In newly published report, ISHR and four partner organisations assess China's lack of implementation of human rights commitments from its 2018 Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The report details the government's diverse strategies to silence and repress human rights defenders, lawyers, and journalists.
Comité Adama, supported by ISHR, urged France to put an end to police violence and to ensure that anti-racism defenders can carry out their work without hindrance. They also called on France to ensure transparent and thorough investigations and stressed that this would be the minimum for a State seeking membership of the Council.
They recalled that it has been four years of judicial proceedings and still no justice for the family of Adama Traoré, who was killed by the police, with the Working Group taking up his case in 2017. They also highlighted that violations affect not only victims of police violence but also peaceful protesters who defend them, and extending far beyond the demonstrations, affect defenders in their private lives, through unfounded prosecutions and intimidation.
They asked the Working Group what role can the Council play to hold France accountable for racially motivated police violence. The Working Group responded that they had sought for a longtime to visit France and stressed the importance of country visits to elevate and make visible these issues. ISHR urges France to grant unhindered access to the Working Group, without delay.
The Working Group urged the Council and States to take clear and unequivocal steps to end impunity and tackle the root causes of systemic racism. They reiterated their calls to States to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, embrace the International Decade of People of African Descent and operationalise the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.
The Working Group will provide its expertise to the High Commissioner in preparing the report on systemic racism, police violence against Africans and people of African descent, and government responses to anti-racism protests.
The Working Group presented its annual report. Amongst the key issues they raised:
- Racial injustice and racial discrimination remain so deeply entrenched that police impunity, racial harassment, and extrajudicial killings of Black people continue.
- A prime example of impunity is that the legal process said to exonerate the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor actually failed to even consider criminal charges for the gunshots resulting in her death.
- Popular protests, uprisings and resistance show the urgency for action to meet demands for respect, recognition, justice and social protection.
- Racial discrimination cannot be mitigated by ignoring race and assuming that the legacy mind-sets of colonialism and the trade and trafficking in enslaved Africans no longer exist; these mindsets indeed remain in the habits and beliefs of our contemporary society.
- Persistent racial injustice is still met by denials or justifications by people with the power to solve them.
- Failures to find lasting solutions to end systemic racism is due to the design of the systems that reflect our global understandings and our global economy; as they were developed hand-in-hand with white supremacy and anti-Black racism.
- In order to dismantle systemic racism, States must measure outcomes by centring community experiences of people of African descent as the proper metric of whether interventions are effective. The International Decade for People of African Descent provides an opportunity to convene discussions, develop programmes that promote both opportunity and redress.
- Most States still fail to consider social determinants of health. Failure to appreciate the risks faced by Afro-descendent populations has facilitated racial disparities in the pandemic.
- The lack of disaggregated data on people of African descent, explaining that the failure to keep disaggregated data conceals violations and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: ‘If you don’t count us, we don’t count’.
- Although people of African descent disproportionately experienced COVID-19 infections and mortality, law enforcement failed to offer protection. Instead, they targeted people of African descent violently and with impunity in enforcing COVID-restrictions.
- In order to mitigate impact of COVID-19, States must eliminate racial bias including recognising leadership by African States’ COVID-19 responses.
- The role of the tech industry in perpetuating racial bias in algorithms; e.g. a health algorithm in the United States prescribed less courses of treatment for Black patients. The Working Group urged the tech industry to dismantle, examine and interrogate racial bias and systemic racism in their tools.
The Working Group also presented their country visit reports to Ecuador and Peru.
Watch the joint statement by Comité Adama and ISHR :
Photo: Flickr_Jeanne Menjoulet
During each ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘The African Commission’), Commissioners present their activity reports which provides an overview of the work done in between two sessions. On 23 November 2021, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and Focal point on reprisals presented his report.
On the last day of the NGO Forum, a panel was organised to officially launch the newly established Lusophone Platform for Human Rights in Africa.
In compliance with Article 62 of the African Charter, States have the obligation to report every two years on the legislative, administrative and political measures taken with a view to give effect to human rights guaranteed by the Charter. Despite the challenges of conducting the sessions online, it doesn't prevent the African Commission from holding States accountable to their human rights obligations.
The passage of a human rights defender resolution by the Third Committee of the GA by consensus, with 85 co-sponsors, is another important step in ongoing work to strengthen the promotion and protection of those who defend rights.
During its 76th session and in a move welcomed by civil-society, the Third Committee of the GA adopted by consensus a resolution recognising the rights of all people to participate in elections and public affairs, without discrimination, including on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Concerned about the increase in the number of human rights defenders in exile in Africa, during its 27th Extraordinary session, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘the African Commission’) adopted resolution 439 mandating the African Commission to publish a report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Exile in Africa.
Civil society calls for an end to attacks against Sudanese women protestors and WHRDs following the military coup.
On 16 November, ISHR delivered a statement on the situation of human rights in Africa, with a particular focus on the criminalisation and arrest of women defenders in Sudan, of LGBTI defenders in Namibia and the progress made on legislative protection of defenders in Benin and Mali.
As we celebrate 40 years since the adoption of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which established the African Commission, the NGO Forum seized the opportunity to analyse the engagement of civil society with the Commission the past 40 years.
ISHR joins 15 NGOs in calling on Egypt to immediately communicate to Salah Soltan’s relatives his whereabouts, and release him from detention.
Sudanese human rights defender Abdulaziz Adam addresses the HRC to draw attention to the human right situation in Sudan.