Tag - South Asia ( 14 )

News | Bangladesh NGOs: UN expert warns against proposed funding bill

Nov 06 2015

GENEVA – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, on Friday urged the Bangladeshi Parliament not to adopt a bill which could severely restrict civil society organizations’ access to funding and hinder their activities. The draft Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulation Act is expected to be debated during the next Parliament session starting 8 November 2015. “This Bill is deeply worrying. Civil society is a crucial component for the promotion and protection of human rights, good governance and the rule of law, and for contributing to the provision of humanitarian assistance,” Mr. Kiai said. “Unduly restricting civil society organizations’ access to resources therefore not only has a detrimental impact on freedom of association, but also deeply undermines the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that these organizations seek to promote and protect,” he stressed. The Special Rapporteur noted that the proposed law would, among other problematic issues, make it compulsory for NGOs seeking to receive or use foreign funds to register with the Government-controlled Non-Governmental Organizations Affairs Bureau, and obtain its approval for each project undertaken with these resources. The... Continue reading →

News | Video interview: Maina Kiai talks India, elections and fundamental rights with activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad

Oct 10 2014

Maina Kiai visited South Asia last month on an unofficial visit that included stops in Nepal and Bangladesh. During his visit, he took time to sit down for an interview with Indian journalist and human rights activist Teesta Setalvad of Communalism Combat. The interview is available here, or by clicking the video below. In the wide-ranging interview, Kiai speaks about the role of the Special Rapporteur mandate, the "dumbing down" of the media when it comes to human rights issues, the true meaning of democracy, and India - including the difficulties he faced in trying to visit the country on his trip to the region. Miana Kiai reiterated the points he made about elections in his 2013 report to the UN General Assembly - namely, that a healthy  democracy is not only judged by the quality of its elections, but also by whether the State allows the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and how freely people are allowed to express dissent. "A democracy is not about elections," Kiai said. "In fact you judge a democracy by what happens between elections." The interview was filmed in September 2014, after a consultation in Kathmandu, Nepal, which hosted civil society activists from all over Asia, including Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and... Continue reading →

News | India: Urgent call to halt steel project amid serious human rights concerns

Oct 01 2013

Maina Kiai and other UN experts have called for a halt to the construction of a steel plant in India, due to serious human rights concerns. The plant in Odisha, India, reportedly threatens to displace over 22,000 people in the Jagatsinghpur District, and disrupt the livelihoods of many thousands more in the surrounding area. The project is backed by multinational steel corporation POSCO, which is based in the Republic of Korea. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Maina Kiai, “people in the project-affected area have reportedly been subjected to violence, harassment and intimidation, as well as arbitrary detentions and false charges, as a result of their activities to assemble peacefully and collectively defend their human rights.” The full press release is available in English and Chinese via... Continue reading →

News | Bangladesh open-pit coal mine threatens fundamental rights, warn UN experts

Feb 28 2012

“The Government of Bangladesh must ensure that any policy concerning open-pit coal mining includes robust safeguards to protect human rights. In the interim, the Phulbari coal mine should not be allowed to proceed because of the massive disruptions it is expected to cause,” said today a group of United Nations independent experts. They warned that if this open-pit mine is permitted, it could displace hundreds of thousands of people and lead to the violation of fundamental human rights. “The Phulbari development would displace vulnerable farming communities, and threaten the livelihoods of thousands more by doing irreversible damage to water sources and ecosystems in the region,” the experts said, noting that an estimated 50,000 to 130,000 people would be immediately displaced by the project, with up to 220,000 potentially affected over time as irrigation channels and wells dry up. A national coal policy is pending in a parliamentary committee, with early indications suggesting that open-pit coal mining will be permitted and, thus, would allow development of the Phulbari coal mine in north-western Bangladesh. The mine reportedly would extract 572 million tonnes of coal over the next 36 years from a site covering nearly 6,000 hectares and destroy approximately 12,000 hectares of productive... Continue reading →