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.
Too often, human rights defenders face violence as a result of their work. ISHR and INSEC’s joint written statement to the Council on the situation of human rights defenders in Nepal reports instances of health workers, journalists, civil society activists and human rights advocates being arrested, threatened, treated inhumanely, and beaten by police as a result of their advocacy.
The Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC), a Nepal-based human rights NGO that works to protect and promote the fundamental rights of disadvantaged groups in all sectors of society, has documented 280 cases of defenders’ rights being violated or abused in the past two years. 78 of these violations were committed by State authorities themselves, while 202 were perpetrated by non-State actors. The joint statement highlighted that the government’s response to six defenders being killed by non-State groups in 2020 was ‘incredibly weak’ and
‘This is not acceptable,’ says Bijaya Gautam, Executive Director of INSEC. ‘As a member of the Human Rights Council, Nepal must ensure the development and implementation of genuine and substantial measures for the protection of human rights defenders, and enable their work.’
‘For their own sake and for that of their communities – local, national, regional, global – human rights defenders must be protected, a responsibility which falls to the State,’ adds Guatam. ‘This is especially true in Nepal where impunity and a lack of government transparency associated with the end of a ten-year armed conflict have contributed to increased threats and weak government protection for defenders.’
Recommending States to the Universal Periodic Review have called for Nepal to take measures to protect defenders, but these calls have not been heeded.
The joint statement calls on the State of Nepal to:
Take steps to ensure an enabling environment for human rights defenders through the promulgation or amendment of laws which restrict rights to assembly and expression; and
Collaborate with civil society to take steps to develop a national law for the protection of human rights defenders.
‘We fervently hope that Nepal will recognize the importance of these recommendations and begin to make changes to better support their defenders’ concluded ISHR’s Tess McEvoy.
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.