador.  The new Constitution allowed for the participation of women and indigenous peoples, and it recognized the rights of communities, peoples and nationalities as an important part of the Ecuadorian State.  It recognized their right to freely maintain, develop and strengthen their identity, sense of belonging, ancestral traditions and forms of social organizations, and their right not to be subject to racism or any form of discrimination on the basis of origin, ethnic or cultural identity.  It also recognized communities’ right to prior, informed and free consent regarding the programmes and plans of exploitation and commercialization of their renewable resources and lands, as well as to receive compensation for the social, cultural and environmental consequences of such exploitation.  Ecuador protected all of its peoples and nationalities.  Plurinational Ecuador was based on the concept of Sumak Kawsay or Buen Vivir (Good Living), which was a collective ancestral concept for achieving full life.  That concept allowed for a national dialogue about public policies from the point of view of plurinationality and interculturality.  The National Plan for Good Living (Buen Vivir) 2013-2017 had laid down strategic guidelines for public management and the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.  Significant affirmative actions for Ecuadorians of African descent and indigenous peoples had taken place.  In 2016 Afro-Ecuadorians, Montubios and indigenous peoples represented 11 per cent of public servants.  
 
The Criminal Code criminalized any form of distinction, restriction, exclusion or preference based on nationality, ethnicity, place of birth, age, gender and sexual orientation, cultural identity, civil status, language, religion, ideology, socio-economic conditions, migration status, disability or health condition.  If acts of discrimination were carried out by a State official, they resulted in a prison sentence of three to five years in prison.  The Criminal Code also criminalized acts of hatred, which carried a prison sentence of 22 to 26 years if they led to the death of a person.  Significant progress had been made in the access of indigenous peoples, Montubios and Afro-Ecuadorians to health services.  In May 2017, the Government had adopted programme “Toda una Vida” to address the issues faced by vulnerable groups, such indigenous peoples, Afro-Ecuadorians, Montubios, women and children.  In 2006, the poverty rate among persons of African descent stood at almost 50 per cent, whereas it nowadays stood at 30.8 per cent.  The primary school attendance rate among Afro-Ecuadorians stood at 88 per cent in 2006, whereas in 2015 it had risen to 95.4 per cent.    
 
As part of the Government’s efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination, guarantees had been made for the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.  The Law on Human Mobility of 2017 stipulated that the State should promote policies that allowed persons in mobility access to education and scholarships.  In Ecuador all persons enjoyed the same rights and foreigners gained the right to vote after five years of residence.  Ecuador was home to 60,500 recognized refugees, while another 200,000 were seeking refugee status.  In that context the Government had recognized the need to develop awareness-raising campaigns in order to fight xenophobia and to contribute to the construction of universal citizenship.  The Government had taken measures to ensure that indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolations, such as the Tagaeri and Taromenane, were treated adequately and with respect.  The Government was committed to continue establishing legal and political mechanisms to ensure the collective rights of peoples and nationalities, Ms. Alvarado concluded.   
 
RODRIGO COLLAHUAZO, President of the National Council for the Equality of Peoples and Nationalities, reaffirmed that Ecuador was building equality, plurality and interculturality.  The mobilization of indigenous peoples in June 1990 had called for the establishment of a plurinational Ecuador, of a new democracy and a new economy.  They had called for the drafting of a new Constitution resting on the rights and the principle of intercuturality.  The National Council for the Equality of Peoples and Nationalities protected the Montubio peoples and Ecuadorians of African descent.  The Council brought together the State and civil society to produce cross-cutting public policies and to monitor their implementation.  It was made up of delegates from all the branches of the Government – the executive, judiciary, legislative, electoral, and transparency and social control.  In addition, there were five representatives of indigenous peoples and nationalities.  The fundamental pillars of the Council’s agenda for 2017-2021 were: land and territories, collective rights, administration and access to justice, rights of Buen Vivir (Good  Living), economic rights, rights of participation, communication and information, and plurinationality and interculturality.  The Council’s challenges included empowerment of the Council’s agenda, commitment of all peoples of Ecuador to build a plurinational and intercultural country, eradication of racism and discrimination, and contribution to the International Decade for People of African Descent.
 
Questions by the Country Rapporteur
 
PASTOR ELIAS MURILLO MARTINEZ, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Ecuador, raised questions about people of African descent, who made up 7.2 per cent of the population.  They were mostly present in the province of Esmeraldas.  The Montubios were a mixture of various peoples and lived mainly in the rural areas.  What criteria was used in defining indigenous nationalities and how many existed?   
 
The new political charter of Ecuador recognized the country’s national and cultural diversity.  Hate crimes had gained constitutional standing.  The Constitution recognized the concept of indigenous jurisdiction, which was a significant achievement.  Did the State have any statistics on hate crimes and how many cases had been tried, including information on sentences?  Did Ecuadorian legislation provide for a redress mechanism for hate crimes?  
 
The Constitution recognized the right to land for indigenous peoples and Afro-Ecuadorians.  What was the land distribution in that respect?  How many prior consultations with indigenous communities had been held?  How did indigenous jurisdiction work in practice?  What status did it have in legislation?  What was the situation of environmental activists and their relationship to prior consultations?  What were safety measures for corporation extraction activities in Ecuador?
 
The National Plan for Buen Vivir (Good Living) had benefited from the high prices of oil, leading to significant leaps forward in many areas.  Persons with disabilities had benefited greatly in terms of employment.  How did Ecuador plan to attain the goals outlined in the National Plan for Buen Vivir?  What role did indigenous peoples play in national debates?  There were some challenges, such as the early rupture between the Government of Raphael Correa and indigenous peoples over water resources.   There were also the effects of the global financial crisis.  
 
Political parties also had an impact on the attainment of goals and the sustainability of the citizens’ revolution.  How successful was the citizens’ revolution?  In spite of social gains, there was no narrowing of gaps.  Development was running along two different tracks: one for the lucky and another one for the common person.  There was a social gap between indigenous peoples and the white and mestizo population, and inequalities had not been reduced.  What were the social indicators for the evaluation of poverty and employment?  What did the State party intend to do to remove the structural link between poverty and discrimination?  
 
According to alternative reports, the State had failed to protect the right to free and prior consent of indigenous peoples within the framework of extractive industries.   Oil exploration licences covered 100 per cent of the territories of indigenous peoples.  What concrete measures had been adopted to reverse that situation?  Development and diversity were in conflict in Ecuador.   
 
Ecuador recognized the right to migrate through the adoption in 2017 of a law on human mobility.  However, some 56.5 per cent of Ecuadorians believed that there were too many foreigners in the country.  How was the State implementing the Law on Human Mobility?  Were deportation visas still in use?
 
What measures had the State party taken to eradicate in the media all those programmes that promoted stereotypes and wrongful views of multiculturality and diversity of the country?  
 
Questions by Experts
 
Experts raised the issue of distancing between the indigenous movement and the Government of Raphael Correa over the management of water resources.  The activities of indigenous leaders had been criminalized.  Were there any indigenous leaders in prison?  How long did they spend in pre-trial detention? 
 
Currently, there was only representation of five indigenous peoples.  Was the Government considering the return of indigenous representatives as advisers?  
 
The National Plan for Good Living 2013-2017 had closed bilingual schools in rural areas.  Did the Government intend to establish a new form of education from which indigenous populations could benefit from, especially in indigenous languages?  The closing of bilingual schools could lead to cultural assimilation.  
 
Experts also raised the issue of indigenous peoples’ right to prior, free and informed consent regarding oil and other extractive licences granted in their territories.  The State had failed to comply with that principle.  Extractive companies had come into conflict with indigenous communities who lived in voluntary isolation in the Amazon area, leading to serious loss of lives in those communities.  The inhabitants of the Yasuni national park had not been asked to grant their consent.  
 
Experts commended the State party’s 2017 Law on Human Mobility as a universal achievement.  Despite that approach, there were still administrative barriers for migrants and refugees to access basic services, such as education, healthcare and unemployment.   What was the Government doing to improve the situation?  What was the situation of stateless persons?  How vulnerable were Afro-Colombian children to school bullying?  What were the labour conditions of migrant workers?  
 
There was continued concern about trafficking of women to and from Ecuador for the purpose of sexual exploitation.   Ecuador was a country of origin, transit and destination for victims of labour and sexual exploitation.  Most of them came from Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, China, Pakistan, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Haiti.  What had the State party done to combat human trafficking?  Was there a good level of knowledge about human trafficking in Ecuador?   
 
What challenges and progress had been made with respect to the implementation of the universal citizenship?  There had been information that universal citizenship had not been applied in an equal manner for Haitians, Cubans and Colombians.  What was the status of the detained and deported Cubans and Haitians?
 
GUN KUT, Committee Expert and Follow-up Rapporteur, reminded that the Committee had requested the State party to provide information within one year on its follow-up on the situation of indigenous peoples, the Montubios and Afro-Ecuadorians, and on harmonizing national and indigenous justice systems.  The State party had not replied to that request.  
 
What programmes had contributed to the decrease in the poverty rate among Afro-Ecuadorians?  What was the extent of the inclusive nature of the State administration?  Were there any Afro-Ecuadorians in senior decision-making positions?  What was the representation of indigenous peoples in elected posts?
 
To what extent was the cultural heritage of Afro-Ecuadorians given the same attention as the cultural heritage of indigenous peoples?  
 
There was a concern that development undermined diversity because multinational corporations were allowed to exploit the lands historically owned by indigenous peoples.  
 
How was the indigenous justice system implemented and how was it different from the ordinary justice system?  What kind of cooperation and coordination mechanisms existed between the two systems?  Why were indigenous marriages not recognized?  What kind of sentences had been passed in cases of racial discrimination?    
 
How did the State party guarantee the rights of domestic workers?  Were they victims of racial discrimination?  Were labour inspections carried out in middle-class and upper-class neighbourhoods?   
 
How did the State party treat the customary law of the Roma people?  
 
Experts recognized the efforts of the Ecuadorian State to recognize collective rights, namely those of indigenous peoples, the Montubios and Afro-Ecuadorians.  What were the criteria used for the adoption of positive action measures?  What was the right to material equality and how was it ensured?  
 
What was culturally relevant obstetric care, and what was the relationship between ancestral and ordinary medicine?
 
Could the provisions of the Convention be invoked before indigenous courts in the same way as before ordinary courts?  
 
What were the legal grounds for the eviction of indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands?  Were they compensated?  
 
What procedures had been established in cases of stereotypes and hate speech towards migrant workers and what kind of sentences had been handed down?  Were there cases of multiple discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation?
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
ROSANA ALVARADO, Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Culture of Ecuador, stressed that significant progress had been recorded in poverty reduction in Ecuador measured by various criteria.  Some 1.8 million people had been able to improve their situation.  
 
The National Secretariat for Water (SENAGUA) was headed by indigenous peoples, whereas the chair of the transparency and social control branch of the Government was an Afro-Ecuadorian women.  That testified to the commitment of the Government to hold a broad dialogue with all sectors of the society.  There was some exaggerated information about the arrest of indigenous leaders.  Out of 19 cases, eight had been acquitted.
 
Ms. Alvardo explained that if measured by income, the reduction of poverty amounted to 23 per cent.  In 2016 for the first time the Montubios and Afro-Ecuadorians had improved their situation vis-à-vis the white and mestizo population.  Extreme poverty had been halved.  The indigenous population had benefited most from that reduction of poverty.  However, indigenous peoples were more vulnerable in terms of food security.  According to the criterion of meeting basic needs, a nation-wide reduction of poverty had also been observed.  The past decade had seen the period of the greatest development for the most excluded and vulnerable groups in the country.  
 
The illiteracy rate for indigenous peoples had dropped from some 26 to about 16 per cent, whereas their school attendance, enrolment and completion had increased.  The indigenous peoples, the Montubios and Afro-Ecuadorians received greater attention by the Government in the area of education and housing.  There was no set formula for social public investment, but the Government applied the principle of tax justice.  With respect to progress in healthcare, the principle of ethnic self-identification was used to provide culturally specific healthcare services.  
 
Actions to protect indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation had been recognized internationally, and Ecuador was one of the leaders in that respect.  An executive decree of 2007 had defined the intangible area boundary across two Ecuadorian provinces, and a national policy had been drafted in 2007 to benefit the Tagaeri and Taromenane, and to protect their ancestral lands.  A plan of action for the intangible area sought to increase the number of check points at the intangible area boundary, conduct relevant training for the military to prevent the entry of third parties into the area, and to prevent hunting, fishing and logging in the area.  
 
The delegation explained that Ecuador had become a rather stable country due to deep-rooted changes.  In just 10 years it had nearly eradicated extreme poverty and had included indigenous peoples and Afro-Ecuadorians in the new development scheme.  Neo-liberalism had brought to Ecuador a devastating effect whereby poverty had become unbearable.  The 2008 Constitution enshrined water as a human right which would not be privatised.  Previously there had been a heightened grabbing of natural resources, including of water.  Historically, water management was extremely unfair in terms of access and distribution.  Capital was concentrated in the hands of a few who denied the access to water to others.  Since 2007 the Government had taken great strides to change the setting of the country and to recognize the rights of nature.  Ecuador was worried about the future effects of climate change on its population, which was why it aimed to end marginalization and exclusion, to regularize and legalize the use of water through licences, and to counter water waste.  The National Water Secretariat (SENAGUA) had the strongest ties with the indigenous and Montubio communities in the country.  Its goal was to provide quality water for all, to implement the integrated management of water resources through cross-border river basin councils, and to manage water risk.  The Secretariat worked together with all communities to democratize access to water.
 
RODRIGO COLLAHUAZO, President of the National Council for the Equality of Peoples and Nationalities, noted that despite the progress made in Ecuador, much remained to be done.  For example, the peoples and nationalities of Ecuador were still negatively affected by the activities of the Chevron corporation in the Amazon area.   There were 14 indigenous nationalities in Ecuador, in addition to the Montubios and Afro-Ecuadorians.  However, they were not the only ones who fought against discrimination and racism; that was the job of all.  
 
Speaking of the harmonization of indigenous and ordinary justice systems, Mr. Collahuazo stressed that there was a need for political will and proper implementation of public policies, in contrast to previous Ecuadorian Governments’ acceptance of the policies recommended by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.  
 
The delegation underlined Ecuador’s commitment to international efforts to combat racial discrimination.  Ecuador was very active in the process leading up to the adoption of the International Decade for People of African Descent, as well as of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Tax justice was essential for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  
 
The Law on Human Mobility was without doubt an example of good practice to be emulated internationally.  It stipulated the principle of universal citizenship, prohibition of criminalization of human mobility, equality before the law, and non-discrimination.  In Ecuador the comprehensive protection of rights was the guiding principle for the Government’s struggle against discrimination.  Ecuador had positive actions favouring people in human mobility.  Ecuador had received 200,000 refugee requests, whereas it had granted 60,500.  The Government did not impose any restrictions on human mobility.  It had organized an awareness raising campaign for documenting migrants, especially of Haitian and Dominican nationals.  Supporting the rights of Ecuadorians abroad was part of the Government’s migration policy.  
 
Ecuador was one of the first countries to have enforced an indigenous system of justice. Every person had guaranteed access to justice and legal counsel.  The Constitution safeguarded indigenous justice.  Each indigenous community appointed an authority which administered justice in line with their own tradition.  Indigenous justice was a participative approach, which included the participation of women.  The rulings of indigenous courts were respected by national institutions in order to avoid double sentencing.  Ordinary judges did not try indigenous cases in order to respect the independence of indigenous appointments and rulings of their courts.  As for the possibility to challenge the decisions made by indigenous courts, the Constitutional Court could only analyse them.  
  
Follow-up Questions by Experts
 
PASTOR ELIAS MURILLO MARTINEZ, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Ecuador, raised the issue of the lack of guarantees and assurances to protect the right of people to demonstrate.  There had been tensions with indigenous peoples, leading to the mushrooming of court cases.  Were the pardons and court acquittals part of the new Government’s policy?
 
What had happened with the enforcement of the 2012 decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the Sarayaku v. Ecuador case regarding the right of the Sarayaku Kichwa people to free, prior and informed consent on the exploitation of their lands?
 
How did land ownership function in Ecuador?  Some 82 per cent of farmers actually did not own the land they worked on, Mr. Martinez noted.
 
An Expert reminded that the executive could grant water exploitation licenses.  Who ensured that exploitation licenses would not be granted to private entities?  
 
Over 100 people had been tried for the crimes of halting public services, sabotage and rebellion.  The Public Prosecutor was concerned that the judicial system had tried highly vulnerable persons, namely indigenous leaders.  
 
One Expert reminded that in its 2012 observations the Committee had noted that when citizens in Ecuador had presented racial discrimination complaints before the courts, they had been rejected, especially when they had been indigenous peoples, Montubios and Afro-Ecuadorians.  
 
Administrative barriers prevented migrants and refugees to access basic services, such as education, healthcare and employment.  There was no process for statelessness.  How did the Government work with those cases?  What measures had the Government taken to counter bullying and racism in schools against children of African descent?
 
How were adequate labour conditions for refugee women ensured?  How many cases of human trafficking had been tried?  How long did migrants stay in the reception centre Hotel Carrión?
 
When people did not have a land deed, on what grounds were they evicted?  Did the State party intend to take legal measures to institutionalize coordination between indigenous and ordinary justice systems?  Could the provisions of the Convention be invoked in indigenous courts?
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
The delegation explained that in 1994 under a conservative Government a law had been passed which had put an end to collective indigenous territories and that had privatised water.  The indigenous movement rose up and managed to take out the issue of water from that law.  However, the law had been passed with the support of the World Bank.  According to the 2008 Constitution, ancestral lands could not be sold and divided. 
 
As for individual landownership in Ecuador, the Government had been issuing a large amount of land deeds to indigenous peoples, Montubios and Afro-Ecuadorians.  The Government aimed to award 5,000 land deeds in the first 100 days.
 
Concerning the 2012 Sarayaku v. Ecuador case, the Ecuadorian Government itself had asked for the oversight of enforcement of the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.  The public hearing on compliance had taken place in September 2016.  The State had presented all relevant information to dialogue with the indigenous community, and it had met the standard of compliance established by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.  The Inter-American Court had recognized that Ecuador was the first regional country to recognize the right to free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples.          
 
ROSANA ALVARADO, Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Culture of Ecuador, stressed that social protests in Ecuador could not be criminalized, unless public services and property had been damaged.  She reminded that hate crimes and crimes of discrimination were criminalized in Ecuador, whereas aggravating circumstances were applied when they were committed by State officials.  The current justice system was lagging behind due to previous problems.  Nevertheless, it aimed to apply the principle of equal treatment before the law.  
 
As for complaints of hate crimes and racial discrimination, sometimes swift processes were applied depending on the severity of crimes.  The Ecuadorian State had resolved one case of severe racial discrimination within the military.  It had previously been unthinkable to have persons of African descent in the Ecuadorian diplomacy, whereas nowadays it was considered normal.  
 
The delegation agreed that legislative changes did not immediately lead to cultural changes.  The Law on Human Mobility was being disseminated in the public.  School bullying was a concern and recently the Government had started a comprehensive campaign on school bullying, focusing on xenophobia and racism.  As for deportations, in July 2016 Cuban citizens had requested means to go to the United States.  It was impossible for Ecuador to meet that request.  The reception centre (Hotel Carrión) for migrants had closed down.  
 
Indigenous courts had to respect the rights embodied in the Constitution, as well as the provisions of ratified international treaties.  According to the Constitution, nobody could be evicted from ancestral lands.  Evictions had been applied in cases of land invasion of non-ancestral lands.  There had been no formal complaints of discrimination involving the Roma in Ecuador.
 
ROSANA ALVARADO, Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Culture of Ecuador, clarified that indigenous marriages were recognized and respected.  However, all marriages had to be registered in the civil registry order to avoid child and early marriages.  Marriage was decoupled from ritual and ancestral indigenous traditions.
 
Statelessness was not a structural problem in Ecuador.  The Government advocated international protection of stateless persons.  There were no forced evictions of indigenous peoples, in line with the principle of universal citizenship.  
 
Concluding Remarks
 
PASTOR ELIAS MURILLO MARTINEZ, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Ecuador, commended Ecuador for having undergone a true citizen revolution in the past decade, with great strides taken in all social indicators, especially in eliminating extreme poverty.  He also welcomed the principle of universal citizenship and positive action measures for vulnerable populations, such as reparations, and ensuring that water remained a sovereign resource.  Notwithstanding the remaining internal political tensions, Ecuador had a promising future.     
 
ROSANA ALVARADO, Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Culture of Ecuador, thanked Committee Experts for their interest in Ecuador and the Government’s achievements.  She noted that the media played an important role in shaping reality, which was why the Government was vigilant of the prejudices and stereotypes that they could fuel.  The new legislative architecture was in place, but it was up to the society to combat discrimination, poverty, and lack of opportunity through economic policies.  Globally, Ecuador had spoken against tax havens which impeded the fight against poverty, and undermined human rights and democracy.  The main wealth came from taxes coming from the people who were able to contribute, and not from the most vulnerable groups.  
 
ANASTASIA CRICKLEY, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation and civil society for their participation in the dialogue, and she acknowledged Ecuador’s contribution to the Durban Conference, and its commitment to global tax justice.

_________

For use of the information media; not an official record

Source: OHCHR

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UN human rights team’s findings indicate patterns of rights violations amid protests in Venezuela

8 de August, 2017

OHCHR_logo_EN_blueGENEVA (8 August 2017) – Interviews conducted remotely by a UN human rights team paint a picture of widespread and systematic use of excessive force and arbitrary detentions against demonstrators in Venezuela. The team’s findings also indicate patterns of other human rights violations, including violent house raids, torture and ill-treatment of those detained in connection with the protests. 

In the absence of responses from the Venezuelan authorities to requests for access, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein deployed a team of human rights officers to conduct remote monitoring of the human rights situation in the country from 6 June to 31 July, including from Panama. The team conducted some 135 interviews with victims and their families, witnesses, civil society organisations, journalists, lawyers, doctors, first responders and the Attorney-General’s Office, and also received information in writing from the Ombudsperson’s Office. 

Witnesses spoke of security forces firing tear gas and buckshot at anti-Government protestors without warning. Several of the individuals interviewed said tear gas canisters were used at short range, and marbles, buckshot and nuts and bolts were used as ammunition. Security forces have reportedly also resorted to the use of deadly force against demonstrators. 

Witness accounts suggest that security forces, mainly the National Guard, the National Police and local police forces, have systematically used disproportionate force to instil fear, crush dissent, and to prevent demonstrators from assembling, rallying and reaching public institutions to present petitions. Government authorities have rarely condemned such incidents. 

As of 31 July, the Attorney General’s Office was investigating 124 deaths in the context of the demonstrations. According to the UN Human Rights team’s analysis, security forces are allegedly responsible for at least 46 of those deaths, while pro-Government armed groups, referred to as “armed colectivos” are reportedly responsible for 27 of the deaths. It is unclear who the perpetrators in the remaining deaths may be. The Attorney-General’s Office was also investigating at least 1,958 reported cases of injuries, although the actual number of people injured may be considerably higher. Information collected by the team suggests that armed colectivos routinely break into protests on motorcycles, wielding firearms and harassing or in some cases shooting at people. 

While no official data is available on the number of detentions, reliable estimates suggest that between April 1, when the mass demonstrations began, and 31 July, more than 5,051 people have been arbitrarily detained. More than 1,000 reportedly remain in detention. In several of the cases reviewed by the UN Human Rights Office, there were credible reports of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by security forces of such detainees, amounting in several cases to torture. Tactics used included electric shocks, beatings, including with helmets and sticks while handcuffed, hanging detainees by the wrists for long periods, suffocation with gas, and threats of killings – and in some cases threats of sexual violence – against the detainees or their families.  

“Since the wave of demonstrations began in April, there has been a clear pattern of excessive force used against protesters. Several thousand people have been arbitrarily detained, many reportedly subjected to ill-treatment and even torture, while several hundred have been brought before military rather than civilian courts,” said Zeid. “And these patterns show no signs of abating.” 

“These violations have occurred amid the breakdown of the rule of law in Venezuela, with constant attacks by the Government against the National Assembly and the Attorney-General’s Office,” Zeid added. “The responsibility for the human rights violations we are recording lies at the highest levels of Government.” 

The High Commissioner said the decision by the Constituent Assembly on 5 August to dismiss the Attorney-General was deeply worrying, and he urged the authorities to guarantee independent and effective investigations of human rights violations involving security forces and armed colectivos. He called on the authorities to heed the call of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, which has requested the State to take measures to ensure the protection of the former Attorney-General. 

High Commissioner Zeid also expressed serious concern about the many cases of violent and illegal house raids reported to the team. Victims and witnesses told the team that the raids were conducted without warrants, allegedly to weed out demonstrators. Reports also suggest that private property was destroyed during such raids. 

Journalists and media workers have indicated that security forces targeted them to prevent them from covering demonstrators. Journalists reported being shot at with tear gas canisters and buckshot, despite being clearly identified. They have been detained, threatened and have had their equipment stolen on several occasions. 

Some groups of demonstrators have also resorted to violence, with attacks reported against security officers. Eight officers have been killed in the context of the demonstrations.  

High Commissioner Zeid urged the authorities to immediately end the excessive use of force against demonstrators, to halt arbitrary detentions and to release all those arbitrarily detained. Zeid reminded the authorities that there is an absolute prohibition on the use of torture, under international human rights law. He also called for an end to the use of military justice to try civilians. 

“I call on all parties to work towards a solution to the rapidly worsening tensions in the country, to renounce the use of violence and to take steps towards meaningful political dialogue,” Zeid said. 

A full report with the team’s findings is scheduled to be released at the end of August this year. 

ENDS 

Source: OHCHR

For more information and media requests, please contact Ravina Shamdasani + 41 22 917 9169 /rshamdasani@ohchr.org  

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Venezuela must end systematic detentions and military trials for protesters – UN experts

4 de August, 2017

Photo: UN PhotoGENEVA (4 August 2017) – The Government of Venezuela must stop systematically detaining protesters and end the growing use of military tribunals to try civilians, a group of United Nations human rights experts* has said. 

The authorities must also respect the rights of all demonstrators and detainees, and guarantee their physical and psychological wellbeing, the independent experts said. 

“We are very concerned about allegations of arbitrary detention, and excessive and indiscriminate use of force in the context of public protests, as well as the use of military tribunals to prosecute civilians,” they stressed. 

“Such acts would openly violate people’s rights not to be arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, to receive due process and to be tried by a fair and impartial judge. In addition, they would constitute serious violations of people’s rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of expression.” 

Since April 2017, thousands of people have been deprived of their liberty after taking part in protests. Many of them have been temporarily isolated, unable to communicate with relatives or lawyers before being presented before a judge. In other cases, people were released after discretionary decisions by the security forces. 

“The Venezuelan Government has an obligation to ensure that citizens are not arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, or penalized in any way, for expressing themselves and protesting in a peaceful manner. Protests must not be criminalized,” said the experts.  

“The Government should also ensure that detention records are made public and are available to family members.” 

The experts also called for the immediate release of opposition leaders Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma, recently moved from house arrest to detention centres, highlighting that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has held both Mr. Lopez and Mr. Ledezma’s detentions to be a violation of their rights.  

