UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

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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Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

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

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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

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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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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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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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Foto: ACNUDH

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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Foto: UN Photo/Violaine Martin

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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Foto: ACNUDH

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

 

Foto: OHCHR

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 inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

 

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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Foto: UN Photo/Logan Abassi

Making cities the engine for rights-based, sustainable growth

4 de November, 2016

Foto: UN Photo/Logan AbassiHomeless people – sleeping on cardboard mats on the streets of Paris, under bridges in Geneva, or in a London park, steps away from the five-star Ritz hotel – have become a common sight as millions seek both safety and opportunity in cities around the world.

The UN estimates 60 percent of the world’s 14.4 million refugees and 80 percent of the 38 million internally displaced people are moving to urban areas, where more than half of the world’s population today resides.

The large-scale movements of people seeking to improve their lives and to live safely away from conflict  present opportunities as well as challenges for cities as they lead the way in realizing the New Urban Agenda adopted at the recent UN Habitat III Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development in Quito, Ecuador.

“More people than ever before are on the move around the world, both by choice and some without any choices at all.  As the beating heart of our globalized world, the city must humanize habitats for people in all their diversity,” UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore told the 30,000 local and regional officials, urban planners, civil society and community groups gathered at the conference. “Investing thus in the integration of migrants and refugees into the city is not only the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do.”

Cities can lead the way by upholding the rights and dignity of all their inhabitants, Gilmore stressed. “Yet today, through forced evictions, lack of tenure, absence of access to essential services and tolerance for intolerance, the city is – in so many instances – dehumanizing,” she said.

About 25 percent of city dwellers live in slums and lack access to basic services. The Deputy High Commissioner spoke of the need to humanize cities, through rights-based urban planning policies that also prioritize protection and inclusion of migrants, refugees and other minorities to ensure adequate housing and to counter discrimination, especially against people most in need of protection.

At a special session on migration and refugees, discussions highlighted the vital role and contributions of migrants and refugees in urban development.

“Refugees, internally displaced and stateless people have abilities and talents and aspirations, and they are attracted by opportunities that cities offer,” said Steven Corliss, director of the Division of Programme Support Management at the UN Refugee Agency. “They come in search of the things that most of us take for granted – to move freely and without fear, have a dignified home, find a dignified job to take care of their families, educate their children, see a doctor when they are sick and dare to dream of a better future.”

The New Urban Agenda offers an action plan for the next two decades aimed at steering the growth of cities and towns to ensure equal access to housing and basic urban services and to promote greener, cleaner cities to become the engine for sustainable growth in the future.

28 October 2016

ENDS

Source: OHCHR

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Foto: Foter.com

UN experts launch urgent call for action on anniversary of devastating Brazil dam collapse

4 de November, 2016

Foto: Foter.comBrazilian mine disaster, one year on – Saturday 5 November

GENEVA (4 November 2016) – A group of United Nations human rights experts has called for immediate action to address the ongoing impacts of the deadly collapse of a mining dam in Brazil on 5 November 2015.

In a statement to mark the first anniversary of the disaster at the Fundão tailing dam, the experts highlight unresolved issues including access to safe drinking water, river pollution, the uncertain fate of communities forced from their homes, and the insufficient response from the Government and companies concerned.

“On the eve of the first anniversary of the catastrophic collapse of the dam owned by Samarco, we urge the Brazilian Government and the companies involved to immediately address the numerous ongoing human rights impacts of this disaster.

The measures they are currently developing are simply insufficient to deal with the massive extent of the environmental and human costs of this collapse, which has been described as the worst socio-environmental disaster in the country’s history.

A year on, many of the six million people affected continue to suffer. We believe their human rights are not being addressed in areas including impacts on indigenous and traditional communities, health problems in riverside settlements, the risk of further contamination of waterways which have not yet recovered from the initial disaster, the slow pace of resettlement and legal redress for all displaced persons, and reports that human rights defenders are facing legal action.

We remind the Government and companies that a disaster on this scale – which released the equivalent of 20,000 Olympic swimming pools of tailings waste – requires a response on a similar scale.

We call on the Brazilian State to provide conclusive evidence that the river water and all sources of water currently being consumed by the population are safe and meet applicable legal standards. We are concerned by reports suggesting that some of the 700km of affected waterways, mainly the vital River Doce, are still contaminated by the initial disaster. Notably, levels of some heavy metals and water turbidity are said to be in breach of minimum standards.

This is particularly urgent in the light of reports that communities affected by the disaster have suffered adverse health effects.  We fear this impact is being suffered by riverside communities not just as a result of the contaminated water itself, but also as a result of dust produced from dry mud.

We also note the conclusions of the Brazilian environmental agency, IBAMA, that efforts by the companies concerned – Samarco, Vale and BHP Billiton – have been insufficient to stop the continuing leakage of mud from the Fundão tailing dam site in the State of Minas Gerais. We fear that more waste will reach the downstream region once the rainy season begins in the next few weeks.

As well as seeking urgent clarification on water quality and health, we are also concerned about the fate of communities who were forced from their homes by the disaster. One year on, the resettlement of these communities is far from complete. Restitution and resettlement measures should be taken that include the relocation of displaced indigenous peoples and local communities to lands, territories and resources which are equal in quality, size and legal status to the lands from which they were uprooted as a result of the disaster.

We believe the Brazilian Government and the companies concerned must speed up the resettlement process and ensure this work matches international human rights standards. Special attention should be given to the rights of these communities to ongoing improvement of their living conditions and to respect for their cultural values.

We previously welcomed the suspension of the settlement agreement by the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice, owing to concerns over its provisions.  However, we note that the issue is still pending before lower federal courts. We restate our deep concern over the adverse effects that some provisions of this agreement could have on people’s right to access justice.

While conciliation and quick access to reparatory measures are welcome, the settlement agreement must not deprive the affected communities of full access to effective long-term remedies.

We urge the companies to refrain from taking any action that amounts to intimidation of the work of human rights defenders, and to ensure that measures to safeguard their property are proportional and do not conflict with people’s right to freedom of expression and right to access remedies.

We call on the Brazilian Government to step up its work to solve this legal deadlock, to avoid further damage to the human rights of the communities affected and to reach a full remediation scheme. This must include guarantees that a disaster like this can never happen again.

We acknowledge steps taken by the companies to engage with the public prosecution, public attorneys and community leaders to find common solutions and resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

These efforts must now be redoubled to ensure that all those affected, including the relatives of the 19 people who died in the initial disaster, have their human rights fully and speedily met.”

ENDS

(*) The experts:

Mr. Dainius Pūras (Lithuania) is the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. He was appointed by the Human Rights Council on 1 August 2014. Mr. Pûras is a medical doctor, a Professor and Head of the Centre for Child psychiatry social paediatrics at Vilnius University. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Health/Pages/SRRightHealthIndex.aspx

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. For more information, log on to:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/SRHRDefendersIndex.aspx

Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. She was appointed by the Human Rights Council in June 2014. A member of the Kankana-ey, Igorot indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region in the Philippines, she is a human rights activist whose work for more than three decades has been focused on movement building among indigenous peoples and also among women. To learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/SRIndigenousPeoples/Pages/SRIPeoplesIndex.aspx

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 vice chair), Mr. Surya Deva, Mr. Dante Pesce, Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga (current Chairperson), and Ms. Anita Ramasastry. Learn more, log on to: www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/WGHRandtransnationalcorporationsandotherbusiness.aspx

 

Mr. Léo Heller (Brazil) is the UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. He was appointed by the Human Rights Council in November 2014. Mr. Heller is currently a researcher in the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/WaterAndSanitation/SRWater/Pages/SRWaterIndex.aspx

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.

 

UN Human Rights, country page – Brazil: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/BRIndex.aspx 

 

For enquiries and media requests, please contact Ms. Madoka Saji (+41 22 917 9107 / msaji@ohchr.org).

You can access this press release at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20829&LangID=E 

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

 

For your news websites and social media: Key messages about 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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Foto: OHCHR

UN Committee against Torture to review Ecuador

3 de November, 2016

Foto: OHCHRGENEVA (3 November 2016) – The UN Committee against Torture is due to review Ecuador on 8 and 9 November in Geneva. Ecuador has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and so is required to be reviewed regularly by the Committee.

Among the possible issues for discussion between CAT members and a delegation from the Ecuadorian Government are:

– Excessive use of force by police against demonstrators, police brutality and ill-treatment of detainees;
– Steps taken to improve prison conditions
– Investigation of past human rights violations, in particular torture and enforced disappearances;
– January 2012 incident where trainee police officers were allegedly ill-treated and humiliated by their instructors;
– Ill-treatment of LGBT people, including so-called with “conversion” therapies;
– Measures to prevent and combat abuse and sexual violence against minors in educational institutions;
– Measures to ensure safety of the members of the national network of forensic experts;
– Anonymous threats and acts of intimidation against human rights defenders and journalists.
The review will take place at Palais Wilson in Geneva from 10:00-13:00 (4:00-7:00 in Quito) on 8 November and 15:00 to 18:00 on 9 November (9:00-12:00) and be webcast live at http://webtv.un.org/. The Committee will also hear from NGO representatives.

More information, including Ecuador’s submitted written report, at: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1085&Lang=en

The Committee has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday, 7 December at 12:30 at the Palais des Nations to discuss its findings on Ecuador and the other States being reviewed – Finland, Monaco, Sri Lanka, Namibia, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Cape Verde. These findings, officially known as concluding observations, will be published here on 7 December: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1085&Lang=en

ENDS
Source: OHCHR
For more information and media requests, please contact Liz Throssell +41 (0) 22 917 9466/ +41 79 752 0488 ethrossell@ohchr.org)

Media accreditation:    http://unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpPages)/70991F6887C73B2280256EE700379C58?OpenDocument

Background
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

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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Foto: ONU/Jean Marc Ferré

UN human rights expert urges states to strengthen journalist security

2 de November, 2016

Foto: ONU/Jean Marc Ferré

International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

Wednesday 2 November 2016

GENEVA (1 November 2016) – Speaking ahead of the third International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, urges states to bring their understanding of what security of journalists involves into line with international human rights standards and to take active steps to ensure this security.

“Attacks against journalists and threats to their security take various forms: attacks against their physical integrity; interference with the confidentiality of their sources; and harassment through surveillance, just to mention a few.

Protection against these kinds of attacks is fundamental not only for journalists to be able to perform their work, but also for society’s access to information and for government accountability.

States have a positive obligation to ensure the security of journalists. All too often, however, governments express support for journalist security while taking measures that chip away at protection and thus at the information brought to light by secure reporting.

Especially worrisome are increased threats against the digital security of journalists through measures such as mass or targeted surveillance, blocking of online media sites, and practices or laws limiting or prohibiting encryption.

The international legal framework protects the digital and physical security of journalists. The UN Human Rights Council adopted earlier this year a resolution on the safety of journalists, addressing both their physical and digital security. I have also addressed the issues of source protection and encryption in two of my previous reports*.

Journalists who lack digital security find themselves and their sources subject to great physical threat, and yet physical attacks continue to be met with impunity. We see national leaders using rhetoric that encourages a lack of respect for the life and work of journalists.

According to the latest figures by the independent Committee to Protect Journalists, 52 journalists and media workers have been killed so far this year. In most of these cases, states do not take even the basic steps to begin to bring perpetrators to justice.

I urge all States to take steps to reverse this situation and make accountability – in law, policy and practice – a fundamental aspect of their support for journalism and the public’s access to information.”

(*) See the Special Rapporteur’s 2015 reports A/70/361 and A/HRC/29/32: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/Annual.aspx

ENDS

Mr. David Kaye (USA) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in 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. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx 

For more information and media requests please contact Mr. Stefano Sensi (+41 22 917 9237 / ssensi@ohchr.org), Ms. Azin Tadjdini (+41 22 917 9400 / atadjdini@ohchr.org) or write to freedex@ohchr.org.

You can access this media statement at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20811&LangID=E)

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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Foto: ACNUDH México

Violence against rights defenders a worrying global trend

27 de October, 2016

Foto: ACNUDH MéxicoIt was just before midnight when gunmen kicked in her kitchen door and stormed into her bedroom, firing multiple shots that ended the life of Honduran human rights and environmental activist Berta Cáceres.

For years before her murder in March 2016, Cáceres had received mounting death threats for leading campaigns to protect the territory of her indigenous Lenca community from logging, powerful landowners and development projects, including one of Central America’s largest hydroelectric dam projects.

The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, citing concerns for Cáceres’ safety, had called on the Honduran government to take action to protect her. “Reprisals, threats, executions and  criminalization of human rights defenders are part of a trend towards a continuation of severe abuses, jointly with more sophisticated  methods employed by states, to reduce the efficacy and freedom of human rights defenders,”  James Cavallaro, President of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, said at a recent Geneva workshop hosted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Harassment and violence against human rights defenders are part of a worrying global trend, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told the UN experts and members of regional human rights courts and civil society gathered at the workshop.

“We are here to defend the defenders,” the High Commissioner said. “In every region across the globe, the voices of civil society are being restricted, silenced or eliminated.”

The High Commissioner called for increased cooperation between UN and regional human rights bodies to promote greater participation of civil society in international human rights mechanisms and policy development.

Discussions at the workshop highlighted the responsibility of states to protect civil society actors, in accordance with their international human rights obligations, stressing that when civil society actors are threatened, attacked and murdered, the international community has a responsibility to support and protect them.

Cavallaro urged regional human rights bodies and the UN system to develop joint early-warning systems and to hold joint public hearings to support human rights defenders. “The more unified our message is, the more difficult it is to attack human rights defenders,” he said.

UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst in a recent statement expressed concerns regarding the judicial investigation into Cáceres’ murder after receiving reports that the original case file had been stolen by armed men from the judge in charge of the Cáceres case.

“I urge the Honduran government to accept the creation of the independent commission of experts proposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to cooperate in the investigation into the murder of Berta Cáceres,” said Forst.

Activists working to advance environmental causes, as well as LGBT and other minority rights, are particularly vulnerable to attacks, said Hassan Shire, head of Defend Defenders, a regional NGO network of East and Horn of Africa human rights defenders. Shire stressed the importance of creating “hubs of solidarity” to improve the protection of human rights activists. Shire himself had to flee his native Somalia in 2001 after his human rights office was bombed.

“Human rights defenders working in isolation are much more vulnerable,” said Shire. His network aims to foster solidarity among activist groups, promote awareness of regional and international human rights mechanisms, and increase access to support and protection for human rights defenders.

“Activists who stand up to speak truth to power have to be safe and have to have access to resources that can facilitate their work,” he said.
Participants at the workshop pledged to work together to hold states accountable for violations against human rights defenders, including restrictions on basic freedoms of assembly and criminalization of activists working to promote and protect human rights.

13 October 2016
Source: OHCHR

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Foto: Danielle Kirby

UN Committee to review Argentina’s record on women’s rights

27 de October, 2016

Foto: Danielle KirbyGENEVA (27 October 2016)  – Argentina’s record on women’s rights will be examined by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on 1 November. Argentina has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and so is reviewed regularly by the Committee on how it is implementing the Convention.

Among the possible issues for discussion between CEDAW and a delegation from the Argentine Government are:

  • Measures to increase women’s access to justice and awareness of their rights;
  • Eradication of multiple forms of discrimination against women, including against indigenous, and Afro-descendent women, LBTI, women with disabilities and rural women;
  • Measures to combat cultural stereotypes against women including in the media;
  • Combatting human trafficking, provision of welfare services to victims;
  • Increasing access for indigenous and Afro-descendent women to education,  and sexual and reproductive health
  • Measures to prevent early pregnancies, ensure access to safe abortion and tackle maternal mortality;
  • Steps taken to prevent all forms of gender-based violence against women, including sexual violence against women and girls, and femicides.

The review will take place in Room XVI at Palais des Nations in Geneva from 10:00 – 13:00 (5:00 –8:00 in Buenos Aires) and 15:00 – 17:00 (10:00 – 12:00) and will be webcast at http://webtv.un.org/.

The Committee will also hear from NGO representatives. More information about the review, including Argentina’s written report, here:
http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1027&Lang=en

The Committee’s findings, officially known as concluding observations, on Argentina and the other countries being reviewed – Canada, Burundi, Bhutan, Belarus, Switzerland, Honduras, Armenia, Bangladesh, Estonia, and Netherlands– will be published on 21 November here:
http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1027&Lang=en

ENDS

Source: OHCHR

 

For more information please contact Jakob Schneider at  jschneider@ohchr.org
Media requests: Liz Throssell +41 (0) 22 917 9466 ethrossell@ohchr.org

Media accreditation for the Palais des Nations:   http://unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpPages)/70991F6887C73B2280256EE700379C58?OpenDocument

 

Background

CEDAW is composed of 23 independent human rights experts drawn from around the world. They 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

 

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“The New Urban Agenda” — Opening remarks at a press conference by UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore at Habitat III, Ecuador

21 de October, 2016
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Quito, 20 October 2016

 

Good morning. 

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is the lead UN agency advocating for, and working on, human rights in all contexts – including in urban settings – and it is that responsibility which brings us here to the beautiful city of Quito and Habitat III.

Globally, urbanization is expanding at unprecedented rates, bringing with it the potential to contribute positively to the lives of billions worldwide.  Yet, today – more often – rapid urbanization goes hand in hand with the creation of more slums; of more people in inadequate living conditions and lacking secure tenure of their housing and land; and greater disparities, inequalities and discrimination.

There is no city without people and there are no people without rights.   In and for the city, human rights are at home – and there they must be protected, respected and upheld.

Rights in the city are core assets.  Not invented standards for temporary convenience.  No.  Upheld in law, tested in courts the world over, rights are the implementable details of that simple enduring truth – that we all are born equal in dignity and rights.  Rights are for tough times and prosperous times.  They empower both the duty bearer and rights holder so that risks of absolute sovereign power are diminished, and instead the State is supported to be an instrument of human dignity, answerable ultimately not to its elites but rather to those who have the least. This must be the foundation for implementation of the New Urban Agenda, which in turn must be framed by the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, whose core promise is to leave no one behind.  To leave no one behind means leaving no one out.   And upholding this dignity of its inhabitants is the city’s very raison d’etre.

Yet today, through forced evictions, lack of tenure, absence of access to essential services, tolerance for intolerance, disregard for the informal sector, failure to uphold indigenous rights and the promulgation of regulations that curtail the fundamental freedoms of assembly, expression and association, the city is – in so many instances – dehumanizing.  

By contrast, the bricks and mortar of humanising cities are non-discrimination, participation, and accountability.

The slum dwellers with whom we met – from Indonesia to the Philippines, to Uganda and Kenya, to Honduras and Peru – told us that State authorities just need to engage them directly, constructively and enable them – without intimidation or discrimination – to deploy their talents, innovation, and enterprise to invest in their own futures.  

The indigenous leaders we met said of the State: “Invite us into public policy-making and to its implementation as dialogue, listen to our wisdom and understand that to protect and respect our connection to land, to culture and to heritage is not only honourable but right for the planet and a requirement under international law.”

Women working with victims of sexual and domestic violence emphasised that city dwellers must be approached by national and sub-national authorities as partners not problems, as agents of change not impediments to progress.  Regard the dignity of women and girls as the core of the city’s raison d’etre.  

The young people with whom we met demanded simply to be included, to be consulted, and urged city authorities to uphold the rule of law and be accountable when promises are not kept.  Only through transparent and participatory accountable systems – backed up by the rule of law – will we construct urban settings that truly humanise.

People living with disabilities pointed out that the city with its intimate proximity to daily life can enable and empower them – or just rigidly entrench the discrimination to which they are subjected.  Universal standards for the built environment, so that the urban landscape becomes accessible, can be enjoyed and can underpin materially our common humanity – these are the reasonable and achievable demands of people with diverse abilities.

Those representing refugees and migrants in the city reminded us that you might be homeless, you might be stateless but never are you rights-less.  You may be living in informal settlements, but you always have formal rights.

But the reality today in many cities is that people are left behind – left behind when the cities in which they live impede their access to quality health care, schools and decent work opportunities, leaves them in poor quality housing or without access to adequate sanitation.  Poor urban and spatial planning, gentrification, speculation in housing and land, these preventable factors are driving the growth of urban inequality, poverty, informal settlements and homelessness

Participation, inclusion, and the protection and expansion of civil society space is what the city must provide. 

For cities to flourish public space is essential – space to peacefully assemble, to associate, to express, space to organise.  For this, a free, pluralistic and vibrant civil society is critical. The exercise of freedoms of the press, assembly, association, expression and information are stimuli of responsible governance and strengthen the feedback loops on which good policy-making depends.  

The city must bring rights home – from the courtroom, to the boardroom, to the bathroom, to the bedroom – particularly so for the sake of women’s rights.

Cities are not mere bricks and mortar. Cities are people.  And people are rights holders.  With more people on the move than ever before in human history, moving into urban settings, cities are the most transformative spaces of our time – for better or for worse.

For the better, the city must bring rights home.

ENDS

For more information about Deputy High COmmmisioner’s visit to Habitat III : Maria Jeannette Moya +56979996907 /mmoya@ohchr.org

More information on Urbanization and Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Urbanization/Pages/UrbanizationHRIndex.aspx

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“Unsafe abortion is still killing tens of thousands women around the world” – UN rights experts warn

27 de September, 2016

Foto: ACNUDHGlobal Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion – Wednesday 28 September 2016

GENEVA (27 September 2016) – Speaking ahead of the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, a group of United Nations human rights experts* called on States across the world to repeal restrictive abortion laws and policies, and all punitive measures and discriminatory barriers to access safe reproductive health services.

The experts also expressed their support for the call of several non-governmental organisations to make 28 September an official UN day for safe abortion worldwide, to urge Governments to decriminalise abortion and provide reproductive health services in a legal, safe and affordable manner.

“In the twenty-first century unsafe abortion is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality and morbidity. According to the World Health Organization, about 22 million unsafe abortions take place each year worldwide and an estimated 47,000 women die annually from complications resulting from the resort to unsafe practices for termination of pregnancy.

Criminalisation of abortion and failure to provide adequate access to services for termination of an unwanted pregnancy are forms of discrimination based on sex. Restrictive legislation which denies access to safe abortion is one of most damaging ways of instrumentalising women’s bodies and a grave violation of women’s human rights. The consequences for women are severe, with women sometimes paying with their lives.

Restrictive laws apply to 40% of world’s population. In countries which prohibit abortion, women who seek health services in relation to the termination of a pregnancy, whether in order to carry out the termination or to seek medical care after a miscarriage, may be subjected to prosecution and imprisonment. Prohibition does not reduce the need and the number of abortions; it merely increases the risks to the health and life of women and girls who resort to unsafe and illegal services.

Evidence-based comprehensive sex education and the availability of effective contraception are essential to lower the incidence of unintended pregnancy, and hence to lower the number of abortions. Indeed, it has been demonstrated that countries where access to information and to modern methods of contraception is easily available and where abortion is legal, have the lowest rates of abortion. The possibility of accessing safe abortion remains essential. Unwanted pregnancies cannot be totally prevented since no contraceptive method is 100% effective, and women may be exposed to sexual violence.

We recommend the good practice found in many countries which provide women’s access to safe abortion services, on request during the first trimester of pregnancy. We insist on international legal requirements that women can access abortion at the very least in cases of risk to their life or health, including mental health, rape, incest and fatal impairment of the foetus during the first trimester and later. In this context, states should also allow pregnant girls and adolescents to terminate unwanted pregnancies, which if carried to term expose them to a greatly increased risk to life and health, including a very high probability of suffering from obstetric fistula, prevent completion of their education and obstruct development of their economic and social capabilities.

We urge States to repeal restrictive laws and policies in relation to abortion, which do not meet the international human rights law requirements and that have discriminatory and public health impacts, and to eliminate all punitive measures and discriminatory barriers to access safe reproductive health services. These laws and policies violate women’s human right to health and negate their autonomy in decision-making about their own bodies.

We cannot tolerate the severe violation of women’s human rights on the basis of their sex and biological differences. We cannot tolerate the high incidence of women’s and girls’ preventable deaths resulting from maternity-related issues, including from unsafe abortion.

The Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion

In the past 30 years, women’s rights groups have mobilized on 28 September, named ‘the Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion’, to urge their Governments to decriminalise the termination of pregnancy, end the stigma and discrimination around the practice and provide such services in a legal, safe and affordable manner.

Originally from Latin America and the Caribbean, 28 September, which commemorates the abolition of slavery for children born to slave mothers in Brazil, was renamed as the day of the ‘free womb’ and the movement spread to all the other regions in the world.

While slavery has now been abolished, there is still a long way to go before the bodies and wombs of women around the world will stop being instrumentalised in the name of patriarchal morals or traditions and for political, economic or cultural purposes.

We join our voices to the strong and brave ones of many non-governmental organizations which have called for safe abortion worldwide by requesting that 28 September be made an UN official international day on safe abortion.”

 

NOTE: Many international and regional human rights instruments have affirmed that ensuring women’s human rights requires access to safe and quality abortion and post-abortion services and care, including the CEDAW Convention, the Convención de Belém do Pará and the Maputo Protocol of 2005. The 2016 CESCR General Comment No. 22 also calls for guaranteeing women and girls access to safe abortion services and quality post-abortion care to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity.

 

(*) The UN experts: Alda Facio, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; Dainius Pûras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; and Juan E. Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

 

For further information, please refer to the following documents:

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CEDAW.aspx
Report health and safety by the UN Working Group on discrimination against women:  http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/32/44#sthash.LwS545RE.dpuf
Report on the right to health of adolescents by the UN Special Rapporteur on health: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/32/32
Report on gender perspectives by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/31/57

ENDS

Source: OHCHR

 

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. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

 

For more information and media requests, please contact Claire Mathellié ((+41 22 917 9151 / wgdiscriminationwomen@ohchr.org) ou Bernadette Arditi (+41 22 917 9159 / barditi@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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Ecuador: UN rights experts condemn the ‘legal death’ of a prominent teachers association

27 de September, 2016

Foto: ACNUDH/UN MultimediaGENEVA (27 September 2016) – A group* of United Nations human rights experts today condemned the use of the domestic legislation in Ecuador to dissolve the National Union of Teachers (UNE), the largest teachers trade union in the country. The UNE, founded in 1950, was dissolved through the application of Executive Decree N. 739, which regulates the operation of social organizations.

“Executive Decree N. 739 establishes overly broad restrictions to freedom of expression and freedom of association, and allows State authorities to dissolve associations based on ambiguous criteria,” the experts noted. “We are deeply concerned that this legislation indeed provides the executive with discretionary power to suppress the voice of civil society in the country.”

The experts stressed that all people should enjoy the right to freedom of association recognized by international law and enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Ecuador ratified in March 1969.

“The right to freedom of association is a fundamental right, to which only a very limited number of restrictions may apply,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, while stressing that “the right to freedom of association is at the core of democratic principles and necessary for activists to have a collective impact on the society.”

“With the effective dissolution of the UNE, the most important association of teachers in the country, we are concerned that teachers are deprived of a major tool to raise their voice and concerns, and it might have a chilling effect on civil society and human rights defenders in general” said Michel Forst, UN Special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

“Teachers are a vital part of the educational system. Depriving teachers of one of the main channels for expressing their collective concerns is not only detrimental to their freedom of expression, but equally to Ecuador’s system of education”, added David Kaye, UN Special rapporteur on the protection and promotion of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

“The forced dissolution of an association is one of the severest types of restrictions to freedom of association, which can only be justified in the most exceptional cases. It must be prescribed by law, under strict compliance with the principle of legality, be proportional and necessary in a democratic society” Mr. Kiai stressed.

The UN experts warned that, given the recent activities undertaken by the union, the dissolution is likely to be related to their human rights work. “In fact, it seems that the decision is arbitrary, political and lacks any logical connection to a legitimate State interest,” they noted.

The dissolution takes place in the context of an increasingly restricted space for associations, media and human rights defenders in Ecuador, stressed the experts.

“We urge the Ecuadorian authorities to reverse the dissolution process of UNE and to ensure the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of expression and of association in the country”, they said. “Ecuador needs to align its legislation with the best practices emanating from international human rights norms and standards.”

The experts have already raised their concerns to the Government and asked for further clarifications on the case. They also expressed their willingness to provide technical assistance to the authorities in this matter.

The legal death of a teachers union

On 21 July 2016, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education sent a letter to the UNE notifying it that a process of dissolution had been initiated based on Article 24 of Decree N. 739 (Regulations for the Operation of the Unified Information System of Social Organizations) together with grounds for dissolution 7, of Article 22: “Failure to comply with obligations mandated by the Constitution, the law and this Regulation, or for incurring in the prohibitions set forth herein”.

Despite the organization’s compliance with domestic provisions, the UNE was granted 20 days to present exculpatory evidence, otherwise the organization would face its legal death.

On 9 August 2016, the UNE requested that the decision be declared null and void, alleging that it was unconstitutional, failed to guarantee due process, deprived them of the right to defense, and illegally allocated the burden of proof on the organization. The Ministry of Education notified UNE on 18 August 2016 that the organization had failed to comply with its own statute and with Article 22, no. 7 of Decree N. 739. The effective implementation of the process of dissolution of the UNE began on August 26.

(*) The experts: Mr. Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mr. David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

ENDS

 

The Special Rapporteurs are part of the Special Procedures of 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, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

 

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Marion Mondain (+41 22 91 79 540) or write to freeassembly@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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Foto: UN Photo/Cia Pak

Zeid to Migrants Summit: We must stop bigotry

20 de September, 2016

Foto: UN Photo/Cia PakThis should not be a comfortable summit.

While the leadership of the Secretary-General, and his fine report, should be acknowledged by all – as well as the admirable efforts by Ireland and Jordan to achieve political consensus – this summit cannot be reduced to speeches and feel-good interviews, a dash of self-congratulation and we move on.

When millions of people see freedom’s invitation only through the flapping canvas of a tent. When they carry their children and possessions on their backs, walking hundreds, perhaps even thousands of miles. When they and their families risk drowning, and are kept cramped in appalling detention centers – and, once released, risk abuse by racists and xenophobes. There is no cause for comfort here.

The bitter truth is, this summit was called because we have been largely failing. Failing the long-suffering people of Syria, in not ending the war in its infancy. Failing others in now-chronic conflict zones, for the same reason. Failing millions of migrants who deserve far more than lives marked by cradle-to-grave indignity and desperation.

It is shameful the victims of abominable crimes should be made to suffer further by our failures to give them protection. It is abhorrent that desperate women, men and children can be branded as criminals, and detained for months, even years, incurring further damage to their physical and mental health.

We can change this. Here at the summit, together: respect, safety and dignity for all. But not when the defenders of what is good and right are being outflanked, in too many countries, by race-baiting bigots, who seek to gain, or retain, power by wielding prejudice and deceit, at the expense of those most vulnerable – and, ultimately, even those who support them initially.

An epidemic, an epidemic of amnesia is at the heart of this moral collapse in some quarters. Many seem to have forgotten the two world wars – what happens when fear and anger are stoked by half-truths and outright lies. A density of hatred builds up. The pin is pulled. The timer, released. And humanity’s rendez-vous with the ‘demon of world history’ beckons again.

The bigots and deceivers, in opposing greater responsibility-sharing, promote rupture. Some of them may well be in this hall this morning. If you are here, we say to you: We will continue to name you publicly. You may soon walk away from this hall. But not from the broader judgement of “we the people”, all the world’s people – not from us.

I thank you, Mr President.

19 September 2016

Source: OHCHR

 

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On the International Day of Democracy, UN Independent Expert calls for more direct democracy worldwide

15 de September, 2016

Foto: FreeDigitalPhotos“Much more than periodic voting” – UN Independent Expert calls for more direct democracy worldwide
International Day of Democracy – Thursday 15 September 2016

 

GENEVA (14 September 2016) – On the occasion of the International Day of Democracy, the United Nations Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, calls on Parliaments and Governments to be responsive to people and not to lobbyists.

“Democracy must be lived and practiced every day.  It entails much more than periodic voting, which in many cases is only pro forma, in the absence of public influence on the choice of candidates and scarce possibility of policy change.  Democracy means a genuine correlation between the will of the people and legislation and policies that affect them, be it domestic or international.

More and more, ‘representative democracy’ has disappointed voters, because parliamentarians, once elected, rarely consult with their constituencies and sometimes take decisions that are clearly contrary to the expressed wishes of the electorate. The frequent disconnect between Parliaments and the people has led to a feeling of disenfranchisement in many countries, resulting in apathy, absenteeism and distrust. Dissatisfaction with the performance of Parliaments has opened the door to exploitation of social problems by populist politicians.

Representative democracy can only be considered ‘democratic’ when Parliamentarians proactively inform constituencies about laws and treaties that will affect them, consult with them regularly and endeavour to implement their wishes in good faith. We can think of many laws and treaties, including mega-regional treaties currently under negotiation such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), which surely would be rejected if put to popular vote.  At the very least, democracy requires full disclosure and multistakeholder participation, i.e. ‘participatory democracy’.  In the absence of popular consent, it is inconceivable for democratically elected Parliaments to ratify such agreements.

Parliaments that do not genuinely represent, but act as if they had a blank check for x number of years lose their legitimacy.  In some countries one could even speak of the phenomenon of ‘parliamentary despotism’, because laws and treaties are adopted regardless of the wishes of the constituencies, even to the extent of entering into aggressive wars against the clearly expressed wish of the population.

Democracy requires respect for the right to access to information, freedom of opinion and expression as provided for in article 19 ICCPR, and meaningful public participation in decision-making, as provided in article 25 ICCPR.

A correlation between the public interest and policies affecting them is best secured through the direct democracy mechanisms of public initiative and referenda. Direct democracy is undoubtedly one of the most efficient, reliable and transparent methods to determine the will of the people.  In order to generate democratic change, it must respect human rights, in particular pluralism, electoral law principles, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

The emergence of People Power is the best avenue to effect changes that will ensure human rights for all. More and more individuals and groups are taking to the streets to demand greater public participation and higher transparency and accountability from those who exercise power — from governments to non-State actors including the private sector.

Special interests such as those of transnational corporations, financial bankers or the military-industrial complex must cease exercising disproportionate influence over domestic and foreign policy, frequently in contravention of the public interest.

Direct, participatory and responsive democracy has been shown to be conducive to achieving a more just world order. Only such an approach will allow progressing from predator societies to human rights oriented societies.”

 

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’s mandate holder, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IntOrder/Pages/IEInternationalorderIndex.aspx

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.

ENDS

Source: OHCHR

 

For more information and media requests, please contact Mr. Thibaut Guillet (+41 22 917 93 89 / tguillet@ohchr.org) or write to ie-internationalorder@ohchr.org

 

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Peru: “Recent measures a historical opportunity to deal with past disappearances”

15 de September, 2016

Foto: PixabayGENEVA (15 September 2016) – “The adoption of the law on searching for the disappeared as well as the recent announcement by the Government concerning the reopening of the Registry of Victims offer a historical opportunity to deal with the legacies of the disappearances that took place during the armed conflict,” said today the experts of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances while presenting the report* on the country visit which took place in June 2015.

At the same time, the experts noted that “while positive, these measures need a swift implementation in view of the lapse of time since most of the cases of enforced disappearance began and the advanced age of many of the witnesses, relatives and perpetrators.”

“It is virtually unbearable for the relatives of the victims to accept that, more than 30 years after the events took place, they still do not have any information about the fate or whereabouts of their loved ones,” they added.

“It is also essential to provide urgent psychosocial support for the families and demonstrate a renewed commitment to bring perpetrators to justice,” they observed, noting the few judicial proceedings that have been completed and the light sentences handed down to perpetrators.

The members also emphasized that to achieve both truth and justice in Peru it is essential to have the proper cooperation of security forces as well as proper access to information, including military archives.

“Access to the information held in the archives of the armed forces and the national police should be facilitated, especially with regard to any information possibly available on burial sites and potential perpetrators,” they said.

“The Working Group stands ready to continue closely cooperating with the Government of Peru and to provide its technical assistance as appropriate,” the experts concluded.

(*) Check the Working Group’s report on Peru (A/HRC/33/51/Add.3):
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session33/Pages/ListReports.aspx

ENDS

Source: OHCHR

 

For more information on the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx

Check the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/EnforcedDisappearance.aspx

 

For more information and media requests, please contact Ugo Cedrangolo (+41 22 917 9286 / ucedrangolo@ohchr.org) or write to wgeid@ohchr.org

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Women and girls with disabilities need empowerment, not pity, UN experts tell States

6 de September, 2016

Foto: UN Photo/Amanda VoisardStates too often fail to uphold their obligations with regard to women and girls with disabilities, treating them or allowing them to be treated as helpless objects of pity, subjected to hostility and exclusion, instead of empowering them to enjoy their fundamental human rights and freedoms, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD*) has said.

“Policies for women have traditionally made disability invisible, and disabilities policies have overlooked gender. But if you are a woman or a girl with disabilities, you face discrimination and barriers because you are female, because you are disabled, and because you are female and disabled,” said Committee member Theresia Degener.

To help to address this, the Committee has issued guidance for the 166 States that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on how they can promote the empowerment of women with disabilities to enable them to participate in all spheres of life on an equal basis with others, as set out in the Convention and expressly in Article 6.

The guidance, termed a General Comment, stresses that refraining from discriminatory actions is not enough. States need to empower women by “ raising their self-confidence, guaranteeing their participation, and increasing their power and authority to take decisions in all areas affecting their lives.”

The guidelines note that there are three main areas of concern regarding women and girls with disabilities:

– Physical, sexual, or psychological violence, which may be institutional or interpersonal;

– Restriction of sexual and reproductive rights, including the right to accessible information and communication, the right to motherhood and child-rearing responsibilities;

– Multiple discrimination.

Women and girls with disabilities need to be recognised as individuals who enjoy the same rights as others to make decisions about their lives, the Committee notes. “Women with disabilities are often treated as if they have no control or should have no control over their sexual and reproductive rights,” the General Comment says. For example, women and girls with disabilities are particularly at risk of forced sterilisation, while mothers with disabilities are more likely to have their children taken away.

The General Comment details the measures States parties should take in a range of areas, including health, education, access to justice, and equality before the law, transport and employment, to enable women and girls with disabilities to fully enjoy their human rights.

“Our recommendations cover practical steps, such as planning public services that work for women with disabilities, and involving them in the design of products so they can use them. Think of the women and girls with disabilities who face huge and daily hurdles with regard to water, sanitation and hygiene, and how guaranteeing accessible facilities, services and products could transform their lives,” CRPD member Diane Kingston said.

“Our General Comment also covers attitudes. For example, girls and young women with disabilities face not only prejudices encountered by persons with disabilities in general but are often constrained by traditional gender roles and barriers that can lead to situations where they receive less care and food than boys, or where their chances to get an education or training are much reduced and hence their future prospects of employment,” Committee member Ana Pelaez highlighted.

The General Comment calls on States parties to repeal or reform all legislation which discriminates, either directly or indirectly, against women and girls with disabilities, and also urges public campaigns to overcome and transform long-held discriminatory attitudes towards women with disabilities.

“We hope that States parties will be guided by this General Comment to review their laws and practices to achieve greater recognition and fulfilment of the human rights of women and girls with disabilities,” said Committee Chair María Soledad Cisternas Reyes.

ENDS

 

Source: OHCHR

 

Read the General Comment here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/GC.aspx

 

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

 

*CRPD is composed of 18 independent human rights experts drawn from around the world. They 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 CRPD:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/CRPDIndex.aspx

 

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“Every minute counts” – UN experts raise alarm over short-term enforced disappearances

30 de August, 2016

Foto: Phynyght Studio via Foter.com CC BY-NDInternational Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances
Tuesday 30 August 2016

“Every minute counts” – UN experts raise alarm over short-term enforced disappearances

GENEVA (26 August 2016) – Two United Nations expert groups on enforced disappearances called on States worldwide to prevent and eradicate enforced disappearances, including short-term enforced disappearances, and to ensure that relatives of persons deprived of their liberty are informed accurately and promptly of their detention.

Speaking ahead of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances also expressed their concern at allegations of intimidation and reprisals against victims of enforced disappearances and those who report their cases.

“There is no time limit, no matter how short, for an enforced disappearance to occur. Every minute counts when a person is put outside the protection of the law. And when a person is disappeared, every anguished minute spent by his or her relatives without news of that person is a minute too long.

Reports and complaints have been received of people being briefly detained by State authorities, who then refuse to acknowledge their detention, nor allow them to make contact with their family members or their counsel, depriving them temporarily of any kind of legal protection.

Under these circumstances, and whatever their duration, these detentions amount to enforced disappearances, for which the States concerned bear international responsibility.

States have the obligation to disclose the whereabouts of persons who are deprived of their liberty; to hold them in officially recognized places of detention; and to promptly provide accurate information on their detention to their family, their counsel, or other persons with a legitimate interest.

The relatives of persons who have disappeared have the right to know the truth regarding the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones. Unfortunately, their claim for truth and justice often gives rise to intimidation and reprisals. We have received worrying reports of acts of retaliation against relatives, witnesses and human rights defenders who report cases of enforced disappearances to the authorities, or who bring them to the attention of the Working Group or the Committee.

As we commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, we encourage all victims and their relatives to continue engaging with the UN human rights mechanisms* and to make use of the avenues available against any form of intimidation and reprisal. These include the San José Guidelines against intimidation and reprisals adopted by the treaty bodies, and the framework for action on alleged acts of intimidation and reprisal, adopted by the Special Procedures mandate holders to strengthen their ability to provide a systematic and coordinated response to this phenomenon.

We also reiterate our call to all States to ratify or accede to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, as a fundamental first step towards the prevention, and the ultimate termination, of the inadmissible practice of enforced disappearances.”

(*) How 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 the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Disappearances/how_to_use_the_WGEID.pdf

Guidelines against Intimidation or Reprisals (“San José Guidelines”): https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G15/169/76/PDF/G1516976.pdf?OpenElement

Special Procedures framework on addressing reprisals: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Actsofintimidationandreprisal.aspx

ENDS

Source: OHCHR

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

Read the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CED/Pages/ConventionCED.aspx

Check the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/EnforcedDisappearance.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

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Commemorating colleagues who lost their lives in the pursuit of human rights

25 de August, 2016

Foto: ACNUDH/Danielle KirbyOn 19 August 2003, 22 UN human rights workers including the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira De Mello died during a terrorist attack on the UN Office at the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq.

Thirteen years on, they are remembered by current colleagues during a memorial in their honour in Geneva.

“These colleagues were bold and brave,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein “Despite the risk, they stepped forward and put their many and various talents at the service of others – to give help, and a voice, to people who are abused and robbed of justice. They went out to right those wrongs.”

The ceremony paid tribute to all colleagues who lost their lives while working for human rights. In addition to the losses in 2003, in Rwanda (1997), five people were killed in an ambush on UN vehicles; in Haiti (2010), two human rights workers were victims of the earthquake; in Afghanistan, a human rights officer perished during an attack on a UN compound in 2011; and in 2015, a human rights officer was killed by unidentified gunmen.

The ceremony remembered each of the departed individually. Damianos Serefidis, a UN human rights officer played a violin solo titled “In Memoriam”, a musical piece written in homage to those lost by Michael Wiener, also a human rights officer. Each note in the music represents a letter of all their names.

The ceremony was attended by Ambassador Mouayed Saleh of Iraq, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, Mrs. Annie Vieira de Mello, survivors of the attacks, and friends and family of the deceased.

“Iraq has been fighting terrorism for the past 13 years on behalf of the international community to put an end to these gangs,” Ambassador Saleh said. “May God bless the souls of those who lost their lives in the service of humankind, putting an end to all these horrible crimes.”

Grandi emphasised the need for courage, particularly in humanitarian service. He encouraged everyone to draw strength and bravery from the lives of those lost in the line of duty.

Personal assistant to the current UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Carole Ray was working in Baghdad in 2003. She read aloud a few excerpts taken from testimonies of friends of the deceased. The attendees observed a minute of silence after which flowers were laid at the memorial statue of Sergio Vieira de Mello in honour of those not with us today.

“For we grieve, but we also continue. We know we have been given the gift of time that our colleagues were not. We take up the task of continuing their selfless work, in the same spirit of moral courage – pushing back the forces of injustice and chaos, and helping to establish equality, dignity and the rule of law,” Zeid said.

In 2008, the UN General Assembly decided to commemorate 19 August as World Humanitarian Day to remember those who have lost their lives in humanitarian service.

