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 24 April 2021, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and focal point on reprisals in Africa, Pr Rémy Ngoy Lumbu, presented his intersession activity report. The report provides an update on the activities undertaken by the mandate holder for the promotion and protection of human rights defenders during the intersessional period since the 67th Ordinary Session of the Commission held virtually from 13 November to 3 December 2020.
On the one hand, the Special Rapporteur, shared the activities he implemented to raise awareness about his reprisals’ mandate and how defenders can interact with him as well as violations of the rights of defenders during the covid-19 pandemic and, on the other hand, he invited States to adopt laws to strengthen the protection of defenders.
Following the presentation of the report of Commissioner Rémy Ngoy Lumbu, ISHR delivered its statement with a particular focus on the persistence of reprisals and intimidation against defenders in Africa and violations of the rights of defenders during electoral periods with an impact on the shrinking of civic and democratic space in Central and West Africa in particular.
“For the African human rights system to function at its best defenders must be able to share crucial opinions and information about situations on the ground. However, many defenders are not able to cooperate safely with the African human rights system. We encourage all stakeholders to engage constructively with the mandate for the submission of cases of reprisals and look forward to the presentation of the report on reprisals at the 69th Ordinary Session” said ISHR’s Africa Programme Advocate Consultant Stéphanie Wamba.
She therefore called on the Commission and member States to do more to prevent and ensure against intimidation and reprisals against those who cooperate or seek to cooperate with the African human rights system.
In addition, Stéphanie Wamba also pointed out in her statement that “numerous violations of fundamental freedoms were recorded during the electoral periods, including internet shutdown, arbitrary arrests and detentions of defenders. This was unfortunately the case of Pulchérie Edith Gbalet of the NGO Alternative Citoyenne Ivoirienne (ACI) and two of her colleagues in Côte d’Ivoire, arrested on 6 August 2020. It was also the case of Mahamat Nour Ahmat Ibédou of the Convention Tchadienne de Défense des Droits de l’Homme (CTDH) arrested on 21 March 2021. In Guinea, internet access and social media networks were shut down from 21 to 23 March 2020 during the referendum and legislative elections”.
In conclusion, she reminded the African Commission that “the establishment of a legal framework protecting defenders and its effective implementation remain urgent and fundamental in Africa”.
Watch the statement here (in French).
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!