The experts said the increasing use of military tribunals to try civilians was of particular concern. At least 400 protesters have been tried in this way, the vast majority of whom were deprived of their liberty after being found guilty of crimes in the military justice code, such as rebellion, treason and assault.  

“The use of military criminal justice should be strictly limited to cases where active military personnel commit military offences,” the experts underscored.  

“Military judicial bodies should, as a matter of principle, not be deemed competent to try civilians. Venezuela must ensure that civilians accused of criminal offences are tried by civilian courts.”  

They also expressed serious concern about allegations of excessive and indiscriminate use of force against demonstrators by state agents, and by so-called armed ‘collectives’ which have been accused of intimidation, assault, detentions and even causing protesters’ deaths.  

The human rights experts noted that many detainees had told court hearings that they had suffered torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.  

“We remind the Venezuelan Government of the absolute ban on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. These rules should govern the conduct of police and military forces at all times,” the experts said.  

The UN experts have communicated their concerns to the Venezuelan authorities and requested clarifications on their compliance with international law. 

(*) The experts: Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Chair-Rappourteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rappourteur on the promotion and protection of the right freedom of opinion and expressionMs. Annalisa Ciampi, Special Rappourteur on the rights tofreedom of peaceful assembly and of associationMr. Diego García-Sayán, Special Rappourteur on the independence of judges and lawyersMr. Nils Melzer, Special Rappourteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment  

The Working Groups and Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.  

UN Human Rights, country page: Venezuela  

For more information and media requests, please contact Margarita Nechaeva (+41 22 9289462 /mnechaeva@ohchr.org) or write to the Secretariat of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (wgad@ohchr.org)  

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: 

Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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Source: OHCHR

Human rights trampled in push to build infrastructure

3 de August, 2017

Op-Ed by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

3 August 2017

One year ago, we awoke to the shocking news of the murder in Honduras of Berta Cáceres, recipient of the 2015 Goldman environmental prize, in response to her campaign to stop the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam being built on indigenous Lenca territory.

Cáceres had received more than 30 death threats during her campaign. Foreign backers of the Agua Zarca dam have pulled out. But threats to those opposing development projects have never been higher.

Over the past year, at least six more campaigners have been killed in Honduras including, just over two weeks ago, José de los Santos Sevilla, the leader of the indigenous Tolupán people. Seven were killed in Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico during a single week in January, in connection with hydroelectric dams, mining and agribusiness projects. The victims included Mexican indigenous leader Isidro Baldenegro López, another Goldman environmental prize winner.

In addition to murder, the tools of repression include curbs on peaceful assembly, clampdowns on non-governmental organizations, attacks on independent media, state censorship, draconian anti-terror laws, state-sponsored vilification, surveillance, arbitrary detention, torture and disappearances. In some countries, punitive laws and special law-enforcement agencies have been created specifically to protect investors’ interests.

Far away from the killings, intimidation and evictions, finance ministers of the G20 member countries have been working to increase global investment in mega-infrastructure projects, including large dams, oil and gas pipelines, ports, highways and railways.

In Baden Baden, Germany, G20 finance ministers soon will prepare the ground for the July G20 summit in Hamburg. Infrastructure again will be on the agenda.

Infrastructure, if well-conceived and implemented, is vital for the realisation of many human rights, including health, water and sanitation, and for economic growth. Growth, in turn, generates resources which can be harnessed for investments in people and the environment.

But these ambitious plans are laden with un-assessed human rights risk. Highway projects, like large dams and pipelines, have been lightning rods for human rights abuses in Africa, Asia and elsewhere.

Regional infrastructure master plans, which have largely eluded public debate, include up to 100,000 kilometers of new roads in Africa and 579 new projects in Latin America including highways, hydroelectric dams and pipelines. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, backed by the $40 billion Silk Road Fund, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and China Development Bank, spans 65 countries and includes transport links through conflict-ridden areas of Pakistan, Myanmar and Central Asia’s Fergana Valley. The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, the world’s largest infrastructure project, may affect up to 180 million people. Land conflict around agribusiness and extractive projects in Indonesia was recently described as a “brutal class war.” The Dakota Access oil pipeline is turning into another flashpoint.

Regrettably, human rights are rarely given more than lip service in this context. In the macho world of mega-infrastructure, success is measured by size and speed, breeding the denial of human rights rather than due diligence. The unspoken, or, sometimes, spoken narrative seems to be that you need to break a few eggs to make an omelette.

With disarming candor, the president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has reportedly described people resisting forced resettlement as “irrational” and said that families should be willing to “sacrifice” in the public interest. The possibility of human-rights-compliant resettlement seems irrelevant to this world view.

The G20 and development financing institutions must urgently correct the course.

It is time to lift the veil on regional and national infrastructure plans, and to break down the walls between investment, infrastructure financing, and human rights. It is time for a safe, as well as sustainable, infrastructure investment agenda.

First, no major infrastructure project should be financed without thorough public deliberation and consultation with the communities directly affected, free of intimidation or coercion.

Second, all development financing institutions should have policies explicitly committing themselves to respect international human rights law, including the freedoms of opinion, expression, association and peaceful assembly. Where national and international laws set different standards, the higher standard should be respected.

Third, all new projects should be subject to human-rights due diligence from the outset, including a baseline analysis of civil society space and reprisal risks, with clear human-rights indicators and triggers for action in response to the evolving human rights situation.

Fourth, all development financing institutions, as well as their independent accountability mechanisms, should have clear, transparent and enforceable policies and procedures to govern their assessments of and responses to risks of intimidation and reprisals.

Fifth, all development financing institutions, and their independent accountability mechanisms, should systematically collect and publish data on intimidation, coercion and reprisals in connection with their activities, and what actions are being taken in response.

Finally, every single development financing institutions should put in place independent, accessible and effective grievance mechanisms, to ensure that those whose rights are violated receive prompt and fair redress. Accountability and remedy must be core components of investment contracts as well as development policy dialogues and technical assistance.

These measures won’t solve all problems, particularly where impunity is endemic. But nothing will change if incentives and consequences remain static. Development financing institutions and investors, implementing these measures in concert, can help to disturb the status quo and open up space for change, while avoiding complicity in human rights violations.

It is time to re-imagine infrastructure as if people and the environment mattered.

Source: OHCHR

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Comment by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Venezuela

1 de August, 2017

Photo: OHCHRGENEVA (1 August 2017) – “I am deeply concerned that opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma have again been taken into custody by Venezuelan authorities after their house arrest was revoked. I urge the Government to immediately release all those being held for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression.

I also regret that at least 10 people reportedly died in Venezuela over the weekend amid demonstrations over the Constituent Assembly elections. The investigations into these deaths must be carried out in a prompt, effective and independent manner, with the full cooperation of the Government.

I urge the authorities not to make an already extremely volatile situation even worse through the use of excessive force, including through violent house raids by security forces that have occurred in various parts of the country.

I appeal to all parties to refrain from the use of violence.”

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers the detention of both Lopez and Ledezma to be arbitrary. The opinions of the Working Group on these cases can be found here:

Lopez: http://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?Open&DS=A/HRC/WGAD/2014/26&Lang=E;

Ledezma: http://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?Open&DS=A/HRC/WGAD/2015/27&Lang=E

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Ravina Shamdasani: rshamdasani@ohchr.org or +41 22 917 9169

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Source: OHCHR

In Peru, OHCHR representative engaged in human rights activities

29 de July, 2017
Photo: Ombuds Office of PeruSANTIAGO (28 June 2017) – The Regional Representative for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra, visited Lima (Peru) from 6 to 9 June in order to participate in a variety of human rights activities, along with national authorities and institutional representatives.
 
Activities with the Ombuds Office
 
On 6 June, Mr. Incalcaterra attended a working meeting convened by the Ombuds Office in order to asses the implementation of policies, measures and norms foreseen in the National Plan for the Development of Afro Peruvians (PLANDEPA). Participants highlighted the importance of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent and how to articulate it with the goals of PLANDEPA.
 
Subsequently, the Regional Representative imparted a training session on business and human rights for deputy ombudspersons, heads of departments and commissioners of the Ombuds Office. In this context, OHCHR presented the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights and the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development, with a view to designing a roadmap of activities for the Ombuds Office in this area.
 
In addition, the OHCHR Representative and the Ombudsman of Peru, Mr. Walter Gutiérrez, held a meeting in order to advance the design of human rights policy and also discussed the National Human Rights Plan and ongoing legal reforms in Congress. 
 
Bilateral meetings
 
The mission also included a meeting with the Interior Minister, Mr. Carlos Basombrío, in which both parties discussed a wide range of issues such as migration, a law regulating the use of force -promoted by the OHCHR regional office- and considerations on internal regulations of the Ministry.
 
Moreover, the OHCHR Representative held a meeting with the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Ms. Marisol Pérez Tello, to analyze the human rights situation in the country. During the meeting, Mr. Incalcaterra expressed concern over the review of legislative decrees in Congress.
 
He also met with the Vice-minister of Territorial Governance, Mr. Javier Fernández Concha, to discuss issues such as social conflicts and the need to further develop areas such as business and human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples.
 
Mr. Incalcaterra also held a meeting with the President of Congress, Ms. Luz Salgado, to express the regional office’s views on recent legal setbacks in the country. In addition, he met with lawmaker Alberto de Belaúnde to analyze possible steps towards the introduction of new draft legislations to advance gender identity and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI).
 
Finally, the UN representative participated in a meeting with members of the National Human Rights Coordinator (CNDDHH) to analyze current concerns of civil society groups with regards to the current human rights situation in the country, particularly in relation to human rights defenders and delays in the implementation of recommendations made by the National Truth Commission, among other issues.
 
ENDS
 
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Venezuela: UN rights wing urges calm ahead of controversial weekend polls

28 de July, 2017

Photo: EPA28 July 2017 – The United Nations human rights office expressed deep concern today at the risk of further violence in Venezuela, where elections for a Constituent Assembly convened by President Nicolas Maduro are due to be held on Sunday.

“The wishes of the Venezuelan people to participate or not in this election need to be respected,” Elisabeth Throssell, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) told reporters at the regular press brifing in Geneva.

“No one should be obliged to vote, while those willing to take part should be able to do so freely,” she added.

The OHCHR spokesperson pointed out that demonstrations considered by the authorities to be “disturbing the elections” have been banned until 1 August.

“We urge the authorities to manage any protests against the Constituent Assembly in line with international human rights norms and standards,” she continued, calling on those opposing the election and the Assembly to do so peacefully.

“We hope that the poll scheduled for Sunday, if it goes ahead, will proceed peacefully and in full respect of human rights,” she said.

Responding to questions, Ms. Throssell said the situation in the country is “very tense and difficult.” As such, OHCHR reiterated the call for calm and for peaceful protests and for all sides to use only peaceful means to make their views heard.

With regard to the legitimacy of the vote itself, the spokesperson noted that it is “a hugely controversial issue” amplified by the fact that there had been an unofficial consultation by the opposition on the constituent assembly.

“[Our] Office is concerned about the environment in which the elections are to take place and believes that a constitutional process can only be successful if based on a broad consensus and the participation of all sectors of society,” Ms. Throssell said.

Source: UN News Centre

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Press briefing notes on Venezuela

28 de July, 2017

Photo: UN WebTVSpokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz Throssell
Location: Geneva
Date:  28 July 2017 

Subject: Venezuela

We are deeply concerned at the risk of further violence in Venezuela, where elections for the Constituent Assembly convened by President Nicolas Maduro are due to be held on Sunday.

The wishes of the Venezuelan people to participate or not in this election need to be respected. No one should be obliged to vote, while those willing to take part should be able to do so freely.

We urge the authorities to manage any protests against the Constituent Assembly in line with international human rights norms and standards, and we are thereforeconcerned that demonstrations the authorities regard as disturbing the elections  have been banned from today until 1 August. We also call on those opposing the election and the Assembly to do so peacefully.

We hope that the poll scheduled for Sunday, if it goes ahead, will proceed peacefully and in full respect of human rights. To that end, we renew our appeal to the authorities to guarantee people’s rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and call on all in Venezuela to use only peaceful means to make themselves heard.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)

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Source: OHCHR

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OHCHR Regional Representative carried out human rights activities in Peru

24 de July, 2017

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaSANTIAGO (24 July 2017) – On 18-20 July, the Representative for South America of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra, carried out a visit to Lima (Peru). Activities included meetings with national authorities and civil society groups.

Human rights events

On 19 July, the OHCHR Representative delivered a keynote speech in a training session for business associations grouped in the National Confederation of Private Business Institutions (CONFIEP). During the meeting, Mr. Incalcaterra highlighted the relevance of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in the global agenda. The event gathered over 20 representatives of companies operating in the country.

The OHCHR Representative in the region also gave a presentation during an event named “Why we need to discuss gender issues”, organized by the Minister for Women and Vulnerable Populations, the European Union and the UN System in Peru. During the event, he stressed that “it is impossible to fully reach human potential and sustainable development if we continue depriving half of the world’s population of opportunities and the full enjoyment of their human rights”.

Mr. Incalcaterra also held a meeting with representatives from Peruvian civil society organization, who expressed concern over recent setbacks in ensuring the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, as well as the situation of sexual and reproductive rights in the country.

The OHCHR Representative also attended a session of the National Human Rights Council of Peru, an advisory body to the Executive branch on human rights issues. During the session, the Regional Office was designated as a permanent observer of this national body.

Bilateral meetings

During the visit, Mr. Incalcaterra gathered with the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Ms. María Soledad Pérez Tello, in order to discuss matters of common interest and to share opinions on different human rights situations in the country.

He also held a meeting with the UN Resident Coordinator in Peru, Ms. María del Carmen Sacasa, to plan new joint activities to be carried out in the country.

ENDS

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Paraguay must prioritize children in fight against modern slavery – UN rights expert

24 de July, 2017

Photo: government of ParaguayASUNCIÓN / GENEVA (24 July 2017) – United Nations human rights expert Urmila Bhoola today called on the Government of Paraguay to prioritize children in the fight against exploitation, after hearing evidence they were still working as domestic servants and forced beggars.

During an eight-day official visit, the Special Rapporteur heard reports of exploitation that she believes constitute contemporary forms of slavery, or place people at risk of being victimized.

“These concerning situations include child domestic servitude, forced begging, other forms of child labour, forced and bonded labour and the potential for servitude amongst domestic workers,” Ms. Bhoola told journalists at the end of her fact-finding mission.

“I noticed again and again the heightened vulnerability of children to contemporary forms of slavery and urge the Government to continue to build a comprehensive system of child protection.”

She added: “Other groups including indigenous peoples, women and people living in rural areas are also at heightened risk of extreme exploitation. The Government must also prioritize steps to address their vulnerability.”

The Special Rapporteur praised the Government for overcoming challenges and budget restraints to make progress on a number of issues, such as ratifying international instruments and introducing strong legal provisions.

She also hailed work to raise people’s awareness of exploitation, improve social support programmes, build a comprehensive child protection system and increase the number of labour inspectors.

“I was heartened to hear about cultural shifts which are making exploitation less socially acceptable, and about reductions in the number of children in the worst forms of child labour and domestic servitude,” Ms. Bhoola said.

“To build on this progress and to protect the human rights of all those vulnerable to contemporary forms of slavery, the Government of Paraguay and other relevant groups must take further steps to build a comprehensive programme against such abject exploitation,” the Special Rapporteur underscored.

During the mission – her visit official visit to the country – Ms. Bhoola visited Asunción, Filadelfia and Neuland, where she held talks with Government officials, the Human Rights Ombudsman, coordination bodies, Congress and Supreme Court representatives, as well as UN officials.

Meetings were also held with NGOs, trade unions, private sector representatives and people affected by contemporary forms of slavery.

The Special Rapporteur will present a report containing her full conclusions and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2018.

Ms. Urmila Bhoola (South Africa) assumed her mandate as Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, on 2 June 2014. Ms. Bhoola is a human rights lawyer working in the Asia Pacific region on international human rights, gender equality and labour law. She has 20 years of experience as a labour and human rights lawyer in South Africa and served as a Judge of the South African Labour Court for five years.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent human rights monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. The experts are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page: Paraguay

For more information and media enquiries, please contact Eleanor Robb +41 22 917 9800 / erobb@ohchr.org or write to srslavery@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today.  #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

 

 

In Paraguay, Regional Representative participated in human rights activities

24 de July, 2017

Portada-Paraguay-580x435SANTIAGO (24 July 2017) – The Representative for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) visited Asunción, Paraguay, from 12 to 14 July. He engaged in several human rights activities with national authorities and human rights groups.

Seminar on human rights defenders

On 14 July, the Regional Representative participated in an international seminar on human rights defenders, organized by civil society organizations and with the technical cooperation of OHCHR. Over 200 people attended the event, including NGO representatives, scholars and human rights experts.

In his keynote speech, Mr. Incalcaterra highlighted that “it is unacceptable to see that people who work for a better world are harassed and criminalized in most parts of the world. We call on our leaders to commit and celebrate the work of human rights defenders through protection mechanisms and also through recognition in order to allow them to perform their activities without fear”.

Bilateral meetings

The OHCHR Repreentative also met with the Minister of the Social Action Secretariat, Mr. Héctor Cárdenas, in order to exchange information on the latest activities carried out within the framework of the technical cooperation between both institutions.

In addition, the UN official held a meeting with the Minister of the National Secretariat for the human rights of persons with disabilities (SENADIS), Mr. Diego Samaniego, in order to share strategies for joint cooperation, seeking to guarantee the rights of persons with disabilities in the country.

Mr. Incalcaterra also discussed with the Vice-minister of Justice, Ms. Cecilia Pérez, about technical cooperation on public policy and budget creation based on human rights in connection with the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development.

Also, he gathered with the general director for human rights of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Marcelo Scappini, and the human rights director, Ms. Maria Romy Romero, in order to exchange experiences on joint projects and activities with OHCHR in Paraguay.

The OHCHR Representative also discussed with expert on indigenous issues Esther Prieto, shared their concerns over the dialogue process with indigenous representatives on issues such as consultation, participation, lands and territories, among others.

During the mission, Mr. Incalcaterra gathered with other international mechanisms cooperating with OHCHR in Paraguay, as well as with the Resident Coordinator of the UN Coutry Team in Paraguay, Ms. Cecilia Ugaz.

ENDS

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Peru needs new thinking on business conflicts to improve human rights – UN experts

19 de July, 2017

Photo: Government of PeruGENEVA / LIMA (19 July 2017) – The Government of Peru and big businesses need to break with past methods of dealing with social conflict to improve the country’s human rights record, a team of United Nations human rights experts has concluded after a 10-day visit.

“Peru has become used to a situation of constantly simmering social conflicts, with more than 100 active situations in any given month,” said Michael K. Addo, one of the experts from the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

“The majority of these conflicts relate to large-scale business operations in mining, hydrocarbon and energy,” Mr. Addo noted.

In the past five years, social conflicts had caused 70 deaths, the experts noted in their preliminary end-of-mission findings. The conflicts stem from concerns about water contamination, pollution and other issues affecting people’s human rights, caused by large mining operations, repeated oil spills in the Amazon region, or deforestation for palm oil and cocoa plantations.

“When people speak up against negative effects of business operations they often face intimidation and criminalization,” said Dante Pesce, the second member of the Working Group delegation.

“We are encouraged to see signs of change, as the State and companies realize that listening to critical voices helps identify, mitigate and address grievances before they escalate into conflict.

“Companies are also coming to understand that respect for human rights is also good for business, and helps the State attract investments of good environmental and social quality,” Mr. Pesce added.

The experts called for a new mechanism to protect human rights defenders, including environmentalists and indigenous leaders. They also underlined the importance of meaningful, informed consultation at the earliest stages of large-scale business operations, and said existing methods to assess social and environmental impact should be strengthened.

The experts pointed out that identifying and tackling problems lay at the heart of the concept of “human rights due diligence” set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  Peru’s wish to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) would help bring the country into line with standards like the Guiding Principles, they noted.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to the business and human rights agenda, and the announcement of the first steps towards a National Action Plan on business and human rights,” the experts said.

“We urge the Government to develop this plan through an inclusive and transparent process that includes all relevant parties.” 

The Working Group’s final report, including findings and key recommendations, will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2018.

The Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterpriseswas established by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011. Its current members are: Mr. Michael AddoMr. Surya Deva (current Chairperson), Mr. Dante Pesce, Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga, and Ms. Anita Ramasastry (current vice-chair). 

The Working Group is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent human rights monitoring mechanisms. The Working Group reports to the Human Rights Council and to the UN General Assembly. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. The experts are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page: Peru

For additional information and media requests, please contact:
Ulrik Halsteen or Alexia Ghyoot: +41 22 917 9323 (in Geneva) / + 41 79 444 4187 (cellphone number during the dates of the visit) / wg-business@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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Venezuela: UN rights expert concerned at potential for repression in Sunday’s ‘Sovereign Consultation’

14 de July, 2017

Photo: OHCHRGENEVA (14 July 2017) – Venezuelan authorities must ensure compliance with international human rights standards during an unofficial public vote on President Nicolás Maduro’s planned constitutional changes on Sunday 16 July, a United Nations expert has stressed.

“I am deeply concerned at the pattern of violence displayed in similar circumstances by the police and National Guard that could be again applied in the context of this consultation,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Annalisa Ciampi,

An estimated six to eight million people are expected to take part in the opposition-organized ‘Sovereign Consultation’ on the president’s decision to convene a National Constitutional Assembly. Opposition groups say the president’s move breaches the Constitution.

Ms. Ciampi highlighted reported attacks on voting centres by armed pro-government civilians who have been active during protests over the past few months. “Such attacks severely violate the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression,” she stressed.

“I am also worried about the alleged intimidation of protesters and opposition members by public officers,” the expert said. “Coercion is never an answer to the legitimate demands for democracy and to people’s expression of frustrations against the background of economic and social unrest triggered by increasing poverty and deteriorating living conditions.”

During the past three and half months, over 90 people have lost their lives in the almost daily demonstrations against the Government.

The UN Special Rapporteur reiterated the call previously made by a group of UN human rights experts in late April, to facilitate the exercise of the right of peaceful assembly and to ensure a constructive dialogue between the people and their representatives.

“The Venezuelan authorities should not interfere with peaceful demonstrations, and indeed are obliged to actively protect assemblies,” she noted. “They should facilitate the exercise of people’s rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”

Ms. Ciampi appealed to the Venezuelan authorities “to heed the stringent tenets of international human rights standards and refrain from resorting to violence.”

 

The new Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Ms. Annalisa Ciampi (Italy) is a Professor of International Law at the University of Verona in Italy and a Visiting Professor of European Human Rights Law at the Monash University Prato Centre, in Italy. She is also an Attorney at Law and a member of the Italian Bars of Florence and of the Court of Cassation.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page: Venezuela  

For more information and media requests, please contact Marion Mondain (+41 22 91 79 540 / freeassembly@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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*Source: OHCHR

UN expert on contemporary forms of slavery announces first official visit to Paraguay

14 de July, 2017

Photo: UN PhotoGENEVA (14 July 2017) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Urmila Bhoola will visit Paraguay from 17 to 24 July to assess the extent to which contemporary forms of slavery, including child slavery, forced labour, bonded labour and other slavery-like practices, continue to exist in the country.

“This visit will provide an opportunity for a productive exchange on the challenges faced by the Government in the context of an increase in forms of exploitation that amount to slavery in the world, as well as initiatives undertaken to address the issue in Paraguay,” said Ms. Bhoola ahead of her first official visit to the country.

The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery is mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on issues such as forced labour, bonded labour, children working in slavery or slavery-like conditions, domestic servitude and sexual slavery.

“I am looking forward to engaging with Government and civil society to identify the prevalence of contemporary forms of slavery and assess policies and actions taken by the authorities Government to tackle this,” the human rights expert noted.

During the eight-day mission, which takes place at the invitation of the Government of Paraguay, Ms. Bhoola will visit Asunción and the Chaco region, and also meet local authorities and the UN country team.

At the end of her visit, on Monday 24 July, the Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference at 11:30 noon at the UN premises (UN House, WTC, 2nd floor. Av Aviadores del Chaco 2050, Asunción) to share her preliminary observations. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

Following the visit, the independent expert will present a report containing her conclusions and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2018.

Ms. Urmila Bhoola (South Africa) assumed her mandate as Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences on 2 June 2014. Ms. Bhoola is a human rights lawyer working in the Asia Pacific region on international human rights, gender equality and labour law. She has 20 years of experience as a labour and human rights lawyer in South Africa and served as a Judge of the South African Labour Court for five years. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Slavery/SRSlavery/Pages/SRSlaveryIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent human rights monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. The experts are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page: Paraguay

For more information and media enquiries, please contact: 
En Asunción (during the visit): Javier Chamorro: +595 21 607 904  / +595 971 733 060 / jchamorro@ohchr.org  
In Geneva (before and after the visit n Ginebra): Eleanor Robb +41 22 917 9800 / erobb@ohchr.org or write to srslavery@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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Press briefing note on Venezuela

14 de July, 2017

Photo: UN WebTVSpokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz Throssell
Location:   Geneva
Date: 14 July 2017
Subject:    Venezuela

Venezuela

The situation in Venezuela continues to be of deep concern, and we again urge all in the country to use only peaceful means to make themselves heard. 

We note that a public consultation is due to take place this Sunday, organised by the opposition-led National Assembly and other groups, on questions including President Nicolas Maduro’s plans to rewrite the constitution. We urge authorities to respect the wishes of those who want to participate in this consultation and to guarantee people’s rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. 

Since 1 April, some 92 people have died and another 1,519 have been injured – in connection with the ongoing protests, according to the latest available figures from the Attorney General’s Office. The number of injured individuals is however estimated to be much higher. It is vital that the Government takes steps to ensure that the security forces, including the Bolivarian National Guard and the Bolivarian National Police, do not use excessive force against demonstrators and that they operate in line with international human rights standards in managing demonstrations.

We have received accounts from several sources that some members of the Venezuelan security forces have used repressive tactics, intimidating and instilling fear, to try to deter people from demonstrating. In addition, thousands of demonstrators are reported to have been arbitrarily detained, and we are very concerned that more than 450 civilians have reportedly been brought before military tribunals. We urge the Government to immediately end this practice, which is against international human rights law, particularly due process guarantees. Civilians accused of a crime or an illegal act should appear before a civilian court. All those who have been arbitrarily detained should be released.

We appeal to all sides in Venezuela to renounce violence and the harassment of opponents. In this regard, we condemn all acts of violence such as the explosion on 10 July that injured seven National Guard officers in the Altamira area of Caracas. 

We express our hope that Sunday’s consultation will proceed peacefully and in the full respect of the human rights of all.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 9466/ethrossell@ohchr.org)

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Peru must halt oil talks until indigenous rights and contamination are taken into account – UN experts

13 de July, 2017

Foto: UN MultimediaGENEVA (13 July 2017) – Peru must suspend negotiations for a new contract to exploit one of the country’s most productive oil areas until the rights of local indigenous peoples are protected, two United Nations human rights experts have said. 

