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.
In April 2021 ISHR signed onto an amicus brief led by Propuesta Cívica and Article 19, urging Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice to give due respect to the right to freedom of expression in the trial of Mexican journalist, Dr. Sergio Aguayo Quezada. Aguayo was ordered to pay a fine of 10 million pesos (about $530,000) in moral damages to former Coahuila state governor, Humberto Moreira, for writing an opinion piece on allegations of corruption against Moreira.
The Court of First Instance ruled for Aguayo, but this favorable ruling was overturned on Moreira’s appeal. Aguayo presented a claim for direct protection (“direct amparo”), which sent the case to the Mexico City Collegiate Court. The Collegiate Court upheld the ruling against Aguayo, but Minister Gutiérrez of the 1st Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice blocked the ruling. The case is now in Mexico’s Supreme Court and is expected to be decided in the coming months. The amicus that ISHR endorsed was submitted for consideration in relation to this decision.
In the amicus, concerned parties emphasized the necessity of free expression by the media for a healthy relationship between government and society. Judicial harassment of the media threatens free expression in Mexico. In addition to the weighty fine, the judicial process that Aguayo has been implicated in has been exacting and lengthy. Judicial harassment functions as censorship because the fear of retribution prevents journalists from reporting on certain topics. In addition, many journalists are not heavily resourced, so a fine combined with the time required to respond to a lawsuit serve as harsh deterrents. Finally, the resulting negative publicity can also affect a journalist’s credibility.
In the trial, Moreira asserted his legal right to honor, however the NGOs joining the amicus argued that this must be balanced against Aguayo’s right to free speech. The amicus delves into relevant international law regarding the appropriate balance between the two. Supporters of this amicus do not believe that a proper balance was struck in the appeal since insufficient consideration was given to the importance of a journalist’s right to free speech. ISHR and the other signatories of the amicus call on Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice to carefully weigh the fundamental rights at stake.
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.
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.
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.
During the interactive dialogue with the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights on the SG’s Reprisals Report, some States raised specific cases of reprisals, whilst others drew attention to the use of COVID-19 as a guise under which reprisals were committed and also raised the additional risks to human rights defenders online as a result of the pandemic.
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.