Category Archives: civil society

Human Rights Bodies Respond to Coronavirus, Some Suspend Scheduled Sessions

UN Secretary-General António Guterres attends COVID-19 briefing
Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc FerréŽ

Various supranational human rights bodies have cancelled or limited meetings in response to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) assessment of the global risk posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the increasing number of travel restrictions imposed by national governments. [NGO CSW; HRC Bureau Meeting; WHO Press Release: Feb 28] Civil society’s participation has been hardest hit, most notably by the decisions to reduce the 64th session of Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) from two weeks to one day, and to cancel all side events at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s ongoing session. [NGO CSW; France24; VOA] Some human rights monitoring bodies and civil society organizations have also reminded States of their human rights obligations in the context of preventing the spread of coronavirus. [ACHPR Press Release; OHCHR Press Release; Amnesty International] On its webpage, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, for one, encouraged participants in its March session to use videoconferencing to participate remotely. The human rights bodies’ decisions to cancel or modify meetings come after a February 28 letter from the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres.

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March 2020: UN Treaty Bodies, Human Rights Council, and Regional Bodies in Session

European Committee of Social Rights
Credit: Council of Europe

In March, universal and regional human rights bodies and experts will assess States’ compliance with their human rights obligations through the consideration of State and civil society reports and country visits. Five United Nations treaty bodies and two pre-sessional working groups will be in session to assess States’ progress regarding economic, social and cultural rights; children’s rights; civil and political rights; the rights of persons with disabilities; and, migrants’ rights. The Human Rights Council will continue to hold its first of three regular sessions in 2020. Seven UN special procedures will conduct country visits in March. Additionally, two UN Working Groups will hold sessions in Geneva, Switzerland. Regionally, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will hold public sessions. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will also hold a Grand Chamber hearing.

The UN treaty body sessions, the ECtHR’s Grand Chamber hearing, and the public hearings of the IACtHR and the IACHR may be watched via UN Web TV, the ECtHR’s website, and the IACtHR’s Vimeo page and the IACHR’s YouTube page, respectively. Civil society members wishing to attend sessions should monitor updates related to the spread of the COVID-19 (Corona) virus, which may result in cancelled sessions or meetings and/or additional health checks.

To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.

UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies

Five of the 10 UN human rights treaty bodies will meet this month to review certain States parties’ implementation of their treaty obligations. They are the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Committee on the Rights of the Child; the Human Rights Committee; the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and, the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Further, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Pre-sessional Working Group and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Pre-sessional Working Group will begin their review of State reports and develop “list of issues” following their discussions on State reports. Through the State reporting procedure, treaty bodies review States’ reports and responses to a specific list of issues, receive additional information from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and national human rights institutions (NHRIs), engage in an interactive dialogue with each State’s representatives, and then adopt concluding observations detailing the progress and remaining challenges in the State’s implementation of the treaty. Through a simplified reporting procedure, treaty bodies may invite States to respond only to questions (list of issues) prepared by the treaty body, rather than submitting a comprehensive report and also responses to a subsequent list of issues.

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) will continue to hold its 67th Session, which began on February 17 and will end on March 6, 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to its tentative programme of work, during the session, the CESCR will hold interactive dialogues with Belgium, Benin, Guinea, Norway, and Ukraine to assess their compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights. The Committee will also hold closed discussions. To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the CESCR’s 67th Session webpage.

Following the CESCR’s Session 67th Session, the CESCR Pre-sessional Working Group will hold its 66th Session from March 9 to 13, 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland. The CESCR Pre-sessional Working Group will begin its review of the State reports of the Czech Republic, the Congo, and Uzbekistan. It will also consider list of issues prior to reporting for Canada, Chile, France, and Italy to address in its simplified reporting procedure. For more information on the CESCR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Committee on the Rights of the Child

The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will hold its 84th Extraordinary Session from March 2 to 6, 2020, in Apia, Samoa. According to the programme of work, the CRC will hold interactive dialogues with the Cook Islands, Micronesia, and Tuvalu to assess their compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Civil society members wishing to attend the CRC’s session must register through the Indico system before March 6, 2020. To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the CRC’s 84th Session webpage. For more information on the CRC, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Human Rights Committee

