Réflexions sur la 38ème session du Conseil des droits de l’homme de l’ONU

English version

L’ouverture de la 38ème session a été marquée par un événement sans précédent : le retrait des États-Unis du Conseil des droits de l’homme de l’ONU (CDH). Il s’agit en effet, au cours des 12 ans d’existence du Conseil, du premier État à le faire. Dans une lettre en date du 22 juin, l’Ambassadrice Nikki Haley a accusé DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) et 17 autres ONG d’avoir contribué à la décision des États-Unis en raison de la co-signature que nous avions apposée à une lettre qui avait exprimé des inquiétudes légitimes quant aux efforts étasuniens, déployés à l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU, de reformer le CDH. Ces tentatives court-circuitaient les procédures établies.

Bien que nous accueillions avec satisfaction les tentatives de renforcement du Conseil, nous avions de sérieuses inquiétudes quant au fait que l’approche proposée aurait plutôt affaibli ce dernier. DefendDefenders est engagé en faveur d’un CDH qui soit un forum où les voix des défenseurs des droits humains (DDH) sont entendues et, lors de la 38ème session, nous avons soutenu la participation de DDH érythréens et tanzaniens.

Le Burundi a également tenu le haut du pavé, avec des débats le concernant sous les Points 4, 6 (Examen périodique universel) et 2. Pendant la session, la délégation a continué à refuser de coopérer, une caractéristique qui est devenue la caractéristique principale du comportement du Burundi en tant que membre du Conseil. Celui-ci est allé jusqu’à menacer les membres de la Commission d’enquête (CoI) sur le Burundi de poursuites judiciaires. Dans un développement kafkaïen, le gouvernement a délivré des visas aux experts mandatés par une résolution qu’il avait soutenue durant la 36ème session du Conseil, puis les a révoqués. Toutefois, la CoI a pu rassembler plus de 880 témoignages et documenter ainsi des violations, incluant des exécutions extrajudiciaires, des disparitions forcées, et des actes de torture et de mauvais traitements.

De la même façon, l’Érythrée refuse de coopérer avec les mécanismes du CDH et le Bureau du Haut-Commissaire aux droits de l’homme (HCDH). DefendDefenders a co-organisé un événement parallèle qui a passé en revue les options disponibles alors que le mandat de Rapporteur spécial de l’ONU sur l’Érythrée arrivait à son terme. Nous nous sommes félicités de la décision du Conseil de renouveler ce mandat. En amont de la session, nous avions mis en avant plusieurs options pour le prochain titulaire de mandat, en nous focalisant sur les moyens de faire avancer la reddition de comptes pour les crimes de droit international et les violations des droits humains commis.

L’Éthiopie a vu de remarquables changements positifs depuis qu’Abiy Ahmed a pris ses fonctions de Premier ministre en avril 2018. À présent que l’état d’urgence a été levé, que des milliers de prisonniers politiques ont été relâchés et que les autorités ont fait publiquement état de leur volonté de passer en revue la législation répressive, le pays se trouve à un moment-clef de son histoire. Bien que le Premier ministre ait concédé que les forces de l’ordre ont commis des violations en lien avec les manifestations de masse qui ont secoué l’Éthiopie depuis novembre 2015, aucun responsable n’a encore été présenté à la justice. Au cours d’un événement parallèle, DefendDefenders et d’autres panélistes ont examiné le rôle possible des mécanismes régionaux et internationaux dans la promotion de la redevabilité et afin de s’assurer que les problèmes systémiques de droits humains soient traités.

À l’inverse, en Tanzanie, les autorités se sont montrées de plus en plus intolérantes à la critique depuis que le président John Magufuli a pris ses fonctions, en octobre 2015. DefendDefenders a organisé un événement parallèle au cours duquel les panélistes ont lancé notre dernier rapport, Spreading Fear, Asserting Control : Tanzania’s assault on civic space, qui fait suite à une mission de recherche conduite trois semaines avant la session afin de mettre en lumière les restrictions judiciaires et extrajudiciaires croissantes auxquelles DDH, blogueurs et journalistes font face. En s’appuyant sur le mandat de prévention du Conseil, les participants ont explore les moyens possibles pour le CDH d’éviter l’enracinement de la crise actuelle.

