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Human Rights Watch honors human rights defenders

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Received by mail

From: HREA, the Human Rights Education Associates, and their Newsletter.
Date: 12/10/2007

(This is a Human Rights Watch Press release).

Lawyers from Nepal and Zimbabwe Fight for Rights of Powerless:

(London, October 11, 2007) – Two courageous Human Rights Lawyers, from Zimbabwe and Nepal, have been chosen to receive the prestigious Human Rights Defender Awards, Human Rights Watch said today. The awards will be presented at dinners in London, Munich, Hamburg, and Geneva in November.

Both honorees, who have faced down death threats, use the law to expose abuses and seek redress for victims of gross human rights violations in their countries.

Human Rights Watch’s global rights defender awardees for 2007 are Mandira Sharma, a human rights lawyer and activist from Nepal, and Arnold Tsunga, a lawyer and activist from Zimbabwe.

“We are honoring Mandira and Arnold because of their fight to build and preserve civil society in Nepal and Zimbabwe,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “We salute their courage in risking their lives to seek justice and basic rights for all.”

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An appeal for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty

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(an AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE, AI Index: POL 30/024/2007, 10 October 2007).

Sign the petition here, or download a printable version of the petition.

We, the undersigned,

In recognition of the five million people who signed the ‘Moratorium 2000’ petition launched by the Community of Sant’Egidio and Amnesty International,

Renew the call for a worldwide moratorium on executions and an end to capital punishment in the belief that the death penalty:

- Violates the universally affirmed right to life;

- Constitutes the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment;

- Constantly risks the irreversible error of the execution of an innocent person;

- Provides no added value to the deterrence of crime;

- Brutalises those societies that employ state sanctioned judicial killing.

We welcome the strong progress already made towards a global end to capital punishment and acknowledge that 130 nations have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

We invite all governments to work for a world free of executions as a contribution to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. We call upon the member states of the UN General Assembly to overwhelmingly vote in favour of an international moratorium on executions.

France abolishes the death penalty in all circumstances

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Received by mail from HREA, the Human Rights Education Associates, and their Newsletter.

Strasbourg, 10.10.2007 – France has today ratified Protocol 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits the use of the death penalty in all circumstances.

Ambassador Bruno Gain, the French Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe, completed the formal ratification process on the first European Day against the Death Penalty (10 October), organised by the Council of Europe.

France is the 40th of the Council of Europe’s 47 member states to ratify Protocol 13, which entered into force on 1 July 2003:

Protocol 13 to the Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances:

Vilnius, 3.V.2002 – The member States of the Council of Europe signatory hereto,

Convinced that everyone’s right to life is a basic value in a democratic society and that the abolition of the death penalty is essential for the protection of this right and for the full recognition of the inherent dignity of all human beings;

Wishing to strengthen the protection of the right to life guaranteed by the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed at Rome on 4 November 1950 (hereinafter referred to as “the Convention”);

Noting that Protocol No. 6 to the Convention, concerning the Abolition of the Death Penalty, signed at Strasbourg on 28 April 1983, does not exclude the death penalty in respect of acts committed in time of war or of imminent threat of war;

Being resolved to take the final step in order to abolish the death penalty in all circumstances,

Have agreed as follows: … (full text for articles 1 to 8).

See also on hrea.org about the World Day Against the Death Penalty (10 October 2007).

A re-compilation of texts and blogs for indigenous peoples

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Articles for Indigenous Peoples on our blogs;
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
Indigenous Webs for Information;
Texts about Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights;

Indigenous Peoples on our World People’s Blog:

Parshuram Rai – Nepal;
José Gabriel Condorcanqui alias Túpac Amaru II – Peru (1742 – 1781);
Marie Lisette Talate – Mauritius;
María Beatriz Aniceto Pardo – Colombia;
Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta – Australia;
Severn Cullis-Suzuki – Canada;

Aleta Ba’un – Indonesia;
Olga del Valle Márquez de Arédez – Argentina (19xx-2005);
Luis Macas Ambuludí – Ecuador;
Luz Perly Córdoba Mosquera – Colombia;
Macedonia (Doña Mace) Blas – Mexico;

Launch of handbook for the new Convention …

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Received by mail

From: HREA the Human Rights Education Associates, and their Newsletter.
Date: 09/10/2007

Download: Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Preamble, articles 1 – 50 (the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts of the present Convention shall be equally authentic.
In witness thereof the undersigned plenipotentiaries, being duly authorized thereto by their respective Governments, have signed the present Convention.)

