News

17 Oct

Venezuela has been voted onto the Human Rights Council by one of the smallest ever majorities, along with Brazil. Costa Rica – who put forward their candidacy only two weeks ago – was narrowly beaten.  All new members, including Venezuela, must now work to live up to the human rights standards that membership demands.   

14 Oct

ISHR has joined a coalition of 54 Venezuelan and international NGOs to express our serious concerns about Venezuela’s bid for a seat in the Human Rights Council. Venezuela's long and worsening record of grave human rights violations makes them unfit for membership to the world's premier human rights body. 

 

16 Oct

Human rights defenders are courageous people who act with humanity, serve humanity and bring out the best in humanity. None of them should have to spend their 50th birthday in prison. Before his imprisonment, Ahmed Mansoor was known as ‘the last human rights defender left in the UAE’ on account of his fearless work to document human rights violations in the country. Ahead of his 50th birthday, more than 140 human rights groups signed an open letter urging the Emirati authorities to release Ahmed Mansoor.

21 Oct

Restrictions of fundamental rights and freedoms have continuously forced human rights defenders to flee their place of residence to avoid threats and reprisals as a consequence of their human rights work. Defenders who have been forced into exile do not necessarily end up being safer and still face challenges to be able to continue their work in an enabling environment.

17 Oct

Human rights defenders in Fiji live in fear of harassment, threats and arbitrary arrests. As part of its upcoming Universal Periodic Review, ISHR and Rainbow Pride Foundation call on the Fiji Government to protect defenders and repeal legislation restricting their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association.

Philippines | Calling for accountability for violations against human rights defenders

14.05.2019

The Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries for human rights defenders. They persevere under harsh conditions, fighting against repression and corruption to make a better society for all. They continue their work so the most vulnerable are protected and their voices are heard.  

On 8 May ISHR – along with CIVICUS, Frontline Defenders, FORUM Asia, FIDH, and the World Organisation Against Torturereleased a joint statement denouncing recent death threats addressed to Karapatan Secretary General, Cristina Palabay, and urging the Philippine Government to respond to the threats against human rights defenders by taking genuine and effective measures for their protection.

‘These threats and wider attacks against human rights defenders, journalists and civil society signify the further constricting of civic space and silencing of dissent in the country,’ say the organisations.

The statement urged the international community to call for restrictive policies to be reversed. It also urged the UN Human Rights Council to advance accountability for human rights violations by adopting a resolution establishing an independent international investigation into extrajudicial killings in the government's 'war on drugs', and to call for a halt to the attacks on human rights defenders, independent media, and democratic institutions.

This follows a recent statement by organisations within the country. On 16 April 2019, a group of human rights organisations in the Philippines - including Karapatan, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Ibon Foundation, alternative learning centers for indigenous children - released a statement seeking support from the Government to halt the series of vilification and smear campaigns against human rights defenders and organisations.

The latest smear campaign has been led by the ‘National Task Force’ (NTF) that was created by President Duterte by Executive Order No. 70 on 4 December 2018 to ‘end local communist armed conflict.’

In meetings with the UN and other high-level government officials and agencies, the NTF has maligned human rights organisations, calling them ‘terrorists’ or ‘fronts for the Communist Party of the Philippines’, accused them of presenting ‘false narratives’ and ‘trying to destroy [the] government’. It has also called on States to ‘stop the release of funds to these groups,’ and states that ‘correct information on human rights in the Philippines could only come from the government.’

These smear campaigns ‘have resulted in the killings of human rights defenders, criminalisation of their work and beliefs, illegal arrests and detention, torture and other violations of the people’s right to uphold and defend rights, to form organisations and to conduct human rights work,’ according to the statement from national NGOs.

Human rights defenders in the Philippines are a light against a repressive regime. Without them, countless stories from vulnerable populations might not be heard or have their rights protected. The international community must call for an end to these harmful campaigns against human rights defenders.

For more information contact: Sarah Brooks, s.brooks@ishr.ch or Tess McEvoy, t.mcevoy@ishr.ch

Photo: Le Montage

Pages

Opinion:

By Navi Pillay, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 - 2014.

The human rights treaty bodies are central to human rights reform efforts, but are burdened by inefficiencies. The upcoming UN review offers a chance to make them both more efficient and more effective.

This article was first published on OpenGlobalRights on 15 October 2019.

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1984

ISHR commences work to develop an international Declaration on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders

1988

ISHR publishes first Human Rights Monitor, connecting human rights defenders on the ground with international human rights systems and developments

1993

ISHR facilitates global civil society engagement with the Second World Conference on Human Rights, which leads to the strengthening of women’s rights, the affirmation of universal rights, the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and the establishment of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

1994

ISHR provides training, technical assistance and support to its 1000th human rights defender

1998

After 14 years of ISHR lobbying, advocacy and negotiation, the UN General Assembly adopts the landmark Declaration on Human Rights Defenders

2000

UN Secretary-General appoints Hina Jilani as inaugural UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, strengthening protection of human rights advocates at risk worldwide.

2004

ISHR leads a successful campaign for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

2005

ISHR co-founds and supports a range of international and regional human rights coalitions, including the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and the West African Human Rights Defenders Network

2006

ISHR contributes to the establishment and institution building of a new global peak body for human rights issues, the UN Human Rights Council

2007

ISHR leads and coordinates the development of the Yogyakarta Principles on sexual orientation and gender identity, strengthening legal recognition and protection of LGBT rights worldwide

2011

ISHR’s sustained advocacy on the issue of reprisals and intimidation faced by human rights defenders leads to adoption of landmark UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning and strengthening protections against reprisals

2012

Working with key NGO partners such as Amnesty International, ISHR leads civil society efforts to strengthen UN human rights treaty bodies, prevent their weakening and better connect their work with victims and human rights defenders on the ground

2013

Working with supportive states and NGOs, ISHR advocacy leads to adoption of historic Human Rights Council resolution calling on all States to review and amend national laws to respect and protect the work of human rights defenders