Nous avons accueilli avec satisfaction la présence de la délégation tanzanienne à notre événement, en particulier l’invitation donnée par l’Ambassadeur tanzanien au Rapporteur spécial sur la liberté d’association et de réunion pacifique. Pendant le débat général sous le point 4, nous avons appelé le gouvernement à formaliser cette invitation dans les plus brefs délais.

Concernant les sujets thématiques, DefendDefenders a mis en lumière la répression des journalistes dans la République auto-proclamée du Somaliland, où journalistes, artistes et professionnels des médias ont fait face à des inculpations et à des condamnations sous des prétextes fallacieux. Avec la résolution historique A/HRC/32/2, qui a créé le mandat d’Expert indépendant sur l’orientation sexuelle et l’identité de genre (SOGI), le CDH a reconnu une communauté qui reste particulièrement vulnérable dans l’Est et la Corne de l’Afrique. DefendDefenders a exprimé son inquiétude quant aux restrictions injustifiées auxquelles les DDH travaillant sur les questions SOGI en Tanzanie et en Ouganda continuent de faire face.

Interventions au Conseil
Point 3 : Dialogue interactif conjoint avec l’Expert indépendant sur l’orientation sexuelle et l’identité de genre (SOGI) et le Rapporteur spécial sur les droits à la liberté de réunion pacifique et d’association

Mr. President,

On behalf of DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project), I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Mr. Clément Voulé for his appointment as UN Special Rapporteur. We welcome his first report, including his analysis that patterns of attacks against the civic space around the globe have resulted in serious limitations to the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. This holds true for LGBTI persons, defenders and organisations, who are particularly vulnerable to physical attacks and at risk of arrest, detention and harassment, both from the authorities and non-state actors.

As highlighted by Independent Expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz, deeply entrenched stigma and prejudice on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, reinforced by discriminatory laws and regulations foster a climate where hate speech, violence and discrimination are condoned and perpetrated with impunity. The media often amplify and disseminate messages that foster this climate.

Across the East and Horn of Africa, violent illegal acts by police and other actors targeting the LGBTI community are all too frequent. In Tanzania, as President Magufuli’s rule has taken on a moralistic tone, the situation of LGBTI persons and HRDs working on SOGI issues has become increasingly precarious. On 17 October 2017, a legal consultation organised by local NGO CHESA and South Africa-based ISLA was raided by police in Dar es Salaam. CHESA was immediately suspended. The status of the investigation, the legal status of the case, and CHESA’s registration status remain unclear. The case against CHESA has no legal basis, as “promotion of homosexuality,” of which members have been accused, is not an offence under Tanzanian law. As one HRD DefendDefenders interviewed last month said: “Our existence bothers some people.”

In Uganda, in the last few years, Pride Uganda celebrations have been shut down, affecting Ugandans’ rights to peaceful association and assembly. In a recent instance, celebrations to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia were shut down by Uganda’s Minister of Ethics and Integrity.

We call on the Tanzanian and Ugandan authorities to reverse course and fully respect freedom of peaceful assembly and association, including of LGBTI persons, defenders and organisations and to publicly commit to bringing impunity for acts of violence and discrimination against them to an end.

Point 3 : Dialogue interactif conjoint avec le Rapporteur spécial sur les exécutions sommaires et le Rapporteur spécial sur le droit à la liberté d’opinion et d’expression

Mr. President,

DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) welcomes the reports of the Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on armed non-State actors, and on the right to free­dom of opinion and expression.

Mr. Kaye,

We agree with you on the principle that any framework for the moderation of content, inclu­ding online, must be human rights-based. We are concerned that legitimate discourse is in­crea­singly targeted, including through requests for pre-publication monitoring and fil­tering on online platforms such as forums and blogs. We will deliver further remarks on the situ­a­tion in Tanzania under another agenda item.

Governments across the East and Horn of Africa have sought to restrict legitimate expres­sion. For instance, in Kenya, on 26 March 2018, jour­nalists from several media houses were threat­ened and beaten at Jomo Kenyatta Interna­tional Airport while attempting to cover the return of opposition figure Miguna Miguna. This incident follows the suspension, on 30 Jan­uary 2018, of three TV stations and several local ra­dio stations after they reported on the unofficial swearing-in of then-opposition leader Raila Odinga. By 9 February, all stations were again available on free-to-air platforms, but the incident had a chilling effect.

