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28. 07. 2017.

Migrant children at risk of trafficking and exploitation as current protection systems fail them – UN experts



World Day Against Trafficking in Persons - Sunday 30 July 2017

Migrant children at risk of trafficking and exploitation as current protection systems fail them – UN experts


GENEVA (27 July 2017) – Current systems designed to protect migrant children are failing, leaving many at risk of trafficking, sale and other forms of exploitation, two United Nations human rights experts have warned.

“The mechanisms designed to protect children caught up in conflict or humanitarian crises are largely ineffective and do little to prevent the precarious situation these children find themselves in,” said Special Rapporteurs Maria Grazia Giammarinaro and Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, speaking ahead of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on Sunday 30 July.

“So many children have died in conflict zones and along their perilous journey,” they said.

The experts warned that all children fleeing conflict, especially those traveling alone, are vulnerable to abuse of different kinds: sexual and labour exploitation including as a consequence of trafficking, being sold and being coerced into marriage, in their homes, communities, society or in places where migrants and/or refugees reside – including reception centres, refugee camps or informal settlements at source, transit and destination countries.

“We call on all States to step up their efforts to protect children on the move from trafficking, sale and other forms of exploitation,” they urged. “Children are disproportionately affected by conflicts and disasters, and those who have been separated from their families are particularly vulnerable.”

Boys as well as girls risk sexual exploitation, although the risks remain higher for girls, the experts noted.

“Current efforts to protect children are being hampered, among others by inaccurate identification of trafficked, sold or otherwise exploited children by insufficiently trained frontline workers and challenges in determining children’s ages and parentage,” they said.

“There is also limited capacity in camps to host children in specialized and separated facilities and lack of coordination between different actors working with them,” the experts said, based on the preliminary result of research they will present to the UN General Assembly in October 2017.

The two experts noted that, in spite of some promising practices, the systems now in use do not systematically consider the specific needs and the best interests of children, especially of separated or unaccompanied children who at times share their living spaces with adults in areas or camps that lack basic amenities.

“Many of these children are sexually exploited, providing additional evidence for the failure of existing protection system. Poverty is also forcing children to find dangerous ways to survive, they said.

“When children with little or no money live in limbo for long periods, they seek ways to earn money, either to survive where they are, or to enable them to continue their journeys.”

“Seeking such work puts them at greater risk of trafficking, sale and other forms of exploitation.”

The experts criticized States which continue to lock up migrant children, privileging rigid immigration policies above child protection policies. “The detention of children in irregular immigration situation can never be in their best interests as it constitutes a violation of their rights and is particularly detrimental to their wellbeing,” they said.

Regardless of the context, the stressed, States have the legal responsibility to identify, protect and provide family-based or family-like assistance to child victims of trafficking, sale and other forms of exploitation, or those at risk of exploitation in all circumstances - including in conflict and humanitarian crises.

“Assistance and protection measures should be child- and gender sensitive,” the human rights experts explained.

“Cooperation between host countries, international organizations and civil society organizations must also be strengthened to ensure the identification and protection of child victims and those at risk of exploitation,” the Special Rapporteurs concluded.

ENDS
 
Ms. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro (Italy) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014.

Ms. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio (Netherlands) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children by the UN Human Rights Council in May 2014.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For further inquiries and media requests, please contact Selma Vadala  (+41 22 917 91 08 / svadala@ohchr.org and srtrafficking@ohchr.org )

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Section (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

You can access this news release online


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UN Human Rights Committee publishes findings on Honduras, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Mongolia, Pakistan, Switzerland and Swaziland




UN Human Rights Committee publishes findings on Honduras, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Mongolia, Pakistan, Switzerland and Swaziland

GENEVA (27 July 2017) – The UN Human Rights Committee has published its findings on the civil and political rights record of countries it examined during its latest session:  Honduras, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Mongolia, Pakistan Switzerland and Swaziland.

The findings, officially termed concluding observations, contain positive aspects of the respective State’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and also main matters of concern and recommendations.

The concluding observations are now available here.

The UN Human Rights Committee will next meet from to 2017 to review the following countries: Australia, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Jordan, Mauritius and Romania.

