Warsaw, December 9, 2010. The third « inter-mechanisms » meeting organised by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders[1] and hosted by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) ended today in Warsaw, coinciding with the international human rights defenders day. On this occasion, international and regional mechanisms and programmes for the protection of human rights defenders (within the United Nations, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Council of Europe, European Union, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, ODIHR, joined by the International Organisation of the Francophonie) shared their respective experiences, and identified best practices and ways to increase their efficiency. Action-oriented discussions focused on the treatment of individual cases and their follow-up, preventive actions and emergency protection measures, information sharing on country visits and trial observations, as well as the publicity of their actions. (suite…)

Statement of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures on behalf of mandate holders of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the occasion of Human Rights Day, 10 December, 2010

GENEVA (9 December 2010) – “Human rights defenders are the front line of efforts to confront discrimination and all violations of rights – their work is vital, yet they are frequently under threat and must be better protected,” said a group of 55 United Nations independent human rights experts in a joint statement to mark Human Rights Day, 10 December 2010.

“They do not bear arms, they do not use violence – defenders use only their voices and persistence to challenge injustice peacefully. However, too often it is human rights defenders themselves who require protection from human rights abuses.

“Because of their determination and their effectiveness in bringing to light human rights concerns, they endure threats, intimidation, stigmatization and harassment. In some cases they face arbitrary detention and may become the victims of torture, disappearance or execution. (suite…)

WARSAW, 8 December 2010 – Ahead of the International Human Rights Day on Friday, participants at an international meeting hosted by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today called for better inter-institutional co-operation to strengthen protection of human rights defenders.

The two-day event is organized by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture. ODIHR hosts the annual meeting for the first time.

Snjezana Bokulic, the head of ODIHR’s human rights department, stressed that the OSCE highly values the work of civil society in promoting human rights: « The international community must combine its efforts in a joint and comprehensive approach in order to effectively support the important work that is done by human rights defenders in the region. » (suite…)

Washington, December 3, 2010—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the government of Venezuela’s proposal to adopt legal provisions to control the international cooperation funding received by nongovernmental organizations.

According to the information the Commission has received, President Hugo Chávez asked the National Assembly to adopt a law prohibiting political parties and nongovernmental organizations from receiving international funding.

The Commission expresses its concern over the possibility of laws being approved that could create impediments to the formation, independence, and operations of nongovernmental organizations. Of particular concern to the IACHR is the possibility that the International Cooperation Bill that was approved at first debate by the full chamber of the National Assembly in 2006 will be reactivated. The vagueness of the language of some of the bill’s provisions and the broad discretion granted to the authorities in charge of regulating the law create the risk that this law could be interpreted in a restrictive manner to limit the exercise of the rights of association, freedom of expression, political participation, and equality. This could seriously affect the functioning of nongovernmental organizations, whose independent role has been essential for the strengthening of democracy in Venezuela. (suite…)

Washington, 30 November 2010 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of Óscar Maussa, a Colombian campesino leader and beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR on September 1, 2006.

The available information indicates that Óscar Maussa and other members of the Blanquicet Agricultural Workers’ Cooperative (COOTRAGROBLAN) were asserting their rights over lands from which they had been forcibly ejected by paramilitary groups between 1996 and 1998. It also indicates that in 2005, the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Chigorodó ordered the restitution of the “La Esperanza” farm to its COOTRAGROBLAN owners, but that the families did not return due to threats from the paramilitaries. In 2006, the IACHR granted precautionary measures to protect the life and physical integrity of four families from COOTRAGROBLAN, including the Maussa family, after they were threatened by the paramilitaries who seized their lands for having taken judicial action to recover their property. The information received by the IACHR indicates that in 2007, Óscar Maussa received new death threats and as a result had had to move again. According to publically available information, on November 24, 2010, Óscar Maussa’s body was found with the hands tied and showing signs of violence. (suite…)