In the self-declared Republic of Somaliland journalists, artists, and media professionals have been harassed. On 6 March 2018, poet and peace activist Naema Qorane was charged with spreading “unpatriotic propaganda” via Facebook, where she allegedly promoted the idea of a united Somalia. On 15 April, she was sentenced to three years in jail on charges of “anti-national activity of a citizen and bringing the nation or state in contempt,” and later pardo­ned.

In South Sudan, the Media Authority suspended UNMISS-operated Radio Miraya for a alle­ged­ly failing to comply with national media laws. On 19 April, authorities shut down the BBC’s FM relay stations in the cities of Juba and Wau, alleging that the broadcaster had failed to pay certain bills.

Lastly, we close this statement by expressing hope that the steps the new Ethiopian govern­ment has taken and will take, including reviewing the Anti-Terrorism and Civil Society Procla­m­ations, will lead to an enlargement of the civic space, as a free space where citizens can peacefully express their views and share grievances is a precondition for sus­tain­able deve­lop­ment.

Thank you for your attention.

Point 4 : Dialogue interactif avec la Rapporteure spéciale sur la situation des droits de l’homme en Érythrée

Mr. President, Madam Special Rapporteur,

We thank you for your final report to the Human Rights Coun­cil, which outlines that the situ­ation in Eritrea remains grim, with no meaningful progress to report. We salute you for the tremendous work you have carried out over the last six years. It is of utmost importance for the Council to remain seized of the situation under its agenda item 4 and to keep on shining a light on the plight of the Eritrean people. We call on the Council to extend the dedicated country mechanism.

I now turn to the Eritrean government. While we note that appalling verbal attacks against UN experts, some of which verged on incitement to physical violence, we witnessed in the last few years seem to have stopped, we reiterate that the human rights violations for which the gov­ern­ment is responsible, some of which may amount to crimes against humanity, call for ac­count­ability. We urge all states that are will­ing to exer­cise jurisdiction over Eritrean ca­ses to do so, including through the use of uni­ver­sal juris­dic­tion for crimes under inter­na­tio­nal law.

Regarding engagement with the UN, the ball is in the government’s court. Supporting your claim that there has been “opening” and “positive chan­ge” would not take much. A number of steps can be taken immediately. They include:

– Inviting the Special Rapporteur for a visit to the country, with unfettered access to train­ing camps and detention places;
– Accepting pending visits requests by special procedure mandate holders, including on civil and political rights;
– Immediately and unconditionally releasing all political prisoners, including journalists and human rights defenders, as well as those who have attempted to evade national ser­vice or flee the country; and
– Putting an end to indefinite national service, which constitutes enslavement.

A wind of change may well be blowing in the region. DefendDefenders urges you to change course, seize the hand that seems to have been extended by Ethiopia regarding the border issue, and prioritise respect for the human rights of your citizens, including their right to ac­count­ability and redress.

Thank you for your attention.

Point 4 : Dialogue interactif avec la Commission d’enquête sur le Burundi

Monsieur le Président, chers membres de la Commission d’enquête,

Nous vous remercions pour votre mise à jour. Depuis le début de la crise, les libertés civiles ont été sévèrement restreintes au Burundi. Un grand nombre de défenseurs des droits hu­mains (DDH) se trouvent en exil. Journalistes indépendants, avocats et membres d’orga­ni­sations de défense des droits humains poursuivent leur travail depuis l’étranger, mais dans des conditions précaires.

À travers le pays, les attaques contre l’espace civique sont la nouvelle normalité. En mai, le gouvernement a suspendu les transmissions radio de la BBC et de Voice of America. Les DDH qui sont toujours présents dans le pays sont sous pression permanente ou sous la menace d’arrestations. Germain Rukuki, Emmanuel Nshimirimana, Aimé Constant Gatore et Marius Nizigama ont été condamnés à des peines allant de 10 à 32 ans en représailles à leur travail en faveur des droits humains. Nestor Nibitanga risque, lui, une peine de vingt années. Nous sommes particulièrement inquiets quant à la condition physique de Germain Rukuki, qui a besoin de soins médicaux. Comme des centaines de Burundais, les DDH sont aussi victimes de disparitions forcées. Ainsi de Marie-Claudette Kwizera, trésorière de la Ligue Iteka, qui a disparu le 10 décembre 2015 et dont le sort demeure inconnu.