ENDS

For media requests please contact:

Nicoleta Panta, +41(0) 22 9179310/npanta@ohchr.org

Background


Human Rights Committee members are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty. Find more information about HRC here and watch HRC stories of impact here.

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24. 07. 2017.

UN women’s rights experts issue findings on Barbados, Costa Rica, Italy, Montenegro, Niger, Nigeria, Romania and Thailand



UN women’s rights experts issue findings on Barbados, Costa Rica, Italy, Montenegro, Niger, Nigeria, Romania and Thailand.

GENEVA (24 July 2017) – The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has published its findings on the following countries which it examined during its 3 to 21July 2017 session in Geneva: Barbados, Costa Rica, Italy, Montenegro, Niger, Nigeria, Romania and Thailand.

The findings cover how the respective State is doing with regard to women’s rights, detailing positive developments, main areas of concern, and recommendations for action. The findings, officially known as concluding observations, can be found here.

The Committee will next meet from 23 October to 17 November in Geneva to review: Burkina Faso, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Guatemala, Israel, Kenya, Kuwait, Monaco, Nauru, Norway, Oman, Paraguay and Singapore.

ENDS

For more information on the work of CEDAW please contact Jakob Schneider at jschneider@ohchr.org 

For media requests please contact:

Nicoleta Panta, +41(0) 22 9179310/npanta@ohchr.org

Background information

What is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)?

Adopted by the United Nations in 1979, CEDAW is the most important human rights treaty for women. 

The Convention currently has 189 states parties. Thus, the vast majority of the member states of the UN (193) have voluntarily agreed to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of women under all circumstances.

Why is CEDAW important?

CEDAW, also known as the treaty for the rights of women, is a tool that helps women around the world to bring about change in their daily life. In countries that have ratified the treaty, CEDAW has proved invaluable in opposing the effects of discrimination, which include violence, poverty, and lack of legal protections, along with the denial of inheritance, property rights, and access to credit.

The treaty has contributed to the development of:

·        citizenship rights in Botswana and Japan;

·        inheritance rights in the United Republic of Tanzania;

·        property rights and political participation in Costa Rica.

 CEDAW has also fostered adoption of:

·        a law on gender equality in Mongolia;

·        a law in Rwanda prohibiting sex-based discrimination in access to land;

·        domestic violence laws in Turkey, Nepal, South Africa, and the Republic of Korea;

·        legislation criminalizing all forms of violence against women in Burkina Faso and femicide in Panama;

·        a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada;

·        anti-trafficking laws in Ukraine and Moldova.

In addition, in response to CEDAW’s concluding observations, China took measures to curb cases of non-medical foetus sex identification and sex-selective abortion and to change stereotypes leading to son preference and Sri Lanka introduced gender-responsive budgeting for rural economic development projects.

How does CEDAW work?

The States that ratified the Convention are legally obliged, firstly, to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in all areas of life, and, secondly, to ensure women’s full development and advancement in order that they can exercise and enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms in the same way as men. Thirdly, a State party must allow the CEDAW Committee to scrutinize its efforts to implement the treaty by reporting to the body at regular intervals.

The CEDAW Committee consists of 23 independent experts on women’s rights from around the world.

Countries that have become party to the treaty (States parties) are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights of the Convention are being implemented. During its public sessions, the Committee reviews each State party report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of concluding observations. For more information go here: http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/cedaw/pages/cedawindex.aspx


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18. 07. 2017.

MEDIA ADVISORY - UN Committee against Torture to review Antigua and Barbuda, Ireland, Panama and Paraguay



UN Committee against Torture to review Antigua and Barbuda, Ireland, Panama and Paraguay

GENEVA (18 July 2017) - The UN Committee against Torture is meeting in Geneva from 24 July to 11 August to review the following countries in sessions that will be webcast live: Antigua and Barbuda (24-25 July); Ireland (27-28); Panama (3-4August) and Paraguay (26-27 July).

The above are among the 162 States parties to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and so are required to undergo regular reviews by the Committee on how they are implementing the Convention and the Committee’s previous recommendations. 

The Committee, which is composed of 10 independent experts, will engage in a dialogue with the respective government delegations. The public sessions, held at Palais Wilson in Geneva, begin at 10:00 Geneva time and continue at 15:00 the following day. The sessions will be webcast live at: http://webtv.un.org/.

