Human rights

18 Months in Prison for Prominent Turkish Human Rights Defender Murat Çelikkan

Freedom of Expression

Prominent Turkish human rights defender and Co-Director of Hafiza Merkezi (Truth Justice Memory Centre), Murat Çelikkan was charged on 16 May under “terror organization propaganda” and sentenced by summary judgement to 18 months in prison. The hearing was held at the Istanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court under the Anti-Terror Law Article 7/2. The Courts did not reduce or defer his sentence as they ruled that “The defendant did not show sufficient remorse with his attitudes in the trial”.

Sweden’s Ambassador for Human Rights Must Raise Violations in Upcoming Visit to Myanmar

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Civil Rights Defenders and The Swedish Burma Committee in a joint letter to Annika Ben David, Sweden’s Ambassador for Human Rights, urge that the following recommendations regarding widespread human rights violations are brought to the table in all dialogues with the Burmese Government. The trip on 22 May 2017 takes place in an atmosphere that has recently seen the country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi reject a decision by the UN’s rights council to investigate allegations of crimes by Myanmar’s security forces against minority Rohingya Muslims.

No Progress on Key Reforms: Transparency Group Should Suspend Azerbaijan’s Membership

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Civil Rights Defenders and a coalition of 20 leading civil society organisations calls on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a prominent international coalition, to suspend Azerbaijan’s membership for failing to carry out key reforms. The EITI Board meeting is due to take place in Bogota on the 08 and 09 of March in order to review the country’s efforts to reduce oppression against civil society groups.

Show Trial Ends with Harsh Sentences for Islamic Activists

The trial of conservative Sh’ia religious activists involved in what is known as the 'Nardaran Affair' has reached its long-expected conclusion, with all 17 defendants sentenced to up to 20-year prison terms. (Photo courtesy of Vladic Ravich)

The trial of conservative Sh’ia religious activists involved in what is known as the ‘Nardaran Affair’ has reached its long-expected conclusion, with all 17 defendants sentenced to up to 20-year prison terms. All the defendants – 16 members of Muslim Unity, a moderate Islamist group, along with a lone secular opposition politician – were found guilty on a litany of charges ranging from arms trafficking to plotting to overthrow the government.

Human Rights in Moldova

In recent years there has been some positive developments regarding the human rights situation in Moldova. New legislation and policies have strengthened protection against discrimination and facilitated the promotion of freedom of expression. However, significant human rights issues still persist; lack of fair trials, inadequate conditions in prisons, hate speech, violence against women, people trafficking, the marginalisation of the Roma community and harassment of LGBT people. In the breakaway territory of Transnistria, human rights abuses are grave.

Human Rights the Central Topic at the Regional Roma Summit

The picture is part of a previous photo exhibition named ”Under the Same Roof” which depicts everyday life of Roma in the Western Balkans. Photo: Dragan Kujundzic

The Regional Roma Summit kicked off on 23 November, in the Kosovar capital Prishtina with an opening speech by Ulrike Lunacek, the Vice President of the European Parliament. The event partly organised by Civil Rights Defenders lasts two days and sees human rights defenders from across Europe gather to discuss and analyse current trends and topics relevant to the Roma community especially when it comes to human rights.

Addressing the Escalating Human Rights Crisis in Ethiopia

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Civil Rights Defenders together with 14 other prominent civil society organisations have issued a joint statement to the Permanent Representatives of Members and Observer States of the UN Human Rights Council to draw their attention to serious human rights violations in Ethiopia. These include violent crackdowns on peaceful protests in the provinces of Oromio and Amhara. All 15 civil society organisations urge the delegations to make serious recommendations to Ethiopia including a thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into all deaths resulting from alleged excessive use of force by the security force.