The area, known as Lot or Block 192, lies in a remote section of the Amazon rainforest in Peru’s Loreto region, near the border with Ecuador.  A 30-year contract for future extraction rights is under negotiation.

The Special Rapporteurs on hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak, and on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, said they are making the call in the light of “grossly inadequate efforts” to provide remedies for previous widespread oil spills in the region. 

“The oil spills continue to adversely impact the rights of indigenous peoples, and the ongoing negotiating process does not give sufficient recognition of their right to free, prior and informed consent,” noted the Special Rapporteurs.

“The Peruvian Government must suspend the direct negotiations with companies until the right to free, prior and informed consent is guaranteed, and all environmental damage has been remedied,” they said.

“As we have emphasized in the past, Peru must protect and respect the rights of indigenous peoples to their land, territories and resources, as well as to consultation in accordance with relevant international standards,” the experts reiterated.

Indigenous people have for years demanded measures such as land titling, payment for the use of land, restoration of soil and water, adequate compensation for environmental damage and consultation.

“The Government has an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of the people in the region, and to hold the companies accountable for any failure to respect human rights, before re-licensing the land,” the experts stressed.

Block 192, formerly known as Block 1 A/B, has a long history of contamination, environmental emergencies and conflict.  Decades-old, corroded pipelines have repeatedly ruptured in recent years, contaminating water and food sources with toxic substances. Protests by indigenous communities have disrupted drilling activities several times in recent years.

The state-owned company Petroperú is negotiating a new contract in conjunction with Perupetro, another state company responsible for production.  Argentine firm Pluspetrol withdrew from the site in 2015, and a temporary contract was given to Canadian firm Pacific Stratus Energy.

The UN Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes was scheduled to visit Peru in May 2017 at the invitation of the Government, but the visit was postponed because of a flooding emergency. 

“I hope to visit Peru as soon as an appropriate time can be agreed by the Government,” he said.

“A visit would be an excellent opportunity to continue to engage constructively with the relevant authorities. I stand ready to support the Government’s efforts to address community concerns,” Mr. Tuncak concluded. 

Mr. Baskut Tuncak, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes and Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page: Peru

For more information and media requests, please contact Alessandro Marra (+41 22 91 79 882) or write to srtoxicwaste@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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UN torture prevention experts announce visits to Uruguay

6 de July, 2017

UN-Photo-Staton-Winter-1GENEVA (6 July 2017) –  Burundi, Portugal and Uruguay are among the countries that the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) will visit in 2018 to assess the treatment of people deprived of their liberty, as well as the measures taken for their protection against torture and ill-treatment.

Under the SPT’s mandate, members may make unannounced visits to any places where people are or may be deprived of their liberty, including prisons, police stations, centres for migrants, security services, interrogation facilities and psychiatric hospitals. In addition, the SPT provides advice to national authorities on the establishment of national detention monitoring bodies, known as National Preventive Mechanisms (NPM). It also cooperates and assists the NPMs on their functioning.

During its June session, the SPT has also decided to add Bosnia and Herzegovina  to the list of countries that have failed to establish their NPM within three years of ratification, which is a serious violation of their obligations under the OPCAT. Considering that Lebanon has recently adopted legislation to establish its NPM, the SPT decided to remove Lebanon from this list, which is now currently composed of 14 States: Argentina,  Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Chile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nauru, Nigeria, Panama and the Philippines. The list is public on the SPT website at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/OPCAT/Pages/Article17.aspx

In the coming months, the SPT will also visit: Burkina Faso, Mongolia, Morocco, Panama, Rwanda, and Spain, after having already visited Niger, Hungary, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bolivia earlier this year.

ENDS

For more information, please contact: 
Joao Nataf, SPT Secretary, Human Rights Treaty Division: + 41 (0) 22 917 9102/ jnataf@ohchr.org

For media inquiries, please contact:
Nicoleta Panta, +41 (0) 22 /917 9310/npanta@ohchr.org

Background:

The SPT’s role is to prevent and eliminate torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment of detainees, and it has a mandate to visit all States that are parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

The OPCAT is a unique international human rights treaty which assists States to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

The Optional Protocol on the Prevention of Torture has to date been ratified by 83 countries. The SPT communicates its recommendations and observations to the State by means of a confidential report, and if necessary to National Preventive Mechanisms. However, State parties are encouraged to request that the SPT makes these reports public. More about the SPT: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/OPCAT/Pages/OPCATIndex.aspx

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Peru: First official visit by UN expert group on business and human rights

6 de July, 2017

Photo: OHCHRGENEVA (6 July 2017) – The United Nations Working Group on business and human rights will undertake its first official visit to Peru from 10 to 19 July to assess efforts to prevent and address adverse human rights impacts of business operations.

“Peru has a wealth of natural resources in agriculture, fisheries, oil, gas and mining. Indeed, Peru is among the 10 most mineral-rich countries in the world, with many of the world’s large mining multinationals operating in the country,” noted Michael K. Addo, one of the expert group’s members.

“We look forward to learning about steps taken by the Government and by companies themselves to prevent and address human rights violations resulting from business activities, as well as about intentions to elaborate a National Action Plan on business and human rights,” Mr. Addo added.

The UN experts will be assessing how the Peruvian Government and businesses are implementing their respective human rights obligations and responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These principles provide an authoritative framework to prevent and address adverse human rights risks and impacts of business activities, and to ensure that victims have access to effective remedies.

“We warmly welcome the invitation from the Government to conduct this visit, which we hope will help further promote corporate respect for human rights,” said Dante Pesce, the other member of the Working Group’s delegation.

“In addition to engaging with the Government, including ministries in the areas of economy, finance, and energy, we will meet a range of civil society actors, human rights defenders and trade unionists, as well as representatives of business associations and companies, including State-owned, national and multinational companies,” he noted.

“We will pay special attention to the situation of indigenous peoples and social conflicts in the context of natural resource extraction, as well as factors that may make some groups more vulnerable to human rights abuses,” added Mr. Pesce.

During their visit to Peru, the experts will hold meetings in Lima and in the regions of Loreto, Cajamarca, Cusco and Apurímac.

At the end of their mission on Wednesday 19 July at 12:00, the experts will hold a press conference to present preliminary observations from their visit. It will be held at the UN Information Centre, Complejo Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Av. Pérez Araníbar 750, Magdalena, Lima. Access will be strictly limited to journalists.

The Working Group will present a full report of its findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in June 2018.

ENDS

The Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises was established by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011. Its current members are: Mr. Michael Addo, Mr. Surya Deva (current Chairperson), Mr. Dante Pesce, Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga, and Ms. Anita Ramasastry (current vice-chair). 

The Working Group is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent human rights monitoring mechanisms. The Working Group reports to the Human Rights Council and to the UN General Assembly. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. The experts are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page: Peru

For additional information and media requests, please contact Ulrik Halsteen or Alexia Ghyoot: +41 22 917 9323 (in Geneva) / + 41 79 444 4187 (cellphone number during the dates of the visit) / wg-business@ohchr.org.

For media requests and queries relating to the press conference on 19 July please contact: Christian Sanchez: +511 625 9140 / christian.sanchez@unic.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org

You can access this media advisory online

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Sustainable development must put people not profits first, UN rights experts stress

30 de June, 2017

Photo: UNGENEVA / PARIS (30 June 2017) – Governments and business leaders must put people – not profits – first as the world moves towards action on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, UN human rights experts have today told a major world conference in Paris.

Human rights must be embedded in policies and practice as countries begin to translate the ambitious global goals into concrete measures, the experts told the annual OECD Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct.

“A development path in which human rights are not respected and protected cannot be sustainable, and would render the notion of sustainable development meaningless,” said Anita Ramasastry, one of the five members of the UN Working Group on business and human rights.

The goals, agreed by world leaders as part of the UN’s 2030 agenda for sustainable development, envisage partnerships between the private sector and governments as part of efforts to solve the world’s development challenges.

However, unless these business contributions are based on accountability and respect for human rights, the private sector risks undermining rather than supporting sustainable development, the UN experts stressed.

“For example, if a green energy project leads to displacement of an indigenous community without their consent, proper consultations and redress, the term ‘sustainable development’ rings hollow,” said Dante Pesce, another member of the UN expert group speaking at the conference.

When business activities respect people’s rights, the potential positive contribution to realizing development for all can be tremendous, the group underlined.

“Businesses can play a positive role simply by being responsible,” Mr. Pesce said. “For example, on the goal of achieving gender equality, if a company finds that its employment practices discriminate against women, and then takes effective steps to end this human rights abuse, this will make a real and significant contribution to sustainable development by advancing women’s role in economic life.”

Ms. Ramasastry added: “States are in the driver’s seat for setting development priorities in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. If they are working in partnership with the private sector, they must ensure that the firms involved are taking steps to respect human rights across their operations.

“The most powerful way for businesses to accelerate development is to embed respect for human rights across the whole of their operations and value chains.”

The UN Working Group presented a set of key recommendations designed to inform a series of international meetings this summer that have sustainable development on the agenda, including the current OECD global forum in Paris, the G20 summit in Hamburg on 7-8 July and the UN High-Level Political Forum in New York on 10-19 July. The role of business in sustainable development will also be on the agenda of the annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva on 27-29 November.

The UN experts stressed that the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide a clear roadmap for protecting and respecting human rights in the context of business. 

ENDS

The Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises was established by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011. Its current members are: Mr. Michael Addo (current Chairperson), Mr. Surya Deva (current vice chair), Mr. Dante PesceMs. AnitaRamasastry and Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga.

The Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent human rights monitoring mechanisms. The Working Groups report to the Human Rights Council and to the UN General Assembly.  Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. The experts are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

For additional information and media requests please contact the Working Group Secretariat at (+41 22 917 9323 /wg-business@ohchr.org).

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UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges rejects intimidation of Venezuela’s Attorney General

30 de June, 2017

Photo: OHCHRGENEVA (30 June 2017) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego García-Sayán, has questioned the recent decision by the Venezuelan Supreme Court freezing the assets of the country’s Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Díaz, and preventing her from leaving the country.

The decision by the court follows other recent rulings transferring powers from the Public Prosecution Service to the Ombudsman.

“This is yet another step against the democratic institutions and autonomy of the Venezuelan Public Prosecutor,” said the Special Rapporteur.

“Two decisions by the Supreme Court this week seriously affect the independence and functions of the Attorney General and the Public Ministry. The first annuls the appointment of the Deputy Attorney General, transferring the powers of the position to the Supreme Court itself; while the second interferes in investigations by the Public Prosecution Service, removing its powers and giving them to the office of the Ombudsman,” Mr. García-Sayán explained.

The measures by the Supreme Court restricting the rights of the Attorney General will remain in force until a hearing scheduled for 4 July 2017, during which a decision will be taken on whether to prosecute her.  She has been accused by a Government MP of “serious misconduct” in the exercise of public office.

The Special Rapporteur urged the Supreme Court to reconsider its decisions and to abandon all measures and orders that reduce the functions granted legally and constitutionally to the Public Prosecution Service and the Attorney General of Venezuela, as well as acts that affect the individual rights of Ms. Ortega Díaz.

“Any investigation of judicial actions must be carried out in a transparent manner and with strict respect for due process and the legal system,” the Special Rapporteur emphasized.

“It is essential to avoid any kind of intimidation against the Attorney General. The independence and ability of the person holding that office to investigate crimes, including human rights violations, is necessary for the functioning of a democratic system,” the UN expert said.

The Special Rapporteur made clear that he would follow closely events as they unfolded in Venezuela, in fulfillment of his mandate to ensure the independence of judges and prosecutors around the world.

ENDS

Mr. Diego García-Sayán (Peru) has been Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and magistrates since December 2016.  As Special Rapporteur, Mr. García-Sayán is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 
For more information and media requests please contact: Stefano Sensi, +41-22-917-9237/ ssensi@ohchr.org)

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Press briefing note on Venezuela

30 de June, 2017

Photo: OHCHR

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location:  Geneva
Date: 30 June 2017 
Subject:    Venezuela

The decision by the Venezuelan Supreme Court on 28 June to begin removal proceedings against the Attorney General, freeze her assets and ban her from leaving the country is deeply worrying, as is the ongoing violence in the country.

We are also disturbed by the decision on 27 June by the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber to declare her appointment of a deputy attorney general to be null and void, and to appoint instead a temporary deputy, in violation of the appointment procedure under Venezuelan law. The Chamber also granted some of the Attorney General’s, until now, exclusive functions to the Ombudsperson.

Since March, the Attorney General has taken important steps to defend human rights, documenting deaths during the wave of demonstrations, insisting on the need for due process and the importance of the separation of powers, and calling for people who have been arbitrarily detained to be immediately released.

We are concerned that the Supreme Court’s decisions appear to seek to strip her Office of its mandate and responsibilities as enshrined in the Venezuelan Constitution, and undermine the Office’s independence.

The dismissal of judicial officials should be subject to strict criteria that do not undermine the independent and impartial performance of their functions. According to the UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, States should ensure that prosecutors are able to perform their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment, improper interference or unjustified exposure to civil, partial or other liabilities.

We note that up to 22 June, according to the Attorney General’s Office, 75 people had died and some 1,419 had been injured in the continuing protests. Most recently, three young demonstrators were reportedly killed by members of the security forces – two by firearms and one who died when a tear gas canister was reportedly shot directly at him by a police officer. In addition, there are increasing reports that security forces have raided residential buildings, conducted searches without warrants and detained people, allegedly with the intention of deterring people from participating in the demonstrations and searching for opposition supporters.

We urge all powers of the Venezuelan State to respect the Constitution and the rule of law, and call on the Government to ensure that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of opinion and expression are guaranteed.

We also call on all people in Venezuela to only use peaceful means to make themselves heard and urge all parties to renounce violence and harassment of opponents.

ENDS

Source: OHCHR

See full video: http://webtv.un.org/media/watch/geneva-press-briefing-ifrc-unhcr-ohchr-ilo-wto-who/5488369812001

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 97 67 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 9466/ ethrossell@ohchr.org)

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UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights issues findings on Australia, Uruguay, The Netherlands, Liechtenstein, Sri Lanka and Pakistan

28 de June, 2017

Photo: OHCHRGENEVA (28 June 2017) – The UN Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has published its findings on the countries it examined during its latest session, held from 29 May to 23 June 2017, in Geneva:  Australia, Uruguay, The Netherlands, Liechtenstein, Sri Lanka and Pakistan

The findings cover how the respective State is doing with regard to implementing the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, detailing positive developments, main areas of concern, and recommendations for action.  The findings, officially known as concluding observations, can be found here.

The Committee will next meet from 18 September to 16 October 2017 to review the following countries: Colombia, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova and Russian Federation. See more details here.

ENDS

For media requests please contact: Nicoleta Panta, +41(0) 22 9179310/npanta@ohchr.org

Background

Members of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty. More information:  http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/cescr/pages/cescrindex.aspx

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Comment by UN Human Rights Office spokesperson on OAS funding for Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Inter-American Court of Human Rights

23 de June, 2017

OAS_Seal_ESP_Principal_-400x103GENEVA (23 June 2017) – We welcome the decision adopted by consensus by the Organization of American States to double the regular budgets for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights over a three year period.

Last year, when the regional human rights system was facing a severe financial crisis, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein voiced serious concern and called on States to reaffirm their commitment to human rights by providing this vital system with the necessary resources.

This week’s decision will allow the Commission and the Court to continue their valuable work in providing a robust defence of human rights across the Americas. We encourage States in the region to continue to demonstrate their commitment to the regional human rights system, which is a strategic partner of our Office,  through this and other constructive actions. 

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact: Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)

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In Peru, international experts carried out meeting on indigenous peoples in isolation

15 de June, 2017

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaSANTIAGO (15 June 2017) – The Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), jointly with the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz; the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) held a working meeting entitled “Standards of International Law on the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation and Initial Contact in Amazon and the Great Chaco: review and proposals for action”. The meeting took place on 8 and 9 June in Lima, Peru.

Organized within the context of the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the event brought together about 70 representatives of indigenous peoples, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, state delegates and representatives of national human rights institutions, as well as experts and academics from various countries in the region. Participants also were the member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), Ms. Erika Yamada; as well as Ms. Tarcila Rivera and Mr. Brian Keane, members of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

During the two days, participants held discussions on the protection of indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact, considering their extremely vulnerable situation and risk of disappearance. The event aimed at reviewing and evaluating the implementation of the “United Nations Guidelines for the Protection of Indigenous Peoples in Isolation and Initial Contact”. Issued in 2012, the document compiles the results of a series of consultations conducted by OHCHR in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra, OHCHR’s representative in South America, noted that the situation of indigenous peoples in isolation “is very serious in terms of their existence and the realization of their human rights”. Mr. Incalcaterra added that the “growing number of non-voluntary contacts, the accelerated expansion of the agricultural and extractive activities, and the difficulty in controlling illicit activities … have led these people to live at an alarming risk of disappearing”.

Ms. Tauli-Corpuz remembered the “the tragic situations that led to the loss of life and culture of indigenous peoples due to violent actions, diseases, and other external forces, which occurred years and centuries ago”. She also considered being “imperative to avoid repeating history in the case of indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation and in initial contact”.

The event was also attended by the IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Mr. Francisco José Eguiguren, who underlined the “responsibility of States, international organizations, members of civil society and other actors in the defense of human rights” to ensure that the human rights of indigenous peoples “are respected in the same way as those of all and all inhabitants of the Americas”.

ENDS


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OHCHR conducts first regional consultation on guidelines for the right to public participation

15 de June, 2017

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaSANTIAGO (15 June 2017) – On 13 and 14 June, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) held a regional consultation on the effective implementation of the right to participation in public affairs.

The meeting for the Americas took place at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile, and brought together experts, representatives of regional mechanisms and national human rights institutions, civil society and academics, as well as state representatives from several countries, to discuss the status of the right to participation in the region.

“The Human Rights Council requested OHCHR last year to draft guidelines on the right of all individuals, without discrimination, to participate in public life; a right that is deeply intertwined with other human rights and fundamental freedoms”, said Ms. Nathalie Prouvez, head of the OHCHR Rule of Law and Democracy section. “To fulfill that mandate, we will conduct a series of broad consultations with stakeholders around the world. And this, for the Americas, is the first of these consultations”, she added.

During the meeting, participants analyzed and commented a preliminary study on the right to political participation in the Americas, prepared by the Argentine professor and ex-member of the Human Rights Committee, Mr. Fabián Salvioli.

The meeting also gathered views on the main progress and challenges for an effective implementation of the right to participate in public affairs, for all people and without discrimination, in the American continent.

“In many countries we see popular demands of greater participation, not only to choose authorities freely, but also for the recognition of economic, social and cultural rights for all groups. They are regional claims and these groups should be able to actively participate in public affairs”, said the OHCHR Representative for South America, Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra.

The event was opened by ECLAC Deputy Executive Secretary, Mr. Antonio Prado, who emphasized the importance of the right to participation in light of goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as initiatives for strengthening the right to participation in the region, particularly in environmental issues.

More information (in Spanish): http://acnudh.org/acnudh-realiza-primera-consulta-regional-sobre-directrices-para-el-derecho-a-participar-en-asuntos-publicos/

END

Access the Preliminary Study on the Right to Political Participation in the Americas: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/PublicAffairs/BackgroundPaperFabianSalvioli.docx

More information on the draft guidelines on participation: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Pages/DraftGuidelinesRighttoParticipationPublicAffairs.aspx

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Indigenous and environmental rights under attack in Brazil, UN and Inter-American experts warn

8 de June, 2017

Indigenous-peoples-protest-Brazil-2013dGENEVA / WASHINGTON DC (8 June 2017) – Three United Nations experts and a rapporteur from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have joined forces to denounce attacks on indigenous and environmental rights in Brazil.

“The rights of indigenous peoples and environmental rights are under attack in Brazil,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, on human rights defenders, Michel Forst, and on the environment, John Knox, and the IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli.

Over the last 15 years, Brazil has seen the highest number of killings of environmental and land defenders of any country, the experts noted, up to an average of about one every week. Indigenous peoples are especially at risk.

“Against this backdrop, Brazil should be strengthening institutional and legal protection for indigenous peoples, as well as people of African heritage and other communities who depend on their ancestral territory for their material and cultural existence,” the experts stated.  “It is highly troubling that instead, Brazil is considering weakening those protections.”  

The experts highlighted proposed reforms to the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), the body which supports indigenous peoples in the protection of their rights, and which has already had its funding severely reduced. A report recently adopted by the Congressional Investigative Commission calls for the body to be stripped of responsibility for the legal titling and demarcation of indigenous lands. The experts were also concerned with allegations of illegitimate criminalization of numerous anthropologists, indigenous leaders and human rights defenders linked to their work on indigenous issues.
 
“This report takes several steps back in the protection of indigenous lands,” the experts warned. “We are particularly concerned about future demarcation procedures, as well as about indigenous lands which have already been demarcated.”

The Congressional Investigative Commission’s report also questions the motives of the United Nations, accusing it of being a confederation of NGOs influencing Brazilian policy through its agencies, the ILO Convention 169, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“The report also states that the UN Declaration presents a grave threat to Brazil’s sovereignty, and it further encourages the Brazilian government to denounce ILO Convention 169, claiming it manipulates the establishment of non-existent indigenous peoples in order to expand indigenous lands in Brazil,” the experts stressed.

“It’s really unfortunate that instead of exemplifying the principles enshrined in the Declaration, the Congressional Investigative Commission questions the motives behind it and those of the UN itself, and waters down any progress made so far,” they said.

Ms. Tauli Corpuz expressed particular alarm at accusations that her 2016 visit to Brazil intentionally triggered an increase in the number of indigenous peoples reclaiming their lands, exposing them to further violence.  She highlighted the fact that some of these communities suffered attacks immediately following her mission.

The human rights experts also noted that a number of draft laws establishing general environmental licensing that would weaken environmental protection were being circulated in Congress on Friday 2 June.  For example, the proposed legislation would remove the need for environmental licenses for projects involving agri-business and cattle ranching, regardless of their size, location, necessity, or impact on indigenous lands or the environment.

“Weakening such protections would be contrary to the general obligation of States not to regress in the level of their protections of human rights, including those dependent on a healthy environment,” they stressed.

The experts warned that the proposed laws were at odds with the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which guarantees the rights of indigenous peoples to the conservation and protection of the environment, and protects the productive capacity of their land and resources.  

Both the report and the draft legislation had been submitted by members of the “ruralist” lobby group, a coalition representing farmers’ and ranchers’ associations, the experts noted.

“Tensions over land rights should be addressed through efforts to recognize rights and mediate conflicts, rather than substantially reducing the safeguards in place for indigenous peoples, people of African descent and the environment in Brazil,” they said.

The UN experts are in contact with the Brazilian authorities and closely monitoring the situation.

ENDS

Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and Mr. John H. Knox, Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Mr. Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, was elected on June 16, 2015, by the OAS General Assembly, for a 4-year mandate ending December 31, 2019. A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

UN Human Rights, country page: Brazil

For more information and media inquiries, please contact Ms. Hee-Kyong Yoo (+41 22 917 97 23 / hyoo@ohchr.org), Ms. Christine Evans (+41 22 917 9197 / cevans@ohchr.org) or  write to indigenous@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

You can access this press release online

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Domestic violence a form of “arbitrary execution”, says UN rights expert

7 de June, 2017

ONU/Martine PerretGENEVA (7 June 2017) – Governments must do more to tackle the hugely disproportionate rates of violence suffered by women, including recognising attacks on them as human rights violations and domestic murders as a form of arbitrary execution, a United Nations expert has said.

“Violations of the right to life have usually been understood to be killings involving State officials,” said Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, in her first report to the Human Rights Council.

“It is time to recognise that gender-related killings, such as domestic and intimate partner violence, ‘honour killings’, or killings of LGBTQI persons, can also amount to arbitrary executions.”

She stressed: “Governments must pay greater attention to the significant role that gender plays in how likely people are to be arbitrarily deprived of their right to life.

“The fact is that gender plays an absolutely central role in predicting people’s ability to enjoy their human rights in general, and their right to life in particular.  It is an extraordinarily accurate predictor of people’s enjoyment of the right to life. Misogyny persists at all levels of society.”

Ms. Callamard said there was unmistakable evidence of women’s disproportionate risk of suffering harm and violence. Global statistics show that almost half of female homicide victims are killed by family members or intimate partners, compared with just over five per cent of male victims.

“When added to other factors such as race, ethnicity, religion, class, disability or sexual orientation, gender is central to determining the risk and predictability of harm, including killings,” the Special Rapporteur said.

Her report details extreme rates of violations of the right to life perpetrated against women and girls with disabilities, indigenous women and transgender people amongst others.

Ms. Callamard said it was clear that gender-based killings fell within her mandate to challenge arbitrary executions.

“A gender-sensitive perspective seeks to bring gender-based executions squarely within the mandate,” she said.  “This includes the importance of revealing the kinds of systemic discrimination which are currently being perpetrated, in order to remedy them and enable all people to enjoy equal rights.”

Her report also highlights that gender-based violations of the right to life stem not only from intentional acts, but also from a lack of basic conditions and services that guarantee life, such as access to food, water, health services and housing. 

“This negligence, which may be directly attributed to the lack of respect for the principle of non-discrimination, can also lead to death amounting to an arbitrary deprivation of life. The right to life is not only a question of civil and political rights, it is also a matter of the right to development and to economic, social and cultural rights,” the Special Rapporteur concluded.

Ms. Agnes Callamard (France) is the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. She has a distinguished career in human rights and humanitarian work globally. Ms. Callamard is the Director of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression at Columbia University and has previously worked with Article 19 and Amnesty International. She has advised multilateral organizations and governments around the world, has led human rights investigations in more than 30 countries, and has published extensively on human rights and related fields.

The UN Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms Laura Kruger (+41 22 917 9361 / lkruger@ohchr.org) or Ms Brenda Vukovic (+41 22 917 9635 / bvukovic@ohchr.org), or write to eje@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya,OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org

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Source: OHCHR http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21696&LangID=E

 

Human Rights Council opens its thirty-fifth session

6 de June, 2017

Photo: UN MultimediaOPENING RELEASE
 
Hears Statements by the President of Uruguay and the High Commissioner for Human Rights
 
GENEVA (6 June 2017) – The Human Rights Council this morning opened its thirty-fifth regular session, hearing an address by Tabaré Vázquez, President of Uruguay, and an update by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on the situation of human rights worldwide and on the activities of his office.  
 
Joaquin Alexander Maza Martelli, President of the Human Rights Council, opening the thirty-fifth session, recalled the Council’s approach to providing a safe space for civil society, which was in the mandate of the Council.  A constructive atmosphere made it possible to have a frank dialogue with dignity, which was crucial for the functioning of the Human Rights Council.  The Council would follow up on all cases of reprisals brought to its attention.
 