17 August 2016

 

Source: OHCHR

 

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UN rights expert urges Brazil not to lower the age of criminal responsibility of children

17 de August, 2016

Foto: ACNUDHGENEVA (17 August 2016) – United Nations human rights expert Juan E. Méndez today called on Brazilian legislators to protect the human rights of children in conflict with the law by rejecting a proposed constitutional amendment that would lower the age of criminal responsibility of children.

The expert’s urgent appeal comes as the Brazilian Senate’s Constitution and Justice Committee prepares to vote on the constitutional amendment PEC No. 33/2012 that would reduce the age of criminal responsibility of children from 18 to 16 years of age for heinous crimes.

“The detention of children is inextricably linked with the ill-treatment of children, who are at heightened risks of violence, abuses, and acts of torture when deprived of their liberty,” the UN Special Rapporteur on torture said. “Children’s unique vulnerability requires States to implement higher standards and broader safeguards for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment.”

“Prosecuting adolescent offenders as adults would violate Brazil’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, even if those convicted would serve part or all of their sentences at facilities separate from adults,” Mr. Méndez noted.

The independent expert also expressed concerns about pending legislation that would raise the maximum length of sentences for children over 14 years of age who are in conflict with the law from 3 to 10 years (PEC No. 333/15).

“Children are less emotionally and psychologically developed than adults, so they are less liable for their actions, and their sentencing should always reflect the principles of rehabilitation and reintegration into society,” the independent expert explained.

“The approval of these proposals would also worsen the currently already seriously overcrowded penitentiaries throughout Brazil, conditions which frequently amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” said Mr. Méndez, who visited* Brazil in August 2015. “Many juvenile detention facilities in the country suffer from excessive overcrowding and from a lack of implementation of socio-educational, recreational, and rehabilitative programs.”

The Special Rapporteur has exchanged views with the Government of Brazil on this issue and looks forward to a continuing dialogue.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s report on Brazil:   http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/31/57/Add.4

See also the Special Rapporteur’s report on children deprived of liberty: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/28/68

ENDS

 

Source: OHCHR

 

Mr. Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) 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 2010. He has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.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. 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.

 

Check the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CAT.aspx

 

For more information and media requests, please contact Andrea Furger (+1 202 274 4058 / afurger@ohchr.org) or Sonia Cronin (Tel: +41 22 917 9160 / scronin@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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UN experts emphasize the importance of indigenous education

8 de August, 2016

Foto: UN Photo/Joseane DaherIndigenous Peoples should establish and control their educational systems and institutions – UN experts

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples – Tuesday 9 August 2016

GENEVA (5 August 2016) –  Nearly ten years since the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, indigenous children and youth still lack full access to adequate, accessible and appropriate forms of education, warned a group of four UN experts on indigenous issues in a joint statement* made public today.

Speaking ahead of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, on Tuesday 9 August, the experts called on governments to ensure discrimination-free and culturally-sensitive education systems for indigenous peoples, taking into account their languages and histories.

“States and indigenous peoples must work together to fulfil indigenous peoples’ right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions,” said Claire Charters, Chair of the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Alvaro Pop Ac,  Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and Albert K.  Barume, Chair of UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“Education is empowerment, and critical to the realization of all of the rights contained in the Declaration and international human rights treaties,” Ms. Charters stressed. “Unfortunately, indigenous children and youth often do not have access to adequate, accessible and appropriate forms of education.”

Special Rapporteur Tauli-Corpuz drew attention to the situation of indigenous women and girls, and called on Governments to give special priority to ensure they have access to relevant education. She also cautioned that “the available data shows a consistent pattern of disparity between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in terms of educational access, retention and achievement in all regions of the world.”

“States must engage and work constructively with indigenous peoples to address barriers to education, including stigmatization of indigenous identity, discrimination in schools, language barriers between students and teachers and inadequate consideration given to education for indigenous students,” Mr. Pop Ac underscored. “Efforts should be made to ensure that indigenous peoples have access to education that is culturally and linguistically appropriate.”

Mr. Barume noted that education is key to addressing human rights violations, alleviating poverty and creating opportunities in economic, social and cultural spheres.

“Education is an indispensable means of realizing indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and their capacity and ability to pursue their own economic, social and cultural development,” he said. “The right to education also supports the commitments on the part of States to the Sustainable Development Goals with a view to leaving no one behind.”

The human rights experts urged governments “to work with indigenous peoples in a spirit of partnership to restore forms of education based on indigenous languages, beliefs, values and culture and increase efforts to address discrimination in education that has the effect of impeding indigenous peoples’ rights to education.”

“It is imperative that educational institutions are built on a human rights framework that is inclusive and respectful of indigenous peoples’ cultures, worldviews and languages,” they concluded.

 

(*) Check the experts’ full statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20342&LangID=E

END

 

OHCHR

 

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines), is a human rights activist working on indigenous peoples’ rights. She is a member of the Kankana-ey, Igorot indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region in the Philippines. As a Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in their individual capacity. Learn more, log on to:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/SRIndigenousPeoples/Pages/SRIPeoplesIndex.aspx

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.  It is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Mr. Albert K. Barume (Democratic Republic of Congo), Mr. Wilton Littlechild (Canada), Mr. Edtami Mansayagan (Philippines), Mr. Alexey Tsykarev (Russian Federation), and Ms. Erika Yamada (Brazil). Learn more, log on to:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/EMRIP/Pages/EMRIPIndex.aspx

The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is a high- level advisory body to the Economic and Social Council. It was established in 2000 to deal with indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. It is composed of 16 members. Learn more, log on to: http://www.un.org/indigenous/

The UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples was established in 1985 by the UN General Assembly and provides support to indigenous peoples’ representatives to participate in the sessions of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Human Rights Council and of treaty bodies. It is run by the Secretary-General and a Board of Trustees. The members of the Board are: Ms. Claire Charters (New Zealand), Ms. Myrna Cunningham (Nicaragua), Mr. Binota Dhamai (Bangladesh), Ms. Anne Nuorgam (Finland), and Mr. Legborsi Saro Pyagbara (Nigeria). Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/IPeoplesFund/Pages/IPeoplesFundIndex.aspx

See the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/Pages/Declaration.aspx

 

For further information and media requests, please contact Juan Fernando Núñez (+41 22 928 9458 / jnunez@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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Foto: ACNUDH / Kaylois Henry

Young indigenous activist defends the rights of her community

8 de August, 2016

Foto: ACNUDH / Kaylois HenryMilka Chepkorir Kuto knew from an early age that she wanted to be a human rights activist.

“We have been facing a lot of human rights violations, forceful evictions from our forest homes…and as a result we do not have a place where we can sit and say ‘This is our home,’” she said. “So I started being an activist by the time I was in high school.”

The 26-year-old indigenous human rights activist is a member of the Sengwer indigenous people, who occupy the Embobut and Kabolet Forest in Kenya’s Rift Valley (Cherang’any hills). Her activism has been focused on the rights of girls, then women and eventually all indigenous forest dwellers. Her devotion to the cause has also led her here, to the UN Human Rights Office as a participant in the 2016 Indigenous Fellowship Programme.

The Office launched the programme in 1997 to offer to participants the opportunity to learn more about the United Nations human rights machinery and how it can assist in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. When fellows return to their communities, they can use this knowledge to help them advance their human rights and those of their communities, said Estelle Salavin, who coordinates the Indigenous Fellowship programme.

“This is a unique setting where indigenous fellows from all over the world can share experiences, build alliances, and get inspired by one another,” she said. “One added value of this training programme is that it offers the possibility to obtain practical understanding on how things work by observing and directly participating in sessions of the human rights mechanisms. It also provides the fellows with the opportunity to network with representatives from the UN, its specialised agencies, Governments, and Geneva based human rights NGOs.”

Kuto said that the challenges the Sengwer are facing most acutely affect women. Evictions are characterized by the wholesale destruction of property by burning down homes. During evictions, the men would go into hiding, as eviction officials are likely to arrest them, she said. The women and children however, would remain while watching their homes and belongings turn into ashes.

“One woman told me how she could not forget seeing her house burning, with all she had in it,” Kuto said. “All she had left were the clothes she was in and her children.”

Being in Geneva has already borne fruit, Kuto said. During the Fellowship, she learned how to better advocate before and approach international financial institutions. In 2013, with the help of community elders, her organization, the Sengwer Indigenous Peoples Programme, filed a complaint at the World Bank inspection panel so the World Bank could review its policy in Kenya which, they say, has encouraged the government to illegally remove the Sengwer from their ancestral lands. “Here I have learned different ways to ensure more effective follow-up to the inspection panel report”. She immediately passed the information along to colleagues back in Kenya.

Although an important women and girls’ rights activist, before she received the training Kuto was unaware of the existence of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Now, she knows that there are UN human rights treaties and mechanisms established to monitor implementation by States of their obligations and that there is also UN personnel and NGOs available to help her and her people pursue their human rights claims and enjoy the human rights to which they are entitled.

The difficulty, she said, is just where to start.

“I think I have too much information,” she said, laughing. “I feel confused, but positively confused. I have a lot of information and a lot of strength at hand to get started and working on immediately when I go home,” she said.

The story is one of a series to celebrate The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August 2016. This year the celebration is devoted to the right to education, which is protected by a number of international human rights instruments.

8 August 2016

OHCHR

 

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Venezuela: OHCHR monitors country developments with concern

19 de July, 2016

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SANTIAGO (19 July 2016) – The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) continues “closely monitoring” the human rights situation in Venezuela, informed today during a press briefing in Geneva.

The OHCHR spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani, stated that situations such as violence and insecurity, food scarcity and related protests, as well as reports on mob lynching and the impact of the emergency decree, among other issues, are “extremely concerning”.

Ms. Shamdasani also said that staff members of the Office –led by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein- have not been able to visit Venezuela in recent years, which makes it hard to find first-hand information on the country situation.

In this regard, the OHCHR spokesperson said that “our Regional Representative in South America (Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra) has repeatedly asked for a visa to visit the country since 2014 and we have not received a reply. So we continued to seek access, and in spite of not having access, we do continue to closely monitoring the situation. And we react, and we have reacted in the past”, she added.

ENDS

– Video: OHCHR press briefing, 18 July 2016 (comments on Venezuela) https://youtu.be/e315gpCy130

– More information: http://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/BFCA1FB7BD0D36C7C1257FF500555CD2?OpenDocument

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Indigenous Peoples to Seek Measures for Preventing Conflict, Securing Peace, at Annual Forum, 9-20 May

5 de May, 2016

Photo: UN MultimediaUNITED NATIONS, 5 May 2016 – More than 1,000 indigenous participants from all regions of the world are expected to attend the fifteenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 9 to 20 May. The issues of peace and conflict, often relating to indigenous peoples’ lands, territories and resources and to their rights and distinct identities will be at the forefront of the discussions during this year’s session.

“Since its establishment, the Permanent Forum has expressed great concern over the continuation of conflicts affecting indigenous peoples in different parts of the world,” said Alvaro Pop, the incoming Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. “We want to draw attention to the particular challenges faced by indigenous peoples in conflict, and the important contributions that indigenous peoples and their traditions and practices can make to conflict prevention and lasting peace.”

Two interactive panels on 17 May on the special theme “Indigenous peoples: conflict, peace and resolution,” will identify strategies and concrete measures to prevent conflict and secure peace. They will also highlight indigenous participation in peace processes, the contribution of indigenous women, the importance of access to justice and traditional institutions, and the role of indigenous peoples in preventing conflict and securing a just and durable peace.

The Permanent Forum will also deliberate on issues related to indigenous youth, health, education, languages, human rights, economic and social development, environment and culture, as well as the follow-up to the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and how it relates to indigenous peoples, is also expected to feature prominently in discussions on 18 May.

As in the past, there will be dialogues with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – the two other UN mechanisms, in addition to the Permanent Forum, specific to indigenous peoples.

The session is opening on Monday, 9 May, at 11 a.m. in the General Assembly Hall, with a ceremonial welcome by the traditional Chief of the Onondaga Nation, Todadaho Sid Hill, followed by a video message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Statements are expected by the President of the General Assembly, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft; the Vice President of ECOSOC, Mr. Sven Jürgenson; the incoming Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Mr. Alvaro Pop; the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Wu Hongbo; the Minister of Labour and Social Prevention of Guatemala, Ms. Aura Leticia Teleguario; and the Minister of Justice of Canada, Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould.

See full press release at United Nations

 

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Brazil: Public statement by the OHCHR Regional Office for South America and UN Women Brazil on the violent death of Luana Reis

4 de May, 2016

Photo: OHCHRBRASILIA/SANTIAGO (04 May 2016) – UN Women in Brazil and the Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) request Brazil’s public authorities an impartial investigation, from a gender and racial approach, to clarify the acts of violence against Luana Reis, who died after a beating allegedly perpetrated by military police officials in early April 2016 in Ribeirão Preto (São Paulo), Brazil.

According to the victim –before her tragic decease- and her family, there are strong evidence of sexism, racism and homophobia in the events that led her to death, in a perverse rights violation that contravene individual and collective guarantees reached by women in Brazil and all over the world.

OHCHR and UN Women emphasize that the excessive use of force, as well as any sort of discrimination –based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or of other nature- are unacceptable while performing police duties and must be eradicated from police forces in Brazil. The São Paulo Military Police must guarantee that violent procedures are no longer tolerated in the institution and ensure the adequate training of their staff, including in terms of human rights.

Read full statement (in Portuguese): http://acnudh.org/pt-br/nota-publica-do-alto-comissariado-de-direitos-humanos-das-nacoes-unidas-para-america-do-sul-e-da-onu-mulheres-brasil-sobre-o-assassinato-de-luana-reis/

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Countering violent extremism, a ‘perfect excuse’ to restrict free speech and control the media – UN expert

4 de May, 2016

Foto: UN MultimediaGENEVA (3 May 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, today warned that efforts to counter ‘violent extremism’ can be the ‘perfect excuse’ for democratic and authoritarian governments around the world to restrict free expression and seek to control access to information.

While recognizing that it is essential for governments and non-state actors to counter violence and its incitement, Mr. Kaye and his counterparts from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) raise concerns in their annual Joint Declaration* that programmes to counter ‘violent extremism’ (CVE or PVE programmes) risk undermining freedom of expression.

“By ‘balancing’ freedom of expression and the prevention of violence, the programmes and initiatives aimed at countering ‘violent extremism’ have – often purposely, sometimes inadvertently – put at risk or curtailed the independence of media,” the UN expert said on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day.

“So-called CVE or PVE programmes must be based on a legal framework and on evidence of their effectiveness and their necessity and proportionality to achieve legitimate objectives,” Mr. Kaye stressed.

The human rights expert noted that most CVE programmes fail to provide definitions for key terms, such as ‘extremism’ or ‘radicalization’. “In the absence of a clear definition, these terms can be used to restrict a wide range of lawful expression,” he said.

“Some governments target journalists, bloggers, political dissidents, activists and human rights defenders as ‘extremists’ or ‘terrorists’, criminalizing and detaining them, using legal systems to counter broad and unclear offences,” Mr. Kaye warned. “The harm is felt not only by journalists but also by their audiences, the public that deserves the right to know and to access information of public interest.”

The Special Rapporteur also cautioned that CVE-inspired efforts – including content removal, surveillance, the blaming of security tools like encryption – risk undermining the potential of digital technologies to foster freedom of expression and access to information and to provide avenues for counter-speech.

“Freedom of expression plays a critical role in promoting equality and in combating intolerance, and the role the media, the Internet and other digital technologies play in keeping society informed is essential,” Mr. Kaye said.

For the UN Special Rapporteur, “limiting the space for freedom of expression and restricting civic space advances the goals of those promoting, threatening and using terrorism and violence.”

(*) See the joint declaration on freedom of expression and countering violent extremism, by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Dunja Mijatovic, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Edison Lanza, and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), Pansy Tlakula, available at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=19915&LangID=E

David Kaye (USA) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2014 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. As a Special Rapporteur, he 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. 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. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx

CHECK ALSO the report of Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson, who addresses human rights in the context of preventing and countering violent extremism in his last report presented to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/31/65): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session31/Documents/A.HRC.31.65_AUV.docx

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Victoria Kuhn (+41 22 917 9278 / vkuhn@ohchr.org) or write to freedex@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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Measuring human rights to support sustainable development

2 de May, 2016
Photo: OHCHR2 May 2016 – An event organised in March by the UN Human Rights Office on the side-lines of the latest session of the UN Statistical Commission in New York, analysed how data collected and used with a human rights-based approach in mind could help attain the goals outlined in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, including reducing inequality and eliminating discrimination against anyone anywhere.

The UN Human Rights Office recently developed a guidance note for policy makers, data specialists and development practitioners, on the human rights-based approach to data to achieve and measure the sustainable development goals. Inclusive data collection and disaggregation are key words in that document.

“If you are not counted, you do not count,” said Thorkild Olesen, Chair of the Denmark-based NGO, Disabled People’s Organizations. “The purpose of statistics and data collection is to implement and fulfil human rights, including for the most vulnerable or marginalised groups.”

The UN Human Rights Office has identified a set of six basic principles for a human rights-based approach to data collection and use: the participation of population groups, in particular the marginalized in the data collection process; the disaggregation of data to prevent discrimination based on sex, age, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religion, which is prohibited by international human rights law; self-identification, without reinforcing further discrimination of these groups; transparency  to guarantee the right to information; respecting the privacy of respondents and the confidentiality of their personal data;  and accountability in data collection and use.

In 2015, the Human Rights Commission of Mexico, in collaboration with the UN Human Rights office in that country, hosted an international conference of national human rights institutions that vowed to be actively involved in the implementation of the 2030 Development Agenda and collaborate in its measurement.

The national census survey that same year in Mexico made an effort to apply a human rights-based approach to data collection and analysis by disaggregating data based on ethnicity, housing status, and two specific segments of the population: adolescents and the elderly.

It was revealed that 21.5 percent of members of the population identified as being of indigenous origin and 1.2 percent as Afro-Mexicans. The census also showed that indigenous girls spent on average 5.1 years in school – 1.1 years less than indigenous boys and 3.9 years less than the national average for girls. Further, 91.2 percent of drug users in rehabilitation centres were found to be male and the majority of female addicts in rehabilitation were aged between 15 and 19 years old.

Enrique Jesus Ordaz Lopez, Director General of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico, who presented these findings, believes that data disaggregation revealing gaps should be clearly communicated to the public and policy makers so they can be translated into effective policy responses. He recommended exploring new forms of data collection and new data sources, refining disaggregation, and extending participation.

His views were shared by Lisa Grace Bersales, National Statistician and Head of the Philippines Statistics Authority. “National statistical offices need to do significantly more in terms of partnerships between national and global data providers and users, and coordinate our national statistical systems,” she said. “We also need to better use existing data sources such as registries and administrative surveys, but also new sources such as big data and geospatial and earth sciences.”

The Chief Statisticians at the meeting confirmed that the UN Human Rights Office Guidance Note was consistent with the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics, the set of professional and scientific standards adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2014.

The Guidance Note also recommends that National Statistics Offices identify and integrate statistics on human rights under one focal point, an idea that received positive feedback from gender statistics experts in Statistics Finland, pointed out its Director General, Marjo Bruun.

“Although we statisticians rarely use the term ‘human rights’ when producing statistics in our everyday work, the different aspects of human rights are present in our statistics,” she said.

Source: OHCHR

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Regional Office participated in events on disability and 2030 Agenda in Uruguay

30 de April, 2016

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaSANTIAGO (30 April 2016) – The Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), with support from the UN System in Uruguay, participated this week of a series of activities on the rights of persons with disabilities and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from a human rights-based approach.

The Regional Office offered on 26 April a keynote speech during the VIII Ibero-American Congress of Blind Persons (ULAC). Representing OHCHR, human rights adviser Krista Orama mentioned progress and challenges for the region regarding the rights of persons with disabilities, particularly in terms of participation and strengthening civil society groups.

Other participants were Ms. Ana Peláez Narváez, member of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Ms. Catalina Devandas.

Additionally, the OHCHR advisor facilitated a dialogue during a round table discussion named “The UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and the SDG no. 4: the role of civil society in their implementation and follow-up”, held on 28 April under the umbrella of the UN System in Uruguay and the Working Group on Inclusive Education of Uruguay.

The event took place at the Education Centre of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID) and sought to discuss with civil society groups on how to effectively implement these goals and their indicators in the Uruguayan context, among other matters.

Meetings

OHCHR also held meetings with members of the National Disability Programme (Pronadis) of the Social Development Ministry (MIDES), and offered a workshop for the Human Rights and Humanitarian Law of the Uruguayan Foreign Affairs Ministry. Both activities had a focus on the rights of persons with disabilities, with a view to the interactive dialogue to be held among the country and the UN Committee for the Rights of Persons with Disability, in August this year.

Finally, there were discussions with the Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation (AUCI) and the Planning and Budget Office (OPP), making progress in defining cooperation activities within the framework of the 2030 Agenda.

ENDS

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Recovered identity: a reunion mends years of pain in Argentina

26 de April, 2016

Photo: OHCHR26 April 2016 – Before he was even born, Guillermo’s parents were forcibly disappeared during Argentina’s military dictatorship, grim facts he was unaware of during his childhood and adolescence years.

“As an adult, I began to have suspicions about my birth and about the man and woman who said they were my parents,” says Guillermo.

The civil society organization, Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo), has been searching for grandchildren like Guillermo to reunite them with their families since 1977.

During Agentina’s military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, enforced disappearances amounted to psychological torture for the families of those who did not know where their missing loved ones were, alive or dead.

So far, Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, supported by the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT) since 1990, has reunited 119 grandchildren with their families. Funding supports genetic testing to make the best use of a DNA bank, established in 1987 after Argentina’s return to democracy to help identify the grandchildren stolen during the dictatorship as part of the crack-down against young opponents to the dictatorship.

“The military often did not execute pregnant women – they were kept in Campo de Mayo, a clandestine military detention centre that became infamous as a place where newborn babies were confiscated and then ‘disappeared’ through illegal adoptions,” says Guillermo.

“In 2007, while watching Televisión por la Identidad, a TV show based on Abuelas’ search to reunite children with their families using DNA testing, I heard one case that I just knew had to be about me,” he continues. “I started crying and my girlfriend convinced me to go to the National Commission for the Right to Identity (CONADI).”

Guillermo’s story is just one of nine featured in a new publication, From Horror to Healing: A life-saving journey supported by the UN Fund for Victims of Torture.

UNVFVT is managed by the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva, Switzerland and marks its 35th anniversary this year.

The publication provides a candid lens on the experiences of both victims of torture and the practitioners who help them reclaim dignity and seek rehabilitation, truth and redress– a path that can often last for many years. The stories were gathered from organizations supported by UNFVT, which in turn give direct medical, psychological, social and legal rehabilitation services to around 50,000 victims of torture and their family members each year.

In December 2007, Guillermo went to the National DNA Bank (BNDG). But quick answers were not forthcoming. Four months later he was told that his genetic profile did not match any family groups stored by the bank. Then, in 2009, CONADI called him in for an emotional meeting with its Director.

“With her eyes full of tears, she told me the story of my family,” says Guillermo.

“It took two years to confirm my identity because no one had known my mother was pregnant when she was arrested along with my father on 17 October 1979. So her family had not deposited her DNA. However, a survivor came forward to say my mum did give birth in detention. So they requested blood samples from my parents’ brothers and sisters – my uncles and aunts – and they could confirm that I was the son of Marcela Molfino and Guillermo Amarilla.”

Guillermo’s parents had been married in 1973 and had three children before being arrested.

“This is how I got to know, at the age of 29, that I had three brothers and a big family. We all met for the first time on the premises of Abuelas. It was a big hug and I understood that was a hug that would last forever.”

Since 1981, the UNVFVT, which is managed by the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva, has channelled over US$168 million into more than 630 organizations giving direct medical, psychological, social and legal assistance to torture victims.

Source: OHCHR

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OHCHR Regional Representative carries out mission to Uruguay

22 de April, 2016

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaSANTIAGO (22 April 2016) – The Regional Representative for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra, visited Uruguay from 18 to 20 April, with the purpose of meeting with different authorities and human rights actors.

During his visit, Mr. Incalcaterra held a reunion with the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Eduardo Bonomi, as well as with the national director of the Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation (AUCI), Ms. Andrea Vignolo. He also met with the director of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ms. Alejandra Costa; Mr. Fernando Willat, head of the Human Rights Secretariat; and with the board of directors of the National Human Rights Institution and Ombuds Office (INDDHH), led by Mr. Juan Faroppa.

In addition, the Regional Representative held a meeting with the parliamentary commissioner for the Penitentiary System, Mr. Juan Miguel Petit, and jointly carried out a visit to the Punta de Rieles detention centre. During the visit, Mr. Incalcaterra could talk to the authorities of the prison as well as with inmates, and attend a theatre play performed by some of them.

Mr. Incalcaterra participated of a reunion with Ms. Gabriela Fulco, who was the head of the transition process to create the National Institute of Social Inclusion for Adolescents (INISA).

The Regional Representative also met with the resident coordinator of the United Nations System in Uruguay, Ms. Denise Cook, as well as with Mr. Gonzalo Kmaid, UN Coordination Officer and Ms. Graciela Dede, OHCHR adviser in Uruguay.

ENDS

 

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Brazil: OHCHR South America repudiates anti human rights rhetoric in Congress

22 de April, 2016

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaSANTIAGO (22 April 2016) – The Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) repudiated today the “disrespectful rhetoric against human rights” during the admissibility vote on a presidential impeachment process at the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil, on 17 April.

Particularly, OHCHR South America condemned the statements by federal representative Jair Bolsonaro in reference to Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, who has been recognized by Brazilian courts and the National Truth Commission as a torturer during the military dictatorship in the country.

“We strongly repudiate all sorts of apologies of human rights violations such as torture, which is absolutely prohibited under the Brazilian constitution and the international human rights law”, said the OHCHR Representative for South America, Amerigo Incalcaterra. “Such kinds of comments are unacceptable, particularly when expressed by representatives of the Brazilian institutions and elected by popular vote”.

Mr. Incalcaterra reiterated his call to the National Congress, political and judicial authorities, as well as the entire Brazilian society, to condemn any sort of hate speech and to defend human dignity and the democratic values under any circumstances.

ENDS

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Inter-American Human Rights Commission and OHCHR strengthen cooperation ties

15 de April, 2016

Photo: TwitterSANTIAGO (15 April 2016) – The Representative for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra, visited in Washington, DC, the main offices of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHRC), on the occasion of its 157° Period of Sessions. Mr. Incalcaterra participated in activities aimed at promoting partnerships between both human rights institutions in the region.

On 9 April, the OHCHR Representative moderated a round table discussion and offered closing remarks during a regional consultation on the strengthening of the cooperation between OHCHR and the IAHRC throughout the continent.

Participants also were the president of the IAHRC, Mr. James Cavallaro; the vice-president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Mr. Eduardo Ferrer Mac-Gregor Poisot; and the UN Assistant Secretary General, Mr. Ivan Šimonović.

Durign the event, Mr. Šimonović highlighted various UN concerns in the region, emphasizing on what he called a loss of space for civil society and a deteriorating situation of human rights defenders.

Other attendants were Mr. Claudio Grossman, member of the UN Committee against torture; the UN Special Rapporteur against torture, Mr. Juan Méndez; the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Ms. Mónica Pinto; the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Mr. Michel Forst; and the member of the UN Working Group on enforced disappearances, Mr. Ariel Dulitzky.

The Secretary Executive of the IAHRC, Mr. Emilio Álvarez Icaza; the second vice-president of the Commission, Ms. Margareth Macauley; various special rapporteurs from the Inter-American human rights system; added to representatives from civil society organizations such as CEJIL, CONECTAS, COFAVIC, Article 19 Brazil, among others, were also present during the event.

The consultation sought to enhance cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter American Human Rights System in the Americas, with a thematic focus on interactions with human rights defenders and civil society. Participants shared experiences, best practices, challenges and, lessons learnt; and explored new forms of cooperation. The consultation also identified priority thematic areas for discussion at the 4th world workshop of Regional Arrangements to be held in October 2016.

In addition, Mr. Incalcaterra participated on 11 April of the plenary meeting of IAHRC members, where they continue to discuss aspects related to the UN-IAHRC in the field of human rights.

Such activities occur within the framework of a joint declaration of cooperation –signed in November 2014-, between the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the IAHRC. The declaration seeks to strengthen cooperation between the universal and regional human rights systems, enhancing and formalizing ongoing practices, including joint actions, consultations and regular information-sharing procedures, as well as collaboration in terms of policy development, among other activities.

ENDS

 

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Torture prevention: UN experts urge Chile to establish national body to monitor places of detention

14 de April, 2016

Photo: Government of ChileSANTIAGO (14 April 2016) – UN experts have ended a visit to Chile by urging the Chilean authorities to proceed with establishing a national independent body to monitor places of detention.

“Having a body able to carry out such work at the national level is a vital first step on the road towards preventing torture and ill-treatment in detention,” said Lorena González Pinto, who headed a delegation from the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT).

The SPT, which monitors how States that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) are meeting their treaty obligations, was in Chile from 4 to 13 April.

Chile ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) in December 2008, under which it should have set up a monitoring body known as a National Preventive Mechanism within a year.

The experts voiced concern at the delay in establishing such a mechanism but recognised the engagement of Chile in tackling the torture and ill-treatment of people in detention. In particular, they congratulated the Chilean authorities for leading the Initiative against Torture that promotes technical assistance to States for the ratification and implementation of the Convention against Torture.

“We have found the visit very enlightening and believe it lays the groundwork for future progress in improving the conditions and treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in Chile, including vulnerable groups, such as women, juveniles, indigenous peoples and LGBTI,” said Ms. González Pinto.

During their visit, the experts visited 22 places in Antofagasta, Santiago, Quillota, Temuco, Valdivia and Valparaiso, including police stations, public and privately-run prisons, detention cells in the tribunals, facilities for juveniles and a psychiatric hospital.

The SPT members had private and confidential interviews with detained people, law enforcement officials and medical staff. They also met high-level officials, including President Michelle Bachelet, members of Congress, the President of the Supreme Court, the head of the National Human Rights Institution and representatives of civil society.

At the end of the visit, the SPT delegation presented their confidential preliminary observations to the Chilean Government on how to strengthen the protection of persons deprived of their liberty against torture and cruel, in human or degrading treatment or punishment.

“We had excellent co-operation from the Chilean authorities in facilitating the visit, including in ensuring the unrestricted access to places of detention, and look forward to working with them further,” said Ms. González Pinto.

The SPT delegation was Lorena González Pinto (Guatemala), Roberto Michel Feher Pérez (Uruguay), Enrique Andrés Font (Argentina) and Emilio Ginés Santidrián (Spain).

ENDS

For media inquiries, please contact:
Yulia Babuzhina +41 79 444 4078/  ybabuzhina@ohchr.org
Santiago : Maria Jeannette Moya  + 56 979996907 /  mmoya@ohchr.org
Geneva: Liz Throssell, +41 (0) 22 917 9466/ +41 79 752 0488 / ethrossell@ohchr.org

BACKGROUND:  The mandate of the SPT is to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons deprived of their liberty through visiting, monitoring and advising all States that are parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). To date, the OPCAT has been ratified by 81 States.

States are obliged to allow the SPT unannounced and unhindered access to all places where people are or may be deprived of their liberty. States parties also have to establish a National Preventive Mechanism, which is expected to carry out regular monitoring visits of places of deprivation of liberty in all parts of the country.

For the SPT, the key to preventing torture and ill-treatment lies in building constructive relations with the State concerned, and its guiding principles are cooperation and confidentiality.

More about the SPT: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/OPCAT/Pages/OPCATIndex.aspx

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OHCHR: about ruling declaring unconstitutionality of Amnesty Bill in Venezuela

12 de April, 2016

Photo: UN MultimediaSpokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva
Date: 12 April 2016
Subject: Venezuela

We are very surprised with the ruling yesterday by the Constitutional Chamber of Venezuela’s Supreme Court against the Amnesty and National Reconciliation Bill. The Bill, which was approved by the National Assembly on 29 March this year, could have served as the basis for a path of dialogue and reconciliation in Venezuela.

We are still studying the ruling in detail, but we note with concern that the court declared the entire text unconstitutional. Upon the request of the Government, the High Commissioner had sent a legal analysis of this bill to Venezuela, advising that the text was generally in conformity with international human rights standards.

We call on the Government of Venezuela and the political opposition to open up avenues for a process of dialogue that could contribute to reaching the crucial political agreements that are necessary to tackle the multiple human rights challenges that the people of Venezuela are facing.

We also call on the Government of Venezuela and all State entities to ensure full respect for the basic rights and freedoms to which all the people of Venezuela are entitled – including human rights defenders and civil society actors – in line with the country’s obligations under the international human rights treaties it has ratified, as well as the commitments it made during its Universal Periodic Review before the UN Human Rights Council.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org )

*Video: press briefing by OHCHR Spokesperson today (from 01:12:15 onwards): http://webtv.un.org/watch/geneva-press-briefing-unicef-ocha-wfp-iom-unhcr-who-unaids-unctad-ohchr/4841826507001

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UN rights chief urges sustained commitment for redress of child victims of torture

8 de April, 2016

Foto: Diego Oyarzún8 April 2016 – The deliberate infliction of torture on children is an “unbearable reality” in many conflicts and human rights crises around the world, but the international community must continue to demonstrate its commitment to holding the perpetrators of such acts accountable as well as assist the recovery of affected children, the United Nations human rights chief said today.

Speaking in Geneva at the 43rd session of the Board of Trustees of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein noted that the Fund’s work over the past three decades shows the “extraordinary capacity” for resilience of child victims of torture, who are often targeted to extract information, pressure their parents, or simply as punishment for supposed misbehaviour.

“Neither national security nor the fight against terrorism, the threat of armed conflict, or any public emergency can justify torturing anyone,” Mr. Zeid stressed. “And yet many States and non-State actors continue to torture people – a horror that my staff must combat daily.”

States have an obligation to help child victims of torture work towards recovery and find redress, the UN human rights chief emphasized, although he expressed regret that this obligation is often ignored. But he noted that around the world, networks of physicians, psychologists, social workers and lawyers do assist child survivors of torture to deal with the trauma they have suffered.

Much of their work is supported by the UN Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture, which marks its thirty-fifth anniversary this year, and which Mr. Zeid’s Office manages.

Today, the Fund launched a new booklet, From Horror to Healing, with personal accounts from victims of torture, and the practitioners who help them heal and reclaim their lives and rights. The testimonies were collected from organizations and rehabilitation centres supported by the Fund, which provide direct assistance to about 50,000 victims of torture and their family members every year.

Mr. Zeid noted that these rehabilitation efforts also focus on refugee and migrant children. Many of them have endured severe trauma and ill-treatment before leaving their homes – in some cases, already amounting to torture. In addition, children caught up in large-scale migration movements are also at high risk of violence during their journeys, including sexual violence at the hands of traffickers and criminal gangs.

A “shockingly” high number of child migrants suffer detention at borders, and may suffer very harsh physical abuse in detention by agents of the State, the UN human rights chief said. It is absolutely vital that States attentively protect the rights of all migrants and, most especially, all child migrants, he stressed.

“These children must know that they are uniquely precious in the eyes of the world; that they have rights; and that what has been done to them is illegal and wrong,” Mr. Zeid said. “We must demonstrate that we are committed to tracking down the perpetrators and holding them to account. And we must do what we can to help them develop the resilience and wisdom to free themselves from the physical and emotional pain they have endured.”

In customary law, under the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the Rights of the Child , torture is prohibited in all circumstances, without exception, and children are entitled to specific protection, because of their heightened vulnerability.

Yet, the UN human rights chief said that as documented by the work of the UN Fund and other UN mechanisms, children are often targeted because they are children, as a way of intimidating entire communities, or to leverage additional pain onto their parents.

“The torture of children is an unbearable reality, particularly in countries in conflicts such as Syria, where the Commission of Inquiry has repeatedly excoriated the torture of children,” Mr. Zeid said. “Even very young children are spared no suffering – including the use of specific machinery to inflict pain; mock executions; the obligation to witness pain being inflicted on other children or family members; and sexual mutilation and assault.”

Emphasizing that it is more unbearable to work on a daily basis with children who have been tortured, Mr. Zeid said that is vital to assist them to recover, particularly because torture inflicts massive physical and emotional damage on the developing bodies and minds of children and adolescents.

“In addition to its sometimes very significant physical and cognitive impact, the experience of such profound helplessness may fundamentally impair the child’s ability to trust, to freely develop her or his personality and skills, and to navigate changing circumstances with confidence,” he said.

Source: UN News Centre

 

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Experts unite to end human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity

7 de April, 2016

Photo: UNFE.org7 April 2016 – Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people across the world often face grave human rights violations, including torture, sexual violence, arbitrary detention, even killing – all because of who they are.

In an unprecedented dialogue, regional and UN human rights experts joined forces to look at their human rights situation, and to call for an end to violence and other human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

A report, launched today during the 58th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the Gambia, summarises the historic dialogue that took place in November 2015 between the African Commission, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and UN human rights experts.

The report also highlights the impact that human rights violations have on the health of LGBTI people and their access to HIV prevention and care.

“Violence and other human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity constitute universal challenges that require concerted responses by national, regional and UN human rights institutions,” said Pansy Tlakula, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The report also emphasises positive developments made around the world in protecting the rights of LGBTI people.

The African Commission adopted a resolution calling to end violence and other violations based on real or imputed sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Inter-American Commission established a Rapporteurship on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, which recently produced a detailed report on violence against LGBTI persons in the Americas.

James Cavallaro, President of the Inter-American Commission, said protecting the rights of LGBTI people is fundamental to the work of the Commission, as well as bringing “the voices of LGBTI people into our work to challenge the invisibility of the serious human rights violations that they continue to face throughout the Americas and make States accountable for these violations.”

United Nations human rights experts have increasingly addressed human rights violations against LGBTI people, as highlighted in a recent  OHCHR report, while the Human Rights Council has passed two resolutions condemning violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The dialogue allowed us to share good practices to guide our common struggle to combat impunity and to ensure the protection and realisation of the human rights of all individuals, including LGBTI people,” said Christof Heyns, UN expert on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

The UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, called the dialogue between regional and UN experts ground-breaking and necessary.

“Ending violence, criminalization, discrimination and other human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex persons, are priorities for our organizations and for the entire United Nations system,” they said.

Civil society organizations also welcomed the joint dialogue. “Ongoing collaboration and openness to experience-sharing between regional and international human rights systems reinforces the idea of the universality of human rights, and can only help advance the protection of human rights for everyone, including for LGBTI people,” concluded Sibongile Ndashe, Executive Director of the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA).

Source: OHCHR

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Strict financial accountability crucial to stop treating education as a commodity in Chile

4 de April, 2016

Photo: OHCHR South AmericaGENEVA / SANTIAGO (4 April 2016): “The State remains the guardian of the right to education in all circumstances,” said today the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Kishore Singh, while calling on the Chilean authorities to adopt a legal framework to devote maximum resources to education on a sustainable basis.

“Chile is going through an historic period of transformation to recognise education as a right and not as a commodity,” Mr. Singh said at the end of his first official visit* to Chile, where he welcomed the current efforts to revert 30 years of market-based policies in education adopted in the name of freedom in teaching, which have led to high levels of school segregation and stratification.

For the Special Rapporteur, freedom in teaching does not give freedom to any provider of education to undermine education as a public good or make it subservient to private interest to the detriment of social responsibility in education. “The State is the legitimate authority for exercising regulatory power covering all aspects of the education system,” he stressed.

“Chile is embarking on the implementation process of the Inclusive Education Act of June 2015, with commitment to progressively and completely eradicate ‘for-profit’ education before end of 2017,” he observed. “The historic reforms pushed forward by the current Government are unprecedented.”

The UN expert commended Chile for adopting legislation in several key areas such as the Act for Plan of action on Citizenship training. Draft laws have also been prepared on the National System on Public Education and on Children’s Rights while a reform in higher education for increasing institutional capacity is being devised. “In the spirit of reforms, corporate interests in Universities should no longer be allowed,” Mr. Singh noted.

The UN Special Rapporteur urged the Chilean Government to adopt a law on financing education, stressing that education is not only a right in itself, but also essential for the exercise of all other human rights. “A legal framework for financing education would make it possible to devote maximum resources to education on a sustainable basis.”

“A stringent regulatory framework is an essential to ensure that no private provider is allowed to reduce education to business, treat it as a commodity and indulge in financial fraud and corruption in education,” Mr. Singh emphasised.

“Such practices must be rigorously investigated with transparency and full accountability, and those found guilty must be brought to justice,” the human rights expert concluded.

ENDS

Mr. Kishore Singh (India), the Special Rapporteur on the right to education since August 2010, is a professor specialized in international law who has worked for many years with UNESCO for the promotion of the right to education, and advised a number of international, regional and national bodies on right to education issues. Throughout his career, Mr. Singh has supported the development of the right to education in its various dimensions and worked to promote better understanding of this right as an internationally recognized right. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Education/SREducation/Pages/SREducationIndex.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 – Chile:

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/CLIndex.aspx

OHCHR Regional Office, Chile: http://acnudh.org/en/home/

For inquiries and media requests, please contact:
In Santiago (during the visit): Leire Agirreazkuenaga (+56 2 654 1032 /
leire.agirreazkuenaga@undp.org)
In Geneva (before and after the visit): Lucía de la Sierra (+41 22 917 9741 /
ldelasierra@ohchr.org) or write to sreducation@ochcr.org 

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:

Mr. Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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UN torture prevention body to visit Chile

31 de March, 2016

Foto: OHCHRGENEVA (31 March 2016) – The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) is due to make its first visit to Chile from 4 to 13 April to assess the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty, as well as the safeguards for their protection against torture and ill-treatment.

Among the places the SPT delegation is due to visit are prisons, police stations, psychiatric institutions and detention facilities for juveniles. The SPT delegation will also hold meetings with the Chilean authorities and civil society representatives.

“One of the aims during our visit is to provide advice and assistance to the Chilean authorities on the full implementation of their treaty obligations, including the establishment of a national independent body fully able to monitor places of detention,” said Lorena González Pinto, head of the SPT delegation.

Chile ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) in December 2008. According OPCAT’s article 17, States parties are required to maintain, designate or establish such a body, known as a National Preventive Mechanism, within a year after ratification.

“Having a body able to carry out such work is a fundamental aspect of preventing torture and ill-treatment,” Ms González Pinto stressed.

Following the visit, the SPT will submit a confidential report to the Chilean Government, containing its observations and recommendations.

The SPT has a mandate to visit all States that are parties to OPCAT and can make unannounced visits to places of detention. For the SPT, the key to preventing torture and ill-treatment lies in building constructive relations with the State concerned, and its guiding principles are cooperation and confidentiality.

The SPT delegation will comprise:  Lorena González Pinto (Guatemala), Roberto Michel Feher Pérez (Uruguay), Enrique Andrés Font (Argentina), Emilio Ginés Santidrián (Spain).

ENDS

For media inquiries, please contact: Yulia Babuzhina  + 41 79 444 4355 / ybabuzhina@ohchr.org

Chile: Leire Agirreazkuenaga +56 2 654 1032 / leire.agirreazkuenaga@undp.org
From 5 April: Maria Jeannette Moya  + 56 979996907 /  mmoya@ohchr.org
Geneva: Liz Throssell, +41 (0) 22 917 9466/ +41 79 752 0488 / ethrossell@ohchr.org

Background: The Optional Protocol on the Prevention of Torture has to date been ratified by 80 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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UN human rights expert visits Chile in the midst of the education reform process

23 de March, 2016

Foto: UN MultimediaGENEVA / SANTIAGO (23 March 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Kishore Singh, will undertake an official visit to Chile from 28 March to 4 April 2016 to examine the right to education in its multiple dimensions, in the context of recent transformations in the education environment in the country.

“I will look closely into the ongoing process of education reforms, the evolving framework of the national legal system on the right to education and its implementation along with human rights standards,” Mr. Singh said launching his first official visit to the country.

“During my eight-day mission, my assessment of the efforts being undertaken by Chile to comply with international obligations will focus on the principles of non-discrimination, equality of opportunity, quality and education as a public good, which help safeguard education against privatization,” the Special Rapporteur noted.

Mr. Singh, who visits Chile at the invitation of the Government, will travel to Santiago and Antofagasta, where he will meet with Government officials and representatives of civil society organizations, including non-governmental organizations.

The human rights expert will also visit schools at various levels, as well as higher education establishment, to meet with educators, academics, students and teachers’ representatives.

On 4 April 2016 at 12:00 pm, the Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Celso Furtado Room, to share with the media his preliminary observations on the visit. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

A comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council will present the development of the visit, with findings and recommendations.

