Message by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the occasion of Human Rights Day 2010.

Human Rights Day 2010 on 10 December recognizes the work of human rights defenders worldwide who act to end discrimination.

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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. (more…)

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. (more…)

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.” (more…)

WARSAW, 11 November 2010 – The Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, today encouraged Kyrgyzstan’s authorities to ensure full compliance with fair trial standards in the case of human rights defender Azimjan Askarov and other trials related to the June violence in the south of the country.

An appeals court yesterday upheld the 15 September verdict of a lower court, which sentenced Askarov to life imprisonment and confiscation of his property on charges of organizing mass disorder and inciting inter-ethnic hatred.

ODIHR monitors at the first instance trial and appeal proceedings noted that the authorities failed to make adequate efforts to address repeated instances of verbal abuse, including death threats, directed at the lawyers and the defendant, as well as an instance of physical attack against one of the lawyers. This added to an atmosphere of fear and intimidation surrounding many of the cases related to the June violence, in particular those involving ethnic Uzbek defendants. (more…)