Tabaré Vázquez, President of Uruguay, noted that it was fundamental that all countries recognized, supported and participated together in the Council to ensure peaceful coexistence.  Those basic principles underpinned Uruguay’s work at the international level.  Coexistence was today threatened by situations of injustice, increased individualism and competition for goods and privileges.  Mr. Vázquez thus called for freedom and democracy, and politics as a social practice through which public affairs would be addressed.  Public policies had to be justified, designed and evaluated from a human rights perspective.  Economic growth was not an end in itself, but a means to achieve human rights and dignity for all.  It was the responsibility of States to ensure services for all, and those who had the most had to contribute the most.  The only purpose of the State was the implementation of the human rights of all persons.  Mr. Vázquez also called for comprehensive rights, reminding that the cost of the realization of the human rights of those who lived nowadays could not be covered through the mortgaging of the rights of future generations.   Development objectives and financing of policies should be realized with a forward-looking vision, he concluded.  
 
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed concern about the brazen absence of shame being paraded by a growing number of politicians world-wide.  When “thug-like” leaders rode to power, democratically or otherwise, and openly defied not only their own laws and constitutions, but also their obligations under international law, where was their shame?  The universal rights to freedom, equality and dignity had been held to be true across cultures and civilizations because of their intrinsic value, and because they made it possible to keep the peace.  In recent months, he had been greatly concerned by a number of disgraceful incidents of personal threats and insults directed against Special Procedures mandate-holders.  He called on all to cooperate with Assistant Secretary-General Andrew Gilmour, who was leading action across the United Nations system on the issue of threats against Special Procedures mandate-holders.   
 
The High Commissioner said that members of the Council, and candidates for future membership, had a particular responsibility to cooperate with the Council’s mechanisms.  Yet, many countries had pending requests for visits and reports by 74 States had been overdue for a decade or longer.  Only 33 States were fully up to date with their Treaty Body reporting.  Every State had accepted that it was “the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms” – to reprise the Vienna Declaration.  Every State was party to at least one of the nine core human rights treaties.  Humanity was connected, and the denial of human rights in one country concerned every State in the Organization.  The present moment pointed to a tremendous opportunity to build on the Secretary-General’s commitment to prevention, and on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was powered by a drive to end discrimination on any grounds.  The international community could use those entry points to develop new openings for human rights work that could impact the lives of vast numbers of people, High Commissioner Zeid concluded.
 
The Human Rights Council is holding a full day of meetings today.  It will next hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.  At 11:50 a.m. the Council will hear an address by Nikki Haley, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations. 
 
Statement by the President of Uruguay
 
TABARÉ VÁZQUEZ, President of Uruguay, reminded that the historic path of coexistence, dignity and human rights had not been a linear path.  Uruguay itself had known setbacks and very bitter times.  Some of them had been not so distant and had been addressed by the Human Rights Council.   Uruguay was committed to the universality and interdependence of human rights, and respect for State sovereignty.  It was fundamental that all countries recognized, supported and participated together in the Council to ensure peaceful coexistence.  Those basic principles underpinned Uruguay’s work at the international level.  Uruguay had been actively associated with the Council since its creation, and it had submitted its candidacy for membership in 2019-2021.   Each country carried its own values, and every identity was part of the wealth of international society.  Commitment to the dignity of each person should underpin human rights.  Coexistence was today threatened by situations of injustice.   Increased individualism and competition for goods and privileges were prevalent in a world that at times looked like a psychiatric hospital run by patients.   Mr. Vázquez thus called for freedom and democracy, and politics as a social practice through which public affairs would be addressed.  Regardless of their religious identity, colour, ethnic origin and philosophy, dignity should be ensured to all human beings, he underlined.  
 
Public policies had to be justified, designed and evaluated from a human rights perspective.  Economic growth was not an end in itself, but a means to achieve human rights and dignity for all.  It was the responsibility of States to ensure services for all, and those who had the most had to contribute the most.  The only purpose of the State was the implementation of the human rights of all persons.  Work provided dignity, identity and belonging to society.  Therefore, inclusion in labour was one of the most important human rights.  Mr. Vázquez called for comprehensive rights, reminding that the cost of the realization of the human rights of those who lived nowadays could not be covered through the mortgaging of the rights of future generations.  Development objectives and financing of policies should be realized with a forward-looking vision.  Everyone should have a clean environment and leave it to future generations.  Mr. Vázquez reminded that Uruguay worked to ensure truth and justice, given its previous historical experience with dictatorship and systematic violations of human rights.  To ensure that the same never happened again, Uruguay would continue to work towards a strategy of development based on the principles of universality, equality and access to human rights.
 
Statement by the President of the Council

JOAQUÍN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI, President of the Human Rights Council, recalled the Council’s approach to providing a safe space for civil society, which was in the mandate of the Council.  A constructive atmosphere made it possible to have a frank dialogue with dignity, which was crucial for the functioning of the Human Rights Council. ,The Council would follow up on all cases of reprisals brought to its attention.  He noted that Nikki Haley, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, would later address the Council.
 
Statement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, thanked Uruguay for its commendable work for peace and security.  He then opened his statement by reminiscing on his first experience of war, noting that he had grown up not far from a massive Palestinian refugee camp.  Having later studied in depth the long and painful history of anti-Semitism in Europe, Russia and later, Arab countries, he said the Holocaust was “so monstrous and so mathematically planned and executed” it had no parallel, no modern equal, adding that it was also undeniable that today, the Palestinian people marked a half-century of deep suffering under an occupation imposed by military force.   The Palestinians deserved freedom, as all peoples did; and the Israelis also deserved freedom – a different sort of freedom, he said, for they had long had their State, but they too had suffered grievously. The end of the occupation must now be brought about, and soon.
 
Turning to other matters, the High Commissioner said the brutality of Daesh and other terrorist groups knew no bounds, and he condemned in the strongest of terms the “cowardly and sickening” attacks perpetrated against innocent people by callous terrorists operating in many parts of the world.  Terrorism worldwide must be eradicated, but counter-terrorism must be prosecuted while preserving the human rights of all.  To counter violent extremism, the international community must stand firm and insist on its opposite: peaceful inclusion.
 
The High Commissioner said that two years ago, he had touched on a subject which he wished to turn to once again this morning.  “I am told repeatedly we should not be “naming and shaming States,” he said, “but it is not the naming that shames.”  The shame came from the actions themselves, the conduct or violations at issue.  The denial of the right to life shamed; killing or murder, sometimes on a massive scale, produced shame stunningly, in seemingly inexhaustible supply.  The denial of the right to development produced shame.  The denial of human dignity shamed.  Torture shamed.  Arbitrary arrests shamed.  Rape shamed.  His Office held up a mirror before those whose shame had already been self-inflicted.  He expressed concern about the brazen absence of shame being paraded by a growing number of politicians world-wide.  When “thug-like” leaders rode to power, democratically or otherwise, and openly defied not only their own laws and constitutions, but also their obligations under international law, where was their shame?  The universal rights to freedom, equality and dignity had been held to be true across cultures and civilisations because of their intrinsic value, and because they made it possible to keep the peace.  They were not frivolous add-ons; they were absolutely critical.
 
The High Commissioner said that in recent months, he had been greatly concerned by a number of disgraceful incidents of personal threats and insults directed against Special Procedures mandate-holders.  Three had recently been subjected to smear and hate campaigns, some involving incitement to violence: the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar; the Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions, in the context of discussions on the Philippines; and the Special Rapporteur on Iran.  Noting that at the Council’s next session the Secretary-General’s annual report on reprisals would be presented, he called on all to cooperate with Assistant Secretary-General Andrew Gilmour, who was leading action across the United Nations system on this issue.
 
Members of the Council, and candidates for future membership, had a particular responsibility to cooperate with the Council’s mechanisms.  Yet, for example, Indonesia had 21 pending requests for visits, and had received only two mandate-holders since 2008.  Egypt had 11 pending requests for visits, with the most recent mission seven years ago.  Nepal, a candidate for membership, had 16 pending requests for visits, with the most recent mission by a thematic mandate holder conducted in 2008.  Venezuela had 10, with its most recent visit by a thematic Special Procedure mandate holder conducted in the last century.  The Philippines had accepted three visits in the past five years but 23 other requests were pending.  Despite issuing a standing invitation, Council member Nigeria had accumulated 15 requests for visits; one visit by Special Procedures was accepted last year, but the last previous visit was in 2007.
 
Despite having been elected to the Council in 2015, Burundi continued to commit some of the most serious human rights violations dealt with by the Council, while the Government had suspended all forms of cooperation with the High Commissioner’s Office.  In September the Council’s independent mission was declared persona non grata, and the current Commission of Inquiry had not been able to enter the country.  Turning to States which were not members of the Council, the High Commissioner noted that Bahrain, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Tanzania and Turkmenistan had permitted no visits at all by Special Procedures in the course of the past five years, and had accumulated more than five requests each.  Jamaica also fit into that category, but had agreed to the visit of the Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent.  Zimbabwe, with 14 requests pending, had never accepted a single mission by a mandate-holder.
 
The High Commissioner contested the self-serving argument presented by some that the Council should avoid addressing country situations, a view which was usually voiced by leaders of States that featured few independent institutions, and which sharply curtailed fundamental freedoms.  The Governments of Belarus, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Israel and Iran had also rejected resolutions creating country-specific mandate holders for them, and consequently did not allow visits by those mandate holders.  In the case of Syria, there had long been no access either for the High Commissioner’s Office or for the Syria Commission of Inquiry, and he repeated his call for the release of all detainees wrongfully imprisoned in Syria.  Last month the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea did accept its first-ever Special Procedures visit, but given the extreme severity of reported violations in the country, that did not diminish the urgency of engagement with the country mandate holder and the High Commissioner’s Office, including its field-based structure in Seoul.
 
Myanmar had been providing access to the country mandate-holder, but specific locations requested were often off-limits, he observed, urging the Government to cooperate fully with the recently established independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, including full and unmonitored access to Rakhine state, where it was believed the violations of human rights had been horrifying in the extreme.  After 10 years of no visits by mandate-holders, Cuba had accepted a mission by the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons.  China had invited four Special Procedures mandate holders to the country in the past seven years but those missions had faced challenges with regard to the necessary freedom of movement and access to independent civil society.  In contrast, several States had devoted considerable efforts to cooperating with mandate holders, facilitating more than five country visits in the past five years: Australia, Brazil, Chile, Georgia, Italy, Mexico, Tunisia and the United States, where it remained essential to enable access for the Special Rapporteur on torture to the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.  Australia, a candidate for membership of the Council, had not given access to all detention centres for migrants and despite multiple recommendations, the situation at centres in Nauru and Manus had not been adequately addressed.
 
When a State became a party to an international human rights treaty, this was a commitment to its own people; reporting procedures were not optional.  Yet reports by 74 States had been overdue for a decade or longer, and as many as 280 initial reports had never been submitted.  The treaties with the highest proportion of States parties not complying with reporting obligations were the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Sixty-five States that had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography had failed to report to it.  Almost 30 per cent of States parties had not submitted their initial report to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Only 33 States were fully up to date with their Treaty Body reporting: Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Canada, China, Cook Islands, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Holy See, Honduras, Italy, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Montenegro, Niue, Oman, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Singapore, Sweden, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.
 
Turning to countries which his staff had accessed recently, he said that when the High Commissioner had visited Tashkent, Uzbekistan last month, officials at the highest levels agreed to cooperate with his Regional Office for Central Asia and pledged to invite Special Procedures mandate-holders to visit the country, beginning with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.  Armenia had recently informed him of its intention to upgrade its engagement with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.  During the High Commissioner’s mission to Ethiopia last month, he had held discussions with the authorities, including on the need to increase democratic and civic space.  The Government of Mozambique had accepted a technical mission by Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights staff, and had requested the provision of assistance to train police, improve administration of justice and prison conditions, and assist with issues of transitional justice.
 
The already dire situation in the Kasai provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continued to deteriorate, spreading to other provinces and across the border with Angola.  Given the difficulties in accessing the areas where violations and abuses were occurring, the High Commissioner said he would be dispatching a team to the region next week to meet with people fleeing attacks, and unless he received appropriate responses from the Government regarding a joint investigation by 8 June, he said he would insist on the creation of an international investigative mechanism for the Kasais.
 
On Western Sahara, discussions were ongoing with the Government to resume technical missions.  His Office was also reviewing options for access to Crimea.  There had been no change since his speech to the Council in September 2016 regarding the essential question of access in many areas, the High Commissioner said, noting that in the south-east region of Turkey, efforts to inquire into allegations of serious violations continued to be denied, while the volume of people awaiting trial across the country made it difficult to imagine due process guarantees were being respected.  Despite repeated high-level requests to India and Pakistan, permission for staff from the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to have unconditional access to both sides of the Line of Control in India-Administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir had still not been granted, and reports were being received of increasing violence, civilian casualties, curfews and website blackouts.  In Venezuela, the growing human rights crisis highlighted the increasingly urgent need for an impartial analysis and rapid assistance, and the High Commissioner urged the Government to accept his request for a mission to the country at working level.
 
Last week, the Central African Republic authorities, OHCHR and MINUSCA had launched the human rights mapping report; it was hoped it would galvanise national and international efforts to fight impunity and send a strong signal that justice will be done to all those who were engaged in or backing the current wave of appalling violence threatening the country.  Guatemala had recently extended the host agreement of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights country office for three more years, a welcome development, but the country office in Bolivia would close at the end of the year, following the Government’s decision.
 
Every State had accepted that it was “the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms” – to reprise the Vienna Declaration.  Every State was party to at least one of the nine core human rights treaties.  Humanity was connected, and the denial of human rights in one country concerned every State in the Organization.  The present moment pointed to a tremendous opportunity to build on the Secretary-General’s commitment to prevention, and on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was powered by a drive to end discrimination on any grounds. The international community could use those entry points to develop new openings for human rights work that could impact the lives of vast numbers of people.  But the principal responsibility for opening those doors still rested on Governments, Excellencies, and on the Council.

__________

For use of the information media; not an official record

Source: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21688&LangID=E

States that fail to engage on human rights betray their people – Zeid

6 de June, 2017

Photo:  UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Human Rights Council 35th session     

Opening Statement by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

6 June 2017

Distinguished President of the Council,
Excellencies, Colleagues, Friends,

Fifty years ago, this was the day I first heard the sound of war. I was three and a half years old and, while fragmentary, I can still remember military men milling around our home in Amman, an armoured car stationed nearby and later, planes that flew overhead. It was a war that shaped my life, and forged my later desire to understand the depths of Palestinian suffering but not only that, Jewish suffering too – the latter spanning over two millennia, and which culminated in that colossal crime, the Holocaust.
 
I grew up not far from the massive Palestinian refugee camp in al-Baqa’a. I worked across the street from the al-Wihdat refugee camp. In the past thirty years, I have been to Auschwitz-Birkenau, visited Dachau, seen Buchenwald. I have studied in depth the trials at Nuremburg and elsewhere, the long and painful history of anti-Semitism in Europe, Russia and later, Arab countries – which remains still present in far too many places around the world.

Some will respond, mechanically almost, that the experiences of the two peoples are not equivalent, how could I mention them in one breath? Indeed, I agree – the Holocaust was so monstrous and so mathematically planned and executed it has no parallel, no modern equal.
 
Yet it is also undeniable that today, the Palestinian people mark a half-century of deep suffering under an occupation imposed by military force. An occupation which has denied the Palestinians many of their most fundamental freedoms, and has often been brutal in the way it has been realized; an occupation whose violations of international law have been systematic, and have been condemned time and again by virtually all States.
 
The Palestinians deserve freedom, as all peoples do. They deserve to bring up their children safe in their homes, on their land, exercising their rights in their State, free from this long and bitter occupation.

The Israelis also deserve freedom – a different sort of freedom, for they have long had their State, but they too have suffered grievously. The Israeli people have long endured unlawful attacks against their own civilian population – attacks which are often vicious, in clear violation of international humanitarian law, and also worthy of condemnation. Israelis too need to be free from this violence, from any existential threat posed to them.

The sine qua non for peace – the end of the occupation – must now be brought about, and soon. Maintain the occupation, and for both peoples there will only be a prolongation of immense pain, the endless flow of ‘azzas and shivas, the weeping by loved ones for loved ones, the prayers, the curses, the hatreds and vengeance, the impossibility of a secure life for all. This can be ended.

Mr. President,

The brutality of Daesh and other terrorist groups seemingly knows no bounds. Yesterday, my staff reported to me that bodies of murdered Iraqi men, women and children are still lying on the streets of the al-Shira neighbourhood of western Mosul, after at least 163 people were shot and killed by Daesh on 1 June to prevent them from fleeing. My staff have also received reports of missing persons from this neighbourhood.

I again condemn in the strongest of terms the cowardly and sickening attacks perpetrated against innocent people by callous terrorists operating in many parts of the world. Terrorism worldwide must be eradicated by government action – but smart action. Counter-terrorism must be prosecuted intelligently: that is, while preserving the human rights of all. Please remember this: for every citizen wrongfully detained under a vague anti-terrorism law, and humiliated, abused, or tortured, it is not simply one individual who then nurses a grievance against the authorities, but most of their family too. Send one innocent person to prison, and you may deliver six or seven family members into the hands of those who oppose the government, with a few who may even go further than that. The cost of a wrongful detention dramatically outweighs whatever benefit it is perceived to accrue. To counter violent extremism, we must stand firm and insist on its opposite: peaceful inclusion.

Mr. President,

Two years ago, I touched on a subject which I wish to turn to once again this morning. I am told repeatedly we should not be “naming and shaming” States. But it is not the naming that shames. The shame comes from the actions themselves, the conduct or violations at issue. The denial of the right to life shames; killing or murder, sometimes on a massive scale, produces shame stunningly, in seemingly inexhaustible supply. The denial of the right to development produces shame. The denial of human dignity, shames. Torture shames. Arbitrary arrests shame. Rape shames. My Office and I hold up a mirror before those whose shame has already been self-inflicted.

But what if there is no reaction to the suffering of so many people? I am concerned about the brazen absence of shame being paraded by a growing number of politicians world-wide.

When thug-like leaders ride to power, democratically or otherwise, and openly defy, not only their own laws and constitutions, but also their obligations under international law, where is their shame? Do they not feel disgusted with themselves when they incite or condone acts of violence and bigotry? When they remark that every soldier should be limited to three rapes of village women each, have they no conscience? Promising bounties for killing people – people not convicted of crime, or charged with crime, but merely suspected, or imagined, criminals. Seeking to withdraw from laws to combat violence against women and domestic battery, claiming they represent a so-called “gender ideology”. Jailing principled judges and advocates, journalists, human rights defenders, university professors and teachers, and closing universities. Trading in malice, cruelty, insults and lies. What of their shame?

The universal rights to freedom, equality and dignity have been held to be true across cultures and civilisations because of their intrinsic value, and because they make it possible to keep the peace. They are not frivolous add-ons; they are absolutely critical. Trash these, openly and defiantly, and the boundaries separating us from horrific violence dissolve. Only catastrophes burst forth at that point. How can they be so foolish?

Mr President,

I will now devote the remainder of this speech to the issue of access, including non-cooperation and selective cooperation with human rights mechanisms and my Office. In September I will again address the frightful human rights violations in the world’s most serious conflict situations as well as in other crises. 

Among the most striking features of this Human Rights Council is the Universal Periodic Review, which last month opened its third cycle. Every State in the world has twice submitted its performance and its intentions to the review’s often detailed scrutiny – and each State has committed to improving its record on a wide range of key points. Has there been real improvement? As we enter the third round of scrutiny, is the UPR deepening in relevance, precision and impact? Is it merely an elaborate performance of mutual diplomatic courtesies, or is it leading to real and powerful changes to anchor peace and development and improve people’s lives?

My Office is determined to do everything in its capacity to ensure full implementation of recommendations from all human rights mechanisms, including, in the third round of the UPR, through suggesting lines of action. We will also continue to engage with UN Country Teams and others to ensure recommendations feed into their work.

Mr President, 

Last September I shared with you my alarm about the refusal, by several Member States, to grant access to my Office or the human rights mechanisms. I pledged then that at a coming session of the Council, I would expand this discussion.

In recent months, I have been greatly concerned by a number of disgraceful incidents of personal threats and insults directed against Special Procedures mandate-holders. Three have recently been subjected to smear and hate campaigns, some involving incitement to violence: the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar; the Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions, in the context of discussions on the Philippines; and the Special Rapporteur on Iran. This is absolutely unacceptable. As Special Procedures are appointed by this Council, I call on you to consider what actions you may want to take to prevent these sorts of campaigns.

In this context, I must again emphasise my very serious concerns about intimidation and reprisals brought on by State officials against people who engage with the UN on human rights. My own staff, the Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies rely on members of civil society and national human rights institutions, alongside many others, for insight and information. We count on their advice, their help – and even their pressure. We serve them – as do you, Excellencies. When Government or other officials intimidate, arrest or harm these individuals, they are attacking a fundamental element of the work of this Council and the UN, and it is our responsibility to do all we can to protect them. Noting that at the Council’s next session we will present the Secretary-General’s annual report on reprisals, I call on all of you to cooperate with Assistant Secretary General Andrew Gilmour, who is leading action across the UN system on this issue.

Members of this Council, and candidates for future membership, have a particular responsibility to cooperate with the Council’s mechanisms. Resolution 60/251, which set up this Council in March 2006, calls on them to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights (and to) fully cooperate with the Council”. Yet, for example, Indonesia has 21 pending requests for visits by the Special Procedures, and has received only two mandate-holders since 2008. Egypt has 11 pending requests for visits, with the most recent mission seven years ago. Nepal, a candidate for membership, has 16 pending requests for visits, with the most recent mission by a thematic mandate holder conducted in 2008. Venezuela has 10, with its most recent visit by a thematic mandate holder conducted in the last century. The Philippines has accepted three visits in the past five years but 23 other requests are pending.
 
Most astonishingly, despite having been elected to this Council in 2015, Burundi continues to commit some of the most serious human rights violations dealt with by this Council, while the Government has suspended all forms of cooperation with my Office. In September the Council’s independent mission was declared persona non grata, and the current Commission of Inquiry has not been able to enter the country.

Turning to States which are not members of this Council, Bahrain, Laos, Tanzania and Turkmenistan have permitted no visits at all by Special Procedures in the course of the past five years, and have accumulated more than five requests each. Jamaica also fits into this category, but has agreed to the visit of the Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent and I encourage the Government to establish specific dates for the visit. Zimbabwe, with 14 requests pending, has never accepted a single mission by a mandate-holder.

I strongly contest the self-serving argument presented by some, that this Council should avoid addressing country situations – a view which is usually voiced by leaders of States that feature few independent institutions, and which sharply curtail fundamental freedoms.

The Governments of Belarus, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Israel and Iran have also rejected resolutions creating country-specific mandate holders for them, and consequently do not allow visits by those mandate holders.

In the case of Syria, there has long been no access either for my Office or for the Syria Commission of Inquiry. This notwithstanding the continued horrific suffering of the Syrian people, particularly in besieged communities. I repeat my call for the release of all detainees wrongfully imprisoned in Syria. The UN is finalising the recruitment of the head of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism.

Last month the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea did accept its first-ever Special Procedures visit, by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, an action I welcomed. Given the extreme severity of reported violations in the country, it should be clear this in no way diminishes the urgency of engagement with the country mandate holder and my Office, including our field-based structure in Seoul.

Myanmar has been providing access to the country mandate-holder, but specific locations requested are often off-limits, with conflicting explanations for these restrictions. I urge the Government to cooperate fully with the recently established independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, including full and unmonitored access to Rakhine State, where we believe the violations of human rights have been horrifying in the extreme.

In this survey of global cooperation and non-cooperation with Special Procedures, a particular mention should go to Cuba, which in April, after ten years of no visits by mandate-holders, accepted a mission by the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons. It appears unusual for such an active member of the Human Rights Council to maintain such limited engagement with the Special Procedures.

China has invited four Special Procedures mandate holders to the country in the past seven years but, as with some other countries, these missions have faced challenges with regard to the necessary freedom of movement and access to independent civil society.

Finally, and in contrast, several States have devoted considerable efforts to cooperating with mandate holders, facilitating more than five country visits in the past five years: Australia, Brazil, Chile, Georgia, Italy, Mexico, Tunisia and the United States. However, not all these visits have been free of difficulty. In the United States, which has received six country visits from Special Procedures in the past five years and has agreed to a further two during 2017, it remains essential to enable access for the Special Rapporteur on torture to the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, in line with the terms of reference of Special Procedures visits. Australia, a candidate for membership of this Council, has not yet adequately addressed the situation of migrants in detention centres including the regional processing centres in Nauru and Manus Island despite multiple recommendations from human rights mechanisms.

Mr President,

Becoming party to an international human rights treaty is a commitment which the State makes, above all, to its own people. Reporting procedures aim to identify gaps in protection and measures taken to correct them. They are not optional. Yet reports by 74 States have been overdue for a decade or longer – and in a few minutes, when the full text of this speech is posted to the Office website, the list of those countries will be appended. As many as 280 initial reports have never been submitted – meaning States have ratified the related treaty or optional protocol, and then seemingly turned their back on their obligations, reneging on their commitment.

Report HRI/MC/2017/2 last month, for consideration by the Chairs of the human rights treaty bodies, explores in often shocking detail this non-compliance by States parties. The treaties with the highest proportion of States parties not complying with reporting obligations were the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These are fundamental instruments. Sixty-five States that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography have failed to report to it. Almost 30% of States Parties have not submitted their initial report to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

The UN has been webcasting all public reviews by the Treaty Body Committees since last year, inspiring considerable interest in the respective countries; in April, Tunisia’s third report to the Committee against Torture was livecast in a cinema, to an audience that included government officials, activists, media and victims. And rightly so: the aim and subject of human rights reporting is to be of benefit to the people. It is not an end in itself, or a purely mechanical process to feed bureaucratic demands.

Only 33 States are fully up to date with their Treaty Body reporting: Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Canada, China, Cook Islands, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Holy See, Honduras, Italy, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Montenegro, Niue, Oman, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Singapore, Sweden, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United States of America, Uruguay and Uzbekistan. As I have said, reporting is essential – but taken alone, it does not necessarily translate directly into real progress.

Mr President,

I am happy to report a number of situations for which access by my staff has improved or seems likely to advance in the near future.

In Uzbekistan, when I visited Tashkent last month, officials at the highest levels agreed to cooperate with my Regional Office for Central Asia and pledged to invite Special Procedures mandate-holders to visit the country, beginning with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Uzbekistan still faces major human rights challenges but the leadership is, I believe, pointing the country in the right direction.

Armenia has also recently informed me of its intention to upgrade its engagement with the Office, and we will continue discussions with the Government in this direction.

During my mission to Ethiopia last month I signed a Memorandum of Interest with the Government, and held important discussions with the authorities, including on the need to increase democratic and civic space. Although access has not yet been granted to my staff to assess the recent events in Oromia and Amhara regions, I am hopeful this will take place, and I have pledged to lead a follow-up mission to Ethiopia next year. The recent sentencing of opposition leaders, apparently for expressing dissenting views, is of considerable concern to me, as are the periodic shutdowns of social media.

The Government of Mozambique has accepted a technical mission by my staff, and has requested OHCHR provide assistance to train police, improve administration of justice and prison conditions, and assist with issues of transitional justice. I am hopeful this will ultimately lead to OHCHR and Special Procedures gaining greater access to verify allegations of summary executions, arbitrary killings and enforced disappearances.

