Tag - Protest ( 20 )

News | North Dakota: “Indigenous peoples must be consulted prior to oil pipeline construction” – UN expert

Sep 23 2016

GENEVA – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, today called on the United States to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline as it poses a significant risk to the drinking water of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and threatens to destroy their burial grounds and sacred sites. Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai has endorsed her call, along with a number of other UN experts. Ms. Tauli-Corpuz’s call comes after a temporary halt to construction and the recognition of the need to hold ‘government-to-government consultations’ made by the US Departments of the Army, Justice and of the Interior. The 1,172 mile (1,890 km) pipeline is being built by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Energy Transfer LLC Corporation. “The tribe was denied access to information and excluded from consultations at the planning stage of the project and environmental assessments failed to disclose the presence and proximity of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation,” the expert stressed. “The United States should, in accordance with its commitment to implement the Declaration on the rights on indigenous peoples*, consult with the affected communities in good faith and ensure their free, and informed consent prior to the approval of any project... Continue reading →

News | Kenya: UN expert tells Court that ban on 2015 protest near President’s residence violated assembly rights

May 27 2016

NAIROBI – Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai has filed an amicus curiae brief before the High Court of Kenya in Nairobi, arguing that protesters’ assembly rights were violated when they were prevented from staging an anti-corruption protest in front of the President’s official residence in 2015. The protesters, led by activist Boniface Mwangi – who is the petitioner in the case – planned to march from a nearby park to the residence, where they would present a petition acting the President to act firmly on the issue of corruption. The march was to take place on International Day Against Corruption, Dec. 9, 2015. The group notified authorities of their proposed route, but the request to march to Gate A of State House, the presidential residence, was denied. No reasons were provided. In his brief, the Special Rapporteur asserts that international law protects the right of protest organizers to choose the location of their assembly – whether it is static or mobile. Thus, any restriction imposed on the location must meet the stringent requirements under international law for “legitimate restrictions” to the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. That is, they must be: (1) in conformity with the law; (2) designed with a legitimate government aim in mind; and (3) necessary in a democratic... Continue reading →

News | Sudan: UNSR Raised Issue of Violence Against Protesters in 2012

Sep 30 2013

Protests continue in Sudan, with rights workers and diplomats claiming that over 100 demonstrators have been killed due to excessive force from authorities. The situation is of great concern. The UN Special Rapporteur on assembly and association has addressed this issue before with the government of Sudan. In August 2012, Maina Kiai and six other UN experts an official communication to the government of Sudan regarding a series of protests in July 2012. At one event – where people were protesting fuel prices – authorities reportedly fired live ammunition into a group of demonstrators, killing at least 12, including five minors. We requested more information from the government of Sudan. More than a year later, they have yet to respond. A copy of our communication can be found... Continue reading →

News | Bahrain: Joint Statement on OHCHR and the Human Rights Situation

Sep 09 2013

The human rights situation in Bahrain continues to be of serious concern. Demonstrators and members of civil society today face severe restrictions to their rights of free assembly and association. Violence against them remains a real threat. Human rights defenders - and indeed anyone who exercises their expressive rights - is at serious risk of  harassment or imprisonment. Impunity for those who have committed human rights violations remains all to common. During the 24th session of the Human Rights Council on September 9, 2013, a group of more than 45 countries issued a joint statement regarding this situation. The statement calls upon Bahrain authorities to address these human rights concerns, and to expedite the implementation of reforms. The group also called upon Bahrain to enhance its cooperation with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to allow for a fully comprehensive collaboration, including an OHCHR follow-up mission. Lastly, the statement urged the Government of Bahrain to cooperate with the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, in particular the Special Rapporteur on torture, the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, together with any other... 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 | Statement on human rights defenders of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations

Jun 06 2012

This statement was issued by the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations present at the seminar "Human Rights Defenders and Peaceful Protests" held in Oslo on June 6-8, 2012: Basic principles 1. States should guarantee the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association, and freedom of opinion and expression, which are essential components of democracy and indispensable to the full enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. 2. States should take all necessary measures to protect human rights during peaceful protests and to ensure that no-one is criminalized or subjected to any threats or acts of violence, harassment, persecution, intimidation or reprisals for addressing human rights issues through peaceful protest or reporting on human rights violations and abuses committed in the context of peaceful protests. 3. States should ensure that their legislation and procedures related to peaceful assembly are in conformity with the spirit and the letter of international human rights law, notably the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic,... Continue reading →

