News

08 Aug

The Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) eighth periodic report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was reviewed at its seventy-third session (1 – 19 July 2019). During its review the Committee urged the State to adopt a law on human rights defenders and to take measures to ensure the protection of fundamentals rights. Four key human rights defenders-related recommendations were addressed to the State.

19 Aug

The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) held its seventy-third session from 1 to 19 July 2019 in Geneva. CEDAW considered the fourth periodic report of Côte d'Ivoire on the elimination of discrimination against women. During this session, serious concerns about the protection of women human rights defenders were expressed.

25 Jul

In a country where dissent is repressed and human rights are criminalised, demanding the full enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms is a matter of life or death. 44 international and local NGOs strongly condemn the conviction against human rights defender Germain Rukuki upheld on appeal and call for his immediate and unconditional release​.

25 Jul

As Colombians march for peace on 26 July, we echo their call for a permanent end to the war, and for the government to protect social leaders building peace in their communities. We stand in solidarity with the millions who are struggling to build a just, complete and lasting peace, and who say #26deJulioElGrito.

12 Jul

Civil society organisations welcomed significant outcomes of the Human Rights Council's 41st session, including the extension of the SOGI mandate, adopting the first resolution on the Philippines and extending its scrutiny over Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Belarus and Ukraine. This session witnessed heightened scrutiny of Council members by shedding light on the situations in Saudi Arabia and China. It missed an opportunity, however, to ensure that human rights are not sidelined in Sudan. 

Philippines | Calling for accountability for violations against human rights defenders

14.05.2019

The Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries for human rights defenders. They persevere under harsh conditions, fighting against repression and corruption to make a better society for all. They continue their work so the most vulnerable are protected and their voices are heard.  

On 8 May ISHR – along with CIVICUS, Frontline Defenders, FORUM Asia, FIDH, and the World Organisation Against Torturereleased a joint statement denouncing recent death threats addressed to Karapatan Secretary General, Cristina Palabay, and urging the Philippine Government to respond to the threats against human rights defenders by taking genuine and effective measures for their protection.

‘These threats and wider attacks against human rights defenders, journalists and civil society signify the further constricting of civic space and silencing of dissent in the country,’ say the organisations.

The statement urged the international community to call for restrictive policies to be reversed. It also urged the UN Human Rights Council to advance accountability for human rights violations by adopting a resolution establishing an independent international investigation into extrajudicial killings in the government's 'war on drugs', and to call for a halt to the attacks on human rights defenders, independent media, and democratic institutions.

This follows a recent statement by organisations within the country. On 16 April 2019, a group of human rights organisations in the Philippines - including Karapatan, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Ibon Foundation, alternative learning centers for indigenous children - released a statement seeking support from the Government to halt the series of vilification and smear campaigns against human rights defenders and organisations.

The latest smear campaign has been led by the ‘National Task Force’ (NTF) that was created by President Duterte by Executive Order No. 70 on 4 December 2018 to ‘end local communist armed conflict.’

In meetings with the UN and other high-level government officials and agencies, the NTF has maligned human rights organisations, calling them ‘terrorists’ or ‘fronts for the Communist Party of the Philippines’, accused them of presenting ‘false narratives’ and ‘trying to destroy [the] government’. It has also called on States to ‘stop the release of funds to these groups,’ and states that ‘correct information on human rights in the Philippines could only come from the government.’

These smear campaigns ‘have resulted in the killings of human rights defenders, criminalisation of their work and beliefs, illegal arrests and detention, torture and other violations of the people’s right to uphold and defend rights, to form organisations and to conduct human rights work,’ according to the statement from national NGOs.

Human rights defenders in the Philippines are a light against a repressive regime. Without them, countless stories from vulnerable populations might not be heard or have their rights protected. The international community must call for an end to these harmful campaigns against human rights defenders.

For more information contact: Sarah Brooks, s.brooks@ishr.ch or Tess McEvoy, t.mcevoy@ishr.ch

Photo: Le Montage

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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