The already dire situation in the Kasai provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to deteriorate, spreading to other provinces and across the border with Angola. Given the difficulties in accessing the areas where violations and abuses are occurring, I will be dispatching a team to the region next week to meet with people fleeing the attacks. Unless I receive appropriate responses from the Government regarding a joint investigation by 8 June, I will insist on the creation of an international investigative mechanism for the Kasais.

On Western Sahara, discussions are ongoing with the Government to resume technical missions. My Office is also reviewing options for access to Crimea.

I deeply regret the need to report that in a number of other areas there has been no change since my speech to the Council in September 2016 regarding this essential question of access. In the south-east region of Turkey, our efforts to inquire into allegations of serious violations continue to be denied, while the volume of people awaiting trial across the country makes it difficult to imagine due process guarantees are being respected.

Despite repeated high-level requests to India and Pakistan, permission for my staff to have unconditional access to both sides of the Line of Control in India-Administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir has still not been granted, and we continue to receive reports of increasing violence, civilian casualties, curfews and website blackouts.

In Venezuela, the growing human rights crisis – including killings of at least 60 people, according to the Attorney General, as well as widespread shortages and hunger – highlights the increasingly urgent need for an impartial analysis and rapid assistance. I urge the Government to accept my request for a mission to the country at working level.

As this Council is aware, where the human rights situation appears critical, and where access is repeatedly denied to my Office, the only option open to us may be to conduct various forms of remote monitoring. So long as refusals to enable access persist, I will be compelled to consider reporting publicly and regularly on their findings.

Mr President,

Last week, the Central African Republic authorities, OHCHR and MINUSCA launched the human rights Mapping Report. It is our sincere hope that this report will galvanise national and international efforts to fight impunity and send a strong signal that justice will be done to all those who are engaged in or backing the current wave of appalling violence threatening the country.

Guatemala recently extended the host agreement of my country office for three more years, a welcome development. However, I regret that the OHCHR country office in Bolivia will close at the end of the year, following the Government’s decision. We will nonetheless continue to follow the human rights situation in Bolivia to the extent possible.

Mr President,

Every State has accepted that it “is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms” – to reprise the Vienna Declaration. Every State is party to at least one of the nine core human rights treaties. And it would be intolerable if delegations were to conclude that by maintaining minimal engagement with the human rights mechanisms they can evade or betray those commitments to their own peoples, and to the peoples of the world.

Leaders may wish to deny this reality, but whether we like it or not, humanity is connected. The torture of children in Daraa in March 2011, and violent attacks by the Syrian security forces on the subsequent protests by their parents, neighbours and supporters have led to a conflict whose slaughter, destruction and shockwaves continue to wreak havoc well beyond Syria’s borders. We see again and again, more and more brutally, around us the results of discrimination, deprivation and injustice – in the escalation of crises and suffering, and the outbreak of war.

Whether or not individual leaders consider this truth convenient, it is nonetheless a fact that denial of human rights in one county concerns every State in the Organisation.

To achieve progress in human rights takes a great deal more than the flourish of a signature at the bottom of a document. My Office, the Council’s Special Procedures and the Treaty Bodies offer States the benefit of objective and expert scrutiny, extensive experience, and practical, targeted tools.

I believe we have a tremendous opportunity to build on the Secretary-General’s commitment to prevention, and on the 2030 Agenda, which is powered by a drive to end discrimination on any grounds built around a core of commitment to rights – most particularly the right to development. We can use these entry points to develop new openings for human rights work that can impact the lives of vast numbers of people. But the principal responsibility for opening those doors still rests on Governments, Excellencies, and on this Council.

Thank you   

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today.  #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

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Source: OHCHR http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21687&LangID=E

World needs “revolution” in mental health care – UN rights expert

6 de June, 2017

OMS/P. VirotGENEVA (6 June 2017) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Pūras, has called for a sea change in mental health care around the world, urging States and psychiatrists to act with courage to reform a crisis-hit system built on outdated attitudes.

“We need little short of a revolution in mental health care to end decades of neglect, abuse and violence,” Mr. Pūras said after presenting his latest report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. 

“Mental health is grossly neglected within health systems around the world.  Where mental health systems exist, they are segregated from other healthcare and based on outdated practices that violate human rights.

“I am calling on States to move away from traditional practices and thinking, and enable a long overdue shift to a rights-based approach. The status quo is simply unacceptable.”

He added: “Mental health policies and services are in crisis – not a crisis of chemical imbalances, but of power imbalances. We need bold political commitments, urgent policy responses and immediate remedial action.”

Mr. Pūras said there was a “grossly unmet” need for rights-based care and support. Progress was being hindered by huge power imbalances in the systems currently used in policymaking, service provision, medical education and research.  Other major obstacles included the dominance of the biomedical model, with its overdependence on medication, and the “biased” use of evidence, which was contaminating knowledge about mental health.

“There is now unequivocal evidence of the failures of a system that relies too heavily on the biomedical model of mental health services, including the front-line and excessive use of psychotropic medicines, and yet these models persist,” Mr. Pūras said.

“This pattern occurs in countries across the national income spectrum.  It represents a failure to integrate evidence and the voices of those most affected into policy, and a failure to respect, protect and fulfil the right to health.”

In his report, Mr. Pūras warns that power and decision-making in mental health are concentrated in the hands of “biomedical gatekeepers”, particularly those representing biological psychiatry.

These gatekeepers, supported by the pharmaceutical industry, maintain this power by adhering to two outdated concepts: that people experiencing mental distress and diagnosed with “mental disorders” are dangerous, and that biomedical interventions are medically necessary in many cases. 

“These concepts perpetuate stigma and discrimination, as well as the practices of coercion that remain widely accepted in mental health systems today,” underlined Mr. Pūras, calling for a “paradigm shift” to ensure compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

“It is crucial now to assess the root causes of failure and to chart a way forward, reaching consensus on the best way to do this,” he said.

“New ways of thinking need to permeate the public sector, and mental health must be integrated into the whole of public policy.  We need bold action from within the corridors of power, specifically from within the psychiatric profession and its leadership,” the expert said.

“Paternalistic and excessively medicalized concepts must give way to participatory, psychosocial care and support in the community. Cost-effective and inclusive options with successful outcomes do exist and are being used around the world today – they just need to be scaled up and maintained.”

Mr. Pūras stressed that psychosocial distress would always be part of the human experience, particularly in the face of growing emergencies, inequalities and discrimination.
 
The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to help States, and others, promote and protect the right to the highest attainable standard of health (right to health). Dainius Pūras (Lithuania) is a medical doctor with notable expertise on mental health, child health, and public health policies. He is a Professor and the Head of the Centre for Child psychiatry social paediatrics at Vilnius University, and teaches at the Faculty of Medicine, Institute of International relations and political science and Faculty of Philosophy of Vilnius University, Lithuania.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For further information and media requests, please contact Ms. Dolores Infante-Cañibano (+41 22 917 9768 / dinfante@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today.  #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

Source: OHCHR http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21689&LangID=E

UN Human Rights and IACHR Condemn Excessive Use of Force during Social Protests and during Security Operations in Brazil

26 de May, 2017

Logos ACNUDH CIDHSantiago, Chile / Buenos Aires, Argentina — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the South America Regional Office of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemn the excessive use of force on the part of the Military Police to quell protests and demonstrations in Brazil. They also condemn the police violence in security operations in urban areas and in the context of the land conflict.

On May 24, 2017, social movements and union federations convened protests in Brasilia, the federal capital of Brazil, in which some 35,000 demonstrators participated. Acts of violence occurred during the demonstrations, including the burning and destruction of public property. In this context, at least seven individuals were arrested and 49 were injured, some of them seriously and at least one with a firearm. It was also reported that the Military Police used pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets to suppress the protest. It was reported that the Federal District Military Police was going to launch an investigation into the use of a firearm.

In response to these protests, on May 24, 2017, the government issued a decree authorizing the use of the Armed Forces to ensure law and order in the Federal District from May 24 to 31. That same day, the government announced that 1,200 members of the Army and 200 naval riflemen had been mobilized to protect public buildings. That decree was revoked on May 25, 2017.

“We urge the Brazilian State to redouble its efforts to promote dialogue and protect the right to peaceful protest,” said the OHCHR Representative for South America, Amerigo Incalcaterra. “Peaceful protest is a form of participation characteristic of democratic societies, where people can demand their human rights and actively exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression,” he added.

The two human rights bodies condemn all acts of violence and urge the demonstrators to exercise their right to free protest in a peaceful way. They also reaffirm that the conduct of the security forces must at all times respect international human rights norms.

In addition, the IACHR and the South America Office of OHCHR express their deep concern regarding the excessive use of force by security forces of the Brazilian State in the context of the land conflict as well as in operations to remove illegal drug users from urban areas.

For example, troubling information has been received regarding the repeated use of violence in the context of the agrarian conflict, especially against landless workers. Along these lines, 10 people died on May 24 during a violent eviction carried out by members of the police and the military on a farm in the state of Pará. The IACHR and the South America Office of OHCHR call on the authorities to investigate these incidents and other acts of violence, in order to identify and punish those responsible and thereby combat impunity and keep such incidents from happening again.

In addition, several people were injured on May 24 in the area known as Cracolândia, in the city of São Paulo, during a security operation to take illegal drug users off the streets. According to the information received, the operation included the demolition of an occupied building, the eviction of residents and merchants, and the use of gas bombs and rubber bullets against the residents of Cracolândia.

The IACHR and the South America Office of OHCHR urge the State to adopt mechanisms to ensure strict adherence to the general principles of legality, proportionality, and absolute necessity in the use of force in contexts of social protest. Moreover, firearms must not be used to control social protests. The use of these types of weapons is an extreme measure, and firearms should not be used except on those occasions in which the police institutions cannot reduce or detain, by less lethal means, those who threaten the life and integrity of others.

Both organizations urge the authorities to carry out the appropriate investigations and prosecute and punish those responsible. They also call on the State to guarantee and protect the physical integrity and safety of the demonstrators and to provide sufficient guarantees for the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly, within the framework of its international human rights obligations.

The Inter-American Commission and the South America Office of OHCHR further urge the State of Brazil to regulate police procedures that involve the use of force and respect international human rights standards, complying with the principles of legality, necessity, and proportionality that should guide the use of force by security agents of the State. In accordance with international standards, the use of force by law enforcement officials must be defined by exceptionality and must be planned and proportionally limited by the authorities.

“We call on the Brazilian authorities to guarantee the full exercise of human rights in the framework of the democratic rule of law, which is an essential condition for the effective promotion and protection of human rights in the country,” Incalcaterra said.

“We are seeking to guarantee democratic rights in a very delicate situation in Brazil right now,” said the IACHR Rapporteur for Brazil, Commissioner James Cavallaro. “We urge the Brazilian government to fulfill its international human rights obligations. This includes upholding the right to protest and adopting public policies that place a priority on respecting and ensuring the right to life, to personal integrity, and other fundamental human rights,” he added. Commissioner Cavallaro expressed his interest in carrying out a visit to the country soon, in his role as Rapporteur for Brazil.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is mandated to promote and protect the enjoyment and full realization, by all people, of all rights established in the Charter of the United Nations and in international human rights laws and treaties. OHCHR is guided in its work by the mandate provided by the General Assembly in Resolution 48/141. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The South America Regional Office of OHCHR is located in Santiago, Chile, and covers the following countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 069/17

 
 
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OHCHR PRESS BRIEFING NOTES – Venezuela

19 de May, 2017

Photo: UN MultimediaSpokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville

Location: Geneva

Subject: Venezuela (summary of responses to questions):

We very much regret the continued loss of lives during the political unrest. The latest figure we have is the one given out on 17  May by the Attorney General who confirmed 42 deaths in the context of the protests.

We welcome her announcement that the deaths will be investigated — and we believe it is important they are properly investigated. There are allegations of excessive use of force by security forces, so we stress again the importance of them operating in accordance with international human rights standards. With regard to reports of violence by armed groups, it is the responsibility of the state to protect the population from armed groups, and from the proliferation of weapons.

We also urge demonstrators to protest peacefully.

We are very concerned by the reports that people detained during the protests are being brought before military tribunals. Civilians taking part in protests should not be put before military tribunals. If they are accused legitimately of some kind of crime they should be appearing before civilian courts.

On the issue of Mr. Henrique Capriles allegedly being prevented from leaving Venezuela, we can confirm he was due to meet the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in New York today. On hearing the news last night, Zeid stated [on Twitter] that he had been hoping to see Mr. Capriles at the UN in New York, and regretted that he had been unable to travel. The High Commissioner added that he hopes that the incident is not a reprisal linked to the planned meeting with him in New York today.

The High Commissioner will go ahead with a meeting this afternoon in New York with Mr. Capriles’s lawyer who we understand wishes to share a report that Mr. Capriles had himself been planning to present to the High Commissioner today.

We find the rising tensions in Venezuela very alarming, and incidents like that involving Mr. Capriles yesterday are unlikely to help reduce tensions.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 97 67 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org)

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*Additional information: http://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/81ACF1FD196F63CCC12581250040E4A2?OpenDocument

 

UN Committee against Torture publishes findings on Argentina

12 de May, 2017

Photo: UN WebTVGENEVA (12 May 2017) – The UN Committee against Torture has published its findings on the countries it examined during its latest session from 18 April to 12 May: Afghanistan, Argentina, Bahrain, Lebanon, Pakistan and Republic of Korea.

The findings cover positive aspects of how the respective State is implementing the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and also main matters of concern and recommendations.

The findings, officially termed concluding observations, can be found here.

The Committee will next meet from 24 July to 11 August 2017 when it will review Antigua and Barbuda, Ireland, Panama and Paraguay.  More details can be found here.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Nicoleta Panta (+41 (0) 22 917 9310 / npanta@ohchr.org)

Background

What is the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment?

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (known as the United Nations Convention against Torture) is the most important international human rights treaty that deals with torture. The Convention obligates countries who are parties to the treaty to prohibit and prevent torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in all circumstances.

The Convention entered into force on 26 June 1987 and currently has 161 states parties. Thus, the vast majority of the member states of the UN (193) have voluntarily agreed to prohibit any form of torture.

Members of the CAT are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty. More information: http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/cat/pages/catindex.aspx

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Argentina: Supreme Court’s rulings on crimes against humanity must take into consideration international human rights standards – OHCHR

9 de May, 2017

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaSANTIAGO (8 May 2017) – The Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has urged the Supreme Court of Argentina to take into consideration international human rights standards, following a ruling that declared applicable the repealed Law 24.390 (known as 2×1) in a case against Mr. Luis Muiña, convicted for crimes against humanity.

“The use of the most favourable law must be interpreted in light of international standards applicable to crimes against humanity”, said the OHCHR Representative for South America, Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra. “The State of Argentine, and the Supreme Court as a State institution, must comply not only with its domestic law, but also with applicable international norms and with its international commitments”, he said.

Mr. Incalcaterra recalled that the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity –which was ratified by Argentina in 1995 and enjoys constitutional status in the country-, together with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court establish that such crimes are imprescriptible, and also set up the legal framework regarding the prosecution and the reparation to victims.

“Crimes against humanity not only offend victims, but all human beings. Therefore, they cannot be assimilated to common crimes and their seriousness requires a proportional sanction”, said the Representative of OHCHR. In this regard, Mr. Incalcaterra reminded that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court provides with the conditions to apply possible sentence reductions and the granting of benefits in cases of crimes against humanity (article 110).

The UN Representative emphasized that the rights to truth, justice and reparation are internationally recognized human rights and have been the subject of recommendations made to Argentina by United Nations human rights protection mechanisms.

“The right to reparation for victims of these crimes is a basic human right, enshrined in universal and regional human rights treaties, as well as in other international instruments, and should therefore be protected”.

Mr. Incalcaterra concluded expressing that the Supreme Court should consider the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties in the sense of not invoking provisions of its domestic law as justification for its failure to meet an international obligation.

ENDS

Read the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: https://www.icc-cpi.int/nr/rdonlyres/add16852-aee9-4757-abe7-9cdc7cf02886/283503/romestatuteng1.pdf

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UN expert urges governments to end “demonization” of critical media and protect journalists

3 de May, 2017

press freedomWorld Press Freedom Day – Wednesday 3 May 2017

GENEVA (2 May 2017) – Speaking ahead of World Press Freedom Day, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, who was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor freedom of the media and the safety of journalists globally, releases the following statement:

“On World Press Freedom Day, the world recognizes the role that free media plays in democratic society. Yet on every day of the year, including World Press Freedom Day, those who practise journalism face censorship, criminalization, harassment and, all too often, physical attacks and murder. Governments must act to secure press freedom, release detained journalists and end the public demonization of critical media.

There is no doubt that journalists themselves have work to maintain or build trust within their own societies. In some regions, the expansive and decentralized nature of contemporary media, with its heavy economic reliance on advertising, spectacle, and items whose main purpose is to attract attention to a website, has forced media outlets to take risks that do not always pay off.

In others areas, media concentration and state domination of the media crowd out independent reporting. Independent journalists everywhere must confront intentionally misleading and deceitful stories (such as “fake news” and disinformation), and are forced to devote dwindling resources to correcting the record and providing access to accurate information.

The work of journalism as a public watchdog over government has become ever more difficult, but ever more important, in our digital age.

On this World Press Freedom Day, while recognizing the hard work that remains for journalists and publishers to strengthen their essential role in providing everyone with access to information, it is far more important to direct attention to those governments and political leaders who work incessantly to undermine not only the practice of journalism but the right everyone enjoys under international human rights law to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers and through any media.

All too many leaders see journalism as the enemy, reporters as rogue actors, tweeps as terrorists, and bloggers as blasphemers.

Government harassment of the media is a global crisis. In this crisis, I call on all governments to take steps to protect and promote independent journalism. Specifically, I call on those in positions of authority to:

  • Release all who are held in detention for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Hundreds of journalists are held in prisons around the world today, but nobody should be detained for this reason.
  • Repeal legislation manifestly inconsistent with freedom of expression. All too many States legislate in ways that directly undermine journalism and the freedom of expression. They should be repealing laws that, among other things, criminalize defamation, particularly laws that penalize the insult of government authorities or lèse majesté; enable the investigation or prosecution of those who report on terrorism; and criminalize the reporting of “false news” or the “propagation of rumours”.
  • Take action to investigate and hold accountable all those responsible for attacks on journalists. This past year has seen repeated attacks on journalists, leaving many dead or injured. Often terrorist groups carry out such attacks to silence opposition, secularists or atheists. Too often threats are not met with effective protection by law enforcement or, in their aftermath, genuine investigation and prosecution. States need to make accountability a priority.
  • Resist the temptation to order critical websites to take down content or otherwise block information sources online. States are increasingly blocking websites, ordering platforms to take down content, and, in some circumstances, ordering the shutdown of network services. While expression that incites violence may be subject to prohibition, and restrictions may be imposed where necessary and proportionate to protect legitimate interests, such restrictions often fail these basic tests. Takedowns and shutdowns typically interfere with the freedom of the media and deny individuals worldwide access to information in the public interest.
  • Avoid surveillance of journalists. Governments have been expanding their legal authority and technical capacity to collect information on journalists and their sources. Such surveillance has severe costs in democratic societies, adversely affecting freedom of expression, and threatening sources and whistleblowers concerned about accountability.
  • Cease the public demonization of critical media. Political leaders increasingly describe reporters and others who collect and share information in degrading terms. The whipping up of hatred against the media may serve short-term ambitions of the powerful, but it will have a long-term deleterious impact on the right to information and the democratic process.”

*********

Mr. David Kaye (USA) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression August 2014 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, Mr. Kaye is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Mr. Kaye’s report to the UN General Assembly in October 2016 highlighted a range of threats to freedom of expression worldwide.

Mr. Kaye’s October 2015 report on the protection of sources and whistleblowers.

For more information and media requests please contact Ms. Azin Tadjdini (+41 22 917 9400 / atadjdini@ohchr.org) or write to freedex@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

You can access this media statement online
 
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Visit to Argentina: UN expert group to assess situation of arbitrary detention

3 de May, 2017

Photo: UN PhotoGENEVA / BUENOS AIRES (3 May 2017) – The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will carry out its second official visit to Argentina from 8 to 18 May 2017 to assess the situation of deprivation of liberty in the country. It will also build on the outcomes of the first visit made by the expert group to the country in 2003. 

The Working Group’s delegation, comprised of human rights experts Elina Steinerte and Sètondji Roland Adjovi, will visit a variety of places of deprivation of liberty, including prisons, health care institutions, and police stations, to meet with persons deprived of their liberty and to seek relevant information, for its assessment of the overall system.

During the ten-day visit, the experts will visit Buenos Aires city and province, as well as the provinces of Jujuy and Chubut, where they will meet with the federal and local authorities, civil society and other stakeholders to build an objective understanding of the wide variety of issues concerning the deprivation of liberty in Argentina.
 
The Group’s delegation will share with the media their preliminary observations at a press conference to be held at the UNIC Buenos Aires Auditorium, located in Junin 1940, 1st floor, City of Buenos Aires, on 18 May from 12:30 to 13:30.  Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.  

The Working Group will present its final report on Argentina to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2018.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is comprised of five independent expert members from five regions of the world: Mr. José Guevara (México), current Chair-Rapporteur; Ms. Elina Steinerte (Latvia), Ms. Leigh Toomey (Australia), Mr. Seong-Phil Hong (Republic of Korea), and Mr. Sètondji Roland Adjovi (Benin).

The Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights country page: Argentina

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Buenos Aires (during the visit):
Gustavo Poch (+ 54 011 4803 7671 /Gustavo.poch@unic.org)
Lucie Viersma (+41 79 444 3702 / lviersma@ohchr.org)
Margarita Nechaeva (+41 79 444 3940 / mnechaeva@ohchr.org)

In Geneva (before and after the visit):
Lucie Viersma (+41 22 928 9380 / lviersma@ohchr.org)
Margarita Nechaeva (+41 22 928 94 62 / mnechaeva@ohchr.org)
or write to wgad@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Section (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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New mobile app puts human rights at your fingertips

3 de May, 2017

Photo: OHCHR 3 May 2017 – The UN Human Rights Office launches a new mobile app to put the power of human rights at your fingertips. 

The UN Human Rights app provides an easy, user-friendly access to stories and news on human rights issues. Stories and news can be searched via region, country or theme. Users can also pre-select the countries and themes that interest them and see only those on the app.

The aim of the app is to provide an easier, and more user focused access to human rights information on the go, said Laurent Sauveur, chief of the External Outreach Services of the UN Human Rights Office. 

“It is an excellent addition to our existing communication tools so that everyone interested in human rights can get the information they want,” he said.

The app is the first of its kind for the UN Human Rights Office. It also includes a quiz, where users can test their human rights knowledge. Information is updated on a daily basis with an archive that goes back three months.

The app is free. You can download it via Google Play and App Store for Android and Apple devices respectively

The app is launched on World Press Freedom Day which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, evaluate it around the world and to defend the media from attacks on their independence.

– Source: OHCHR http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/MobileApp.aspx#sthash.bRXGSI3J.dpuf

 

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Uruguay “inspiring” on environment but must do more, UN rights expert finds

2 de May, 2017

Photo: UN UruguayGENEVA / MONTEVIDEO (2 May 2017) – United Nations Special Rapporteur John Knox says Uruguay has much to be proud of in its record on human rights and the environment, but that it still has some challenges ahead, including the setting up of an Environment Ombudsperson.

In a statement marking the end of his five-day mission to the country, Mr. Knox said: “Uruguay has supported its obligations to human rights and the environment by adopting a number of laws and policies on rights to information, public participation in environmental decision-making, and providing remedies following environmental harm.”

“But the Government should adopt affirmative measures to structure environmental information in a way that is easily understandable by the general public, especially those, like people living in poverty, who are most vulnerable to environmental degradation,” he noted.

Like other countries, Uruguay seeks to pursue both economic growth and environmental protection. These goals can sometimes come into conflict with one another. For example, expanding agricultural production through the use of fertilizers, agro-chemicals, and irrigation can cause environmental harm, including to water quality. 

“The best way to ensure that development is truly sustainable is to provide effective access to information, which in turn allows informed public participation in the decision-making processes,” said Mr. Knox. “Only in that way can the public be assured that economic growth is not coming at the expense of human rights.”

The Special Rapporteur stressed opportunities for public participation needed to be more than simply informing the public of decisions already taken.

Mr. Knox also reflected concern about potential misuse of a recently adopted decree aimed at dealing with the obstruction of public roads by protesters. He reaffirmed that peaceful public demonstrations were among the ways people could exercise their freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly.

“Any regulation by the State of these freedoms is acceptable only if it is necessary and proportionate to legitimate aims – and such measures should never result in the detention of those protesting peacefully,” the expert said.

He stressed the importance of legal measures in protecting environmental rights. “I am happy to learn that the office of the Attorney General is planning to create a new unit to support those bringing environmental cases, and I also strongly encourage the adoption of a pending bill on crimes against the environment,” he said.

The Special Rapporteur made clear that those most directly affected by environmental harms were best placed to identify violations, bring them to the attention of the Government, and seek redress.

He pointed to complaints that the current system for reporting problems was “confusing and not always responsive” and called for a new mechanism, which would include an Ombudsperson, who may have the authority to receive all environmental complaints and ensure that each was addressed promptly by the appropriate office.

The Special Rapporteur further commended Uruguay for having taken a leading role in implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“To meet their human rights obligations, States must do what they can to reduce their contributions to greenhouse gases, and to assist their citizens with measures to adapt to the changes,” Mr. Knox said. “Uruguay is taking significant strides in this regard and is an inspiring example of how a country can replace harmful fossil fuels with renewable energy.”

The UN human rights expert also encouraged Uruguay to work with other countries in South America and the Caribbean to seek a legally binding environmental treaty for the region by the end of 2017.

During his visit, Mr. Knox met Government officials, delegates from the business sector and representatives from civil society, in Montevideo and in the Santa Lucía Basin.

His final report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2018.

The UN Human Rights Council appointed Mr. John H. Knox (USA) in 2012 to serve as Independent Expert, and reappointed him in 2015 as Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. The Council requested him, a professor of international law at Wake Forest University in the United States, to clarify the application of human rights norms to environmental protection, and to identify best practices in the use of human rights obligations in environmental policy-making.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page: Uruguay

For more information and media requests, please contact Mr. Thibaut Guillet (+41 22 917 9674 / tguillet@ohchr.org) or write to srenvironment@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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Venezuela must allow peaceful protests and investigate killing of demonstrators, say UN experts

28 de April, 2017

Photo: UN PhotoGENEVA (28 April 2017) – The Government of Venezuela must facilitate peaceful protests and properly investigate the deaths of at least 25 people in recent demonstrations, say a group of United Nations human rights experts.*

“We are gravely concerned about allegations of excessive and indiscriminate use of force during the protests, as well as arbitrary detentions and killings,” the experts said.

“Any such actions would constitute serious violations of the rights to life, not to be deprived arbitrarily of liberty, to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” they added.

Hundreds of persons have also been injured and more than 850 people arrested in the protests, which began in 2015 against a backdrop of economic and social unrests.

The demonstrations became more intense after a ruling last month by the country’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice that it could assume the legislative powers of the opposition-controlled National Assembly. The decision was later reversed, but the protests have continued. 

