News

13 Nov

Since 2014, there has been an increasing number of African countries adopting or considering to adopt national legislation aimed specifically at promoting and protecting human rights defenders. Why do we need those laws? how do they concur to a better protection of defenders on the continent?

07 Nov

The Third Committee of the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution presenting the Annual Report of the Human Rights Council today without challenge to the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination on the basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (IE SOGI).

01 Nov

ISHR is calling for applications for its flagship Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme in 2020 – the extensive training programme for human rights defenders. So if you are a human rights defender keen to use the UN to push for change at home, apply now!

04 Nov

States and multinationals must review their policies and commitments when signing contracts with extractive industries, to ensure they contribute in building development infrastructure with positive impacts on communities’ wellbeing. Revenues and gains derived from these agreements must ensure greater security and respect of the rights of the people.

25 Oct

In presenting his report to the UN Third Committee, the Independent Expert on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity discussed strategies and recommendations to promote the social inclusion of LGBT people.

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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Opinion:

Lire cet article en français

By Alexandre Sommer-Schaechtele, member of the Kali’na Teleuyu nation, one of six indigenous nations in French Guiana. Alexandre Sommer-Schaechtele is a representative for the Organization of the Native Nations of Guiana (ONAG) that lodged an early warning petition with the CERD related to the controversial mining project called “Montagne d’or”.

The indigenous peoples of French Guiana used an urgent procedure of the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to help stop a mining development—more transparency could make such procedures even more effective.

This article was first published on OpenGlobalRights on 7 November 2019.

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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