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 17th and 18th May, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Burkinabe Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (CBDDH) and ISHR co-hosted a workshop which took place in Ouagadougou. It was an opportunity to discuss the concrete implementation of the law by defenders, especially their appropriation of its content and sharing experience of its use. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and in compliance with social distancing, the workshop was attended by a limited number of participants joined by an online and physical panel.
During the opening ceremony Florence OUATTARA, coordinator of CBDDH, stated that “while the government of Burkina Faso should be applauded for adopting a national law protecting defenders and being an important pioneer on the issue in Africa, one thing is to adopt laws, another one is to ensure their implementation”. She concluded by inviting all civil society organisations working on issues related to the protection of human rights to fully invest and mobilise alongside the NHRC in order to ensure the effectiveness of the national defenders’ law.
Ouattara’s declaration was followed by a statement by the President of the NHRC, Rodrigue NAMOANO. “I hope that this workshop will allow participants to assess the effective implementation of law No. 039-2017/AN on the protection of human rights defenders, to identify the challenges preventing its full implementation and make recommendations “.
“The aim of this workshop is to really strengthen the understanding of the law by defenders in order to improve their protection. Having good knowledge of the law and how to use it is the first tool that will give more assurance to defenders to undertake their activities in a safe environment” added Adelaide ETONG KAME, Africa Program Manager at ISHR.
The two-days’ workshop revealed that the law remains mainly unknown to defenders and after three years since its adoption, there is still a need for continued and wider dissemination. Especially amongst groups working on corporate accountability, governance, protection of vulnerable groups, women’s rights and journalists who were mostly unaware of the existence of the law. This has clearly affected it implementation and use by defenders but they recognized that workshops, such as this one, during which defenders have the opportunity to review and learn more about the protection afforded to them in the law are helpful. Finally, the participants called for increased financial support from technical and financial partners for the dissemination and appropriation of the law by all actors, for advocacy with the authorities and to reinforce the protection of women human rights defenders.
“ISHR remains available and willing to support defenders and all actors involved in the implementation of the law, its implementing decree and the effective establishment of the mechanism on the protection of defenders in Burkina Faso” concluded Stephanie WAMBA, Africa Program Advocacy Consultant at ISHR.
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.
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!
The DRC has noticeably improved the protection of human rights in the Kasaï region but progress remains slow and action is still needed towards transitional justice and the protection of defenders in this region.
LGBTQ communities in Namibia and those defending their rights remain targeted, suffering various forms of discrimination, stigmatisation and violence. It is time for the Namibian government to take action and decriminalise same-sex sexual relations, revise laws discriminating against, and take measures to address violence in, LGBT communities.
Defender Zhang Haitao's wife addressed the UN Human Rights Council on 20 September, after more than 1240 days without information about her husband's status. He is serving 19 years on 'national security'-related charges, punishing him for exercising freedom of speech.
Human rights organisations* urge the immediate and unconditional release of Egyptian human rights defender Mohamed El-Baqer, who completes today two years in arbitrary detention.