ENDS

Mr. Kishore Singh (India), the Special Rapporteur on the right to education since August 2010, is a professor specialized in international law who has worked for many years with UNESCO for the promotion of the right to education, and advised a number of international, regional and national bodies on right to education issues. Throughout his career, Mr. Singh has supported the development of the right to education in its various dimensions and worked to promote better understanding of this right as an internationally recognized right. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Education/SREducation/Pages/SREducationIndex.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 – Chile: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/CLIndex.aspx

OHCHR Regional Office, Chile: http://acnudh.org/en/home/

For inquiries and media requests, please contact:
In Santiago (during the visit): Leire Agirreazkuenaga (+56 2 654 1032 /
leire.agirreazkuenaga@undp.org)
In Geneva (before and after the visit): Lucía de la Sierra
(+41 22 917 9741 / ldelasierra@ohchr.org) or write to sreducation@ochcr.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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Créditos-para-ACNUDH-América-del-Sur-580x435

Peru: Regional Representative participates in business and human rights event

22 de March, 2016

Créditos-para-ACNUDH-América-del-Sur-580x435SANTIAGO (22 March 2016) – The Regional Representative for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra, participated in the first International Meeting on Dialogue, Extractive Industries and Social Conflicts: Human Rights and Business, which took place on 17-18 March 2016.

Mr. Incalcaterra offered remarks at the meeting, organized by the National Office for Dialogue and Sustainability of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of Peru. During the event, the Representative highlighted the State’s responsibility in protecting human rights, as well as the responsibility of the business sector of respecting human rights in their commercial operations by applying the due diligence and repairing the damages they may cause.

Other participants were Ms. Diana Chávez, Director of the Global Compact Regional Support Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the president of the National Network of Andean and Amazon Indigenous Women of Peru, Ms. Gladis Vilapihue, among other experts.

During his visit, Mr. Incalcaterra also met with the Peruvian National Superintendent of Migration, Mr. Boris Potozen, to review the current situation of the regulation process of the new national Migration Law, and with Mr. Gino Costa, chief of citizen security of political party “Peruanos por el Kambio”.

The Regional Representative also held a meeting with Ms. Elizabeth Salmon, Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Democracy of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (Idehpucp), in order to analyze a possible cooperation agreement among a both entities.

ENDS

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OHCHR expressed concern about political environment in Brazil

22 de March, 2016

Photo: UN Multimedia
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
: Rupert Colville

Location: Geneva

Subject: Brazil

We are concerned about the increasingly politicised and heated debate that has engulfed Brazil over the past few days and weeks. We urge the Government, as well as politicians from other parties, to cooperate fully with the judicial authorities in their investigations into allegations of high-level corruption, and to avoid any actions that could be construed as a means of obstructing justice. At the same time, we urge the judicial authorities to act scrupulously within the confines of international and domestic law, and to avoid taking partisan political positions.

We are concerned that a vicious circle may be developing that risks discrediting both the executive and the judiciary, thereby doing serious long-term damage to the State, and to the democratic achievements made in the past 20 years during which Brazil has been governed under a Constitution which provides strong human rights guarantees.

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Much remains to be done to respect the rights of indigenous peoples in Brazil – UN expert

21 de March, 2016

Foto: ACNUDHGENEVA (21 March 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, commended the Government of Brazil for a number of measures and initiatives it has taken to ensure the realization of indigenous peoples’ rights, but stressed that more much needs to be done to fully respect their rights.

“The pursuit of economic interests in a manner that further subordinates the rights of indigenous peoples creates a potential risk of ethnocidal effects that cannot be overlooked nor underestimated,” Ms. Tauli-Corpuz warned at the end of an eleven-day official visit* to Brazil, where she travelled to Brasilia and to the States of Mato Grosso Do Sul, Bahia and Pará.

“In the past, Brazil has been a world leader in the area of demarcation of indigenous peoples’ territories,” the expert said recalling that her mission was a follow up to the 2008 visit of her predecessor, James Anaya. “However, in the eight years following that visit, there has been an absence of progress in relation to the resolution of long standing issues of key concern to indigenous peoples and to the implementation of the his recommendations.”

For Ms. Tauli-Corpuz a matter of most pressing concern is the extent of documented and reported attacks on indigenous peoples. In 2007, 92 indigenous leaders were killed, whereas by 2014 that number increased to 138 killings, with Mato Grosso Do Sul being the state with the highest number of deaths. The expert noted that attacks and killings frequently constitute reprisals in contexts where indigenous peoples reoccupy ancestral lands following long periods waiting for the completion of demarcation processes.

“I find it extremely alarming that a series of these attacks, involving shootings and leading to the injury of indigenous peoples in the communities of Kurusu Amba, Dourados and Taquara in Mato Grosso Do Sul, followed my visits to these areas, she said “I decry these attacks and call on the Government to put an end to these human rights violations, investigate and bring their masterminds and perpetrators to justice.”

In that regard, the Special Rapporteur praised some of the measures adopted by the Brazilian authorities such as the constructive and pro-active role of the National Indian Foundation of Brazil (FUNAI) and the Federal public prosecutors despite operating in difficult circumstances, as well as the establishment of an internationally recognized legal and administrative framework for demarcation.

She also noted a series of decisions by the Federal Supreme Court to prevent evictions of indigenous peoples; the organization of the first National Conference on Indigenous Policy in 2015; and the establishment of the National Council for Indigenous Policy.

However, Ms. Tauli-Corpuz highlighted some of the main human rights challenges facing many indigenous peoples in Brazil, which include proposals for constitutional amendment PEC215 and other legislation which undermines their rights to lands, territories and resources. The expert also commented on the misinterpretation of article 231 and 232 of the Constitution in the Raposa Serra do Sol decision from the part of the Judiciary.

Similarly, the expert drew attention to the introduction of a temporal framework and imposition of constraints on indigenous peoples’ rights to possess and control their lands and natural resources; and the stalling of demarcation processes, including 20 demarcations pending Presidential ratification, such as that for Cachoeira Seca in the state of Pará.

During her official visit to Brazil, Ms. Tauli-Corpuz, met with Government and UN officials, a wide range of civil society and human rights organizations and other non-State actors, including those working on indigenous rights. She also visited indigenous communities to hear directly from them about their issues and concerns.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report containing her findings and recommendations to the Brazilian Government and the UN Human Rights Council in September 2016.

(*) Read the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=18498&LangID=E

ENDS

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines), 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. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/SRIndigenousPeoples/Pages/SRIPeoplesIndex.aspx 

Read the 2008 report on Brazil by the former Special Rapporteur (A/HRC/12/34/Add.2):  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/SRIndigenousPeoples/Pages/CountryReports.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.

See the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/Pages/Declaration.aspx

For further information and media requests, 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)

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Enforced disappearance, even if brief, still a crime, UN experts say in findings on Argentina case

21 de March, 2016

Foto: OHCHRGENEVA (21 March 2016) – Defining a crime as enforced disappearance does not depend on how long a person is detained without their whereabouts being divulged, UN experts have stressed after examining the case of a prisoner in Argentina whose family was denied any information about where he was for several days.

“For more than seven days, the prisoner could not communicate with his family nor consult a lawyer, and for seven days the authorities concealed or refused to acknowledge where he had been transferred to despite repeated requests from his relatives. This constitutes an enforced disappearance,” said Juan José López Ortega from the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED).

The prisoner, Roberto Yrusta, had asked to be transferred from a prison in Cordoba, saying he had been tortured and ill-treated for three years. On 16 January 2013, Mr. Yrusta was moved to a prison in Santa Fe province; yet neither he nor his sisters were told his destination. In addition, prison records did not register him correctly, and did not make clear who ordered his transfer, nor when it took place.
“The Committee’s opinion is that an enforced disappearance doesn’t have to begin with arbitrary or illegal detention, nor be the intention of the officials involved, but that the legal detention of a person can become illegal and, as in this case, an enforced disappearance,” said CED member Santiago Corcuera. “For detention to be secret, it doesn’t need to be at a clandestine centre, but can happen at official prisons, if the authorities do not provide information on where the detained person is.”

Once Mr. Yrusta was able to get in touch with his family again, he told them he was still being ill-treated. On 7 February 2013, some 10 months before his scheduled release, he was found dead in his cell. His sisters submitted a complaint to the Argentine authorities, seeking clarification over the circumstances of his disappearance during the seven days in question and his death, as well as the inhuman and degrading treatment he had alleged.

Under the Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, to which Argentina is a party, victims are not just the person who is disappeared but those who have suffered harm as a direct result including, in this case, Mr Yrusta’s sisters. Despite this, the Argentine authorities did not recognise the sisters as victims and allow them to participate in their brother’s case, so violating the Convention.

“The Committee considers that the [sisters’] anguish and suffering over the lack of information about what happened to their brother was aggravated by the failure of the authorities to recognise their status as victims, a factor which led to their being re-victimised,” the 10-member Committee wrote in its opinion.

Among their recommendations, Committee members said the investigation should not be limited to the cause of Mr Yrusta’s death but should include an exhaustive and impartial investigation into his disappearance during his transfer from Cordoba to Santa Fe. Those responsible for violations should be prosecuted, tried and punished.

“Each victim has the right to know the truth about the circumstances of an enforced disappearance, the evolution and results of the investigation, and the fate of the disappeared person,” members wrote in their findings.

“We hope the Committee’s jurisprudence arising from this case clarifies what constitutes enforced disappearance, so contributing to the protection of all from this abominable crime,” said Emmanuel Decaux, Chairperson of the CED.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Liz Throssell – +41 (0) 22 917 9466 / +41 79 752 0488
ethrossell@ohchr.org

Background
CED members are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. More information:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CED/Pages/CEDIndex.aspx

The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance marks its 10th anniversary in 2016. The Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 2006 and came into force on 23 December 2010.

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Homelessness: surviving at the peripheries

21 de March, 2016

Photo: EPA/Justin Lane (via OHCHR.org)GENEVA (21 March 2016) – “Homelessness is not just one of the most extreme forms of physical deprivation. It also defines a group that is subject to extreme forms of discrimination, stigma and violence,” said Leilani Farha, UN expert on the right to adequate housing. “For homeless people it’s double jeopardy: laws and policies create homelessness and then penalize homeless people for being homeless.”

Farha was presenting her latest report to the Human Rights Council this month. The document offers a three-dimensional approach to understanding homelessness from a human rights perspective. Farha explains that being homeless does not only mean not having a roof above one’s head, or temporarily living with friends and family or in a shelter; it also implies being part of a group that is excluded from society, and barred from accessing and enjoying their rights to housing, health and even, in some cases, life.

Farha points out that homeless people have proven resilient in their struggle for survival and dignity, and that they can become agents of their own change as rights holders.

“Homelessness is too often viewed as a social policy issue alone rather than as a human rights violation which can and must be remedied with human rights responses,” she said. “The starting point of any human rights-based approach should be to focus on the individual lives and struggles for dignity that must be addressed.”

The UN expert explained that government policies that are inconsistent with human rights were the structural causes of homelessness. To respond strategically to homelessness, Governments should eliminate the practice of forced evictions; and ensure that legal remedies are afforded to people who have become homeless because their rights were violated.

Governments should also combat inequality: by ensuring social protection for vulnerable populations; regulating rapid speculative urbanization which reduces the availability of affordable housing; and placing a special focus on women, people with disabilities, migrants and refugees, who are forced into homelessness because of factors such as domestic violence, unequal access to property and land, and unregulated private actors.

Farha called for a global campaign to eliminate homelessness by the deadline of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which commits to ensuring access to adequate housing for all.

“Homeless people have told me, often through tears, that more than any material security, what they yearn for is to be “seen”, to be recognized and treated by society as human beings with inherent dignity and respect.”

Source: OHCHR

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Brazil: violence, poverty and criminalization “continue to have a colour” – UN expert on minority rights

15 de March, 2016

Photo: OHCHRSANTIAGO (15 March 2016) – Violence, criminalization and poverty “continue to have a colour”, disproportionately affecting afro descendants in Brazil, concluded the United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Ms. Rita Iszák, presenting today (15) her evaluation of the Brazilian situation before the UN Human Rights Council.

In spite of 20 years of public policies and specific actions for people of African descent, Brazil still fails in combatting discrimination, exclusion and poverty historically entrenched in the country, particularly affecting people living in ‘favelas’, periphery areas and Quilombolas (traditional afro-Brazilian communities).

According to the expert, the “racial democracy myth” permeated for a long time the Brazilian psyche, hindering the explicit treatment of racism and contributed to false assumptions that the marginalized situation of Afro-Brazilians is attributable to factors of class or wealth, rather than racial factors.

The report presented by the expert result from an official visit to Brazil last year, from 14 to 25 September 2015. During her 11-day mission, Ms. Izsák visited Brasilia and several cities in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Bahia states, where she held meetings with government officials and UN representatives, as well as various minority groups and a broad range of civil society actors, human rights organizations and non-state actors, including those working on minority issues, social inclusion and the promotion of equality and non-discrimination.

More information about the visit: http://acnudh.org/brasil-las-minorias-piden-que-las-promesas-de-igualdad-se-cumplan-dice-experta-de-la-onu/

ENDS

*Check Ms. Iszák’s report on her visit to Brazil: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/31/56/Add.1

Featuring information from UN Brazil

 

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Zika virus: “Improved water and sanitation services are the best answer”

11 de March, 2016

Photo: WHOGENEVA (11 March 2015) – “As the world looks for hi-tech solutions to the Zika virus, we should not forget the appalling state of water and sanitation access of the poor, a key underlying determinant of the right to health,” today said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Léo Heller.

“We can engineer sterile mosquitos or use sophisticated Internet tools to map data globally, but we should not forget that today a hundred million people in Latin America still lack access to hygienic sanitation systems and seventy million people lack piped water in their places of residence,” the independent expert stressed.

“There is a strong link between weak sanitation systems and the current outbreak of the mosquito borne Zika virus, as well as dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya,” Mr. Heller said, “and the most effective way to tackle this problem is to improve the failing services.”

The expert noted that the Latin American region met the UN Millennium Development Goal target for water in 2010, but the advancements are still not reaching all. Regarding sanitation, the goal remains unachieved and 3 million people still practice open defecation. “Because of stricter definitions for the related goals within the framework of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development these will reveal an even more dramatic lack of access to safe water and sanitation in the region”, he warned.

“When people have inadequate living and housing conditions, where they do not have access to safely managed water services, they tend to store water in unsafe ways that attract mosquitos,” the UN expert on adequate housing, Leilani Farha, noted. “In addition, poor sanitation systems where wastewater flows through open channels and is disposed of in unsafe pits leads to stagnant water and unfit housing – a perfect habitat for breeding mosquitos.”

The right to the full enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health of the people in the region is severely compromised at the moment and this is directly associated with the lack of access to clean water and sanitation by large sectors of the population.

In Latin America it is the poorest and most marginalized who are suffering disproportionately from the additional burden of the Zika virus, potentially linked to both microcephaly (babies born with abnormally small heads), and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a neurological condition), as well as other mosquito borne diseases.

These ‘new’ diseases put an additional strain on women, who carry the burden of the fear of the diseases during their pregnancies and often care for the potentially sick children. Women and children are disproportionately affected by the current Zika virus outbreak and health systems need to be ready to respond to their specific health needs and rights by listening to their concerns, ensuring their autonomy, and involving them in the measures that affect them.

“Governments in the region must speed up the improvement of water and sanitation conditions, in particular for the most vulnerable populations, in order to save lives in the face of this unfolding global health crisis,” Special Rapporteur Heller said.

This statement has also been endorsed by the Special Rapporteur on health, Dainius Pūras, and the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston.

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 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.

Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/WaterAndSanitation/SRWater/Pages/SRWaterIndex.aspx

Leilani Farha, 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: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/HousingIndex.aspx

Dainius Pūras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Health/Pages/SRRightHealthIndex.aspx

Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Poverty/Pages/SRExtremePovertyIndex.aspx

Realizing the human rights to water and sanitation – Download your handbook: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/WaterAndSanitation/SRWater/Pages/Handbook.aspx

For more information and press inquiries, please contact Ms. Viktoria Aberg (+41 22 917 9790 / vaberg@ohchr.org) or write to srwatsan@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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UN experts provide a roadmap to avoid human rights violations during protests

9 de March, 2016

Photo: UN MultimediaGENEVA (9 March 2016) –  Two United Nations human rights experts presented today a new report to the UN Human Rights Council offering extensive recommendations to States and police forces around the world on how best to manage public gatherings.

“The proper management of assemblies can in many cases serve to prevent an escalation of the situation and the eventual outbreak of violence. We believe that proper precautions and preparations can help to protect the rights of all concerned – the demonstrators, bystanders and the police,” said the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai.

The report is the result of consultations with more than 50 States and 100 experts from civil society, academia, protest groups, national human rights institutions and police forces. “Our many conversations with States and experts confirmed that the ability to meet and act collectively is vital to democratic development and to the expression of ideas,” Mr. Kiai said.

“Human rights are often violated in the context of assemblies, sometimes unintentionally. These recommendations are aimed at providing all involved with a common frame of reference of how this world-wide form of expression should be approached. In many cases the proper management of assemblies can prevent it from escalating out of control,” added Mr. Heyns

The recommendations touch on all aspects of the management of assemblies, including: notification procedures and permissible limitations of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly; the State obligation to facilitate assemblies; the policing of assemblies including the use of force and surveillance; the monitoring and recording of assemblies; access to information; and accountability.

“Assemblies can play a vital role in the protection and fulfillment of human rights,” the experts recalled. “They should not be viewed or treated as a threat, but rather as a means of dialogue in which the State should engage.”

The Special Rapporteurs emphasized the broad range of rights impacted in the context of assemblies, and the State’s obligation not only to protect, but also facilitate, the exercise of these rights. Consequently, the report states, no assembly should be considered ‘unprotected’.

“This is the first time the Council has requested that two mandates jointly compile recommendations on the management of assemblies – which is indicative of the pressing need for guidance on this topic,” Mr. Heyns concluded.

(*) Check the joint report by the Special Rapporteurs (A/HRC/31/66): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session31/Pages/ListReports.aspx

Mr. Maina Kiai (Kenya) took up his functions as the first Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in May 2011. He is appointed in his personal capacity as an independent expert by the UN Human Rights Council. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/AssemblyAssociation/Pages/SRFreedomAssemblyAssociationIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Christof Heyns (South Africa), is the director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria, where he has also directed the Centre for Human Rights, and has engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa. He has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.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.

For more information and media requests, please contact:

– For the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association: Mr. Guillaume Pfeifflé (+41 22 917 9384 / gpfeiffle@ohchr.org)

– For the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions: Ms. Brenda Vukovic (+41 22 917 9635 / bvukovic@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Mr. Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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Don’t downplay gender-based violence – New report by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture

9 de March, 2016

Foto: ONU/Mark GartenGENEVA (9 March 2016) –  “Gender stereotypes still cause us to downplay the suffering of women, girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and sometimes even acquiesce in it. This is simply not acceptable”, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, said today.

“We have a tendency to regard violations against these groups as ill-treatment even where they would more appropriately be defined as torture,” Mr. Méndez said in a new report* to the Human Rights Council looking at gender based violence through the prism of the Convention against Torture.

The human rights expert pointed to the clear link between the criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and the violence and stigma these groups face. At least 76 countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships between adults.

“States are complicit in the violence women and LGBT groups face if they implement discriminatory laws that trap these people in a spiral of abuse,” Mr. Méndez stressed.
In prisons, he noted, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender detainees report higher rates of violence than the general population.

Focusing on detention conditions, the report quotes studies that say women make up between 2% and 9% of the prison population in most of the world’s prisons.  Of those women, up to 80% are mothers and yet most jails are typically designed for men. The expert recommends that, where possible, non-custodial sanctions be given to help protect women, and in particular mother and child – especially since the majority of crimes committed by women tend to be non-violent in nature.

“Denial of safe abortion services in some instances such as cases where the life of the mother is endangered, foetal impairment, or where the pregnancy is the result of rape and incest can also amount to torture or ill treatment of women”, he furthermore said. “States have an obligation to reform their laws in this respect.

“Societal indifference, discriminatory laws and attitudes and a culture of impunity also exacerbates problems like domestic violence which is far more prevalent than most people realise”, said the Rapporteur. It is estimated that 35% of women worldwide have experienced domestic violence of various kinds.

“States must finally implement their heightened obligation to prevent and combat gender-based violence and discrimination perpetrated by both State and private actors against women, girls and persons who transgress sexual and gender norms,” the UN Special Rapporteur urged.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s full report (A/HRC/31/57): http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/31/57

Mr. Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) 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 2010. He has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.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. 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.

Check the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CAT.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Sonia Cronin (+41 22 917 91 60 / scronin@ohchr.org) or Petrine Leweson (+41 22 917 9114 / pleweson@ohchr.org), Andrea Furger (afurger@ohchr.org)  or write to sr-torture@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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Gender-based crimes through the lens of torture International Women’s Day – Tuesday 8 March 2016

8 de March, 2016

Photo: OHCHR MexicoGENEVA (3 March 2016) – There is a tendency to downplay gender-based crimes of violence against women and minimize the grave consequences caused to women around the world, a group of United Nations human rights experts* has warned today.

Ahead of International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8 March, the independent experts urged States “to look at gender-based crimes through the lens of torture,” and reminded all Governments around the world that they become complicit in torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment if they ignore their obligations to prohibit, prevent and redress the violence and harm inflicted on women and girls.

“Looking at systemic gender-based crimes of violence against women through the lens of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment reflects the full impact of this pervasive cruelty on women’s physical integrity, mental health, and human dignity.

Gender-based crimes of violence are a result of rampant cultural misogyny, frequently and wrongly justified or tolerated in the name of tradition, culture or religion.  The sexual violence and mental torment to which girls and women are subjected both in private and public settings reinforce the subordinate status of women and give expression to patriarchal control over women’s bodies and sexuality.

The failure of States to eliminate persistent practices such as intimate partner violence, child and forced marriage, female genital mutilation and so-called ‘honour crimes’, which inflict severe pain and suffering on women and girls, as well as the failure to criminalize martial rape and repeal legislation including laws that exculpate rapists who marry their victims, violates the obligation to prevent and prosecute torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

Domestic violence occurs in the most intimate setting of the home and the family and affects women everywhere. Indifference, inaction or prosecutorial and judicial passivity in the face of domestic violence, and refusal to criminalize marital rape, lead to its legitimization and normalization. When States fail to exercise due diligence to protect victims and to prohibit and prevent violent acts, which cause women and girls severe physical or mental pain and suffering and may destroy their lives or result in their deaths, they are in breach of their commitments under the Convention Against Torture and other international human rights instruments.

Women are highly vulnerable to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in pregnancy and birth. Despite the knowledge that unsafe abortion is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality and morbidity, some States continue to enforce an absolute ban on abortions or highly restrictive abortion laws, forcing women into a situation of despair and danger. Withholding access to reproductive health services that only women need is inherently discriminatory and can violate States’ commitments under the Convention against Torture.

Furthermore, sexual assaults and humiliation, the use of shackles and handcuffs on pregnant women during labour and immediately after childbirth, solitary confinement of pregnant and breastfeeding women or mothers with young children, and strip searches and invasive body searches that humiliate the person being searched should be absolutely prohibited.

It is well established that rape and other forms of sexual violence can amount to torture and ill-treatment. In addition to the severe physical trauma, the mental pain and suffering inflicted on victims are often exacerbated by the social stigma they face.  The incidence of rape, including gang rape and the impunity for its commission, are exacerbated during times of conflict and when women are on the move or deprived of liberty.

Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to rape and other forms of sexual violence, exploitation, trafficking and slavery along migration routes. Such abuses can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. States’ failure to screen migrants and refugees properly, identify victims of torture and afford them international protection and appropriate assistance and support can result in ongoing disabilities and re-traumatise victims and violates the prohibition on refoulement.

Trafficked women and girls are routinely subjected to confinement, severe physical and sexual abuse, humiliation and threats for the purposes of sexual exploitation, including in the context of forced and early marriages, domestic servitude, forced and bonded labour and organ removal. When States fail to exercise due diligence, these practices unequivocally amount to torture and ill-treatment.

States are responsible for violations of the Convention Against Torture where they condemn women to penalties that inflict severe pain and suffering, including stoning and lashing, and where they penalize women for conduct that should not be criminally prohibited, such as for adultery or abortion. States bear responsibility for gender-based violence committed by their own military and police agents and for acquiescing in the intentional infliction of severe pain and suffering on women and girls by private actors.

No one should turn a blind eye or minimise the extent to which women and girls are discriminatorily subjected to pain and suffering, both physical and mental, caused by gender-based violence in all regions of the world. We call on the Human Rights Council and on states in all regions to wage an unremitting campaign against the intolerable torture of women and girls.”

NOTE TO EDITORS: On International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8 March, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, will present a report to the Human Rights Council focusing on the gender dimension of torture and ill-treatment (see the report: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/31/57).

(*) The experts: Ms. Eleonora Zielinska, Chairperson of the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice, Mr. Juan E. Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mr. Dainius Pūras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Ms. Dubravka Šimonović,  Special Rapporteur on violence against Women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Ms. Felice Gaer, on behalf of The Committee  against Torture, and the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.

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. Learn more: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

Committee Against Torture is composed of 10 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 on States that have ratified the Convention against Torture 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

The UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture is a unique and universal humanitarian tool available to the UN and OHCHR providing direct assistance to victims of torture and their family members wherever torture occurs. More information: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/UNVFT/Pages/Index.aspx

For inquiries and media requests, please contact Ms. Hannah Wu (+41 79 221 8074 /  wgdiscriminationwomen@ohchr.org) or Ms. Liliana Trillo Díaz (+41 22 917 9233 / Ltrillodiaz@ohchr.org)

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Secretary-General’s Message on the occassion of International Women’s Day 2016

8 de March, 2016

Photo: UN Multimedia“From the Glass Ceiling to a Carpet of Shards”

As a boy growing up in post-war Korea, I remember asking about a tradition I observed: women going into labour would leave their shoes at the threshold and then look back in fear. “They are wondering if they will ever step into those shoes again,” my mother explained.

More than a half-century later, the memory continues to haunt me. In poor parts of the world today, women still risk death in the process of giving life. Maternal mortality is one of many preventable perils. All too often, female babies are subjected to genital mutilation. Girls are attacked on their way to school. Women’s bodies are used as battlefields in wars. Widows are shunned and impoverished.

We can only address these problems by empowering women as agents of change.

For more than nine years, I have put this philosophy into practice at the United Nations. We have shattered so many glass ceilings we created a carpet of shards. Now we are sweeping away the assumptions and bias of the past so women can advance across new frontiers.

I appointed the first-ever female Force Commander of United Nations troops, and pushed women’s representation at the upper levels of our Organization to historic highs.  Women are now leaders at the heart of peace and security – a realm that was once the exclusive province of men. When I arrived at the United Nations, there were no women leading our peace missions in the field. Now, nearly a quarter of all UN missions are headed by women – far from enough but still a vast improvement.

I have signed nearly 150 letters of appointment to women in positions as Assistant Secretary-General or Under-Secretary-General. Some came from top government offices with international renown, others have moved on to leadership positions in their home countries. All helped me prove how often a woman is the best person for a job.

To ensure that this very real progress is lasting, we have built a new framework that holds the entire UN system accountable. Where once gender equality was seen as a laudable idea, now it is a firm policy. Before, gender sensitivity training was optional; now it is mandatory for ever-greater numbers of UN staff. In the past, only a handful of UN budgets tracked resources for gender equality and women’s empowerment; now this is standard for nearly one in three, and counting.

Confucius taught that to put the world in order, we must begin in our own circles. Armed with proof of the value of women leaders at the United Nations, I have spoken out for women’s empowerment everywhere. In speeches at parliaments, universities and street rallies, in private talks with world leaders, in meetings with corporate executives and in tough conversations with powerful men ruling rigidly patriarchal societies, I have insisted on women’s equality and urged measures to achieve it.

When I took office, there were nine parliaments in the world with no women. We helped to drive that number down to four. I launched the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign in 2008; today, scores of leaders and ministers, hundreds parliamentarians and millions of individuals have added their names to the action call.

I was the first man to sign our HeForShe campaign, and more than a million others have joined since. I stood with activists calling for the abandonment of female genital mutilation and celebrated when the General Assembly adopted its first-ever resolution supporting that goal. I am echoing the calls of many who know women can drive success in achieving our bold 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and advancing the Paris Agreement on climate change.

On this International Women’s Day, I remain outraged by the denial of rights to women and girls – but I take heart from the people everywhere who act on the secure knowledge that women’s empowerment leads to society’s advancement. Let us devote solid funding, courageous advocacy and unbending political will to achieving gender equality around the world. There is no greater investment in our common future.

Ban Ki-moon

Source: http://www.un.org/en/events/womensday/sgmessage.shtml

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Respect rights of rural women, recognize their vital role in development and poverty reduction, UN experts urge

8 de March, 2016

Photo: UN Multimedia/Jean Marc FerréGENEVA (4 March 2016) – Ahead of International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8 March, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is calling for a focus on rural women and girls, and effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many of which reflect on the situation of rural women. The Committee, which monitors implementation by States Parties of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, stresses the need to protect and promote the rights of rural women and girls in accordance with Article 14 of the Convention and in line with the General Recommendation No.34 it has just adopted on the Rights of Rural Women*:

“Rural women account for a quarter of the world’s population is rural women. Several UN Conferences recognised their significant contributions to rural development, food and nutrition, as well as poverty reduction. Nevertheless, they continue to face challenges including systemic and persistent barriers to the full enjoyment of their rights.

In many countries, their specific needs are not adequately addressed in laws, national and local policies and budgets. They remain excluded from leadership and decision-making positions at all levels, are disproportionally affected by negative stereotypes, gender-based violence and insufficient access to basic social services and resources.

In light of the particular situation of rural women and girls, the Committee urges the international community, including Governments to ensure through their empowerment, inter alia:

–     Adoption of non-discriminatory legal frameworks and easy and affordable access of rural women to justice;

–     Elimination of all forms of discrimination against rural women focusing on the particular needs of disadvantaged and marginalized groups;

–     Creation of an enabling environment through temporary special measures, including programmes and policies targeted at improving the social and economic conditions of rural women;

–     Elimination of negative stereotypes and harmful customs and practices including child and forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and discriminatory and customary laws on inheritance;

–     Prevention of all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, trafficking and forced labour;

–     Meaningful participation in political and public life at all levels;

–     Adoption of relevant policies and institutional structures for the full development and advancement of rural women;

–     Access to quality and affordable education, healthcare services and facilities, employment opportunities, adequate housing, safe drinking water and sanitation, access to land and credit, new technologies including ITC;

–     Protection of rural women from the negative consequences of acquisition of land by national and transnational companies, and/or foreign countries, as well as due to extractive industries and megaprojects; and

–     Protection and security of rural women and girls in the overall context of increased disasters linked to climate change, as well as other crises, including man-made disasters.

The Committee believes that addressing the situation of rural women will contribute to the development of societies, the strengthening of norms and standards of human rights, as well as the realisation of the Goals agreed upon by the international community.”

ENDS

*Download General Recommendation No 34 on the Rights of Rural Women: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CEDAW/Shared%20Documents/1_Global/INT_CEDAW_GEC_7933_E.pdf

For more information and media requests, please contact Liz Throssell +41 (0) 22 917 9466/ +41 79 752 0488 ethrossell@ohchr.org

Background

CEDAW is composed of 23 independent human rights experts drawn from around the world. They 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

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Call for applications: Indigenous Fellowship Programme (English language)

4 de March, 2016

Photo: OHCHR South America

4 March 2016 – The English language component of the Indigenous Fellowship Programme (IFP) was established in 1997. It takes place at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, Switzerland and lasts for 4 weeks, usually coinciding with the annual meeting of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP).

The objective of this training programme is to enhance the knowledge of indigenous peoples on existing international human rights instruments and mechanisms, so they can use them to more effectively advocate for the rights of their communities and raise their concerns at the international level. At the end of the Programme, trained fellows are also in a better position to share and give training sessions on the knowledge gained to their indigenous communities and organizations.

The training combines theoretical sessions with briefings on the UN system, OHCHR mandate and activities, international Human Rights instruments (Treaties, Conventions, Declarations) and mechanisms (Human Rights Council, Treaty Bodies, Special Procedures) – including those more specifically dealing with indigenous issues (UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ILO Convention 169, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, EMRIP). Practical assignments and exercises also help better integrate the theory. Fellows are also given the opportunity to actively participate in the annual meeting of EMRIP. Additionally, they get introduced to the work of other UN and specialized agencies (ILO, WIPO, UNESCO, UNICEF) and of Geneva based Human Rights NGOs, including DoCip. You can have a better idea of the type of sessions included in the agenda by clicking on: 2014 training programme.

Participants of the Fellowship Programme are entitled to the following: a return ticket (economy class) from their country of residence to Geneva; a daily or monthly stipend to cover their basic needs in Geneva, including modest accommodation, food and transport; a basic health insurance for the duration of the Programme. OHCHR will not cover any additional expenses such as visa fees and travel insurance.

New: Candidates selected to participate in the 2016 English language training programme are:

  • Deed Jaidessa Kontoma, Wayu Oromo, Ethiopia
  • Milka Chepkorir Kuto, Sengwer, Kenya
  • Brazeau Carole, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, Canada
  • Muktasree Chakma, Chakma, Bangladesh
  • Dattatary Bhandalkar, Ramoshi, India
  • Laofang Bundidterdsakul, Hmong, Thailand
  • Khalil Alamour, Bedoin, Israel
  • Charlene Apok, Inupiac, US
  • Eddie Cubillo, Larrakia/Wadjigan,/Central Arrente, Australia
  • Buddha Kumari Lama, Tamang, Nepal

The deadline to apply to the 2017 English language programme is: 30 April 2016.

*See information about the Spanish language programme: http://acnudh.org/inscripciones-abiertas-a-becas-de-la-onu-para-representantes-indigenas/

 

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UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples announces follow-up visit to Brazil

3 de March, 2016

Photo: UN MultimediaGENEVA (3 March 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, will carry out a visit to Brazil from 7 to 17 March 2016 to identify and assess the main issues currently facing indigenous peoples in the country. She will also follow up on key recommendations made by the previous Special Rapporteur in 2008.

“While the indigenous population in Brazil is relatively small, the challenges they are facing at the moment are overwhelming,” Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said. “I hope that this visit will help to bring to light some of their concerns and will lead to resolution to some long standing issues.”

“I will assess the implementation of my predecessor’s recommendations, including a follow up to the statutes and amendment proposals of concern to indigenous peoples, demarcation and protection of indigenous lands, impact of large-scale development projects as well as updates related to indigenous health,” the expert noted.

Ms. Tauli-Corpuz, who visits Brazil at the invitation of the Government, will travel to Brasilia and to the States of Mato Grosso Do Sul, Bahia and Pará. She will meet with Government and UN officials, a wide range of civil society and human rights organizations and other non-State actors, including those working on indigenous rights. She will also visit indigenous communities to hear directly from them about their issues and concerns.

“This is a timely and essential opportunity for me to engage with all actors and consider existing challenges, but also to identify positive initiatives taken by the Government, the civil society and indigenous leaders,” she stated.

Ms. Tauli-Corpuz will hold a press conference in Brasilia at the end of her visit on Thursday 17 March 2016 at 14:00 in the afternoon at the UN House in Brasilia. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

Following her visit, the Special Rapporteur will present a report containing her findings and recommendations to the Brazilian Government and the UN Human Rights Council in September 2016.

(*) Check the 2008 report on Brazil by the former Special Rapporteur (A/HRC/12/34/Add.2):  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/SRIndigenousPeoples/Pages/CountryReports.aspx

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines), 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. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/SRIndigenousPeoples/Pages/SRIPeoplesIndex.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.

See the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/Pages/Declaration.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact Ms. Hee-Kyong Yoo (+41 22 917 97 23 or at +41 79 201 0119 during the visit / hyoo@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)

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Human Rights Council opens thirty-first session

29 de February, 2016

Photo: UN Multimedia/Jean-Marc FerréGENEVA (29 February 2016) – The Human Rights Council this morning opened its thirty-first session, hearing statements by the President of the General Assembly, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.

Choi Kyong-Lim, President of the Human Rights Council, opening the session, said the March session was considered the main session of the year.  The presence of high-level dignitaries today underscored the importance they attached to the mandate of the Council and the United Nations human rights agenda as a whole.  It was for him a unique privilege and a great honour to serve as President of the Human Rights Council.

Mogens Lykketoft, President of the General Assembly, said that suffering and death from recent crises was appalling and the disregard for human life and human rights, especially in Syria, was unacceptable.  The international community needed to find courage to live up to obligations towards refugees and migrants.  In the past 10 years the Human Rights Council had become increasingly responsive to sudden emergencies and played an important role highlighting situations that required immediate attention by the whole United Nations.  Now there should be increased focus on the prevention of human rights violations, and on improving accountability.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that increasing severe violations of fundamental rights and principles were being generated by poor decisions, unprincipled and often criminal actions, and narrow, short-term and over-simplified approaches to complex questions.  The protection of human life and dignity was crucial at all times, including during armed conflict or occupation, in Syria and elsewhere.  Those fleeing these situations deserved the international community’s sympathy and compassion.  To keep building higher walls against the flight of these desperate people was an act of cruelty and a delusion.

Didier Burkhalter, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, said that a solution to the Syrian crisis had to be found now and that Switzerland was committed to supporting mediation activities.  While the fears of populations receiving migrants needed to be considered, it was essential to reinforce the protections and rights of migrants, especially child migrants.  Switzerland had launched today a new human rights strategy aimed at the effective and real implementation of human rights, and would launch an appeal to optimize communication and operational channels between the Human Rights Council and the Security Council in order to enhance conflict prevention.

At 10 a.m., the Human Rights Council will start its High-Level Segment.

Opening Statement

CHOI KYONG-LIM, President of the Human Rights Council, opened the thirty-first session of the Human Rights Council, saying that the March session was considered the main session of the year.  The Council would hear statements from the President of the United Nations General Assembly, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.  It would then open its High-Level Segment.  The presence of high-level dignitaries underscored the importance they attached to the mandate of the Council and the United Nations human rights agenda as a whole.  It was a unique privilege and a great honour to serve as President of the Human Rights Council.

Statement by the President of the General Assembly
 
MOGENS LYKKETOFT, President of the General Assembly, noted that 2016 was a year of important anniversaries for the United Nations and the Human Rights Council, and that it provided an opportunity to honestly reflect on what had been achieved and what could be improved.  In the past 70 years, considerable progress had been made, but there had been some immense failings too.  Famines had robbed millions of a future, mass atrocities had occurred, investing into weapons had been prioritized over education and health, whereas advancing economic development had led to catastrophic climate change leading to poverty and inequalities.  2015 had been a good year for multilateralism.  However, suffering and death from recent crises was appalling and the disregard for human life and human rights, especially related to the crisis in Syria, was unacceptable.  Those who signed the United Nations Charter should do more to uphold the laws and principles that protected the dignity and rights of civilians.  The international community needed to ensure access to humanitarian assistance for those who needed it.  It also needed to invest more in peaceful settlements and find courage to live up to obligations towards refugees and migrants.  What the international community should not do was to respond to challenges with heavy-handed measures.  It should not attack civil society and should not allow racism and xenophobia to overpower values of equality and humanity.

Mr. Lykketoft said that in the past 10 years the Human Rights Council had proven to be a vital part of the United Nations architecture.  The Universal Periodic Review was a tool that enabled every State to enter into dialogue about human rights issues with other States and inter-governmental and non-governmental actors.  The Special Procedures mandate-holders and the Treaty Bodies made up a powerful roadmap for change, if implemented.  The Council had become increasingly responsive to sudden emergencies and it played an important role highlighting situations that required immediate attention by the whole United Nations.  Mr. Lykketoft expressed confidence that the Council would become stronger.  Human rights should not be looked at in isolation.  There should be increased focus on the prevention of human rights violations.  There could be no sustainable development and no long-term peace if people’s rights were violated or ignored.   The daunting task of implementation was before the international community.  International partners had to scale up their financial support, and civil society had to be given space to fully and freely participate in society.   States had to look at how to improve accountability and implementation of human rights.

Statement by the High Commissioner for Human Rights

ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Council cried out for action, and decisive and cooperative leadership in defence of vital principles.  Increasing severe violations of fundamental rights and principles were being generated by poor decisions, unprincipled and often criminal actions, and narrow, short-term and over-simplified approaches to complex questions, and were now crushing the hopes and lives of countless people.  When the key drafters, representing States, wrote the United Nations Charter and drew up the protective fortress of treaties and laws making up the international system, they knew, from bitter experience, that human rights, the respect for them, the defence of them, would not menace national security, but build more durable nations, and contribute to “a final peace”.  Today, gross violations of international human rights law – which clearly would lead to disastrous outcomes – were being greeted with indifference.  More and more States appeared to believe that the legal architecture of the international system was a menu from which they could pick and choose – trashing what appeared to be inconvenient in the short term.

This piecemeal dismantling of a system of law and values that States themselves set up to ward off global threats was deeply alarming.  Instead of taking a reasoned and cooperative approach to settling challenges – including the rise of violent extremism, the growing number of armed conflicts, and the movement of people seeking safety – many leaders were pandering to a simplistic nationalism, which mirrored the simplified and destructive ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mind-set of the extremists, and fanned a rising wind of prejudice and fear.  This bid to find unilateral quick fixes for issues that had broad roots was not only unprincipled, it was illusory – and it contributed to greater suffering and escalating disarray.

The protection of human life and dignity was crucial at all times, including during armed conflict or occupation.  International humanitarian law must be applied by all parties, the High Commissioner insisted.  In Syria, neighbourhoods, schools, and packed marketplaces had been hit by tens of thousands of airstrikes, without regard for civilian life.  At least ten hospitals and other medical units had been damaged or destroyed in Syria since the beginning of January.  The repetition of these murderous attacks suggested that some parties to the conflict were targeting medical units deliberately, or with reckless disregard.  Similarly, the deliberate starvation of people was unequivocally forbidden as a weapon of warfare.  And yet over 450,000 people were currently trapped in besieged towns and villages in Syria.  Thousands of people risked starving to death.

And yet Syria was far from the only armed conflict in which civilians had endured frightful attacks.  Multiple medical facilities, religious sites and schools had been repeatedly attacked and bombed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan and Yemen.  The normalization of such attacks was intolerable.  It was extremely alarming that so many conflicts, crises and humanitarian emergencies were currently raging, with repeated violations of the norms that protected people’s rights and lives.  In Afghanistan, Burundi, the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the countries around Lake Chad which had suffered the attacks of Boko Haram, Iraq, Libya, Mali, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, millions of lives were threatened, and millions of homes were destroyed.  The effects of these prolonged conflicts and emergencies would be endured for generations.  Whether they were the result of deliberate targeting or systemic incompetence, every single attack on civilians and protected civilian objects must be fully, transparently and independently investigated.

Those fleeing these situations deserved the international community’s sympathy and compassion.  To keep building higher walls against the flight of these desperate people was an act of cruelty and a delusion.  Migration was a basic fact of human history, and it required global sharing of responsibility.  Anti-immigrant and anti-minority rhetoric scarred societies.  They might offer instant political gratification in some quarters, but they resulted in divisions that cut deep.  Racist, discriminatory and xenophobic rhetoric made it even harder for minorities and outsiders to access equal opportunities and basic goods.  And so societies were cleaved and communities grew further apart.  Hate speech against migrants, and specific ethnic and religious groups led to violence.  Similarly, when Governments clamped down against grassroots activists, journalists and political opponents – or scrapped the guarantees of an independent judiciary – they were not acting to halt violent extremism.  They were dismantling the integrity of their societies and the people’s trust and respect for fundamental institutions.

High Commissioner Zeid urged policy-makers to deploy measures which ensured respect for human rights, which would extinguish violent extremism more effectively, and more sustainably, than any crackdown.  Justice and human rights were the essential foundation of loyalty.  He further urged Member States to rise above the crescendo of xenophobia and gather lessons from the great integrative forces of history.  Cities and civilizations had been irrigated by diversity, and had welcomed far greater movements of people in the past.  Structural injustice and discrimination continued to deprive millions of people of their right to development.  A shocking number of women were denied their fundamental equality, including their reproductive rights.  Far too many people were excluded from vital resources by prejudice and by the force of crushing inequalities.  The High Commissioner urged the Members of the Human Rights Council to act with courage and on principle, and to take a strong stand regarding the protection of civilians.  The increasing integration of human rights concerns, within development and all other United Nations activities, made it essential that the Council developed stronger ties to the Security Council and other bodies.  In its second decade, the Human Rights Council must have an important impact on world events – and help to ensure that the frightful human rights violations of today were not the prologue to even greater suffering and chaos tomorrow.

