Tag - elections ( 22 )

News | Russian Federation: “Immediately release detained peaceful protesters”

Mar 29 2017

GENEVA – UN human rights experts, including Maina Kiai, are calling on the authorities in the Russian Federation to release immediately everyone arrested in peaceful demonstrations across the country on Sunday. Reports say up to one thousand peaceful demonstrators, including many young people, who took to the streets following allegations of corruption against the Prime Minister, were arrested by police who had deemed the protests unlawful. A number of these protesters were subsequently sentenced to imprisonment and fines. A group of human rights activists were also arrested and sentenced to jail after live-streaming the protests. In addition, a couple of journalists covering the demonstrations were arrested and later released. “We call on the authorities to release immediately all protesters still being detained, and to quash the sentences imposed on them,” stressed the experts. “While we welcome the release of arrested journalists, their arrest should not have taken place in the first place as this represents an attack not only on the safety of the individual journalist, but also on the public’s right to information about the protests. This right is equally hindered through the sentencing of the citizen journalists who live-streamed the events,” said the experts. “Freedom of... Continue reading →

News | UN experts urge Kenya to end crackdown on rights groups to ensure fair elections

Feb 14 2017

GENEVA – Three United Nations human rights experts have called on the Government of Kenya to cease its systematic crackdown on civil society groups, which has intensified in the lead-up to national elections scheduled in August. “We are extremely alarmed at the increasing number of attacks on civil society as the elections draw closer,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai; on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye; and on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst. “It appears that there is a systematic and deliberate pattern to crack down on civil society groups which challenge governmental policies, educate voters, investigate human rights abuses and uncover corruption. These issues are extremely important in a democracy, and attempting to shut down the debate taking place in the civic space threatens to irreparably taint the legitimacy of the upcoming elections,” they added.* The experts’ call comes just a month after the Interior Ministry called for the closure of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) deemed to be ‘not properly licensed’. A Government circular alleged the groups had been involved in ‘nefarious activities’ and claimed they posed a serious threat to national security including money... Continue reading →

News | DR Congo: UN human rights experts deeply condemn new violent repression of protests

Sep 23 2016

GENEVA – Two United Nations human rights experts today urged the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to put an immediate end to the disproportionate use of force against the exercise of the freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression in the country. According to information received, more than 80 people have been reportedly killed, hundreds injured, thousands arrested and at least 225 demonstrations have been squashed or banned since protests began in January 2015 against proposed reforms to the electoral law that could allow current President Joseph Kabila to stay in office beyond the constitutional limit of two terms. Details are still being verified and other sources report much higher figures. Human rights defenders, journalists and opposition leaders have reportedly been particularly targeted by the Congolese National Police, the National Intelligence Agency, the Republican Guard and the armed forces. “The DRC security forces have repeatedly used excessive force to quash protests related to proposed presidential elections, firing teargas and live ammunition into crowds of protestors and inflicting numerous casualties,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai. “People’s demand for a legal and peaceful... Continue reading →

News | Las libertades básicas son clave para elecciones justas y pacíficas en Venezuela – Expertos en derechos humanos de la ONU

Dec 04 2015

(English) GINEBRA – Dos expertos de las Naciones Unidas exhortaron hoy al Gobierno de Venezuela a garantizar la seguridad de todos los ciudadanos en el marco de las elecciones legislativas de este domingo, e instaron a remover urgentemente cualquier obstáculo a la participación pública pacífica. “Restituir plenamente el espacio para la libertad de expresión, reunión y asociación, así como asegurar la rendición de cuentas de los responsables por los incidentes de violencia,  serán clave para aliviar las tensiones políticas en Venezuela, y para asegurar la gobernabilidad democrática del país”, dijeron los Relatores Especiales sobre la libertad de expresión, David Kaye, y sobre el derecho a la libertad de asociación, Maina Kiai. “Las autoridades deben garantizar la seguridad personal de todos aquéllos que aspiren a intercambiar ideas y opiniones en los días previos al proceso electoral”, dijeron los expertos, señalando el reciente asesinato del político de oposición Luis Manuel Díaz, durante un acto de campaña electoral en el estado Guárico. Además, se ha informado de otros atentados en distintos eventos pacíficos de naturaleza política y electoral, a tan sólo días de las votaciones del 6 de Diciembre. “El asesinato de Luis Manuel Díaz es una señal muy... Continue reading →

News | Fundamental freedoms key to ensuring peaceful and fair elections in Venezuela – UN human rights experts