“Political tensions are high at the moment, and public opinion appears sharply divided, but this is precisely when governments should do most to protect people’s rights” the experts stressed.

“The people of Venezuela need space for peaceful, constructive dialogue – with each other and with their leaders.” 

The experts drew particular attention to a new measure introducing an automatic military response to demonstrations. The measure, brought into effect in April 2017 and known as the Zamora Plan, also calls on groups of armed civilians and police to assist.

“The increasingly militarized response is counter-productive because it only increases tensions and heightens the risk of injury and death. Peaceful demonstrations should be facilitated, not treated as an inherent threat to security,” the UN experts said.

“Demonstrations should ordinarily be managed with no resort to force. Any use of force should be strictly necessary and proportional to a specific threat. Peaceful demonstrations, in and of themselves, are not a threat. Institutionalizing the use of a militarized response suggests that the Government thinks otherwise.”

The experts noted reports that paramilitary groups had also used force to suppress demonstrations, occasionally joining with the uniformed authorities.

In the state of Lara, paramilitaries reportedly killed three protesters. In 16 other states, there have been reports of armed groups provoking and harassing demonstrators with the support of state authorities.

“The Venezuelan Government has an obligation to investigate these killings, and to bring the perpetrators to justice,” the experts said. “And if the paramilitary groups are indeed cooperating with State agents, then the Government has an obligation to bring those State actors to justice as well.”

The UN human rights experts also criticized the increasing criminalization of protests in Venezuela and the use by Government officials of media outlets to stigmatize opposition demonstrators as foreign-supported terrorists.

(*) The experts: Ms. Agnès Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page: Venezuela 

For more information and media requests, please contact Marion Mondain (+41 22 91 79 540 / freeassembly@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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Housing inequality defines Chilean landscape – UN Expert says

28 de April, 2017

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaSANTIAGO / GENEVA (28 April 2017) – “Inequality is one of the hallmarks of Chilean society, and this is starkly apparent in the housing situation in the country” underlined the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha, who today ends a ten-day official visit to the country. 

“It is unusual to see a country that has successfully delivered homeownership to such a large number of low and middle income households, who can in turn pass it on to their descendants”, Ms. Farha said. “This secure tenure, however, has come at the expense of essential aspects of housing as a human right: location, quality and habitability, as well as access to transportation and employment opportunities”, the Special Rapporteur highlighted. 

The market driven approach to housing for vulnerable groups has contributed to the segregation of people in Chile based on socio-economic status, according to the UN expert. “Traveling to different places in Chile, including to informal settlements, I have witnessed sharp divisions between neighbourhoods, particularly with respect to the type and quality of housing, and the services around them”, she said. 

The UN expert said she was shocked by the abandonment by the government of people who are homeless, many of whom have disabilities. This population is basically invisible. They are offered few to no government services and certainly no housing options but for periodic shelter and charitable services. 

Ms. Farha was heart-broken to hear of the discrimination faced by migrants, both documented and undocumented, in accessing adequate housing. “I call on the Government of Chile to reform its migration law, including with explicit references to access to housing and to regulation and monitoring of private sector lessors”, she said. 

The Special Rapporteur acknowledged that the Government of Chile has put in place programmes to enhance inclusion and integration as well as a number of innovative pilot programmes addressing distinct housing needs. 

“However, without addressing housing as a human right, signalling a shift away from the view that housing is a commodity I fear vulnerable populations in Chile will continue to experience housing inequality which is unacceptable in a country that has indicated its strong commitment to human rights.” 

During her ten-day mission to the country, the expert went to Santiago, Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, Temuco, and Antofagasta and met with senior Government officials at national, regional and municipal levels, as well as with residents, civil society and community organisations. 

A detailed report of her findings will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2018. 

Ms. Leilani Farha (Canada) is the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context. She took up her mandate in June 2014. Ms. Farha is the Executive Director of the NGO Canada without Poverty, based in Ottawa, Canada. A lawyer by training, for the past 20 years Ms. Farha has worked both internationally and domestically on the implementation of the right to adequate housing for the most marginalized groups and on the situation of people living in poverty. Learn more:  

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

For more information and media requests, please contact: 

In Chile (during the visit): Juana Sotomayor, Human Rights Officer/ OHCHR, at +56 9 42036787- local- or +41 79 444 4078 / jsotomayor@ohchr.org) and María Jeannette Moya: +56 2 2210 2977 / mmoya@ohchr.org)

In Geneva (before and after the visit): Juana Sotomayor (+41 22 917 9445 / jsotomayor@ohchr.org) or write to srhousing@ohchr.org

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Chile

OHCHR Regional Office, Chile   

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: 

Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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Source: OHCHR http://www.ohchr.org/SP/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21554&LangID=en#sthash.FMybxEYC.dpuf

Committee against Torture reviews report of Argentina

27 de April, 2017

Photo: UN WebTV27 April 2017 – The Committee against Torture this afternoon completed the consideration of the combined fifth and sixth periodic report of Argentina on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Claudio Avruj, Minister for Human Rights and Cultural Pluralism, introduced the report of Argentina and stressed that without recognizing that torture actually took place, torture could not be eradicated.  In Argentina, practices of torture had been entrenched in the security forces, penitentiary system and in various strands of public power, which the democratic government was taking steps to address.  The law to establish a torture prevention mechanism at national and local levels had been adopted in 2012, but its implementation was unequal throughout the country.  Argentina embarked on the reform of its penal code to bring it in line its international human rights obligations, particularly with regards to human rights protection, fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.

Marta Varela, Senator and the President of the Bicameral Commission of the Ombudsman, explained that each federal unit – the 23 provinces and the City of Buenos Aires – had the responsibility to put in place their own torture prevention mechanisms.  The Bicameral Commission had been set up in 2016, and one of the key tasks it had was to appoint the 13 members of the National Committee for the Prevention of Torture, the process which had started in March 2017 through an open call of applications, and would be completed by July.  The Bicameral Commission also had the mandate to appoint the Ombudsman, and that process was ongoing.

Committee Experts said that, in prosecuting past crimes including crimes of torture, enforced disappearances, and extra-judicial executions, Argentina set an example for Latin America and the world as a whole.  Progress was there, trials for crimes against humanity committed during the military dictatorship should be further expedited.  Argentina continued to face challenges such as massive and ever-increasing presence of the police in poor neighbourhoods and excessive and arbitrary use of force by the police against people, usually poor, young and powerless; prison overcrowding due to doubling of the incarcerated population over the past 16 years and the related institutional violence such as excessive use of force, torture and ill-treatment; and the deplorable situation of psychiatric hospitals which gave rise to inhumane and degrading treatment.

Experts also raised concern about the poor implementation of the law on torture prevention mechanisms particularly in the provinces, the politicization and lack of independence of the national preventive mechanism, and about the overlapping of mandates of different institutions which made up the mechanism at the moment.  The Ombudsperson, who resigned in 2008, had not yet been replaced.  The migration law reform was regressive and violated fundamental rights and freedoms of migrants including through tightening of migration checks and easing deportation procedures; as such, it seemed to criminalize migration.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Avruj reiterated the commitment of Argentina to building its young democracy and its nation on the basis of the fight for human rights in its broadest conception, which was particularly important given the country’s past.

The delegation of Argentina included representatives of the Ministry of Human Rights and Cultural Pluralism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bicameral Commission of the Ombudsman, and the Permanent Mission of Argentina to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Friday, 28 April in Room XVII of the Palais des Nations in Geneva, to hold a general discussion on a draft revised General Comment of article of the Convention in the context of article 22.
 
Report

The combined fifth and sixth periodic report of Argentina can be read here: CAT/C/ARG/5-6.
 
Presentation of the Report

CLAUDIO AVRUJ, Minister for Human Rights and Cultural Pluralism, stressed that torture could not be eradicated before it was recognized that it had actually taken place.  Practices of torture had been entrenched in the security forces, penitentiary system and in various strands of public power.  The democratic government had taken steps to protect and advance the protection of rights, and had advanced the setting up of the institution of Ombudsman.  Argentina was due to be reviewed by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and had received, or would soon receive, visits by several special procedures, including by the Working Group on arbitrary detention.

At the institutional level and in terms of strengthening the legislative framework, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights had become Ministry for Human Rights and Cultural Pluralism.  The truth and justice programme and the programme for victims of violence were retained, and new units had been set up to address civic education, conflict resolution, and institutional violence.  The Ombudsman, acting as national human rights institution, had developed a monitoring programme for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  The law to establish a torture prevention mechanism at national and local levels had been adopted in 2012.  It had to be acknowledged that the implementation of local mechanisms had been unequal throughout the country: in some provinces they had been established and running, in others they still did not function well, and there were also provinces which still had not adopted the required legislation.  The Bicameral Commission of the Ombudsman was in the process of setting up the National Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

In February 2017, a commission had been created to propose an amendment to penal code and bring it in line with Argentina’s international human rights obligations, particularly with regard to human rights protection, fight against terrorism and drug trafficking. The Federal Justice Council had been established in 2008 to coordinate penitentiary policies and activities between different levels of public administration – national, provincial and the City of Buenos Aires.  The Council’s work plan for 2017 included a campaign for the promotion of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules).

MARTA VARELA, Senator and the President of the Bicameral Commission of the Ombudsman, explained that the law established a national committee for the prevention of torture and local mechanisms and bodies set up in accordance with that law.  Argentina was a federal state of 23 provinces and the City of Buenos Aires, and each had the responsibility to put in place their own torture prevention mechanism.  The Bicameral Commission had been set up in 2016, and one of the key tasks it had was to appoint the 13 members of the National Committee for the Prevention of Torture – representatives of the Parliament, the Government and the civil society.  The process of identification of candidates had started in March 2017, through an open call of applications, and would be fully transparent.  The candidates would be selected by the vote of both chambers of the Congress, and it was expected that a national committee would be operational by July this year.  The Bicameral Commission also had the mandate to appoint the Ombudsman and this process was ongoing.

Questions by the Country Co-Rapporteurs

CLAUDE HELLER ROUASSANT, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Argentina, commended Argentina for steps taken to address the crimes of the past, including crimes against humanity, and in particular the prosecution of those accused of crimes including torture, enforced disappearances, and extra-judicial executions committed during the dictatorship.  Argentina had set up an example for the whole of Latin America and the world.  The Government should not weaken institutions that had been created for that task, and should expedite trials for crimes against humanity committed during the dictatorship and under the terrorism laws.

The Committee Rapporteur noted that some of the challenges that continued in the country included barriers to the full and effective implementation of laws, most notably the law on a national preventive mechanism and the law on mental health; as well as continued human rights violations, violence against women, and issues facing the indigenous peoples.

The definition of torture was not in line with article 1 of the Convention.  Argentina was about to start the reform of its penal code – why the reform and what would it entail?  Why had the entry into force of the new code of criminal procedure been suspended?

The Ombudsman had resigned in 2008 and the new one had not been appointed.  What were the procedures in place to appoint an independent Ombudsman?  What happened if two-thirds of the parliamentary majority, which was the requirement for the appointment, were not achieved?

The institutional framework for the prevention of torture – which was still not fully in place – was composed of several bodies, such as the Ombudsmen, a penitentiary unit in the Ministry of Justice, and  provincial prevention mechanisms.  What coordination system was in place and how many complaints of torture had been received so far?

The rate of refugee recognition was decreasing since 2014.  How many asylum applications had been received, from which nationalities, and what were the reasons for the high rate of denial?  Could the delegation inform about the Syria Programme which was run by the National Directorate for Migration?

What were the reasons and nature of draft amendments to the migration law?  The proportion of foreigners in the prison population was on the increase, and currently stood at 21 percent, and it seemed that one of the purposes of the amendments was to tighten migration checks and ease the deportation procedure; critics objected to that criminalization of migration and considered that the proposed measures were regressive and in violation of Argentina’s international obligations as they violated fundamental rights and freedoms of migrants.

What measures were being adopted to prevent ill-treatment of migrants by security forces?  Security and migration policy should not violate any human rights at any time, stressed the Country Rapporteur.

Argentina was the first Latin American country to ratify the Optional Protocol in 2004, and had adopted the law on the national prevention system composed of local mechanisms and the national committee.  The implementation of the law was delayed, particularly in the setting up of the National Committee, which had not been completed yet, and that delay significantly limited the functioning of the mechanisms in the provinces. 

Mr. Heller Rouassant expressed concern about the politicization of the National Committee, and urged Argentina to ensure that the selection of members was transparent and in line with the requirements of the Optional Protocol. 

What steps were being taken to guarantee that three members of the national preventive mechanism were from the civil society and that the civil society could systematically participate in other torture prevention mechanisms and discussions?
Another issue was why the setting up of the national preventive mechanism was delayed in the first place and how it would cooperate with already existing institutions which had the mandate of torture prevention, for example the prison authorities.  How were the existing mechanisms working already?

Turning to violence in places of deprivation of liberty, the Expert expressed concern about overcrowding, which in some prisons reached emergency levels, the use of torture and ill-treatment of detainees, and the use of solitary confinement.

Over the past 16 years, the prison population had doubled; most were in the 34 federal prisons, and 500 were in provincial jails.  It was striking that the rate of imprisonment for women had dramatically increased, which seemed to be due to the repressive drug laws.  Less than 40 percent of detainees actually had a sentence handed down to them, and the rest were in pre-trial detention which, according to the law, could last up to two years and could be further extended by a special order. Such a dramatic increase in the prison population was one of the root causes of prison violence, which then led to an increased use of torture and ill-treatment as a disciplinary measure.  There were reports of extensive and systematic practices in prisons.

How did Argentina implement the international standards in that regard and what was it doing to reduce prison overcrowding?  What steps were being taken to address the use of torture and ill-treatment in places of detention?

The main cause of death in prison was poor health, due to inadequate hygiene, nutrition, and access to medical care, particularly for chronic diseases.  What steps were being taken to tackle that problem?

In Buenos Aires, the penitentiary system for adults was militarized and akin to practices of the past; there was impunity for the use of torture and ill treatment, and the almost complete lack of judiciary action on allegations of torture.  In the Magdalena prison, for example, 33 persons had died and the case had not been brought to court for almost a decade.

Another serious issue was the excessive and arbitrary use of force by the police against people, usually poor, young and powerless; in some cases, it led to extra-judicial executions.  The Committee was also concerned about the situation of human rights of people who spent months in police custody, which was not set up for extended time of detention.

The prison prosecution service had been established under the law, but it seemed that in practice it found it hard to function properly, also due to rejection by the administration and institutions.  It would become a part of the national preventive mechanism so the delegation was asked about measures to be taken to enable it to adequately operate.

There was no single unified system of data collection on cases of torture and ill-treatment in the country, which made the Committee wonder whether the Federal Government had a clear picture of what was happening at other levels of the state.

KENING ZHANG, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Argentina, welcomed the training on human rights provided to prison staff and law-enforcement officers, and asked whether those were periodic and compulsory.

A concern was raised about the massive and ever-increasing presence of the police in poor neighbourhoods and the reports of the police harassment.  What had been done at the end of the dictatorship to democratize and professionalize the security forces?

What training on the provision of the Convention, and, in particular on the absolute prohibition of torture, was being provided to immigration officers, the judiciary and the prosecution? 

How were the medical examiners being trained to identify signs of torture and ill-treatment?  What had been done to establish a system of independent examination in conformity with the Istanbul Protocol, as recommended by the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture in 2012?

The Office of the Ombudsperson for Federal Prison, which was acting as national preventive mechanism, had reported obstacles in accessing federal detainees in provincial prisons, and the required documentation, while the Public Defence Office had experienced barriers in accessing provincial prisons in Cordoba and other police stations.  What were the reasons for those obstacles?

How many complaints of sexual violence against detainees involving penitentiary staff had been reported, and what were the outcomes of investigations into those complaints?

Could the delegation explain whether the national register of information from domestic courts regarding cases of torture and ill-treatment was in place, and, if so, to provide data and statistics?

The Country Co-Rapporteur also asked for the up-to-date disaggregated information on the number of persons in the provincial penitentiary systems, particularly in Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Chaco, and in the federal system.  Which criteria were being used to assess the capacity of the penitentiary system and what steps were being taken to address the concerns raised about the conditions of detention, including overcrowding, poor nutrition, inadequate medical care, and limited family visits?

Mr. Zhang raised concern about the complete lack of statistics and data on the number of complains, investigations, prosecution and conviction of torture from the court system.

Torture and ill-treatment were a continued and deeply rooted practice, and part of a daily routine in prisons which still carried the militarized structure of the past.  There were reports of beating and a humiliating treatment upon entry in prison, the so-called “welcoming”, collective punishments, humiliated body searches, arbitrary and systematic transfer of detainees away from their families as a way of punishment.

Violence against detainees is partly caused by  the informal delegation of the use of force by the prison service to elected leaders among detainees who, in turn, managed illegal markets and extortion inside the prisons with the collusion of prison staff.

Since the inception of the National Register of Cases of Torture in 2000, 11 000 acts of ill-treatment and torture of persons deprived of their liberty had been registered.  The Programme against Institutional violence had received 3,777 complaints since 2008 and, of those, 2 088 had occurred in a context of detention.  The outcomes of those and other cases of institutional violence resulted in almost no application of sanctions to the authors. 

Could the delegation comment on concerns raised about impunity for torture and ill-treatment?  Was there a rehabilitation programme for victims, and what mechanism was in place to provide redress and compensation to victims?

Did Argentina use solitary confinement, and if so, how was it regulated by the law, how was it used in practice, and what were the conditions in isolation cells?  What guarantees were in place to ensure that disciplinary measures were imposed only after a disciplinary procedure that followed due process rights?

The delegation was asked to inform on the number of juveniles in detention and on which proportion of prison population they represented.

How many cases of excessive or unjustified use of force by the police had been reported and what was their nature? 

Despite the 2009 law for the prevention and punishment of violence against women, impunity for femicide prevailed.  The National Registry for Femicide, administered by the Supreme Court, had reported 235 cases of killing of women in 2015; more than 70 percent were perpetuated by a husband, a boyfriend or a former boyfriend.  Of the 235, only seven had been convicted.

Questions by Experts

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment had a constitutional rank in Argentina – did that mean that it could be invoked in court?

The Government had stated in 2015 that there was no overcrowding in prisons; in its concluding observations following the review of Argentina in 2016, the Human Rights Committee had expressed concern about high levels of overcrowding.  Which was the truth?

With regard to the principle of non-refoulement, a case pending before the Supreme Court in which the court of first instance had found that diplomatic assurances provided by the State did not satisfy the requirements of the Convention, and the extradition request had been rejected.  What was the outcome in that case?

Argentina had submitted four periodic reports by 2004, and it had taken it 13 years to submit the next one – what were the reasons for the delay, and which assurances could be offered to the Committee that the reports would be submitted as scheduled?

What were the results and outcomes of investigations into allegations of torture, how many led to criminal proceedings and what were the sanctions handed down?

In 2012, Argentina had set up mixed-sex residential correctional facilities for the population aged 14 to 21 years in order to bring “more normal conditions of life” for detainees; the Committee was concerned about the lack of separation of female from male prisoners and asked what had been done to ensure that women were protected from violence and abuse.

Argentina had reported that more than 40 percent of the complaints for torture in the federal penitentiary system had been investigated in 2016 – how many had been prosecuted and with which results?

Experts raised concern about politicization and lack of independence of the national preventive mechanism as well as about the overlapping of mandates of the different institutions which made up the mechanism. 

What would be the future mandate of the Office of the Prosecutor in terms of monitoring of places of detention, and would civil society organizations continue to be able to visit places of deprivation of liberty?  Was the budget allocated for the functioning and operation of the National Committee for the Prevention of Torture?

What procedure was in place following death in custody, asked an Expert.

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, expressed concern that pre-trial detention was being used even in cases where it was not justified, often as a result of pressure put on judges.  There was a lack of an adequate data collection system, including the national registry of detainees to ensure that no one who had entered a place of deprivation of liberty disappeared.  In that sense, the declaration by Argentina of the emergency situation in terms of national statistics, although never heard of before, was commendable.  Would civil society make part of provincial preventive mechanisms and what steps were being taken to endow them with the necessary forensic medicine expertise?

CLAUDE HELLER ROUASSANT, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Argentina, said that the national law on mental health called for the establishment of a three-body national registration mechanism, which was particularly important in the light of a deplorable situation of psychiatric hospitals in the country, which gave rise to inhumane and degrading treatment. 

Another Expert asked the delegation to comment on the allegations of the excessive use of force by the police, particularly against the poor and the young, in the framework of the 2014 emergency plan on public security in Buenos Aires and the steps taken to address those allegations.

Responses by the Delegation

In response to questions raised by the Committee Experts, the delegation reaffirmed that human rights and truth were fundamental values leading the nation in strengthening, democracy and national unity. 

The Committee had expressed the appreciation for the policies of memory, truth and justice and urged Argentina to continue on that path without weakening existing structures and programs.  Argentina considered human rights as a state policy, and all programs under the Ministry of Human Rights and Cultural Pluralism continued in full in force.  The human rights focus of the institutions and their actions on the ground were deepened and improved.

Argentina agreed on the need to accelerate the judgements for crimes against humanity committed in the past and had no interest in meddling in the functioning of the judiciary which was fully independent.

Argentina continued to pursue in courts cases of crimes against humanity; 593 cases were still active and of those, 222 were currently being prosecuted in courts.  The trial of general Milani was set to start in December this year; he had been the supreme head of the Argentine Army during the last military dictatorship and was being detained and tried for crimes against humanity, kidnapping and torture.

The delegation said that 2,780 persons had been charged as of March 2017, 750 had been sentenced, 794 were being prosecuted, 467 were deceased; many remained who were not yet summoned or were absolved.  There were 1,044 persons who were serving sentences for crimes against humanity, 455 in federal prison facilities, 518 in home arrest and the rest were in health facilities.  A relevant fact and for which a concern had been raised with the justice, was that only 25 percent of those convicted – 187 of the 750 – had received strict sentences.

Argentina maintained an open door policy and was unique and distinctive in the region due to migration, and the society was made of people from 50 different countries and was known for its coexistence in diversity.  The amendments to the migration law were not intended to criminalize migrants and Argentina was conceived that surviving the condition of entry and the residence in the country was a manner to protect human rights.

With regard to the democratization of justice, an ambitious justice reform programme Justice2020 had been adopted and was being implemented with the participation of civil society.

Argentina concurred on the critical lack of data and statistics, which was a product of the past and the errors in policies made by the previous administration, which maintained disconnect between various levels of government as well as justice system at the federal, provincial and district levels.

The post of Ombudsman had been established in the Constitution in 1994.  The procedure for the appointment of Ombudsman called for two-thirds majority of votes in both houses of Congress (qualified majority).  The Ombudsman enjoyed both political and economic independence as it had its budget approved annually by the Bicameral Commission.

Three members of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture were appointed from civil society for a period of four years, and the Committee had to develop activities and work together with non-governmental organizations and local public institutions where there were no conditions for compliance with the Optional Protocol.  Members of the Committee were appointed on the basis of two criteria; the first was their
compliance with ethical integrity, commitment to democratic values and recognized track record in the promotion and protection of human rights and in particular in relation to rights of those deprived of liberty; and second, their ability to maintain independence in opinion and independence.

The law on migration did not cover detention of migrants for reason of migration.  Detention period was only 30 days which could be extended by judicial order and detained migrants were held in appropriate lodging and separate from general prison population.  The expulsion procedure took between eight and ten years to complete, was not possible for crimes carrying less than five years prison; there were the possibilities of appeal, legal aid was provided as was the translation to the language of the migrant. The law therefore respected the Inter-American standards, the standards of the due process and the reality in the country.  Around 21 percent of the prison population in the federal and provincial penitentiary systems were foreigners.

The law on the recognition and protection or refugees established procedures for recognition of refugee status; there was no detention or restriction of freedom of movement.  The non-refoulement principle was the cornerstone of the law.  The refugee status had been granted to 88 persons in 2014 (from Syria), 115 persons in 2015 (from Syria and Ukraine), 170 persons in 2016 (from Syria and Ukraine), and 23 persons in 2017.

Femicide was a stand-alone crime in the criminal code and was defined as a murder of a woman as a result of gender-based violence.  A 114 hotline for gender-based violence was in place and in 2015 more than 22,000 calls had been made – more than half by women victims of violence themselves, and the rest by family members.  In 2015, 233 women had been victims of femicide.

Therapeutic abortion and termination of pregnancy resulting from rape were legal; provinces adopted their own protocols for access to legal abortion.  There were still provinces which did not have those protocols in place.

A commission had been set up to harmonize the criminal code, and criminalization of torture would be examined in that context.  A new bill to amend the code of criminal procedure had been presented, to strengthen investigative process and also to improve the ability of institutions to fight organized crimes.

Awareness-raising, education and training courses of human rights, ethics and prevention of corruption were being delivered to prison staff to strengthen their professional performance and so reduce institutional violence against persons deprived of liberty.

Draft law on setting up the national registry of persons deprived of liberty was being developed by human rights organizations, prosecutor for institutional violence, civil society organizations and other actors.  The bill would soon be presented to the Parliament for adoption.

Situation in detention facilities varied from one province to another and on average, overcrowding stand at ten per cent.  The situation was most grave in prisons in Buenos Aires where an emergency had been declared, and where more than half of the country’s prison population was housed. 

New prisons were being built to address this situation, particularly in the city of Buenos Aires and in Santa Fe province; new buildings would meet the Mandela Rules and other relevant international standards.  Work was also ongoing to rehabilitate the existing detention facilities and expand their capacity.

A series of protocols were in place to guide the prosecutors in the investigation, documentation and prosecution of cases of institutional violence, such as death in custody, torture and ill-treatment, and other forms of violence. 

In 2016 and up to March 2017, the special prosecutor for institutional violence had received 436 cases of institutional violence for different crimes allegedly committed by members of security forces in discharge of their duty or against persons deprived of their liberty.  Of those, 87 had been investigated and 25 prosecuted to date.

The mechanism for reparation and compensation of victims of human rights violations was present in courts under the civil code; entitled to reparations and compensation were victims of terrorism and state inflicted violence, and to date 2,700 persons had been compensated.  There was no system in place to provide disaggregated data on the nature of human rights violations, therefore it was not known how many of those were victims of torture.  The compensation awarded was confidential information, said the delegation.

The legislative processes in provinces for the setting up of local preventive mechanisms had been interrupted by the requirement to ensure that all the criteria and the requirements of the Optional Protocol were integrated in those laws.  Eight provincial mechanisms had been set up which demonstrated varying degree of functionality and success, depending on the particular conditions of each province, the size of prison population and the resources available.

The national register against torture was in place; it had been set up in line with the Commission on Memory and was under the aegis of the University of Buenos Aires.   There was also a registry of the cases of torture which were investigated and prosecuted.  Some provinces had their own registries as well, but there was a need for those systems to better connect and work together, combine data and statistics and so contribute to understanding the situation at the country level.

Follow-up Questions

CLAUDE HELLER ROUASSANT, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Argentina, urged Argentina to ensure that the new revised penal code would firmly criminalize torture and ensure that the definition was fully in line with article 1 of the Convention.  Overcrowding was a serious problem, which led to violence, excessive use of force, torture and ill-treatment.  What were the reasons behind such dramatic increase in prison population, which had doubled over the past 16 years?