Statement by the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland

DIDIER BURKHALTER, Federal Councillor, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, said that the age of the Human Rights Council, 10 years, was the age of childhood which should be a carefree time of hopeful discoveries.  But the international community was far from having achieved that reality for many children.  A solution to the Syrian crisis had to be found now.  Switzerland was committed to supporting mediation activities by, among other measures, hosting any meetings and negotiations.  While the fears of populations receiving migrants needed to be considered, the international community should never lose sight of human dignity; it was essential to reinforce the protections and rights of migrants, especially child migrants.  Fundamental rights were under pressure in many countries, he said, not just in countries experiencing crisis, but also wherever terrorism existed.  The international community had to fight terrorism at its root, through values and by reaffirming human rights throughout the world.

In April in Geneva, Switzerland would be organizing a conference to discuss the prevention of violent extremism, among other topics.  Switzerland also supported the efforts of the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund.  Switzerland was fighting the use of the death penalty, he said, adding that it was not a dignified or effective response to terrorism, but rather reinforced a climate of violence and a culture of death, both of which were precisely what terrorism sought to infuse into societies.  The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs had launched today a new human rights strategy aimed at the effective and real implementation of human rights.  More 10-year old children should have the right to keep dreaming, he said, adding that human rights violations were always a marker for potential instability or conflict escalation, and often paved the way to the worst tragedies.  That was why Switzerland intended to launch an appeal to optimize communication and operational channels between the Human Rights Council and the Security Council in order to enhance conflict prevention.

__________________

For use of the information media; not an official record

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Brazil: UN human rights criticizes approval of anti-terrorism law

26 de February, 2016

Photo: screenshotSANTIAGO (26 February 2016) – The Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) criticized today (26/02) the recent approval of an anti-terrorism law (PL 2016/15) in the Federal Congress of Brazil.

“The draft bill includes dispositions and definitions that are too vague and ambiguous, which are incompatible with an international human rights standards perspective”, the OHCHR Representative for South America, Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra, said.

“Such ambiguities can lead to a very broad margin for discretion when applying the law, which can cause arbitrariness and misuse of its provisions”, he added.

The Representative stressed the need for Brazil to ensure the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of association and of expression, among other rights, in the context of the fight against terrorism. “The dispositions of the proposed legislation alone does not guarantee that the law will not be used against protesters and human rights defenders”, he said.

Incalcaterra also cited the opinion of four UN Special Rapporteurs, who in November 2015 considered the anti-terrorism proposed law in Brazil as “too broad”.

“The global strategy against terrorism must consider the protection of fundamental freedoms, human rights and the rule of law as its foundation stones”, the OHCHR Representative concluded.

ENDS

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OHCHR expressed concern over draft bill on preventive identity checks in Chile

1 de February, 2016

SANTIAGO (1 February  2016) – The Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern over the legislative process of a measure that would enable police officials to perform preventive identity checks in Chile. The measure takes part of a broader bill on public security (Boletín 9885-07) and was recently approved by the Constitution Committee of the National Senate.

“The proposed legislation violates principles that have been widely adopted by the international community, such as the presumption of innocence and legality, by providing the police forces with disproportionate and arbitrary powers”, said Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra, Regional Representative for South America.

“We are concerned that the Chilean authorities are not taking into consideration the international standards and laws on this matter during the bills’ discussion”, he added.

The OHCHR Representative also recalled that, following a visit to Chile in September 2015, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Maina Kiai, issued an analytical document in which he warned that such measures regarding identity checks limit rights enshrined in international treaties ratified by the country.

“It is also paradoxical that the legislative discussion is not taking into account opinions given by key national actors, such as the Supreme Court of Chile, which issued a report on September 2015 criticising the discretionary aspects of the measure, referring to preventive identity checks as ‘hardly acceptable’ in terms of the rule of law”, Mr. Incalcaterra recalled.

The Representative highlighted the presence in Chile of an UN Regional Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, whose functions include those of advising and providing technical assistance to the three State branches regarding the full observance of the international human rights commitments assumed by the country.

ENDS

Related information

Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on preventive identity checks in Chile (18/11/2015): http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/FAssociation/2015-11-18_Information_note_Chile_ENG.pdf

Press release: “UN expert calls on Chile to eliminate ‘vestiges of dictatorship’ detrimental to freedom of peaceful assembly” (30/09/2015): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16549&LangID=E

For more information or media requests, please contact María Jeannette Moya, Public Information Officer, OHCHR-South America (+56 2 2210 2970 / mmoya@ohchr.org)

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Peru compensates woman in historic UN Human Rights abortion case

18 de January, 2016

18 January 2016 – In 2001, a 17-year-old Peruvian girl, named K.L., was 14 weeks pregnant when doctors at the public hospital in Lima diagnosed the foetus with anencephaly. Anencephaly is a fatal birth defect, where the foetus lacks most or all of the forebrain. Doctors told her that continuing the pregnancy would put her life and health at risk. She was recommended to have an abortion.

Abortion was legal in Peru for such reasons, but the hospital refused termination on the grounds that the State had not provided clear regulations for providing the service. K.L. was forced to carry the pregnancy to full term and breast feed the baby for the four days that it lived. It was a decision that went on to have serious mental and physical consequences on her health.

A complaint was filed with the UN Human Rights Committee, stating that by denying K.L. access to a legal medical procedure her human rights were violated. The Committee agreed, and recommended that Peru pay compensation to K.L. This was 2005.

Now, nearly a decade later, the Peruvian government has agreed to pay compensation.

When the Committee made its decision, it marked the first time that a UN human rights body held a government accountable for failing to ensure access to legal abortion services. The Committee stated that Peru had violated the victim’s rights under several articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) including the right to an effective remedy, prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, right to private life and right of minors to measures of protection.

“Of course, it would have been better had she not had to wait a decade to obtain it, but the important thing is that the wrong done to her has now been formally acknowledged,” said Sir Nigel Rodley, a current committee member who was part of the Committee that handed down the 2005 recommendation.

Committee Chairman Fabián Salvioli said it is important for States to comply with decisions adopted by the Committee.

“When a State complies with a ruling of the Committee, it is honouring its obligations and providing hope to the rest of the victims involved in cases before the Committee,” he said. “States must comply with their human rights obligations under the Covenant, because that would contribute to create fairer societies.”

K.L.’s case was brought to the Committee by the Centre for Reproductive Rights, the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defence of Women’s Rights and the Counselling Centre for the Defence of Women’s Rights. In a press statement issued soon after the agreement by Peru in December, Centre for Reproductive Rights Chief Executive Officer Nancy Northrup said that while the decision to compensate K.L. was important, more still needs to be done regarding access to reproductive health services.

“It’s time for Peru to clarify and implement its safe abortion guidelines and continue improving access to critical reproductive health services for all women and girls,” she said.

– See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/PeruAbortionCompensation.aspx#sthash.r5NXc9Y4.dpuf

ENDS

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Call for submissions to study of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: “The right to health and indigenous peoples”

13 de January, 2016

SANTIAGO (13 January 2016) – The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) would hereby like to call for submissions from indigenous peoples to the study currently being carried out by the Human Rights Council’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as requested through resolution 30/4.

In operative paragraph 5 of the resolution, the Human Rights Council requested the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to prepare a study on the right to health and indigenous peoples with a focus on children and youth, and to present it to the Council at its thirty-third session. Further to a request by the Expert Mechanism, OHCHR would like to invite you to submit information related to this theme.

In this regard, OHCHR encourages indigenous peoples to provide their contributions to this study, which should be sent toexpertmechanism@ohchr.org no later than 29 February 2016. Please indicate if you would prefer for the information provided not to be made available on the OHCHR website.

ENDS

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Venezuela in the Universal Periodic Review: deadline for civil society contributions announced

12 de January, 2016

SANTIAGO (12 January 2016) – The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has announced that civil society contributions for the participation of Venezuela in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a mechanism of the  UN Human Rights Council, will be received from 1 to 24 March 2016.

Civil society organizations interested in submitting their contributions to the UPR of Venezuela –to be held during the twenty sixth session of the Working Group from 31 October to 11 November 2016– should provide them exclusively through the online system in the global OHCHR website, at the following link: http://uprdoc.ohchr.org.

For this purpose, civil society organizations must register on the UPR web platform following the guidelines for the Online Registration System, available here: http://bit.ly/1mV3qDD.

Registration is open from now onwards on the web platform. In case of technical problems please contact the following email: uprsubmissions@ohchr.org.

Civil society actors must produce their contributions according to the Technical Guidelines for reporting to the UPR, which are found in the following link: http://bit.ly/22Z6u2t. Additional guidelines are available here: http://bit.ly/1PthxqU. OHCHR has also developed a Practical Guide for Civil Society regarding the Universal Periodic Review, available here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/PracticalGuideCivilSociety.pdf

In addition to Venezuela, it is expected that Togo, Syria, Iceland, Zimbabwe, Lithuania, Uganda, East Timor, Moldova, Haiti and South Sudan are also reviewed during the UPR twenty sixth session.

UPR and the civil society

The UPR process involves the participation of all relevant actors, including non-governmental organizations. Civil society actors can submit information which can be added to the “other stakeholders” report, which is considered during the review. Information they provide can be referred to by any of the States taking part in the interactive discussion during the review at the Working Group meeting. NGOs can attend the plenary UPR Working Group sessions and can make statements at the regular session of the Human Rights Council when the outcome of the State reviews is considered.

Besides the material provided by the civil society, the States review is also based on a national report prepared by the State under review, as well as a compilation of UN information on the State under review, prepared by OHCHR.

The Universal Periodic Review

Created in 2006 by the UN Human Rights Council, the UPR process takes a total of four and a half years, and is currently passing through its second cycle of implementation.

It consists of a detailed review carried out by the UN member States on the human rights situation in each country and the measures taken by each State to promote and protect human rights. The first UPR cycle ended in 2011, during which the 193 UN member States participated.

The review itself takes place in Geneva in a session of the Working Group on the UPR, which is composed of the 47 member States of the Human Rights Council. The review takes the form of an interactive dialogue between the State under review and the member and observer States of the Council. At the end of each review, the Working Group adopts an outcome document, which is subsequently considered and adopted by the Human Rights Council at a later session.

The UPR aims to assist States to define their human rights priorities in the short- and mid-term. In this regard, the UPR seeks to facilitate the cooperation between States and the international exchange of experiences in order to strengthen their policies and institutions in the field.

ENDS

More information on the Universal Periodic Review (in Spanish): http://acnudh.org/2014/02/folleto-el-examen-periodico-universal/

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UN Committee to review Peru’s record on children’s rights

11 de January, 2016
GENEVA (11 January 2016) – Children’s rights in Peru will be reviewed by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on 14 and 15 January in sessions that will be webcast live.

Peru is one of the 196 states that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and so is required to undergo regular examinations of its record by the Committee of 18 independent experts.

The CRC members will hold discussions with a delegation from the Peruvian Government on how the Convention is being implemented. They will also examine how Peru is doing with regard to two other important legal instruments – the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (OPSC) and the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC).  The Committee will base its evaluation on the delegation’s replies, as well as information from civil society groups.

These are among the possible issues to be discussed: Persistent discrimination against girls; violence and bullying in schools; prosecution of alleged acts of violence, including sexual violence, by State security forces; growing number of teenage pregnancies; impact of large-scale hydroelectric and mining projects; increased privatization of education; measures to protect children adversely affected by illicit coca cultivation and drug trafficking; steps to prevent children being recruited by armed groups; measures to tackle increase in child prostitution in mining areas.

The full list of issues and Peru’s submitted written report can be found here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=924&Lang=en

The CRC’s meetings with the Peruvian delegation will take place in Room XXV at Palais des Nations at the following times:
Thursday 14 January: 15:00-18:00 (09:00-12:00 in Lima)
Friday 15 January: 10:00 – 13:00 and 15:00 – 18:00 (04:00-07:00 and 09:00- 12:00)
The sessions are public and will be webcast here: http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/.

The CRC will hold a news conference to discuss its findings on Peru and the other countries being reviewed – Senegal, Iran, Latvia, Oman, France, Ireland, Haiti, Maldives, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Benin, Brunei and Kenya – at 12:00 on 4 February at the Palais des Nations. The findings, officially called concluding observations, will be published on 4 February here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=924&Lang=en

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Liz Throssell (+41 (0) 22 917 9466/ +41 79 752 0488 ethrossell@ohchr.org

To learn more about the Committee on the Rights of the Child, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRC/Pages/CRCIndex.aspx

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In Chile, OHCHR participates in seminar about the 40th anniversary of “Plan Condor”

20 de December, 2015

SANTIAGO (20 December 2015) – On 17 December, in Santiago (Chile), an international seminar was organized to address the advances implemented -mainly in Chile and Argentina- for the investigation on the serious cases of human rights violations committed within the framework of “Plan Condor”,  a strategy of coordination between the dictatorships of the Southern Cone during the 70s and 80s.

The Deputy Regional Representative of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Mr. Humberto Henderson, participated in the event’s opening panel, where he addressed the main challenges in order to achieve justice in the near future -such as the amnesty law-, the prescribing offenses for violations of human rights, the truth commissions, the secluded archives and documents and the need for full reparation for victims.

Also present were the Attorney General of the “Plan Condor” judicial cases in Argentina, Mr. Pablo Ouviña; the director of the Museum of Memory and Human Rights of Chile, Mr. Ricardo Brodsky; and Francesca Lessa, PhD in International Relations at the University of Oxford. Panelists exchanged thoughts and experiences with lawyers, judges, prosecutors, human rights specialists, researchers and victims who attended the event.

The seminar was held in the Hall of Honour of the former National Congress and was organized by the Ministry of Justice, the Senate Extension Center, the Museum of Memory and the University of Oxford.

ENDS

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Economic development should not be at the expense of human rights – UN expert group reminds Brazil

16 de December, 2015

BRASILIA (16 December 2015) The United Nations Working Group on business and human rights today encouraged Brazil to make greater efforts to pursue economic development in a way that respects human rights, at the end of a ten-day official visit* to the country.

“Brazil needs to find a better balance between economic interest and the protection of human rights in its pursuit of economic growth,” said human rights expert Pavel Sulyandziga, one of the members of the Group’s delegation who travelled to Brazil.

“The country must move away from a top-down approach, where large-scale development projects are planned and implemented without meaningful consultation with affected communities including indigenous peoples,” Mr. Sulyandziga added.

Six weeks after the Fundão tailing dam ruptured, causing one of Brazil’s worst ever environmental disasters with serious social impacts, the Working Group learned that a number of other dams are vulnerable to collapse, that proposed revisions to the country’s Mining Code threaten further ecological and social harm, and that human rights defenders and indigenous peoples face ongoing threats to their lives and land.

The experts met with State and business representatives from large-scale development and construction projects, and they spoke with affected communities who reported significant corporate-related abuse and a lack of consultation. They also talked with State authorities and noted the role of public prosecutors in defending the rights of affected communities.

“Political commitments on business and human rights have been made at the government and business level which is encouraging but there is a gap in embedding and implementing them at the operational level and throughout supply chains,” warned Dante Pesce, the other Working Group’s member taking part in the visit.

“We need to see the Government, State Owned Enterprises, businesses, and industry associations stepping up implementation of the Guiding Principles,” Mr. Pesce said referring to the set of principles endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, which re-affirm States’ existing obligations to protect against human rights abuse by businesses, and clarify the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and the need to ensure that victims have access to effective remedy.

The experts noted that the Government’s pledge to develop a national action plan on business and human rights is an ideal opportunity to achieve improved multi-stakeholder coordination and dialogue on business and human rights issues.

During its visit, the Working Group’s delegation had meetings in Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Mariana in the State of Minas Gerais, and Altamira and Belem in Para State.

The experts will present their final observations and recommendations to the the Human Rights Council in June 2016.

(*) Read the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16891&LangID=E

The Working Group on the issue of 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 (Ghana), Ms. Margaret Jungk (USA), Mr. Dante Pesce (Chile) and Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga (Russian Federation).

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. 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.  Learn more, visit:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/WGHRandtransnationalcorporationsandotherbusiness.aspx

Check the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/Tools.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Brazil: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/BRIndex.aspx

For additional information and media requests please contact Mr. Ulrik Halsteen (+41 22 917 9323 / uhalsteen@ohchr.org), Natasha Andrews (+41 22 917 9269 / nandrews@ohchr.org) or write to  wg-business@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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Secretary-General’s Message – Human Rights Day 2015

10 de December, 2015

10 December 2015 – Amid large-scale atrocities and widespread abuses across the world, Human Rights Day should rally more concerted global action to promote the timeless principles that we have collectively pledged to uphold.

In a year that marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, we can draw inspiration from the history of the modern human rights movement, which emerged from the Second World War.

At that time, President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States identified four basic freedoms as the birthright of all people: freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.  His wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, joined forces at the United Nations with human rights champions from around the world to enshrine these freedoms in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Today’s extraordinary challenges can be seen – and addressed – through the lens of the four freedoms.

First: freedom of expression, which is denied to millions of people and increasingly under threat. We must defend, preserve and expand democratic practices and space for civil society. That is essential to lasting stability.

Second: freedom of worship. Around the world, terrorists have hijacked religion, betraying its spirit by killing in its name. Others are targeting religious minorities and exploiting fears for political gain.  In response, we must promote respect for diversity based on the fundamental equality of all people and the right to freedom of religion.

Third: freedom from want still plagues so much of humankind. World leaders in September adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the aim of ending poverty and enabling all people to live in dignity on a peaceful, healthy planet. Now we must do everything possible to realize this vision.

Fourth: freedom from fear. Millions of refugees and internally displaced persons are a tragic product of the failure to fulfil this freedom. Not since the Second World War have so many people been forced to flee their homes. They run from war, violence and injustice across continents and oceans, often risking their lives. In response, we must not close but open doors and guarantee the right of all to seek asylum, without any discrimination. Migrants seeking an escape from poverty and hopelessness should also enjoy their fundamental human rights.

Today we reaffirm our commitment to protecting human rights as the foundation of our work. This is the spirit of the UN’s Human Rights up Front initiative, which aims to prevent and respond to large-scale violations.

On Human Rights Day, let us recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and protecting the human rights of all.

Ban Ki-moon

ENDS

Source: http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/sgmessage.shtml

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For Human Rights Day, 10 December – Zeid calls for universal ratification and respect for the ‘bedrock’ human rights treaties

9 de December, 2015

GENEVA (9 December 2015) –  Two fundamental human rights treaties adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966 are as important and relevant today as they were half a century ago and should be ratified by all States, UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a message for Human Rights Day.

Zeid’s call comes on the eve of the 50th anniversary year of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

“The two Covenants are the bedrock of what we now recognize as international human rights law*,” said Zeid. “They have to date been ratified by 168 and 164 States respectively, but 27 countries have ratified neither and eight States have ratified only one. In the past five years, the number of ratifications has dwindled to an average of just one a year,” he noted.

“Today, we face new, evolving and alarming issues such as climate change, terrorism, the growth of hate speech against religious and racial minorities, curbs on freedom of speech and of association and on workers’ rights, and the threat to privacy in an increasingly digital world,” Zeid said.

“The challenges of our age are confronting us with hard choices amid mounting intolerance and inhumanity. The Covenants, together with the legal framework and jurisprudence of the expert Committees who oversee their implementation, can help us navigate these challenges,” said the High Commissioner.

“The Covenants spell out fundamental freedoms – freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. They also detail rights that cover so many facets of human life: the right to liberty, to security, to education, to health, to equality between men and women and the elimination of all forms of discrimination,” he said.

“The Covenants are not dry, abstract legal texts but vital tools to ensure freedoms are upheld and promoted, and crises are met with coherent and humane responses. They make a difference to the everyday lives of people in countries that have ratified them,” the High Commissioner stressed.

“States should see becoming a party to both the Covenants as a positive decision that leads to constructive monitoring and guidance on improving compliance with international human rights norms,” Zeid said.

“The two Covenants are also a means for people to hold their governments to account for respecting and upholding civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and to secure redress and reparation for human rights violations,” he added.  “But 50 years on, far too many people do not know their rights or how to claim them, which is why my Office is launching a year-long campaign, entitled ‘Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always,’ to promote and raise awareness of the Covenants.”

ENDS

Check which countries have ratified the two Covenants and the other main international human rights treaties: http://indicators.ohchr.org/

More information on “Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always,” campaign: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/HRDay2015/Pages/HRD2015.aspx

*The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was proclaimed in 1948 as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. But it has no legal force. This is provided by the two Covenants, which were adopted on 16 December 1966 and came into force in 1976. Together the UDHR and the Covenants form what is known as the International Bill of Human Rights:
http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/FactSheet2Rev.1en.pdf

For more information and media requests, please contact
Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Cecile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell  (41 22 917 9466 / 41 79 752 0488 ethrossell@ohchr.org)

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Zeid calls for universal ratification and respect for the ‘bedrock’ human rights treaties

9 de December, 2015

GENEVA (9 December 2015) –  Two fundamental human rights treaties adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966 are as important and relevant today as they were half a century ago and should be ratified by all States, UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a message for Human Rights Day.

Zeid’s call comes on the eve of the 50th anniversary year of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

“The two Covenants are the bedrock of what we now recognize as international human rights law*,” said Zeid. “They have to date been ratified by 168 and 164 States respectively, but 27 countries have ratified neither and eight States have ratified only one. In the past five years, the number of ratifications has dwindled to an average of just one a year,” he noted.

“Today, we face new, evolving and alarming issues such as climate change, terrorism, the growth of hate speech against religious and racial minorities, curbs on freedom of speech and of association and on workers’ rights, and the threat to privacy in an increasingly digital world,” Zeid said.

“The challenges of our age are confronting us with hard choices amid mounting intolerance and inhumanity. The Covenants, together with the legal framework and jurisprudence of the expert Committees who oversee their implementation, can help us navigate these challenges,” said the High Commissioner.

“The Covenants spell out fundamental freedoms – freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. They also detail rights that cover so many facets of human life: the right to liberty, to security, to education, to health, to equality between men and women and the elimination of all forms of discrimination,” he said.

“The Covenants are not dry, abstract legal texts but vital tools to ensure freedoms are upheld and promoted, and crises are met with coherent and humane responses. They make a difference to the everyday lives of people in countries that have ratified them,” the High Commissioner stressed.

“States should see becoming a party to both the Covenants as a positive decision that leads to constructive monitoring and guidance on improving compliance with international human rights norms,” Zeid said.

“The two Covenants are also a means for people to hold their governments to account for respecting and upholding civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and to secure redress and reparation for human rights violations,” he added.  “But 50 years on, far too many people do not know their rights or how to claim them, which is why my Office is launching a year-long campaign, entitled ‘Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always,’ to promote and raise awareness of the Covenants.”

ENDS

Check which countries have ratified the two Covenants and the other main international human rights treaties: http://indicators.ohchr.org/

More information on “Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always,” campaign: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/HRDay2015/Pages/HRD2015.aspx

*The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was proclaimed in 1948 as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. But it has no legal force. This is provided by the two Covenants, which were adopted on 16 December 1966 and came into force in 1976. Together the UDHR and the Covenants form what is known as the International Bill of Human Rights:
http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/FactSheet2Rev.1en.pdf

For more information and media requests, please contact
Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Cecile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell  (41 22 917 9466 / 41 79 752 0488 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)

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hrd_english

Human Rights Day 2015 – 10 December

9 de December, 2015

Human Rights Day 2015
10 December

Fifty years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted two international treaties that would forever shape international human rights: The International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Created in the aftermath of WWII, the two Covenants along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rightsbecame the International Bill of Human Rights setting out the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.

Since that time a fundamental sea change has occurred across the world, with many countries recognizing human rights and the rule of law as the basis for truly resilient and stable societies.

The Two Covenants – More Relevant Today Than Ever

Yet, challenges remain.

Fifty years on, many people are still unaware of the existence of the International Bill of Human Rights and many countries around the world still have much to do to build political institutions, judicial systems, and economies that allow ordinary people to live with dignity. The growth of hate speech against religious and racial minorities, the justification of rights violations in the name of combatting terrorism, the clawing back of economic and social rights in the name of economic crises or security, and the failure to respect the right to privacy in the digital age, show the relevance of the two Covenants and the need to respect them.

To promote and raise awareness of the two Covenants on their 50th anniversary, the UN Human Rights Office is launching on Human Rights Day “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” a year-long campaign to shine a light on the inalienable and inherent rights of global citizens — now, and always.

“Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” revolves around the timeless themes of rights and freedom and the relevance of the work that continues in securing and ensuring them. At its core, FREEDOM, underpins the International Bill of Human Rights – freedom from fear, freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom from want.

On Human Rights Day, we invite you to join in celebrating 50 years of freedom as embodied in theInternational Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). These four freedoms are as relevant today as they were when the Covenants were adopted.

Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.

High Commissioner Video Statement — Human Rights Day 2015


Please note that subtitles for this video are available in Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish. An Arabic version of the video is also available.

Press Release: For Human Rights Day 10 December Zeid calls for universal ratification and respect for the ‘bedrock’ human rights treaties: http://acnudh.org/?p=27673

Doce River in Mariana, Brazil. Photo: Leonardo Mercon/Últimos Refugios offered to OHCHR

Brazil mine disaster: UN human rights expert calls for urgent access to safe drinking water

8 de December, 2015

GENEVA (8 December 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Léo Heller, on Tuesday urged the Brazilian Government to secure access to safe drinking water and sanitation for people affected by catastrophic collapse of a tailing dam in Mariana.

“More than a month after the incident, hundreds of thousands of people in Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo States are still suffering interruptions to the water supply,” Mr. Heller said.

“As an emergency measure, the authorities have been providing water at distribution points, and mining companies have been bringing bottled water to the affected areas. However, people continue to complain about the insufficient and disorganized distribution of water,” the expert added. He noted that the affected Doce River is the main water source in the region and that ongoing high turbidity in its water, due to the collapse of the tailing dam, has resulted in the poor performance of water treatment to date.

People are reported to have to queue for hours to get small quantities of water that are insufficient for proper sanitation or hygiene, with no priority given to older people  or persons with disabilities.

“There is growing discontent due to the poor management of this water crisis, which has already generated some violent incidents and could lead to further unrest,” the UN expert warned.

“I remind the Government of Brazil that it is the State’s human rights obligation to take action and ensure access to safe and sufficient water, and to alternative sanitation,” stressed Mr. Heller.

“Understandably, people are worried about the quality of the water coming from the restored water supply system. They are also frustrated by the inconsistent and inadequate information on the safety of the water provided by the different authorities,” said the expert. “Having information about the safety of water is a key element of the human rights to water and sanitation,” he added.

The UN expert noted that some analyses of the water and sediments of the Doce River have revealed levels of toxic elements above the acceptable levels.

“I call upon the authorities to urgently take preventative measures in accordance with the precautionary principle,” said Mr. Heller. “The Government must strengthen its monitoring of both raw and treated water, improve water treatment, and disseminate clear information to the population in order to protect people’s human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation,” Mr Heller concluded.

Léo Heller is the UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. He was appointed by the Human Rights Council in November 2014. Mr. Heller is currently a researcher in the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/WaterAndSanitation/SRWater/Pages/SRWaterIndex.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. 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 – Brazil: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/BRIndex.aspx

For more information and press inquiries, please contact Ms. Madoka Saji (+41 22 917 91 07 / msaji@ohchr.org ) or write to srwatsan@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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Human rights defenders: Our ‘Gandhis’, ‘Mandelas’, ‘Rosa Parks’ and ‘Malalas’ deserve support and protection

8 de December, 2015

For International Human Rights Defenders Day – Wednesday 9 December 2015
Human rights defenders: Our ‘Gandhis’, ‘Mandelas’, ‘Rosa Parks’ and ‘Malalas’ deserve support and protection

GENEVA (8 December 2015) – Ahead of the International Human Rights Defenders Day on Wednesday 9 December, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst called for better support and protection of defenders by States, funders and the general public.

“They are ‘Gandhis’ and ‘Mandelas’. They are ‘Rosa Parks’ and ‘Malalas’. They are also ordinary individuals, lawyers, women activists, community leaders, journalists, unionists and environmentalists who strive to re-claim our rights and promote our freedoms.

They are called human rights defenders, countless individuals and groups advocating for human rights, educating and raising awareness of situations around the world, and holding governments to account for their actions.

For that reason, international law clearly recognises the crucial role of rights defenders to effectively eliminate human rights violations. The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders calls on States to support them and protect them from harm.

In spite of this, when activists fight to unmask injustice, challenges and obstacles are thrown in their path to restrict and dissuade them from persevering. So much so that two weeks ago, on 24 November, 54 Governments refused to join 117 other UN General Assembly member States in voting to support a key resolution to recognize the role of defenders, support their work and ensure their protection.

National laws are often enacted to criminalise the human rights defenders’ work or cut their funding. They are unfairly portrayed in adverse terms to intimidate or silence them. They face enormous risks and threats as a result of the work they do, or because of who they are.

Some specific groups are often singled out for targeting. Defenders working on women’s rights, LGBTI-rights, rights related to land, environment and corporate responsibility, along with indigenous rights, face ever more perilous risks and are constantly under attack.

In commemoration of the International Human Rights Defenders Day on 9 December, I call on States to support and protect human rights defenders at the international, regional and national levels through building defenders-friendly alliances and adopting concrete measures to protect rights activists.

I urge Parliamentarians to be vigilant against laws that restrict civil society space, criminalise human rights activities and stifle funding for defenders.

I ask funders to give priority to human rights defenders both through un-earmarked core funding and specific project resources, in consultation with defenders themselves and through minimal red tape requirements.

I also call on civil society and rights defenders to better organise peer-support and self-protection networks and mechanisms to address current threats and risks, as well as to prevent and warn of future challenges.

And to the general public, I ask them to recognise the important role of numerous activists who ceaselessly seek to defend human rights and fundamental freedoms for the good of the whole society, and to engage their governments and parliaments to support defenders in their countries and in their foreign policy.

In our strife for freedom, equality and justice, it is imperative that we empower and protect human rights defenders – our heroes, our sentinels who fight our human rights battles. They deserve our unequivocal support.”

ENDS

Read the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/Declaration.aspx
For more information and media requests please contact Jamshid Gaziyev (+41 22 917 9183 / jgaziyev@ohchr.org)

The Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of 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.

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Zeid: Turning a corner in the fight for the rights of Afro-descendants

7 de December, 2015

BRASILIA/GENEVA (7 December 2015) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has urged the Latin American and Caribbean Region to seize on the opportunities and initiatives provided by the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) to bring concrete improvement to the lives of Afro-descendants.

Last week, the first Regional Meeting of the Decade held in Brasilia (3-4 December) brought together States, regional organizations, national human rights institutions, equality bodies and civil society, particularly people of African descent, as well as UN bodies from the region.

“I am struck by the enormity of the task before us,” High Commissioner Zeid told the meeting. “Ten years to reverse five centuries of structural discrimination? Racial discrimination that has deep roots grown in colonialism and slavery and nourished daily with fear, poverty and violence, roots that aggressively infiltrate every aspect of life – from access to food and education to physical integrity, to participation in decisions that fundamentally affect one’s life. A decade is such a short time.”

Zeid noted that while the abolition of slavery brought freedom, many of the deeply discriminatory social structures were never torn down and remain to this day.

“Today, there are more than 150 million people of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean – about 30 per cent of the population. Yet Afro-descendants throughout much of the region are almost invisible in the halls of power – economic, academic, professional or political, at local or national levels. High rates of inequality persist,” he said.

“Historically and in the present day, people of African descent have been major contributors to development and the prosperity of their societies and nations, but have been denied their fair share of the dividends. On the contrary, their human rights have been violated so that others may thrive.”

Zeid called on States to honour their commitments and obligations under international human rights law and use all the tools at their disposal to make concrete progress in advancing the rights of Afro-descendants. The tools include international human rights treaties, the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) as well as the framework provided by the UN General Assembly for the International Decade. The themes for the Decade are: Recognition, Justice and Development.

“Recognition is about acknowledging and understanding, concretely, the extent and depth of racism and racial discrimination faced by people of African descent. It is about making Afro-descendants and their history, culture and achievements visible in education curricula, in textbooks and in the cultural arena. Recognition also means sensitizing State officials, including in the spheres of law enforcement and justice, to prevent racial profiling and police brutality. And it means ensuring just and adequate reparation and satisfaction for any damage as a result of such discrimination, as required by the DDPA,” he said.

“In the sphere of justice, Afro-descendants have reported to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that even when they are victims of crimes, they do not lodge formal complaints to the police because they simply do not trust State institutions and they fear being re-victimized. This is terribly unfortunate but unsurprising, given the disproportionate use of force against people of African descent, particularly young men; their over-representation among the prison population; and the endemic racial profiling and discrimination they face in encounters with law enforcement officials. Justice is about combatting impunity by promptly and transparently enforcing the law against police officers who use unjustified lethal force and disproportionate violence.”

Zeid called on States to ensure that women and men of African descent are active partners in the design of development initiatives. “There has been a historical neglect and lack of public investment in neighbourhoods and regions that are predominantly Afro-descendant. This needs to be reversed in partnership with the communities,” he said.

At the end of the meeting, the delegates adopted a Declaration which recalls the UN General Assembly’s Programme of Activities of the International Decade and reaffirms their commitment to the full implementation of the DDPA at national, regional and global levels. It also reaffirms support for the creation of the Forum for People of African Descent and supports the elaboration of a draft UN Declaration. Delegates stressed the importance of starting the work as soon as possible. States also pledged to adopt affirmative action policies to alleviate and remedy inequalities in the enjoyment of human rights in access to education and employment, in line with the particularities of each country.

“We entered the Decade for People of African Descent with such an immense burden of historical and contemporary injustices that it is difficult not to bow down under the weight of despair,” Zeid said. “But we have an opportunity here to help strengthen communities of African descent and with them to strengthen the stability, democracy, rule of law, governance, security and development of the entire Latin American and Caribbean region. Let us seize this chance to tap the untapped potential in hitherto invisible communities. Let us pledge to use these 10 years to turn a corner.”

To read the full speech, please visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16841&LangID=E

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact please contact Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 /
rshamdasani@ohchr.org ) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

International Decade for people of African descent Website: http://www.un.org/en/events/africandescentdecade/index.shtml


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Brazil: UN expert group to assess impact of business activities on human rights

7 de December, 2015

GENEVA (7 December 2015) – The United Nations Working Group on business and human rights today started its first official visit to Brazil to examine the adverse impact of business activities on human rights.

The visit, from 7 to 16 December, takes place against the backdrop of a serious environmental disaster, caused by the collapse on 5 November of a mining tailing dam in Mariana, State of Minas Gerais, and of a range of ongoing and planned large-scale development projects, including those related to the Rio 2016 Olympics.

“As the seventh largest economy in the world, Brazil is playing a leading role both in the region and globally, and we look forward to learning about the steps taken in the country to prevent and address business-related human rights harm,” said human rights expert Pavel Sulyandziga, one of the members of the two-strong delegation.

The experts are looking at how the Government and businesses are implementing their respective human rights obligations and responsibilities, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights*.

The principles, unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, offer clarity and guidance for authorities and companies to prevent and address adverse impacts of business activities on human rights. They re-affirm States’ existing obligations to protect against human rights abuse by businesses. They also clarify the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and the need to ensure that victims have access to effective remedy.

“As well as meeting with the government authorities and a number of companies, we will talk with civil society organizations, trade unions and other stakeholders, and we look forward to learning from their experience,” said Dante Pesce, the other Working Group member taking part in the visit.

The experts, who are visiting the country at the invitation of the Government of Brazil, will hold meetings in Brasilia, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Mariana, Altamira, and Belém.

They will hold a press conference to share with the media preliminary observations from their visit at 12:00 on Wednesday 16 December 2015 at the UN building, room Carlos Costa (LCC), Setor de Embaixadas Norte Quadra 802, Bloco C, Lote 17, in Brasília. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

Findings from the country visit and recommendations will be included in an official report to be presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2016.

(*) Read the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/Tools.aspx
ENDS

The Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises was established by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011. The five members are Mr. Michael Addo (Ghana), Ms. Alexandra Guáqueta Colombia), Ms. Margaret Jungk (USA), Mr. Puvan Selvanathan (Malaysia) and Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga (Russian Federation).

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. 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.  Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/WGHRandtransnationalcorporationsandotherbusiness.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Brazil: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/BRIndex.aspx

For additional information and media requests please contact:
Ulrik Halsteen or Natasha Andrews: +41 079-752 0486 (in Brazil) / +41 22 917 9323 (in Geneva) / wg-business@ohchr.org

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Fundamental freedoms key to ensuring peaceful and fair elections in Venezuela – UN human rights experts

4 de December, 2015

GENEVA (4 December 2015) – Two United Nations human rights experts today called on the Venezuelan Government to guarantee the security of all individuals ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections, and to urgently remove all obstacles to peaceful public participation.

“Reinstituting full space for the freedoms of expression, association and assembly, and ensuring accountability in all reports on violence is key to dissipating political tensions in Venezuela and to ensuring democratic governance,” said the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression, David Kaye, and on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai.

“Authorities must ensure the safety of those trying to exchange ideas in the last days of the electoral process,” the experts said, recalling the recent killing of opposition politician Luis Manuel Díaz following a campaign rally in Guárico state. There have also been reports of attacks against other peaceful political events just days before the 6 December vote.

“The killing of Luis Manuel Díaz is a very worrying sign of how the environment for political participation in Venezuela has deteriorated,” they warned. “A peaceful electoral process requires, at a bare minimum, that the Government guarantee the security of all – particularly at political events – regardless of political views.”

The UN human rights experts also noted that the attacks were only “the tip of the iceberg,” and that they were “emblematic of deeper, more systematic challenges for public participation in Venezuela.”

“A vast array of cumulative restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association has been building up over the past few years in Venezuela,” Mr. Kaye stated. “These have narrowed space for the open and free debate required during any electoral process”.

The independent expert stressed that “without ensuring freedom of expression to all, it is impossible to have open, free and fair political processes.”

Special Rapporteur Kiai stressed the need to secure the right of people to peacefully assemble and publicly demonstrate their opinions prior and after elections: “Democracy requires a year-round commitment to creating an environment where people can express political opinions, organize for political purposes and peacefully assemble – all without fear of retribution.”

The experts also pointed to the arbitrary detention of prominent opposition leaders such as Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma, emphasizing that political debate cannot be open when politicians are arbitrarily detained.

The Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression also noted that restrictions on the media have created further obstacles to public debates. “Civil and criminal actions against independent newspapers and journalists have a clear chilling effect. Initiatives to punish reporting on certain subjects and threats to revoke broadcasting licenses are incompatible with international standards,” Mr. Kaye said.

The UN independent experts shared their concerns through a communication sent to the Venezuela authorities and reiterated that they remain ready to work in the future to identify steps to address them.

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 more information, visit:
Freedom of expression: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx

Freedom of association: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/AssemblyAssociation/Pages/SRFreedomAssemblyAssociationIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Venezuela:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/VEIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Marcelo Daher (+41 22 917 9431 / mdaher@ohchr.org) or write to freedex@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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– See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16839&LangID=E#sthash.xhCB1Kvb.dpuf

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‘Racism has deep roots in colonialism and slavery’, says UN human rights chief

3 de December, 2015

BRASILIA (3 December 2015) – The first regional meeting held in the context of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent started this Thursday in Brasilia. Latin America and the Caribbean was the first region to discuss the actions and expectations for the Decade, which began this year and will conclude on 2024. Organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and hosted by the Government of Brazil, the event will last until Friday, will be cast live and gather close to 150 people for all over the region.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, is on official visit to Brazil to participate in the meeting. In his opening remarks, Zeid underscored the “enormity” of the task proposed by the Decade.

“Ten years to reverse five centuries of structural discrimination? Racial discrimination that has deep roots grown in colonialism and slavery and which is nourished daily with fear, poverty and violence, roots that aggressively infiltrate every aspect of life – from access to food and education to physical integrity, to participation in decisions that fundamentally affect one’s life”, stated the UN human rights chief.

The high commissioner highlighted that the International Decade is an opportunity to push ahead different reforms that are already taking place in the region – such as in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico and other countries. He also showed hope that the Decade would “robustly” promote the enforcement of the laws and implement the policies and programmes to bring “tangible improvements” to the lives of Afro-descendants.

“A decade is indeed a short time, but if we set concrete goals, we may well be able to make a transformative difference in the 10 decisive years of the life of that child from the favela or barrio”, stressed Zeid.

The Brazilian Minister of Women, Racial Equality and Human Rights, Nilma Lino Gomes, affirmed that Brazil was highly honoured to host the first conference of the International Decade for People of African Descent.

“In keeping with the commitments assumed in Durban, many countries of region have established mechanisms for the inclusion of the Afro-descendant population”, she recalled, referring to the 2001 Conference against racism. “Racism is incompatible with democracy. We have to widen the scope of protection established in Durban, deepen and strengthen it, but never reduce it”, she underscored.

According to Nilma Lino Gomes, the international community’s commitment with the promotion of human rights is crucial. “The promotion of racial equality will benefit from the exchange of experiences, the promotion of good practices and policies for inclusion. Let this be the beginning of a decade of promotion of public policies, democracy and social equality”, she added.

The event will host debates on the UN Decade and its main goals and proposals for action until Friday, with special emphasis on Latin America and the Caribbean. The General Assembly, which proclaimed this Decade, determined three thematic axes for the initiative: “recognition, justice and development”. According to the United Nations, around 200 million people identifying themselves as being of African descent live in the Americas. Many millions more live in other parts of the world, outside of the African continent.

Learn more about the Decade for People of African Descent at: un.org/en/events/africandescentdecade

Sessions of the regional meeting in Brasilia are being webcast live at: http://www.tvmpf.mpf.mp.br/events

The speech of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, is below:

Opening Statement by
Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Brasilia, 3 December 2015

Excellencies,
Friends, Colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

A good morning to you all. It is a great honour for me to be among all of you here today, to pay tribute in particular to the courage and resilience of people of African descent, who have been tirelessly pushing for decades to bring international visibility to the long-standing discrimination that millions of Afro-descendants around the world face daily Let us also recognize Afro-descendant ancestors who have given great sacrifices over the centuries for freedom, equality, and human rights.
As I address this first Regional meeting under the International Decade for People of African Descent, I am struck by the enormity of the task before us. Ten years to reverse five centuries of structural discrimination? Racial discrimination that has deep roots grown in colonialism and slavery and which is nourished daily with fear, poverty and violence, roots that aggressively infiltrate every aspect of life – from access to food and education to physical integrity, to participation in decisions that fundamentally affect one’s life.

A decade is such a short time.

The life of a child of African descent today in a barrio, favela, a pueblo joven, or in an Afro-descendant community, is predetermined to be marked by the colour of their skin even before they born. Maternal mortality is generally higher among people of African -descent because of discrimination and unequal access to healthcare. The child is likely to grow up in a household living below the poverty line, with insufficient clean water, electricity or sewage systems. They are unlikely to go to a good school, more likely to drop out and to end up with a low-wage job if any, in the informal sector, without any social security or benefits. The chances of this child reaching a position of political power are shamefully negligible – in 2009, a mere 0.3 per cent of legislators in Latin America were women of African descent. Conversely, the likelihood of this child with age being subjected to brutal, even lethal violence, either in their own community or at the hands of the police or security forces, are much higher, and as are the chances of being incarcerated.

A dismal but tragically widespread experience – and the story may well have unfolded in virtually any Latin American or Caribbean country.

A decade therefore is such a short time.

A vast majority of the people of African descent in the Latin American and Caribbean region are the descendants of African men and women who were captured, sold into slavery and subjected to unspeakable horrors between the 16th and 19th centuries. With abolition came freedom, but many of the deeply discriminatory social structures were never torn down, and the prejudices and preconceptions never recognized or confronted.

Today, there are more than 150 million people of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean – about 30 per cent of the population. According to the most recent census in Brazil, half of the population of the country is Afro-descendant. Yet Afro-descendants throughout much of the region are almost invisible in the halls of power – economic, academic, professional or political, at local or national levels. In the Caribbean region where people of African descent are the majority or form the vast majority of the population and are visible in the political leadership, yet it is the people of European descent who tend to hold economic power. High rates of inequality persist throughout the region for people of African descent. In times of economic growth, Afro-descendants largely fail to reap the benefits; and in times of economic slowdown, they suffer the most, with the wealth gap only widening.

