Tag - Protest ( 20 )

News | UN rights experts urge lawmakers to stop “alarming” trend to curb freedom of assembly in the US

Mar 30 2017

GENEVA – Two UN human rights experts are calling on lawmakers in the United States to stop the “alarming” trend of “undemocratic” anti-protest bills designed to criminalize or impede the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. Since the Presidential Elections in November, lawmakers in no fewer than nineteen states have introduced legislation restricting assembly rights by various degrees. The moves come just as the United States is seeing some of the largest and most frequent protests in its history. “Since January 2017, a number of undemocratic bills have been proposed in state legislatures with the purpose or effect of criminalizing peaceful protests,” the experts said. “The bills, if enacted into law, would severely infringe upon the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly in ways that are incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law and with First Amendment protections. The trend also threatens to jeopardize one of the United States’ constitutional pillars: free speech.” Concerns about the implication of these bills were recently raised by the experts in a recent communication sent to the US authorities on 27 March 2017. The bills come amid a wave of US protests over the past few years... 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 | Cameroon: UN experts urge Government to halt violence against English-speaking minority protests

Dec 21 2016

GENEVA – Two United Nations human rights experts have called on the government of Cameroon to exercise restraint and begin dialogue, amid rising attacks on peaceful protesters. Special Rapporteurs Maina Kiai and Rita Izsak-Ndiaye said they were deeply concerned about the worsening violence in the north-west and south-west, which has included the use of force against English-speaking demonstrators protesting against the growing appointment of French-speaking civil servants in their regions. Most of the protests have been led by regional bar associations and teachers’ unions. English speakers have long complained that they face discrimination and marginalization, and are excluded from top civil service positions and public services. They also claim their access to justice is limited because the majority of legislation and judicial proceedings are in French. “We call on the authorities to engage in a fruitful and inclusive dialogue with civil society, particularly the lawyers’ and teachers’ unions in Anglophone regions who are asking for bilingual public services and more inclusion of English speakers in the public sphere,” said the experts. Mr. Kiai, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, said he was particularly alarmed by reports that... Continue reading →

News | “Kazakhstan should release rights defenders Bokayev and Ayan” – UN experts

Dec 06 2016

GENEVA / WARSAW – UN human rights experts* today called on Kazakhstan to immediately release human rights defenders Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan, who are currently in jail for organizing peaceful demonstrations. The two rights defenders were sentenced in November to five years in prison for ‘inciting social discord’, ‘disseminating information known to be false’, and ‘violating the procedure for holding assemblies’. They were also banned from engaging in public activities for three years after serving their sentences for their roles in organizing protests in April and May 2016 to oppose the proposed amendments to Kazakhstan’s land code. “Not only the legal process against Mr. Bokayev and Mr. Ayan raised serious questions about its fairness, but also the charges brought against them essentially criminalized their rights to peaceful assembly and free expression of dissenting views,” the experts said. “The rights defenders, Max and Talgat, should have never faced prosecution for exercising their rights,” they said. “Such prosecution, reportedly tainted with procedural and due process violations, runs counter to Kazakhstan’s international commitments on human rights, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” The experts further called the... Continue reading →

News | Native Americans facing excessive force in North Dakota pipeline protests – UN expert

Nov 15 2016

GENEVA – A United Nations human rights expert has accused US security forces of using excessive force against protesters trying to stop an oil pipeline project which runs through land sacred to indigenous people. Law enforcement officials, private security firms and the North Dakota National Guard have used unjustified force to deal with opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline, according to Maina Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. Some of the 400 people held during the demonstrations had suffered “inhuman and degrading conditions in detention,” Mr. Kiai added. Protesters say they have faced rubber bullets, teargas, mace, compression grenades and bean-bag rounds while expressing concerns over environmental impact and trying to protect burial grounds and other sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “Tensions have escalated in the past two weeks, with local security forces employing an increasingly militarized response to protests and forcibly moving encampments located near the construction site,” the rights expert said. “This is a troubling response to people who are taking action to protect natural resources and ancestral territory in the face of profit-seeking activity,” he noted. “The excessive use of State... Continue reading →

News | UN experts criticize Kenya police for excessive use of force against peaceful protesters

Nov 10 2016

GENEVA – A group of UN human rights experts* has condemned a violent clampdown on a peaceful protest in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, while urging the authorities to investigate claims of excessive use of force and arbitrary arrest – both against demonstrators and journalists – and to hold all perpetrators accountable. The demonstrators were protesting against alleged government corruption when police used teargas and batons to disperse them. A number of people are reported to have been injured or detained during the incident on 3 November. “Interference with the right to freedom of peaceful assembly is inexcusable at any time, but it is especially repugnant when demonstrators are calling for government accountability,” the experts said. “Protesters may sometimes raise uncomfortable truths, but holding people in power to account is a central function of peaceful assemblies in a democracy.” The experts also expressed alarm at the timing of the crackdown, less than a year before Kenyans elect a new president in August 2017. They said creating an environment where opinions could be expressed peacefully was key to avoiding a repeat of the wave of violence which followed the disputed presidential poll in 2007. “Beating protesters does not make their grudges go away. Rather, it... Continue reading →

News | Brazil: Kiai writes court after historic decision on protest management suspended pending appeal

Nov 09 2016

(Português) NAIROBI - Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai has written to the Justice Tribunal of São Paulo in Brazil about the recent decision – and subsequent suspension pending appeal – in civil public action case No. 1016019-17.2014.8.26.0053, Public Defender of the State of São Paulo versus the State of São Paulo, which deals with police management of protests. A local Court decision issued last week had instructed Military Police to develop a police plan for action at demonstrations, a development which Kiai hailed. The decision was suspended by the President of the Court on Nov. 7, however, pending appeal. The President said the exceptional measure was necessary because maintaining the decision would “result in serious injuries to public order and security because it impedes regular police activities." Kiai, who is the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, said in his letter that he was disappointed to learn of the suspension, as he welcomed the initial decision’s approach and praised the decision for its focus on key details of assembly management. (The original decision can be found here in Portuguese) “While I have general reservations on the role to play by Military Police instead of civil authorities in the management of assemblies... Continue reading →

News | Kazakhstan: Special Rapporteur analyzes case of protester on trial for ‘unauthorized’ assembly

Oct 29 2016

GENEVA – Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai has submitted a legal analysis in the case of Kazakhstan protester Max Bokayev, who is currently on trial for participating in an unauthorized assembly in April 2016. Bokayev, who heads the local NGO Arlan, stands charged under Kazakh domestic law of inciting social discord, distribution of knowingly false statements and violation of the procedure to organize and conduct meetings, rallies, pickets, marches and demonstrations. He is currently on trial in Altyrau City Court. The Special Rapporteur’s analysis was submitted to the Kazakh NGO Dignity – which is helping with Bokayev’s defense – though the Special Rapporteur has invited the organization to share the legal arguments with the Court “to facilitate a clear interpretation of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly as understood in international law, standards and principles as guaranteed under the constitution of Kazakhstan.” The Special Rapporteur was unable to submit a formal amicus curiae brief in the case due to time constraints. The analysis addresses five discrete areas of law relevant to the case: The application of international law in the courts of Kazakhstan; the sanctioning of peaceful participation in an unauthorized assembly; the imposition of sanctions for failure to... Continue reading →