Dec 04 2015

(Español) GENEVA – Two United Nations human rights experts today called on the Venezuelan Government to guarantee the security of all individuals ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections, and to urgently remove all obstacles to peaceful public participation. “Reinstituting full space for the freedoms of expression, association and assembly, and ensuring accountability in all reports on violence is key to dissipating political tensions in Venezuela and to ensuring democratic governance,” said the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression, David Kaye, and on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai. “Authorities must ensure the safety of those trying to exchange ideas in the last days of the electoral process,” the experts said, recalling the recent killing of opposition politician Luis Manuel Díaz following a campaign rally in Guárico state. There have also been reports of attacks against other peaceful political events just days before the 6 December vote. “The killing of Luis Manuel Díaz is a very worrying sign of how the environment for political participation in Venezuela has deteriorated,” they warned. “A peaceful electoral process requires, at a bare minimum, that the Government guarantee the security of all – particularly at... Continue reading →

News | “Stop the erosion of democracy” – UN rights experts urge Governments across the world

Sep 11 2015

GENEVA – Speaking ahead of the International Day of Democracy, the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, deplore the increasing erosion of democracy as a result of repressive policies in some countries, but also by virtue of the increasing influence of vested interests at the expense of the public will. This year’s theme for the International Day of Democracy is space for civil society. The United Nations and all Special Procedures mandate holders endorse this necessary and achievable goal. But democracy today has become an over-used word, invoked even by tyrants. A country does not become democratic simply by holding elections. What matters most is what happens between those elections: Can people speak out, engage and influence the leaders they have elected? Is there a correlation between the needs and will of the people and the policies that affect them? Can people peacefully assemble when other ways of expressing their grievances fail? Is peaceful dissent tolerated and encouraged to flourish, so that the marketplace of ideas is not monopolized by one group? On International Day of Democracy 2015, we call on States to... Continue reading →

News | Pre-election violence endangers Burundi’s young democracy, UN rights experts warn

Apr 30 2015

GENEVA – A group of United Nations experts, including Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai, today condemned the violence in Burundi and urged the authorities to uphold human rights, including freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly. They also called for a thorough and independent investigation into the human rights violations so that the perpetrators are brought to justice. Over the past days, Burundi has suffered a wave of killings, arbitrary arrests, intimidation, the closure of media outlets and the targeting of human rights defenders. This has taken place in the context of peaceful protests against the decision of the ruling party to have incumbent President Nkurunziza run for a third presidential term. In response, security forces violently cracked down on the protesters with live ammunition, grenades and tear gas. Most recent reports indicate that the internet is now being blocked throughout the country. “We urge all parties to resolve differences through dialogue, avoid using inflammatory language or hate speech, and to refrain from violence. This call is also made to various parts of the country’s security sector, which should fulfil their role in a non-partisan manner,” they said. The international experts emphasised that the troubling events of the past days should also be... Continue reading →

News | Kiai’s writes in Guardian that UK Lobbying Bill threatens to ‘stain’ British democracy

Jan 12 2014

An op-ed by Maina Kiai has been featured in the Guardian. The piece concerns the United Kingdom's proposed "Transparency in Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Bill" - legislation that would impose harsh restrictions on civil society advocacy during the year prior to an election. The most concerning part of the legislation would broaden the definition of what constitutes "election campaigning" to include any activity that affects the outcome of an election, even if unintentionally. The law would then regulate that activity as election campaigning and impose severe limits on spending. The concern, many charities say, is that their normal advocacy activities would be labeled "election campaigning" subject to campaign laws, virtually shutting them down during election periods. Although the legislation is being sold as a way to level the electoral playing field, Kiai argues that the bill actually does little more than shrink the space for citizens – particularly those engaged in civil society groups – to express their collective will. Meanwhile, restrictions on in-house corporate lobbyists would be weak, leaving civil society groups to bear the brunt of the law's impact. While it is understandable that the UK might wish to establish restrictions on the influence... Continue reading →

News | Kiai tells UNGA that freedoms of assembly and association are prerequisites to ‘genuine elections’

Oct 30 2013

United Nations Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai told the UN General Assembly yesterday that vibrant freedoms of assembly and association are absolute prerequisites to “genuine elections” that reflect the will of the people. The remarks came yesterday in New York, where Kiai presented his first report to the General Assembly in his capacity as the Special Rapporteur on the freedoms of assembly and of association. The report documents worldwide threats to the freedoms of assembly and of association in the context of elections – before, during and after the vote. “Electoral periods are a key period in the life of any nation,” Kiai told the UN body. “But simply holding an election is not enough: the quality of the process has a significant impact on the legitimacy of the outcome.” Kiai said that international election monitoring efforts tend to focus solely upon what happens during the vote, and do not always take into account the entire human rights landscape. A press release is available here. Video of the event is available here via the UN. Kiai's portion starts at approximately 1h 24m... Continue reading →

News | Maina Kiai blogs for the Guardian on elections

Oct 29 2013

A piece by Maina Kiai has been featured today in the Guardian's Poverty Matters blog. As he prepares to present his latest report -- which is on the freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association in the context of elections -- to the UN General Assembly in New York, Kiai argues that the international community should stop endorsing flawed elections that amount to "civilian coups." He calls upon UN member states to improve their efforts to facilitate and protect assembly and association rights during all phases of elections. Click here for a link to the... Continue reading →