We can only deconstruct five centuries of structural racism and discrimination working together.
Implementing the Programme of Activities of the Decade can only be achieved through partnership and joint efforts taken by all of us – the United Nations, Member States, national human rights institutions, civil society and regional organizations – such as ECLAC, and CELAC, the Inter-American Bank and the Organization of American States.
For my part, and as Coordinator of the Decade, I will work with all our partners on implementing the Programme of Activities. My Office with the Department of Public Information and UNESCO is carrying out an awareness-raising campaign on the Decade. We will continue our successful fellowship programme for young people of African descent, some of whom are here today. We are undertaking thematic research to increase understanding about the nature and complexity of discrimination facing the people of African descent.

And there has been some progress. Over the past 15 years or so, many governments in the region have integrated protective measures for people of African descent into laws and constitutions. Several States now collect disaggregated statistical data on the demographies of Afro-descendants – this is an important first step in designing the right policies and programmes to tackle the issues that these communities face. Brazil has been implementing affirmative action policies for access to higher education since 2004, while Colombia has been promoting similar policies for political representation in parliament. Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico are among the countries that have adopted national action plans to combat racial discrimination. There have also been a number of welcome initiatives at the regional level, including the adoption of two conventions: the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Intolerance and the Inter-American Convention against Discrimination. A Rapporteur on the rights of Afro-descendants has also been appointed as has a Working Group on the rights of people of African descent within the Inter-American system. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) has created an active Working Group for People of African Descent to increase their visibility and promote their rights. Indeed, in many ways, the Latin American and Caribbean region is leading the way in adopting laws and policies to promote the rights of people of African descent.

The International Decade for People of African Descent is an opportunity to push ahead such welcome reforms throughout the region, but also to robustly enforce the laws and implement the policies and programmes to bring tangible improvements to the lives of Afro-descendants. A decade is indeed a short time, but if we set concrete goals, we may well be able to make a transformative difference in the 10 decisive years of the life of that child from the favela, barrio or pueblo joven.

The efforts of many representatives of Afro-descendants who advocated for this Decade and who have succeeded in making the international community sit up, listen and get serious about tackling these issues shows what can and should be accomplished.

However, let’s make it clear that it is the States which bear the primary responsibility to implement with urgency the commitments which they undertook under the Programme of Activities, adopted with the agreement of all Member States at the General Assembly a year ago. Taken with the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the various international human rights treaties ratified by the States of the region, particularly the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which the 50th which anniversary we commemorate this year, the three themes for the Decade – Recognition, Justice and Development– and the Programme of Activities, provide a solid framework for action.

Recognition is about acknowledging and understanding, concretely, the extent and depth of racism and racial discrimination faced by people of African descent, through data collection and by involving them in public and political affairs. It is about making Afro-descendants and their history, culture and achievements visible in education curricula, in textbooks and in the cultural arena. Recognition can include affirmative action measures in education, in political representation, and in both the public and private sector labour markets. Recognition also means sensitising State officials, including in the spheres of law enforcement and justice, to prevent racial profiling and police brutality. And it means ensuring just and adequate reparation and satisfaction for any damage as a result of such discrimination, as required by the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

In the sphere of justice, Afro-descendants have reported to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that even when they are victims of crimes, they do not lodge formal complaints to the police because they simply do not trust State institutions and they fear being re-victimized. The Commission describes Afro-descendants’ “resignation as regards historical and endemic injustice”. This is terribly unfortunate but unsurprising, given the disproportionate use of force against people of African descent, particularly young men; and their over-representation among the prison population; and the endemic racial profiling and discrimination they face in encounters with law enforcement officials. Justice is about combatting impunity by promptly and transparently enforcing the law against police officers who use unjustified lethal force and disproportionate violence. States need to take measures to include equal access to justice and equal protection of the law at all stages of law enforcement.

Historically and in the present day, people of African descent have been major contributors to development and the prosperity of their societies and nations, but have been denied their fair share of the dividends. On the contrary, their human rights have been violated so that others may thrive. Development must aim at the improvement of the well-being of the entire population. For this to happen, women and men of African descent must be active partners in the design of development initiatives. There has been a historical neglect and lack of public investment in neighbourhoods and regions that are predominantly Afro-descendant. This needs to be reversed in partnership with the communities. Reducing inequality is a key feature of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders earlier this year, and the rights of people of African descent must also be viewed through this prism.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We entered the Decade for People of African Descent with such an immense burden of historical and contemporary injustices that it is difficult not to bow down under the weight of despair. But we have an opportunity here to help strengthen communities of African descent and with them to strengthen the stability, democracy, rule of law, governance, security and development of the entire Latin American and Caribbean region. Let us seize this chance to tap the untapped potential in hitherto invisible communities. Let us pledge to use these 10 years to turn a corner.

Let us keep a watchful eye and a guiding hand on that child from the Afro-descendant communities of the region: the newborn child who will be 10 years old as the International Decade comes to a close, to ensure that they grow up empowered by a quality education which will open up a world of opportunities to them, and that nothing is denied them because of their ancestry or the colour of their skin.

From the earliest age, human rights education should be infused throughout the program of every school: in policies, the training of teaching personnel, in curricula and textbooks which reflect the rich diversity of one’s own country and the heroic and terrible truths about the past which must not be forgotten. Children – all children – also need to learn what racism, bigotry and chauvinism are, and the evil they can produce. They can learn to recognise their own biases and correct them. They should learn that they are neither exceptional nor inferior because of where they were born, how they look, the colour of their skin or the social class of their parents. They should learn that no one is intrinsically superior to his or her fellow human beings. The impact on a child of a good education is irreversible and reverberates through the community, benefiting all of society. And surely, this we CAN and MUST achieve in a decade.

To build on this note of hope, allow me to borrow the incomparable words of Gabriel Garcia Marquez: [And I quote:] “Faced with this awesome reality that must have seemed a mere utopia through all of human time, we, the inventors of tales, who will believe anything, feel entitled to believe that it is not yet too late to engage in the creation of the opposite utopia. A new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth.” [End of quote.]

I thank you very much for your attention.”

ENDS

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Opinion piece: “Burning down the house” – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

3 de December, 2015

3 December 2015 – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights likens man-made climate change to being an arsonist burning down one’s own home.

In this opinion piece, he urges solutions rooted in climate justice.


Burning down the house

*by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Home.  Where we are sheltered.  Nurtured.  Where we grow.  Where we dream.

But our home is on fire. And we are the arsonists.

We laid the kindling of greed.  We poured on the fuel of rapacious consumption.  We fanned the flames with weak regulation, intentional obfuscation of facts, and a callous disregard for the ecosystems, species, and, yes, people closest to the flames.

Our home—our only home, our Earth, is on fire.    And we have barely budged from the comfort of our over-stuffed easy-chairs to put it out.

Right now, world leaders in Paris are feverishly working to negotiate a global agreement with binding commitments to finally begin to put out the fire of climate change.

Bold, hopeful, and even ambitious statements were heard from heads of state in Paris backed by a level of political will not seen before in climate talks.  However, challenges are evident.  We are far from commitments adding up to a ceiling of 2 degrees (let alone 1.5), very far from the agreed commitments of 100 billion dollars for climate finance, human rights language in the operative text of the agreement is facing resistance, and participation by civil society in activities linked to the Conference has been restricted– even repressed.

Given the stakes, urgent, effective and ambitious action is certainly a moral imperative.  But it is also a legal obligation. Here’s why.

First, we now know that climate change is a human-induced phenomenon. We know it is not an accident of nature, but rather the result of choices made by human beings in both the public and the private spheres.  The use of fossil fuels, destructive technologies, unsustainable consumption patterns, continued global militarization—all of these are human activities that are destroying our climate and, thereby, undercutting the realization of human rights for all of us.

Second, we now know that climate change is having a devastating impact on a wide range of internationally-guaranteed human rights — the rights to food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and health – for millions of people. For those living in small-island states, even the right to self-determination is at risk, as rising seas threaten to swallow their homelands.  And the right to life itself has already been taken from far too many by the ravages of climate change.

Third, international human rights law imposes affirmative legal obligations on all states to take the necessary steps in law, policy, institutions, and public budgets to protect human rights from such harms.  States are obliged to prevent these harms by regulating environmental practices, to hold violators accountable, protect vulnerable communities, and ensure redress where harms are suffered.

Clearly, we are living in an age of widespread breach of these obligations.  This must end.

Equality and fairness are also human rights principles. We know that those who have done the least to cause this threat nevertheless suffer most from its negative effects. And they are also those with the fewest resources to adapt in order to survive.

The poor, indigenous peoples, small farmers and fishers, minority communities, and people living in the least developed countries—all desperately need solidarity and support, not least from those with the most resources, and who have contributed most to climate change.

All human beings have both an interest and a responsibility to help to put out the fire.  But is it not, by now, a moral truism to say that, in determining the particular responsibilities of each, the degree of contribution to the harm and the capacity to contribute to the solution are relevant, even determinative factors?

Solutions rooted in climate justice will mean accountability and redress for harms; the protection and empowerment of the vulnerable; the free, active and meaningful participation of civil society and affected communities; and non-discrimination and equity in climate policies.

To meet these human rights obligations, states should act now, with stronger laws, more effective regulation of the private sector, judicial protections, carbon taxes and other meaningful adjustments to incentive structures, and, in general, deliberate action by all states, acting individually and collectively, to address this threat.

At the global level, this means agreeing on the most ambitious target possible to keep climate emissions below the level that would bring us to a 1.5-degree rise in global temperatures as demanded by over 100 nations and by the global public. And it means allocating the resources necessary to allow development to adapt and to shift to a sustainable course, including climate aid for developing countries.

The world looks to those in Paris today to move this agenda forward.  Essential provisions have been offered that would oblige states to implement the emerging agreement in a manner that is consistent with their obligations under international law, and to fully integrate human rights considerations into all measure for climate response, adaption, and mitigation.

These must not be lost.

Let world leaders take up this challenge in Paris with a level of determination that corresponds to the threat.  Because this is their home as well as ours.  And, the fire is spreading.

ENDS

Source: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/BurningDowntheHouse.aspx#sthash.fp0qeqHW.dpuf


Launch of the International Decade for People of African Descent at United Nations Headquarters, New York. Photo: Martin Dixon.

International Decade for People of African Descent – Zeid to address inaugural regional conference in Brazil

30 de November, 2015

GENEVA/BRASILIA (30 November 2015) – Latin America and the Caribbean will be the first region to hold a meeting on the International Decade for People of African Descent. The event will take place from 3 to 4 December in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia.

The regional meeting will bring together Member States, National Human Rights Institutions, civil society groups, experts and others involved in work relating to the rights of people of African descent from all over the region. The discussion will be structured around the themes of the Decade: recognition, justice and development, and provide an opportunity for partnerships among the different actors and for States to share experiences in efforts to advance the rights of people with African descent.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the coordinator of the Decade, will speak at the conference on the morning of 3 December, around 11h15.

The regional meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean will take place at premises of the Office of the Prosecutor General, in Brasilia (SAF Sul Quadra 4 Conjunto C – Brasília/DF). Live webcast of the event will be available at: http://www.tvmpf.mpf.mp.br/

All media professionals interested in attending the event must submit their contact details (including name, media outlet, website, telephone number and email address) to unic.brazil@unic.org by 2 December, 16h00 Brasilia time.

ENDS

The International Decade for People of African Descent, proclaimed by General Assembly (resolution 68/237), runs from 2015 to 2024. It provides a framework for the UN, Member States, civil society and all other relevant actors to join together with people of African descent and take effective measures for the implementation of a programme of activities in the spirit of recognition, justice and development. In proclaiming this Decade, the international community is recognizing that people of African descent represent a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected. It is estimated that around 200 million people identifying themselves as being of African descent live in the Americas. Many millions more live in other parts of the world, outside of the African continent. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has been appointed to act as coordinator of the Decade. Learn more: http://www.un.org/en/events/africandescentdecade

*More information and draft agenda of the Regional Meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean:

http://www.un.org/en/events/africandescentdecade/upcoming-events.shtml

**For updates during the event, visit http://nacoesunidas.org/ and www.acnudh.org

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Brazil: Gustavo Barreto (+55 21 98185 0582 or barretog@un.org) and María Jeannette Moya (+56 9 7999 6907 or mmoya@ohchr.org).

In Geneva: Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 or rshamdasani@ohchr.org).

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Venezuela assassination: Zeid urges protection for opposition politicians and other dissenting voices

27 de November, 2015

GENEVA (27 November 2015) – In the wake of the assassination of a Venezuelan opposition leader, Luis Diaz, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Friday called on Venezuelan authorities to ensure that political opponents, human rights defenders and others facing threats in relation to their work are adequately protected.

When Diaz was shot, he was sharing the stage with the campaigner and activist Lilian Tintori, who is married to jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. It is not clear whether or not she was also a target, but she has allegedly been the subject of other attacks and threats. The detention of Lopez, who received a prison sentence of just under 14 years, was declared arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in August 2014.

“As I reminded President Maduro during his recent visit to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, a sovereign State must defend and protect individuals who criticize and question the policies and practices of the State. Democracy suffers greatly when the pre-election environment is marred by violence, threats and intimidation,” the High Commissioner said.

The UN Human Rights Committee, which has recently reviewed Venezuela’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, expressed concerns about intimidation, threats and attacks against journalists, human rights defenders and lawyers.

“I urge the authorities to ensure that the investigation into Luis Diaz’s murder is independent and impartial and brings to justice the perpetrators, as well as the masterminds behind the assassination,” Zeid said. “All sides must refrain from violence and violent rhetoric in the run up to the elections.”

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 /rshamdasani@ohchr.org ) or Cecile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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OHCHR staff provides workshop on the right to adequate housing for public servants in Chile

27 de November, 2015

SANTIAGO (27 November 2015) – On 26 November in Santiago, Chile, staff of the Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights delivered a training on the right to adequate housing, organized by the Ministry of Housing and Urbanism of Chile.

The OHCHR Deputy Regional Representative, Mr. Humberto Henderson and the advisor on international affairs of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Barbara Richards, were in charge of opening the event. Among those attending were senior advisers for the Ministry of Housing and Urbanism, as well as public servants from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Through activities and interactive dialogue, issues such as the right to adequate housing in international law, the State obligation to ensure its exercise and the link between law and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were discussed.

Reference was also made to the Chilean case, the current regulations and the application of indicators on the right to adequate housing, as well as the recommendations made by Human Rights Treaty Bodies and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to Chile on this matter. Finally, the floor was opened to exchange views on the challenges and future opportunities on this issue.

ENDS

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In Chile, OHCHR staff trains State officials on the right to adequate housing

27 de November, 2015

SANTIAGO (27 November 2015) – On 26 November, the Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) carried out a training session on the right to adequate housing for officials of the Ministry of Housing and Urbanism of Chile. It was delivered by experts in the area of ​​economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) and non-discrimination of the Regional Office.

The Deputy Regional Representative of OHCHR, Mr. Humberto Henderson and the advisor on international affairs of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Barbara Richards, were in charge of the opening ceremony. The training was coordinated by Ms. Krista Oramam OHCHR human rights officer.

Participants included senior advisers to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the directors of different secretariats, as well as officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile.

Through interactive activities and dialogue, the training included issues such as the right to adequate housing in international law, the State obligations and the link with the recently adopted UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

ENDS

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Brazilian mine disaster: “This is not the time for defensive posturing” – UN rights experts

25 de November, 2015

GENEVA (25 November 2015) – Two United Nations independent experts on environment and toxic waste today called on the Government of Brazil and relevant businesses to take immediate action to protect the environment and health of communities at risk of exposure to toxic chemicals in the wake of the catastrophic collapse of a tailing dam on 5 November 2015.

“This is not the time for defensive posturing,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox, and the Special Rapporteur human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak. “It is not acceptable that it has taken three weeks for information about the toxic risks of the mining disaster to surface.”

“The steps taken by the Brazilian government, Vale and BHP Billiton to prevent harm were clearly insufficient. The Government and companies should be doing everything within their power to prevent further harm, including exposure to heavy metals and other toxic chemicals,” they stressed.

New evidence shows the collapse of a tailing dam belonging to a joint venture of Vale and BHP Billiton (Samarco Mining S.A.), which released 50 million tons of iron ore waste, contained high levels of toxic heavy metals and other toxic chemicals in the river Doce. Hospitals in Mariana and Belo Horizonte, the capital city of Minas Gerais State have received several patients.

“The scale of the environmental damage is the equivalent of 20,000 Olympic swimming pools of toxic mud waste contaminating the soil, rivers and water system of an area covering over 850 kilometers,” Mr. Knox warned.

The expert noted that the Doce River, one of Brazil’s great water sheds, “is now considered by scientists to be dead and the toxic sludge is slowly working its way downstream towards the Abrolhos National Marine Park where it threatens protected forest and habitat. Sadly the mud has already entered the sea at Regencia beach a sanctuary for endangered turtles and a rich source of nutrients that the local fishing community relies upon.”

“The Brazilian authorities should assess whether Brazil’s laws for mining are consistent with international human rights standards, including the right to information,” said Mr. Tuncak, who recently presented a special report* on the right to information in the context of hazardous substances to the UN Human Rights Council.

“Under international human rights standards, the State has an obligation to generate, assess, update and disseminate information about the impact to the environment and hazardous substances and waste, and businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights, including conducting human rights due diligence,” the expert stressed.

The Special Rapporteurs stated that “this disaster serves as yet another tragic example of the failure of businesses to adequately conduct human rights due diligence to prevent human rights abuses.”

“There may never be an effective remedy for victims whose loved ones and livelihoods may now lie beneath the remains of tidal wave of toxic tailing waste, nor for the environment which has suffered irreparable harm,” they said. “Prevention of harm must be at the center of the approach of business whose activities involve hazardous substances and wastes.”

(*) Check the report on the right to information in the context of hazardous substances (A/HRC/30/40): ttp://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/ToxicWastes/Pages/Righttoinformation.aspx

Mr. John Knox (USA) was appointed the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment by the UN Human Rights Council in 2015 for a second term. The Council requested Mr. Knox, to convene a seminar on the effective implementation of human rights obligations relating to the environment, challenges thereto and the way forward. Learn more, visit:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/SREnvironment/Pages/SRenvironmentIndex.aspx

Mr. Baskut Tuncak (Turkey) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/ToxicWastes/Pages/SRToxicWastesIndex.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 – Brazil: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/BRIndex.aspx

For enquiries and media requests, please contact Melinda Ching Simon (+41 22 917 9113 / mchingsimon@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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– See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16803&LangID=E#sthash.drAVGWDD.dpuf

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UN rights expert calls all States to establish a ‘Femicide Watch’

23 de November, 2015
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – Wednesday 25 November 2015

UN rights expert calls all States to establish a ‘Femicide Watch’

GENEVA (23 November 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Dubravka Šimonović, urged today all States to focus on prevention of gender-related killing of women by establishing a Femicide Watch.

Speaking ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Ms.Šimonović stressed that States must commit to prevent gender-related killing of women.

“Violence against women is the most atrocious manifestation of the systematic and widespread discrimination and inequality that women and girls around the world continue to face. Women and their children continue to die as victims of gender related killing, often in cruel ways.

The weaknesses of national prevention systems, lack of proper risk assessment and the scarcity or poor quality of data are major barriers in preventing gender-related killing of women and developing meaningful prevention strategies. These weaknesses result in misidentification, concealment and underreporting of gender-motivated killings thus perpetuating impunity for such killings.

For that reason, I call all States to establish a ‘Femicide Watch’ or a ‘Gender-Related Killing of Women Watch’ and to publish on each 25 November – International Day on the Elimination of violence against Women – the number of femicides or gender related killing of women per year, disaggregated by age and sex of the perpetrators, as well as the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim or victims. Information concerning the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators should also be collected and published.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence should be used to present such data and discuss actions needed for prevention of those preventable deaths of women.

Most importantly, each case of gender-related killing should be carefully analysed to identify any failure of protection in view of improving and developing further preventive measures. In the collection, analysis and publication of such data, States should co-operate with NGOs and independent human rights institutions working in this field, academia, victims’ representatives, as well as relevant international organizations and other stakeholders.

Such data should be made publicly available at the national level, while the UN and other organizations should ensure the global and regional publication of such data.”

ENDS

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. Šimonović has been member of the CEDAW Committee from 2002 to 2014. She headed the Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic 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.

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Nathalie Stadelmann (nstadelmann@ohchr.org / + 41 22 917 9104), Ms. Karin Hechenleitner Schacht (khechenleitner@ohchr.org / +41 22 917 9636) or write to vaw@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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Regional Office calls on protecting journalists and media professionals in Brazil

20 de November, 2015

SANTIAGO (20 November 2015) – The Regional Office for  South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned the deaths of two journalists in Brazil as a result of gunshots. The victims were radio reporter Israel Gonçalves Silva, who died on 10 November in the state of Pernambuco, as well as journalist and blogger Italo Eduardo Diniz Barros, who died three days later in the Brazilian state of Maranhao.

“We condemn the deaths of both journalists and call on the authorities to investigate and sanction those responsible for these crimes, so that there is no impunity for such kind of events”, pointed out the OHCHR Representative for South America, Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra.

While expressing solidarity with the families of the victims, Mr. Incalcaterra said that violence, intimidation and retaliation are common practices against journalists in the country as a result of their work, and asked the authorities to take effective measures for their protection.

“In recent years, Brazil has become one of the most insecure countries in the region and in the world for journalists”, the Regional Representative said. “The state must adopt urgent measures to protect the life and physical integrity of these professionals in order to reverse this sad record”, he added.

Mr. Incalcaterra also called to implement the recommendations made by the Council on the Defense of the Rights of the Human Person of Brazil regarding the creation of an Observatory on Violence against journalists.

He recalled that in response to that recommendation, OHCHR-South America developed a project to establish a body to investigate, to protect and prevent violence against journalists and human rights defenders in the country, which was presented to Brazilian government authorities in 2013.

“We reiterate the OHCHR’s willingness to cooperate with the State in order to protect the rights of journalists and human rights defenders in the country”, Incalcaterra added.

ENDS

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OHCHR and the Peruvian government sign memorandum on use of force

17 de November, 2015

SANTIAGO / LIMA (17 November 2015) – The Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Peru subscribed a memorandum with the Interior Ministry of Peru regarding human rights and the use of force.

The ceremony took place on 16 November at the Interior Ministry headquarters, in Lima. The document was signed by the Interior Minister, Mr. José Luis Pérez Guadalupe, the Resident Coordinator of the UN System and UNDP Representative in Peru, Ms. María del Carmen Sacasa, and the OHCHR Regional Representative for South America, Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra. The general director of the Peruvian National Police, Mr. Vicente Romero Fernández, also attended the event.

On the memorandum, minister Pérez Guadalupe expressed that it will help implement the recently adopted Law on the Use of Force by the National Police of Peru. “This implementation means that all legislation, which already existed in some guidelines and police manuals, should be made effective and included in the curriculum of Police academies,” he informed.

Mr. Incalcaterra mentioned that, as OHCHR has previously supported the Peruvian government in drafting the law, it will continue providing technical assistance during its regulation process “through providing advice, to enable a rapid regulation progress that results as consistent as possible with the provisions of the law”, he said.

Memorandum and implementation of the law

The memorandum is part of the technical cooperation provided by OHCHR and UNDP to Peru on the use of force and the proper integration of international human rights standards in police labour, mainly in contexts of social conflicts, both at regulatory and training levels.

In this regard, the parties agreed on implementing a series of activities aimed to support the design of public policies, as well as preventing and managing strategies to face social conflict in accordance with the obligations enshrined in the International Human Rights Law.

The signatories also agreed to organize activities with national and international experts in order to analyse successful experiences in terms of the use of force by police, as well as in designing and implementing protocols on police performance, giving special attention to contexts of demonstrations and social conflicts.

The memorandum also includes the review of the current legislation on the use of force in policing, in order to implement the Law on the Use of Force by the Peruvian National Police and adapt regulations, manuals, protocols and guidelines, among others commitments.

ENDS

With information from the Interior Ministry of Peru

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Making progress on business and human rights

16 de November, 2015

13 November 2015 – Business can have a profound impact, both positive and negative, on human rights. Companies can deliver innovation and services to improve people’s standard of living. Yet company activities can also – directly or indirectly – destroy livelihoods, exploit workers or displace communities.

Preventing and addressing business-related human abuses is the focus of a three-day conference in Geneva. The Business and Human Rights Forum will bring together more than 2,000 participants to discuss the intersection of human rightsand business. The forum is organized under the guidance of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

“The objective is to bring Governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations, individuals and communities together to find common ground and practical solutions to prevent human rights abuse,” said Ulrik Halsteen, who heads the Forum Secretariat.

More than 60 thematic sessions will take place during the three-day conference. Some of these include: a discussions on the roles of Governments and companies in protecting and respecting rights to privacy and freedom of expression online, the need for human rights safeguards in the context of large scale land investments and construction and the human rights implications surrounding mega-sporting events.

Underpinning these conversations are the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This framework was endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council as a global blueprint for action. It outlines the respective duties and responsibilities of States and businesses to prevent and address human rights harms arising from business activity.

The principles are based on fundamental human rights and labour standards and provide guidance on the steps companies should take to ensure that they do not cause human rights harm.

“More and more businesses are taking the issue of human rights seriously,” said John Grova, one of the forum organizers. “They recognize that meeting the responsibility to respect for human rights is a fundamental societal expectation. They also see it makes business sense, as it is increasingly valued by employees, consumers, and investors.”

The forum takes place from now through Wednesday 18 November. It is the fourth Forum, which has seen a steady increase in participation since it first opened in 2012.

– See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/ForumBHR2015.aspx#sthash.leFJ0jhe.dpuf

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Argentina dictatorship: UN experts back creation of commission on role business people played

10 de November, 2015
GENEVA (10 November 2015) – A group of UN experts today expressed their support for a draft law under discussion by the Argentine Senate which aims to establish a Truth Commission on Economic Complicity. This Commission will assess the role and responsibility of business people for violations during the 1976-1983 dictatorship.
“The creation of such a Commission represents a great opportunity to establish the truth and promote accountability for past violations committed with the complicity or active participation of the business sector,” said the experts.

“Economic factors often play a key role in situations where massive and systemic human rights violations are committed, both as incentives and as enabling conditions. However the role of economic players who contributed, benefitted or directly took part in systematic international crimes is often overlooked. This Commission offers a new approach to transitional justice processes,” they said.

“Clarifying the role played by economic actors would also contribute to realizing truth, justice, reparation, and non-recurrence,” they noted.

“The economic dimension is also crucial to understand why State authorities engage in gross violations and how they consolidate their power,” the experts said, referring to the 1978 report* by former UN human rights expert Antonio Cassese on the role played by lenders during the Pinochet dictatorship.

“The need to respect human rights and the rule of law applies to both public and private actors. It is time to ensure accountability for corporations and transnational companies directly or indirectly responsible for violations of human rights. The Nuremberg trials set up an important precedent by putting an end of impunity for white-collar crimes,” the experts said.

Noting the novelty of the effort, the UN experts stressed the importance of making sure that this commission observes the highest standards, in order to avoid any risk of politicization. “Procedural and substantive human rights standards should be respected in the course of the work of this Truth Commission on Economic Complicity. Impartiality, due process, transparency should guide the commission’s work. In this regard, it is crucial to ensure that different stakeholders, including victims, civil society and academics are able to participate in the process.”

While the commission will have broad powers to collect information and evidence, and to make recommendations, it will not be entitled to make judgments on individual criminal responsibility.

“Competent judicial authorities must retain a leading role in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for serious human rights violations, including economic actors,” the human rights experts said.

ENDS

The experts: Mr. Pablo de Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence; Mr. Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and human rights; Mr. Juan E. Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Ms. Virginia Dandan, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity; Mr. Alfred de Zayas, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.

The UN human rights 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 further information and media enquiries, please contact Victoria Kuhn (+41 917 9278 / vkhun@ohchr.org) or write to srtruth@ohchr.org

*Study on the impact of foreign Economic Aid and Assistance on Respect for Human Rights in Chile, E/CN.4/Sub.2/412 (Vol. I)

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Brazil anti-terrorism law too broad, UN experts warn

4 de November, 2015
GENEVA (4 November 2015) – Proposed anti-terrorism legislation currently being considered by Brazil’s Congress is too broadly drafted and may unduly restrict fundamental freedoms, warned today a group of UN Special Rapporteurs (*).

“We fear that the definition of the crime established by the draft law may result in ambiguities and confusion as to what the State considers a terrorist offence, potentially undermining the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” the independent experts said.

Law N° 101/2015 seeks to define crimes of terrorism in Brazil and provides for other investigative and procedural provisions. On 28 October 2015, the Brazilian Senate passed the legislation by 34 votes to 18. The amended text now returns to the lower house.

“We regret that the current draft excluded a previous article establishing an important safeguard that would protect participation in political demonstrations and social movements from falling under the legislation’s scope,” the experts said.

The Special Rapporteurs shared their concerns with the Brazilian authorities, who in turn provided further clarifications on the draft law.

“States have a duty to protect civil society and the rights that are critical to its existence and development, such as the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and to freedom of expression,” they added.

“Unclear or overly broad definitions of terrorism carry the potential for deliberate misuse of the term,” warned the experts. For that reason, “legislation aimed at countering terrorism must be sufficiently precise to comply with the principle of legality, so as to prevent it from being used to target civil society, silence human rights defenders, bloggers and journalists, and criminalize peaceful activities in defence of minority, religious, labour and political rights,” they noted.

The experts stressed that where security-focused legislation can have an impact on fundamental freedoms, States should always ensure that the principles of necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination are fully respected.

Counter-terrorism measures that have a negative impact on the ability of NGOs to operate effectively and independently are bound to be ultimately counterproductive in reducing the threat posed by terrorism,” the experts noted.

The bill in question was transferred to the Senate on 19 August 2015, after being approved by the Chamber of Deputies and was considered through an urgent procedure.

The experts concluded that “public consultation in the lawmaking process is indeed an indispensable element in developing policies and in the preparation of legislation.”

ENDS

(*) The experts:

Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism;
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Terrorism/Pages/SRTerrorismIndex.aspx

David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression;
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx

Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association;
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/AssemblyAssociation/Pages/SRFreedomAssemblyAssociationIndex.aspx

Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders;
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/SRHRDefendersIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests please contact: Marissa Storozum (+4122917 9689) or write to freeassembly@ohchr.org

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Regional Meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean (3- 4 December 2015)

2 de November, 2015

Date and venue: The meeting will be held in Brasilia, from 3 to 4 December 2015

Background and purpose of the meeting: The International Decade for People of African Descent adopted by the General Assembly (2015 – 2024) is an opportunity to analyze and improve the human rights situation and well-being of one of the population groups most affected by racism and discrimination. By combating racial discrimination, the Decade will also strengthen democracy, the rule of law and equality in societies. In 2014, by its resolution 69/16, the General Assembly adopted a Programme of Activities, identifying the objectives and outlining specific actions to be taken within the three themes of the International Decade: recognition, justice and development.

As part of the awareness raising campaign for the International Decade, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will organize five regional meetings. Such meetings will focus on trends, priorities and obstacles at the national and regional levels to effectively implement the Programme of Activities. The meetings will be also an occasion to exchange good practices.

The first meeting will be for the Latin American and Caribbean region. The discussion will be structured under the themes of the Decade: recognition, justice and development. The meeting will provide an opportunity to reflect on ways and means that governments from the region in partnership with equality bodies, national human rights institutions, civil society, development agencies and regional organizations, may pursue to integrate the provisions of the Programmes of Activities in their policies, programmes and strategies tailored for people of African descent.

Participants: The meeting would bring together Member States, United Nations specialized agencies and bodies, regional organizations, national human rights institutions, equality bodies and civil society representatives, particularly people of African descent from the region. Other Member States of the United Nations would be invited to attend as observers. Experts on the topics will be also invited to participate in the meeting.

Documentation and Working languages: The final report of the meeting will be issued as a United Nations document in all official languages.

Travel support for NGOs to attend the Regional Meeting

Application for the Participation of Civil Society in the Regional Meeting for the International Decade for People of African Descent

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Brazil torture prevention: Serious challenges remain but progress possible, UN experts find

30 de October, 2015

GENEVA (30 October 2015) – Brazil continues to face overwhelming challenges in preventing and combatting torture and ill-treatment of people in detention, UN experts have said at the end of a 12-day visit.

“Many of the issues we highlighted during our previous visit in 2011, including endemic overcrowding, filthy conditions of detention, pervasive violence and a lack of proper oversight leading to impunity, have not been addressed in the ensuing four years,” said Victor Madrigal-Borloz from the UN Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT). “Hundreds of thousands of people are currently deprived of their liberty in what are, often, sub-human conditions.”

However, the effective implementation of high-level policies could mark an important advance in Brazil’s efforts to tackle torture and ill-treatment, the SPT noted. “Brazil’s challenge is to close the gap between its ambitious public policy and the everyday situation of people deprived of their liberty,” said Mr. Madrigal-Borloz, who headed the five-member delegation.

The SPT noted that Brazil has also adopted important measures relating to the National System to Prevent and Combat Torture, including committees that bring together State and non-State representatives, with real potential for the participative planning of public policies for torture prevention.

“It is a positive development that Brazil now has a federal independent body to monitor conditions where people are deprived of their liberty,” Mr. Madrigal-Borloz said.  The SPT met representatives of the recently established body, officially known as a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), to discuss ways of strengthening its activities.

The SPT experts also highlighted the effective functioning of monitoring bodies in Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro, with which meetings were also held. The importance of these mechanisms contrasted, however, with difficulties of access witnessed by SPT and, in the case of Pernambuco, a very serious threat experienced recently by the mechanism.

“Obstructing the work of a preventive mechanism is an attack on the integrity of the whole system envisaged by the Optional Protocol,” Mr. Madrigal-Borloz added.

The experts went to four states – Distrito Federal (Brasilia), Amazonas, Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro. Among the places they visited were police stations, prisons, pre-trial detention centres, juvenile facilities, penitentiary hospitals and forensic institutions. The SPT held a series of meetings, including with the Federal Government, state Governments, prison authorities and police.

The SPT has presented orally its preliminary findings to the Federal Government. After the visit, the SPT will submit a confidential report to the authorities, containing its observations and recommendations on prevention of torture and ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty. As with all other states, the SPT is encouraging Brazil to make the report public.

The SPT’s role is to prevent torture, 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 SPT delegation was composed of Victor Madrigal-Borloz, Marija Definis-Gojanovic, Enrique Andrés Font, Nora Sveaass and Victor Zaharia.

ENDS

For media requests, please contact: Joao Nataf +41 79 752 0484/ jnataf@ohchr.org or Liz Throssell +41 (0) 22 917 9466 / +41 79 752 0488 ethrossell@ohchr.org

BACKGROUND

For the SPT, the key to preventing torture and ill-treatment lies in building constructive relations with the State concerned, and its guiding principles are co-operation and confidentiality.

The Optional Protocol on the Prevention of Torture has to date been ratified by 80 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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Secretary-General’s Message for 2015

24 de October, 2015

24 October 2015 – National flags are a mark of pride and patriotism in every country around the world.  But there is only one flag that belongs to all of us.

That blue flag of the United Nations was a banner of hope for me growing up in wartime Korea.

Seven decades after its founding, the United Nations remains a beacon for all humanity.

Every day, the United Nations feeds the hungry and shelters those driven from their homes.

The United Nations vaccinates children who would otherwise die from preventable diseases.

The United Nations defends human rights for all, regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender or sexual orientation.

Our peacekeepers are on the frontlines of conflict; our mediators bring warriors to the peace table; our relief workers brave treacherous environments to deliver life-saving assistance.

The United Nations works for the entire human family of seven billion people, and cares for the earth, our one and only home.

And it is the diverse and talented staff of the United Nations who help bring the Charter to life.

The 70th anniversary is a moment to recognize their dedication – and to honour the many who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

The world faces many crises, and the limits of collective international action are painfully clear.  Yet no single country or organization can address today’s challenges alone.

The timeless values of the UN Charter must remain our guide.  Our shared duty is to “unite our strength” to serve “we the peoples”.

To mark this anniversary, monuments and buildings across the world are being illuminated in UN blue.  As we shine a light on this milestone anniversary, let us reaffirm our commitment to a better and brighter future for all.

Ban Ki-moon

ENDS

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UN experts urge Latin America and the Caribbean to adopt trend-setting agreement on environmental democracy

22 de October, 2015


GENEVA (22 October 2015) – In an open statement* published today, a group of United Nations human rights experts have expressed their strong support for the efforts by governments in Latin America and the Caribbean to agree on a regional legal instrument on rights of access to information, participation, and justice in environmental matters.

“Sustainable development and human rights are interrelated,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox, as 20 country members of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), representing more than 500 million people, prepare for the next round of negotiations from 27-29 October in Panama City.

“Rights of access to information, participation, and justice are at the fulcrum of the relationship,” Mr. Knox said on behalf of the group of UN experts. “When the people most affected by environment and development policies, including indigenous peoples and women, who are often the primary caregivers in the family, can exercise their human rights to information, participation, and remedy, then the policies are most responsive, fair and effective.”

“This negotiation is one of the most important steps ever taken to protect and promote environmental democracy at the international level,” he stressed; “and it will provide a model for other regions and countries.”

In their open statement, the experts noted that a strong regional instrument on access rights will further enhance robust domestic laws implementing multilateral environmental agreements and domestic policies in other areas, including climate change, chemicals and waste management, and biological diversity.

However, they warned that, while most of the countries have expressed their intention to conclude a legally binding instrument, they have not yet adopted a formal decision on the question.

“We urge the negotiators to adopt a treaty or other binding legal instrument as the best way to promote the effective implementation of access rights and sustainable development and to ensure that the instrument strengthens capacities in public institutions and in civil society,” Mr. Knox said.

The 20 countries engaged in the negotiation are Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay.

(*) Read the full open statement by the UN experts: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16630&LangID=E

ENDS

The experts:
Mr. John Knox, Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment;
Mr. Baskut Tuncak, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes;
Mr. Dainius Pûras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health;
Mr. Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation;
Ms. Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food;
Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression;
Mr. Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association;
Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders;
Mr. Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights;
Ms. Virginia Dandan, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity;
Mr. Alfred de Zayas, Independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order;
Mr. Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons;
Ms. Leilani Farha, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living;
Ms. Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people;
Ms. Eleonora Zielinska, current Chair of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice.

The UN human rights 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, 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, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

Lear more about the ECLAC’s initiative on environmental democracy, visit: http://www.cepal.org/en/topics/principle-10

For more information and media requests please contact Ms. Soo-Young Hwang (+41 22 917 9778 / shwang@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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Torture is torture here, there and everywhere – UN rights expert reminds Governments

21 de October, 2015

NEW YORK / GENEVA (21 October 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, urged Governments across the world not to allow a vacuum of human rights protection even when they act beyond their borders. “Torture is torture here, there and everywhere,” he said.

“Actions by States are increasingly transnational in nature,” Mr. Méndez stated on Tuesday in presenting his latest report* to the UN General Assembly, “which has significant impact on the fundamental rights of individuals outside their borders.”

“States must not undermine the absolute legal prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment by evading or limiting responsibility for extraterritorial acts or effects caused by their agents,” he stressed.

Extraterritorial practices include cross-border military operations or use of force the occupation of foreign territories; anti-migration operations; peacekeeping; the detention of persons abroad; extraditions, rendition to justice, and extraordinary rendition; and the exercise of de facto control or influence over non-State actors operating in foreign territories.

“The absolute and non-derogable prohibition against torture and other ill-treatment cannot be territorially limited and States must respect the rights of all persons, anywhere in the world, to be free from torture and other ill-treatment at all times,” the expert emphasized. “States must implement safeguards to protect persons from torture and other ill-treatment when they are detained extraterritorially within their jurisdiction.”

The human rights expert noted that the exclusionary rule, which mandates that evidence obtained under torture cannot be invoked in any proceedings, is applicable no matter where the mistreatment took place.
“I also wish to recall that the absolute prohibition of non-refoulement applies at all times, even when States are holding individuals or operating extraterritorially, such as during border control operations on the high seas,” he said.

According to the Special Rapporteur, violations can arise from States’ direct perpetration, omissions or acts of complicity with extraterritorial components. “States are obliged, to the extent possible, to fight wrongfulness and to ensure cooperation in efforts and proceedings designed to end, uncover, remedy or prosecute and punish torture and other ill-treatment” the UN expert said, citing the international customary law obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish all acts of torture and other ill-treatment and to criminalize such acts wherever they occur.

“I am calling upon States to exercise jurisdiction over acts of torture and ill-treatment, regardless of the locus where wrongfulness took place, and to provide civil remedies and rehabilitation for victims of acts of torture or other ill- treatment, regardless of who bears responsibility for mistreatment or where it took place,” Mr. Méndez concluded.

(*) Read the full report by the Special Rapporteur (available in all UN languages): http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/70/303 or
http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/SRTorture/A-70-303_en.doc

Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) 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 2010. He is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.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. 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.

Check the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CAT.aspx

For more information and media requests please contact Sonia Cronin (+41 22 917 91 60 / scronin@ohchr.org), Petrine Leweson (+41 22 917 9114 / pleweson@ohchr.org), Andrea Furger (+41 22 928 93 98 / afurger@ohchr.org), Andra Nicolescu (+1 202 997 5190 anicoles@wcl.american.edu) or write to sr-torture@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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OHCHR coordinated a regional meeting with Ombuds offices and national human rights institutions

16 de October, 2015

SANTIAGO (16 October 2015) – In collaboration with the International Centre for Political Studies (CIEP) of the University of San Martin, the Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) organized a meeting in Argentina with representatives of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) from the region.

The activity took place between 14 and 16 October at the CIEP headquarters in Buenos Aires, gathering members of Ombuds offices and NHRIs from Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay, as well as of the Attorney General of the Republic (Procuradoria Geral da República) of Brazil.

During the event, participants had the chance to exchange experiences related to monitoring the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council that concern National Human Rights Institutions from each country.

In addition, OHCHR shared with the delegates a draft of a regional protocol aimed at monitoring protests, which was jointly conceived with the Ombuds office of Ecuador and Peru, together with the National Human Rights Institute in Chile. The document is in the process of collecting inputs from various NHRIs in the region.

The OHCHR Regional Representative for South America, Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra, and the director of the CIEP, Mr. Jorge Taiana, offered keynote speeches at the opening session. The meeting was also attended by the different OHCHR human rights advisers who work in each of the participant countries.

Progress in the follow-up and implementation

During the activity, the OHCHR advisers offered background information on the most important recommendations made within the framework of the UPR to the National Human Rights Institutions from the states participating in the meeting and they informed about the status of the implementation of these international recommendations in each country.

Then, members of the various institutions present shared their experiences in addressing the recommendations made by the UPR and the strategies used for monitoring and implementing them.

UPR Project South America

The activity in Buenos Aires is part of the “UPR Project”, an initiative of technical cooperation that is currently being implemented by the OHCHR Regional Office for South America.

Since six of the seven countries covered by the Regional Office (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay) have passed through the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Office is implementing this project in the region to foster cooperation, to offer support and specialized technical assistance and to promote the exchange of best practices and lessons learned from the results of the second cycle of the UPR.

Through this initiative, and based on some previously identified thematic priorities for each country and for the region, the Office is committed to assisting governments and other national authorities such as National Human Rights Institutions and other civil society organizations of the countries concerned, in the monitoring and implementation of the UPR recommendations, as well as in promoting the exchange of information regarding best practices related to the results obtained.

The Universal Periodic Review

Created in 2006 by the UN Human Rights Council, the UPR process takes a total of four and a half years, and is currently in its second cycle of implementation.

It consists of a detailed review carried out by the UN member States on the human rights situation in each country and on the measures taken by each State to promote and protect human rights. The first UPR cycle ended in 2011, during which all UN member States were subjected to the review.

The UPR aims to assist States in the definition of their priorities in terms of human rights in the short and medium term. In that sense, the EPU aims to facilitate cooperation between States and to promote the international exchange of experiences to strengthen their policies and institutions in the field.

Find out more on the UPR Regional Project: http://acnudh.org/en/2015/08/upr-news/

ENDS

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abortiondd

UN experts discuss situation of abortion in South America

16 de October, 2015
United Nations experts discuss the legal situation of abortion in the different countries covered by the Regional Office for South America of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and also on the international standards regarding the voluntary interruption of pregnancy.

