Tag - Europe ( 56 )

News | Hungarian Parliament urged by UN expert to reconsider new law targeting Central European University

Apr 11 2017

GENEVA – The Parliament of Hungary should reconsider recently adopted legislation which appears to be aimed at undermining the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, says a United Nations human rights expert. The bill, adopted on 4 April and signed by President János Áder into law yesterday, “is likely to violate the central precepts of academic freedom in a free society,” warned the UN Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye. “The new law targets freedom of opinion and expression in Hungary, freedom of academic pursuit, the role that scholarship and research play in the expansion of knowledge and the development of democratic societies,” he said. “Adopted quickly without normal legislative process, the bill seemed designed to damage CEU,” the expert noted. The CEU is accredited in both Hungary and the United States and offers English language postgraduate courses in a range of subjects. The new law requires, among other things, foreign-accredited universities to provide higher education services in their own country. It also bans universities accredited outside the EU from awarding Hungarian diplomas in the absence of a binding international agreement between the Hungarian government and the national government of the foreign... Continue reading →

News | UN rights experts urge Russia to drop Jehovah’s Witness lawsuit which threatens religious freedom

Apr 04 2017

GENEVA –  Moves by the Russian Government to ban the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses using a lawsuit brought under anti-extremism legislation have been condemned as “extremely worrying” by three United Nations human rights experts*. “This lawsuit is a threat not only to Jehovah’s Witnesses, but to individual freedom in general in the Russian Federation,” the experts said. “The use of counter-extremism legislation in this way to confine freedom of opinion, including religious belief, expression and association to that which is state-approved is unlawful and dangerous, and signals a dark future for all religious freedom in Russia,” they stressed. The condemnation follows a lawsuit lodged at the country’s Supreme Court on 15 March to declare the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Centre ‘extremist’, to liquidate it, and to ban its activity. A suspension order came into effect on that date, preventing the Administrative Centre and all its local religious centres from using state and municipal news media, and from organizing and conducting assemblies, rallies and other public events. A full court hearing is scheduled for 5 April and if the Supreme Court rules in favour of the authorities, it will be the first such ruling by a court declaring a registered centralized... Continue reading →

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

Mar 29 2017

(русский язык) 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... Continue reading →

News | Российская Федерация: “Незамедлительно освободите задержанных мирных демонстрантов”

Mar 29 2017

(English) Женева – Эксперты ООН в области прав человека* призывают власти Российской Федерации незамедлительно отпустить каждого, кто был задержан в рамках мирных демонстраций, которые прошли в стране в воскресенье. По сообщениям, до тысячи мирных демонстрантов, включая множество молодых людей, которые вышли на улицы после заявлений о коррумпированности премьер-министра, были арестованы полицией, считавшей протесты незаконными. Несколько таких протестующих впоследствии были приговорены к арестам и штрафам. Группа правозащитников  также была задержана и приговорена к аресту по причине ведения Интернет-трансляции протестов. Кроме того, были задержаны и позднее освобождены двое журналистов, освещавших данные... Continue reading →

News | Belarus: UN expert decries return of mass violence against peaceful protestors, demands release of all detained

Mar 28 2017

GENEVA – The Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, has expressed dismay over the Government’s open return to the policy of violent mass repression  against peaceful demonstrators, non-governmental organizations, journalists and political opponents, and is calling on the authorities of Belarus to stop harassment and violence. His statement was endorsed by Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai and a number of other UN experts. The crackdown on March 25 and 26 against dozens of human rights defenders, both local and international, came after hundreds of peaceful demonstrators against the Government’s social policies had been violently attacked, arbitrarily arrested and deprived of their liberty, and then summarily fined or sentenced to  prison from one to two weeks. Reports also indicate that the Internet was cut off. “The events of the last weekend prove the pre-meditated character of the repressive measures, and show an open return by the Government to its old policy of mass repression against citizens who exercise or dispense defense for human rights provided by the constitution and international treaties”, the Rapporteur stressed. Since early February, demonstrators have been protesting against a decree under which a fine can be levied against anyone who does not... Continue reading →

News | UN Special Rapporteur concerned about recurring violence against demonstrators in Belarus