Could the delegation clarify the figures provided on cases of institutional violence; how many were investigated and how many prosecuted?

KENING ZHANG, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Argentina, expressed concern about sex alignment surgeries performed on intersex persons without their consent, as such practices amounted to acts of torture.

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, inquired about the support provided to the civil society organizations in the context of monitoring of places of detention and about their inclusion in the national preventive mechanism.  How would the national preventive mechanism endow itself of the necessary medical expertise?

Responses by the Delegation

On the dramatic increase in prison population, the delegation said that the reasons were many, from population growth to increase in trans-national organized crime including drug trafficking and trafficking in persons.  Another problem was that around 60 percent of the prison population were in preventive custody, pre-trial detention.

The Public Prosecutor Office was an independent body within the Ministry of Justice; it was independent from the judiciary and operated under the aegis of the Congress.  The independence of the prosecutor was granted in the 1994 constitutional reform.

With regard to sex alignment surgeries on intersex persons, the delegation stressed that everyone in Argentina had the right to body integrity and sovereignty, including intersex persons.  In the law, a child under age of 13 was represented by a legal representative; children aged between 13 and 16 had the right to be involved in any legal procedures involving them and in any procedures involving their body.  They were considered adults in matters of their own bodies from the age of 16.  Consent of the person in question or his or her legal representative was required for a surgery to take place.  The best interest of the child was the leading principle.

The case before the Supreme Court concerning extradition involved a national of the United States charged with the crime which carried the death penalty.  Diplomatic assurances provided by the United States had not been deemed sufficient and the extradition had been halted.

Concluding Remarks

CLAUDIO AVRUJ, Minister for Human Rights and Cultural Pluralism, reiterated the commitment of Argentina to building its young democracy and nation on the basis of the fight for human rights in its broadest conception, which was particularly important given the country’s past.

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the extensive replies provided during the discussion.
__________

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Venezuela / Protests: UN and IACHR Rapporteurs condemn censorship, arrests and attacks on journalists

26 de April, 2017

Photo: UN/IACHRWASHINGTON/GENEVA (26 April 2017) : Two experts on freedom of expression of the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned today the practice of censorship and internet blocking in Venezuela, as well as the detention, attacks and stigmatization of journalists and media workers covering the recent protests in the country.

“We urge the Government to immediately release all those who have been detained for their journalistic work and for the exercise of their freedom of expression,” stated the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Edison Lanza.

The special rapporteurs also condemned the censorship and blocking of information both in traditional media and on the internet. “A large part of televised media is under government control, while the private sector operates with restrictions due to expired licenses that public authorities have refused to renew in more than two years,” they pointed out.

“Even under a state of emergency, the regulation as well as limitation or restrictions on web-sites and television signals transmitted over the internet are disproportionate and incompatible with international standards,” affirmed the experts.

“Prior to and following the recent disruption of the constitutional and democratic order denounced by international mechanisms, the space for critical voices of journalists, civil society representatives, human rights defenders and members of the political opposition has continuously deteriorated,” the experts warned.

Last August, the experts expressed their concern at “measures that considerably increased the pressure against media and limited its ability to operate independently.”

Detentions and attacks against journalists

According to reports, at least twelve Venezuelan and international journalists have been detained following the recent events. They have been released after being detained for several hours or, in some cases, a few days. One of the cases that have been reported is that concerning the journalist Yonnathan Guédez, who has now been detained for several days.

The experts also underlined that in an unprecedented act, the journalist Braulio Jatar continues to be detained since September 2016, after having distributed a video that showed individuals protesting against President Nicolás Maduro in Isla de Margarita, in the eastern part of the country.

Censorship and internet blockings

Various sources of information reported that at least three online platforms offering news and information of public interest in Venezuela – including VPI TV, Vivo Play and Capitolio TV –had been blocked by private internet service providers, following orders by the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel).

The decision to block the three online platforms was due to their coverage of anti-government protests across the country, which traditional radio and television media decided not to cover. Following these events, new acts of censorship have occurred, such as a prohibition imposed on pay-per-view TVs to provide access the channel CNN. Other international media platforms, such as TN from Argentina and El Tiempo and NTN 24 from Colombia, have either suffered interruptions to their transmissions or have had their signals suspended.

“Conatel’s arbitrary orders to suspend the signals of subscriber television channels and of the internet restrict the freedom of users to seek, receive and impart information, application or service of any kind, and therefore constitute a form of censorship,” the UN and the IACHR Rapporteurs emphasized.

Likewise, websites of non-governmental organizations and of media platforms reported that they had received online attacks aimed at overloading their servers or taking them down.

Mr. David Kaye (USA) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expressionin August 2014 by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

Mr. Edison Lanza (Uruguay) was appointed as Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression in July 2014 by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the IACHR to encourage the defence of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.
UN Human Rights, country page: Venezuela 

For more information and media requests, please contact: Ms. Azin Tadjdini (+41 22 91 79 400 / atadjdini@ohchr.org) or write to freedex@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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Human rights and the environment: UN expert announces first official visit to Uruguay

20 de April, 2017

Photo: UN MultimediaGENEVA / MONTEVIDEO (20 April 2017) – United Nations Special Rapporteur John Knox will undertake his first official mission to Uruguay from 24 to 28 April, to assess how the country is defending and promoting human rights relating to environmental protection.

“What measures are being taken by the Uruguayan Government to fulfil its human rights obligations concerning the environment?” asked the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

“I will focus particularly on the measures related to the rights to life, health, food, water, housing, participation in decision-making processes and effective access to remedies, and formulate recommendations to carry out these human rights obligations,” Mr. Knox said.

“I am also interested in gathering good practices related to innovative ways of responding to environmental challenges, particularly in the light of Uruguay’s robust domestic legislation which notably enshrines the protection of the environment as a matter of general interest,” the expert noted.

During his five-day visit, Mr. Knox will meet with Government officials, delegates from the business sector and representatives from civil society, in Montevideo and in the Santa Lucía Basin.

The expert will share with the media his preliminary findings at a press conference on the last day of the mission, on Friday 28 April at 11:00, at the UNDP building, Paraguay 1470, piso 5, Montevideo. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The final report of the Special Rapporteur will be presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2018.

The UN Human Rights Council appointed Mr. John H. Knox (USA) in 2012 to serve as Independent Expert, and reappointed him in 2015 as Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. The Council requested him, a professor of international law at Wake Forest University in the United States, to clarify the application of human rights norms to environmental protection, and to identify best practices in the use of human rights obligations in environmental policy-making.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page: Uruguay

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Montevideo (during the visit): please contact Ms. Graciela Dede (598) 2909-3806 / graciela.dede@one.un.org) or Mr. Thibaut Guillet (+41 22 79 444 3781 / tguillet@ohchr.org) or write to srenvironment@ohchr.org

In Geneva (before and after the visit): please contact Mr. Thibaut Guillet (+41 22 917 93 89 / tguillet@ohchr.org) or write to srenvironment@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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Right to housing: UN expert launches first fact-finding visit to Chile

18 de April, 2017

Photo: UN PhotoGENEVA / SANTIAGO (18 April 2017) – United Nations human rights expert Leilani Farha will carry out a visit to Chile from 20 to 28 April to assess the current housing situation in the country, focusing on both achievements and challenges in the realization of the right to adequate housing without discrimination. 

“My chief aim will be to assess whether the housing conditions of those living in informal settlements, subsidized housing, and rental accommodation are consistent with international human rights norms,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing.  

“I am most concerned that vulnerable populations enjoy the right to adequate housing. In this regard, I will be focusing on the housing conditions and needs of indigenous peoples, people living in poverty, as well as emerging disadvantaged groups such as migrants, refugees and asylum seekers,” she noted.  

The expert will also address issues related to gentrification and financialization, and their impact on the affordability of land and housing for the poorest segments of society, notably women heads of households. 

Because the right to adequate housing is most often implemented through policies and programmes, during her eight-day visit, Ms. Farha will gather information and testimonies on how different policy measures and mechanisms –notably subsidies – have played a role in ensuring access and availability of housing for different sectors of society.  

“I have heard that for some time, most people in Chile, regardless of their socio-economic status, could access housing. I want to learn more about the programmes that made that possible, and whether they are still effective” she underlined. 

The expert, who visits Chile at the invitation of the Government, will meet official representatives at the national and subnational level, as well as local authorities. She will also hold meetings with civil society and community organizations, and with academics. She will visit Santiago, Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, Temuco and Antofagasta.  

On Friday 28 April at 12:00, at the end of her visit, the Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL/ECLAC), Celso Furtado Conference Room, to share with the media her preliminary observations and recommendations. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists. Interpretation (English-Spanish) will be available. 

Ms. Farha will submit a full report of her findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in March 2018. 

Ms. Leilani Farha (Canada) is the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context. She took up her mandate in June 2014. Ms. Farha is the Executive Director of the NGO Canada without Poverty, based in Ottawa, Canada. A lawyer by training, for the past 20 years Ms. Farha has worked both internationally and domestically on the implementation of the right to adequate housing for the most marginalized groups and on the situation of people living in poverty. Learn more:  

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

For more information and media requests, please contact: 

In Chile (during the visit): Juana Sotomayor, Human Rights Officer/ OHCHR, at +56 9 42036787- local- or +41 79 444 4078 / jsotomayor@ohchr.org) and María Jeannette Moya: +56 2 2210 2977 / mmoya@ohchr.org)
In Geneva (before and after the visit): Juana Sotomayor (+41 22 917 9445 / jsotomayor@ohchr.org) or write to srhousing@ohchr.org

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Chile

OHCHR Regional Office, Chile  

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: 

Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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UN Committee against Torture to review Pakistan, Lebanon, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Argentina and Republic of Korea

13 de April, 2017

Photo: UN PhotoGENEVA (13 April 2017) – The UN Committee against Torture is meeting in Geneva from 18 April to 12 May to review the following countries in sessions that will be webcast live: Pakistan (18-19 April); Lebanon (20-21 April); Bahrain (21 and 24 April); Afghanistan (25-26 April); Argentina (26-27 April) and Republic of Korea (2-3 May).

The above are among the 161 States parties to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and so are required to undergo regular reviews by the Committee on how they are implementing the Convention and the Committee’s previous recommendations.

The Committee, which is composed of 10 independent experts, will engage in a dialogue with the respective government delegations. The public sessions, held at Palais Wilson in Geneva, begin at 10:00 Geneva time and continue at 15:00 the following day. The sessions will be webcast live at: http://webtv.un.org/. 

Further information is available here.

The Committee will publish its findings, officially known as concluding observations, on the respective states here on 12 May. A news conference to discuss the findings is scheduled for 12:30 on 12 May at Palais des Nations in Geneva.

ENDS 

For more information and media requests, please contact Patrice Gillibert (+41 22 917 93 32 / pgillibert@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 94 66 / ethrossell@ohchr.org) 

For media accreditation please go here. 

Read the media advisory online here.

What is the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment?

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment obliges States that are parties to the treaty to prohibit and prevent torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in all circumstances. The Convention entered into force on 26 June 1987 and to date has been ratified by 161 States. More information here.

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Preserve separation of powers, Zeid urges Venezuela

31 de March, 2017

Photo: OHCHRGENEVA (31 March 2017) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has expressed grave concern at the ruling by the Venezuelan Supreme Court to take over the legislative powers of the National Assembly.

“I strongly urge the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision. The separation of powers is essential for democracy to function, and keeping democratic spaces open is essential to ensure human rights are protected,” Zeid said.

“Venezuelan citizens have the right to participate in public affairs through their freely chosen representatives, as set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights*, which Venezuela has ratified. Duly elected members of parliament should also be able to exercise the powers given to them by the Venezuelan Constitution,” he added.

On 29 March, the Supreme Court ruled that the opposition-controlled National Assembly was in contempt of court, and that as long as this situation persisted, the Court would exercise parliamentary powers directly. It also indicated that the President of the Republic should take the civil, economic, military, criminal, administrative, political, juridical and social measures he deemed necessary to avoid what was termed “a state of commotion”.

The High Commissioner, who has voiced increasing concern at the lack of independence of national rule of law institutions in Venezuela, also called on the Government to guarantee people’s rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. 

“Continued restrictions on the freedoms of movement, association, expression and peaceful protest are not only deeply worrying but counter-productive in an extremely polarised country suffering economic and social crises,” Zeid said.

“Respect for human rights should serve as a common ground for addressing the shortages of food and medicine, and spiralling prices that have resulted in daily suffering for many Venezuelans,” he said. 

The High Commissioner noted the regional engagement by the Organization of American States (OAS) on the situation in Venezuela, and urged all OAS member states to ensure human rights concerns are taken into consideration during their deliberations.

ENDS

*ICCPR Article 25:
Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:

(a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives;
(b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors;
(c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country.

For more information and media requests, please contact: Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)

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Human Rights Council

28 de March, 2017

hrc

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The Human Rights Council (hereinafter Council or HRC) is the principal intergovernmental body within the United Nations (UN) system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe, and for addressing and taking action on human rights violations around the globe.

The Council hilds meetings throughout the year providing a multilateral forum to address human rights violations wherever and whenever they occur. It responds to human rights emergencies and makes recommendations on how to better implement human rights on the ground. The Council has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and country-specific situation that require its attention.

The Council held its first session in June 2006. One year later, the Council adopted its “Institution-Building” package by resolution 5/1 to guide its work and set up its procedures and mechanisms. Among the Council’s subsidiary bodies are the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, the Advisory Committee and the Complaint Procedure. The Council also has a large group of independent human rights experts reporting to it known as the Special Procedures who serve as the eyes and ears of the Council. These are made up of independent experts and working groups that examine, advise and report on thematic issues or human rights situations on specific countries.

In addition, the Council can establish international commissions of inquiry, fact-finding missions and then investigations to respond to human rights violations, to help expose violators and bring them to justice.

Download: http://acnudh.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/HRC_booklet_En.pdf

 

 

 

UN expert commends Argentina’s “progressive laws and policies” but urges action to stop attacks on LGBT people

10 de March, 2017

Photo: UN PhotoBUENOS AIRES / GENEVA (10 March 2017) – Argentina is being commended by a UN rights expert  for its “progressive laws and policies” aimed at stopping attacks on people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but the Government  is being urged to do more to combat institutional violence.

Speaking at the end of his first country visit, the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Vitit Muntarbhorn, said: “There is a national policy on sexual diversity and various State agencies have special units and/or personnel to deal with the issue, and this is very welcome.”

He also praised laws which helped to protect people from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, welcomed a law on gender identity entitling people to have their self-perceived gender identity recognized without needing gender reassignment surgery or judicial authorization, a law recognizing same sex marriage and another on comprehensive sex education which aims to foster understanding of sexual diversity from an early age.

However, Mr. Muntarbhorn found that “institutional violence is pervasive in Argentina, historically deep rooted in society and lies at the heart of the problem of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. A major dilemma is impunity for perpetrators compounded by difficulties facing victims and survivors who try to access the justice system.”

The Independent Expert noted that various steps were being taken to try to address the issues and recommended that they be expanded and made more effective.

“Killings, assaults, and harassment take a major toll among transgender women in particular.  They are part of a community which is particularly vulnerable and invisible, especially as their background is steeped in socio-economic deprivation and poverty.”

Mr Muntarbhorn called on Argentina to reform laws and policies which might lead to violence and discrimination, and to prevent laws on public decency and anti-drugs measures from being used to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

The Independent Expert also called for improvements in access to education, health, employment, and housing for transgender women.

He will present his findings and recommendations in his report to a forthcoming session of the Human Rights Council.

ENDS

Check the Independent Expert’s end-of-mission statement:

Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn (Thailand), Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Law, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, is the first UN Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). He took up the mandate on 1 November 2016.

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights country page: Argentina

For further information and media requests, please contact:
In Geneva (before and after the visit): Catherine de Preux De Baets (+41 22 917 9327 / cdepreuxdebaets@ohchr.org) or write to ie-sogi@ohchr.org
In Buenos Aires (during the visit): Gustavo Poch (+ 54 011 4803 7671 / Gustavo.poch@unic.org) or Catherine de Preux De Baets (+54 911 6938 2099 / cdepreuxdebaets@ohchr.org).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Bryan Wilson, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 /mediaconsultant1@ohchr.org)

You can access this press release online

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UN expert to assess violence and discrimination against LGBT people in Argentina

24 de February, 2017

UN Photo/Rick BajornasGENEVA / BUENOS AIRES (24 February 2017) – United Nations human rights expert Vitit Muntarbhorn is to make the first visit of its kind to Argentina to assess progress made towards eliminating violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the country.  

Mr. Muntarbhorn, the first Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity designated by the UN Human Rights Council, will investigate different forms of violence and discrimination.

“I am particularly interested in legislative reforms and policies that have been implemented in Argentina to protect people targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to create an inclusive environment,” he said.

The expert will arrive in Buenos Aires on 1 March for his ten-day visit and will meet with representatives of both federal and at provincial governments, as well as individuals and civil society organisations working on issues related to the rights of LGBT people in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Mendoza.

“The visit will allow me to identify not only good practices but also issues for which I will provide concrete recommendations to fight violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Mr. Muntarbhorn said.

A news conference to share the expert’s preliminary findings will be held on Friday 10 March at 12:30 at the UN Information Center, Junín 1940, first floor, 1113 Buenos Aires. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

Mr Muntarbhorn will also present his findings at a future session of the Human Rights Council.

ENDS

Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn (Thailand), Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Law, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, is the first UN Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). He took up the mandate on 1 November 2016.

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights country page: Argentina

For further information and media requests, please contact:

In Geneva (before and after the visit): Catherine de Preux De Baets (+41 22 917 9327 / cdepreuxdebaets@ohchr.org) or write to ie-sogi@ohchr.org

In Buenos Aires (during the visit): Gustavo Poch (+ 54 011 4803 7671 / Gustavo.poch@unic.org) or Catherine de Preux De Baets (+54 911 6938 2099 / cdepreuxdebaets@ohchr.org).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Bryan Wilson, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 /mediaconsultant1@ohchr.org)

You can access this media advisory online

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Davos: Zeid calls on business leaders to stand up for human rights

13 de January, 2017

Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc FerréGENEVA (13 January 2017) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein today called on business leaders gathering at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos next week to use their considerable influence to stand up for  human rights and prevent rights violations in countries where they operate.

“We begin the year full of anxiety about the state of the world: the deeply disturbing increase in divisive behaviour and policies, and outright hatred; the attacks against fundamental human rights, particularly of those already vulnerable; and the continued widespread failure to ensure fair access to resources, prosperity and economic security for all,” High Commissioner Zeid said.

“The hard-won laws and principles of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights are increasingly imperiled, and the business leaders gathering in Davos next week have a key role to play to stem this terrible tide and to insist upon respect for human rights in the States where they operate.”

Responsible business relies on stability – sound institutions, the smooth functioning of justice, sustainable development and public confidence in their personal safety, Zeid said, stressing that human rights lie at the core of such long-term stability.

“Companies need to take a clear, unequivocal stance that they will not tolerate links to human rights abuses anywhere in their operations and supply chains – and to have systems in place to ensure such abuses are actively prevented and promptly addressed. Many companies have already begun taking steps to prevent and mitigate human rights abuses in their operations in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including by setting up ways for people to safely lodge complaints,” Zeid said.

“Many companies have also taken action to defend and promote human rights. We have seen banks withdrawing funding for projects where human rights violations have occurred, for example.”

“Business actors can be powerful advocates for human rights – for the empowerment of women, for equal rights regardless of race, nationality or sexual orientation, for the rights of all to adequate housing, to an adequate standard of living, to education, healthcare and more.”

Zeid commended the steps taken by some leading companies to take a stand against media outlets peddling hate speech and xenophobic content and called on others to show similar leadership and to join in the fight for the global values that are currently under threat.

Zeid also welcomed the increasing participation by large multinational corporations in the annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights and the growing implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. He called on the gathering at Davos to reinforce these principles and for business leaders to pledge to stand up for the human rights of all, to the detriment of none.

ENDS

The UN Human Rights Office launched in December 2016 a global campaign called “Stand Up for Someone’s Rights Today.” The campaign is an effort to galvanize everyone – private sector, governments, individuals, civil society – to play an active role in standing up to defend the human rights of all, at a time when these hard-won rights and freedoms are facing increasing pressures across the world.  Please visit www.Standup4humanrights.org to learn more. 

High Commissioner Zeid will attend the Davos meeting from 16 to 19 January.

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 /rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org ) or Liz Throssell  ( +41 22 917 9466ethrossell@ohchr.org )

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2017 Call for Applications to the Special Fund of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture

6 de January, 2017

Photo: ohchr.org

A. CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

In 2017, the OPCAT Special Fund will accept project applications aimed at implementing recommendations made by the Sub-Committee on Prevention of Torture after a visit to a State party, provided these recommendations are contained in a report that has been made public in accordance with article 16(2) of OPCAT. The proposed projects should aim to contribute to the implementation of country-specific recommendations on the establishment or effective functioning of national preventive mechanisms.

The maximum amount of a grant is US$ 25,000. The application should reach the OPCAT Fund Secretariat before 1 March 2017. More information…

Past calls for applications

B. HOW TO APPLY

All applicants are requested to agree with the Guidelines for the Applicants and the Grantees and confirm their adherence to them by signing the Application Form. All applicants are requested to submit duly filled and signed Application Form, Budget Form and Banking Information Form to the OPCAT SF Secretariat (opcatfund@ohchr.org) before 1 March 2017.

Guidelines for the Applicants and the Grantees E F S
Application Form (Word) E F S
Budget Form (Excel) E F S
Banking Information Form (Word) E

Upon receipt of the grant, grantees are requested to fill in and sign the receipt form, and return it to the OPCAT SF Secretariat (opcatfund@ohchr.org)

Acknowledgment Receipt Form (Word)

C. HOW TO REPORT

All grantees shall provide a narrative and financial report on the use of the grant by 1 March of the year following the year of project implementation.
Narrative Report Form (Word) E F S (Annex 6 to be finalized)
Financial Report Form (Excel) E F S

All grants of US$ 50,000 and above must be audited by a certified external auditor. Grantees whose grants are below US$ 50,000 may be randomly selected for the audit on the use of the grant.

General Audit Requirement (PDF) E

Source: OHCHR

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Call for Submission: Gender-sensitive approach to Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killing

6 de January, 2017

Photo: ohchr.org

6 January 2017 – The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killing is committed to a gender-sensitive perspective in all her work, including through her missions, recommendations, general oversight, and reporting.

On a preliminary basis, she is considering issuing reports on: 

  • A gender-sensitive approach to extra-judicial, summary and arbitrary executions: legal and research methodology implications
  • Gender-specific killings that may amount to extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary, including for instance, domestic violence, honor killings, “femicide”, and/or other topics to be identified through consultation.

In accordance with the established practice of thematic mandate-holders, she welcomes submissions that civil society, academic, member states, UN agencies may wish to transmit for this purpose.

Additional information about the call for submission and Questions

All submissions should be sent by 31 January 2017in English, French or Spanish to ejegendersubmission@ohchr.org

Source: OHCHR

 

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Dollars and Sense: How – and why – the private sector needs to stand up for human rights

5 de January, 2017

Op-Ed by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

5 January 2017

In a few days, when hundreds of leaders from politics, business and the media convene in Davos to ponder global challenges, the prospect of shattering turbulence will be their backdrop.

A harsh public backlash against such ruling élites has fuelled upsets which promise sweeping changes in national, regional and global institutions and practise.

This widespread failure to ensure fair access to resources, prosperity and economic security fuels violence, increases precarious migration, and feeds support for divisive movements of hatred. It has spawned the rise of ethno-nationalist and populist movements, which in coming months will likely stoke xenophobia and violence across many regions while spurning collective solutions and international law. And as this toxic tide of hatred rises around us, essential principles which safeguard peaceful and stable societies risk being swept away.

Many business leaders acknowledge that good business means doing business right. They are implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to address  human rights impact in their operations and supply chains, and they incorporate the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption into their operations. Through these efforts, they are better prepared to manage the risk of the massive reputational damage which arises when corporations are perceived as involved with serious human rights abuses, such as child labour and modern slavery.

The case for respecting human rights is strong, but translating broad commitment into action across the corporate sector remains a challenge. Last March, the Economist Intelligence Unit found that 83% of senior executives considered business to be an important actor in respecting human rights. In practice, fewer than half their companies had drawn up a human rights policy statement – a key expectation for all companies under the UN Guiding Principles. We need to convince many more business actors that respect for human rights is good for their bottom line; the bulk of the world’s employment is in the private sector, and clearing up abuses will have enormous positive impact on millions of lives.

But business leaders also need to look outwards – to the communities in which they work. Business actors can be powerful advocates for the human rights which build resilient, peaceful and stable societies, able to overcome conflict and look to the future. Already, some corporate leaders realise it is in their interest to combat discrimination, inequalities, xenophobia, violence and hate – including by lobbying authorities to take action, and by empowering their staff to stand up for rights. As important local, national and regional actors, businesses can have major impact on the empowerment of women, migrants, minorities and marginalized groups, including LGBTi people. Their influence can transform the public landscape for issues of food security, land rights, environmental sustainability, the right to privacy and other essential topics.

Business cannot thrive in failing societies, where tension spikes and communities bristle with grievances and mutual contempt. Strong civil societies, due process, equality and justice: these are what enable real economic empowerment. People cannot just be the how of development – merely the tools that produce greater wealth. They are the why. In this sense, human rights — human dignity and well-being — are the whole point of economic growth.

Source: OHCHR

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Brazil 20-year public expenditure cap will breach human rights, UN expert warns

9 de December, 2016

Foto: OHCHRGENEVA (9 December 2016) – Government plans to freeze social spending in Brazil for 20 years are entirely incompatible with the country’s human rights obligations, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston.

The principal and unavoidable effect of a proposed amendment to the Constitution designed to ‘lock in’ a budget freeze in order to show fiscal prudence will be to harm the poor for decades to come, the expert warned. The amendment, due to be voted on by Brazil’s Senate on 13 December, is known as PEC 55 or the New Fiscal Regime.

“If adopted, this amendment would lock in inadequate and rapidly dwindling expenditure on health care, education and social security, thus putting an entire generation at risk of social protection standards well below those currently in place,” Mr. Alston said.

The independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council called on the Brazilian Government to ensure a proper public debate on PEC 55, to estimate its impact on the poorest segments of society, and to identify alternative measures to achieve the goals of austerity.

“One thing is certain,” he stressed. “It is completely inappropriate to freeze only social expenditure and to tie the hands of all future governments for another two decades. If this amendment is adopted it will place Brazil in a socially retrogressive category all of its own.”

The plan to change the Constitution for the next 20 years comes from a Government that came to power after the impeachment of the former President and which has thus never presented a program to the electorate. This raises even stronger concerns about the proposal to tie the hands of future governments.

Brazil is Latin America’s largest economy and has suffered its deepest recession in decades, with an unemployment rate that has almost doubled since the beginning of 2015.