Le 17 mai 2018, le Burundi a tenu un référendum constitutionnel controversé. Le processus électoral a été marqué par la violence et la répression, avec des arrestations, des tabassages et l’intimidation des citoyens faisant campagne pour le « non ».

Monsieur le Président,

Dès l’origine, le Burundi n’était pas apte à servir comme membre du Conseil. Au cours des deux années et demi passées, son comportement dans cette enceinte a été consternant. Le Burundi a tenté d’affaiblir le Conseil et ses mécanismes, dont la Commission d’enquête. Les multiples interventions que le gouvernement a livrées, se vantant de son refus de coopérer,auraient dû déclencher l’action des États quant à ses droits de membre élu. Par principe, nous réitérons qu’il n’est pas trop tard pour le Conseil de recommander à l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU de suspendre le Burundi.

Je vous remercie de votre attention.

Point 4 : Situations qui requièrent l’attention du Conseil

Mr. Vice president,

We would like to draw the Coun­cil’s attention to the situation in Tanzania, which increasingly resem­bles a case of needed pre­ventative action.

Since 2015, Tanzania has taken a series of steps to restrict civic space and its citizens’ funda­mental rights. Media outlets have been shut down or suspended. Human rights defenders (HRDs) have been harassed, threatened, and stigmatised. NGOs, including those working on LGBTI issues, have been arbitrarily suspended or de-registered. Members of the oppo­sition, including MPs, have been assaul­ted and killed. The fate or whereabouts of journalist Azory Gwanda, who disappeared in Nov­ember 2017, remain unknown.

The Media Services Act, the Cybercrimes Act, the Statistics Act and other laws, which have been used to silence independent voices, should be reviewed and amen­d­ed in line with Tan­zania’s dom­estic and inter­na­tional obligations.

We call on member and observer states to send the Tanzanian government a message, inc­luding through joint statements, that this trend should be put to an end. We welcome Tanza­nia’s invitation to the Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, made yesterday at a side event, and call on the government to swiftly set a date for a visit.

Mr. Vice president,

Sudan continues to put a strain on this Council’s time and resources by abusing agenda item 10, which is dedicated to technical assistance and capacity-building. What Sudan needs is po­litical will to improve the situation and bring impunity to an end, not more technical sup­port.

In the last few months, HRDs, opposition members, and students have been arbitrarily arres­ted, ill-treated, banned from traveling, or detain­ed incommunicado by the National Intelli­gen­ce and Security Ser­vi­ces (NISS) in connection with anti-austerity pro­tests and other public gather­ings. Sexual violence remains widespread, in conflict and non-conflict zones, and con­tinues to be used as a wea­pon of war.

We urge the immediate and unconditional release of Noura Hussein, a victim of child mar­riage and marital rape, who was senten­ced to five years’ imprisonment and a fine for killing her husband in self-defence.

Thank you for your attention.

Point 6 : Examen périodique universel – Burundi

Monsieur le Président,

DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) prend note des réponses du Burundi aux recommandations reçues lors de son EPU. Nous regrettons le manque de volonté du gouvernement de ratifier des instruments internationaux clefs tels que le Protocole facultatif au Pacte international relatif aux droits économiques, sociaux et culturels, la Convention internationale pour la protection de toutes les personnes contre les disparitions forcées et le Statut de Rome de la Cour pénale internationale, dont le gouverne­ment s’est retiré dans une tentative d’échapper à ses responsabilités pour les crimes interna­tio­naux commis.

Le gouvernement continue de défier le système onusien des droits humains. Dans les ré­ponses qu’il a fournies en amont de la réunion d’aujourd’hui, il a dédié seulement deux para­graphes aux 34 recommandations concernant la coopération avec le Bureau du Haut-Com­missaire aux droits de l’homme (HCDH) et la Commission d’enquête mise en place par ce Conseil pour faire la lumière sur les violations et atteintes commises depuis avril 2015. Nous considérons qu’il s’agit là d’une insulte supplémentaire aux victimes.

Le rejet par le gouvernement de recommandations ayant trait à la lutte contre l’impunité, en particulier des jeunes du parti CNDD FDD au pouvoir, ou Imbonerakure, et aux libertés d’ex-pression, de réunion pacifique et d’association, est particulièrement édifiant.

