GENEVA (19 March 2012) – In an open letter* to world Governments, a group of 22 UN independent human rights experts called on States to incorporate universally agreed international human rights norms and standards with strong accountability mechanisms into the UN Rio+20 sustainable development conference’s goals, as the Rio+20 first round of informal-informal negotiations began today in New York.

“Global goals are easily set, but seldom met,” the rights experts warned, raising the bar for what the conference can and should achieve. “A real risk exists that commitments made in Rio will remain empty promises without effective monitoring and accountability,” they stressed less than a hundred days before the conference starts.

The second Rio Summit, Rio+20, is expected to lay the foundations for a set of global Sustainable Development Goals to complement and strengthen the UN Millennium Development Goals created in 2000.

“Learning from the mistakes of the Millennium Development Goals, the new sustainable goals must integrate the full range of human rights linked with sustainable development, and human rights must be the benchmark for whether or not inclusive, equitable and sustainable development is occurring,” the independent experts said

Twenty years after the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, and ten after the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, the mounting effects of climate change and environmental degradation have raised the stakes further. Both the Goals and the means of reviewing progress must be based on human rights from the start.

“Human rights have guided sixty-plus years of progress by providing a legal baseline for political actions,” they said. “Human rights must now be the glue in Rio: they must bind countries to the commitments they make. States have an opportunity in Rio to create the transformative changes needed or else fare no better than in previous global attempts in this regard.” (más…)

Genève-Paris, le 15 mars 2012. Les 8 et 9 mars 2012, l’Observatoire pour la protection des défenseurs des droits de l’Homme, un programme conjoint de la Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’Homme (FIDH) et de l’Organisation mondiale contre la torture (OMCT), a organisé la quatrième réunion “inter-mécanismes”, à l’invitation du Haut-commissariat des Nations unies aux droits de l’Homme (HCDH) à Genève (Suisse).

A cette occasion, les mécanismes et programmes internationaux et régionaux de protection des défenseurs des droits de l’Homme – opérant au sein des Nations unies, de la Commission africaine des droits de l’Homme et des peuples (CADHP), du Conseil de l’Europe, de la Commission interaméricaine des droits de l’Homme (CIDH) et du Bureau des institutions démocratiques et des droits de l’Homme de l’OSCE – rejoints par des représentants de l’Union européenne, de l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie et d’ONG, ont discuté de la rédaction d’un rapport conjoint sur ​​les normes et recommandations existantes relatives à la protection des défenseurs des droits de l’Homme aux niveaux international et régional. La CIDH a proposé de jouer un rôle de coordination dans la rédaction du rapport, avec le soutien de l’Observatoire. Ce rapport s’inspirera du Commentaire de 2011 de la Déclaration des Nations unies sur les défenseurs des droits de l’Homme par la Rapporteure spéciale des Nations unies sur les défenseurs et du deuxième rapport de la CIDH sur la situation des défenseurs des droits de l’Homme. Un tel document, le premier de ce genre, constituera non seulement un instrument utile aux défenseurs, aux Etats et aux autres parties prenantes concernées, mais démontrera également une unité d’approches entre les mécanismes. (más…)

Los Relatores sobre defensores de derechos humanos de las Naciones Unidas (ONU), de la Comisión Africana de Derechos Humanos y los Derechos de los Pueblos (Comisión Africana) y de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) expresan su grave preocupación en relación con actos de represalias contra personas y grupos que buscan a cooperar con les sistemas de derechos humanos regionales y/o de la ONU. Estas represalias contra personas y/o grupos que participan directamente en la ONU, la Comisión Africana y la CIDH, o que suministran información sobre la situación de los derechos humanos en países determinados, se dan en forma de campañas de desprestigio, acoso, intimidación, amenazas directas, agresiones físicas y asesinatos.

La ONU, la Comisión Africana y la CIDH tienen acuerdos normativos y reglas de procedimiento que prohíben explícitamente las represalias por parte de actores estatales y no estatales.1/En un esfuerzo por salvaguardar la vital colaboración entre la sociedad civil y los mecanismos de derechos humanos regionales y de las Naciones Unidas, los Relatores sobre defensores de derechos humanos se comprometen a y hacen un llamamiento a favor de mayor monitoreo y más acciones para hacer respetar estas reglas, y apoyan la reciente iniciativa de la Presidenta del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU, quien urgió a los Estados a poner fin inmediatamente a la intimidación y el acoso contra las personas y grupos que asisten al 19° periodo de sesión del Consejo de Derechos Humanos.2/ (más…)

GENEVA (5 March 2012) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya said today the ‘Arab Spring’ helped focus international attention on the extraordinary risks rights defenders face while promoting and protecting human rights in all regions of the world. She also expressed deep concern that State actors, including Government officials, State security forces and the judiciary, are reportedly the perpetrators of many of the violations committed against these defenders.

“Journalists, environmental, student and youth rights defenders and those working on land issues are in significant need of protection,” Ms. Sekaggya said at the UN Human Rights Council during the presentation of her report* on the situation of rights defenders who are at high risk due to their work. “Most of these risks directly affect their physical integrity and that of their family members, but also involve the abusive use of legal frameworks against them and the criminalization of their work.”

The UN independent expert noted that recent world events have shown that journalists and media workers reporting on human rights issues are particularly vulnerable. “Their work is of extreme importance in holding Governments accountable. However, those same Governments often crack down on them, including through threats, harassment, arrests, detentions, and in the worst of cases killings,” she said. (más…)

2 February 2012

GENEVA– A number of UN human rights experts on Thursday expressed their dismay at the continuing abuse of anti-terrorism legislation to curb freedom of expression in Ethiopia.

A week ago, three journalists and two opposition politicians* were given prison sentences ranging from 14 years to life imprisonment under Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism laws. This follows the sentencing of two Swedish journalists to 11 years in prison on 27 December 2011. Another 24 defendants are scheduled to appear before the court on 5 March 2012, for various charges under the anti-terrorism law, several of whom may face the death sentence if convicted.

“Journalists play a crucial role in promoting accountability of public officials by investigating and informing the public about human rights violations,” said Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, who emphasized that “they should not face criminal proceedings for carrying out their legitimate work, let alone be severely punished. Ethiopia has an obligation to fully guarantee all individuals’ right to freedom of opinion and expression under international human rights law.”