News | Canada: UN experts concerned over recent events in Quebec

May 30 2012

Two United Nations independent experts on the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and of opinion and expression today voiced concern over demonstrations in Quebec on 24 May, reportedly involving serious acts of violence and detention of up to 700 protesters. They also urged the federal and provincial governments of Canada and Quebec to fully respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and association of students affected by two new pieces of legislation. In the last four months students have been demonstrating in Montreal and throughout Quebec against the increase of tuition fees which they consider abusive and unjustifiable. The Special Rapporteurs made clear that they are in touch with the Government, which has promised it will clarify these issues. “The recently adopted legislation unduly restricts students’ rights to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly in Quebec,” warned the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai. “It is regrettable that the authorities have resorted to a restrictive approach, rather than seeking dialogue and mediation to resolve the current situation.” Mr. Kiai drew attention to the new Law no. 78, underscoring that “it shifts the burden of proof and further... Continue reading →

News | Switzerland: Changes to Geneva law on demonstrations threaten basic freedoms

Mar 09 2012

United Nations independent expert Maina Kiai underscored that some proposed changes to the law on demonstrations in the canton of Geneva, Switzerland, would “unduly restrict the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, which are core in any democracy.” A number of proposed changes, introduced by the new law are problematic, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. The proposed changes will be put to a cantonal referendum this weekend, on Sunday 11 March. The new law provides for a fine of up to 100,000 Swiss francs (approximately US$110,000) for anyone who, inter alia, does not request an authorization to demonstrate; does not respect the content of the authorization; or does not comply with police injunctions. “Such an amount is disproportionate, and would have a chilling effect on the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of expression,” Mr. Kiai said. “The exercise of fundamental freedoms should not be subject to a previous authorization by the authorities,” the expert stressed, noting that such a provision excludes the possibility of holding spontaneous assemblies as it requires a previous authorization to hold a peaceful assembly. The proposed changes to the law on demonstrations... Continue reading →

News | Egypt: UN experts alarmed at violence and clampdown on fundamental freedoms in run-up to elections

Nov 21 2011

A group of United Nations independent experts today expressed alarm at the degree of violence and deterioration of the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association which have led to loss of life in Egypt, ahead of parliamentary elections planned for 28 November 2011. “The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is an inherent element of democracies,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Maina Kiai, expressing deep concern at reports announcing the death of protesters in violence over the weekend. “The Egyptian authorities must stop using violence and engage immediately in a genuine national dialogue with all groups of society. An independent investigation should be immediately initiated into the cause of death and escalation of violence.” For the UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Mr. Christof Heyns, “the use of lethal force is not an option when controlling demonstrations, dissent must be tolerated and not restrained with excessive force which can lead to loss of life. I strongly urge the security forces to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid the escalation of violence and take immediate measures to protect the right to life of the demonstrators.” “The right to freedom of expression is a cornerstone for... Continue reading →

News | “Syria must stop using violent strategies against civilians, now”

Aug 05 2011

A group of UN human rights experts* today warned that the scale and gravity of the violent crackdown in the Syrian Arab Republic continues unabated, and reiterated their call for an immediate end to the violent strategies adopted by the Government to quash the on-going demonstrations. “We continue to receive reports on systematic use of excessive force resulting in killings and injuries; allegations of torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention of protestors; targeting of human rights defenders; and unjustified limitations on freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression,” the independent experts said. Arbitrary executions: “The indiscriminate use of heavy artillery against demonstrators cannot be justified; no State is allowed to use its military force against an unarmed civilian population regardless of the situation prevailing on the ground,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns. “The killings that result are clearly arbitrary executions and punishable under international law.” Torture: “Syria has disregarded, and continues to, every international norm against torture and ill-treatment,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez. “Its leaders must cease such acts immediately and... Continue reading →