Enfin, nous condamnons les représailles infligées par le gouvernement burundais aux défen­seurs des droits humains coopérant avec les Nations Unies, ses représentants et ses méca­nis­mes. Je conclus en citant une recommandation, offerte par le Ghana, que le gou­verne­ment du Burundi a rejetée : « Enquêter sur toutes les allégations faisant état de violences, d’inti­mi­dation, de harcèlement et de surveillance à l’encontre des défenseurs des droits de l’homme et mener sans délai des enquêtes impartiales afin que les auteurs de tels actes soient traduits en justice » (137.169). Ce comportement, Monsieur le Président, n’est rien moins qu’une attaque contre le système onusien des droits humains dans son ensemble.

Je vous remercie de votre attention.

Points 2 et 10 : Assistance technique et renforcement de capacités et mise à jour orale du Haut-Commissaire sur le Burundi

Mr. President, Mr. High Commissioner,

This statement is delivered on behalf of DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Hu­man Rights Defenders Project).

Burundi denying access to—or even worse: withdrawing visas from—the experts mandated by a resolution the government has itself sup­ported can only be referred to as what it is: a case of extreme policy incoherence, hypocrisy, and bad faith. This Kafkaesque situation only adds evidence to one very simple fact: Burundi, which refuses any form of cooperation and continues to launch personal attacks against independent experts and UN officials, is unfit to serve as a Council member.

Last September, we were worried that the Burundian government’s move to push members of its regional group to present a resolution, under item 2, which competed with the resolu­tion extending the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry, was an attempt at abusing the Coun­­cil’s time and resources and at diverting attention from the egregious vio­lations do­cu­mented over the years. These fears have been confirmed. However, the result has been that more attention, not less, has been brought to Burundi—with no fewer than seven debates in this room this year.

We stand by our findings, those of the Commission of Inquiry, and OHCHR assessment of the situation in Burundi, expressed in statements delivered under other agenda items.

Thank you for your attention.

Notes de cadrage et communiqués de presse
Érythrée : Renouveler le mandat de Rapporteur spécial, contribuer à mettre un terme à l’impunité généralisée

To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland

Eritrea: Extend UN Special Rapporteur mandate, help end generalized impunity

Excellencies,

Ahead of the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council (“HRC” or “the Coun­cil”), we write to you as a cross-re­gional group of non-governmental organizations to share our serious concerns over the sys­te­ma­tic, wide­spread and gross human rights violations that continue to be committed with impu­nity in Eritrea.

We urge your Govern­ment to support and co-sponsor at the upcoming session a streamlined reso­lution that accurately reflects the gravity of the situation on the ground, renews the man­date of the Special Rapporteur under the Council’s agenda item 4, and sets out a framework for need­ed reforms to improve the human rights situation in the country and advance ac­count­ability.

At the Council’s last regular session, during an enhanced interactive dialogue on Eri­trea held in March 2018, Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore noted:

“In 2016, the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea found reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity, namely, enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, other inhumane acts, per­secution, rape and murder, had been committed since 1991. The Commission noted that despite the State’s increased engagement with the international community, there was no evidence of progress in the field of hu­man rights. I regret to report that this state of affairs remains unchanged.”[1]

In her most recent statement to the Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea, Sheila B. Keet­ha­ruth, similarly detailed violations per­tain­ing to the right to life, including deaths in custody for which responsibility “falls squarely on Gov­ernment authorities,” the right to liberty and security of the person, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, freedoms of expression, assembly and as­so­ciation, and freedom of religion or belief, inc­lu­­ding the harass­ment, mis­treatment, torture and detention of members of unrecognized religions.[2] These continuing violations present a systematic character, meaning, in the words of the Special Rap­porteur, that “they cannot be the result of ran­dom or isolated acts by the autho­rities” and that they occur in a country ruled “not by law, but by fear.”[3]

Since Eritrea was first considered by the Council, the Government has refused to cooperate with the mechanisms the Council set up, including the Special Rapporteur and the Commis­sion of In­quiry (CoI). At the March 2018 enhanced interactive dialogue, Eritrea was not present to take the floor as the con­cer­ned country.

