Despite Namibia taking several progressive measures to promote and protect human rights, the country continues to enforce repressive laws that infringe on the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, commercial sex workers and other vulnerable groups.
Karla Avelar, former ISHR trainee and Executive Director of COMCAVIS TRANS, an organisation defending and promoting the rights of trans and lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex (LGBTI) persons, was threatened by criminal gangs three days after being named as a finalist for the 2017 Martin Ennals Award last month.
Three individuals, identified by Avelar as gang members, came to her home and demanded half of the money awarded to the winner of the Martin Ennals Award – thinking that she had already won. The gang members reportedly threatened that either she hand over the cash within three days or she would be forced to leave.
Explaining why she abandoned her home, Karla Avelar – the first trans woman to be a Martin Ennals Award finalist – said that she was not going to wait to be killed. As a life-long defender of the rights of LGBTI persons, Avelar has faced many threats and physical attacks, but the number and frequency of threats, especially on social media, has been increasing since the nomination.
“The Martin Ennals Foundation warned me that accepting the nomination could put me at risk,” Avelar said to El Diario de Hoy. “The work that we do as human rights defenders is not considered legitimate by many people and many parts of the government, but the State needs to understand that to talk about LGBTI persons is also to talk about human rights.”
ISHR’s women’s rights and LGBT rights programme manager, Pooja Patel agrees that the risks Karla Avelar faces are rooted in the Government of El Salvador’s failure to protect human rights and to combat homophobia, transphobia and the general situation of insecurity.
“The people of El Salvador are living a reality of shockingly high rates of criminality and impunity. Within that context, human rights defenders are at higher risk, trans persons are at higher risk, and a trans human rights defender is even more so,” said Patel. “The State must act now to guarantee the security of members of COMCAVIS TRANS, and to take steps to protect all LGBTI defenders in the country.”
Patel also called on UN mechanisms, in particular the UN Special Procedures – independent human rights experts – to monitor the situation.
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.
ISHR joins 15 NGOs in calling on Egypt to immediately communicate to Salah Soltan’s relatives his whereabouts, and release him from detention.
Following a rise in the use of platforms to dehumanise persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and foster intolerance, the UN Independent Expert presents two reports from complementary angles.
The international community must remain vigilant as Case 173 continues to interfere with the rights of WHRDs in Egypt.
Following the designation of six Palestinian CSO as terrorist organisations, the international community must support and protect and ensure a safe and enabling environment for Palestinian civil society and HRDs.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the risk of human rights violations online. Do technology companies have human rights obligations? What are they? Do these private actors have a duty to promote human dignity online?
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.