The experts

– Nicole Ameline, member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Sexual Violence in Conflict
– Humberto Henderson, deputy regional representative, OHCHR South America
– Gallianne Palayret,  OHCHR human rights officer.
.
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Chile: UN agencies and civil society groups celebrate the International Decade for People of African Descent

15 de October, 2015

SANTIAGO (15 October 2015) – The United Nations System in Chile, along with representatives of the Afro-descendant community in the country, held an event on 14 October to celebrate the International Decade for People of African Descent –a UN initiative to promote the rights of people of African descent all over the world.

During the event –which took place in premises of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Santiago-, participants highlighted the importance of the Decade’s theme – “recognition, justice and development” – with a special emphasis on tackling racial discrimination, protecting the rights to identity and culture of Afro-descendants and improving their general situation.

The human rights specialist of the Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Ms. Krista Orama, noted during the event that the Afro-descendants tend to be especially affected by discrimination, xenophobia, exclusion and poverty. Furthermore, she pointed out that in spite of international efforts, such disadvantageous situation persists, and that the Decade for People of African Descent seeks to address these challenges.

Other participants were the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Chile, Mr. Antonio Molpeceres; the head of the Human Rights Direction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Hernán Quezada; and the representative of the National Human Rights Institute (INDH), Mr. José Aylwin. The event also included the participation of Cristian Baez, member of the civil society organization “Lumbanga”; as well as Luis Campos, academic of the University Academy of Christian Humanism.

International Decade for People of African Descent

The UN General Assembly proclaimed the International Decade of African Descent in 2014, with the aim of promoting the human rights of these populations and the respect for their diverse heritage and culture, as well as to strengthen national, regional and international legal frameworks and to ensure their full implementation.

The Decade will be held between 2015 and 2024, through activities that will involve UN Member States, civil society and other stakeholders under the motto  “African descent: recognition, justice and development”.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has been mandated to coordinate the implementation of the Decade, as part of its activities of promoting and protecting human rights. OHCHR has implemented, for example, a fellowship program for people of African descent and is preparing reports related to the rights of African descents, among other actions.

For more information on the International Decade for People of African Descent: http://www.un.org/es/events/africandescentdecade/

ENDS

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UN torture prevention body in second visit to Brazil

15 de October, 2015

GENEVA (15 October 2015) – The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) will visit Brazil from 19 to 30 October 2015 to assess the progress made in torture prevention and the extent to which its recommendations have been followed up on since its last visit to the country in 2011.

“Following our first visit to Brazil four years ago, the country has taken a number of steps related to torture prevention. During this second visit, we will assess these recent developments and advise the Brazilian authorities on measures that may be strengthened or taken to protect people, who have been deprived of their liberty, against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” said Víctor Madrigal-Borloz, who is heading the SPT delegation to Brazil.

The delegation will meet Federal and State authorities, members of civil society as well as representatives of the newly established body in charge of monitoring places of detention, known as the National Preventive Mechanism. The SPT members will also make unannounced visits to places of detention in different states as part of their assessment.

“The SPT will formulate its advice on the basis of its previous observations and recommendations, the continued dialogue with the Brazilian authorities and the visit to places of detention during its mission,” Madrigal-Borloz added.

At the end of the visit, the delegation will present its oral preliminary observations to the Brazilian authorities. The SPT’s role is to prevent and eliminate torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment of detainees. It has a mandate to visit all States that are parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) and to make recommendations to State authorities to establish effective safeguards against risk of torture and ill-treatment in places of deprivation of liberty.

For the SPT, the key to preventing torture and ill-treatment lies in building constructive relations with the State concerned, and its guiding principles are cooperation and confidentiality.

The SPT delegation is composed of the following members: Mr. Víctor Madrigal-Borloz, Ms. Marija Definis-Gojanovic, Mr. Enrique Andrés Font, Ms. Nora Sveaass, and Mr. Victor Zaharia.

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For more information, please contact Mr. Joao Nataf (in Brazil): +41 79 752 0484 or jnataf@ohchr.org

For other media inquiries, please contact Ms. Cécile Pouilly (in Geneva): +41 22 917 93 10 or cpouilly@ohchr.org

Background :

The Optional Protocol on the Prevention of Torture has to date been ratified by 80 countries. Under its mandate, the SPT can conduct unannounced visits to places of deprivation of liberty.

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.

Find out more about the Optional Protocol:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/opcat/index.htm

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UN Committee on the Rights of the Child publishes its concluding observations on Brazil and Chile

8 de October, 2015

GENEVA (8 October 2015) – The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has published its concluding observations on the States it examined during its 70th session from 14 September to 2 October 2015. The States listed below were reviewed under either one or a combination of the following: the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (OPSC) and the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC).

UAE (CRC), Bangladesh (CRC), Kazakhstan (CRC), Poland (CRC), Brazil (CRC, OPAC), Chile (CRC, OPAC, OPSC), Timor Leste (CRC), Madagascar (OPAC, OPSC), and Cuba (OPAC, OPSC)

The findings, officially termed concluding observations, contain positive aspects of the respective State’s implementation of the Convention and the Optional Protocols, and also main matters of concern and recommendations.
The concluding observations can be found here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=828&Lang=en
The Committee on the Rights of the Child is composed of 18 international independent experts.

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For more information and media requests, please contact:  Cécile Pouilly  (cpouilly@ohchr.org / 41 22 917 93 10)

More on the Committee on the Rights of the Child:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRC/Pages/CRCIndex.aspx

What is a human rights treaty body? – Video
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OHCHR-South America repudiates deaths of a civilian and two police officers in Brazil

2 de October, 2015

SANTIAGO (2 October 2015) – The Regional Representative for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Amerigo Incalcaterra, repudiated the death of Eduardo Felipe Santos Victor, a minor who allegedly was executed by members of the Pacifying Police Unit (UPP) of Morro da Providência, in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).

Mr. Incalcaterra called for an exhaustive and impartial investigation, especially on allegations of procedural fraud and the possible manipulation of the crime scene by police agents in order to avoid impunity. “Police must not have criminal behaviours”, he said.

“Behaviours like those demonstrated by the involved agents jeopardize the UPP project as a model of community policing”, the Representative stated. “I urge the state Public Security authorities to carry out a deep vetting process of the UPP forces, including a thorough review of the selection and education of their members”, he added.

Read the full statement here (in Portuguese): http://acnudh.org/pt-br/2015/10/escritorio-de-direitos-humanos-da-onu-repudia-mortes-de-civil-e-policiais-no-rio-de-janeiro-brasil/

ENDS


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Chile: OHCHR Regional Office welcomes creation of Human Rights vice-ministry

1 de October, 2015

SANTIAGO (1 October 2015) – The Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) welcomed today the recent passing by the Chilean Congress of a bill to create a Vice-ministry of Human Rights within the Ministry of Justice.

“We welcome the passing of this project, which will strengthen the Chilean human rights institutions”, stated the OHCHR Representative for South America, Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra.

“We trust that this new body will articulate Chile’s efforts and policies in this area, in order to achieve a better promotion and implementation of human rights for all people living in the country”, he pointed out.

The OHCHR Representative also praised that the future Vice-ministry will be in charge of elaborating a National Human Rights Action Plan.

“The new Vice-ministry will head, in a broad and participative manner, the elaboration of this National Plan, in order to coordinate the national priorities in terms of human rights, with clear goals and specific timeframes for implementation”,  he said. “My Office is available to provide the State of Chile with technical assistance in this endeavour”, Mr. Incalcaterra added.

ENDS
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OHCHR laments violence and deaths in Las Bambas, Peru

1 de October, 2015

SANTIAGO (1 October 2015) – The Regional Representative for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra, expressed concern today on the violent events that left several leaders and police officers wounded, as well as on the deaths of at least three local villagers, which took place on 28 September in Las Bambas mining site, in Apurímac (Peru).

Mr. Incalcaterra urged the State to carry out a prompt, independent and exhaustive investigation on these events, which happened in the context of a police procedure during a protest.

The OHCHR Representative expressed solidarity with the families of the victims and condemned the violence used by some demonstrators. “A meaningful dialogue is the only way to achieve the agreements needed to find a solution. Violence is not a legitimate means of protest”, he said.

Mr. Incalcaterra lamented the loss of human lives and repudiated the use of lethal firearms by security forces during the clashes.

“Such excessive use of force reveals the need to improve the protocols and monitoring methods of the police during demonstrations. It also shows the importance of human rights education for police officials and the need to ensure the appropriate handling of weapons, respecting the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality and responsibility”. The OHCHR Representative also urged to regulate the decree no. 1186 on the use of force by the National Police.

Mr. Incalcaterra also highlighted that national authorities, as well as local governments and private companies must address the root causes of such social conflicts. “It is necessary to address the expectations of participation and consultation with communities, mainly in large-scale projects that may have environmental and social consequences”.}

In this regard, the OHCHR Representative stated that his office is available to assist the relevant Peruvian authorities in these and other matters.

ENDS

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UN expert calls on Chile to eliminate “vestiges of dictatorship” detrimental to freedom of peaceful assembly

30 de September, 2015

*See photo and video: http://bit.ly/1FF2igh

SANTIAGO / GENEVA (30 September 2015) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai today urged the Government of Chile to eliminate “vestiges of dictatorship” that are detrimental to the freedom of peaceful assembly in the country, and continue reforms so that the country can “take its rightful place as a global leader in human rights.”


“Chile has made enormous strides since its return to democracy 25 years ago,” Mr. Kiai said at the end of the first visit* to the country by an independent expert tasked by the UN Human Rights Council with promoting the realization of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association worldwide.

“However, there are still remnants of yesteryear that have no place in the Chile of today,” he noted. “The ghost of this era looms particularly large over the security sector, chiefly the police—and specifically the Special Forces—and their function in policing social conflicts and assemblies.”

The expert expressed concern about Chile’s practical management of protests. During his visit, he was informed of numerous and varied examples of violations perpetrated by police during protests, including excessive force and harassment of activists.

A particularly disturbing example, he said, was the July 2015 killing of Nelson Quichillao, a copper mine worker who was shot dead by Special Forces in the town of El Salvador during a labor protest. Authorities claim the demonstration was not entirely peaceful, but Mr. Kiai noted that “individuals retain at all times their rights to life and physical integrity, even if they become violent during protests, and it is the State’s duty to safeguard these rights.”

He also recalled a September 2015 case, where police used excessive force to clear a peaceful occupation of a government building by indigenous Mapuche activists in Temuco, who were protesting perceived injustices regarding land rights.

Mr. Kiai drew attention to multiple reports – from both civil society and Government – that agents provocateurs frequently disrupt otherwise peaceful protests by students and workers, causing violence and property damage. Authorities then use this disruption to justify the wholesale use of force against all protesters.

“The presence of a few people engaging in violence in and around a protest does not authorize police to brand the entire protest violent. Rather, the violent elements should be extracted from the protest and dealt with in accordance with the rule of law,” he stated.

“In fact, the persistent failure in dealing with these few violent people raises questions about the reasons for inaction by the police as these violent protesters mar the image and effectiveness of public protests,” the expert said.

The independent expert also highlighted several areas of Chile’s legal framework in need of urgent reform, including regulations on the authorization of peaceful assemblies. While the Chilean Constitution recognizes the right to peaceful assembly, its exercise is unduly restricted by Supreme Decree 1086, which allows local officials to prevent or dissolve assemblies that were not previously authorized by authorities.

“Best practice dictates that States may, at most, require prior notification for peaceful assemblies, not authorization,” Mr. Kiai said, urging the Government of Chile to repeal Supreme Decree 1086 immediately.

The Special Rapporteur raised concerns over the use of identification checks by the police, a practice that pending legislation may soon enshrine as law. He said that the practice of stopping individuals at random – without specific evidence of a crime – has the potential to chill the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly.

He also expressed alarm over the use of military courts to try police accused of human rights violations during demonstrations, stressing that placing police under a separate justice system fosters impunity. He urged the Government to undertake “a comprehensive reform” of this system with the “utmost urgency.”

Mr. Kiai found fewer serious issues regarding the protection of the right to freedom of association in Chile, and commended the State for its efforts to uphold this right.

However, he urged the authorities to do more to promote association rights, including by increasing support and resources to the civil society sector, and to place more value on civil society’s input in policy decisions.

“It is clear to me that the Government values the contributions of the private sector to the economy and policy,” he said. “But it is not so obvious that it values civil society associations, including trade unions, in a similar manner.”

During his 10-day visit, Mr. Kiai met State officials, members of the judiciary and of Parliament, members of civil society, and the diplomatic community. His visit included stops in Santiago, Temuco, Copiapó, El Salvador and Valparaiso.

The Special Rapporteur will present a final report on his visit to the Human Rights Council during its 32nd session in June 2016.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16542&LangID=E

ENDS

Mr. Maina Kiai (Kenya) took up his functions as the first Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in May 2011. He is appointed in his personal capacity as an independent expert by the UN Human Rights Council. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/AssemblyAssociation/Pages/SRFreedomAssemblyAssociationIndex.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 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.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Chile: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/CLIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Geneva, before and after the visit: Guillaume Pfeifflé (+41 79 752 0486 / gpfeiffle@ohchr.org)
In Santiago, during the visit: María Jeannette Moya (+56 2 2210 2977 / mmoya@ohchr.org)

For more information and media requests, please contact Guillaume Pfeifflé (+41 79 752 0486 / gpfeiffle@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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Twelve UN agencies issue unprecedented joint statement on rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender & intersex people

29 de September, 2015

GENEVA (29 September 2015) – In an unprecedented joint initiative, 12 UN agencies* today issued a powerful joint call to action on ending violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) adults, adolescents and children.

“This is the first time that so many members of the UN family have joined forces in defence of the basic rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people,” said the UN Human Rights Office’s Chief of Global Issues, Charles Radcliffe. “It’s both an expression of commitment on the part of UN agencies, and a powerful call to action for Governments around the world to do more to tackle homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination and abuses against intersex people.”

The statement highlights the link between human rights abuses against LGBTI people and ill health, family break-up, social and economic exclusion and lost opportunities for development and economic growth. It sets out specific steps that Governments, in particular, should take to curb violence and protect individuals from discrimination – including measures to improve the investigation and reporting of hate crimes, torture and ill-treatment, prohibit discrimination, and review and repeal all laws used to arrest, punish or discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

“Violence and discrimination against people based on sexual orientation, gender identity and biological sex characteristics violate their human rights and impoverish whole communities. That is why United Nations agencies working across such a wide range of areas – from human rights to health, education, employment, development, children’s rights, gender equality, food security and refugees – have come together to push for change,” Radcliffe said. “While the symbolism of this is important, the practical recommendations we are putting forward are more important. We hope this statement can provide a blueprint to Governments, as well as to UN teams on the ground in countries around the world,” he added.

The joint UN statement on “Ending Violence and Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People” has been endorsed by 12 UN entities: the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Secretariat, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UN Women, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

ENDS

* To read the statement, please visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Discrimination/Pages/JointLGBTIstatement.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
Ravina Shamdasani: +41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org
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Brazil: “Minorities urge that promises of equality be fulfilled” – UN rights expert

25 de September, 2015
GENEVA / BRASILIA (25 September 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák, today warned that “minority groups in Brazil have not seen the promises of equality fulfilled despite the myriad of laws, policies and affirmative action programs designed to overcome the challenges of the most vulnerable communities.”

“I do believe that Brazil is on the right track in terms of developing laws and policies to tackle discrimination, racism and injustice,” Ms. Izsák said* at the end of her first official visit to the country to identify and assess the main issues facing ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.

“However,” she stressed, “many of these legislative developments, whilst having impact in the long term, do not meet the urgent demands that disadvantaged minorities often want and need.”

She urged the Brazilian authorities to introduce immediate measures to overcome serious structural challenges. “Impunity cannot prevail in any democratic society,” she said. “Inclusive governance must be established, and the concentration of economic, political and media power in just a few hands must be challenged.”

“Continued dialogue and trust-building among the different actors of society must be ensured and the most vulnerable listened to and assisted. Otherwise, Brazil might fail to capitalize on the advancements made thus far, and damage its already delicate social fabric,” Ms. Izsák said stated.

The human rights expert noted that poverty, injustice, discrimination and violence are everyday life experiences of black communities, who although constitute a numerical majority, identify themselves as a political minority.

“The high murder rates, at a shocking rate of 56,000 victims every year, has to come to an end. This particularly affects Afro-Brazilians as they constitute 75% of all victims. There is a need to abolish the military police, remove the mechanism of auto de resistencia and treat all deaths as homicide cases, prosecute the perpetrators and provide psycho-social support for the families of the victims, especially the mothers who lost their children,” she said.

“I am also particularly worried about young people and families in favelas who seem to have few dreams or life perspectives. Community spaces and services need to be provided to prevent youth from engaging into crime and violence and to motivate them to finish their education,” the expert urged.

Ms. Izsák called on the Brazilian Government to speed up the process of land demarcation and entitlement of the Quilombo communities, ensuring they are kept free from political influence, especially in the light of a current Supreme Court procedure challenging the constitutionality of the relevant decree for land demarcation.

“Schools in Quilombo areas also must be accessible and provide quality education,” the expert stated. “All development projects taking place on Quilombo lands must seek free, prior and informed consent of the affected communities.”

The Special Rapporteur drew particular attention to and consulted with members of the Roma (Cigano) community who seemed to be highly invisible in Brazil, despite their estimated number of 800,000. “They are still largely stereotyped and misportrayed as thieves, beggars or fortune tellers,” she noted.

“I welcome several new Government initiatives designed to learn more about their situation and to address their vulnerable position in the society, including mapping their communities, raising awareness on available social benefits, and the current draft Bill pending before the Senate to create a dedicated policy for them,” she said.

The human rights expert congratulated Brazil for its harmonious inter-religious relations, which widely prevails across the country, but cautioned that Afro-Brazilian traditional temples have been undergoing serious attacks, threats and violence, and even killings of their leaders.

“It must be understood that Candomblé and Umbanda are not cultural manifestations only. They are not folklore or theatre. These are religions that must enjoy the same protection as all others,” she stressed. “Afro-religious identity, such as religious titles, traditional dress, and observation of religious holidays must be protected. Perpetrators of violence must be held accountable.”

During her eleven-day mission, Ms. Izsák visited Brasilia and several cities in the States of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Bahia, where she met with Government and UN officials, various minority communities, and a wide range of civil society and human rights organizations and other non-State actors, including those working in the field of minority issues, social inclusion, and on the promotion of equality and non-discrimination.

The Special Rapporteur will present a report containing her findings and recommendations to the Government and to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2016.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16493&LangID=E

ENDS

Ms. Rita Izsák (Hungary) was appointed as Independent Expert on minority issues by the Human Rights Council in June 2011 and subsequently her mandate was renewed as Special Rapporteur on minority issues in March 2014. She is tasked by the UN Human Rights Council, to promote the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, among other things.  Learn more, visit:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Minorities/SRMinorities/Pages/SRminorityissuesIndex.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.

Check the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/Minorities.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Brazil: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/BRIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Jacqui Zalcberg (jzalcberg@ohchr.org /+41 22 917 9271) or write to minorityissues@ohchr.org.

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More needs to be done to protect women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights – UN and regional experts

24 de September, 2015

On the occasion of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

25-27 September 2015

GENEVA / BANJUL / WASHINGTON D.C. (24 September 2015) – A group of international and regional human rights experts today urged* Governments to seize the opportunity of the upcoming adoption of the new United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to renew their commitments and ensure full respect, protection and fulfillment of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Following months of intense negotiations, more than 150 world leaders will attend this week the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York (25-27 September) to adopt the new Agenda – the successor to the Millennium Development Goals –, which aims to end poverty by 2030 and universally promote shared economic prosperity, social development and environmental protection.

“Despite clear obligations for States to ensure women’s sexual and reproductive health, violations remain prevalent and widespread in all the regions across the world,” said the group of experts from the UN, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in a joint statement made public today ahead of the high-level summit.

The experts noted that these violations “take many forms including denial of access to goods and services that only women require, subjecting women’s and adolescents’ access to services to third party authorization, poor quality reproductive health services, harmful practices, and performance of procedures without a woman’s informed consent.”

“The adoption of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development represents a unique opportunity to combat inequalities and discrimination, including the elimination of discriminatory laws, policies and practices, which often lie at the heart of violations against women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights,” the experts said.

The experts acknowledged the Agenda commitments to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including family planning, information and education. However, they deeply regretted the States’ decision “not to advance a more expansive and explicit recognition of sexual and reproductive health and rights, despite committing to implement the Agenda in a manner consistent with their human rights obligations.”

(*) See full statement issued by the UN experts: Mr. Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Ms. Dubravka Šimonovic, Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Ms. Eleonora Zielinska, Chairperson of the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice; the ACHPR experts: Ms. Reine Alapini-Gansou, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa and Ms. Soyata Maiga, Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women; and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expert: Ms. Tracy Robinson, Rapporteur on the Rights of Women: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16490&LangID=E

ENDS

The UN human rights experts are part of what it 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. Learn more: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

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. Learn more: www.iachr.org

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights was established by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Commission consists of 11 members elected by the AU Assembly from experts nominated by the state parties to the Charter. The Commission created subsidiary mechanisms such as special rapporteurs, committees, and working groups to achieve its objectives of promoting and protecting human rights on the continent. Learn more: http://www.achpr.org/

For further information and media requests, please contact:
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Committee on the Rights of the Child examines report of Chile

24 de September, 2015

The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined fourth to fifth periodic report of Chile on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Presenting the report, Maria Estela Ortiy, Executive Secretary of the National Council for Children, said that Chile, since the ratification of the Convention, had made significant progress in the areas of universal healthcare, protection of children and justice for family disputes.  According to the recent statistics, Chile had the highest level of life expectancy, primary school attendance, reduction in poverty level among all Latin American countries.

Over the years, the Government had undertaken several policy changes, introducing new reform programmes and strengthening institutions, which were working on children’s rights, directly or indirectly.  Among other positive changes, the Government had decided to establish the institution of children’s ombudsman.  Despite the progress made, Chile still needed to address violence against children as well as the socioeconomic inequality.  It was very unfortunate that in 2013 more than 24,000 cases related to violence and abuse had been received by the Public Prosecutor.

During the interactive dialogue, Committee Experts congratulated the Government for developing several programmes and policies directed to children and youth populations.  Several Experts inquired about the mechanisms to ensure successful coordination between Ministries and other actors.  Experts also raised questions about child labour, civil rights, birth registration, mistreatment and violence against children, constitutional reform, awareness raising programmes, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex children, and the best interest of the child.  They wanted to hear more about the coordination between State institutions, role of the civil society, corporal punishment, care centres, adoption, structural change, juvenile justice, family courts, child hearings, children of migrants and refugees and possible decriminalization of abortion.

Jorge Cardona Llorens, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Chile, in closing remarks, noted that six-hour-long meeting was simply not enough to discuss all the aspects of the issue.  Hope was expressed that the Committee would soon be able to hear about the outcome of the listed programmes and policies.

Ms. Ortiy stated that the delegation looked forward to receiving the Committee’s recommendations.   Development was not possible without an allocated budget for children.  Chile was fully committed to the promotion and protection of children’s rights.  However, the inequality in the country was limiting the policies from reaching their potentials
The delegation of Chile included representatives from the National Council for Children, Supreme Court, National Service of Minors, Ministry of the Interior and Public Security, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Education, Ministry of External Relations, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, National Institute for Human Rights, and Ministry General Secretariat of the Presidency.

The next public meeting of the Committee will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday, 25 September, to consider the combined second to third periodic report of Timor-Leste (CRC/C/TLS/2-3).

Report

The combined fourth to fifth periodic report of Chile (CRC/C/CHL/4-5) is available here.
Presentation of the Report

MARIA ESTELA ORTIY, Executive Secretary of the National Council for Children, said that Chile was the 18th country to ratify the Third Optional Protocol.  Since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the State party had executed its obligations and made significant progress in the areas of universal healthcare, protection of children and justice for family disputes.

Beginning in 2014, the Government had initiated a reform programme guaranteeing the protection of the right to education.  In that context, the Government had approved the School Inclusion Act, which regulated the national education system with special attention to public and private schools receiving state subsidies.  Starting from 1 March 2016, the Act would gradually eliminate the “profiting from education”, which was a residue of the military dictatorship.  The law would also regulate school admissions.
The Act was expected to make a very successful reform in the education system, creating a more equal and capable system, offering development opportunities to all children and adolescents, guaranteeing the rights to education, and strengthening public education at all levels.

The recent indicators had shown that Chile had the highest level of life expectancy, primary school attendance, reduction in poverty levels in among all Latin American countries.  However, such success was shadowed by the existing inequality in the country, increasing the level of violence.  It was very unfortunate that in 2013, more than 24,000 cases related to violence and abuse had been received by the Public Prosecutor.  In order to address the challenges related to violence and abuse, the Government had undertaken policy changes, created bills and laws and strengthened institutions, which were working on children’s rights both directly or indirectly.  In addition, the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, had created the National Council for Children, which was composed of representatives from State institutions, international organisations and the civil society.

Among other developments, over the following weeks, Ms. Ortiy said, an institution of children’s ombudsman would be created.  Its establishment would lead to a significant development in children’s rights in Chile.  Regarding children’s participation, it was noted that children had become an inalienable part of the creation of national policies and structural changes concerning them.  Their proposals had been included in the national debate, reflecting their views and opinions.  As children were representing the country’s present and the future,  their involvement was extremely crucial for a greater and more profound change.

Concluding, Ms. Ortiy noted that the Government attached great importance to the essential role of protecting human dignity and the enjoyment of human rights.  Such protection had been and would be shown in all State policies and programmes.  To that end, the State party would take all necessary measures to ensure the best interest of children.

Questions by Experts

HATEM KOTRANE, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Chile, praised the State party for submitting its combined fourth and fifth periodic report and replies to the issues on time.  That would definitely contribute to a constructive dialogue.  Measures taken by the Government to further promote children’s rights were also welcomed.
However, there were ongoing concerns related to families and children who continued to live in camps in the aftermath of earthquake.  What had the State party done with regards to settling those families’ situation?

On  civil rights, Mr. Kotrane drew attention to the birth registration of migrant and indigenous children.  What kind of measures had the State party undertaken with regard to the non-registration of such children?

Question was also asked about measures taken by the Chilean Government to recognise the identity oflesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children?

The Expert raised the issue of the mistreatment and violence against children, including sexual abuse.  What kind of measures had the State party taken to completely eliminate such acts?

JORGE CARDONA LLORENS, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Chile, echoing the previous statement, thanked the State party for the timely submission of the report as well as the replies to the list of issues.

Chile was planning to initiate and implement programmes and reforms, including the constitutional reform, juvenile justice system, and the Ombudsman for Children.  However, the Committee had not seen any of the relevant documents on the Internet.  Could the delegation tell the Committee more about the most recent constitutional reform, as well as other new bills and programmes with regards to ensuring the protection and protection of children’s rights?  How did the State party ensure that all those new laws and regulations would be coordinate in order to achieve success?

What awareness raising programmes had the Government established on the Convention and children’s rights in general?

The delegation was asked about mechanisms and regulations to combat human rights violations?  Was there a complaint mechanism to report such violations?

What kind of measures undertaken by the Government to eliminate discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex children and adolescents, and to protect them from discriminatory practices and bullying in schools?

Question was also asked about measures taken by the State party to ensure that intersex children were not subjected to unnecessary surgery without their consent.

Another Expert inquired how the best interest of the child notion was implemented in policies and programmes.

In relation to the level of coordination, one Expert asked what kind of mechanisms were implemented to ensure that there was a comprehensive coverage.  What would be done differently in order to achieve successful coordination between all Ministries?

What role did the civil society play in advocating children’s rights in Chile, the Expert asked.

Did the Government and Ministries hold regular events and meetings where children could take part?  Did the children of Chile feel that they were included in the decision- making?

One Expert inquired what was being done at the moment to address the needs of poor children under the age of 13.  He also asked whether there was any monitoring and complaint mechanism for care centres.
On the corporal punishment, an Expert expressed appreciation for the progress made in the State party.  Did the State party intend to ban corporal punishment in all institutions?

One Expert acknowledged the steps taken by the Government with regard to establishing the Ombudsman for Children.  Would the State party give the authority to the Ombudsman to initiate awareness raising campaigns?

Replies by the Delegation

The delegation said since the ratification of the Convention, the Government had initiated several programmes and policies, making the children’s and adolescent’s rights a priority.

With regard to the issue of coordination, it was noted that all Chilean policies had either  direct or indirect impact on children and adolescents.  The State party should focus on the implementation of policies and programmes, and the realisation of positive coordination between all partners in different sectors.  The Government had been working to ensure strengthening the participation and contribution of families and civil society at the local, regional and the country level.

change in culture was a critical challenge.  The Government had adopted five bills to amend and revise current laws pursuant to the new legislation with regard to ensuring the promotion and protection of children’s rights.  Due to the current structural change, the Government would still need a decade to monitor and evaluate the impact of all policies and programmes executed, even if the country had all the resources.

Children were in the central of the reform process, the delegation stressed.  Various programmes and policies had ensured that children and adolescents were listened to.  As the programmes were currently in progress, no data could be currently provided.

Every child needed to be part of the decision-making when it came to the issues concerning them.  Further, as it was set out in various laws and bills, any State body needed to take into account the best interest of child at all times.

Priority was given to work with family courts to review and improve mechanisms aimed at the adoption of protective measures and full compliance with them.  Such mechanisms would be carried out through programmes that handled children and adolescents whose rights had been violated, especially those separated from their families. The programmes included workshops with the Centre for Precautionary Measures of Santiago and Family Courts of Valparaíso, as mandated by the Supreme Court.

In the field of juvenile justice, the delegation explained that the Eleven Measure Plan for Youth Rehabilitation sought to meet the challenge posed by the provisions of Act No. 20084, on the criminal responsibility of adolescents.  The Plan held juveniles accountable for crimes they committed, but also ensured that individuals in their formative years would not resort to a life of crime but rather build a new life plan based on the full development of their potential and opportunities.  While doing so, the Plan observed the principle of the best interests of the adolescent.

On the questions related to discrimination, referring to the reform process, a delegate said the concerning bill ensured non-discrimination of children regardless of their cultural background, racial origin or sexual orientation.  The first measure was the creation of a joint project with the civil society, aiming to guarantee the right to education for all children regardless of their sexual orientation.

Questions by Experts

What programmes were put into practise with regard to special services for children?

In divorce proceedings, was there a policy guaranteeing that children were listened to?

One Expert inquired about the legal procedure of the civil and birth registration for migrants and refugees.

An Expert said that there was a national plan on the children with disabilities.  However, there was a very limited information about the plan on the internet.  What kind of measures were taken to ensure that the 2013–2020 National Policy for the Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities had an appropriate approach to issues related to the rights of children with disabilities?  What specific indicators and monitoring mechanisms had been used, particularly in the spheres of inclusive education, occupational training, health, recreation and culture, accessibility and the fight against discrimination?

Another Expert asked about the measures taken to ensure that girls with disabilities were not sterilizedmerely because they had a disability.

How did the authorities intend to respond to the Committee’s recommendation that the State party shoulddecriminalize abortion in cases of rape, incest and situations where the life or health of the mother was at risk?

There was an increasing number of cases involving child labour.  Were there any inspections to eradicate that phenomenon?

An Expert asked about the progress made on the implementation of the Juvenile Criminal Justice Act at both organizational and operational level.  What specific measures had been taken to set up specialized juvenile justice units in the Public Prosecution Service, the Public Defender’s Unit and the Police and to set up courts presided over by specialized judges?  Another Expert asked for further information on the measures taken to ensure the quality of the conditions in juvenile detention centres.

With regard to the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, what specific measures were taken by the Government to explicitly prohibit the forced recruitment of children in wartime?

Question was asked about the existence of policies or programmes on family support to prevent parents from abandoning their children.

There were countless cases of sexual abuse by the religious clergy.  What measures were undertaken by the Government to restore the rights of children and adolescents?

One Expert said that there was a high level of alcoholism in the country.  What kind of measures was the Government taking to reduce that level?  What kind of rehabilitation centres were available?

What kind of campaigns had been carried out to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS?

In the light of the alarming increase in the number of suicides committed by children between the ages of 10 and 18 years, the delegation was asked to provide more information about measures taken by the State party to reverse that trend and to support children’s mental health.  Was there a help line provided by the State party?

With regard to domestic adoption, statistics was showing an increase.  The Expert asked for further information regarding gender, age, and ethnicity.

There was a very limited information on international adoption.  Could the State party inform the Committee about the procedure?

Another Expert noted a high number of juveniles held in pre-trial detention for a long time.  Why was that the case?

Replies by the Delegation

Regarding the budgetary allocation, the delegation said that there was a commitment made by the Government that new services and policies concerning children would be provided with enough financial resources.

On the subject of migrant and refugee children, the Government had guaranteed that any child born in Chile was registered regardless of its nationality.

Within administrative and judicial proceedings, the law clearly stated that children needed to be heard in all cases.  In the cases of non-hearing, reasons had to be provided  to the concerning authority.

With regard to sexual identity, a delegate underlined that there was a modification on the bill, allowing children to request a change in their identity.

The State had broadened the definition of poverty in order to reform its public policy.  In order to address the existing inequalities, the Government had initiated a very ambitious programme, called “Chile Grows with You”, designed to strengthen the development of children from birth until they entered the school system.  It was a way of ensuring child development, especially of vulnerable children, which had become a sustained public policy since 2009.  The programme also offered children fast-track access to services and benefits that met their needs and supported their development at each stage of their growth. It also supported families and communities in which children were growing and developing, and provided appropriate conditions in a friendly and inclusive environment.

The National Service for Minors had initiated several programmes promoting physical and mental healthfor children, in coordination with the local health services.  Also, as part of the redefinition of rights violations affecting children, they could access required psychological care, whether preventive or specialized.  Moreover, the Service, together with the Ministries of Health and Justice, was designing a pilot mental health care model for children and adolescents with moderate to severe bio-psychosocial conditions and special needs, mainly users of specialized outpatient and residential programmes in the Metropolitan Region.

Since 2007, the National Service for Prevention and Rehabilitation of Drug and Alcohol Consumption had been implementing the comprehensive treatment programme for adolescents in conflict with the law, withdrug/alcohol consumption problems and other mental health disorders.  The treatment model had been designed in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and the National Service for Minors, with the principal objective of providing treatment, rehabilitation and facilitating the integration of children and adolescents with alcohol and drug abuse problems.  The model targeted applying a quality holistic clinical approach, within an integrated network.

The delegation informed that the Government had introduced a new act introducing organizational and procedural changes to the Family Courts Act No. 19968, prohibiting corporal and psychological punishment of children.  Furthermore, the amendment to the Article 234 of the Civil Code stated that parents’ right to punish their children should exclude all forms of physical and psychological abuse, and should in any case be exercised in accordance with the law and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

On violence against children, the delegation said that new measures had been introduced.  The new law combatted sexual harassment against children, child pornography and possession of pornographic material.  It also established penalties for anyone sending, delivering or displaying sexually explicit images or recordings of themselves or of minors under 14 years of age to cause arousal, via any medium, including remotely, using electronic methods.  If the victim was a minor, but aged over 14, that penalty might be applied if force or intimidation had been used.  Alternatively, the penalty might be applied if the victim had been taken advantage of.  If the offender falsified his identity or age, the punishment was to be increased by one degree, with up to a 20 years’ imprisonment.

Answering the question related to priests, a delegate noted that Chile was a secular state.  The person responsible for abuse of trust or rape was subject to punishment under the Criminal Code.  According to the Article 150 of the Constitution, if a police officer conducted a mistreatment against children, he could be sentenced up to 15 years in prison.

Regarding rehabilitation and social integration, a delegate said that a strategy called “Eleven Measure Plan for Youth Rehabilitation” had been introduced.  The plan not only sought to hold juveniles accountable for crimes they committed, but also strived to ensure that individuals in their formative years would not resort to a life of crime, but rather build a new life plan based on the full development of their potential and opportunities.  The plan included an area on reintegration that sought to strengthen young people’s skills and prepare them for reintegration, delivering quality services in the areas of education, job training, extra-curricular activities, staff specialization, and fostering participation, avoiding recurrence of criminal behaviour and effectively implementing a new life project.

Turning to the questions on children with disabilities, the delegation informed that the Government had established the Presidential Advisory Committee in 2014.  The State needed to take necessary steps to ensure that children with disabilities could fully enjoy and exercise their rights.  Such rights included the respect for their dignity, the right to be part of a family and to retain their fertility on an equal basis to others, and to ensure their inclusion in education.  Furthermore, the Bureau of Children and Disabilities had been established in May 2011.

With regard to forced sterilisation, a delegate explained that the Mental Health Department  had a technical rule stating that anyone with mental disorder and under age of 18 could not be sterilised.

Questions by Experts

Was possession of child pornography a crime under the law, an Expert asked.

What kind of measures were taken by the Government  to eliminate the sale of children?

Clarification was sought on the minimum age necessary to attend military schools.

An Expert reiterated questions on domestic and international adoption.

Replies by the Delegation

The issue of preventing teenage pregnancy was given priority and a holistic focus, the delegation said.  The Government had set up a free and confidential hotline, seeking to inform, guide, contain, accompany, refer and deliver psychosocial care.  The hotline involved 80 professionals, mostly psychologists, social workers and sociologists specializing in various topics including teenage pregnancy, mourning the loss of a child, pre- and postnatal depression, postnatal legal consultation, adoption, unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, and pregnancy in situations of conflict, and sexual abuse.  To prevent teenage pregnancy, the Government had also initiated a new programme strengthening the education of sexual and reproductive health, home visits to prevent second pregnancies, supporting teenage mothers.

With regard to child labour, a delegate stated that nobody under the age of 15 was allowed to work.  The number of children between the age of 15 and 18 constituted 6.6 per cent of the total population.

Regarding adoption, it was explained that the search for an adoptive family was focused on the characteristics and needs of the child or the adolescent, who needed his or her right to have a family restored.  Full safeguarding of that principle was the central objective of the Adoption System Reform Project, on which the National Service for Minors was currently working, together with the Ministry of Justice.

Law criminalized smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons and provided for prevention and effective criminal prosecution.  Recently, the Government had amended other legislation to introduce rules for the protection of victims, including the right to apply for a temporary residence permit for at least six months either to settle legal action in their favour or to regularize their stay in Chile.  Further, the National Service for Minors, in conjunction with the International Organization for Migration, had run a training programme consisting of five days of workshops on the detection and treatment of children and adolescents at risk or in actual trafficking situations.

On juvenile justice, the law stated that no adolescent could be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in word or deed, or be subjected to unnecessary rigour in applying the rules of the regulation.  In turn, it required all officials working in detention centres to report to the appropriate authority any situation that might constitute a violation of rights or abuse.

In juvenile justice, freedom of opinion and right to participate for children should be promoted, prioritized and facilitated.  From the first contact with young people, professional teams had to listen to and respond to their opinions, interests, motivations, needs, resources and risks, building their action plan in accordance with the measure or penalty concerned.  Later, during detailed diagnosis processes and the development of specialized intervention plans for convicted juveniles, their opinion should be taken into account when defining the work focuses and commitments associated with compliance with the penalty, and be signed by them.  During the process, their opinion was essential in assessing progress and deciding on any appropriate readjustments.

Turning to children and parents deprived of their liberty, the delegation said that the Government had created a comprehensive support strategy.  It provided services, including psychosocial support and counselling to parents, tutoring for children, and other specialised programmes.

With regard to the question on the duration of pre-trial, a delegate said that it might last up to 80 days.  The reason was that the judges needed to coordinate with all partners, communicate with lawyers, and process the information.

The delegation noted that the minimum age for military schools was 18.  It meant that persons who went to those training schools were either 18 or over.  Even if there was a conflict, it was not possible to send children under the age of 18 to participate in it.

The Ministry of Health targeted reducing the use of cigarette, alcohol, and drugs.  Local authorities had created many initiatives ranging from primary health care to services to detect tendency to addiction.  The Ministry had also carried out interviews and held a number of meetings and events targeting awareness raising.

Decriminalisation of abortion was widely discussed by the Government, but without a clear outcome yet.

Concluding Remarks

JORGE CARDONA LLORENS, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Chile, noted that the six-hour meeting was simply not enough to discuss all the aspects of the issue.  Unfortunately, the Committee was not able to get all the answers that they were looking for.  The Experts mostly heard that the State party was “working on it”.  It was hoped that within 10 to 15 years, the Committee would be able to hear about the outcome of the programmes and policies.

MARIA ESTELA ORTIY, Executive Secretary of the National Council for Children, thanked all the Committee Members for their questions and comments.   The delegation looked forward to receiving the Committee’s recommendations.   Development was not possible without an allocated budget for children.  Chile was fully committed to the promotion and protection of children’s rights.  However, the inequality in the country was limiting the policies from reaching their potentials.  It was, unfortunately, not possible to answer all the questions posed due to time limitations.

BENYAM DAWIT MEYMUR, Chairperson of the Committee, thanked the State party representatives for their detailed answers to the questions.  Despite existing challenges and natural disasters, Chile had managed to make progress and show resilience.  Mr. Meymur said that he looked forward to receiving the upcoming reports, and sent his best wishes to the children of Chile.

For use of the information media; not an official record

CRC15/040E

Source: http://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/389C150E550FFC46C1257ECA005CF535?OpenDocument

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More needs to be done to protect women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights – UN and regional experts

24 de September, 2015

On the occasion of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development / 25-27 September 2015

GENEVA / BANJUL / WASHINGTON D.C. (24 September 2015) – A group of international and regional human rights experts today urged* Governments to seize the opportunity of the upcoming adoption of the new United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to renew their commitments and ensure full respect, protection and fulfillment of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Following months of intense negotiations, more than 150 world leaders will attend this week the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York (25-27 September) to adopt the new Agenda – the successor to the Millennium Development Goals –, which aims to end poverty by 2030 and universally promote shared economic prosperity, social development and environmental protection.

“Despite clear obligations for States to ensure women’s sexual and reproductive health, violations remain prevalent and widespread in all the regions across the world,” said the group of experts from the UN, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in a joint statement made public today ahead of the high-level summit.

The experts noted that these violations “take many forms including denial of access to goods and services that only women require, subjecting women’s and adolescents’ access to services to third party authorization, poor quality reproductive health services, harmful practices, and performance of procedures without a woman’s informed consent.”

“The adoption of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development represents a unique opportunity to combat inequalities and discrimination, including the elimination of discriminatory laws, policies and practices, which often lie at the heart of violations against women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights,” the experts said.

The experts acknowledged the Agenda commitments to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including family planning, information and education. However, they deeply regretted the States’ decision “not to advance a more expansive and explicit recognition of sexual and reproductive health and rights, despite committing to implement the Agenda in a manner consistent with their human rights obligations.”

(*) See full statement issued by the UN experts: Mr. Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Ms. Dubravka Šimonovic, Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Ms. Eleonora Zielinska, Chairperson of the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice; the ACHPR experts: Ms. Reine Alapini-Gansou, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa and Ms. Soyata Maiga, Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women; and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expert: Ms. Tracy Robinson, Rapporteur on the Rights of Women: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16490&LangID=E

ENDS

The UN human rights experts are part of what it 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. Learn more: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

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. Learn more: www.iachr.org

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights was established by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Commission consists of 11 members elected by the AU Assembly from experts nominated by the state parties to the Charter. The Commission created subsidiary mechanisms such as special rapporteurs, committees, and working groups to achieve its objectives of promoting and protecting human rights on the continent. Learn more: http://www.achpr.org/

For further information and media requests, please contact:
UN experts: Ms. Hannah Wu (+41 22 917 91 52 / hwu@ohchr.org)
IAHRC: Ms. María Isabel Rivero (+202 370 9001 / MRivero@oas.org)

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Brazil: “Minorities urge that promises of equality be fulfilled” – UN rights expert

24 de September, 2015

BRASILIA (24 September 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák, today warned that “minority groups in Brazil have not seen the promises of equality fulfilled despite the myriad of laws, policies and affirmative action programs designed to overcome the challenges of the most vulnerable communities.”

“I do believe that Brazil is on the right track in terms of developing laws and policies to tackle discrimination, racism and injustice,” Ms. Izsák said* at the end of her first official visit to the country to identify and assess the main issues facing ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.

“However,” she stressed, “many of these legislative developments, whilst having impact in the long term, do not meet the urgent demands that disadvantaged minorities often want and need.”

She urged the Brazilian authorities to introduce immediate measures to overcome serious structural challenges. “Impunity cannot prevail in any democratic society,” she said. “Inclusive governance must be established, and the concentration of economic, political and media power in just a few hands must be challenged.”