The Human Rights Committee will hold its 128th Session from March 2 to 27, 2020, in Geneva Switzerland. According to its programme of work and annotated provisional agenda, the Committee will hold interactive dialogues with the Central African Republic, Portugal, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan to access their implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Further, the Committee will hold an interactive dialogue with Dominica in absence of a State report. The Committee’s task forces will also consider and adopt list of issues for Haiti, Kenya, Philippines, and Sri Lanka ahead of their interactive dialogues. Finally, the Human Rights Committee will consider list of issues prior to reporting for Burkina Faso, Montenegro, Somalia, and United Kingdom and Northern Ireland to address in its simplified reporting procedure.

According to the information note for NGOs and NHRIs, civil society members who would like to attend the Human Rights Committee’s session must register through the Indico system before April 3, 2020. To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the CCPR’s 128th Session webpage. For more information on the Human Rights Committee, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) will hold its 23rd Session from March 9 to 27, 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to its tentative programme of work, the CRPD will hold interactive dialogues with Bangladesh, Djibouti, Estonia, Hungary, Lao, and Venezuela to assess their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Civil society members who would like to attend the CRPD’s session must register through the Indico system before March 20, 2020. To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the CRPD’s 23rd Session webpage.

Following the CRPD’s 23rd Session, the CRPD will hold its 13th Pre-sessional Working Group from March 30 to April 3, 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland. The Working Group will begin its review of State reports from Angola, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Georgia, Indonesia, Malawi, and Mauritania to assess their compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Additionally, the Working Group will consider list of issues prior to reporting from Croatia to address in its simplified reporting procedure. Civil society members who would like to participate in the Committee’s pre-sessional working group must register through the Indico system before March 13, 2020. For more information on the CRPD, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families

The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW) will hold its 32nd Session from March 30 to April 3, 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland. The CMW will hold interactive dialogues with Cabo Verde, Chile, Paraguay, and Rwanda to assess their compliance with the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. The CMW will also consider and adopt list of issues for Syria ahead of its interactive dialogue, and consider list of issues prior to reporting for the Congo and Nigeria to consider in its simplified reporting procedure.

According to the information note for civil society organizations and NHRIs, individuals interested in attending the session must register through the Indico system by April 3, 2020. To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the CMW’s 32nd Session webpage. For more information on the CMW, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

UN Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental deliberative body, will continue to hold its 43rd Session, which began on February 24 and will end on March 20, 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the session agenda, the Human Rights Council will review reports from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Secretary General, outcome reports from the Universal Periodic Review Working Group on specific States, and reports from UN special procedures mandate holders. The list of reports is available on the session’s webpage.

The Human Rights Council will select five individuals to serve as members of the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development; two individuals to serve as members of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights; the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons; the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia; the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context; the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and its consequences; the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights; the Special Rapporteur on the right to food; the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples; the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children; the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. The Human Rights Council will also convene several panel discussions on topics including the rights of the child, the rights of persons with disabilities, the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the International Decade for People of African Descent.

NGOs in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) can be accredited to participate in the Human Rights Council’s sessions as observers, as described on the Council’s webpage on NGO participation. Relevant documents and further information regarding the issues that the Human Rights Council will cover during the session, including submissions from civil society and the Council’s agenda, is available on the Human Rights Council’s 43rd Session webpage. For more information about the Human Rights Council, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Special Procedures

Seven independent human rights experts and monitoring bodies, known as UN “special procedures,” have country visits scheduled in March. Additionally, two working groups will hold private sessions in Geneva, Switzerland.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression agreed to visit the Maldives from March 1 to 8, 2020.

The UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons agreed to visit New Zealand from March 2 to 12, 2020.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples agreed to visit Denmark and Greenland from March 10 to 19, 2020.

The UN Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity agreed to visit Costa Rica from March 16 to 27, 2020.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health agreed to visit New Zealand from March 23 to April 3, 2020.

The UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls agreed to visit Romania from February 24 to March 6, 2020.

