Tag - press release ( 7 )

News | UN Experts urge Azerbaijan to drop charges against human rights defenders

Bashir Suleymanli
May 09 2014

GENEVA – Two United Nations independent experts on Friday expressed serious concern over the charges brought against three human rights defenders in the aftermath of the 2013 presidential elections in Azerbaijan. Mr. Anar Mammadli and Mr. Bashir Suleymanli, respectively Chairman and Executive Director of the Azerbaijani Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDSC), together with Mr. Elnur Mammadov, President of the Volunteers of International Cooperation Public Union (VIC), are being tried in Baku for conducting business activity by an organized group without registration and abusing official powers, among other charges. They face up to 12 years’ imprisonment. Mr. Mammadli has been in pre-trial detention since 16 December 2013. “We are seriously concerned that the three human rights defenders are being prosecuted in retaliation for their legitimate work in documenting alleged widespread irregularities and human rights violations around the presidential elections of 9 October 2013. All charges brought against them should be dropped and Mr. Mammadli should be released immediately,” urged the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai. Mr. Mammadli was one of the participants in the consultation convened by Mr. Kiai in June... Continue reading →

News | Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai to join roundtable with Venezuelan activists in USA

Apr 10 2014

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts - UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai will participate in a roundtable discussion about the ongoing protests in Venezuela at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on April 11. The event will be streamed live online at http://ustre.am/1c1VG. Kiai, who is the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, will join Alfredo Millán, a Venezuelan student from MIT, and Juán Andrés Mejía, a Venezuelan activist currently at Harvard who is also a member of Venezuela’s National Commission of the political party Voluntad Popular. Mejía was among several Venezuelan opposition leaders living in the Boston area who were profiled in an article in the Nicaragua Dispatch in February. Venezuela has been engulfed by protests since early February, when demonstrators took to the streets to voice their displeasure over rising crime, pervasive unemployment and corruption. Media have reported that up to 31 people have died in the protests, while over 1,800 have reportedly been detained or arrested. Last month, Kiai and other UN Special Rapporteurs called upon Venezuela to account for the alleged arbitrary detentions and use of violence against protesters in an official statement. “I am deeply disturbed by the reports of deaths and... Continue reading →

News | UN experts call upon Venezuela to account for alleged arbitrary detentions and use of violence against protesters

Mar 06 2014

GENEVA – A group of United Nations independent experts, including Maina Kiai, have asked the Government of Venezuela for prompt clarification of allegations of arbitrary detention and excessive use of force and violence against protesters, journalists and media workers during the recent wave of protests in the country. “The recent violence amid protests in Venezuela need to be urgently and thoroughly investigated, and perpetrators must be held accountable,” the experts stressed. They also expressed their shock at the reported deaths of at least 17 persons during the demonstrations. “We are deeply disturbed by the allegations of multiple cases of arbitrary detention of protesters. Some were reportedly beaten -and in some cases severely tortured- by security forces, taken to military facilities, kept in incommunicado detention, and denied access to legal assistance,” they said. “These reports need to be urgently clarified and anyone who remains arbitrarily detained should be released without condition.” The independent experts also drew attention to reports of violence against journalists and media workers monitoring and reporting on demonstrations in Venezuela: “Ensuring full protection to journalists and media workers covering the difficult period experienced by the country today is... Continue reading →

News | Ukraine: “Violence and death toll totally unacceptable” – Key UN expert group urges restraint and real dialogue

Feb 21 2014

GENEVA – Representatives of the largest body of independent experts in the United Nations human rights system today called for an immediate end to renewed clashes in Kiev and other parts of Ukraine that have seen numerous deadly casualties and scores of injuries among the protestors and the security forces. “We are horrified by what has been happening in Kiev,” said Chaloka Beyani, who currently heads the Coordination Committee of international experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. “We strongly condemn the excessive use of force by the security forces against the protestors. We urge restraint and an urgent, independent and thorough investigation into the forces’ action.” “We further urge the authorities to shed full light on the several cases of enforced disappearances of protestors since late November 2013,” Mr. Beyani pointed out. “Similarly, we condemn the alleged repeated targeting by the security forces of media personnel who report on the protests, and urge the forces to respect and facilitate their work.” The group of international human rights experts stressed that those responsible for ordering and perpetrating arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances, acts of torture and other human rights violations are accountable for their actions under national and... 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 | Uganda: “Public assembly must be protected, not attacked”

Aug 09 2013

Three United Nations independent human rights experts today expressed serious concern at the passing of the Public Order Management Bill in Uganda, which prohibits protests of more than three people without prior police authorization, and authorizes police to use guns when policing public events. The UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, human rights defenders and freedom of expression urge Uganda to repeal the law passed on 6 August to prepare a new version to comply with Uganda’s international human rights obligations. “Police intimidation has no place in a free, open and democratic society,” stressed the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya. “The use of fire arms must be strictly safeguarded. The Law fails to limit firearm use; it must ensure they can only be used after exhausting all other possible means, in compliance with the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Official,” she stressed. “Several provisions of the law constitute an undue restriction on the ability for individuals to take part in public assembly,” added the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai. “Requiring prior authorization from the... Continue reading →

News | Hungarian extreme-right: UN experts welcome European Court of Human Rights’ decision

Jul 26 2013

Maina Kiai and two other UN Independent Experts welcomed today the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights that signaled clearly that associations which convey radical extreme-right messages have no place in democratic societies. On 9 July 2013, the European Court of Human Rights found in Vona vs. Hungary that expressions of racial division calling for race-based actions with intimidating effects on members of racial minorities exceed the scope of protection under the European Convention on Human Rights. “We praise the decision of the European Court of Human Rights as it represents a much needed call for action for the defence of the rights and dignity of persons belonging to minorities, Roma people in the present case,” said the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Ms. Rita Izsák. “The Court’s decision is clear: as article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that any statements that incite or advocate racial hatred are prohibited and should attract judicial censure,” added the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Mr. Mutuma Ruteere. In this connection, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, Mr. Maina Kiai, reminded that in general the right to freedom of association should be enjoyed... Continue reading →