“Continued dialogue and trust-building among the different actors of society must be ensured and the most vulnerable listened to and assisted. Otherwise, Brazil might fail to capitalize on the advancements made thus far, and damage its already delicate social fabric,” Ms. Izsák said stated.

The human rights expert noted that poverty, injustice, discrimination and violence are everyday life experiences of black communities, who although constitute a numerical majority, identify themselves as a political minority.

“The high murder rates, at a shocking rate of 56,000 victims every year, has to come to an end. This particularly affects Afro-Brazilians as they constitute 75% of all victims. There is a need to abolish the military police, remove the mechanism of auto de resistencia and treat all deaths as homicide cases, prosecute the perpetrators and provide psycho-social support for the families of the victims, especially the mothers who lost their children,” she said.

“I am also particularly worried about young people and families in favelas who seem to have few dreams or life perspectives. Community spaces and services need to be provided to prevent youth from engaging into crime and violence and to motivate them to finish their education,” the expert urged.

Ms. Izsák called on the Brazilian Government to speed up the process of land demarcation and entitlement of the Quilombo communities, ensuring they are kept free from political influence, especially in the light of a current Supreme Court procedure challenging the constitutionality of the relevant decree for land demarcation.

“Schools in Quilombo areas also must be accessible and provide quality education,” the expert stated. “All development projects taking place on Quilombo lands must seek free, prior and informed consent of the affected communities.”

The Special Rapporteur drew particular attention to and consulted with members of the Roma (Cigano) community who seemed to be highly invisible in Brazil, despite their estimated number of 800,000. “They are still largely stereotyped and misportrayed as thieves, beggars or fortune tellers,” she noted.

“I welcome several new Government initiatives designed to learn more about their situation and to address their vulnerable position in the society, including mapping their communities, raising awareness on available social benefits, and the current draft Bill pending before the Senate to create a dedicated policy for them,” she said.

The human rights expert congratulated Brazil for its harmonious inter-religious relations, which widely prevails across the country, but cautioned that Afro-Brazilian traditional temples have been undergoing serious attacks, threats and violence, and even killings of their leaders.

“It must be understood that Candomblé and Umbanda are not cultural manifestations only. They are not folklore or theatre. These are religions that must enjoy the same protection as all others,” she stressed. “Afro-religious identity, such as religious titles, traditional dress, and observation of religious holidays must be protected. Perpetrators of violence must be held accountable.”

During her eleven-day mission, Ms. Izsák visited Brasilia and several cities in the States of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Bahia, where she met with Government and UN officials, various minority communities, and a wide range of civil society and human rights organizations and other non-State actors, including those working in the field of minority issues, social inclusion, and on the promotion of equality and non-discrimination.

The Special Rapporteur will present a report containing her findings and recommendations to the Government and to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2016.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16493&LangID=E

ENDS

Ms. Rita Izsák (Hungary) was appointed as Independent Expert on minority issues by the Human Rights Council in June 2011 and subsequently her mandate was renewed as Special Rapporteur on minority issues in March 2014. She is tasked by the UN Human Rights Council, to promote the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, among other things.  Learn more, visit:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Minorities/SRMinorities/Pages/SRminorityissuesIndex.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.

Check the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/Minorities.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Jacqui Zalcberg (jzalcberg@ohchr.org /+41 22 917 9271) or write to minorityissues@ohchr.org.

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un7

70th anniversary of the United Nations

22 de September, 2015

2015 marks the global celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, which aims to honour the historic breadth of the Organization’s development, security and human rights work. The “UN70” celebration also aims to unite Member States, global civil society and the many individual women and men working in common cause to enable a strong UN to realize a better world.

A number of events are being organized in Geneva and around the world throughout the year to mark this important anniversary:

  • From 12 to 28 October 2015, the Permanent Mission of Cyprus will hold a special documentary exhibition in the Palais des Nations, highlighting the peacekeeping work in Cyprus since 1964.
  • From 19 to 30 October 2015, the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China, in partnership with the Swiss Chinese Culture Promotion Society, will hold the exhibition ‘Art China’, featuring the richness of the Chinese culture, with paintings and calligraphy, chess games, interactive presentations on etiquette, cuisine, and traditional music.
  • From 24 October to 6 November, the Permanent Mission of Mexico will organize an exhibition of paintings by the Mexican artist Sergio Hernández.
  • On 24 October 2015, exactly 70 years since the Charter of the United Nations entered into force, the Geneva and Swiss public will celebrate this important anniversary during an Open Day at the Palais des Nations and the surrounding Ariana Park. Thousands of visitors are expected on the grounds for this extraordinary event, which will bring together UN agencies, funds and programmes, other international organizations, permanent missions and non-governmental organizations. A rich programme of activities is planned throughout the day, including stands, guided tours, lectures, movie screenings, concerts, dance performances and activities for children and adults.In particular, the Open Day will be a unique opportunity to:
    • Attend the official inauguration at noon of Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto’s “Rebirth” sculpture at noon, alongside representatives from the United Nations’ Member States and children from all over the world. The sculpture will be composed of 193 stones, each representing a UN Member States.  More information here
    • Visit more than 75 stands presented by permanent missions, specialized agencies and other partners, and discover their work and activities.
    • Have a look at the fascinating art and photo exhibitions and attend the variety of musical performances
    • Witness a 3D simulation of the Large Hadron Collider by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
    • Enjoy the ballet performance “Glory” by Andonis Foniadakis, performed by the Grand Théâtre de Genève Ballet Company.
    • Discover the Strategic Heritage Plan, covering the renovation of key areas of the Palais des Nations in the coming years.
    • Get your copy of the cookbook ‘Recipes for Peace’, signed by Michel Møller, Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva.
    • Take free guided tours of the Palais des Nations, the Library and the League of Nations Museum.

    And so much more!

    A detailed programme is now available and will be regularly updated at www.unog.ch/openday.

Photo: treatybodywebcast.org

Committee on the Rights of the Child examines report of Brazil

22 de September, 2015
The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined second to fourth periodic report of Brazil on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as Brazil’s first report under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

Presenting the report, Regina Maria Cordeiro Dunlop, Ambassador and the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the new Federal Constitution as well as the regulations in line with the Convention made Brazil a better place for children and adolescents, guaranteeing democratic freedoms and rights.

Over the years, Brazil had made significant progress in the areas of child mortality, prenatal quality, breastfeeding, vaccination, and HIV/AIDS.  For instance, Brazil had reduced under-five child mortality rate by two thirds, achieving the Millennium Development Goal 4 before the deadline set by the United Nations.  Also, the Government had initiated new healthcare policies and programmes to reach indigenous peoples and other vulnerable populations living in riverside areas, quilombolas, and remote regions.  Since 2003, 36 million Brazilians had been lifted out of extreme poverty as a result of many food and nutritional security policies.  With regard to education, the Government had increased its investment from 3.5 per cent to 5.6 per cent of the gross domestic product between 2000 and 2010.  Nevertheless, even with such progress, there were more than three million children out of school.  Among other achievements, Brazil had also reduced sub-civil birth registrations from 44 per cent to 5.1 per cent.

Despite the progress made, Brazil still needed to work on improving the training of its police forces to combat violence against children.  Further, the increase in the number of teenage victims of homicide was a challenge.

During the interactive dialogue, Committee Experts congratulated the Government for developing several programmes and policies directed to children and youth populations through a set of public actions at the municipal, State and federal level. The use of violence against children, fight against poverty, accessibility of civil registration, birth registration services, as well as the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict were the dominating topics.  With regard to children, the Government had established a national hotline as a channel of communication, measuring the problem of mistreatment of children and adolescents.  Being available in all Brazilian cities, such service also took on reports on other human rights violations such as human trafficking and missing children and adolescents.  On the issue of civil and birth registration, the Experts inquired about the accessibility of such services in the indigenous territories, which constituted 12 per cent of the country.

Turning to the Optional Protocol, the delegation said that Brazil had been a pillar of stability in the region in respect of armed conflicts.  For more than 130 years, Brazil had not been involved in any armed conflict with neighbouring countries.  As the State party attached great importance to the issue, the National Congress had approved the Disarmament Statute, and applied the provisions of the Optional Protocol.  At the moment, Brazil did not have a problem of the involvement of children in armed conflict in the country.  If such a situation arose, the State party would take all necessary measures.

In concluding remarks, Sara De Jesus Oviedo Fierro, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Brazil, said that huge progress had been achieved by the State party.  In order to overcome the remaining challenges, nonetheless, much more needed to be done by the State party.  Noting the Committee’s particular concern about the juvenile justice, she hoped that the State party would take the recommendations into consideration.

Ms. Cordeiro Dunlop, in closing remarks, stated that Brazil had undertaken a number of initiatives to promote and protect the rights of the child.  The Government had undertaken relevant legislative and administrative policy measures for the protection of children and adolescents, while cooperating with all partners at the municipal, State, federal and international levels, including civil societies and the United Nations bodies.

The delegation of Brazil included representatives from the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations Office at Geneva, House of Deputies, Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of Republic, Ministry of External Relations, National Council for the Rights of the Child and Adolescent, Ministry of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Defence.

The next public meeting of the Committee will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 24 September, to consider the combined fourth to fifth periodic report of Chile (CRC/C/CHL/4-5).

Report

The combined second to fourth periodic report of Brazil (CRC/C/BRA/2-4) is available here.

Presentation of the Report

REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP, Ambassador and the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that in 2015 Brazil was celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Statute of the Child and the Adolescent, the main Brazilian law on the subject.  Despite existing challenges, Brazil was a better place for children and adolescents because of recent regulations.  The Federal Constitution, established in 1988, marked the start of the re-democratisation of the country, after two decades of a dictatorship that had ruptured the democratic order, violated human rights, and deepened social regional inequalities.  The current Constitution had created democratic freedoms, affirming economic, social and cultural rights of the Brazilian people.

Over the years, Brazil had advanced in reducing child mortality.  Between 1990 and 2012, the rates had fallen from 47.8 to 13.5 deaths per 1,000 new-borns, which was close to the level considered acceptable by the World Health Organization.  The objective had been achieved before the deadline set in the Millennium Development Goals.  In order to continue on the development path, Brazil sustained activities on reducing neonatal mortality in the most vulnerable families.  The country was actively monitoring pregnant women and there were incentives for exclusive breastfeeding until the sixth month. The healthcare network for pregnant women was constantly improving.  In addition, there were policies to reach indigenous peoples and other vulnerable populations living in riverside areas, quilombolas, and remote regions.  Vaccination coverage rates continued to grow, and the number of HIV/AIDS cases had gone down remarkably.  Nonetheless, new cases in boys from the age of 15 to 19 still remained a challenge to overcome.

Since 2003, 36 million Brazilians had been lifted out of extreme poverty, 22 million of whom over the previous four years.  Children were at the centre of the policies to overcome the problem.  The cash transfers in the Family Stipend Program were determined by the number of children in each family, and conditioned on school attendance and regular health consultations.  In 2012, a programme called “Affectionate Brazil” had been launched, benefiting two million households with children under six years of age.  The programme had also lifted 8.1 million children and adolescents, along with their families, out of extreme poverty.  As of 2015, 16.5 million people had benefited from the programme.

Brazil had 49.8 million students, of whom 81.7 per cent were enrolled in public and free schools, comprising kindergartens, day-care centres, preschools, elementary and high schools.  Since 2009, education was compulsory between the ages of 4 and 17.  Nevertheless, even with such progress, there were more than three million children out of school across the country.  One of the biggest achievements in the past few years had been the reduction in sub-civil birth registrations from 44 per cent to 5.1 per cent.  Furthermore, between 1992 and 2013, Brazil had reduced its child labour rate from 13.6 per cent to 3.3 per cent for children until the age of 15.  Education was critical as children enrolled in school were less likely to engage in work before the appropriate age.

Brazil had enhanced its legislation to tackle impunity related to crimes against children,  It had also improved its ability to punish the networks of sexual exploitation of children.  There was a direct helpline for receiving complaints and forwarding protection measures, which was available 24/7.  However, Brazil still had to work on improving the training of its police forces to combat such crimes, as well as their ability to integrate data and information related to violations against children and adolescents.
The criminalisation of violent or arbitrary actions committed by State agents against children and adolescents was clearly defined in the Brazilian criminal law.  In 2010, the Federal Government had established new guidelines, aiming at reducing police brutality.  The increase in the number of teenage victims of homicide was a challenge.  The victims were mostly “poor black boys”, who lived in the suburbs and metropolitan areas of large cities.  The homicide rate for those teenagers was almost four times higher than for white teenagers.  Accordingly, a national pact for homicide reduction had been initiated as an integrated set of actions with the participation of the Federal Government and municipalities.

Questions by Experts

HYND AYOUBI IDRISSI, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Brazil, said that the statement delivered by the head of delegation had answered many questions in advance.

With regard to general application measures, she noted that the State party had ratified many international human rights treaties. What were the intentions of the State party regarding the Third Optional Protocol, and the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families?  What was the status of the Convention in the country? Was there a conflict with domestic law?

What measures were taken to ensure that the legislation was effective in protecting and the promoting children’s rights?

On the data collection, the Expert noted that there had been significant improvement.  Despite progress, there were still gaps in collecting data with regard to populations living in riverside areas, quilombolas, and remote regions.  What kind of measures were undertaken by the Government  to overcome the challenge?

On the Convention, she inquired about the past and ongoing public awareness programmes and activities, including campaigns conducted by Brazil to ensure that all communities, in particular children and their families, were adequately informed about the Convention.

Regarding children in private sector, what kind of measures had been undertaken to monitor the private sector and civil society for the implementation of effective plans to fight children’s rights violations?

There were persistent forms of discrimination based on gender against
children with different sexual orientation.  What did the State party intend to do in order to better combat such forms of discrimination?

What were the measures taken by the State party to ensure that its immigration laws upheld the principle of the best interests of the child, the Expert inquired.

Brazil had high levels of homicide.  What measures were taken to fight against such crime targeting young children?

One Expert acknowledged that Brazil had reduced sub-civil birth registration from 44 per cent to 5.1 per cent.  The next step was to reach out the remaining five per cent.  How would the State party deal with those excluded people?

Another Expert inquired what the State party had done to ensure the full participation of children and adolescents in discussion forums related to the rights of children and adolescents.  Further, had all staff working with children been provided with enough training?
It was true that violence against children was prohibited under the current laws.  Did the Government fully implement its legislation in particular with regard to effective measures to combat impunity?

An Expert wanted to know more about the “help line”, and whether all children could use such mechanism free of charge to complain about all sorts of human rights violations.

Had the State party taken legislative, programmatic and/or training measures to ensure the adequate enforcement of the Penal Code with regard to injuries or the death of children resulting from the use of force by State agents?

Replies by the Delegation

Regarding general measures, a delegate said that the Policy for the Promotion of Children and Adolescents’ Rights was based on a human rights perspective.  The strategy had articulated several sectorial policies directed to children and youth populations through a set of public actions within the scope of the Federal Government, States, the Federal District and municipalities. The three levels of Government shared responsibilities and legal obligations.  National guidelines based on the ten-year plan and the sectorial plans were replicated and developed taking into consideration the specificity of States and cities.

Brazil held regular meetings dealing with children and adolescents at the municipal, state and federal level.  There was a constant attempt to ensure children’s permanent participation in the discussions.  The Government had instituted the National Policy of Social Participation and the National System of Social Participation, guaranteeing permanent proceedings for dialogue as well as the incentives to the participation of civil society representatives in the development, implementation and monitoring of public policies.  Such a system also enabled the participation of children and adolescents.

With regard to questions on budget, the delegation noted that a number of countries worldwide had been dealing with the economic crisis.  Brazil had not been able to develop a concept for a budget solely focusing on children.  However, it was worth noticing that the amount invested in the area had grown over the years.

Since 2004, Brazil had improved its ability to collect data in the areas of health, education, and social care.  The national data collection system on child mortality had gathered significant data.

Social assistance had developed over the years.  All social policies were registered within the system, collecting data annually.  Brazilian social assistance policy was divided into Basic Social Protection (PSB) and Special Social Protection (PSE).  The goal of the former was to prevent situations of risk involving families by strengthening family and community ties.  The latter was applied in situations where the violation of rights had been already identified, contributing to the reconstruction of family and community ties, as well as the protection of rights.

The Government and local authorities had conducted public consultations in order to ensure citizen participation.  Information was made available to everyone to make edits on the content, to disseminate information, and make complaints if they wished to do so.

The delegation stated that, over the previous years, the participative experiences of children and adolescents were reinforced.  The initiative called Budget and Active Participation Adolescent Network of Fortaleza/Ceará had been developed with the support of the non-governmental organization Cipó, whose proposal was to monitor policies for children and adolescents.  Another good example was the Plenarinho, an initiative from the Brazilian Parliament, which annually put together bill proposals from children and adolescents from the entire country in a contest, whose winner was formally presented as a bill in the National Congress.

In 2015, Brazil had commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Statute of the Child and the Adolescent, the main Brazilian law in the area.  There were awareness-raising events, campaigns, meetings round-table discussions in schools and other institutions at the municipal and state level.

The freedom of speech was a right enshrined in the Brazilian Constitution, the delegation stressed.  Free and unhindered manifestation of thought in any form was also a written guarantee, which determined the freedom of speech for intellectual, artistic, scientific and communicative purposes.  The legislation defined the guarantee of freedom of speech for children and adolescents.  That right encompassed, among others, opinion, expression and participation in the political life.

Questions by Experts

With regard to family environment, an Expert said that Brazil put children in shelter due to poverty.  How many children were still in such institutions? What kind of programmes did the Government have to support those children?  What were the main limitations to implement effective policies?

Another Expert underlined the lack of statistic data on domestic and inter-country adoption in Brazil.  She inquired if the Government had enough human and financial resources to collect statistical data and relevant information on both domestic and inter-country adoption.

What was the magnitude of the problem with regards to child trafficking? What had the Government done to protect the victims, and what were the punishment measures?

On the subject of children with disabilities, the Expert noted that there was no data on any Government programmes.  She inquired if there were measures undertaken to prevent children from being taken away from their parents due to their health problems?  Were those children involved in the decisions concerning them?  Were there any awareness-raising or training initiatives to address social prejudice towards children with disabilities?

Did the State party have enough health personnel in hospitals?  Were they working mainly in private or public hospitals?  Did the health professionals have regular trainings?

Question was asked on what the main strategies were to reduce child mortality in Brazil.  What were the initiatives to broaden family health, breastfeeding, access to vaccination, and raise the mother’s educational level?

In relation to disparities in access to education, an Expert inquired what measures were taken to ensure that such a gap was bridged.  How were the education standards controlled, especially for public schools?

Answers by the Delegation

The delegation informed that one of the biggest achievements had been the reduction in the sub-civil birth registration from 44 per cent to 5.1 per cent, thus being close to eradication.  The Government was aiming to reach the excluded people, especially indigenous children and children living in isolated and remote areas.  Accordingly, municipal workshops were organized for the public in order to raise awareness in the areas of birth registration.

The law clearly stated that each municipality provided free birth certificates.  The efforts to universalize the civil and birth registration in the states of the “Legal Amazon” and the Northeast Region of Brazil involved partnerships to implement awareness campaigns and orientation.  In addition, there were trainings of social rights agents, the establishment of registration task forces for the provision of civil birth certificates, and the implementation of civil birth registration units in local maternities.

In 2011, Brazil had launched the National Plan of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as the main strategy to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, with an estimated budget of R$ 7.6 billion.  A total of 25 States, the Federal District and approximately 1,406 cities had joined the Plan thus far.  The implementation of the Plan, in addition to the initiatives aimed at strengthening councils adopted since 2011, had resulted in the dissemination of Disabilities Rights Councils at the State and municipal level, with numbers rising from a little more than 200 to approximately 600 councils.

With regard to indigenous populations, a delegate noted that 12 per cent of the Brazilian territory was marked as indigenous areas.  Since April 2012, the ethnicity might be included in the civil birth certificate of indigenous children, upon request of their parents.  In the birth certificate, it was possible to include the information that the child was an indigenous person, as well as its respective people or ethnicity.

A federal law prohibited the use of violence against children.  The Government was preparing a campaign to provide guidance to the parents and working on the implementation.  An important tool for measuring the problem of mistreatment of children and adolescents was the national hotline, a service that had become a channel for communication, recording and referral of violations.  The service was a direct dial toll-free number, available across Brazil.  Once a violation was reported, local networks were triggered to care for the victim and to ensure the aggressor’s liability. It had been created in 1997, under the coordination of the Brazilian Multi-Disciplinary Association for the Protection of Children and Adolescents, and turned over to the Federal Government in 2003.

The delegation said that the hotline also took on reports on other human rights violations, such as human trafficking and missing children and adolescents.  Since 2006, there was a specialized kind of hearing directed to children and adolescents, as well as possible aggressors.  The service also provided information on the protection network and the work of guardianship councils.  Received reports were sent to the relevant authorities within 24 hours, while the callers’ identities were kept anonymous.

The Inter-Sectorial Committee, with financial and technical support from the United Nations Children’s Fund, had created a referential set of indicators that mapped the phenomenon of sexual violence in Brazil.  Based on that set of indicators, the programme “Integrated and Referential Actions to Combat Sexual Violence against Children and Adolescents in the Brazilian Territory”  had started to finance projects for the diagnosis and elaboration of local operational plans in the most affected municipalities.

It was added that the programme had proposed a series of stages for the formulation of articulated and inter-sectorial public policies to end sexual violence against children and adolescents, founded on theempowerment of local protection networks.  The methodologies applied included the political articulation of each city, the qualification of protection networks, as well as the monitoring of the actions recommended in State and local plans to end sexual violence against children and adolescents.  In 2009, that experience had been replicated in 15 twin cities of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina, through a strategy entitled PAIR MERCOSUL, directed to the prevention and control of the trafficking of children and adolescents for sexual purposes in border regions.

The delegation explained that “act of resistance” was an administrative term used by the judicial police to refer to the investigation of deaths and injuries caused by police officers when the victim had resisted.  Such instrument used to applied based on the sole description of events provided by police officers, which allowed for the cover up of homicides.  In that sense, it was expected that the end of the “act of resistance” would represent a great step towards the protection of the rights of children and adolescents victims of police violence.

With regard to training initiatives, Brazilian police officers were submitted to continued education throughout their career.  The National Public Security Secretariat of the Ministry of Justice had developed several actions involving issues related to public security and crimes against children and adolescents.  A set of classroom training actions had been developed in the previous three years, dealing particularly with the crime of sexual exploitation.

Follow-Up Questions by Experts

An Expert asked about the parameters to allow sterilisation of children with disabilities.

On the inclusive education, another Expert inquired what percentage of children with disabilities were provided with schooling.

What kind of measures were taken by the Government to prevent sexual violence against children?  What prevention system was available to children to protect themselves from potential perpetrators?

Question was asked about measures taken to investigate and prosecute members of armed and police forces due to allegations of violence against children?

The Government had not ratified the International Labour Organization’s Maternity Protection Conventionof 2000.  Was the State party intending to ratify that document?

Could the delegation provide more details about the continuing efforts to improve the system of juvenile justice in all States of the federation in line with the Convention?

What measures had been taken to ensure that the recent football World Cup had not negatively impacted children’s rights?

An Expert asked about measures taken to improve the accessibility of civil registration and birth registration services in the indigenous territories.  Were the personnel providing such services provided with training on the sociocultural traditions regarding birth registration for indigenous people?

Replies by the Delegation

Incarcerated mothers enjoyed access to medical services, and all other measures necessary for a healthy pregnancy with no risks to the child were also provided.

On the health care of adolescents,  measures had been introduced to guarantee basic assistance, in addition to hospitalization and specialized tests.  However, the access to primary health care for those living in remote areas was a remaining challenge.

With regard to the question on public-private health care, a delegate noted that 75 per cent of the services were provided by the public health institutions, while the remaining 25 per cent provided by private institutions.

Follow-up Questions by Experts

An Expert acknowledged that Brazil had reduced its child labour rate significantly.  What other measures had the State party taken to eliminate child labour completely?

Brazil was facing numerous financial challenges.  What were the impacts of the budget cuts on the national education system?

Replies by the Delegation

In 2011, Brazil had launched a campaign to mobilise companies to fight exploitation of children.  The Government had also initiated nation-wide events, focusing on awareness raising on the issue.

On the questions related to adoption, a delegate said first, all the resources for reintegration in the family had to be exhausted and transparency in the procedures of the cases had to be ensured.  Two national registries had been created: one for children and adolescents available for adoption and one for people interested in adopting. The priority was the adoption within the national territory.  The single national registry allowed monitoring and supervising of the system of national and international adoption of children and adolescents, under the light of the article 21 of the Convention.  While the number of national adoptions was around 6,000 per year, such number was much lower for international adoptions, being only 100 per year.

Regarding migrant children and adolescents, the delegation said that paradigmatic changes in the national normative outline on migrations were in course.  A new migration law was in the process of being approved by the National Congress.  The future law would fully protect the rights of migrant children and adolescents.  Its text was currently in the final negotiation stage.

Turning to the subject of health, a delegate said the Government had experienced problems accessing indigenous populations living in remote areas.

On suicide prevention and protection actions, the Government had established initiatives to provide psycho-social support to families and communities, particularly those with a history of suicide attempts and alcohol and drug abuse.  To prevent suicide in indigenous communities, the Government was trying to identify tribes and develop new techniques more suitable to such communities.

The percentage of disabled children enrolled in public schools was 97 per cent.  Children with hearing disabilities did not consider themselves as “disabled” but as “deaf”.  It was their personal choice to go to public schools instead of schools solely for disabled children.  In addition, the Brazilian law acknowledged the sign language as an official language.

Turning to the policies initiated on adolescents in conflict with the law, a delegate said that the Government had established a national school to train professionals to work with young people.  In the State party, juvenile justice was good enough, but the Government needed more resources to make improvements.

The best interest of the child was set out in article 277 of the Brazilian Constitution as the principle of absolute priority, defining that it was the duty of the family, the society and the State to ensure the right to life, health, nutrition, education, sports, leisure, professional training, culture, dignity, respect, freedom, family and community living for the child and the adolescent.  The absolute priority of the child had also been recognized in the Brazilian jurisprudence, and the public administration was prohibited from claiming lack of funds to implement the rights of children and adolescents.
Follow-Up questions by Experts

An Expert inquired whether the periodic report had been discussed in the national level before its submission the Committee.

The Committee was concerned about the lack of definition on the direct participation of children in armed conflict in the Brazilian Constitution.  What measures would the State party take to overcome that problem?

With regard to the implementation of the Optional Protocol, an Expert asked whether measures undertaken by the Government had worked efficiently.

Noting that Brazil was the fourth biggest exporter of arms, an Expert inquired whether there was a relevant legislation preventing children from having access to fire arms.

How was the quality of detention facilities provided for minors in conflict with the law?  What was the average length of pre-trial detention?

Replies by the Delegation

The delegation explained that the Federal Constitution and the Labour Code protected children against economic exploitation, including child labour.  The law forbade the Government from hiring entities that exploited child labour.  Several Brazilian socio-cultural factors might contribute to the occurrence of child labour, such as low family income associated with high levels of unemployment, as well as a view of early participation in work as a fundamental principle for the formation of the individual.

To prevent child labour, the Government had taken several actions, including extension of the school day, introduction of complementary activities to the school schedule, inspection for the eradication of child labour, upgrading the focus map of child labour, supervision of work conditions of adolescents as apprentices, and integration of their families in cash transfer and income generation programmes.

Other initiatives had been launched to address the issue of child labour.  The relevant initiatives included qualitative studies, production of graphical and audio-visual material on child domestic labour and in agriculture, identification of successful experiences, construction of a methodology of intervention, and the development of new instruments for controlling conditions in the concession of social benefits.

The project “Proteja Brasil” was a set of inter-sectorial and inter-institutional actions implemented at the federal, State, municipal and Federal District levels.  The project aimed at preventing and intervening in situations that represented threats to the rights of children and adolescents resulting from mega events.  The initiative had brought together actions of Governments, the justice system, social responsibility of the private sector and civil society for the implementation of effective plans to fight children’s rights violations during the Confederation Cup of 2013, the World Cup of 2014, the Olympic Games of 2016 and other similar events hosted by Brazil.

To protect the rights of persons between the age of 12 and 18 deprived of their liberty, and to improve their conditions of detention and imprisonment, the Government had established special institutions with conditions suitable to their age.   However, children above the age of 18 were sent to the adult prison if they committed a crime.

Questions by Experts

One Expert asked whether the Government had done any research on the street children and evaluated their situation.
Another Expert asked about the difference between the military schools and military preparatory schools.  Were the training materials and manuals used in those education programmes provided to students below the age of 18? Were girls allowed to both schools?

Were students enrolled in those institutions trained in the use of firearms?  What were the measures taken by the Government to prevent children from obtaining access to firearms?

An Expert inquired about the procedure of research and investigation with regard to violations resulting in the death of people.

It was noted that the admission process of asylum seekers took from six months to three years.  What kind of measures had the State party taken to ensure that the process was as child friendly as possible?

Replies by the Delegation

The situation of street children in Brazil was very different than two decades earlier.  The Brazilian Government had created a national policy that protected the right of the child to family and community care.  Brazil had a strong and active civil society movement that promoted a lot of advocacy and the creation of targeted policies.  Accordingly,  the Government had been working with the civil society, creating outreach programmes and serving several services such as food assistance, medical check and medication.

On maternity kidnapping and prevention measures, a delegate said the Government had no specific policy targeting the issue.  However, there were a very few kidnapping cases in Brazil.

In conformity with the principles of defence of peace and peaceful solution of conflicts, Brazil had been a pillar of stability in the region in respect of armed conflicts.  For more than 130 years, Brazil had not been involved in any armed conflict with neighbouring countries, namely, since the end of the Paraguayan War in 1870.  Today, the countries involved in that conflict were partners in the Mercosur integration process.  Not being currently involved in any international or internal armed conflict, Brazil had endeavoured to contribute to international peace and security by participating in peace maintenance operations under mandates defined by the pertinent international organizations.

Military service in Brazil had been traditionally compulsory. Since the 1891 Constitution, this obligatory requirement had been constitutionally regulated.  The military service legislation required that all Brazilian males had to register in the year when they reached the age of 18, and joined the Armed Forces in the year when they reached the age of 19.  Accordingly, under no circumstances, a person under 18 years old could be recruited by the armed forces.

Article 143, paragraph 2 of the Constitution also exempted women and clergymen from the compulsory military service.  However, there were various possibilities for women to pursue a military career, after passing a higher-education level public competitive examination.  Alternatively, they could serve as temporary members of the military, as technical or higher-education level trainees.  In all cases, enlistment was voluntary and women under 18 were not admitted.  Therefore, the application of Optional Protocol provisions in Brazil referred to male individuals.

With respect to educational institutions under the control of the Armed Forces in Brazil, it was important to distinguish, in connection with the Optional Protocol, between military schools and Military preparatory schools.  Military school students were not members of the military and they did not receive military training.  Further, they might leave school at any time they wish, and were not under the obligation to follow a military career.
Military preparatory schools, on the other hand, prepared cadets or officer candidates for entering the Armed Forces’ officers training academies, and sought to motivate students for a military career and enthusiasm for their respective Force.  They operated on a boarding-school system and offered secondary education and military instruction compatible with reservist training, in addition to the practice of sports.  Enrolment in those schools was voluntary and open only to male candidates.  To be admitted, students had to pass clear selective procedures that involved intellectual tests, health examinations, and physical and psychological aptitude tests.

Follow-up Questions by Experts

What kind of trainings were available to the peace maintenance personal?   Did the Government engage in partnerships with local and international actors in that regard?

What was the procedure of internalizing an international treaty?

Replies by the Delegation

As regards the measures adopted for the training of peace maintenance personnel in respect of the rights of the child, including the Optional Protocol provisions, all Brazilian troops participating in peace maintenance operations received prior training in the norms of the International Human Rights Law, the International Humanitarian Law, and the United Nations Code of Personal Conduct for Blue Helmets.  During the training, emphasis was laid on the protection of the rights of children.  The Ministry of Defence had worked in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross to strengthen and consolidate the training in the International Humanitarian Law, not only of contingents sent to peacekeeping missions but of the Armed Forces in general.

Brazil’s National Congress approved the Disarmament Statute and applied the provisions of the Optional Protocol.  At the moment, Brazil did not have a problem of the “involvement of children in armed conflict”.  If such situation arose in the country, the State party would apply the provisions and take all necessary measures.

A delegate noted that students in the Navy, Air Force and the Army were trained in the use of firearms, which included instructions on handling rifles and portable firearms.  Students below the age of 18 did not take part in service requiring the use of firearms.  However, since they were legally incorporated in the Brazilian Army, they were supposed to receive military training.

Concluding Remarks

SARA DE JESUS OVIEDO FIERRO, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Brazil, said that huge progress had been achieved by the State party, and Brazil answered to all the questions posed by the Committee Experts.  However, more needed to be done to overcome remaining challenges.  The Committee was particularly concerned about the juvenile justice, and the Experts hoped that the State party would take the recommendations into consideration.

REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP, Ambassador to the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office in Geneva, thanked the Committee Experts for their questions and comments.  Brazil had undertaken a number of initiatives to promote and protect the rights of the child.  The Government had undertaken relevant legislative and administrative policy measures for the protection of children and adolescents.  While doing so, the Government had cooperated with all partners at the municipal, State, federal and international levels, including civil societies and the United Nations bodies.  Brazil attached great importance to the Convention and its Optional Protocol.

BENYAM DAWIT MEYMUR, Chairperson of the Committee, thanked the State party representatives for their detailed answers to the questions.  Encouraging Brazil to ratify the Third Optional Protocol, Mr. Meymur said that he looked forward to receiving the upcoming reports, and sent his best wishes to the children of Brazil.

For use of the information media; not an official record

CRC15/039E

Source: http://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/2DCEE72102836277C1257EC8005D3C6D?OpenDocument

Fundamedios

Ecuador / Freedom of expression: UN and IACHR experts condemn moves to dissolve prominent organization

17 de September, 2015

FundamediosGENEVA / WASHINGTON, DC (17 September 2015) – A group of rapporteurs* from the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today expressed grave concern over the Government of Ecuador’s recent moves to dissolve Fundamedios, a prominent civil society organization dedicated to the promotion of freedom of expression and media freedom in that country.

“Members of associations, particularly those dedicated to defending human rights, should fully enjoy the right to freedom of expression, in particular, the freedom to be openly critical of governmental policy and practice,” the experts stressed.

The National Secretariat of Communications of Ecuador (SECOM) notified Fundamedios of the dissolution proceedings on 8 September 2015 on the grounds that it allegedly disseminates messages with “political overtones”. The Government’s order provided a period of ten days during which the organization could present arguments for defense. On 14 September 2015, Fundamedios requested guarantees of due process, proofs of the alleged activities, and –according to the Constitution, article 98, declared its right to resist ‘deeds or omissions by the public sector’ that undermine their constitutional rights.

“Individuals who form an association have the right to hold opinions and disseminate information of all kinds, including of a political nature, without interference by the State,” said the experts. “Speech cannot be suppressed simply because it may be interpreted as ‘being political’.”

The rapporteurs emphasized that the role of freedom of association is a fundamental tool that makes it possible to fully carry out the work of human rights defenders, who, acting collectively, can achieve a greater impact for members of a group or society in advancing and attaining licit goals.

“The forced dissolution of an association is a truly extreme measure, which can only be justified in the most exceptional cases, under strict compliance with the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality, and aimed at achieving a pressing need in a democratic society,” explained the experts, who have previously voiced their concerns to the Government.

The group of experts denounced national norms invoked in the procedures against Fundamedios and previously applied in the closure of another important non-governmental organization in the end of 2013 and called for their revision in light of international standards. “Executive Decree No. 16 established unacceptable restrictions to freedom of expression and association in the country, empowering State authorities to close down organizations based on very broad and ambiguous terms,” they said.

“It would be of particular concern if the State adopts any resolution in this case violating international human right standards. Indeed, it is the Government’s action that has the strongest ‘political overtones’,” underscored the group, noting that “the rationale cited for Fundamedios’ dissolution could be used to block the legitimate exercise of freedom of association.”

The evidence analyzed by SECOM includes images of tweets published by Fundamedios with links to opinion columns in other websites. Images of tweets published by third parties and retweeted by Fundamedios were also included as proof.

“Human rights do not cease when an individual or association goes online,” the experts pointed out in relation to SECOM’s alleged proof. “The rights to freedom of expression and of association apply both offline and online.”

“We urge the Ecuadorian authorities to halt the dissolution process of Fundamedios, and more generally, ensure the realization of the rights to freedom of expression and of association in the country,” they stated. “We stand ready to provide technical assistance to the authorities in this regard.”

ENDS

(*) The experts: Maina Kiai , UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; David Kaye , UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Michael Forst , UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez , IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders; and Edison Lanza , IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.

The UN experts:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/AssemblyAssociation/Pages/SRFreedomAssemblyAssociationIndex.aspx
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/SRHRDefendersIndex.aspx

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) experts:
http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/defenders/mandate/composition.asp
http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/expression/mandate/Rapporteur.asp

For more information and media requests please contact Marissa Storozum (+41 22 917 9689) or write to freeassembly@ohchr.org .

Para mayor información sobre otros expertos independientes de la ONU:
Xabier Celaya  – Unidad de Medios (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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Vea el Índice Universal de los Derechos Humanos: http://uhri.ohchr.org/es/

Opinion piece: By reducing the age of criminal responsibility, Brazil would ignore international commitments

10 de September, 2015

*By Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra

In several South American countries -including Brazil- has emerged a discussion over reducing the age of criminal responsibility and treating children and adolescents like adults when they commit crimes. The main arguments for that include an alleged increase in youth violence, that minors are not effectively make responsible for their actions or that sentences for them are insufficient.

The core issue that is frequently ignored in this debate is whether reducing the age of criminal responsibility is an effective measure to tackle violence. In this regard, the prison regimes in the region reveal that more punishment does not mean less crime. Instead, they show the systematic failure of restrictive laws and measures in this matter.

Unfortunately, this discussion in Brazil has also overlooked the international human rights commitments made by the State. Only a few weeks ago, during an official visit to the country, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Juan Mendez, recalled that “prosecute young offenders as adults would violate Brazil’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”.

In fact, this international treaty forbids that adolescents under the age of 18 are tried as adults and obliges to adopt a minimum age in which the State renounces to punish children in criminal terms. The Convention also disposes the implementation of a special system of criminal responsibility for minors, ensuring presumption of innocence and the due process. This specific regime must establish differentiated sanctions and the deprivation of liberty must be an exceptional, last resort measure.

In this regard, all persons under 18 years of age who commit a crime must receive a special treatment within the framework of the juvenile justice systems, and face trial in accordance with their age. In sum, it is false to assert that those adolescents who commit grave offenses are not hold responsible for their actions.

Additionally, a recent Unicef report revealed that Brasil is the second country with the higher rate of youth homicides in the world, meaning that minors are mostly victims of serious crimes.

The 195 States that have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, including Brazil, have committed to implement all legislative measures to protect children and adolescents. However, reducing the age of criminal responsibility contravenes that mandate and does not resolve the problem of insecurity.

The lower house of the Federal Congress of Brazil took a step in the wrong direction to the international standards, by approving a draft bill to reduce the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 years for some specially heinous crimes. The definitive adoption of this provision would compromise the State’s international responsibility as it would breach the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Brazil would have no choice other than denouncing the treaty and withdraw from it.

On 21 and 22 September 2015, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child will review the human rights situation of minors in Brazil, and a State delegation will appear before the international experts’ body in Switzerland in order to explain this project and its incompatibilities with the Convention.

We expect, therefore, that the Brazilian society -and particularly the Federal Senate- discuss this project while bearing in mind the international commitments accepted by the Brazilian Congress in a free and sovereign fashion when it ratified the international human rights instruments, and that it honours its obligations of promoting and respecting them.

*Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra is the Regional Representative for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (@ONU_Derechos)

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact María Jeannette Moya, Media Officer OHCHR South America (mmoya@ohchr.org / +56 2 2210 2977)

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Special Rapporteur on minority issues

UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues to visit Brazil

9 de September, 2015

Special Rapporteur on minority issuesGENEVA (9 September 2015) – United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák, will visit Brazil from 14 to 24 September 2015, to identify and assess the main issues facing ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities in the country.

“As a diverse country hosting a large variety of minority groups Brazil faces a number of challenges that require attention. However this is the very same diversity which makes Brazilian society so dynamic and vibrant,” Ms. Izsák stated.

Ms. Izsák, who visits Brazil at the invitation of the Government, will travel to Brasilia and to other localities including Rio de Janeiro, and to the States of São Paulo and Bahia.

She will meet with Government and UN officials, a wide range of civil society and human rights organizations and other non-State actors, including those working in the field of minority issues, social inclusion, and on the promotion of equality and non-discrimination. She will also visit minority communities, including Quilombos, to hear directly from them about their issues and concerns.

“This is a timely and essential opportunity for me to engage with all actors and consider existing challenges, but also to identify positive initiatives taken by the Government, the civil society and community leaders, to foster unity, non-discrimination, peace and understanding among groups,” Ms Izsák said.

“Brazil has also been leading the way on ethnic data collection and affirmative action policies, so I am also eager to learn about these good practices that could be replicated in other countries.” Ms Izsák added.
Ms. Izsák will issue a statement to the media and hold a press conference in Brasilia at the conclusion of her visit on Thursday 24 September 2015, which will be held at the UN House in Brasilia at 14:00.
Following her visit, the Special Rapporteur will present a report containing her findings and recommendations to the Government and to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2016.

ENDS

Ms. Rita Izsák (Hungary) was appointed as Independent Expert on minority issues by the Human Rights Council in June 2011 and subsequently her mandate was renewed as Special Rapporteur on minority issues in March 2014. She is tasked by the UN Human Rights Council, to promote the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, among other things. Learn more, visit:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Minorities/SRMinorities/Pages/SRminorityissuesIndex.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.

Check the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/Minorities.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact the United Nations Information Center in Rio de Janeiro Ms. Valéria Schilling (valeria.schilling@unic.org/+55(21) 2253-2211); or Ms. Jacqui Zalcberg (jzalcberg@ohchr.org /+41 22 917 9271) or write to minorityissues@ohchr.org.

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OHCHR-South America condemns the death of indigenous leader in Brazil

2 de September, 2015

SANTIAGO DE CHILE (2 September 2015) – The Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned the violent death of indigenous leader Simião Vilhalva, occurred on 29 August in the indigenous territory of  Ñanderu Marangatu, in Mato Grosso do Sul state, Brazil.

The OHCHR Representative for South America, Amerigo Incalcaterra, expressed his condolences to the family of the victim and the Guarani-kaiowa indigenous people, while he urged the Brazilian government to conduct a prompt, independent and thorough investigation to establish the facts and bring to justice those responsible for this death.

“The excessive delay on the demarcation of traditional lands, the eviction orders from authorities and the violence faced by indigenous peoples in relation to their claims are the basis of conflicts with other actors in the area”, Incalcaterra said.

The OHCHR Representative publicly urged the Brazilian government to ensure the respect and protection of indigenous peoples’ human rights, including their right to land. “We call on the authorities to stop evictions of Guarani-kaiowa communities and to urgently complete the process of demarcation of their lands”, he said.

On 11 August, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, urged the Brazilian government to guarantee the full respect of  the human rights of the Guarani-kaiowa people, and stressing that indigenous peoples should not be forced to leave their territories under any circumstances.

ENDS

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UntitledDD

UPR News – Learn more about the Regional Project to Promote the Universal Periodic Review

31 de August, 2015

SANTIAGO – The United Nations has created different mechanisms to monitor the compliance of States with their international human rights obligations. One of those mechanisms is the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Established in 2006 under the umbrella of the Human Rights Council, it involves all 193 Member States to assess the measures adopted by a given country in order to ensure human rights.

“The UPR seeks to improve human rights and the fulfilment of the State’s commitments by providing guidance for States to define their short- and longterm priorities, as well as to facilitate cooperation and the sharing of best practices among countries in order to strengthen their human rights laws, institutions and policies”, said Ms. Shahrzad Tadjbakhsh, chief of the UPR Branch at the UN High Commissioner for Human  Rights (OHCHR).