The Government says a spending freeze mandated by the constitution will increase investors’ confidence by reducing public debt and interest rates, and will therefore help pull the country out of recession. But the special rapporteur warns it will have a severe impact on the least well-off.

“This is a radical measure, lacking in all nuance and compassion,” he said.
“It will hit the poorest and most vulnerable Brazilians the hardest, will increase inequality levels in an already very unequal society, and definitively signals that social rights are a very low priority for Brazil for the next 20 years.”

He added: “It clearly violates Brazil’s obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which it ratified in 1992, not to take ‘deliberately retrogressive measures’ unless there are no alternative options and full consideration has been given to ensure that the measures are necessary and proportionate.”

Mr. Alston pointed out that over the last few decades, Brazil had established an impressive social protection system aiming to eradicate poverty and recognize people’s rights to education, healthcare, work and social security.

“These policies have contributed substantially to reducing poverty and inequality in the country. It would be a historic mistake to turn back the clock now,” he said.

Brazil’s National Education Plan calls for adding R$37 billion annually to provide a quality education for all students, while this amendment will reduce planned spending by R$47 billion over the next eight years. With more than 3.8 million children out of school, Brazil cannot ignore their right to go to school, nor the right of all children to a quality education.

The debate on PEC 55 has been rushed through the National Congress by the new Government with limited participation by the groups affected, and without studying its impact on human rights. A recent survey suggested that that 43% of Brazilians are not aware of the plan, and among those who are aware, a majority oppose it.

The expert, who is engaging with the Brazilian Government to clarify the process and substance of the proposed amendment, stressed that “showing fiscal and economic prudence and honouring international human rights law are not mutually exclusive, as both focus on the importance of carefully designed measures that avoid negative effects on people as much as possible.”

“Immediate negative effects need to be balanced with potential longer-term gains, as well as efforts to protect the most vulnerable, especially the poorest in society,” he the noted.

“International economic studies, including research by the International Monetary Fund, show that fiscal consolidation typically has the short-term effect of reducing incomes, raising unemployment and increasing income inequality. And in the long-term there is no empirical evidence to suggest that these measures will achieve the objectives suggested by the Government,” the expert underscored.

Mr. Alston’s appeal to the Brazilian authorities has been endorsed by the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Ms. Koumbou Boly Barry.

ENDS

 

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

 

UN Human Rights, country page – Brazil: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/BRIndex.aspx

 

Source: OHCHR 

 

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Junko Tadaki (Tel: + 41 22 917 9298 / jtadaki@ohchr.org ) or write to srextremepoverty@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

 

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States must more than ever protect women human rights defenders

29 de November, 2016

Foto: OHCHRInternational Women Human Rights Defenders Day –29 November 2016

In the wave of rising fundamentalism and populism, States must more than ever protect women human rights defenders by tackling discrimination against women

On the occasion of International Women Human Rights Defenders Day on 29 November, we, independent experts of the UN Human Rights Council, pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of women throughout the world who work tirelessly and with courage to defend women’s human rights as well as all those who work for substantive equality in every sphere of society. These agents of change, fighting against all forms of discrimination and inequality, are recognized today as women human rights defenders.

Women human rights defenders face unique challenges, driven by deep-rooted discrimination against women and stereotypes about their appropriate role. Today’s rising fundamentalisms of all kinds and political populism, as well as unchecked authoritarian rule and uncontrolled greed for profit-making further fuel discrimination against women, intensifying the obstacles facing women human rights defenders. In addition to the risks of threats, attacks and violence faced by all human rights defenders, women human rights defenders are exposed to specific risks. Those working on rights contested by fundamentalist groups such as women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and those denouncing the actions of extractive industries and businesses are at heightened risk to attacks and violence.

The overwhelming majority of UN Member States, by ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), recognize that “the full and complete development of a country, the welfare of the world and peace require the participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields”. The political and public participation of women in society and the historic work of women’s organizations and feminist groups have been one of the major expressions of democracy and an indispensable engine for the recognition of women as subject with full rights and agency, benefitting millions of women and girls throughout the world, their families and communities. Every day, more women identify themselves as human rights defenders and undertake, individually and collectively, actions in pursuit of justice, equality, peace, and human rights for all.

However women’s participation in the public space has been curtailed by the discriminatory practices and gender stereotypes experienced by women throughout the world. The very concept of feminism is too often misunderstood, denigrated and discredited, even by some in the human rights community. We witness ever increasing threats and harassment including travel bans, as well as assaults, killings, and imprisonment of many women human rights defenders for their work in favour of human rights and especially for their demand for equality. As established in the CEDAW Convention, “discrimination against women” refers to any “distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality between men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field”. Discrimination against women human rights defenders and the obstacles they face are expressed in multiple forms:

Misogynistic attacks: Women who decide to break away from traditional gender roles and demand their rights and the rights of their communities are often questioned and stigmatized. Attacks against them, often in and through the media, revolve around the very same stereotypes that women human rights defenders strive to challenge through their work. They are often labelled as “bad mothers” or “whores”, their sexual orientation is questioned, and they can be ridiculed for their physical appearance or supposed lack of “femininity”.

Gender-based violence: sexual assaults or threats of rape and attacks against the family of the defender are the types of aggressions specific to women human rights defenders. These assaults are committed both by the authorities and institutions of the State and by private actors, ranging from private companies to their families, communities and organizations.

Lack of protection and access to justice: When a woman human rights defender is attacked, she will probably be unable to count on the support of her family, her community and sometimes even her organization. This is due to the persistence of gender stereotypes which lead to questioning and criticizing the fact that women participate in politics and do not dedicate themselves to domestic tasks. On the other hand, when a woman defender is assaulted and lodges a judicial complaint, she is likely to face re-victimisation, as the validity of her testimony and the seriousness of the facts are often questioned. Many of these women also do not have the necessary resources to pursue legal proceedings. Furthermore, the existing protection mechanisms generally suffer from the absence of a proper gender perspective, lacking recognition of the inequality of power between men and women, the discrimination and exclusion faced by women in the society and an effective response to respond to their needs and priorities.  Often protective measures are not sufficiently gender sensitive to take into account women’s particular situations such as their role as care takers in the family.

Lack of resources for women’s organizations and support to women defenders’ participation in political and public life: Women’s organizations tend to have less access to resources and less political support for the conduct of their work. Many women defenders are not recognized for their leadership and contribution – even in their own organizations, families and communities and have to bear, alone, the burden of domestic care and tasks while seeking time to participate in public or political activities.

The impacts of discrimination against women on the life and public participation of women human rights defenders are also multiple: increasing the risks they face in carrying out their work; affecting their health, their life, their relationships with their families and communities; diminishing their ability to contribute, thus affecting the work of the organizations in which they participate and the causes for which they struggle. They also impede more women from exercising their political rights by which they can contribute to the development of a democratic society. Women defenders who denounce violence against women, in particular in rural or semi-urban areas, women who are socially stigmatized due to their ethnicity, disability, age or sexual preference and women who live in territories in a situation of war or with military presence or in territories controlled by organised crime groups, are particularly affected. This discrimination also inhibits and discourages women who are agents of change but, out of fear of reprisals, do not even dare to identify themselves as human rights defenders.

Despite these challenges and despite the hostile context, the international community was able to make a milestone achievement, when in 2013 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the “Promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: protecting women human rights defenders” , which requires Member States to take concrete measures to eliminate discrimination against women, including:

– Stop criminalizing women for their work in transforming society and defending human rights and, on the contrary generate internal legislative and administrative provisions that facilitate their work.
– Develop measures to modify social and cultural patterns that are at the roots of violence against women and recognize that the achievement of democracy and development depend on women and on the improvement of their political, social, legal and economic situation.
– Develop measures necessary to ensure the protection of defenders which systematically integrate  a gender perspective in order to create a safe and supportive environment for the defence of human rights.

This historic resolution of the UN General Assembly recognizes the indispensable role played by women human rights defenders in society and their need for support, protection and empowerment. Given the particularly hostile current context, in which the term of human rights defenders itself is questioned and crushed in international fora, this resolution was a considerable achievement. To commemorate the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day this year, we urge Member States, the United Nations and society as a whole to combat discrimination, to recognize publicly and make visible all efforts that women human rights defenders deploy individually and collectively to preserve peace and to achieve equality. We also urge States to resolutely support initiatives which are defined by women defenders themselves and their organizations and to ensure an enabling environment for their work. In the face of rising populism and fundamentalisms and deplorable setbacks on the women’s human rights agenda, we need more than ever to unite our forces to preserve the democratic space in which women human rights defenders represent an essential counter-power and a colossal force of action.

ENDS

Source: OHCHR

 

For further references:

  • AWID, “Our right to safety: women human rights defenders’ holistic approach to protection” (March 2014)

_______

United Nations General Assembly resolution 68/181 (2013)

 

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International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women – 25 November

23 de November, 2016

Photo: OHCHRInternational Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women – 25 November

Joint call by UN Rapporteur on Violence against Women and all other global and regional mechanisms to end femicide and gender-based violence 

GENEVA (22 November 2016) – Speaking ahead of the International Day on the Elimination of Violence against womenthe United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Inter- American Special Rapporteur on violence against women, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa, the United Nations Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, the Committee of Experts of the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará  Convention (MESECVI) and the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence of the Council of Europe (GREVIO), * as key global and regional women’s rights expert mechanisms, jointly call for intensification of international, regional and national efforts  for prevention of femicides and gender based violence.

Violence against women is rooted in inequalities and discrimination against women and its prevention and eradication must be grounded in gender equality and empowerment of women.

Violence against women, as a form of discrimination against women and a human rights violation is prohibited both by the global human rights instruments – such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women – and by the regional treaties, such as the Belém do Pará  Convention, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of women in Africa (Maputo protocol), and the Istanbul Convention.

Monitoring work at both global and regional levels has shown that:

  • Femicides or gender related killings of women, and sexual and other forms of gender based violence against women and girls are widespread and persistent human rights violations.
  • There is widespread impunity due to the lack of implementation of the global and regional instruments on women’s rights and violence against women and the failure to turn these into real protection of every woman and girl.
  • There are significant gaps and shortcomings in national legislation and prevention systems often combined with  tolerance of such violence, exacerbated by a lack of reliable and disaggregated data, the absence of adequate risk assessments, and concealment and underreporting of gender-related killings, rapes and other forms of gender based violence against women.

All States must, as a matter of urgency and in collaboration with civil society and other stakeholders, step up their efforts to prevent and eradicate femicides, rapes and other forms of gender based violence against women and girls.

All stakeholders are urged to guarantee each and every woman and girl a life free from violence by applying holistic integrated policies on:

  • PREVENTION:  fully endorsing, incorporating and implementing global and regional treaties on women’s rights and violence against women (CEDAW and its Optional Protocol, theBelém do ParáConvention, the Maputo Protocol and the Istanbul Convention);
  • PROTECTION: providing shelters and safe places, crisis centers, protection orders and services for women and their children survivors of violence  and integrating gender perspective in the work of legal professionals and law enforcements officials dealing with violence against women;
  • PROSECUTION, including sanctions of perpetrators and providing redress and reparations for the victims and their families.

The experts also welcome the call of the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, to establish a “Gender-Related Killing of Women (Femicide) Watch” and to publish every year on the International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) the number of femicides or gender-related killing of women, disaggregated by age and sex of the perpetrators, the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim(s), as well as information on the perpetrators’ prosecution and punishment.

Establishing a “Femicide watch” to collect, analyse and review data at the national, regional and global level will place a much needed emphasis on prevention. Each femicide should be carefully examined to identify any failure of protection, with a view to improving and further developing preventive measures. In addition, a “Femicide watch” by its mere existence would increase awareness about femicides and other forms of gender-based violence against women and galvanise actions for its prevention. States should increase their efforts to use all available global and regional women’s human rights instruments and experts’ mechanisms to put in place effective systems to prevent and end femicide and gender-based violence against women and girls.**

ENDS

(*) The group of United Nations and regional women’s human rights mechanisms:

Ms. Dubravka Šimonoviæ, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/SRWomen/Pages/SRWomenIndex.aspx   

Ms. Lucy Asuagbor, Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights 
http://www.achpr.org/mechanisms/rights-of-women/ 

Ms. Margarette May Macaulay, Commissioner and Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission:
http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/women/default.asp

UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/WGWomen/Pages/WGWomenIndex.aspx

UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW): http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/cedaw/pages/cedawindex.aspx

The Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence of the Council of Europe (GREVIO):
http://www.coe.int/en/web/istanbul-convention/grevio

The Committee of Experts of the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention (MESECVI):
http://www.oas.org/en/mesecvi/about.asp

(**) Report of the Special rapporteur to the General Assembly of the United Nations on the modalities of establishing femicide watch (A/71/398)

For more information and media inquiries please contact: 

For the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women:  Antoanela Pavlova (+41 22 917 9331 / apavlova@ohchr.org) or write to vaw@ohchr.org

For the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights: +220 441 05 05 / 441 05 06 / au-banjul@africa-union.org

For the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: Ms. María Isabel Rivero (+1 202 370 9001 / mrivero@oas.org)

 

Video:

 

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Society, rights and the environment

22 de November, 2016

srePDF 1,73 Mb

The profound global changes and challenges that stem from economic, social and environmental imbalances have demonstrated, more than ever, the centrality of human rights to sustainable development. Development will not be sustainable or inclusive unless human rights are at its core. States’ commitments under international human rights law and those related to a new style of development are mutually reinforcing and aspire to the same objectives: increase human well-being and safeguard the dignity of people. They build on equality and universality. They set common principles, standards and values, aim at achieving global public goods and address collective concerns, especially considering the most vulnerable sectors of society.

The 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) reaffirmed the importance of respecting, protecting and promoting all human rights to achieve fair and democratic societies. The recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goes further in its emphasis on the interconnection between human rights and sustainable development, and its strong drive for universality, participation and inclusion. Its primary theme —“No one left behind”— is an affirmation of the fact that everyone should enjoy all rights. Placing equality at the centre of any development that is sustainable, the 2030 Agenda has unprecedented transformative potential —the potential to eradicate extreme poverty, break down inequalities, and ease our world towards more equitable, sustainable and people— and planet-centred societies. This development agenda is a human rights agenda.

This powerful interconnection of human rights, equality and sustainable development is also at the core of the mandate, priorities and proposals of the two institutions which take part in this publication: the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

One of the Economic Commission’s central concerns has precisely been the establishment of a model for sustainable development in the medium and long terms, whereby the horizon is equality, progressive structural change is the path, and policymaking, the instrument. In the proposals contained in the documents of its last four sessions —Time for Equality, Structural Change for Equality, Compacts for Equality, and Horizons 2030— ECLAC placed the need for public policies based on full entitlement to rights at the centre of the regional debate. Such policies should contribute to greater social inclusion and equality on the basis of partnerships and compacts, and a renewed equation between the State, the private sector and society.

Similarly, OHCHR is committed to helping to build a world in which all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are protected, universally and indivisibly, including the right to development. Human rights offer States a path towards greater stability, not less. They build systems of governance that are inclusive and just; economies that are grounded in fair access to resources and opportunities; societies that are resilient and based on respect for human dignity and equality; and an impartial rule of law. Poverty, inequality and exclusion arise because people have been made powerless —because of grinding, long-term deficits in democratic governance, essential freedoms and social dialogue. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals acknowledge these fundamental truths. They embrace the full range of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, as well as the right to development. And they do so as rights —not policy choices, but rights.

In this publication, ECLAC and OHCHR provide a compilation and systematization of international human rights standards applicable to access to information, public participation and access to justice. This collection contains the criteria set by international norms and shows how they have been developed and interpreted by international and regional human rights mechanisms.

Through this joint effort, we invite countries in the region to strengthen the promotion, protection and guarantee of access rights, to incorporate these rights into their strategies, policies and programmes, and to render them an imperative conceptual framework for achieving sustainable development through equality and the universality of rights.

Downloadhttp://acnudh.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/S1600930_en.pdf

 

UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination to review Uruguay

17 de November, 2016

Foto: OHCHRGENEVA (17 November 2016) – Uruguay’s record on tackling racial discrimination will face scrutiny by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on 24 and 25 November. Uruguay is one of the 177 States that have ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and so is reviewed regularly by the Committee of 18 international independent experts.

The review will take place on 24 November from 15:00 – 18:00 (11:00 – 14:00 in Montevideo) and on 25 November from 10:00 – 13:00 (06:00 – 09:00) at Palais Wilson in Geneva, and will be webcast at http://webtv.un.org/.

The Committee will also hear from other UN entities and NGOs. More information here:
http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1080&Lang=en

The Committee will publish its findings on Uruguay and the other countries being reviewed – Argentina, Togo, Portugal, Turkmenistan and Italy – on 9 December here:
http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1080&Lang=en

ENDS

Source: OHCHR

For more information and media requests, please contact Liz Throssell – +41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org or Nicoleta Panta – +41 22 917 9310 / npanta@ohchr.org
Background
Members of CERD are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty. More information on the Committee: http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/cerd/pages/cerdindex.aspx

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 21 December 1965. More information on the Convention’s 50th anniversary here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CERD/50/Pages/Icerd50.aspx

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UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination to review Argentina

16 de November, 2016

Foto: ACNUDHGENEVA (16 November 2016) – Argentina’s record on tackling racial discrimination will face scrutiny by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on 22 and 23 November. Argentina is one of the 177 States that have ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and so is reviewed regularly by the Committee of 18 international independent experts.

The review will take place on 22 November from 15:00 – 18:00 (11:00 – 14:00 in Buenos Aires) and on 23 November from 10:00 – 13:00 (06:00 – 09:00) at Palais Wilson in Geneva, and will be webcast at http://webtv.un.org/.

The Committee will also hear from other UN entities and NGOs. More information here:
http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1080&Lang=en

The Committee will publish its findings on Argentina and the other countries being reviewed – Uruguay, Togo, Portugal, Turkmenistan and Italy – on 9 December here:
http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1080&Lang=en

ENDS

Source: OHCHR

 

For more information and media requests, please contact r Liz Throssell – +41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org or Nicoleta Panta – +41 22 917 9310 / npanta@ohchr.org

 

Background

Members of CERD are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty. More information on the Committee: http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/cerd/pages/cerdindex.aspx

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 21 December 1965. More information on the Convention’s 50th anniversary here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CERD/50/Pages/Icerd50.aspx

 

For your news websites and social media: Multimedia content & key messages relating to our news releases are available on UN Human Rights social media channels, listed below. Please tag us using the proper handles:
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Zeid urges States to rally around International Criminal Court

16 de November, 2016

Foto: UN Photo/Violaine MartinGENEVA/THE HAGUE (16 November 2016) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday robustly defended the International Criminal Court, in the wake of a decision by three States to withdraw from it. Zeid urged the international community to “place our collective shoulder behind this institution.”

“Victims of core crimes will struggle to understand why they are abandoned by these States – together with those which never acceded – and why they are made victim again, as the withdrawals deny their right to remedy and redress,” the High Commissioner said. “Although the powerful may fear the Court, victims, everywhere, plead for its involvement.”

Speaking at the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC, the High Commissioner said the withdrawal of States from the ICC appeared aimed at “protecting their leaders from prosecution.”

“I am saddened by this state of affairs. The African countries have been the backbone of this Court, and their leadership, especially in the early days, was exemplary,” Zeid said. “I am pleased many African countries, including Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Malawi, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia and Sierra Leone have signaled they will not leave.”

“Today’s challenges are not the first stern test faced by the Court, and they will not be the last. A new trend of isolationist and unprincipled leadership is building up across the world. Renewed attacks on the Court may well be in the offing. It will take all the nerve and resources of the truly committed States Parties to resist such challenges. Now is not the time to abandon the post. This is the time for resolve and strength.”

ENDS

Source: OHCHR

 

The full text of Zeid’s speech in the Hague is available on: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20873&LangID=E

 

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein played a central role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court, chairing the complex negotiations regarding the elements of individual offences amounting to genocide; crimes against humanity; and war crimes. In September 2002, he was elected the first President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC. Over the next three years he oversaw the election of the first 18 judges, mediated selection of the Court’s first president, and led efforts to name the first prosecutor – despite considerable budgetary pressures and criticism of the Court by several leading nations.

 

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell  ( +41 22 917 9466 /ethrossell@ohchr.org)

 

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HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 2016

15 de November, 2016

 Foto: ACNUDH

→ Stand up for someone’s rights today

 

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. […]

Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Many of us are fearful about the way the world is heading. Extremist movements subject people to horrific violence. Conflicts and deprivation are forcing families from their homes. Climate change darkens our horizons – and everywhere, it seems, anxieties are deepening. Humane values are under attack, and we feel overwhelmed – unsure what to do or where to turn.

Messages of intolerance and hatred prey on our fears. They are spread by people who seek power, deploying twisted logic and false promises, and fabricating outright lies. Their narratives speak to selfishness, separatism – a distorting, narrow view of the world. Little by little, this toxic tide of hatred is rising around us, and the deep and vital principles that safeguard peaceful societies risk being swept away.

We must draw the line – and we can. There is another way.  It starts with all of us taking practical steps to reaffirm our common humanity.

The UN Human Rights Office upholds values that are the roots of peace and inclusion. We advocate practical solutions to fear and injustice, so governments protect the rights of all their people in line with international law.  We monitor their policies and call them out if they fall short. We stand for greater freedoms. Stronger respect. More compassion.

Join us. Help break the toxic patterns of a fearful world and embark on a more peaceful, more sustainable future. We don’t have to stand by while the haters drive wedges of hostility between communities – we can build bridges.  Wherever we are, we can make a real difference. In the street, in school, at work, in public transport; in the voting booth, on social media, at home and on the sports field.

Wherever there is discrimination, we can step forward to help safeguard someone’s right to live free from fear and abuse. We can raise our voices for decent values. We can join others to publicly lobby for better leadership, better laws and greater respect for human dignity.

The time for this is now. “We the peoples” can take a stand for rights. Let us know what you’re doing, and we will gather your stories, and amplify your voice. Local actions can add up to a global movement. And together, we can take a stand for more humanity.

It starts with each of us.

Stand up for someone’s rights today.

 

→ Stand up for someone’s rights today – Take action

 

On Human Rights Day, 10 December 2016, the UN Human Rights Office launches its “Stand up for someone’s rights today” campaign.  We want to encourage, galvanise and recognise what you do in your daily life, along with millions of other people around the world, to stand up for human rights – in your workplace, on the sports field, at school, in the street, wherever you are.

We all need AND can do something to defend human rights. Join us. Together we can change the course. We can make a difference!

If you would like to stand up with us but are not sure about what to do, here are just a few ideas.

1) Inform yourself and others about why human rights matter

  • Read and share the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Make a video of yourself with a friend talking about why you believe human rights matter (e.g. non-discrimination, gender equality or freedom of expression).
  • Promote stories on your social media about people that you know have stood up for rights.

2) Speak out/up when another’s rights are at risk or under attack

  • If you see someone being harassed, bullied or ridiculed on the street, on public transportation, while shopping or at school, stand with them.
  • Use social media to stand with people who are facing reprisals for defending human rights e.g. activists, indigenous leaders, environmentalists, lawyers, trade unionists, journalists, etc.
  • At work, in school, around the dinner table, help someone whose voice is rarely heard to share their views.

3) Stand with others’ human rights

  • Donate to organisations that support victims of human rights abuses.
  • Join public events in support of human rights – online and/or in the street.
  • Volunteer with a group that promotes human rights defenders.

4) Call on leaders to uphold human rights

  • Lobby your government to uphold rights: sign related petitions; lobby your legislators to pass human-rights friendly laws and to repeal unfriendly ones.
  • Urge your employer to sign up to the Global Compact on Business and Human Rights; promote celebration of human rights in the work place (e.g. non discrimination, family friendly policies, decent working conditions, equal pay for equal work).
  • Urge your community’s leaders (e.g. religious, local, sporting, cultural leaders) to make public commitments to human rights.

5) In everyday life action

  • Combat myths with facts: in online and daily conversations, challenge harmful stereotypes.
  • Speak up for tolerance and against prejudice. Keep yourself in check, challenge your own views and prejudices.
  • Consider the human rights track record of companies before doing your shopping.
  • Talk to your children about human rights and point out positive and diverse role models.

In the coming weeks, we will share with you different materials and explain how to engage with us to defend human rights.

In the meantime, please download the logo, start spreading the word and then let us know what you do.

We count on your support and action!

 

→ Stand up for someone’s rights today – Downloads

 

We encourage you to use our logo collection that was developed especially for Human Rights Day 2016. The logos feature the campaign slogan “Stand up for someone’s rights today”.

They can be downloaded in the following formats: PNG and EPS (for use by graphic designers).

English
PNG (sml)
PNG (med)
EPS

 

More information can be found here: http://ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/HRDay2016/Pages/StandUp4HumanRights.aspx

 

Violence against women: UN human rights expert in first official visit to Argentina

9 de November, 2016

Foto: OHCHRGENEVA / BUENOS AIRES (9 November 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its  causes and consequences, Dubravka Šimonović, will visit Argentina from 14 to 21 November to assess the overall situation of violence against women and girls, and gather first-hand information from women survivors of violence.

“Violence against women including femicides are widespread worldwide, and impunity and accountability of perpetrators remain a challenge”, Ms. Šimonović said. “I am grateful to the Government of Argentina for the invitation to conduct the first official visit to the country and for this opportunity to examine root causes and implementation of laws and policies to prevent and combat violence against women and girls.”

“I would like to engage in dialogue with the authorities in Argentina on ways and means for them to step up efforts to prevent and combat all forms of violence against women and girls with special focus on prevention of femicides,” the human rights expert noted.

Ms. Šimonović’s visit will take her to the capital, Buenos Aires, and the provinces of Tucumán, Corrientes and Buenos Aires, where she will meet with Government representatives both at federal and provincial level and non-governmental organizations. She will also visit shelters for victims of domestic violence and she will meet with women victims of violence.

The Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference on the initial findings of her visit on Tuesday, 21 November at the United Nations Information Center for Uruguay and Argentina, Junín 1940, 1st floor, Buenos Aires, at 12h30 p.m. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

Based on the information obtained during the visit, Ms. Šimonović will present a report with final findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in June 2017.

ENDS

Source: OHCHR

 

Ms. Dubravka Šimonović (Croatia) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2015, to recommend measures, ways and means, at the national, regional and international levels, to eliminate violence against women and its causes, and to remedy its consequences. Ms. Šimonoviæ has been member of the CEDAW Committee from 2002 to 2014. She headed the Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Croatia and was the Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Croatia to the UN in New York. She was also Ambassador to the OSCE and UN in Vienna. She co-chaired the Ad hoc Committee (CAHVIO) of the Council of Europe that elaborated the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention).She has a PhD in Family Law and published books and articles on human rights and women’s rights. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/SRWomen/Pages/SRWomenIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Argentina:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/ARIndex.aspx

 

For further information and media requests, please contact:

In Geneva (before and after the visit):
Antoanela Pavlova (+41 22 917 9331 / apavlova@ohchr.org) or write to avaw@ohchr.org.

In Buenos Aires (during the visit):
Gustavo Poch (+54 011 4803 7671 / Gustavo.poch@unic.org) or Antoanela Pavlova (+41 79 444 3702 / apavlova@ohchr.org)

For media inquirie