Tag - Maina Kiai ( 17 )

News | Letter from the UNSR: Our fight isn’t just about closing space; it’s a ‘struggle for future of democracy’

Feb 10 2017

As my time as Special Rapporteur nears its end, I have been reflecting a great deal on my six years in the position - and just how much the world has changed since the Human Rights Council created my mandate in October 2010. Could anyone have imagined what the years 2011-17 would bring? Back then, the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association were somewhat neglected in the pantheon of our most cherished rights - known, but rarely in the headlines. In the years since, they have underpinned some of the most cataclysmic political events of the 21st century: revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere; mass protests that forced out leaders in Ukraine, Guatemala, Iceland, South Korea, Burkina Faso and Brazil; citizen movements in Hong Kong, Bahrain, Malaysia, the United States; and so much more. And remarkably, all of this happened while governments everywhere were embarking upon the most comprehensive rollback of civic freedoms since the end of the Cold War: anti-NGO laws, restrictions on protests, increased militarization of police, and campaigns of violence, intimidation, stigmatization and arrests against activists, just to name a few. As Special Rapporteur, I was lucky enough to have a front row seat as these events unfolded - to witness them, to meet with the people who shaped them,... Continue reading →

News | Largest confederation of US labor unions awards Maina Kiai its 2016 award for human rights

Dec 13 2014

NAIROBI/WASHINGTON – Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai has been named the recipient of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations’ (AFL–CIO) 2016 human rights award, and will be in Washington, DC, to accept the honor on Dec. 14, 2016. The annual prize – known officially as the George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award – was created in 1980 to recognize outstanding examples of the international struggle for human rights through trade unions. It is named for the first two presidents of the AFL-CIO. Kiai, who is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, is receiving the honor “in recognition of his dedication to and effectiveness in highlighting the widespread denial of fundamental human rights at work and in society.” The Special Rapporteur has made the issue of assembly and association rights in the workplace a central theme of his mandate, focusing on the subject in his 2016 report to the General Assembly and addressing labor issues extensively during his official visits to UN Member States. “It is a singular honor to receive the 2016 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award – not only because of its stature, but also because it comes from the labor rights community,” Kiai... Continue reading →

News | Commentary: The problem of closing civic space creeps into the United Nations’ Committee on NGOs

May 27 2016

Commentary by Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association It’s been well documented in recent years that space for ordinary people to exercise their fundamental freedoms – and to participate in their own governance – is closing at a rapid and disturbing pace worldwide. A 2015 study, for example, showed that the core freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly were violated to a significant degree in at least 96 countries during 2014. And that is only one of many indicators. What’s less discussed is that space to exercise fundamental freedoms is closing at the international level as well. And ground zero, shamefully, is the very place where these rights should be thriving: The United Nations, one of whose pillars, ironically, is human rights. The United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council, are key spaces for NGOs to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly that are so frequently denied back home. But the same governments that are restricting NGOs domestically are stepping up efforts to take away NGOs’ voices on the international stage as well. They are doing this by hijacking, and subsequently closing, the main door used by civil society... Continue reading →

Factsheet | Factsheet: Recommendations on managing assemblies

Mar 09 2016

The Special Rapporteur’s factsheet summarizing his joint 2016 report with fellow mandate holder Christof Heyns, which outlined a series of practical recommendations for the proper management of assemblies. The report was developed based on consultations with over 100 experts and more than 50 UN Member States. This factsheet draws heavily on the report and answers a number of questions regarding the management of assemblies, including: • Do assembly participants forfeit all of their rights if they are not peaceful? • Do human rights protections apply to everyone participating in an assembly? • Do States have a positive obligation to facilitate assemblies? • Should states require demonstrators to obtain prior permission for assemblies? • Can firearms be used to disperse a violent assembly? • Is there a right to observe, monitor and record assemblies? • Does the right to privacy apply in the context of assemblies? • Do businesses have a duty to respect rights in the context of assemblies? For the Special Rapporteur’s full factsheet series, please see:... Continue reading →

News | UN experts provide a roadmap to avoid human rights violations during protests

Mar 09 2016

GENEVA –  Two United Nations human rights experts presented today a new report to the UN Human Rights Council offering extensive recommendations to States and police forces around the world on how best to manage public gatherings. “The proper management of assemblies can in many cases serve to prevent an escalation of the situation and the eventual outbreak of violence. We believe that proper precautions and preparations can help to protect the rights of all concerned - the demonstrators, bystanders and the police,” said the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai. The report is the result of consultations with more than 50 States and 100 experts from civil society, academia, protest groups, national human rights institutions and police forces. “Our many conversations with States and experts confirmed that the ability to meet and act collectively is vital to democratic development and to the expression of ideas,” Mr. Kiai said. “Human rights are often violated in the context of assemblies, sometimes unintentionally. These recommendations are aimed at providing all involved with a common frame of reference of how this world-wide form of... Continue reading →

News | Special Rapporteurs Kiai and Heyns to present joint report on management of assemblies in Geneva on March 9

