UNITED NATIONS: ' Call for Greater Protection Under Human Rights for Journalists Reporting in War-Torn and Extremist Countries '

#AceNewsServices – September 02 – Journalists covering conflicts must be afforded the highest degree of protection, a group of United Nations and international human rights experts said today, adding that the recent attacks, ongoing kidnappings, and arbitrary incarcerations of media professionals around the world must be condemned.

“The prevailing impunity for attacks on civilians, including journalists, encourages perpetrators to believe that they will never be held to account for their grave crimes,” they warned in a news release.

“We call for improved international protection for anyone engaged in journalism, especially during conflict situations.”

Stressing that journalists must be ensured the highest degree of protection by States and non-State actors, the rights voiced outrage at the recent execution of American journalist James Foley by the militant group known as the Islamic State (IS).

They also expressed deep concern at the fate of at least seven other journalists and members of the media believed to be held captive by the group in Syria.

“Journalists covering armed conflicts do not lose their status as civilians; they are not participants in the conflicts they cover. As such, they continue to be protected by the applicable guarantees under human rights law and international humanitarian law,” said the experts.

“Attacks against journalists covering conflicts victimize individuals first and foremost, but they also harm us all,” they added. “But attacks also deter and sometimes prevent journalists from exercising their right to seek and disseminate information. Attacks deprive all of us of the right to know and to access information about critical situations around the world.”

The experts called for an “open and committed dialogue” among governments, non-State groups, journalists and other interested parties in order to strengthen protections to promote the safety and respect for those reporting on a conflict, especially to ensure that those responsible for such violence are held accountable.

The experts issuing the call are: the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye; the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatoviæ; the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Catalina Botero Marino; and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Faith Pansy Tlakula.

Source: UN News Centre

#ANS2014

#african, #organisation-for-security-and-co-operation-in-europe-osce, #syria, #united-nations, #united-nations-special-rapporteur

“Independent Human Rights Experts Today Urged Spanish Government to Reconsider to Extradite Alexsandr Pavlov”

#AceWorldNews says “United Nations” independent “Human Rights” experts today urged the “Spanish Government” to reconsider its decision to extradite Alexsandr Pavlov, who oversaw security for a Kazakh businessman and prominent opposition leader, on grounds that he may be tortured or receive an unfair trial if extradited.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner...

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“All countries must ensure that extradition does not put an individual at risk of persecution, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment,” the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, said. “Spain must adopt all necessary measures to safeguard Mr. Pavlov’s rights and physical integrity.”

In the same news release from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, stressed that the human rights of foreigners are no less important than the rights of citizens in any country, “The question we should ask ourselves is: would we as confidently send a citizen to the same fate?”

Mr. Pavlov, who formerly worked for opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov, was detained by Spanish authorities in 2012 on an Interpol warrant requested by Kazakhstan, which accuses him of financial and terrorism-related crimes.

On 18 November 2013, Spain’s high court, the Audiencia Nacional, approved Mr. Pavlov’s extradition, but the decision now rests with the Council of Ministers.

The two UN experts have called on the Council to consider Mr. Pavlov’s appeal based on the substantial fears that he might be tortured or unfairly tried.

Since July 2013, the two human rights experts, together with the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, have engaged with the Spanish Government concerning Mr. Pavlov’s case.

 

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#aceworldnews, #humanrights, #alexsandr-pavlov, #extradition, #human-right, #juan-e-mendez, #kazakh, #kazakhstan, #mukhtar-ablyazov, #ohchr, #pavlov, #spain, #spanish-government, #torture, #un-special-rapporteur, #united-nations, #united-nations-special-rapporteur

Surveillance of Communications Must Never be Conducted without Independent Judicial Oversight – Unless it is to Respond to National Security Threats

privacy

privacy (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

#AceSecurityNews says a draft resolution to protect the right to privacy in the digital age that was approved this week by a General Assembly committee is a first step, according to an independent UN expert who called for more to be done to ensure trust in the safety of communications.

“If States are truly committed to ensuring that all the rights which apply offline continue to be valid online, they urgently need to take concrete steps to secure respect for the privacy of communications as a universal right everywhere – not only within their own borders,” the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, <“http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14033&LangID=E“>said in a news release yesterday.