8 October 2007 – The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) today launched a handbook on the newly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, aimed at raising the awareness of this new legal instrument among parliamentarians. The handbook will particularly enable legislators to become more familiar with the Convention and provide them with the tools to facilitate its ratification and subsequent implementation …

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Democratic Repblic of Congo: UN agency concerned at military buildup in North Kivu

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Published on UN.org, October 5, 2007.

5 October 2007 – As civilians in the troubled North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continue to flee their homes, the United Nations refugee agency today warned that the humanitarian disaster there could worsen if a military build-up the volatile area leads to more intensified fighting.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that some 5,000 internally displaced people sought refuge at nearby sites over the past week, taking advantage of a lull in the fighting between government forces, renegade troops and rebels. “Some had walked for days to reach the sites,” agency spokesman Ron Redmond told a press briefing in Geneva.

The estimated total of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Mugunga area has now surpassed 80,000. UN agencies and non-governmental organizations say over 370,000 IDPs are though to have been displaced in North Kivu since December 2006 … (full text).

L’enseignement des droits de l’homme

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L’enseignement des droits de l’homme doit faire des droits de l’homme et de la démocratie une pratique quotidienne.

Publiés sur l’Hebdo Al-Ahram-en ligne, Semaine du 29 août au 4 septembre 2007, numéro 677.

Directeur du département des droits de l’homme à la Ligue arabe, le Djiboutien Mahmoud Rached Ghaleb évoque le plan arabe pour introduire l’enseignement des droits de l’homme dans les écoles et les universités arabes:

Al-Ahram Hebdo : Les pays arabes ont convenu d’introduire l’enseignement des droits de l’homme dans les divers cycles d’enseignement. Quelles sont les circonstances qui ont conduit à l’introduction de cette idée dans l’action arabe conjointe ?

Mahmoud Rached Ghaleb : Lorsque le sommet arabe de 2004 a approuvé la charte arabe des droits de l’homme, il est devenu indispensable de respecter son application. Selon cette charte, les pays arabes doivent garantir un enseignement renforçant le respect des droits de l’homme. Ils doivent aussi intégrer les principes des droits de l’homme et des libertés essentielles dans les activités et les programmes éducatifs ainsi que dans les programmes d’éducation dans les établissements publics et privés.

De plus, la charte a mis l’accent sur la nécessité de former l’individu dans les pays arabes de sorte qu’il soit fier de son identité, qu’il soit fidèle à son pays tout en s’imprégnant de la culture de l’ouverture sur l’autre conformément aux principes et valeurs humains déclarés dans les chartes internationales des droits de l’homme. La charte arabe des droits de l’homme a aussi incité à préparer les générations dans les pays arabes à une vie libre et responsable dans une société civile basée sur le lien entre la connaissance des droits et le respect des devoirs.

— Comment avez-vous traduit les textes de la charte en un programme arabe d’enseignement des droits de l’homme ? … (full text).

around today’s Guantanamo News

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Daring to utter the F-word
(Linked with Naomi Wolf).

Naomi Wolf doesn’t apologise for comparing the Bush Administration with fascism. And she certainly rejects suggestions of paranoia. “We are facing a genuine constitutional crisis” (she says).

There is a convention on the internet called Godwin’s Law. It states that, during an online discussion, the first person to draw an analogy with Nazi Germany automatically loses the argument.

It’s a rule that exists in academia, journalism and even politics. Comparing your opponent to a Nazi is a sure way not just to lose an argument but to suffer the indignity of having to apologise later. After all, it’s hard to justify a comparison to a regime which started World War II and killed 6 million Jews.

So perhaps it’s surprising that Naomi Wolf, a feminist icon and the author of The Beauty Myth, has written a book which compares the Bush Administration with Nazi Germany.

Not just in a passing reference, mind you.

Wolf hasn’t just ignored the taboo; in fact, she has taken an axe to it, arguing that the situation is so grave it is blinding us to an urgent danger. The entire book is devoted to a comparison between the Bush Administration’s response to the threat of Islamic terrorism and the methods the Nazis used to turn Germany into a fascist state … (full text).

