Last week the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association presented his report to the Third Committee of the General Assembly urging states and private sector to respect the exercise of human rights of those mobilising peacefully to address the climate crisis.
On 21 and 23 April 2021, in compliance with article 62 of the African Charter, the African Commission reviewed the 15th reports of the Republic of Niger on the legislative, administrative and political measures taken with a view to give effect to human rights guaranteed by the African Charter.
Ahead of the 66th ordinary session of the African Commission, ISHR along with the Collectif des Organisations de Défense des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie (CODDHD) submitted a shadow report for the review of Niger on the situation of human rights defenders in Niger.
During the presentation of their report, the delegation of Niger highlighted the efforts made by the country to implement the recommendations made by the African Commission since its previous review in 2017. Some recommendations have already been implemented, notably concerning the ratification of international and regional treaties, while others are in the process of being implemented, notably the legislation for the protection and promotion of the rights of defenders. On the other hand, the recommendations concerning the ratification of the Maputo Protocol, the lifting of reservations to the CEDAW, and the abolition of the death penalty have not yet been implemented due to religious convictions and lack of consensus in the country.
Commissioners then asked additional questions to those provided in the general observation. The Country Rapporteur, Commissioner Maya Fadel, asked questions on the specific issue of death penalty as the penal code continues to recognise it. “How are awareness-raising campaigns on the death penalty organised and which NGOs are involved in those campaigns?” she asked. She ended by requesting that the government of Niger grant the African Commission a country visit by 2022.
On the specific situation of human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and vice-chairperson of the African Commission, Commissioner Rémy Ngoy Lumbu noted that three demonstrations had been banned in 2019 and pointed out that demonstrations are repressed by the police. “What kind of trainings are provided to civil society by the State? How can CSOs finance their participation in these trainings? What measures are taken to ensure an enabling environment for the conduct of the work of defenders? Following the recommendations made by the African Commission in 2017, where is the process of adopting a law on the protection of defenders at? Finally, on Freedom of Association and Assembly (FOAA), is the State aware of the guidelines on FOAA and what steps are being taken to ensure that the current legal framework complies with them and to prevent the excessive use of force by police during demonstrations?” he asked.
Since 2015, Niger has been confronted with security and environmental challenges, and issues related to the status of women. Nevertheless, Niger remains dedicated in implementing other recommendations of the Commission adopted in 2017 and to submit a report on the implementation of the Kampala convention
The Chair of the Commission, Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, concluded by congratulating Niger on its efforts to guarantee the rights enshrined in the African Charter He emphasised that Niger should make the necessary efforts to include, in their next report, information on the implementation of the Kampala Convention and that the African Commission would like to see the law on human rights defenders adopted in 2021. He also asked the delegation to let the African Commission know how they can support them in moving towards the adoption of the Maputo Protocol. Finally, he invited the National Human Rights Commission of Niger to make statements at the ordinary sessions of the African Commission.
Yesterday, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders presented her report at the General Assembly's Third Committee on the long-term detention of human rights defenders.
Today, UN member States elected members to the UN's top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, for the 2022-2024 term. 18 candidates ran for 18 seats, and all were elected, leaving civil society disappointed in a process that can hardly be called an election.
On 14 October 2021, the UK delivered a cross-regional statement on behalf of 80 countries, condemning intimidation and reprisals, and calling on States to prioritise and support the meaningful participation of civil society at the UN.
Futures thinking encourages us to identify small ‘signals of change’ which might help to identify and influence the futures that come to pass. At ISHR we’ve identified and, together with advocates and activists from around the world, helped contribute to a number of small but significant signals of positive human rights change in recent weeks.
ISHR together with 36 NGOs from around the world have called on member States of the UN General Assembly to sign on to a cross-regional joint statement on reprisals at the 76th session of the UNGA Third Committee.
During the 48th session of the Human Rights Council, civil society expressed concern and condemnation about an anti LGBTI bill in Ghana, while the second joint government statement on the rights of intersex persons was delivered on behalf of 52 States.
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.
Mozambique has accepted 236 of the 266 recommendations received. While this highlights a slight progress since their last Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the human rights situation in the country still needs large structural improvements.
During the adoption of the outcome of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the 48th session of the Human Rights Council, Niger manifested its willingness to cooperate with human rights mechanisms by accepting almost all the recommendations. However, more efforts for an efficient implementation remain necessary.
Despite Sierra Leone's acceptance of recommendations aiming to improve civil society’s space, cases of reprisals against human rights defenders are still reported.
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!