The General Assembly committee dealing with human rights questions, also known as the Third Committee, on Tuesday unanimously approved the text recognizing the need for States to establish oversight mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability for surveillance initiatives. The 193-member Assembly is expected to vote on the non-binding resolution next month.

“To demonstrate their commitment to protect privacy and to ensure people can communicate freely, States can start by immediately revising their own laws and the role of the judiciary, in order to correct serious gaps that exist in most national legal frameworks,” said Mr. La Rue.

He emphasized that the surveillance of communications must never be conducted without independent judicial oversight, even though it might be exceptionally required to monitor communications in order to respond to criminal activity or national security threats.

Parliaments should also play a role through the systematic review of the work of security and intelligence entities.

Human Rights

Human Rights (Photo credit: h de c)

Blanket and indiscriminate surveillance should never be legal,” Mr. La Rue stressed. “International human rights standards demand that any interference with human rights be considered on a case-by-case basis in which a court weighs the proportionality of the benefit to be gained against the harm which may be done.”

Despite technological changes, the expert felt that no new international legal instruments are needed. “Privacy is a recognized human right. For decades there has been a solid understanding that privacy in postal services should be respected by all States. Therefore, there are no reasons for questioning existing guarantees to privacy in telephone or internet communications,” he said.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Genevabased UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

 

#frank-william-la-rue, #general-assembly, #geneva, #human-right, #human-rights, #national-security, #non-binding-resolution, #privacy, #united-nations, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #united-nations-special-rapporteur, #united-states

“Freedom of Religion or Belief is a Right of All Human Beings, Not a Right of the State”

#AceWorldNews says the UN Rights Experts Urge Malaysia to Reverse Decision to Restrict Use of ” ALLAH’ TO MUSLIMS”

English: Martin Scheinin, United Nations Speci...

English: Martin Scheinin, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the protection of human rights while countering terrorism, in front of Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several independent United Nations human rights experts today urged the Malaysian Government to reverse its decision to ban a Catholic publication from using the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God, warning that the case may have far-reaching implications for religious minorities in the country.

Freedom of religion or belief is a right of human beings, not a right of the State,” the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, <“http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14023&LangID=E“>stressed in a news release. “It cannot be the business of the State to shape or reshape religious traditions, nor can the State claim any binding authority in the interpretation of religious sources or in the definition of the tenets of faith.”

The Bahasa Malaysia, or standard Malay, translation for one God is ‘Allah’, which entered the language from Arabic and has been used by Christians in the region for many centuries, according to the press release.

In January 2009, the Ministry of Home Affairs ordered the newspaper Herald-The Catholic Weekly to stop using the word ‘Allah’ or face losing its publication permit. The newspaper argued the ban was unconstitutional and won an appeal in the Malaysian High Court.

However, last month, the Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that non-Muslims cannot use ‘Allah’ to refer to God. It stated that the usage of the name ‘Allah’ is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity.

“Such usage, if allowed, would inevitably cause confusion within the community,” the appeal court judges ruled. The case is currently pending consideration at the Federal Court level.

An example of Allāh written in simple Arabic c...

An example of Allāh written in simple Arabic calligraphy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mr. Bielefeldt cautioned that “the current case may affect the right of all non-Muslims in Malaysia to use the word ‘Allah’ while referring to God.”

Also speaking out is Rita Izsák, the Independent Expert on minority issues, who said discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief constitutes a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in this instance is a breach of the rights of a religious minority to freely practice and express their faith.

“Such actions may present an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations between faith communities,” she warned.

The Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, called on the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Malaysian Government to take steps to immediately secure the right to freedom of opinion and expression of the newspaper and withdraw unconditionally from further litigation on this issue.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

New York, Nov 25 2013  1:00PM

#humanrights, #allah, #freedom-of-religion, #heiner-bielefeldt, #malaysia, #ministry-of-home-affairs, #politics-of-malaysia, #united-nations, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #united-nations-special-rapporteur

Independent Experts Recently Voiced Serious Concern Over Reports That Chinese Activists Have Been Intimidated and Prevented From Taking Part in a Major Assessment of the Human Rights Situation in the Country

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

United Nations Human Rights Council logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#AceWorldNews says United Nations independent experts recently voiced serious concern over reports that Chinese activists have been intimidated and prevented from taking part in a major assessment of the human rights situation in the country.