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Protecting Fundamental Rights within the EU

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Published on Academy of European Law (Europäische Rechtsakademie) ERA.

Conference: Protecting Fundamental Rights within the European Union, Trier, 19-20 Nov 2007.

Conference programme

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Institutional Law, Judicial Remedies in EU Law

Conference Organiser(s): Johanna Engström, ERA

Target audience: Civil servants, government lawyers, judges, lawyers in private practice

Participation in this conference can contribute to your continuing professional education.

Description: The present system of fundamental rights protection within the EU has developed on an ad hoc basis, mainly through the European Court of Justice’s case law. Lately, growing attention whas been paid to providing specific rights protection instruments in the Union through the adoption of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the catalogue of fundamental rights in a constitutional Treaty and the Union’s adhesion to the ECHR.

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UNHCR annual report

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Published on UNHCR, Octobre 3, 2007.

UNHCR protection chief highlights security concerns in annual report

GENEVA, October 3 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency’s top protection official on Wednesday said security concerns were driving the operation of asylum systems in an increasing number of countries with a disturbing trend towards rights becoming peripheral.

Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Erika Feller, addressing the annual meeting of UNHCR’s 72-nation Executive Committee (ExCom), presented some of the main findings of the agency’s annual report on international protection.

“The world of borders is particularly shadowy, with interception, turnarounds and refoulement [forced return] taking place outside the frame of any proper scrutiny. Security is driving the operation of asylum systems in an increasing number of countries, contributing to the growth of a culture of thinking where rights are becoming peripheral,” Feller told delegates.

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Adequate Housing on World Habitat Day

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Linked with Miloon Kothari – India, and with International NGO Committee on Human Rights in Trade and Investment INCHRITI.

Received by mail:

From: mail OHCHR’s Information Officer
Date: 1 Oct 2007

STATEMENT BY SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON ADEQUATE HOUSING ON WORLD HABITAT DAY

The Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, Mr. Miloon Kothari, issued the following statement today on the occasion of World Habitat Day:

Geneva, 1 October 2007: The international community commemorates World Habitat Day on the first Monday of every October, reminding us of our commitment to the protection and realisation of the human right to adequate housing and to an adequate standard of living for all people across the world. It is also an occasion to recognise and support ongoing human rights struggles, honour human rights defenders, remind Governments of their legal obligations and bring to light the multiple violations that millions continue to face of their housing and related rights.

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From the Human Rights Council

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Received by Newsletter:

From: hr-education, the Global Human Rights Education listserv. See: mail-address for the list, archives of the list.
Date: 02/10/2007

You are welcome to reprint, copy, archive, quote or re-post this item, but please retain the original and listserv source. Link: List of documents to be submitted by OHCHR to the Fourth and the Third Committees of the 62nd session of the General Assembly.

Human Rights Council discusses implementation of Vienna Declaration, technical assistance and capacity

(HREA-Moderator’s note: The United Nations Human Rights Council discussed the Vienna Declaration, capacity building and HRE during its sixth session, which just concluded. Below is a press release with the proceedings).

UNITED NATIONS Press release, 27 September 2007, Human Rights Council.

MORNING,

The Human Rights Council this morning held a general debate on follow-up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and on technical assistance and capacity building. Numerous delegations expressed concern about the situation in Myanmar and called for restraint and cessation of acts of violence against peaceful demonstrations.

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The Council of Europe is a death penalty free area

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Published on Council of Europe, August 2007.

Europe is today the only region in the world where the death penalty is no longer applied. All the Council of Europe’s 47 member states have either abolished capital punishment or instituted a moratorium on executions.

The Council of Europe played a leading role in the battle for abolition, believing that the death penalty has no place in democratic societies.

This determination to eradicate the death penalty was reflected in Protocol No.6 to the European Convention on Human Rights. It followed an initiative from the Parliamentary Assembly to abolish the death penalty in peacetime and was adopted in April 1983. In 2002, another important step was taken with the adoption of Protocol No. 13 on the abolition of capital punishment in all circumstances, even for acts committed in time of war.

The Council has made abolition of the death penalty a prerequisite for membership. As a result, no execution has taken place on the territory of the organisation’s member states since 1997 … (full text).