Human Rights Defender Brutalised and Sentenced on Fabricated Charges

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Civil Rights Defenders condemns the conviction of Zhalaudi Geriev, a reporter with the Russian news site Caucasian Knot, to three years imprisonment for possession of narcotics. According to his lawyers Geriev’s conviction was based on a forced confession, fabricated evidence, and numerous violations of legal procedures and basic human rights. Geriev, who is 23, was targeted because of his journalistic activities. Along with his colleagues at Caucasian Knot, which has no central office and whose journalists often publish anonymously for both themselves and their families’ safety, Geriev wrote regularly about human rights violations in the Russian republic of Chechnya.

Why a UNGA Resolution is Still Needed in Myanmar

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Civil Rights Defenders (CRD), ALTSEAN-Burma, Amnesty International, Article 19, Forum-Asia, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) are concerned that the European Union (EU) may not introduce a new resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar at the upcoming 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Our organizations believe that ending the resolution at this time would be premature, and that strong human rights monitoring mechanisms must remain in place to ensure Myanmar continues to press forward with much needed reforms

Human Rights in Serbia

Serbia is currently a candidate country for a European Union (EU) membership. The negotiations for Serbia’s EU accession officially opened in January 2014. The negotiating framework requires progress in normalising their relations with Kosovo, while the implementation of the Agreement will be closely monitored. The opening of the negotiations has not improved the situation in regards to human rights; the situation has even deteriorated in comparison to 2014, particularly in the areas of freedom of expression, independent regulatory bodies, judicial reform and national minorities.

Report on Freedom of Expression in Russia

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In this briefing paper, Civil Rights Defenders gives an overview of the state of freedom of expression in Russia. It describes how human rights defenders who rendered support to journalists, bloggers and other civil society actors have become the epicentre of the authorities’ unabated crackdown on human rights. Since Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin in May 2012 the human rights situation in Russia has worsened significantly.

Will Myanmar’s Government Deliver on Human Rights Commitments?

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In the days following Myanmar’s historic election it was fast apparent that Aung San Suu Kyi’s party NLD had taken a landslide victory. Will the NLD and their allies be able to effectively remedy a long legacy of human rights abuses? What hope is there for the persecuted minority group Rohingya when they appear to have no representation in the new government? Read Civil Rights Defenders’ Op Ed in The Huffington Post.

Elections in Venezuela – Leaving Democracy Behind

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Venezuela is leaving democracy behind in the run-up to the elections of the National Assembly on December 6. That is the conclusion in a report from Civil Rights Defenders about the rapidly deteriorating situation of civil and political rights in the country. The possibility that the elections will contribute to a solution is diminishing as President Maduro has said that he will not accept a new majority in the National Assembly.

Cutting Aid to Support Refugees will Allow Extremism to Thrive

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News that Sweden and Norway are considering cuts to their international aid budgets in order to use the money to support refugees is of concern to advocates of democracy and human rights around the world. Sweden and Norway should continue to emphasise the root causes of the refugee crisis by helping to build democratic societies that people will not need to leave. Cutting international aid is not a wise long-term strategy. Read Civil Rights Defenders joint op–ed in The Guardian today.

Empowering Young Human Rights Law Students in Strasbourg

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Civil Rights Defenders is proud to host the Trans-European Moot Court Finals at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg for a third year in a row. The finalists representing the winners of the Southeast European and Nordic competitions will meet head to head on the 06th of November for what promises to be an enthralling simulated real life court setting based on contemporary human rights issues.

Azerbaijan Parliamentary Elections : Report Examines Two Years of Repression in Azerbaijan

While Rasul has been released Khadiya Ismayilova and Intigam Aliyev still remain behind bars

With just two days remaining until Azerbaijan’s parliamentary elections, the Sport for Rights campaign of which Civil Rights Defenders is a member, has launched a new report examining the unprecedented human rights crackdown taking place in the country. Since the inauguaral 2015 European Games held in Baku the authorities have clamped down on civil society organisations and human roghts defenders with an iron fist silencing all remaining critical voices in the country.