Eritrea’s cooperation with other international bodies, mechanisms or agencies has been extremely selec­tive. While the Government recently invited the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Hu­man Rights (OHCHR) for a short-term technical assistance mission, the Deputy High Commissio­ner under­lined that “the test of the merits of our engagement with Eritrea – like Eritrea’s commitments at the international level – lies in whether or not they produce concrete human rights improvements for the people of Eritrea.” She concluded that there had been no measurable progress to date.

Eritrea has consistently denied UN Special Procedures, including the country-specific Special Rap­por­teur, access to the country. At the time of writing, pen­ding visit requests by Special Procedures included requests from the Spe­cial Rapporteurs on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (request in 2005; reminders in 2007 and 2010); freedom of religion or belief (request in 2004; reminders in 2005 and 2006); extrajudicial, sum­mary or arbitrary exe­cu­tions (request in 2010); the right to food (request in 2003); and freedom of opi­nion and expression (request in 2003; reminders in 2005 and 2015).

Eritrea has also attacked, intimidated and threatened human rights defenders and independent UN ex­perts, including the Special Rapporteur and members of the CoI. When the latter presented their report in 2015, they noted that “[they] were followed in the streets and in [their] hotels and vilified in blogs on line where the words of [their] report have been twisted and misquoted.” The Com­mission’s Chair added: “Of course this is trivial compared to the day to day experience of people in Eritrea itself, but it is indicative of a determination on the part of the authorities to control anyone they perceive as a critic.”[4]

The gravity, scale and nature of the continuing violations call for justice. Victims, including those who live inside the country and those who have fled it, deserve redress. As domestic avenues for such red­ress are non-existent, the international community must continue to act with a view to en­ding the gene­ra­lized impu­nity that prevails in the coun­try. The Deputy High Commissioner remin­ded the Coun­cil that, as advi­sed by the Special Rapporteur, there could be “no sustain­able solution to the refugee out­flows until the Government complied with its human rights obligations.”[5]

In view of the ongoing crimes under international law and violations of human rights and fun­da­mental freedoms committed in Eritrea, the Special Rapporteur’s mandate remains an indispensable mechanism to advance the protection and promotion of human rights in the country. The mandate holder continues to fulfil an invaluable role by monitoring the dire situation in the country, shining a light on violations, providing a crucial platform to help amplify the voices of victims, and offering Eritreans an opportunity to find long-lasting solutions for the respect of their human rights.

Consistent with its mandate to address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, the Human Rights Council should continue to address the situ­ation in Eritrea. We urge your dele­gation to actively support and co-sponsor a resolution that:

– Recalls the reports of the Commission of Inquiry and the Special Rapporteur and continues to ex­press its deep concern over the findings contained therein;
– Condemns the reported systematic, widespread and gross human rights viola­tions and abuses that have been and are being committed by the Government of Eritrea in a climate of genera­li­zed im­punity;
– Reiterates that all perpetrators of such violations and abuses should be held ac­countable;
– Extends the mandate of the Special Rap­porteur and invites the mandate holder to continue to fol­low up on the findings of HRC mechanisms, including on accountability;
– Invites the Special Rapporteur to assess and report on the Eritrean Government’s degree of enga­ge­ment and cooperation with the Council and its mechanisms, as well as with OHCHR, and whe­re feasible to develop benchmarks for progress on human rights and a time-bound action plan for the imple­mentation of these benchmarks;

– Calls on all states to urge the Government of Eritrea to co-operate with the Special Rappor­teur and other UN bodies and mechanisms, including Special Procedures, implement the recommen­da­­tions these bodies and mechanisms made over the years, and allow unfettered ac­cess to the coun­try, including detention centers and training facilities.

We thank you for your attention to these pressing issues and are available to provide your delegation with further information as required.

Sincerely,

– Africa Monitors
– Amnesty International
– ARTICLE 19
– Asian Legal Resource Centre
– Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (REDHAC)
– Christian Solidarity Worldwide
– Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea (CDRiE)
– CIVICUS
– DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
– Eritrean Diaspora in East Africa
– Eritrean Lowland League
– Eritrean Law Society
– Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights
– FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
– FORUM-Asia
– Human Rights Concern – Eritrea
– Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)
– Human Rights Watch
– International Fellowship of Reconciliation
– International Service for Human Rights
– PEN Eritrea
– Release Eritrea
– Reporters Without Borders
– Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN)
– West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN/ROADDH)


[1] The meeting summary can be found at: www.bit.ly/2Fc69BX

[2] www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22821&LangID=E

[3] www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16055&LangID=E

[4] www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16731&LangID=E The Special Rapporteur herself has faced personal attacks during an interactive dialogue that was held in June 2017, when she was referred to as a “naked Empress with no clothes” and was accused of carrying out a witch-hunt against Eritrea. See www.amnesty.org/en/documents/ior40/8032/2018/en/

[5] See footnote 1 above.