The UN Working Group of experts on people of African descent agreed to visit Peru from February 25 to March 4, 2020.

The UN Working Group of experts on people of African descent will hold its 26th Session from March 30 to April 3, 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination will hold its 39th Session from March 30 to April 3, 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland.

During their country visits, these special procedures mandate holders will assess both the overall human rights situation in the country and the issues specific to their thematic focus. Experts also meet with civil society, government, and national human rights institutions when they visit a country. Their findings are published later in reports addressed to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly. See OHCHR, Country and other visits of Special Procedures. To view the full list of forthcoming country visits, review the Special Procedures’ Visits document and visit the OHCHR website. For more information on each special procedure, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Regional Bodies

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) will continue to hold its 27th Extraordinary Session, which began on February 19 and will end on March 4, 2020, in Banjul, The Gambia. The ACHPR reviews State compliance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights through its reporting procedure, assessment of individual complaints, fact-finding and promotional missions to States, and monitoring. For more information on the ACHPR, visit the IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hold its 175th Period of Sessions from March 2 to 8, 2020, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. During the session, it will hold public hearings on a range of human rights concerns in the region, including in 12 countries. They are Brazil, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela. The calendar of hearings is available on the IACHR website. For more information on the IACHR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will hold its 134th Regular Session from March 9 to 20, 2020, in San José, Costa Rica. During its sessions, the IACtHR typically holds public hearings on the merits of individual complaints and deliberates on contentious cases alleging human rights violations. For more information about the IACtHR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

European Committee of Social Rights

The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) of the Council of Europe will hold its 312th Session from March 23 to 27, 2020, in Strasbourg, France. The draft agenda has been published on the ECSR’s calendar, and the synopsis for this session will be published at a later date. During its sessions, the ECSR reviews States’ reports on their implementation of the European Social Charter, considers collective complaints alleging violations of the Charter, and follows up on the Turin process to improve implementation of the Charter at the continental level. According to the ECSR’s calendar for national reporting, the ECSR will consider State reports concerning employment, training, and equal opportunities from the Netherlands, Sweden, Croatia, Norway, Slovenia, Cyprus, and the Czech Republic throughout the 2020 calendar year. The ECSR will consider simplified reports on the same topic from France, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, and Finland throughout the 2020 calendar year. Simplified reports focus on areas of non-conformity identified in the Committee’s previous conclusions. For more information on the European Committee of Social Rights, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

European Court of Human Rights

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hold a hearing in the case M.A. v. Denmark (no. 6697/18) on March 18, 2020, in Strasbourg, France. See ECtHR, Calendar of Hearings. The case concerns a Syrian national, M.A., whose request for family reunion with his wife from Syria was denied by Danish authorities. [ECtHR Press Release] In 2016, the Danish Immigration Appeals Board denied M.A.’s request for family reunion because the applicant, M.A., had not possessed a valid residence permit for at least three years – a requirement under national law for individuals granted temporary protection – and the Immigration Appeals Board did not find any “special reasons, such as concern for the unity of the family, to justify reunion.” [ECtHR Press Release] M.A. initiated proceedings before national courts claiming that the legislation requiring individuals, like himself, with temporary protection to reside in the country for three years before they can become eligible for family reunion was discriminatory given that others who are granted a higher degree of protection, such as refugees, become eligible after one year. [ECtHR Press Release] In 2017, the Danish Supreme Court ruled against the applicant, finding that the differential treatment was justified. [ECtHR Press Release] Subsequently, the applicant submitted a complaint before the ECtHR alleging a violation of Article 8 (right to family life) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 8 under the European Convention of Human Rights. [ECtHR Press Release] In November 2019, the ECtHR chamber assigned to the case relinquished its jurisdiction to the ECtHR Grand Chamber.

For more information on the ECtHR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

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Recent Developments Highlight Increased Collaboration Among Human Rights Bodies

Signing of the MOU between the UN and the World Economic Forum
Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Over the past several months, supranational human rights bodies have announced a flurry of joint events and agreements, highlighting some specific rights challenges and the increasing importance of technical collaboration. Between September and November 2019, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) were among the bodies that entered into cooperation agreements or hosted events to formalize and enhance collaboration in the implementation of human rights instruments. While there are many other examples over the past decade, it is noteworthy that these collaborations appear to be happening with increasing frequency, formality, and transparency.