“Intimidating civil society members who seek to contribute to such an important international dialogue is completely unacceptable,” said the Geneva-based experts in a <“http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13860&LangID=E“>news release. “Ensuring the free participation of civil society actors, including human rights defenders, and other national stakeholders, in this process is crucial.”

Activists have reportedly been threatened, arrested or banned from leaving China in the run-up to the second assessment of the country’s record by the UN Human Rights Council through its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism. The review will take place on 22 October 2013 in Geneva.

“These cases seem part of a pattern of increased harassment by China of those calling for greater accountability of public officials, transparency and political and legal reforms,” the experts said.

The experts received information that rights defenders Cao Shunli and Chen Jianfang were allegedly prevented from boarding flights to Geneva where they were due to participate in activities organized on the margins of a Human Rights Council session in September.

Chen Jianfang was reportedly told that she was barred from travelling abroad for life, while Cao Shunli was detained by Chinese security authorities on 14 September. Cao Shunli’s family has allegedly not received any formal notification of her detention.

It was also reported that Chinese civil society activists, who have demonstrated since June to defend their right to participate and receive information on China’s report to the UPR, have been threatened by local authorities on various occasions.

Znak graficzny UPR Eurowybory 2009

Znak graficzny UPR Eurowybory 2009 (Photo credit: Unia Polityki Realnej)

“These reports suggest there have been acts of reprisals against people who seek to cooperate with the UN,” said Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders Margaret Sekaggya.

“Defenders play a key role in holding States to account for the implementation of their human rights obligations, including at the international level. Their legitimate work should be fully respected.”

China accepted recommendations made during its first review in 2009 to strengthen its engagement with civil society to promote and protect human rights. The Government informed the UN experts that non-governmental organizations were consulted ahead of the UPR session and that the draft of the national report was available on its official website for comments.

Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, said that even if some organizations had participated in the UPR preparations, “nothing can justify excluding legitimate voices through intimidation.”

“Access to information and an open space for the free exchange of opinions and ideas are essential to ensure a proper review of the human rights record of any country,” Mr. La Rue stressed.

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kai said preventing people to participate in the UPR and from demonstrating peacefully constitutes a breach of China’s international obligations to respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

“This obligation includes facilitating peaceful protests by providing protestors with access to public space, and protecting them, where necessary, against any threats,” he said.

Regarding the situation of Ms. Cao, the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances underlined that information on her detention, including the reasons and place of detention, should be made ready to avail to her family members and counsel.

The experts have also asked the Chinese authorities for further information regarding these allegations and called for the immediate release of all those detained after peacefully protesting for more civil society participation in the UPR process and advocating for human rights and good governance.

“These serious allegations must be investigated thoroughly and impartially by the Chinese authorities,” the experts concluded.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.

 

#china, #frank-william-la-rue, #geneva, #human-right, #special-rapporteur, #un-human-rights-council, #united-nations, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #united-nations-special-rapporteur, #universal-periodic-review, #upr

Activists Opposing Development Projects Increasingly Branded as Anti-Government

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

United Nations Human Rights Council logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to a  UN expert activists who oppose any new development scheme by large corporations are being branded anti-government. The fact these schemes involve massive amounts of money and will in so many cases create a scar on the landscape and in a number of cases, poison or damage people’s livelihoods. The fact that theses corporations can run rough shod over laws. environmental groups and even bribe government officials to get what they want, seems not to matter.

Now  Human rights defenders who oppose large-scale development projects are increasingly being branded as ‘anti-government’ or ‘enemies of the State,’ a United Nations independent expert <“http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13912&LangID=E“>warned today.

Activists who are trying to help communities affected by large-scale projects such as the construction of hydroelectric power stations, dams and roads are often “harassed, stigmatized and criminalized for doing their work,” the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, said in her latest report to the General Assembly.

They also face threats, including deaths threats, and physical attacks. “But rather than being against development, defenders play an important role in advancing it,” Ms. Sekaggya said.

