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.
(Este artículo se encuentra también en español aquí) After four years of a flawed judicial process, ISHR welcomes that the District Court in the State of Oaxaca in Mexico has ruled to acquit Lucila Bettina Cruz Velazquez of charges made against her. The charges relate to acts or omissions gravely affecting the ‘national consumption and national wealth’, and with illegally detaining individuals. They were brought in February 2012, but refer to incidents allegedly having occurred during a peaceful protest in April 2011.
Bettina Cruz Velazquez, a member of the Assembly of Istmo of Tehuantepec Indigenous Peoples in Defence of Land and Territory as well as the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Mexico, has been working on behalf of her community to counter the impact of private companies which are establishing and operating wind farms in lands traditionally owned by indigenous communities in Tehuantepec. The projects were reportedly initiated without the free, prior and informed consent of the peoples native to the area.
‘Bettina Cruz Velazquez has faced intense security risks since February 2012 and has been subject to a long process of judicial harassment based on unfounded and baseless charges put forward by the Federal Electricity Commission’ said Ms Pooja Patel of ISHR.
The International Civil Society Mission to Mexico in November 2014 received many reports on the criminalisation of the work of human rights defenders and pointed specifically to vaguely defined legal provisions applied arbitrarily, such as the very charges faced by Bettina Cruz Velazquez. ‘Such judicial harassment amounts to stigmatisation of human rights work and opens the door for further acts of intimidation and harassment against them. Furthermore, the charges themselves aim at paralysing the work of Bettina and other defenders due to the time, resources and efforts required to face them’ said Ms Eleanor Openshaw, who represented ISHR at the Mission.
The case of Bettina Cruz Velazquez is considered emblematic as a number of other human rights defenders face similar patterns of judicial harassment in Mexico. ‘While her acquittal sends an important positive message that the rule of law has ultimately been upheld, it is time for the Mexican State to guarantee due process for all other human rights defenders facing apparently arbitrary charges, and take steps to prevent the criminalisation of activists’ stressed Ms Patel.
For more information, contact Eleanor Openshaw on [email protected]
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.
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 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.
The 8th meeting of the Business Network on Civic Freedoms and Human Rights Defenders brought together civil society, private sector and experts to discuss how companies can use their leverage for a positive change in the civic space
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.
Human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia continue to face an increasing crackdown including arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and medical and administrative neglect. The UN Human Rights Council must take action by establishing a monitoring and reporting mechanism on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.