Érythrée : Options pour le Rapporteur spécial
En amont de la 38ème session ordinaire du Conseil des droits de l’homme de l’ONU, DefendDefenders et un important groupe d’organisations nationales, régionales et internationales de la société civile ont prié instamment les États membres et observateurs du Conseil de soutenir et de coparrainer une résolution reflétant la gravité de la situation en Érythrée, renouvelant le mandat du Rapporteur spécial et déroulant un cadre pour les réformes nécessaires à l’amélioration de la situation des droits humains dans le pays et à la promotion de la redevabilité.
Notre note de cadrage développe les points exposés dans la lettre et présente quelques unes des options pour le-la Rapporteur-e spécial-e sur la situation en Érythrée, en se penchant sur les moyens de promouvoir l’obligation de rendre des comptes pour les crimes de droit international et les violations des droits humains commis, dont certains peuvent être qualifiés de crimes contre l’humanité.
Lire notre note complète ici.
Opérationnaliser le mandat de prévention du Conseil des droits de l’homme
Alors que l’intérêt grandit quant à la capacité du Conseil des droits de l’homme de l’ONU de répondre efficacement aux situations qui requièrent son attention, les sujets “chauds” de discussion incluent désormais les moyens de s’assurer que le Conseil remplit sa responsabilité de “concourir, à la faveur du dialogue et de la coopération, à prévenir les violations des droits de l’homme et d’intervenir promptement en cas d’urgence dans le domaine des droits de l’homme”. Opérationnaliser la partie “prévention” du mandat du Conseil était le thème central du Dialogue relatif aux droits humains qui s’est tenu à Glion en 2017 (Glion IV).
DefendDefenders estime que le temps est venu pour les États intéressés de contribuer de façon décisive à l’opérationalisation du mandat de prévention du Conseil. Les États devraient adopter une résolution ouvrant la voie à une action préventive renforcée et à l’identification de critères permettant une action du Conseil efficace, objective et à un stade précoce sur les situation soulevant l’inquiétude.
Lire notre note complète ici.
Les ONG répondent aux allégations de l’Ambassadrice Haley

Dear Ambassador Haley,

We write in response to your letter of 20 June 2018, in which you suggest that NGOs are somehow responsible for your decision to withdraw from the Human Rights Council. The decision to resign from the Council was that of the US administration alone. We had legitimate concerns that the US’s proposal to reopen the Council’s institutional framework at the General Assembly would do more harm than good. We see it as our responsibility to express those concerns and would do so again.

Although the Human Rights Council is not perfect, it does play an essential role. It makes a significant contribution to strengthening human rights standards, providing protection and justice to victims, and promoting accountability for perpetrators. The Council and its mechanisms have played a key role in securing the freedom of detained human rights defenders, and investigating rights violations in Syria, Yemen, Burundi, Myanmar, South Sudan, Sri Lanka and North Korea, to name but a few. It continues to address thematic issues of global concern including non-discrimination, freedom of expression online and offline, freedom of assembly, housing, migration, counterterrorism, and the protection of the rights of women, rights of LGBTI people, and rights of people with disabilities.

As you know, we are independent organizations that do not work on behalf of any government. We focus on building support for policies we believe will better the lives of those most affected by abuse –  which does mean we are sometimes opposed to proposals laid out by certain governments, or the proposed means of pursuing them, especially when we believe such an initiative could be more harmful than not.  With regard to the Council, our goal continues to be strengthening and supporting reform efforts that are ongoing in Geneva to ensure that they are informed by the experience and expertise of national and regional level actors, including rights-holders, human rights defenders and other civil society actors, victims, survivors (and their representatives).

We are committed to the international system, including the Human Rights Council, and to ensuring the system is fit for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights. We will continue to work towards those goals.

