ISHR joined Sudan Women Rights Action, Nora Center for Combating Sexual Violence and MENA WHRD Coalition in calling on the Human Rights Council to support Sudanese women human rights defenders in their struggle for democratic transition, gender equality, peace, and protection from violence.
The objective of the Forum was to increase African NHRIs capacities and resources to follow-up, monitor and influence the implementation of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, better known as the Maputo Protocol, and regional decisions impacting on women in general and indigenous women in particular.
88 representatives of the African NHRIs, 2 representatives of governments, 4 representatives of the ACHPR, 4 representatives of the African Union Commission, 11 representatives of the OHCHR, 38 representatives of civil society, 2 representatives of academic institutions, 5 representatives of development partners and the Secretariat of the NANHRI attended the NHRIs Forum.
Despite the Maputo Protocol enjoying over 70% ratification status, only two countries are up to date on reporting on its implementation said Dr Elasto Mugwadi, Vice-Chairperson of the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions in his welcoming remarks. He urged NHRIs to not only call on states to ratify the Maputo Protocol but also to report on the progress made in its implementation. Mr Marcel Akpovo, the Director of the UN OHCHR East African Regional Office added that the Maputo Protocol is a “reflection of political will translated into a legally binding human rights instrument” to ensure that “the rights of women, including the cultural rights of indigenous women, are duly promoted and protected.”
Commissioner Solomon Dersso, the Chairperson of the ACHPR stated that “the true test of a virtuous human rights system is the attention it pays to the most vulnerable among us; which women indigenous members constitute an important part”. He added that the situation of indigenous women’s rights in Africa calls for attention to the “intersectionality of gender-based discrimination and discrimination based on membership in vulnerable minority indigenous groups”.
Dr Bernard Mogesa, the CEO of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) also took the time to share the important research the KNCHR is conducting on Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) stating that the Kenyan Government has developed a Model Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Policy and Action Plan. The Model HRD Policy and Action Plan are currently under consideration before the Kenya Government, which if passed, will help safeguard the rights of WHRDs across Kenya.
During the 3rd Session of the Forum on 9 April 2021, a presentation and review of the NHRIs’ Forum final draft statement to the 68th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR on the “rights of indigenous women in Africa” was made. Below are some of the adopted recommendations:
Research, advocacy, human rights education and awareness-raising:
- Promote awareness of the emerging jurisprudence at the regional and international levels regarding the rights of indigenous peoples;
- Support the review of legislation and national policy and practice relating to indigenous peoples;
- Prioritise the land tenure rights of indigenous people (and indigenous women) owing to the interconnectedness between their ancestral lands and their culture, religion and survival.
Complain handling and facilitating redress
- Support the identification of human rights issues of concern to indigenous peoples in their cultural context and the formulation of strategies to address the concerns identified;
- Ensure remedies are available in the event of violations to promote and protect indigenous women’s rights;
- Seek judicial remedies and support relevant court decisions seeking to assert indigenous women’s rights to culture.
Strengthening partnerships for the promotion and protection of indigenous women’s rights
- Develop joint frameworks and scorecards such as the Maputo Protocol’s Scorecard Index for monitoring implementation of regional and international treaties and national laws/policies;
- Partner with AU and UN bodies to undertake advocacy activities in countries that have not ratified the Maputo Protocol, among other regional human rights treaties to accelerate the ratification;
- Cooperate with ACHPR and its Working Group on indigenous communities;
- Encourage NHRIs to strengthen their engagement with gender-focused institutions in government and civil society to promote and protect indigenous women’s rights.
To watch recordings of the Forum’s sessions, please click on videos below:
To commemorate the International Safe Abortion Day, ISHR joined 372 organisations as well as women human rights defenders working to prevent maternal deaths, including through ensuring safe abortions, to demand free, safe and accessible abortion for everyone, NOW!
This week in an online event, 10 candidate States publicly spoke to an audience of around 200 people on their pledges as incoming Human Rights Council members for 2022 – 2024. They also faced questions on pressing human rights issues from both States and civil society organisations.
Faced with the appropriation of their name, Peruvian NGO Madres en Acción is pushing back, filing a legal action to recover it. In an amicus brief in support of the action, ISHR argues that trademark law is being used to attack defenders and this must stop.
In the first case on violence against trans people heard by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Court held Honduras responsible for the transfemicide of human rights defender Vicky Hernández.
ISHR joined 74 civil society organisations from across the world in urging Egypt to release researcher Ahmed Samir Santawy, and to ensure that, pending his release, he is granted immediate and regular access to his family and lawyers, provided with adequate healthcare, and protected from torture and other ill-treatment.
The Martin Ennals Foundation has granted Yu Wensheng, a leading Chinese human rights lawyer, the 2021 Martin Ennals Award. Lawyer Yu was among the three finalists to the Award selected by a jury of ten global human rights organisations - among which ISHR -, along with Loujain AlHathloul from Saudi Arabia and Soltan Achilova from Turkmenistan.
It's difficult to encapsulate such a complex year in a word, but "interconnected" is one that comes to mind when reflecting on 2020. We are proud to have remained deeply interconnected with defenders and to have supported, protected and amplified their work at the national, regional and international levels. With them, the "essential workers" of our times, we strive for a 2021 full of freedom, equality, dignity and justice.
In an online discussion organised by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), Uyghur camp survivor Gülbahar Jalilova shared her story of long-term arbitrary detention. Her testimony echoes mounting evidence of human rights violations that call for systematic UN monitoring and public reporting.
Operating in a context of persistent insecurity and aggravated by the Covid19 crisis, human rights defenders in Burkina Faso are exposed to many risks. The law on the protection of defenders and its implementing decree were adopted in 2018, but its implementation and use remain a challenge for defenders.
Members of the UN Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights met in March 2021 to prepare two ‘Lists of Issues’ to guide their respective reviews of the People’s Republic of China.
In a landmark decision, the UN CEDAW committee found that Libya violated the rights of a woman human rights defender and issued recommendations to better respect, protect and support the work of women defenders.