Twenty Years of Human Rights – How Far Have We To Go!

20 years plus Human Rights#AceWorldNews says as this year marks 20 years and the anniversary of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna and this extract is a statement and confirmation of the UK Government.

Human Rights Day 2013 The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action confirmed the universality of all human rights and led to historic advances in their promotion and protection. It continues to be a source of inspiration for the EU, to strive for further human rights improvements.

We work both collectively and bilaterally to promote human rights, democracy and good governance in Rwanda. The situation in Rwanda is constantly evolving. Rwanda has made impressive gains, particularly in the areas of economic development and poverty reduction. We applaud the ambition of the Government of Rwanda’s Vision 2020 – to transform Rwanda into a thriving, middle-income, regional trade and investment hub.

Teaching Children RacismIn doing so, we reinforce the message that human rights and sustainable development go hand in hand. An open, democratic and transparent system will encourage universal respect for human rights. We also commend Rwanda for their engagement with the international community on human rights questions, for example through the mechanism of the Universal Periodic Review. We would encourage Rwanda to continue that engagement, including with the mid-term progress review this year and the full review in 2015.

As we continue to support Rwanda’s development, we encourage the Government of Rwanda to wholeheartedly engage with and promote the debate on human rights issues. We see positive examples, like progressive media laws. We urge the Government to continue working towards the principle that human rights should be universal. That includes those in detention, facing trial or advocating for greater political freedoms.

While progress is acknowledged, we see continuing challenges in a number of areas, notably, in obstacles encountered by human rights groups and other NGOs operating in Rwanda, illegal detentions and the registration of political parties. We are concerned about some individual cases, such as the sudden change in leadership of the human rights defender LIPRODHOR and the unresolved murder of an employee of Transparency International in July 2013.

We would like to emphasize that we stand ready to assist the Rwandan Government in addressing these issues, and to develop our dialogue based on mutual respect and shared values.
Twenty years ago, leaders acknowledged that while the significance of regional and national particularities and various backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of states, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The EU and Rwanda share a commitment to advancing the cause of human rights nationally and globally, and we look forward to continue working with the government and people of Rwanda to realise this commitment.

Signed

  • HE Leoni Cuelenaere, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • HE Peter Fahrenholtz, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • HE Michel Flesch, Ambassador of France
  • Maria Håkansson, Chargé d’Affaires, Swedish Embassy
  • HE Ben Llewellyn-Jones, High Commissioner, British High Commission
  • HE Marc Pecsteen, Ambassador of Belgium
  • HE Michael Ryan, Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union

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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.

 

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