News

28 Dec

As the year draws to a close, I am so proud of the work of my colleagues at ISHR, together with our partners around the globe, towards a world which is more fair, just, compassionate and peaceful.

And I am so thankful for your support in achieving this progress. 

27 Dec

The first ever UN General Assembly High Level Event has taken place to mark twenty years since the adoption of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.  States and UN officials made significant statements about the importance of the work of human rights defenders, but all at a time of multiplying threats and attacks against defenders globally.

26 Dec

In a major new report on the situation for human rights defenders globally and at country level in over a decade,  the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders suggests that restrictions placed on those defending rights and attacks against them amounts to a war being waged against human rights defenders.

26 Dec

In a victory for human rights defenders, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights approved a settlement between the Honduran government and the family of the killed environmental rights defender Carlos Escaleras. The settlement includes progressive measures not only to bring justice to the Escaleras family, but also to challenge the stigmatisation of human rights defenders.

18 Dec

The General Assembly today voted on key resolutions, such as the freedom of peaceful assembly and association. Generally, these resolutions received even greater support than before, which is positive news for human rights defenders and their work. 

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Ugandan President must veto draconian 'anti-homosexuality' law

20.12.2013

(Geneva) - A draconian 'anti-homosexuality' bill passed by the Ugandan parliament flagrantly violates international law and should be vetoed by the Ugandan President, the International Service for Human Rights said today.

'The Anti-Homosexuality Bill would have wide-ranging and devastating impacts on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. It must not be signed into law,' said ISHR Director Phil Lynch. 

The Bill criminalises a wide range of activities that are expressly protected by international law, including same-sex relations and the 'promotion of homosexuality'. Entry into a same-sex marriage is punishable by life imprisonment.

'This Bill is manifestly incompatible with international human rights law, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill is also clearly incompatible with the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, all of which are fundamental pillars of a safe, secure and democratic society,' Mr Lynch said.

ISHR is particularly concerned that, if allowed to stand, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill will lead to an increase in homophobic violence, discrimination and harassment. A recent report released by the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) and African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) documented numerous cases of physical violence against LGBT human rights defenders across Africa, including arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual violence, extortion and even killings. 

‘Bills such as this serve to stigmatise same-sex relations and increase the incidence of homophobic violence and harassment,’ Mr Lynch said.

In a separate statement, Amnesty International's Deputy Africa Director, Aster van Kregten, said, 'This bill will institutionalise discrimination, hatred and prejudice in law against lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and intersex Ugandans, who are already marginalised.'

ISHR is also deeply concerned at the Bill's provisions relating to the 'promotion' of homosexuality.

‘In addition to targeting same-sex relations, the bill targets human rights defenders who take a take stand for equality and against discrimination, effectively criminalising their work,’ Mr Lynch said.

‘Human rights defenders play a crucial role in advocating for the acceptance of human rights and freedoms, and attempts to silence their voices amount to attacks on the very foundations of a democratic and inclusive society.’

ISHR urges Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to urgently veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Contact: Phil Lynch, Director, International Service for Human Rights, on + 41 76 708 4738 or p.lynch@ishr.ch

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Let’s start with a seemingly unconventional proposition: civil society and business share the same space, and therefore should share an interest in defending what unites them. How controversial is that proposition, really?, ask Bennett Freeman, Mauricio Lazala and ISHR's Michael Ineichen. 

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Mechanism

1984

ISHR commences work to develop an international Declaration on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders

1988

ISHR publishes first Human Rights Monitor, connecting human rights defenders on the ground with international human rights systems and developments

1993

ISHR facilitates global civil society engagement with the Second World Conference on Human Rights, which leads to the strengthening of women’s rights, the affirmation of universal rights, the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and the establishment of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

1994

ISHR provides training, technical assistance and support to its 1000th human rights defender

1998

After 14 years of ISHR lobbying, advocacy and negotiation, the UN General Assembly adopts the landmark Declaration on Human Rights Defenders

2000

UN Secretary-General appoints Hina Jilani as inaugural UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, strengthening protection of human rights advocates at risk worldwide.

2004

ISHR leads a successful campaign for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

2005

ISHR co-founds and supports a range of international and regional human rights coalitions, including the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and the West African Human Rights Defenders Network

2006

ISHR contributes to the establishment and institution building of a new global peak body for human rights issues, the UN Human Rights Council

2007

ISHR leads and coordinates the development of the Yogyakarta Principles on sexual orientation and gender identity, strengthening legal recognition and protection of LGBT rights worldwide

2011

ISHR’s sustained advocacy on the issue of reprisals and intimidation faced by human rights defenders leads to adoption of landmark UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning and strengthening protections against reprisals

2012

Working with key NGO partners such as Amnesty International, ISHR leads civil society efforts to strengthen UN human rights treaty bodies, prevent their weakening and better connect their work with victims and human rights defenders on the ground

2013

Working with supportive states and NGOs, ISHR advocacy leads to adoption of historic Human Rights Council resolution calling on all States to review and amend national laws to respect and protect the work of human rights defenders