“It is essential that communities and those defending their rights are able to participate actively, freely and meaningfully in assessment and analysis, project design and planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of development projects.”

Abdulhadi Al khawaja with Margaret Sekaggya

Abdulhadi Al khawaja with Margaret Sekaggya (Photo credit: frontlinedefenders)

Ms. Sekaggya called for a rights-based approach that includes the principles of equality and non-discrimination, participation, protection, transparency and accountability, including access to appropriate remedy.

Inclusion and participation, as well as accessible information about large-scale development projects, can contribute significantly to defusing tensions, she added. In contrast, a lack of transparency could not only increase the vulnerability of defenders and the affected communities, but also seriously undermine the credibility and legitimacy of both State and private involvement in such projects.

States have an obligation to provide protection to those claiming their legitimate right to participate in decision-making processes and voicing their opposition to large-scale development projects,” she said. “It is essential that those who wish to report human rights concerns and violations can safely do so.”

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

#aceworldnews, #humanrights, #enemy-of-the-state, #human-right, #human-rights-defender, #hydroelectricity, #sekaggya, #united-nations, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #united-nations-special-rapporteur

UN:Expert on Democracy States there can be No Democracy without Freedom of Opinion

English: The United Nations Security Council C...

English: The United Nations Security Council Chamber in New York, also known as the Norwegian Room Français: La Salle de réunion du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies à New York Nederlands: De Zaal van de Veiligheidsraad van de Verenigde Naties in New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There can be no democracy without freedom of opinion, a United Nations independent expert said today, highlighting the importance of access to information as he also presented his ideas on making the main bodies of the UN – the General Assembly and the Security Council – more democratic.

“You should not be subjected to the pressures, the intimidation, whether by Government or by the private sector, which would force you into self-censorship,” Alfred M. de Zayas, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, told the UN News Centre following a briefing to journalists in New York.

“If you censor yourself, if you cannot articulate your needs, if you cannot articulate your priorities, then whatever you do, putting a little cross in a ballot box, etc, does not represent your view. It is an act of desperation,” he stressed.

Earlier in the day, Mr. de Zayas spoke to the General Assembly’s main social, humanitarian and cultural body (Third Committee), to which he presented 35 recommendations on international and national diplomacy, as well as studies to be carried out ranging from self-determination to issues related to indigenous people’s, war and peace and civil society.

“One of the problems that we have in the human rights community is that special interests often forget the interests of other victims, and there’s competition among victims expressions that are unnecessary,” he said, adding also that some victims are viewed as being “privileged” while others are more “excluded.”

Among those recommendations is the idea of establishing a world parliamentary assembly, or a UN parliamentary assembly, as a consultative body to the General Assembly, which would enhance the possibility of citizens participating in global decision-making and give greater voice to civil society.

Mr. de Zayas also highlighted international democracy deficits prevalent in the UN Security Council, and advanced the idea of phasing out the veto power available to the 15-member body’s five permanent States – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States.

“The UN system is not very democratic, everyone knows that the Security Council is not democratic,” said the independent expert.

Speaking following a press conference heavily attended by representatives of indigenous groups, Mr. de Zayas said he wanted to show a “degree of solidarity” them.

He urged a workshop to be held which would focus on implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples whom he called “the forgotten victims” and “the unsung heroes.”

“You cannot turn the clock back, you cannot give the island of Manhattan back to the indigenous, but on the other hand, you can ensure that the indigenous can maintain their way of life,” Mr. de Zayas said.

He also called for the media to take up the issue and inform the public about the Declaration.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

#aceworldnews, #alfred-maurice-de-zayas, #manhattan, #security-council, #united-nations, #united-nations-general-assembly, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #united-nations-parliamentary-assembly, #united-nations-security-council, #united-nations-special-rapporteur, #united-states

UN:Justice Must be Integral to Future Sustainable Development Agenda

United Nations UN has stated that Justice must be integral to any future  SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Agenda, as Justice, security and development cannot be promoted one at the expense of the other, either through reductionism or strict sequencing, a United Nations independent expert today urged following his briefing to the General Assembly.

Pablo de Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence spoke to journalists in New York after briefing the General Assembly’s main social, humanitarian and cultural body (Third Committee) on his work.