Human Rights in Cambodia

The Cambodian constitution provides for separation of power and judicial independence, but the political dominance and influence of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CCP) over all branches of government poses a serious challenge to democratisation and human rights protection and promotion. Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power since 1985. Human rights violations in Cambodia include excessive use of force against and arrests of protesters; threats, intimidation, and judicial actions targeting human rights defenders, journalists, trade unionists,

Vietnam: Restrictions on Freedom of Movement Violate Domestic and International Law

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Authorities in Vietnam have blocked at least 33 human rights defenders and activists from freely travelling abroad or internally in the last six months, despite legal protection of the right to freedom of movement. Civil Rights Defenders considers these restrictions arbitrary and in violation of Vietnam’s obligations under its own Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Alarming Deterioration in the Human Rights Landscape in Azerbaijan

While Rasul has been released Khadiya Ismayilova and Intigam Aliyev still remain behind bars

The human rights situation continues to deteriorate in Azerbaijan in the aftermath of the European Games. On August 08th, the journalist Rasim Aliyev was brutally attacked and severely beaten by a group of people. He subsequently died on August 09th in a Baku hospital while human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus were handed down lengthy prison sentences yesterday on politically motivated charges.

Human Rights in Albania

Human rights continue to be breached in Albania. There is a large gap between human rights protection that citizens should have in theory and how individuals or groups experience protection of their rights in reality. The treatment of vulnerable groups is highly problematic in Albania. Discriminatory attitudes and practices prevail against the Roma/Egyptians and LGBT communities. Independent institutions, such as the Office of Ombudsman, despite active engagement have had only limited impact when it comes to improving human rights. In 2014 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Albania had violated human rights in four instances:

Human Rights in Belarus

Working with civil and political rights in Belarus is associated with very high risks. Human rights defenders and journalists face persecution from authorities, imprisonment, arrests, interrogation, tax inspections, and are sometimes denied from leaving the country. The Belarusian government continues to severely curtail freedoms of association, assembly, and expression, and the right to a fair trial. Harassment of human rights defenders, independent media, and defense lawyers by the authorities continues, including arbitrary bans on foreign travel. Read more about the current situation for human rights in Belarus in our latest country report.

Human Rights in Russia

Since 2000 the human rights situation worsened in Russia and has greatly deteriorated since Putin was reinstalled as President of Russia in 2012. State repression over the past few years became more sophisticated as legislation was adopted to discredit and/or attack human rights defenders. New laws restricting the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association have been introduced since Putin’s re-election. Russian authorities have made efforts to control and limit the last available channels for freedom of speech – Internet and social media through two new laws introduced in 2014.

Human Rights in Macedonia

Macedonia is a member of the Council of Europe and has been a candidate country for membership of the European Union since 2005. However the country falls short when it comes to implementing reforms and human rights standards and as of writing has not yet started negotiations with the EU. Ever since the 2001 armed conflict between ethnic Albanian rebel forces and the Macedonian Army and the Police, inter-ethnic tensions between the two groups has been constant, with numerous reported cases of ethnically motivated violence.

Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina

It has been more than twenty years since the end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country has been described as the state that has made the least progress when it comes to EU integration of all of the Western Balkans countries. In spite of widespread workers protests in February 2014, political deadlock is continuing to hamper human rights organisations in their capacities as watchdog. Inter-ethnic violence, hate speech, and poor implementation of human rights standards is still part of everyday life in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Government has failed to initiate reforms of the judiciary, whilst media independence and self-censorship remain key impediments to the implementation of freedom of expression standards. New laws that are seriously damaging human rights and freedoms are being introduced on a daily basis.

Human Rights in Montenegro

Since independence in 2006, Montenegro has adopted all relevant international human rights conventions, and has been a member-state of the Council of Europe since 2007. National legislation concerning human rights is considered to be within European standards, but better implementation is still required, especially when it comes to freedom of expression, anti-discrimination and the judiciary. Amendments to the Laws regarding the role of the Ombudsman were adopted in August 2014, which foresees a greater level of independence so as to strengthen the institutions role in combating discrimination. This will represent a significant step forward in combating discrimination and monitoring of institutions.