Signatories:

– Amnesty International
– ARTICLE 19
– Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia)
– Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
– Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
– Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
– Child Rights Connect
– Conectas Direitos Humanos
– DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
– Human Rights Watch
– International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
– International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
– International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)
– International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)
– International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
– International Women’s Health Coalition
– OutRight Action International
– Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights

L’ONU garde le bilan catastrophique de l’Érythrée en matière de droits humains en pleine lumière

The UN Human Rights Council (“the Council”) showed its resolve to address the crimes committed in Eritrea by extending the mandate of its top expert on the country today. A new Special Rapporteur on Eritrea will soon succeed Ms. Sheila Kee­tharuth, who has served for six years on the position and played a key role in shi­ning a light on the country’s human rights record, which remains one of the most abysmal in the world.

“It was essential for the UN to make sure that crimes for which the Eritrean gov­er­nment is responsible continue to be documented and exposed,” said Hassan Shire, Executive Director of DefendDefenders. “Some of the violations may amount to crimes against humanity, for which there must be accountability.”

Today’s resolution, which was adopted by consensus (i.e., without any opposition), sends a strong message to the Eritrean government. It will ensure continued UN reporting on Eritrea’s human rights record, ongoing support to the victims and their families, and assistance to national jus­tice systems that may prosecute government and other officials responsible for crimes such as torture or ensla­ve­ment.

“We call on all states to prosecute these horrendous crimes, including through the use of universal jurisdiction,” said Helen Kidan, Head of Advocacy at the Eritrean Mo­ve­ment for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR). “The Special Rapporteur and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should stand ready to assist in this process, including by sharing legal expertise and inves­tigative findings.”

The human rights situation in Eritrea will be under the UN spotlight throughout the next 12 months. It will be discussed in an interactive dialogue at the UN General Assem­bly in October 2018 and in interactive dialogues (including one “enhanced” dialogue) at the Human Rights Council at its March and June 2019 sessions.

In 2012, the Council established a Special Rapporteur mandate in order to monitor and report on the human rights situation in the country. This mandate has since been renewed annually. Additionally, in 2016, an independent Commission of Inquiry concluded that it had “reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity, namely, ensla­ve­ment, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, other inhumane acts, persecu­tion, rape and murder, ha[d] been committed in Eritrea since 1991.”

Ahead of the Council’s 38th regular session (18 June-6 July 2018), DefendDefenders coordinated a civil society call on the Council to continue addressing the situation in Eritrea, and outlined options for the Special Rapporteur, including to advance accounta­bility.

Événements parallèles
Ethiopia at a crossroads: what can we do to support civic space reform?
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The Eritrean human rights cause at a critical juncture: reflections on progress, pitfalls and prospects
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Preventing the entrenchment of civic space restrictions in Tanzania
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Résolutions
Intensification de l’action menée pour éliminer la violence à l’égard des femmes et des filles : prévenir et combattre la violence à l’égard des femmes et des filles dans les environnements numériques

A/HRC/38/L.6 condamne les violences sexuelles et basées sur le genre et appelle les États à prendre des mesures immédiates pour prévenir toute forme de violence contre les femmes et les filles, notamment dans les environnements numériques.

La promotion, la protection et l’exercice des droits de l’homme sur Internet

A/HRC/38/L.10/Rev.1 affirme que les droits humains doivent être protégés à la fois hors ligne et en ligne et reconnaît qu’un Internet mondial et ouvert est une force motrice pour intensifier les progrès vers le développement.

Promotion et protection de tous les droits de l’homme dans le contexte des manifestations pacifiques

A/HRC/38/L.16 appelle les États à promouvoir un environnement sûr et favorable pour les individus et les groupes exerçant leurs droits à la liberté de réunion pacifique et à faire un usage approprié du livre-ressource sur l’usage de la force et des armes à feu par les forces de l’ordre publié par le HCDH.

Champ d’action de la société civile : coopération avec les organisations internationales et régionales

A/HRC/38/L.17/Rev.1 souligne la contribution essentielle de la société civile aux organisations régionales et internationales et appelle les État à revoir et à mettre à jour leurs cadres de référence pour l’engagement avec la société civile.

Situation des droits de l’homme en Érythrée

A/HRC/38/L.15/Rev.1 étend le mandat du Rapporteur spécial sur la situation des droits de l’homme en Érythrée pour une période d’une année.