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IACHR Announces Results and Changes in Efforts to Reduce Backlog

Assistant Executive Secretary for Petitions and Cases, Marisol Blanchard Vera (far right), IACHR 173 Period of Sessions
Credit: IACHR via Flickr

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which has long faced a significant backlog in its resolution of individual complaints, has announced developments in the implementation of its Special Procedural Backlog Reduction Program, approved in its Strategic Plan 2017-2021. [IACHR Press Release: Stages] According the IACHR’s press release on its 2019 conclusions, to date, the IACHR has achieved record results in terms of the number of petitions it reviews, decisions it adopts, and friendly settlements it approves. [IACHR Press Release: Stages] It also expects to notify States and petitioners of a record number of decisions to open petitions for processing in 2019. [IACHR Press Release: Stages] The IACHR attributes the increases to the addition of 21 individuals to its case system team in the last two years, largely thanks to the regular fund budget increase from the Organization of American States. [IACHR Press Release: Stages]

The IACHR has also made logistical and procedural changes in its handling of petitions. Most recently, the IACHR adopted Resolution 1/19 limiting the opportunities for petitioners to request review of a decision by the IACHR to reject a petition at the initial review stage. [IACHR Press Release: Initial Review] It also continues to implement Resolution 1/16, allowing the IACHR to consider the admissibility and merits of certain petitions together (rather than in separate stages and reports). Other efforts include increased facilitation of friendly settlements, using template reports for similar cases, and archiving petitions after three years of inactivity (rather than five). [IACHR Press Release: Stages]

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September 2019: UN Treaty Bodies, Human Rights Council, And Regional Bodies in Session

Human Rights Council in Session
Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

In September, universal and regional human rights bodies and experts will review States’ compliance with their human rights obligations through the consideration of State and civil society reports and country visits. Three United Nations treaty bodies and one pre-sessional working group will hold sessions to assess States’ progress regarding the rights of persons with disabilities, children, and migrant workers. The Human Rights Council will consider the overall human rights situations in 14 countries. Nine UN special procedures will conduct country visits in September. Additionally, the UN Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances will hold a session in Geneva, Switzerland. Of the regional bodies, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR), the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will be in session, and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hold three Grand Chamber hearings.

The UN treaty body sessions may be watched via UN Web TV. The public hearings of the AfCHPR, IACtHR, IACHR, and ECtHR may be viewed via the AfCHPR’s YouTube page, the IACtHR’s Vimeo page, the IACHR’s YouTube page, and the ECtHR’s website, respectively.

To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar. Read more

OAS Elects Four Commissioners to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Second Day of OAS 49th General Assembly
Credit: OEA – OAS via Flickr

On June 28, 2019, the 49th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) re-elected Commissioners Margaret May Macaulay (Jamaica) and Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño (Panama) to serve a second full term on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and elected two new commissioners, Julissa Mantilla Falcón (Peru) and Edgar Stuardo Ralón Orellana (Guatemala). [OAS Press Release] By January 2020, when the elected commissioners begin their terms, the IACHR’s composition will consist of five female commissioners and two male commissioners – the highest female to male ratio in the history of the IACHR. Mantilla Falcón was endorsed as a qualified commissioner in the 2019 report by the Independent Panel for the Election of Inter-American Human Rights Commissioners, a part of the Initiative on Transparency and Election Monitoring housed at American University’s Washington College of Law. See Mariclaire Acosta, et al., Abridged Version of the Report from the Independent Panel of Experts for the Evaluation of Candidates for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (2019). However, the Panel and civil society members objected to Ralón Orellana’s nomination and election, citing concerns over his limited human rights experience as well as his independence and impartiality.