Further information is available here.

The Committee will publish its findings, officially known as concluding observations, on the respective states here on 11August. A news conference to discuss the findings is scheduled for 12.30, on 11 August at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. 

For media accreditation please go here.   

ENDS

For media requests please contact:

Nicoleta Panta,  +41(0) 22 9179310/npanta@ohchr.org

ENDS

What is the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment?

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (known as the United Nations Convention against Torture) is the most important international human rights treaty that deals exclusively with torture. The Convention obligates countries who have become party to the treaty to prohibit and prevent torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in all circumstances.


The Convention entered into force on 26 June 1987 and currently has 162 states parties. Thus, the vast majority of the member states of the UN (193) have voluntarily agreed to prohibit any form of torture. More information here.

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OHCHR PRESS BRIEFING NOTES - (1) Libya



18 July 2017

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz Throssell

Location:      Geneva

Subject:        (1) Libya


(1)        Libya

We are deeply concerned that, after recent fighting in Benghazi, people taken prisoner by members of the Libyan National Army, which effectively controls eastern Libya, may be at imminent risk of torture and even summary execution.
 
Our concern is based on reports suggesting the involvement of the Special Forces, a unit aligned with the LNA, and in particular their field commander, Mahmoud al-Werfalli, in torturing detainees and summarily executing at least 10 captured men.

In March, amid fierce fighting for control of the Benghazi neighbourhood of Ganfouda, a video circulating on social media allegedly showed al-Werfalli shooting dead three men who were kneeling and facing a wall with their hands tied behind their backs.

In June, as battles continued between the LNA and fighters from the umbrella group of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council, two videos on social media appeared to show summary executions carried out by LNA combatants on al-Werfalli’s orders. One of these videos, which emerged on 9 June, shows four men kneeling with their hands tied behind their backs who are shot dead as al-Werfalli watches.

The latest video, which was posted on social media this month, seems to shows LNA fighters kicking and taunting prisoners, while al-Werfalli is apparently heard accusing two men who have their hands tied behind their backs of belonging to terrorist groups.

The LNA announced in March 2017 that it would conduct investigations into alleged war crimes but it has not shared any information regarding the progress of these inquiries.

We urge the LNA to ensure there is a full, impartial investigation into these allegations and also call on the group to suspend Mahmoud al-Werfalli from his duties as a Special Forces field commander pending the conclusion of such an investigation.
 
We have documented unlawful killings by armed groups on all sides of the conflict in Libya, and despite ample information regarding such crimes, widespread impunity continues.

All those responsible for committing, ordering or failing to prevent summary executions, when in a position to do so, are criminally liable, including under international law.  All evidence of unlawful killings and torture should be fully investigated and those found to be responsible should be held to account in accordance with all judicial guarantees.
 
The fight against terrorism cannot be used to justify summary executions or other grave violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell ( +41 22 917 9466 /  ethrossell@ohchr.org)

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UN experts urge Bahrain to investigate reports of torture and ill-treatment of rights defender Ebtisam Alsaegh



UN experts urge Bahrain to investigate reports of torture and ill-treatment of rights defender Ebtisam Alsaegh
  
GENEVA (18 July 2017) – A group of United Nations experts* has expressed deep concern at the alleged arbitrary detention of Bahraini human rights defender Ebtisam Alsaegh amid reports she has been tortured and sexually abused and is now on hunger strike.

“Ms. Alsaegh has been denied her fundamental right to due process from the very moment of her arrest to this day,” the experts said. “We are very worried at information that her health has dramatically deteriorated in the last few days.”

According to reports received by the experts, Ms. Alsaegh was detained on 4 July when Bahraini security forces raided her home. She is reportedly being held in solitary confinement at Isa Town women’s prison, and is being transported daily to an unknown location where she is interrogated for up to 14 hours without access to a lawyer.

Previous to her detention, on 26 May, Ms. Alsaegh was subjected to a seven-hour interrogation by officers of the National Security Agency, during which she was kept blindfolded and forced to stand up, while reportedly being beaten all over her body and sexually assaulted.

“We express the gravest concern at these allegations of torture and ill-treatment suffered by Ms. Alsaegh and we fear that she may be currently subjected to further acts of torture,” the experts said.