Mar 08 2016

GENEVA – Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, will appear before the Human Rights Council on 9 March 2016 at 1:30 p.m. (Geneva time) to present their joint report on the proper management of assemblies. The presentation and interactive dialogue will be broadcast live on http://webtv.un.org/ The report summarises applicable international legal standards, and offers practical recommendations to States on how these principles might be implemented. The report has been drafted pursuant to a request from the Council in resolution 25/38. In developing the recommendations, the Special Rapporteurs consulted widely through a written questionnaire and in-person meetings with over 50 Member States, and with over 100 experts, drawn from academia, civil society, protest movements, and National Human Rights Institutions. “Our many conversations with States and experts confirmed that the ability to meet and act collectively is vital to democratic development and to the expression of ideas,” Mr. Kiai said. “It also confirmed that basic human rights are routinely violated in the context of assemblies. These recommendations provide a roadmap on how to avoid... Continue reading →

Report | Practical recommendations for the management of assemblies

Mar 01 2016

The ability to assemble and act collectively is vital to democratic, economic, social and personal development, to the expression of ideas and to fostering engaged citizenry. Assemblies can make a positive contribution to the development of democratic systems and, alongside elections, play a fundamental role in public participation, holding governments accountable and expressing the will of the people as part of the democratic processes. Yet despite the increasingly prominent role that assemblies play in today's world, there remains a lack of clear understanding of the applicable international human rights law and standards. When can a State require advance notification of an assembly, for example? Can authorities place limits on the time, place or manner that protests are conducted? What are the State's duties in terms of facilitating assemblies? In March 2014, the Human Rights Council requested Special Rapporteurs Maina Kiai and Christof Heyns to help answer those questions and more. This report is the result of their work - a compilation of practical recommendations for the proper management of assemblies based on consultations with over 100 experts and more than 50 UN Member States. Written input was also solicited via questionnaires. “Assemblies are not a novel phenomenon – people taking to... Continue reading →

News | Letter from the UNSR: Reclaiming our rights in 2016 will require creativity, courage and innovation

Jan 12 2016

There are any number of words that could be used to describe the events of 2015 - inspiring, uplifting, informative, moving, even maddening. But there is one word that cannot be used: satisfying. That is unfortunate, because the year was filled with stirring tales of courage, dedication and passion from activists all over the world: Burundi, the Maldives, Malaysia, Brazil, Bahrain, Venezuela, Russia and more. Some made lonely stands for justice in the face of daunting odds. Others stood shoulder-to-shoulder to demonstrate with tens of thousands of their compatriots. And in a few cases, some of these individuals even spurred rapid, remarkable change – as was the case in Guatemala, where protests played a key role in forcing the President to resign in the face of corruption allegations. The problem is that far too many of these stories had the wrong ending in 2015. One of Burundi’s leading activists, Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, narrowly escaped assassination for standing up for his beliefs; his son and son-in-law were not so lucky. Citizens who took to the street calling for an investigation into a US $700 million corruption case against the Malaysian Prime Minister found some of their numbers arrested; yet no one implicated in the scandal has been charged. In Russia, an opposition activist was... Continue reading →

News | UN experts wrap up consultation process for practical recommendations on facilitating assemblies; report due in March 2016

Oct 30 2015

GENEVA – Special Rapporteurs Christof Heyns and Maina Kiai have held three final consultations in Geneva on their joint project to develop practical recommendations for the proper management of assemblies, as requested by the Human Rights Council in resolution 25/38. Heyns, who is the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Kiai, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, are scheduled to present the recommendations to the Council at its 31st session in March 2016. On October 22, the Special Rapporteurs met with representatives of Member States to provide an opportunity for the exchange of perspectives and experiences on the proper management of assemblies, and to raise issues of specific interest or concern with the Special Rapporteurs. Representatives of 54 States attended the meeting. This was followed on October 23 by a consultation with experts from across Europe and Central Asia. The consultation brought together experts from a range of backgrounds, including serving and retired law enforcement officers, UN bodies, academics, members of civil society, and representatives of NHRIs and ombudsmen. The meeting addressed a broad range of issues relating to the management of assemblies, including the importance of... Continue reading →

News | Experts convene in Santiago to help shape UN experts’ recommendations on managing peaceful assemblies

May 04 2015

SANTIAGO, Chile – Over 20 experts from throughout the Americas joined Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai in Santiago, Chile, last week for the first consultation in a project to develop practical recommendations for the proper management of assemblies. The recommendations were mandated by the UN Human Rights Council in resolution 25/38, and are due to be presented in March 2016, at the Council’s 31st session. They will be drafted jointly by Kiai, who is the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and Christof Heyns, who is the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Heyns was represented at the consultation by his research team. “Peaceful assemblies play a central role in any democracy – allowing people to express their grievances and giving governments a chance to take the pulse of public opinion,” Kiai said. “The goal of these recommendations is to give States a roadmap on how to manage peaceful assemblies in an effective way that also fully respects participants’ fundamental rights.” Participants at the consultation, who came from over a dozen countries throughout the Americas, emphasized that the recommendations should not be limited to managing protests themselves, but should also look at what happens before and... Continue reading →