The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arrest and detention in a secret location of Mr. Ahmed Mansoor, member of the Advisory Board of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights(GCHR) and 2015 Laureate of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.
According to the information received, on March 20, 2017 around midnight, Mr. Ahmed Mansoor was arrested at his home in Ajman by alleged members of UAE security forces, including 10 men and two women, and taken to an unknown location.
As of publishing this Urgent Appeal, the reason for his arrest and his whereabouts remain unknown. It is fearead that his arrest might be linked to a series of tweets he posted on Twitter in recent days, calling for the release of Emirati human rights defender Osama Al-Najjar or to a letter that he signed, along with other activists in the region, calling for the release of all prisoners of conscience in the Middle East ahead of an Arab League Summit scheduled to be held in Jordan on March 29, 2017.
The Observatory expresses its concern regarding the arbitrary arrest and secret detention of Mr. Ahmed Mansoor, and fears that he may be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment, due to previous accusations of alleged use of torture and ill treatment by State Security Authority against detainees held in secret locations.
The Observatory calls upon the UAE authorities to guarantee in all circumstances Mr. Ahmed Mansoor’s physical and psychological integrity, as well as to release him immediately and unconditionally, since his detention is arbitrary as it seems to only aim at curtailing his peaceful human rights activities.
This update (excerpt) was published on the OMCT's website on March 20, 2017.
Cambodia: Continued arbitrary detention of Messrs. Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Ms. Lim Mony
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cambodia.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continued arbitrary detention of Messrs. Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony, all staff members of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), as well as of Mr. Ny Chakrya, former Head of ADHOC Human Rights and Monitoring Section and now Deputy Secretary-General of the National Election Committee (NEC).
According to the information received, on March 13, 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the November 28, 2016 decision of the Court of Appeal to extend the pre-trial detention of the four ADHOC staff members for a further six months (See background information).
On February 27, 2017, Messrs. Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Ny Chakrya, and Ms. Lim Mony were summoned before the Supreme Court, following the appeal they filed against the decision to extend their detention order. However, due to the bailiff's failure to send the summons for their transportation to court to the three prison facilities where the five are detained, none of them were brought to the Supreme Court for their hearing. As a result, the hearing was postponed. Moreover, the Supreme Court decided to sever the appeals of the five defenders. The hearing of the four ADHOC staff members was postponed to March 6, 2017, while the hearing of Ny Chakrya is now scheduled for March 24, 2017, at 8am. On March 6, the Supreme Court announced it would deliver its verdict on March 13 in the hearing of the four ADHOC staff members.
As of March 14, 2017, the five human rights defenders have spent 320 days in pre-trial detention.
The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing arbitrary detention of Messrs. Ny Chakrya, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony, which only aims at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities, and calls upon the Cambodian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the five human rights defenders, in accordance with the Opinion adopted by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD).
The Observatory also calls upon the Cambodian authorities to put an end to any act of harassment against all human rights defenders in Cambodia.
This update was published on OMCT's website on March 15, 2017.
Kyrgyzstan’s retrial of human rights defender Azimjan Askarov a mockery unworthy of closer EU ties, Observatory reports
A Kyrgyz court ruled to uphold human rights defender Azimjan Askarov’s life sentence, after what was a mock retrial falling short of basic fair-trial requirements and running against United Nations recommendations to release him, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH-OMCT partnership) reported today (the report is available in English and Russian).
The Chuy Regional Court, which reconsidered Azimjan Askarov’s case in appeal from October 4, 2016 to January 24, 2017, upheld the 2010 verdict which had been issued in a trial marred by a flawed investigation, bias, lack of substantial evidence and allegations of torture and the absence of investigation thereof. In its decision published in April 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee requested the authorities to release Azimjan Askarov and quash his conviction. Neither of the recommendations were brought into effect.
Moreover, the Chuy Regional Court itself, by refusing to hear some defence witnesses, restricting access to the courtroom, failing to investigate credible allegations of torture and ignoring acts of pressure and intimidation targeting defence witnesses and lawyers, failed to guarantee Askarov’s right to a fair trial in accordance with international human rights standards.
“Kyrgyzstan has also made a complete mockery of its international human rights obligations,”said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General. “If this country wants to be a European trading partner it has to be clear to it that it has to behave very differently.”
Tomorrow, President Atambayev is scheduled to meet with European Union (EU) leaders in Brussels, including EU Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, to discuss a new Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation and a Memorandum of Understanding on a 13 million euros worth project aimed at supporting judicial reform in Kyrgyzstan. Shortly after the court’s decision on January 24, 2017, UN bodies and the EU voiced serious concerns over the “serious shortcomings” in Kyrgyzstan’s judicial system, recalling that “full compliance with its international human rights obligations, including the opinions of the UNHRC, is essential to maintain the international standing of the Kyrgyz Republic”.
“The arbitrary character of Azimjam Askarov’s detention is unquestionable. EU leaders must take the opportunity of President Atambayev’s visit to remind him of Kyrgyzstan’s human rights commitments and the need to demonstrate at the highest level the will to support a genuine judicial reform. Support to judicial reform is meaningless if the right to a fair trial is not guaranteed and justice remains vulnerable to political interference,” said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH Honorary President.
This press release was published on OMCT's website on February 15, 2017.
India: Ongoing judicial harassment of human rights defenders Ms. Teesta Setalvad and her husband, Mr. Javed Anand
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the ongoing judicial harassment of human rights defenders Ms. Teesta Setalvad and her husband, Mr. Javed Anand. Ms. Setalvad is the founder of Sabrang Trust, a non-governmental organisation that works to promote conflict resolution and support peace building, as well as of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP). Within the framework of CJP, Ms. Setalvad has notably been at the forefront of protests and legal interventions on behalf of victims and their families regarding crimes committed against Muslims during the Gujarat riots of 2002, and has been sharply critical of the then Gujarat State government led by Mr. Narendra Modi, now Prime Minister of India.
According to the information received, on February 3, 2017, Ms. Teesta Setalvad and Mr. Javed Anand appeared before the Mumbai Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Magistrate Court, related to charges they are facing for alleged violations of Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code (criminal conspiracy) and the Foreign Contribution (Regulations) Act (FCRA). The CBI decided to grant them bailon the surety of Rs 20,000 (about 280 EUR), but they cannot leave the country without court’s permission. The next hearing in this case is scheduled for May 12, 2017.
Ms. Teesta Setalvad and Mr. Javed Anand had been summoned by the court after the CBI filed a charge sheet on January 3, 2017 against them and their publishing company, Sabrang Communications and Publishing Private Limited (SCPPL), for alleged criminal conspiracy and alleged violations of the FCRA, in relation to funding received from the US-based Ford Foundation without the prior approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Yet, according to Ms. Teesta Setalvad, the publishing house had a consultancy contract with the Ford Foundation, which excluded it from the restrictions of the FCRA.
The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the ongoing judicial harassment against Ms.Teesta Setalvad and Mr. Javed Anand, which seems to be merely aimed at sanctioning their human rights activities, in particular their work for justice and truth with regard to the 2002 Gujarat riots (see background information).
The Observatory also urges the Indian authorities to ensure that all judicial proceedings against Ms. Teesta Setalvad and Mr. Javed Anand are conducted in full compliance with their right to a fair trial, as provided for under international law.
This is an excerpt of an article published on the OMCT's website on February 8, 2017.