“The use or incitement of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is absolutely prohibited, under all circumstances.”

The experts called upon the Government of Bahrain to strictly abide by its obligations under international human rights law.

“The Bahraini authorities have a duty to investigate all allegations of human rights violations committed against Ms. Alsaegh, including torture by security forces during interrogations, and to prevent their re-occurrence,” they emphasized.

Ms. Alsaegh’s alleged treatment comes amid an ongoing campaign of attacks and reprisals against human rights defenders and political activists in Bahrain.

“We reiterate our serious concerns regarding the wider context of a general crackdown and mounting pressure exerted on civil society and dissidents in Bahrain, the ongoing prosecution and punishment of human rights defenders, and especially intimidation and reprisals against people who have cooperated with UN human rights mechanisms,” the experts underscored.

The experts are in contact with the Government of Bahrain about Ms. Alsaegh’s situation.  

(*) The experts: Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur ontorture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Mrs. Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, current Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

ENDS

Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page: Bahrain

For inquiries and media requests, please contact Alia El Khatib (+41 22 917 9209 / aelkhatib@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

You can access this press release online


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17. 07. 2017.

Extreme harm to Afghan civilians continues as suicide attacks worsen, new UN report shows




Extreme harm to Afghan civilians continues as suicide attacks worsen, new UN report shows

GENEVA/KABUL (17 July 2017) – The numbers of civilians killed and injured in the conflict in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2017 persisted at the same record high levels as last year, according to a mid-year report from the United Nations. Extreme civilian harm continued amid a worsening toll of suicide attacks, and a greater impact on women and children.

A total of 1,662 civilian deaths were confirmed between 1 January and 30 June – an increase of two per cent on the same period last year, according to figures from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).  The number of civilians injured in the same period fell one per cent to 3,581.

The reports highlights that 40 per cent of all civilian casualties during the six-month period were killed or injured by anti-government forces using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), such as suicide bombs and pressure-plate devices, and killed 596 civilians and injured 1,483.  These figures include civilian casualties from suicide and complex attacks, (attacks including more than one perpetrator and two or more forms of weaponry, including suicide IEDs), which killed 259 civilians and injured 892, a 15 per cent increase on comparable figures for the first six months of 2016. 

Many of those casualties occurred in a single attack in Kabul city on 31 May, when truck bomb killed at least 92 civilians died and injured nearly 500, the deadliest incident documented by UNAMA since 2001.

“The human cost of this ugly war in Afghanistan – loss of life, destruction and immense suffering – is too far too high,” said the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Tadamichi Yamamoto.  “The continued use of indiscriminate, disproportionate and illegal IED devices by Anti-Government Elements is particularly appalling and must immediately stop.”

The report makes a series of recommendations, including calling on anti-government forces to stop targeting civilians and to enforce directives from the Taliban leadership calling for an end to such attacks.

Government forces are urged to stop using weapons including mortars and rockets in civilian populated areas, and to disband pro-government militias and similar groups.  The report also recommends ongoing support from international military forces to support and train the Afghan national army.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said: “The statistics in this report, horrifying though they are, can never fully convey the sheer human suffering of the people of Afghanistan.  Each one of these casualty figures reflects a broken family, unimaginable trauma and suffering, and the brutal violation of people’s human rights.

“Many Afghan civilians are suffering psychological trauma, having lost family and friends, and are living in fear knowing the risks they face as they go about their daily lives.  Many more have been forced from their homes and suffered lasting damage to their health, education and livelihoods. The continuing national tragedy of Afghanistan must not be overlooked.” 

The figures show a rise in the number of women and children killed and injured, reversing a decline documented in 2016.  A total of 174 women were confirmed as killed and 462 injured, an overall rise in casualty figures of 23 per cent on the same period last year. 

Child casualties increased by one per cent, with 436 deaths and 1,141 injuries, although the number of deaths was up by nine per cent.  UNAMA noted that the use of pressure-plate IEDs and aerial operations in civilian-populated areas substantially contributed to the increases in both women and child casualties.

Anti-government forces caused the deaths of 1,141 people and for injuring 2,348, a 12 per cent increase on the first six months of last year.  Of the total number of civilian casualties, 43 per cent were attributed to the Taliban, four per cent to Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP), and the rest to unidentified attackers.