“An interest in justice and rights is part of popular aspirations that ought to be captured by ongoing development discussions,” Mr. de Greiff said, telling the international community and particularly those involved in creating a sustainable development agenda following the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), about the relevance of justice and rights.

Referring to his report, the Special Rapporteur said that the MDGs and other development frameworks have failed to track either existing legal obligations or popular aspirations related to justice.

He highlighted the importance of transitional justice measures as mitigating some of these developmental blockages, in particular if a comprehensive approach is pursued.

Human rights violations, when left unaddressed can have an effect in creating a downward shift in people’s expectations,” he said, adding that people will shift their preferences downward rather than live in a permanent state of defeated expectations.

The UN independent expert also said that massive human rights violations undermine social trust and civic participation by having a marginalizing effect not just on the victims but on  other members of society, undermining their trust in trust in each other and in the institutions of the State.

Mr. de Greiff also raised the concerns associated with continuing to silo security, justice and development, keeping resources available for them different tracks.

Any new development agenda must satisfy a sort of “Tunisia test”, the Special Rapporteur said, which also stress good governance and equitable access to justice systems.

“Even from the point of view of security and development, failing to take justice seriously makes it more difficult for security forces to achieve their proper goal,” he said.

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

United Nations Human Rights Council logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.

 

#aceworldnews, #greiff, #human-right, #millennium-development-goals, #new-york, #pablo-de-greiff, #special-rapporteur, #sustainable-development, #united-nations, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #united-nations-special-rapporteur

UN:Human Rights Experts Call for Transparency in the Use of Armed Drones, Citing Risks of Illegal Use

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

United Nations Human Rights Council logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Expressing concern about the potential for illegal use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, two United Nations human rights experts today called on States to be transparent in their use, to investigate allegations of unlawful killings and to respect the full range of applicable international law.

“Drones are not inherently illegal weapons,” Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur Special Rapporteur on extra judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, acknowledged at a panel that discussed his new report as well as that of Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

“But we need to focus on their use,”  he stressed, pointing out that more and more States were likely to use the remote-controlled airborne weapons, which can act with lethal force almost simultaneously with detection of targets. “A world where multiple States use such weapons in secrecy is a less secure world.”

He urged a concerted effort to maintain protections of the full range of international law in the face of drone use, including human rights and humanitarian standards, the applications of which have become problematic as countries functionally widened the definition of battle zones and appropriate targets in the fight against terrorism and insurgencies.

Mr. Heyns said in addition, that the right to life must be protected as the supreme right, along with the right not to be deprived of life without strong legal rationales.

“Both States using drones and States on whose territory drones are used have their own obligations to respect international standards and prevent violations,” he said in his report,

The report emphasised that the legal framework for maintaining international peace as well as preserving the right to life makes up “a coherent and well-established system.”

Both he and Mr. Emmerson, agreed that crucial in maintaining such human rights protections was transparency on the part of countries that use drones. “I urge States to declassify, to the maximum extent possible, information relevant to their lethal extra-territorial counter-terrorism operations and to release its own data on the level of civilian casualties inflicted through the use of drones,” Mr. Emmerson said.

Mr. Emmerson said his investigation into legal aspects of drone strikes came in the wake of a joint statement by 16 States to consider the issue, following allegations of disproportionate civilian casualties and other deep concerns.

He showed a reconstruction of a drone strike that was alleged to have killed and wounded dozens of civilians when it hit a Jirga, or council of tribal elders in North Waziristan, Pakistan.

He said it was among a number of reconstructions that had examined particular strikes and which showed that it was possible to provide a degree of accuracy in resolving competing claims. “Greater transparency is quite possible,” he said, citing security experts who denied that such transparency cancelled the drone’s tactical advantages.

He maintained that in any case where civilians are alleged to have been killed by a drone, the country responsible for the strike must provide a detailed description of the incident as part of its duty to investigate.

United Nations Special Rapporteurs are independent, unpaid experts in their fields who report to the UN Human Rights Council.

#christof-heyns, #emmerson, #new-york, #north-waziristan, #pakistan, #united-nations, #united-nations-special-rapporteur, #united-states, #unmanned-aerial-vehicle