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Inter-American Court to Publish Some Submissions on Implementation of Judgments

Caso Acosta y otros Vs. Nicaragua
Credit: CorteIDH via Flickr

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) has published a new agreement providing public access to certain documents submitted to the Court in relation to decided cases. [IACtHR Press Release] Specifically, the Court will now publish on its website briefs and other information on compliance with its ordered guarantees of non-repetition (whether these are submitted by the parties or by other entities or experts), as well as amicus curiae briefs, submitted during the judgment implementation phase. See I/A Court H.R., Court Agreement No. 1/19, Clarifications in Relation to the Publication of Information Contained in the Files of Cases at the Stage of Monitoring Compliance with Judgment, 11 March 2019.

While the IACtHR has long published its own orders on compliance with its judgments, it has not previously published the parties’ briefs or other submissions regarding compliance. And, while the Court publishes the parties’ “main briefs” from the merits phase, it does not publish amicus curiae briefs related to the merits. Importantly, the Court’s orders on compliance with its judgments already refer to and quote from the information it receives from the parties and others; the major change of this new policy is that the public will have direct access to submitted documents and briefs themselves, at least with regard to guarantees of non-repetition. The Court may implement the new agreement retrospectively, to publish the relevant briefs received in prior years. See id.

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New Report: Civil Society Access to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

civil society meets with IACHR

The International Justice Resource Center (IJRC) has published its second report in an ongoing series examining the barriers to civil society’s engagement with supranational human rights oversight bodies. See IJRC, Civil Society Access to International Oversight Bodies: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (2019). This edition analyzes the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a principal autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) charged with addressing human rights conditions and human rights violations in the 35 OAS Member States. The 65-page report focuses on the informal policies and practical factors, as well as formal rules, that help or hinder civil society’s participation in IACHR sessions and other activities. The Executive Summary, which includes the report’s main findings and a complete list of recommendations to the IACHR, is available in both Spanish and English. Read more

Commission of Inquiry: Israeli Response to Gaza Demonstrations Violated Rights

2018 Gaza border protests, Bureij
Credit: מינוזיג – MinoZig via Wikimedia Commons

In a new 252-page report, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (CoIOPT or Commission), established by the UN Human Rights Council, presents detailed findings related to its investigation of the demonstrations that took place in Gaza between March 30 and December 31, 2018, the Israeli security forces’ response, and the impact on civilians living in Gaza and Israel. See Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 18 March 2019, UN Doc. No. A/HRC/40/CRP.2, para. 1. The CoIOPT finds Israel, Hamas (as Gaza’s de facto authority), and the Palestinian Authority, responsible for human rights violations committed in the context of these protests; notes that the Israeli security forces’ response to the demonstrations gave rise to humanitarian law violations, some of which may amount to crimes against humanity; and highlights the urgent need to revise the Israeli security forces’ rules of engagement. See id. at paras. 980-81, 985. The CoIOPT presents the report with a view to ensuring accountability, proposing concrete recommendations, and identifying State and non-State actors responsible for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and international criminal law — the applicable international legal framework to this situation. See id. at paras. 12-13, 37.

While the Commission faced significant limitations with respect to its ability to witness information first-hand, it relied on interviews, meetings with victims, civil society, government officials, and witnesses; it also collected thousands of documents, including medical reports, expert legal opinions, drone footage, and written submissions, among others, to support its findings. See id. at paras. 19-21, 30-36. The Israeli government has since issued a statement rejecting the report’s findings and accusing the Commission of bias against Israel. See Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel’s response to UNHRC Commission of Inquiry report, 21 March 2019. Read more

Human Rights Experts Condemn Continuing Internet Shutdowns in African Countries

ACHPR Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Lawrence Murugu Mute
Credit: Lawrence Mute via Twitter

A number of African countries have drawn international criticism amid a wave of internet shutdowns aimed at restricting access to information and discourse on social, economic, and political issues. Between December 2018 and January 2019, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, and Zimbabwe cut off access to the internet in response to protests. [ACHPR Press Release: Shutdowns] Human rights groups and experts have condemned these moves as illegal acts of repression, citing violations of the rights to freedom of expression and access to information. [ACHPR Press Release: Shutdowns; OHCHR Press Release; Access Now Press Release] While the internet shutdowns in Africa contribute to a trend of increasing shutdowns around the world, the international response demonstrates that internet access is now recognized as essential to the exercise of human rights.

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