The report commends Afghan security forces for their continued efforts to reduce civilian casualties resulting from ground engagements, which represent the second leading cause of deaths and injuries.  The figures demonstrate a 10 per cent reduction in civilian casualties from ground engagements the first six months of 2017 compared to the same period last year, with 434 confirmed deaths and 1,375 injuries. The decrease is attributed to a reduction in casualties caused by weapons, mostly mortars, used by pro-government forces.

UNAMA attributed a total of 327 civilian deaths and 618 injuries to pro-government forces, a 21 per cent decrease compared with the same period last year, although UNAMA noted a 43 per cent rise in civilian casualties during aerial operations (95 deaths and 137 injuries).

Nineteen per cent of the casualties occurred in the capital, Kabul, as a result of suicide and complex attacks.  Civilian casualties increased in 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, mainly due to increased attacks by anti-government forces. The highest numbers of casualties occurred in Kabul, Helmand, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Uruzgan, Faryab, Herat, Laghman, Kunduz and Farah provinces. 

The UN report includes only incidents which have been confirmed after a thorough verification process.  This strict documentation process, which requires multiple steps of confirmation in each case, means that the overall figures are probably conservative.

Since January 2009, UN figures show that more than 26,500 civilians have died and just under 49,000 have been injured.

ENDS

The report, key graphs, and Dari and Pashto translations available at https://unama.unmissions.org/protection-of-civilians-reports

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell  ( +41 22 917 9466/ ethrossell@ohchr.org )


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Mission Statement of the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices



End of Mission Statement of the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices

GENEVA / AMMAN (17 July 2017) – A United Nations committee* has heard serious concerns about Israel’s human rights record, including the deteriorating situation in Gaza, inadequate protection for detained children and increasing obstacles being faced by human rights defenders and journalists.

Members of the Committee also heard testimony on the expansion of settlements, the ongoing use of administrative detention, excessive use of force and possible extrajudicial killings, and lack of accountability.  

During its annual mission to Amman, Jordan, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, established by General Assembly Resolution 2443 in 1968, heard from civil society organizations, UN representatives and Palestinian officials.

Based on this testimony, the Committee clearly observed that the Israeli authorities continue with policies and practices that negatively impact the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, compounded by the ongoing electricity crisis, was repeatedly raised as one of the most pressing issues.

The Committee heard with concern about the atmosphere of increasing hopelessness and desperation among the population of Gaza as Israel’s blockade and closure continues for its tenth year, with ongoing restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza impacting every aspect of life for residents.

Other testimony described with grave concern the situation of Palestinian detainees reportedly living in difficult conditions in Israeli prisons. The continued use of administrative detention was also raised as an area of ongoing concern.

The Committee heard troubling testimony regarding the arrest and detention of children, including cases of reported ill-treatment and lack of adequate protection.  

Organizations told the Committee that Israeli settlement expansion had continued in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as the Syrian Golan, with a notably high level of new construction announced this year, in violation of international humanitarian law.

Settlements were having a negative impact on the human rights of Palestinians, including by restricting freedom of movement and further fragmenting life in the West Bank, the Committee heard.

Other issues raised included the effects of the separation wall on Palestinians’ rights, and the demolition of homes and other structures in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, as well as in the Syrian Golan. The use of punitive demolitions in the West Bank including East Jerusalem was described as a form of collective punishment.

Organizations described the practice of demolishing homes as one that increases pressure on vulnerable communities such as the Bedouin communities in Area C to leave their homes, which they noted could amount to unlawful forcible transfer.

Many organizations highlighted with concern the continued lack of accountability for allegations of excessive use of force and violations of international law by the Israeli forces, including during the 2014 hostilities in Gaza. A number of organizations emphasized that the lack of accountability further exacerbated the cycle of violence.

Human rights defenders and journalists seeking to highlight violations of human rights and humanitarian law told the Committee that the space in which they were free to operate was shrinking at an alarming rate. They reported cases of the detention of peaceful demonstrators and the targeting of journalists covering protests.

The Government of Israel does not recognize the Committee, which was therefore unable to speak to the relevant Israeli authorities or access the occupied territories.