Countries go through the UPR every four and a half years, on the grounds of information provided by the State, by other stakeholders and by a variety of UN bodies. On that basis, representatives from different
States raise questions and make recommendations to the examined country.
“Currently, countries are undergoing the second cycle of the UPR. The fi rst cycle ended in 2011, with a 100% of participation by the UN Member States”, Ms. Tadjbakhsh stressed.
The Regional Project

The UPR Regional Project is a joint initiative of the OHCHR Regional Office for South America and the UN Country Teams in the region, supported by the UPR Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance and the OHCHR UPR Branch in Geneva. It is under implementation in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay.
Thanks to the cooperation with different UN Offices, there are technical UPR Advisors working in each country, under the guidance of the OHCHR Regional Office for South America.
“The Project engages with all actors involved in the follow-up of the UPR recommendations, such as the State, National Human Rights Institutions, civil society groups and the UN System in our countries of coverage”, stated the OHCHR Deputy Regional Representative, Mr. Humberto Henderson.
Through different activities, the UPR Regional Project is supporting the establishment of interinstitutional mechanisms to report and follow-up on recommendations from international human rights mechanisms, as well as the development of human rights action plans at the national level.
The UPR Regional Project also assists different stakeholders to create their own tracking systems of the UPR recommendations, as well as to promote regional cooperation for that purpose. In addition, the Project supports the UN Offices in each country to increasingly mainstream human rights within their activities.
“We work with several local actors who are strongly committed to promote the implementation of the UPR recommendations“, Mr. Henderson said.
“Ultimately, we strive to support them in such a challenge and to help them coordinate efforts in order to enhance the overall human rights situation in the region”, he added.
Want to learn more about the UPR Regional Project in South America?

– Download the “UPR News” magazine: PDF 7 Mb

– Watch the video:

Foto: ACNUDH América del Sur

OHCHR condemns wave of violence in Brazilian prisons

29 de August, 2015

SANTIAGO (29 August 2014) – The Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned today the violence occurred this week in several Brazilian prisons.

In the Penitentiary of Cascavel, state of Parana, at least five inmates died during a riot. Two of the victims were decapitated and two others were thrown from the prison’s roof. In Minas Gerais, meanwhile, two revolts ended with an inmate dead and dozens injured, according to reports. In addition, authorities revealed that another man died in the Pedrinhas prison (Maranhao). Also this week, riots occurred in prisons in the states of Pará and Rio de Janeiro, according to information received.

“We urge the authorities to conduct a prompt, impartial and effective investigation of the facts and causes of the riots, and to bring those responsible for the crimes to justice,” said the OHCHR Representative for South America, Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra.

“We are shocked by the level of violence recently observed in Brazilian prisons. Unfortunately, these are not isolated events; they frequently occur in many detention centers throughout the country “, Mr. Incalcaterra added. “It is not acceptable that violence and deaths in prisons are seen as normal and common in Brazil,” he added.

The OHCHR Representative urged the authorities to take measures to prevent violence in the prison facilities. “Brazilian authorities must react urgently and build a prison system that is fully respectful of human dignity, with the participation of all branches of government, and in accordance with the international commitments and obligations of the country,” Mr. Incalcaterra said.

As in previous situations, the OHCHR reiterated its concern over prison conditions in the country. “Overcrowding, inadequate prison conditions, torture and ill-treatment of detainees are a reality in many prisons in Brazil. This also contributes to violence and constitutes a serious human rights violation “, the Representative pointed out.

“The country must reform its prison system, including at least a comprehensive review of the Brazilian criminal policies and the excessive use of imprisonment measures. Also, it is urgent to train prison staff in human rights and establish a national mechanism to prevent torture, as has repeatedly been recommended by international human rights mechanisms”, Incalcaterra concluded.

ENDS

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UN experts call for global rules for the immediate search of the disappeared

28 de August, 2015
For the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances
Sunday 30 August 2015

“Time is of the essence” – UN experts call for global rules for the immediate search of the disappeared

GENEVA (28 August 2015) –Two United Nations expert groups on enforced disappearances call on States to establish and activate protocols for the immediate search of disappeared persons across the world.

Speaking ahead of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, on Sunday 30 August, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances urge Governments to activate all means of search of disappeared persons in a systematic way, including through the establishment of protocols.

“Over the last year, we have been working on 246 recent cases of enforced disappearances perpetrated all over the world – a clear indication that this heinous practice is still used in a number of countries. These cases are nevertheless only the tip of the iceberg of thousands of cases which are never reported either because of fear of reprisals or because the security conditions do not allow doing so.

The lack of resources and the insufficient awareness of existing international mechanisms are other reasons why many cases of enforced disappearances are never reported to the United Nations.

Following the activation of the urgent actions procedures by the Working Group and the Committee on Enforced Disappearances over the last year, 13 disappeared persons were found alive, in detention, and sadly two were found dead.

These procedures can make a difference for the relatives in despair:

    ‘I would like to inform you that due to your constant intervention and monitoring of the situation, XX was released by his abductors. Words cannot express how grateful we are to the Working Group and I request you to personally convey my indebtedness to every member of the group.’

    ‘Thanks for reading my messages and for taking them into account. I finally have the impression that someone is listening to me and paying attention to the case of my son,’ wrote the mother of a disappeared person.

    ‘I would like to inform you hereby that because of the impact of strong support and concern shown by your office, xx and xx were safely released.’

    ‘The letter of the Committee was received two weeks ago. A few days later, [the authorities] came to visit us to inform about the investigation and invited us to take part to it. It is the first time after so many months that we have the impression that things are moving again,’ wrote jointly the mothers of two disappeared persons.

The experience and use of the tool of urgent actions by the Committee and the Working Group show that in the case of enforced disappearance time is of the essence. The hours and days that follow a disappearance are crucial to find the disappeared person alive. The actions taken in the immediate aftermath of a disappearance cannot be left to hazards but have to be systematized in protocols that permit the immediate activation of all means at disposal for the search of the disappeared.

These protocols for the search of the disappeared need to be established in all States – irrespective of the number of enforced disappearances – and have to presume, at least initially, that the disappeared person must be searched alive.

We call upon governments to take action as soon as a case of disappearance is reported to the authorities and all necessary measures to seek and find the disappeared person and to avoid irreparable harm.

We equally urge governments to guarantee the full protection from all forms of reprisals of those who report cases of enforces disappearances, the authors of the urgent actions requests, the witnesses, the relatives of the disappeared persons, their defence counsels, and all persons taking part in the related investigations.

We also encourage all those whose beloved ones have disappeared, as well as those acting on their behalf, to make use of the tool provided by the urgent action procedures* of the Working Group and of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances.”

(*) How to submit urgent actions:
To the Committee on Enforced Disappearances: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CED/C/4&Lang=en for enforced disappearances occurring in States parties to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

To the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Disappearances/how_to_use_the_WGEID.pdf

ENDS

(*) NOTE TO EDITORS: During the past year, the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances transmitted 151 requests for urgent actions by family members of disappeared persons. During the same period, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances received 103 requests for urgent actions, out of which 95 were registered, bringing to a total of 126 registered urgent actions for cases of enforced disappearances occurred in States parties to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance since the entry into force of the Convention.

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

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

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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Statement: on the situation at the Colombia-Venezuela border

28 de August, 2015

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location:
Geneva
Subjects:
Venezuela / Colombia

We are concerned about the situation at the border between Colombia and Venezuela, particularly with reports of human rights violations occurring in the context of deportations of Colombians. We are also concerned about the declaration of a “state of emergency” in six border municipalities, in the Táchira State in Venezuela.

We call on the authorities in both countries to ensure that the situation is resolved through calm discussion and dialogue, firmly grounded in their obligations under international human rights law and international refugee law. We urge the Venezuelan authorities to ensure that the human rights of all affected individuals are fully respected, particularly in the context of any deportations. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and stand ready to engage with and advise the Venezuelan and Colombian authorities.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or  Rupert Colville  (+41 22 917 9767 /rcolville@ohchr.org).


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UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities considers initial report of Brazil

26 de August, 2015

26 August 2015

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today concluded its consideration of the initial report of Brazil on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Regina Dunlop, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office at Geneva, reiterated Brazil’s commitment to adjusting the legal framework and public policies to terms enshrined in the Convention, as reflected by the adoption of the National Plan for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities “Viver sem Limite” – “Living without Limits”, aimed at strengthening the participation of persons with disabilities in society by promoting their autonomy, removing barriers, and providing access on an equal basis to education, health, social inclusion and accessibility.

Introducing the report of Brazil, Pepe Vargas, Minister-Chief of the Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic, said that Brazil was devoted to overcoming the assistance approach to persons with disabilities to that of human rights and autonomy and had taken steps to enhance the economic, social and cultural rights of persons with disabilities.  Discrimination against persons with disabilities was now an offence.  Brazil aimed for the inclusive educational system and was making significant steps to overcome the old educational model which segregated students.  The National Plan for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had established specific targets for accessible schools, accessible technology, accessible school buses, and autonomy and independence in different education cycles.

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts commended Brazil for the many positive steps taken to implement the Convention, such as the National Plan for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and a number of specific programmes including the Plan Brazil 2022 Centennial Target to ensure the exercise of all rights by persons with disabilities by this date.  However, the medical model still prevailed in the disability law and policy, the educational system was still segregated, and the institutionalization of persons with disabilities remained the primary challenge.  The 2014 Inclusion Law, which was still to enter into force, did not seem to be fully harmonized with the Convention: it still permitted substituted decision-making while supported decision-making was dependent on the judge.  Committee Experts were concerned about the practice of abandoning children with disability, and the lack of support for families with children with disabilities which led to a high rate of institutionalization.  They inquired about specific measures for the deinstitutionalization of persons and children with disability, and the support available for independent and community-based living.

In concluding remarks, Teresa Degener, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Brazil, called upon Brazil to do better and go faster in the implementation of the Convention and take the lead for the southern hemisphere, and recommended that the entry into force of the Inclusion Law be postponed, in order to align it with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Mr. Vargas in his closing remarks expressed hope that the Committee’s report would recognize the progress Brazil had made and that it would fairly assess what needed to be done to implement the Convention.

The delegation of Brazil included representatives of the Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic, Ministry of Cities, Ministry of Social Security, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, National Secretariat for the Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, City of Sao Paulo, State of Piaui, State of Rio de Janeiro, Federal Parliament, Regional Labour Court at the 9th Region, the National Council of the Right of Persons with Disabilities, and the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will issue its concluding observations and recommendations on the report of Brazil at the end of the session, on Friday, 4 September 2015.  The next public meeting of the Committee will be at 3 p.m. this afternoon, when it will begin its consideration of the initial report of Qatar CRPD/C/QAT/1.

Report

The initial report of Brazil can be accessed here: CRPD/C/BRA/1.

Presentation of the Report

REGINA DUNLOP, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office at Geneva, introducing the delegation, said that in Brazil, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was implemented through a constitutional amendment.  The commitment to adjust the legal framework and public policies to the terms enshrined in the Convention was reflected in numerous pieces of legislation, and the adoption of the National Plan for the Rights of Persons with disabilities “Viver sem Limite” – “Living without Limits”, aimed at strengthening the participation of persons with disabilities in society by promoting their autonomy, removing barriers, and providing access on an equal basis to education, health, social inclusion and accessibility.  Brazil was of the view that the entire United Nations regulatory framework applied to persons with disabilities on an equal basis and the Committee should foster and promote a cross-cutting approach with a view to mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities in all United Nations endeavours and the broader global community.

PEPE VARGAS, Minister-Chief of the Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic, introducing the report, said that Brazil had a population of more than 200 million, of which 46.6 million had some form of disability.  Brazil had recently developed wealth-distribution policies and had made significant progress in lifting its people out of poverty, from 25 per cent in the early 1990s to four per cent in 2011; more than 50 per cent of the population was part of the middle class.  Social policies with an inclusive character that was focused on full citizenship had been developed, based on the national  human rights framework and Viver sem Limite.  Brazil was devoted to overcoming an assistance approach to persons with disabilities to that of  human rights and autonomy and had taken steps to enhance the economic, social and cultural rights of persons with disabilities.  Discrimination against persons with disabilities was now an offense and persons with disabilities were entitled to receiving an inclusion grant.  Measures had been adopted to ensure accessibility to transportation and communication, while the law guaranteed accessibility for persons with disabilities to education, work, health, transportation, rehabilitation, leisure, and other areas.  The Ministry of Communication had adopted regulations to increase accessibility for persons with disabilities; the implementation would be gradual in line with the switch to digital channels.  Persons with disabilities also enjoyed the right to adequate housing and there were universally designed housing projects and specific kits for persons with disabilities.

Education was the right of all and Brazil aimed for an inclusive educational system, with special attention to the needs of persons with disabilities.  Brazil was making significant steps to overcome the old educational model which segregated students.  The National Plan for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had established specific targets for accessible schools, accessible technology, accessible school buses, and autonomy and independence in different education cycles.  Targets had also been established to broaden orthopaedic workshops, broaden rehabilitation centres and improve and enhance early detection.  Brazil recognized the ongoing challenges in the full enjoyment of rights for specific groups of persons with disabilities, namely children, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and indigenous people.

Questions by the Committee Experts

TERESA DEGENER, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Brazil, said that Brazil was one of the first signatories of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which it had ratified alongside with its Optional Protocol already in August 2008 without any reservation or declaration.  The Convention was the first  human rights treaty ratified with a constitutional amendment status and many positive steps had been taken to implement it, including the National Plan for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and a number of specific programmes such as Living without Limits, My Home My Life Programme, the Athlete Grant, and the Plan Brazil 2022 Centennial Target to ensure the exercise of all rights by persons with disabilities by this date.  Turning to issues of concern, the Country Rapporteur said that the disability law and policy seemed to be stuck with the medical model of disability and the  human rights model had not been adopted so far.  The educational system was still segregated, exclusion took place through institutionalization, and mental health law and guardianship law did not allow for inherent dignity, individual autonomy and the freedom to make one’s own choices.  The harmonization of national laws with the Convention seemed to be a challenge.  While Brazil had adopted the Inclusion Law which favoured supported decision making, the judicial procedure to receive this support was still questionable and the guardianship law provided for interdiction.

The National Conferences on the Rights with Persons with Disabilities were laudable steps towards ensuring the meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in planning, implementation and monitoring of the Convention, but the Convention required the establishment of an independent monitoring mechanism.  The primary challenge in Brazil was the institutionalization of persons with disabilities.  While some tangible steps had been taken towards deinstitutionalization, there were still many persons detained on the grounds of impairment and many persons with disabilities were forced to live in institutions or with family members because there were no independent living services nor any personal assistant programmes.  The situation in the penitentiary detention was alarming, with 87 per cent of the facilities inaccessible to prisoners with disabilities who were found to be detained under inhuman and degrading conditions.  Urgent measures needed to be taken to address this situation.

Another Expert asked about the change in the use of terminology to ensure it was in line with the Convention and the timeline for the reform of the psychiatric system.  There was lack of attention and exclusion of persons with disabilities from indigenous populations, and the practice of infanticide of babies born with obvious disabilities.  Lack of inclusion of women with disabilities was another area of concern.

A Committee Expert asked how persons with disabilities were empowered to use different remedial avenues to address discrimination on the grounds of disability.  Brazil was one of few countries where accessibility was guaranteed in the Constitution, but the question was its implementation, especially outside of the capital and in remote areas.

Experts said that law 5296 of 2005, which contained the outdated medical definition, was still in place, and that children with disability still suffered segregation in education, with some even being asked additional fees, and asked about the plans to amend the Constitution to include disability as a ground for discrimination.  The delegation was asked to inform the Committee about the examples of good practice in the preparations for the World Cup 2014 and what needed to be improved in the light of Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016.  The Committee was very concerned about the practice of abandoning children with disability, and the lack of support for families with disabled children which led to a high rate of institutionalization.  What specific measures were in place for deinstitutionalization of children with disabilityand the support of community-based living for children with disability throughout the country?

Experts recognized the efforts of Brazil in the fight against discrimination and asked about sanctions for discrimination against persons with disabilities in the country.  What norms had to be overturned to harmonize legislation with the Convention? What reasonable accommodation was in place to ensure that persons with disabilities could vindicate their rights guaranteed by the Constitution?

MARIA SOLEDAD CISTERNAS REYES, Committee Chairperson, stressed that further measures needed to be taken to address the remaining poverty in the country, particularly in the favelas, and asked about the implementation of the Maria da Penha law on domestic violence in relation to women with disabilities.

Response by the Delegation

In response to these questions and comments and others, the delegation said that the public policies in Brazil applied equally to all persons, but it was true that there were groups of vulnerable persons such as indigenous people or Afro-descendants, or those who suffered certain prejudices, who had difficulties in accessing some of their rights.  Currently, 25 million people had exited extreme poverty, but there were others still living in poverty and the State needed to identify and register them so that they could benefit from the clear policy to distribute income.  The Inclusion Law had been adopted recently, after consultations with various groups of the population, including women.  The National Council for Persons with disabilities took an active role in the monitoring of the implementation of the Convention.

Only four penitentiary facilities were maximum security, and all remaining prisons were managed by a state government.  Brazil was aware that this system was extremely vulnerable and there were failures in respecting  human rights, and that was why the national preventive mechanism for torture and ill treatment had been set up, which could visit all facilities in the country.  The concept of disability adopted in Brazil was in line with the Convention; it was a revolution because terminology used before included words such as cripple, invalid, deficiencies.  Disabled was now used to describe limitations, and was an evolving concept, and was incorporated in the Inclusion Law.  There were quotas for employment of persons with disabilities, with sanctions for companies failing to comply.  The Labour Law had been amended in 1991 to introduce incentives for employment of women.  Discrimination on the grounds of disability was a crime, punished by three years imprisonment; if discrimination was committed against a caregiver, the punishment was increased by a third.

Following the ratification of the Convention, the education law had been revised to ensure the access of persons with disabilities to an inclusive education system.  The specialized education system today was a public system to promote accessibility in the public and private schools, aiming at identifying and eliminating barriers.  Basic and superior education for persons with disabilities was being broadened and Brazil was advancing in ensuring inclusive education, but was still facing challenges of segregation.

The process of institutionalization of persons with disabilities was being reviewed and a plan had been prepared for the coexistence of persons with disabilities with families, and the establishment of services protecting the families.

Institutionalization was decreasing due to the implementation of this integrated system for the provision of autonomy for persons with disabilities.  With regards to women with disabilities, the delegation said that Brazil had a Women’s Ministry and several actions to fight violence against women and protect women and their families had been undertaken.  The national policy for women with disabilities was still fragile and not very specific.  Challenges facing women with disabilities had been identified and Brazil was developing National Guidelines to address those barriers in several sectors, including in health.  Brazil recognized that people with mental health problems were protected by the Convention and it also recognized the need for organization and resources to fight for the reform of the psychiatric sector.

Brazil had made advances in accessibility, it had already made the transportation system accessible in the sites of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, all buses leaving factories were low floor and accessible, and the number of hours of broadcast was increasing.  The Inclusion Law, which regulated the Convention, had been opened for public consultation for six years during it drafting phase, and had been translated into sign language.  The challenge was in the lack of knowledge about the Convention among the judges.  Brazil aimed to have universal design and achieve full accessibility in the public transportation.  Municipalities were in charge of promoting accessibility in sidewalks, public transportation and public facilities, while the Federal Government had in place the National Action Plan for Mobilization to increase accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Questions by the Experts

The Bill 1057 dealt with harmful traditional practices and provided the protection of fundamental rights of indigenous children; what campaigns had been undertaken to change some of the traditional practices and what was the role of popular culture in it?

Committee Experts expressed concern about the success of deinstitutionalization in the absence of political will, declassification of social assistance services, and the absence of a systematic programme involving non-governmental and community-based organizations.  Was institutionalization without a person’s consent permitted and was it based on a medical diagnosis?  What plans were in place to prohibit forced institutionalization and institutionalization without consent of the person in question?  What measures were envisaged to prevent trafficking of persons with disabilities for purposes of sexual exploitation?

TERESA DEGENER, Committee Expert and the Country Rapporteur for Brazil, asked about the laws regulating the supported decision-making and asked about the process in place to replace substitute decision-making with supported one.  Was forced sterilization ever permitted?

MARIA SOLEDAD CISTERNAS REYES, Committee Chairperson, asked in which cases a person with disabilities was declared incompetent before the courts, and what had Brazil done to address the situations of violence and ill treatment in institutions.

Response by the Delegation

There were 305 indigenous people tribes who spoke 274 languages between them.  The indigenous population numbered 817,000 individuals, of whom 315,000 lived in urban areas; 48 per cent of indigenous peoples lived in the northern region which covered the Amazon region.  It was important to say that 81 per cent of the Brazilian Amazonian forest was preserved and that action taken by the State had led to a sharp decrease in criminal deforestation.  The increase in the number of indigenous populations was also due to the clear demarcation of indigenous territories.  Brazil was committed to fighting infanticide of children born with disability, which was still practiced among 15 of the tribes.

The Law 12847 of 2013 had created the national system for prevention and combatting torture and cruel and other degrading treatment, and had also established a national preventive mechanism.  In terms ofviolence against persons with disabilities, the delegation said that the overwhelming majority of the cases reported by the National Supervisor for  Human Rights concerned intra-family violence.  A 24/7 hotline was available for reports of violence for all people in the country; during the 2011-2014 period, 31,340 reports of violence against persons with disabilities had been reported, which included negligence, physical and psychological violence.

The aim of the Inclusion Law of 2014 was to bring the domestic legislation in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and it had repealed article 3 of the Civil Code, which made certain categories of persons incapable of exercising daily activities or expressing wishes.

Following the ratification of the Convention, Brazil had adopted the political concept of disability at the highest levels of its legal framework, and so had overcome the medical-based model.  The concept of disability was an open one, it was constantly developing and was being further defined.  This had led to the adoption of the international classification of functionality for establishing public policies with regards to social assistance and special retirement.

In 2012, Brazil had adopted the agenda for the protection of children called Protect Brazil, to ensure the protection of children during large sporting events, and had since extended those protection strategies to other vulnerable groups and children and adolescents.  Professionals in various areas of social policy were being trained in protection strategies for children and adolescents during mega sporting, religious and cultural events.  Applications like Protect Brazil for mobile devices had been developed to enable people to locate the protection bodies and report violations to the national  human rights supervisory body.

Poverty was the main reason of institutionalization of children with disability, and this was being addressed through income transfer and improvement of living standards of families of children with disability.  Inclusive residence was an alternative model to the institutionalization of children and adults: it promoted the development of adaptive capacities for day-to-day living, promoting of autonomy and opportunities through social participation.  Currently, 2.2 million persons with disabilities benefitted from a monthly payment at the level of the basic salary, while increased access to an independent life had been offered through adapted housing and the My House My Life programme.

Indigenous persons with disability could attend inclusive education in their own language.  In 2014, there had been 1,627 indigenous persons with disabilities in schools, and 487 indigenous schools of which 39 received allocation of technology to promote accessibility.

In terms of the assessment of disability, Brazil adopted the principles of the Convention and had changed its medical model to a social one, and this classification had been used since 2007 for decisions regarding the allocation of special and social benefits.  In 2013, special retirement payments and the social security benefits became available to persons with disabilities on the basis of functionality.  All Brazilians had freeaccess to the health system, which was a network of services in basic, hospital and specialized care.  Therapy of persons with disabilities must be based on a diagnosis and following an inter-disciplinary assessment conducted in cooperation with the family.  The health system reported that 4.3 per cent of all types of violence were against women with disabilities, and more than five per cent of complaints of sexual violence were by women with disabilities.  The new National Policy for Mental Health Care had been adopted in 2011, which defined interment as an exceptional measure.  Extensive services were available for deinstitutionalization and psychosocial rehabilitation of long-term residents in mental hospitals.

Questions by the Committee Experts

A Committee Expert commended Brazil for the progress made in eradicating poverty and expressed concern that the majority of persons with disabilities lived in poverty and social exclusion, including indigenous persons with disabilities.

What was the current legal status of Braille and sign language, including in other languages spoken in the country?  Even though Brazil was committed to inclusive education, special education schools continued and Experts wondered whether they had a role in supporting inclusive schools.  What plans were in place concerning the ratification of the Marrakech Convention? How would the Sustainable Development Goals be accessible to and inclusive of persons with disabilities?   The 2014 Inclusion Law, which was still to enter into force, did not seem to be fully harmonized with the Convention: it still permitted substituted decision-making while supported decision-making was dependent on the judge.

A Committee Expert stressed the importance of independent and supported living and the availability of an adequate income for persons with disabilities in order to support their social inclusion and participation.  Experts asked whether the education system aimed to equip persons with disabilities to have a place in thelabour market, whether there was inclusive preschool education for children with disability, where children with disability were trained to get professional competencies, and how persons with disabilities in Brazil could be empowered in employment?

TERESA DEGENER, Committee Expert and the Country Rapporteur for Brazil, noted the reports of children being removed from persons with disabilities and asked whether it was legal and what support was available for parents with disability?

Response by the Delegation

All political electoral campaigns must be accessible with subtitling with a description and sign language in one corner.  Polling stations must be made physically accessible, and there were electronic polling booths and special boards with Braille.  Following the changes in the law, no one could be denied the right to vote, regardless of the type of disability.  Persons with disabilities who were parties to a court case were supported in expressing their wishes and providing statements; if this was not possible, a tutor was appointed to express the wishes on behalf of the persons with disabilities.

The National Education Council had decided that special schools, previously part of a system which segregated persons with disabilities, would be reformed in order to
ensure the development of an inclusive education system.  Thus special schools would be transformed into specialised care centres which would support the inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream education through the production of accessible teaching materials, teaching Braille, teaching Brazilian sign language, teaching the use of assistive technologies for education purposes, and developing pedagogical methodologies to foster the full enjoyment of cognitive capacities.

One of the mechanisms which fostered social and political participation of persons with disabilities was the Councils for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and currently there were more than 6,000 municipalities with their own municipal councils, which ensured that persons with disabilities were directly involved in deliberations.  So far, three National Conferences on the Rights of Persons with disabilities had taken place, in which delegates debated public policies with public authorities and important decisions with regards to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities were taken.

My Home My Life programme aimed to provide adequate housing for three million low income families; homes had a universal design and persons with disabilities benefitting from the programme were provided with a kit to ensure accessibility.  Brazil was tackling a challenge to provide personal assistants for independent living for persons with disabilities; the service was in place in some large municipalities, but was not yet universal and able to respond to demand.  The legislation had provided an inclusion bonus to persons with disabilities, a social benefit paid out in addition to disability allowance, that sought to defray the costs of independent living.  The National Plan for the Rights of the Child aimed to provide assistance to persons with disabilities to ensure they could fulfil their parental responsibilities.

Concluding Remarks

PEPE VARGAS, Minister-Chief of the Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic, hoped that the Committee’s report would recognize the progress Brazil had made in the implementation of the Convention and that it would fairly assess what needed to be done.

TERESA DEGENER, Committee Expert and the Country Rapporteur for Brazil, recognized the commitment of Brazil to the Convention and the good understanding of accessibility, non-discrimination, and the problems involved with institutionalization.  Challenges remained however, and Brazil needed to do better and go faster in the implementation of the Convention and take the lead for the southern hemisphere.  Brazil should postpone entry into force of the Inclusion Law in order to align it with the provisions of the Convention.

For use of the information media; not an official record

Source: United Nations Office in Geneva http://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/5DF3ED3BC9667058C1257EAD0043716B?OpenDocument

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UN rights expert urges Brazil to address prison overcrowding and implement measures against torture

14 de August, 2015

BRASILIA (14 August 2015) – United Nations human rights expert Juan E. Méndez today called on the Brazilian federal and state authorities to urgently address the issue of prison overcrowding in the country and show “genuine commitment to implement measures against torture.”

Mr. Méndez call comes at the end of 12-day official visit to Brazil, where he conducted unannounced visits to places of detention such as police stations, pre-trial facilities, penitentiaries, juvenile detention centers, as well as mental health institutions.

“Many of the facilities visited are severely overcrowded – in some instances close to three times their actual capacity,” the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment said. “This leads to chaotic conditions inside the facilities, and greatly impacts on the living conditions of inmates and their access to legal defense, health care, psycho-social support, work and education opportunities, as well as sun, fresh air and recreation.”

Through these visits, the independent expert saw how severe overcrowding generates tension and a violent atmosphere, in which physical and psychological ill-treatment of inmates becomes the norm.

“The use of pepper spray, tear gas, noise bombs and rubber bullets by the prison personnel is frequent, as are severe beatings and kicking,” he said, noting that prison personnel serving inside the penitentiaries are often heavily armed, including with assault rifles, shotguns and hand guns. In one instance, he pointed out, even a teargas and flash-bang grenade launcher.

Through interviews with prisoners in various detention facilities, Mr. Méndez received credible testimonies from inmates of torture and ill-treatment by police during arrest and interrogation. In that respect, he noted with concern “the absence of a robust policy to deal with occurrences of torture, the lack of accountability for them, and the likelihood that this state of affairs will perpetuate, and even exacerbate this practice, both in number and severity.”

The Special Rapporteur welcomed the measures taken, or envisioned, to fight torture and ill-treatment, at various levels of government, such as the establishment of the National Preventive Mechanism following Brazil’s ratification of the Optional Protocol of the Convention Against Torture, the National Committee to Prevent and Combat Torture, as well as a pilot project introducing custody hearings in five states. “However,” he stressed, “more efforts are needed to ensure a nationwide implementation of the safeguards offered by these institutions and procedures.”

Among other measures, the expert recommended the competent Brazilian authorities to immediately expand the application of custody hearings to the entire country, and re-design them to encourage victims to speak up and to allow for effective documentation of torture or ill-treatment. Custody hearings have the benefit of reducing the disproportionately high number of pre-trial inmates (currently 40%) and to prevent torture and ill-treatment.

Mr. Méndez also noted that medico-legal services are available to the judiciary, including for custody hearings; but warned that, as part of each State’s public security department, they lack independence. Moreover, medico-legal staff does not generally have the sufficient training and knowledge to apply international forensic standards. “I fully support the proposed constitutional amendment to grant full independence to all Federal and State forensic services,” he said.

The Special Rapporteur furthermore expressed concern at the proposed constitutional amendment, currently pending in Congress, to lower the age of criminal responsibility of children to 16 years instead of 18, as well as another proposal to extend the maximum length of detention in a socio-educational facility, from the current three years to up to 10 years.

“Prosecuting adolescent offenders as adults would violate Brazil’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” the expert said. “In addition, approval of these proposals would worsen the currently already seriously overcrowded penitentiaries throughout Brazil. “

During his official visit to Brasil, Mr. Méndez travelled to Brasilia and the Federal District and the states of Sao Paulo, Sergipe, Alagoas and Maranhão, were he held consultations with high-ranking Federal and State officials, relevant government institutions, civil society organisations and victims’ associations.

The Special Rapporteur will present a final report to the Human Rights Council in March 2016.

ENDS

Mr. Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) 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 2010. Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. He is currently a Professor of Law at the American University – Washington College of Law and Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.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.

For more information and media requests, please contact: Andrea Furger (+41 79 444 4078 / +41 22 928 93 98 / afurger@ohchr.org) or Petrine Leweson (+41 79 444 3993 / +41 22 917 9114 / pleweson@ohchr.org) or write to sr-torture@ohchr.org.

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Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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UN rights expert urges Brazil not to evict Guarani and Kaiowá indigenous peoples from their traditional lands

11 de August, 2015


GENEVA (11 August 2015) – United Nations independent expert Victoria Tauli-Corpuz has urged the Government of Brazil “to ensure that the human rights of the Guarani and Kaiowá indigenous people are fully respected, in strict compliance with international standards protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.”

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of the indigenous peoples expressed deep concern about reports that police are poised to forcibly evict Guarani and Kaiowá indigenous people from their Tekohas (traditional lands), in the State of  Mato Groso do Sul, in Western Brazil. Some 6,000 indigenous people are refusing to leave their Tekohas, and have warned they plan to resist the eviction ‘until death.’

Civil police officers reportedly arrived in a number of indigenous communities on Saturday 8 August. Although no evictions took place, the communities fear that the presence of the police indicate an intention to carry out the eviction orders issued in July 2015 by the Federal Courts.

“Indigenous peoples should not be forcibly relocated from their lands or territories,” Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said, recalling the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples*. “No relocation should take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement of fair and just compensation and, where possible, the option of return.”

“Given the ongoing situation of insecurity and mistrust in the State of Mato Groso do Sul, including long standing unresolved issues about ownership of traditional lands, and ongoing patterns of violence, I fear for the safety and security of the affected indigenous peoples, should this eviction take place,” the UN Special Rapporteur stressed.

The Guarani and Kaiowá have been engaged in a decades-long ongoing struggle to regain their rights over ancestral lands that are now largely under the control of non-indigenous occupants. This has led to ongoing violent attacks against the indigenous communities by militias allegedly paid for by non-indigenous farmers and landholders, who have very significant commercial interests in the region, largely related to industrial-scale agribusinesses.

Reportedly militias are being deployed to attack and intimidate communities, in a campaign to spread psychological terror and ensure the communities comply with the eviction.  This is reportedly part of a pattern of longstanding conflict and violence between indigenous communities and landowners, which has led to over 290 Guarani and Kaiowá individuals, including leaders, being killed since 2003.

For centuries, the Guarani and Kaiowá indigenous people have lived in the State of Mato Groso do Sul. The ability to live on their traditional lands, has, however been curtailed over the last century. In the 1920s many indigenous communities were forcibly removed by the State to so called ‘Indian Reserves’. In the 1940s, others were further displaced from their traditional lands to make way for non-indigenous settlers who came to the area to engage in large-scale agribusiness.

Today, many Guarani and Kaiowá continue to fight for official recognition of their traditional lands, and reside there, although they face humanitarian crises in in terms of access to food, clean water and health services.

(*) See the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/Pages/Declaration.aspx

ENDS

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines), 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. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, log on to:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/SRIndigenousPeoples/Pages/SRIPeoplesIndex.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 – Brazil: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/BRIndex.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact Ms. Jacqui Zalcberg (+41 22 917 9271 / jzalcberg@ohchr.org) or write to indigenous@ohchr.org

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UN Special Rapporteur on torture to visit Brazil

30 de July, 2015

GENEVA (30 July 2015) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez will visit Brazil from 3 to 14 August 2015 to identify and assess the main challenges related to torture and ill-treatment in the country.

“I look forward to engaging with the Brazilian Government on how to meet the challenges of upholding the rule of law, promoting accountability, and fulfilling the right of reparations for victims,” said the independent expert tasked by the UN Human Rights Council with monitoring and reporting on the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.

During his twelve-day visit, the Special Rapporteur will meet with relevant authorities and human rights institutions on federal and state level, as well as with international and regional civil society organizations, victims and their families.

Mr. Méndez, who visits Brazil at the invitation of the Government, will travel to the Federal District and the states of São Paulo, Sergipe, Maranhão and Alagoas, to conduct unannounced visits to places of detention such as police stations, pre-trial facilities and penitentiaries.

The expert will share his preliminary comments and recommendations at a press conference to be held on Friday 14 August 2015 at the UN House in Brasilia. For information regarding time and place, please contact Valéria Schilling (+55 21 2253 2211 / +55 21 9820 20171 / valeria.schilling@unic.org).

The Special Rapporteur will present a final report to the Human Rights Council in March 2016.

Mr. Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) 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 2010. Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. He is currently a Professor of Law at the American University – Washington College of Law and Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association. Learn more, log on to:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.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.

For more information and media requests, please contact: Andrea Furger (+41 79 444 4078 / afurger@ohchr.org) or Petrine Leweson (+41 79 444 3993 / pleweson@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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Opinion piece: An Excellent Tool for Mainstreaming Human Rights

28 de July, 2015

*by JESSICA BRAVER

The process of reviewing a country’s human rights records can become an opportunity to bond human rights with development. In Argentina, the Universal Periodic Review process has promoted human rights as the daily work of everyone in the UN system. This spirit exemplifies the ‘Human Rights up Front’ initiative.

Human rights are at the core of the United Nations mandate. In the UN Charter (1945) and in UN resolutions, we have reaffirmed our faith in fundamental human rights. As UN staff members, we need to bear this in mind in our daily work, regardless of our area of expertise.

Improving UN action to safeguard human rights

Human Rights up Front seeks to ensure that the UN system takes early and effective action to prevent or respond to large-scale violations of human rights or international humanitarian law. The initiative, launched in 2013 by the UN Secretary-General, calls for a major cultural shift within the UN, placing the protection of human rights and of people at the heart of UN strategies and operational activities.

A leading role in human rights mainstreaming

Human Rights up Front highlights the role of the UN Resident Coordinator (RC) system in mainstreaming human rights, encouraging us to work together in a more cohesive and coherent way. In Argentina, the Resident Coordinator’s office has been working on positioning the topic in the UN agenda, as well as on building an inter-agency culture for the Universal Periodic Review, so as to install human rights mainstreaming as a priority.

What is the Universal Periodic Review?

The Universal Periodic Review examines the human rights situation of all 193 UN Member States (A/RES/60/251) under the umbrella of the Human Rights Council.

The State under review submits a report declaring what actions it has taken to improve human rights situations in the country. Information is also provided by relevant stakeholders, and by UN international experts and agencies working in the country, who highlight concerns and propose action. Each State is assessed by fellow State representatives, under the principles of cooperation and equal treatment. State delegates then make recommendations for action.

The expertise and on-the-ground knowledge of UN agencies, funds and programmes working in each country are invaluable assets for the UPR. And we, as UN officials, must make the most of this opportunity to help improve the human rights situations of our host countries.

How we did it in Argentina

We welcomed support from the OHCHR

The RC’s office has been supported by the Regional Office for South America of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Argentina participated in the OHCHR UPR Project covering five South American countries, which provided an overall framework for UPR-related matters, information sessions and technical assistance on how to draft our UPR report. OHCHR insisted that the effective engagement of the whole UN system was crucial to a successful UPR process. In the end, Argentina received 119 recommendations in its second UPR (2012), some of which embodied inputs from the UN system, which meant that local agencies, funds and programmes could see their added value reflected in the outcome report.

We established the Inter-Agency Group on Human Rights

Based on conversations held by the RCO, OHCHR-South America and the Government, the Inter-Agency Group on Human Rights (IAGHR) was set up in 2012. It supports the monitoring of recommendations made to Argentina, having its own duties, coordination mechanisms and work plan. It also puts a special emphasis on including a human rights-based approach in the preparation of the new 2016-2020 Cooperation Framework for Argentina.

Five agencies helped hire a human rights advisor

At the suggestion of OHCHR, a human rights advisor for the RC’s office was hired to specifically address human rights mainstreaming and to monitor the implementation of UPR recommendations. The position was funded by OHCHR, UNICEF, UNDP, UNODC and UNHCR. The human rights advisor was also part of the five-country OHCHR UPR Project.

We created a matrix linking human rights and development

The OHCHR UPR Project prepared a matrix systematizing all recommendations made to its countries of coverage. The UN system in Argentina produced its own matrix linking the UPR recommendations with development projects by the different UN entities. By connecting UN initiatives with the UPR recommendations, which were accepted by the country, the UN system found a new and strong source of legitimacy. Further, the State committed to implement the UPR recommendations in four and a half years.

We took action with the government and other stakeholders

The UN System in Argentina provided support to the government in following-up and implementing UPR recommendations. Also, workshops were held to disseminate the UPR mechanism and its recommendations among UN System, Senate, Judiciary, civil society and ombudsperson’s office. These workshops encouraged the submissions of UPR midterm reports.

How can you use the UPR process to enhance human rights?

There can be no peace without development, no development without peace, and there is neither without human rights.

On one hand, the Universal Periodic Review process presents a unique opportunity to engage Member States in the protection of human rights, and encourages cooperation between States and the exchange of international experiences to strengthen policies and institutions. On the other hand, UPR is a key instrument for the UN System to provide a framework for coherence and joint action among UN System and also opens a window for cooperation with the governments and other stakeholders in the process of follow-up and implementation of UPR recommendations.

*Jessica Braver is UN Coordination Officer at the Resident Coordinator’s Office in Argentina. Also contributing to this article were Valeria Guerra, Human Rights Advisor, Resident Coordinator’s Office, Argentina, and Maria Jeannette Moya of the OHCHR Regional Office for South America. For more information about Argentina’s experience, please contact Jessica Braver (Jessica.braver@one.un.org) or Valeria Guerra (Valeria.guerra@one.un.org).

**This article was originally published in Silo Fighters, a blog for the UN Development Group: http://www.silofighters.org/an-excellent-tool-for-mainstreaming-human-rights/

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OHCHR gathered Latin-American government representatives to discuss the Universal Periodic Review

30 de June, 2015

SANTIAGO / BUENOS AIRES (30 June 2015) – Authorities from eight Latin-American States participated in the first of a series of meetings to exchange experiences and best practices in monitoring the recommendations of various United Nations human rights mechanisms, with emphasis on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Human Rights Council. The activity took place from 23 to 25 June in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Organized by the Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the International Centre for Policy Studies of the National University of San Martin (CIEP UNSAM), the event gathered high-ranking authorities from Foreign Ministries, as well as Human Rights Ministries or Departments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, to exchange experiences on public policies for the monitoring and implementation of UPR recommendations.

The meeting was opened by the General Director of the CIEP UNSAM and former Foreign Minister of Argentina, Mr. Jorge Taiana, and the OHCHR Regional Representative for South America, Mr. Amerigo Incalcaterra. The Executive Secretary of the Institute of Public Policy on Human Rights of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), Mr. Paulo Abrão, participated as facilitator as well. Among the present were also the Rector of the National University of San Martin, Mr. Carlos Rafael Ruta, and the Dean of the School of Humanities of the UNSAM, Mr. Carlos Greco.

The topics covered during the meeting included the establishment and/or strengthening of interagency coordination mechanisms for reporting and monitoring recommendations in each country, as well as follow-up plans and online systems (databases) to monitor such international human rights recommendations.

The attendees also discussed the inclusion of the international recommendations in the National Plan for Human Rights and the bilateral and triangular cooperation, among other issues.

UPR Project South America

The activity in Buenos Aires is part of the “UPR Project”, an initiative of technical cooperation currently implemented by the OHCHR Regional Office for South America.

Since six out of the seven countries covered by the Regional Office (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela) have passed through the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Office is implementing the project at a regional level; to foster cooperation, support and specialized technical assistance as well as to exchange best practices and lessons learned in connection with the results of the UPR second cycle.

Through this initiative, and based on some previously identified thematic priorities for each country and at a regional level, the Office is committed to assisting governments and national authorities, national human rights institutions and civil society organizations of the countries concerned in the monitoring and implementing the UPR recommendations and promoting the exchange of information and good practices on the results obtained.

The Universal Periodic Review

Created in 2006 by the UN Human Rights Council, the UPR has a total length of four and a half years, and currently is in its second cycle of implementation.

It consists of a detailed review carried out by UN Member States on the human rights situation in each country and on the measures taken by each State to promote and protect human rights. The first UPR cycle ended in 2011, during which all UN Member States were subjected to the review.

The UPR aims to assist States to define their priorities in terms of human rights in the short and medium term. In this regard, the UPR intends to facilitate the cooperation between States and the exchange of international experiences to strengthen their policies and institutions in the field.

More information on the UPR: http://acnudh.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/folleto-EPU-ACNUDH.pdf

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ENDS

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Press conference by The Human Rights Committee on the conclusions of its 104th session which opened on 12 March 2012.

UN Human Rights Committee to review Venezuela’s rights record

24 de June, 2015

Press conference by The Human Rights Committee on the conclusions of its 104th session which opened on 12 March 2012.GENEVA (24 June 2015) – Venezuela’s human rights record will be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Committee on Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 June in meetings that will be webcast live.

As one of the 168 States Parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Venezuela is required to undergo regular review by the Committee of 18 international independent experts on how it is implementing the ICCPR.  The Committee members will engage in a dialogue with a delegation from the Venezuelan Government on a range of issues relating to the Covenant.

Date and time: 29 June from 15:00 – 18:00 (08:30 – 11:30 in Caracas): 30 June from 10:00 – 13:00 (03:30 – 06:30).

Venue: Palais Wilson in Geneva

Webcast of the public sessions at www.treatybodywebcast.org

Venezuela has submitted a report to the Committee on the implementation of its human rights obligations, and a number of non-governmental organisations have also sent reports for the Committee’s consideration. More information can be found here:

http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=899&Lang=en

A news conference is scheduled for Thursday 23 July at 13.30 at Palais des Nations in Geneva to discuss the Committee’s concluding observations on Venezuela and the other countries being reviewed – the UK, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Spain, Canada, Uzbekistan and France.

The concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee will be published on 23 July here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=899&Lang=en