Mar 14 2017

GENEVA – Belarus is being urged by a UN human rights expert to stop acts of violence and harassment against demonstrators and to respect freedom of peaceful assembly. The appeal comes from the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, and follows reports of mass arrests and intimidation of activists protesting against the presidential decree “On the Prevention of Social Dependence”, also referred to as the “anti-parasitism” law. The order by President Lukashenko allows fines to be imposed on anyone who does not work more than 183 days and is not declared officially unemployed. As implementation began last month, thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets in protest. Mr. Haraszti described the decree as “an arbitrary and cruel measure”, estimated to affect more than 470,000 Belarusians. “These people are not only singled out and stamped as ‘society’s parasites’, but they are subjected to substantial fines amounting to the equivalent of USD250, or about two thirds of the average monthly wage in Belarus.” Following demonstrations held for several weeks in many parts of the country, the President has reportedly suspended the collection of the fines for this year. However, he also stressed that he does not rescind the decree. Additionally, he has... Continue reading →

Report | Country visit: United Kingdom follow-up mission (A/HRC/35/28/Add.1)

Apr 19 2017

Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai undertook his second official visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from April 18-21, 2016, as a follow-up to his official visit to the United Kingdom in 2013. The visit was carried out pursuant to his mandate to assess the situation of freedoms of peaceful assembly and association in the country. At a press conference at the end of his visit on April 21, 2016, the Special Rapporteur noted that the UK takes its role as one of the global leaders in human rights seriously, but cautioned against a series of domestic measures that have resulted in the “closing of space for civil society." “I am concerned about a series of separate measures by the Government – some implemented and others proposed – which, put together, suggest that the Government has a negative view of civil society," he said in his concluding statement. “These moves have, in many instances, been subtle and gradual, but they are unmistakable and alarming.” He highlighted in particular the Government’s focus on countering “non-violent extremism” without a narrow and explicit definition of the term. He specifically referred to the Prevent strategy which focuses on individuals and groups that appear contrary to the “British Values” of democracy, pluralism and... Continue reading →

News | Closing space for civil society in the United Kingdom, Special Rapporteur warns

Apr 21 2016

LONDON – The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, warned today against a series of measures resulting in the “closing of space for civil society in the UK”, at the end of a four-day visit to the country. The Special Rapporteur highlighted that the UK takes its role as one of the global leaders in human rights seriously and added that “many people around the world look to the UK as a model for democracy and human rights” and emphasised that “the UK truly should consider its civil society a national treasure.” He noted a number of his 2013 recommendations had been implemented and commended the Government for its continued willingness to constructively engage on human rights in general and on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in particular. “I am concerned about a series of separate measures by the Government - some implemented and others proposed - which, put together, suggest that the Government has a negative view of civil society. These moves have, in many instances, been subtle and gradual, but they are unmistakable and alarming,” said the expert. The Government’s focus on countering “non-violent extremism” without a narrow and explicit definition was worrisome, Mr Kiai noted. He... Continue reading →

News | Statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association at the conclusion of his second visit to the United Kingdom

Apr 21 2016

LONDON - I would like to once again thank the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) for inviting me to undertake this official follow-up visit from 18 to 21 April 2016, which is a follow up to my initial visit in January 2013. This is the first follow-up mission I have conducted during my tenure as Special Rapporteur, and I commend the Government for its continued willingness to constructively engage on human rights in general and on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in particular. It is clear that the UK takes its role as one of the global leaders in human rights seriously. Many people around the world look to the UK as a model for democracy and human rights. The world notices when this country takes positive steps to strengthen its practice of human rights. But it notices even more when it moves in the opposite direction – restricting the space for democracy and human rights. Let me thank the Government for its excellent cooperation in organizing the mission, short as it was. A remarkable number of meetings were set up with members of the executive and legislative branches, and independent institutions, over the past four days. The input and assistance of these officials was extremely helpful. Given the brevity of the visit, I only looked at the situation in... Continue reading →

News | UK: Official follow-up visit by UN expert on freedoms of peaceful assembly and association

Apr 15 2016

GENEVA – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, will visit London from 18 to 21 April 2016 as a follow-up to his official visit to the United Kingdom in 2013. “This visit will give me an opportunity to follow-up on my recommendations and look at any good practices in relation to the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association developed by the authorities since my last visit, but also examine remaining challenges in this regard, and advise them how to overcome these,” Kiai said. “I look forward to a renewed constructive dialogue with all the stakeholders I am due to meet,” the independent human rights expert noted. The Special Rapporteur, who is visiting at the invitation of the UK Government, will stay in London where he is due to meet officials and members of Parliament, as well as representatives of independent institutions, including the national human rights commission, and of civil society. The Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary findings and recommendations at a press conference on Thursday 21 April at 1 pm at the Foreign Press Association, Award House, 7-11 St Matthew Street SW1P 2JT, London. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists. A... Continue reading →