The Committee will submit a full report on its mission and other activities to the UN General Assembly in November 2017.  

ENDS

(*) The UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories was established by the UN General Assembly in December 1968 to examine the human rights situation in the occupied Syrian Golan, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

The Special Committee is composed of three Member States: Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Senegal. This year the Member States are represented by H.E. Mr. Shahrul Ikram Yaakob (acting chair of the Special Committee), Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations in New York, H.E. Mr. Sabarullah Khan, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York, and H.E. Mr. Coly Seck, Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations in Geneva, who was represented by Mr. M. Serigne Dieye, Chargé d’Affaires, Permanent Mission of Senegal to the UN in Geneva on this mission.


UN Human Rights, country pages: Occupied Palestinian Territories  and  Israel

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Katharine Marshall (+41 22 917 9695 / kmarshall@ohchr.org) or Ms. Tal Steiner (+41 22 917 9774 / tsteiner@ohchr.org)

You can access this press release online


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13. 07. 2017.

NEWS RELEASE - Back from an unofficial visit to Belarus, UN Special Rapporteur “hopeful” for dialog on human rights



Back from an unofficial visit to Belarus, UN Special Rapporteur “hopeful” for dialog on human rights
  
GENEVA (12 July 2017) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus has spoken of his cautious hope for a dialog to begin on the country’s rights situation, during an unofficial visit to the capital, Minsk.

Miklós Haraszti said although the government still did not recognize his mandate, it was encouraging that they had allowed him to attend a human rights seminar, which took place on July 6, alongside the parliamentary assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

“I see the authorities’ tolerance as a sign of progress which may be the first step toward cooperation with the mandate created by the Human Rights Council in 2012,” Mr. Haraszti said.

The Special Rapporteur also cautiously welcomed the publication earlier this year of the Belarusian Government’s new action plan on human rights, based on select commitments that the Government had accepted in the framework of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review* process.

However, he noted: “Unfortunately, none of the 100 points within the plan tackles concerns regarding civic and political rights.”

Mr. Haraszti said change could come rapidly if the government wished.

“Paradoxically, the absolute command that the government has established over public life also allows it to bring change at a stroke of a pen,” he told the seminar on human rights.

“Many citizens and diplomats I have spoken to during my visit expressed their expectation that the Government would lift the menace of criminalization, allow human rights issues to be addressed, and spare the country from yet new cycles of disappointment and repression,” he noted.

The Special Rapporteur at the seminar highlighted two key areas of concern regarding human rights in Belarus.  

“The first is a systemic refusal of individual liberties - a permission-based regime of public life, which in effect criminalizes all Belarusians who act without prior authorization,” he said. “We also note a lack of independence of the judiciary, and ongoing use of the death penalty.

“The second area of concern is the cyclical recourse to mass repression, such as the crackdowns in December 2010 and March 2017, when the authorities actually criminalize citizens for using their civic and political rights.”

Mr. Haraszti thanked the organizer, Mr. Kent Härstedt, Vice-President of the Assembly and Head of the Swedish delegation, for facilitating his visit.

The seminar, unique in Belarus for its inclusiveness, was also attended by leading members of civil society including Mr. Ales Bialiatski of the still-unregistered Human Rights Centre Viasna, Mr. Andrei Bastunets of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, and Mr. Aleh Hulak of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee.

The chairman of the country’s Parliamentary Commission on International Affairs, Mr. Valeri Varanetski, told the event that he and fellow MPs were prepared for further dialogue.  Mr. Haraszti welcomed their commitment, telling them he “very much hoped” the Commission would invite him back for a working visit.

Other politicians at the event included Ms. Tatsiana Karatkevich, a former presidential candidate from the Tell the Truth Movement, and Ms. Anna Kanopatskaya, one of the country’s only two opposition MPs, who represents the United Civic Party.

While in the country, the Special Rapporteur also participated in a forum organized by Belarusian human rights groups and the Civic Solidarity Platform; and attended the trial of human rights activist Mr. Oleg Volchek, who is accused of joining protests against a tax on the unemployed.