Human Rights in Kosovo

Kosovo has a sound statutory framework in place for the protection of human rights: the Kosovo Constitution lists a number of directly applicable international human rights instruments. Kosovo has shown great progress when it comes to the adoption of key human rights laws over the past 10 years. However, there remain challenges and issues with regards to the practical implementation of human rights legislation and relevant documents, such as byelaws and National Strategies. Moreover, a functional and effective Ombudsperson and judiciary are yet to emerge. As a consequence, a number of human rights issues including the marginalisation of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities and LGBT persons, hate speech, hate crimes, violence against women, pressure and intimidation to journalists have not been addressed effectively

(Svenska) 7 miljoner till arbete för mänskliga rättigheter – Tack alla lottköpare!

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(Svenska) Civil Rights Defenders tilldelas 7 miljoner kronor från PostkodLotteriet. Pengarna kommer att gå till arbetet med att stärka de mänskliga rättigheterna i Sverige och utomlands. – Med en närvaro i Europa, Afrika, Sydamerika och Sydostasien ser vi ett större behov än någonsin att verka för de mänskliga rättigheterna, säger Robert Hårdh, chef på Civil Rights Defenders.

Open call for a video-sprint in the Western Balkans

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Civil Rights Defenders is issuing an open call for participation in a video-sprint event, which is scheduled to take place in Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia in October 2014. The events will be organised by Civil Rights Defenders in partnership with Youth Initiative for Human Rights Serbia as part of the “Video for Change” project supported by the Swedish Institute within their Creative Force Programme.

Tomás Ojea Quintana on challenges in Myanmar

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Tomás Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, describes the ongoing reforms as a positive step towards democracy in Myanmar, while stressing the remaining challenges. On 20 March, he visits Civil Rights Defenders to talk about future challenges for human rights in Myanmar and the role the international community can play in addressing these challenges. Watch live on: http://bambuser.com/v/4459084

Testimonies from North Caucasus

Den 5 maj 2011 mördades Khava Sultygovas enda son Muslim Agiev i Grozny, Tjetjenien under så kallad "antiterroristattack". Ingen utredning om hans påstådda kopplingar till terroristorganisationer hade gjorts. Foto: Pieter ten Hoopen

The North Caucasus is situated only 70 miles from Sotji. It’s the site for Europe´s bloodiest conflict in present times and it’s a region where the local population suffer indiscriminate violence on a regular basis and where fear and uncertainty are an every day reality. From January 30 to February 23 the photo exhibition entitled, “Testimony from North Caucasus”, can be viewed at the museum Fotografiska in Stockholm

(Svenska) Vill se stöd till vitrysk HBT-rörelse

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(Svenska) Svenska politiker och diplomater har inte engagerat sig för HBT-personers rättigheter i Vitryssland – kanske för att HBT-rörelsen i landet hittills varit svag. Men stödet utifrån är viktigt om homo-, bisexuella och transpersoner i Vitryssland ska våga verka för sina rättigheter. Det skriver Robert Hårdh, chef för Civil Rights Defenders och Alexander Bard, artist, i en debattartikel i Sydsvenskan.

Election will not be credible unless people can criticise the government

Photo: Aziz Elkhanoglu, Art for Democracy

In a joint call issued on the eve of the Presidential election, 22 human rights organisations and press freedom campaigners warn that the failure of the government of Azerbaijan to respect human rights, including freedom of expression, undermines the democratic legitimacy of the government. Azerbaijan should take immediate action to ensure fundamental rights are protected ahead of the election.

Structural racism and hate crimes still a big problem in Sweden

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A hearing was held with the Swedish government in the UN Racial Discrimination Committee due to previous criticism from the committee. Civil Rights Defenders, along with Swedish United Nations Association, and nearly fifty other organizations presented a parallel report to the UN Racial Discrimination Committee. The report shows that structural racism, discrimination and hate crimes still are serious problems in Sweden.