(*) TheUniversal Periodic Review (UPR) is an examination of the human rights records of all UN Member States by other States, in order to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur. It allows each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. The UPR process reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

ENDS

Mr. Miklós Haraszti (Hungary) was designated as Special Rapporteur on the situation ofhuman rights in Belarus by the UN Human Rights Council in 2012. In the 70s, Mr. Haraszti was a founder of Hungary’ s human rights and free press movement, and in the 1990s he was a Member of the Hungarian Parliament. From 2004 to 2010, he served as the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. Since 2010, he has been a Professor at several universities teaching media democratisation.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page: Belarus

For more information and media requests please contact Mr. Alexandre Girard (+41 22 917 9180 / agirard@ohchr.org) or write to sr-belarus@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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MEDIA STATEMENT - Comment by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on the death of Liu Xiaobo



Comment by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on the death of Liu Xiaobo

GENEVA (13 July 2017) - I would like to express my deep sorrow at the news that China’s iconic peace and democracy figure Liu Xiaobo has died at the age of 61. I send my heartfelt condolences and deepest respects to his wife, Liu Xia, his family and friends, and hope that they will be able to grieve and honour him in accordance with their wishes.

The human rights movement in China and across the world has lost a principled champion who devoted his life to defending and promoting human rights, peacefully and consistently, and who was jailed for standing up for his beliefs.

Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia were a courageous couple and absolutely devoted to one another. I urge the Chinese authorities to guarantee Liu Xia’s freedom of movement, and allow her to travel abroad should she wish so.

Liu Xiaobo was the true embodiment of the democratic, non-violent ideals he so ardently advocated. Despite the imprisonment and separation from the wife he adored that could have fuelled anger and bitterness, Liu Xiaobo declared that he had no hatred for those who pursued and prosecuted him.

Liu Xiaobo was the definition of civic courage and human dignity – a poet and intellectual who wanted, and strove for, a better future for his country. A man who, despite all he suffered, continued to espouse the politics of peace. He was and will continue to be an inspiration and an example for all human rights defenders.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)


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10. 07. 2017.

UN human rights experts call on Israel to reconsider the charges against Palestinian activist Issa Amro



UN human rights experts call on Israel to reconsider the charges against Palestinian activist Issa Amro

       
GENEVA (7 July 2017) – Israel should carefully reconsider the charges it is pursuing against Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro, two United Nations independent experts said today.
 
Mr. Amro, founder of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements, is facing trial in an Israeli military court on a number of charges, some of which date back a number of years and have only recently been reactivated.

“On the information available to us, many of the charges against Mr. Amro appear to be directed squarely at his lawful right to peacefully protest against the 50-year-old Israeli occupation,” said the Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, Michael Lynk, and the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Michel Forst, in a joint statement.

“The non-violent work of human rights defenders must not be disrupted and attacked by the authorities, even under a military occupation,” the experts underscored. “Their rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be respected and protected.”  

Mr. Amro and Youth Against Settlements have campaigned against the Israeli military’s shut-down of the once-thriving Palestinian neighborhood around Shuhada Street in Hebron, and against illegal Israeli settlements in and near the city. Their activities have included running a community centre, organizing protest marches and opposing the many restrictions placed by the military on daily Palestinian life, the two experts noted.

The Rapporteurs said Palestinian human rights defenders, including Mr. Amro, have faced a long pattern of harassment, intimidation, discriminatory treatment and physical interference from the Israeli military and settler groups.

Mr. Lynk and Mr. Forst called upon the Government of Israel to strictly abide by international human rights law in its dealings with human rights defenders.
 
“We are also deeply concerned about the quality of justice available to Palestinians under occupation,” they added. “The Israeli military court system – which all Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to – has a conviction rate above 99%, which raises serious concerns about the system meeting many of the international standards of due process required by human rights and humanitarian law.

“If the Israeli military court convicts Mr. Amro on any of the charges against him, the convictions will be stained by reasonable doubts about the system’s ability to ensure justice,” the Special Rapporteurs said.

ENDS

In 2016, the UN Human Rights Council designated Mr. Michael Lynk (Canada) as the seventh Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the then UN Commission on Human Rights.

Mr. Michel Forst (France) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in 2014.

As Special Rapporteurs, they are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country pages: Occupied PalestinianTerritories  and Israel

For more information and media requests, please contact Katharine Marshall (+41 22 917 9695 / kmarshall@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

You can access this press release online

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