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 NGO and National Human Rights Institutions Information from the United Nations Human Rights Council

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) can be accredited to participate in the Human Rights Council’s sessions as Observers. They can address the Council during interactive discussions and debates thus highlighting human rights situations around the globe.

In order for an NHRI to attain “A” status, it must perform its responsibilities in accordance with the Paris Principles and the Global Alliance of Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) Statute. Accreditation of “A” status is done by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.

NHRIs with “A” status accreditation, the ICC and regional coordinating bodies of NHRIs (speaking on behalf of its “A” status members) can:

  • Make an oral statement under all substantive agenda items of the Human Rights Council;
  • Participate through video messages in the HRC plenary debates, including  during the adoption of the outcome of the UPR of the country by the Council, the interactive dialogue following the presentation of a country mission report by a special procedures mandate holder and panels or annual discussions;
  • Submit documents, which will be issued with UN document symbol;
  • Take separate seating in all sessions.

“A” status NHRIs are entitled to intervene immediately after their country during the interactive dialogue, following the presentation of that country mission report by a special procedure mandate holder and also immediately after the State under review at the adoption of the UPR report in plenary.

NGOs can also apply to have consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).  Article 71 of the UN Charter opened the door to   provide   suitable   arrangements   for   consultation   with non-governmental organizations.  The  consultative  relationship  with  ECOSOC  is  governed  today  by  ECOSOC resolution 1996/31, which outlines the eligibility  requirements  for  consultative  status,  rights  and  obligations of NGOs in consultative status, procedures for the withdrawal or suspension of consultative status, the role and functions of the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs, and the responsibilities of the UN Secretariat in supporting the consultative relationship.

This information on how an NGO can attain consultative status with ECOSOC can be found on this website; <<csonet.org/content/documents/Brocure.pdf>>. At that website, an NGO seeking consultative status with ECOSOC will find the brochure guide on how to attain the status.

 

NGOs in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) can:

  • Attend and observe all proceedings of the Council with the exception of the Council deliberations under the Complaints Procedure;
  • Submit written statements to the Human Rights Council;
  • Make oral interventions to the Human Rights Council;
  • Participate in debates, interactive dialogues, panel discussions and informal meetings;
  • Organize “parallel events” on issues relevant to the work of the Human Rights Council.

 

NEW UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS APPOINTED FOR SPECIAL GROUPS AT THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL.

During the 33rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council that took place from 13th to 30th September 2016, the following new United Nations Special Rapporteurs were appointed to the following offices;

 

(a)   Ms. Cecilia Jimentez from Philipines as the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons;

(b)   Mr. Nils Melzer from Switzerland as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

(c)    Ms. Elina Steinerte from Latvia as the President of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, member from Eastern European States;

(d)   Mr.Vitit Muntarbhorn fromThailand as the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and

(e)   Ms. Asma Jilani Jahanggir from Pakistan as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Special Rapporteur, Independent Expert and Working Group Members are individuals working on behalf of the United Nations (UN) within the scope of "Special Procedures" mechanisms, who bear a specific mandate from the United Nations Human Rights Council, either a country mandate or a thematic mandate.

We believe that the creation of these positions will help ensure that the struggle for the human rights of all the above groups of people remains a prominent issue within the human rights movement.

A brief on the Press Statement of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Human Rights Situation in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) is deeply concerned by the events unfolding in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. (Ethiopia)

Reports further indicate that from 6 – 7 August 2016, thousands of people around the country took to the streets calling for political reform, equality, justice and the rule of law. The Commission is seriously disturbed by reports which aver that law enforcement agents responded with excessive force, including firing live bullets at protestors in Bahir Dar killing at least 30 people, and beating protestors with batons in Addis Ababa. Reports indicate that nearly 100 protestors were killed from 6 – 7 August 2016.

The Commission has also received information that the Government completely blocked internet throughout the country for 48 hours in an attempt to stop the use of social media to organize further protests. It is alleged that most social media applications are still blocked, hampering communication.

Without reaching conclusions on the above allegations, the Commission is concerned that if these allegations are correct they would amount to violations of Articles 3(Individuals shall be equal before the law), 4(Human beings are inviolable), 5(Respect to dignity is inherent in human beings and recognition of his legal status), 6Right to liberty and security of the person), 7(Right to be heard and to appeal to competent national organs), 9(Right to receive information and the right to express  and disseminate his/her opinions within the law), 11(Right to assemble feely with others), 139Right to participate freely in the government of one’s own country and equal access to the public service) and 19(All people shall be equal) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter), as well as other regional and international human rights instruments to which the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is a party.

In view of the above, the Commission calls on the Government of Ethiopia to:

·         Fully investigate or allow the African Commission and other international/regional human rights mechanisms unimpeded access to the concerned areas in order to carry out prompt and impartial investigations into the allegations, so that these reports can be verified;

·         Ensure due process of law for those arrested and detained;

·         Respect peoples’ right to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and access to information;

·         Ensure that perpetrators of the alleged violations are held accountable;

·         Ensure that the victims and their families obtain full redress, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition; and

·         Uphold its obligations under the regional and international human rights instruments to which it is a party, in particular the African Charter.

In light of blocking the internet in Ethiopia, Uganda has also blocked social media use and is likely to become a routine practice by the government, analysts have said. This was the case on 18th February 2016 when Ugandans woke up to go to the polls but were surprised that they couldn’t connect with the world via social media. The government had directed telecoms to switch off social media and mobile money services, a ban that continued for three days.

Mr Nicholas Opiyo, a human rights lawyer, said the “growth and penetration of social media has outstripped the capacity of the government to provide a regulatory framework for it”. He said the fact that the government can shut down social media and “gets away with it” will certainly “embolden it to do so regularly or when and if they please”.

Despite the shutdown, many Ugandans continued to use social media through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) — a technology that dodges censorship by redirecting one’s Internet activity to a computer in a different country.

Ms Maria Burnett, a senior researcher in the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, said that the government’s blocking of social media is one of the shadows that will hover over Mr Museveni’s government as he starts another five-year term as president.

In light of freedom of expression in Uganda as per the Amnesty International Report on Uganda 2015/2016, journalists and other media workers continued to face attacks from the police as well as harassment and intimidation in the course of their work, particularly in rural areas.

On 12 January 2016, cameraman Andrew Lwanga was assaulted by police while filming a gathering of youth activists, the Jobless Brotherhood. He sustained severe injuries, requiring hospital admission. A criminal trial against the alleged perpetrator was ongoing. On 23 January 2016, radio journalists Gerald Kankya and Simon Amanyire were attacked by a mob in Fort Portal, Western Region. On 8 July, the Uganda Communications Commission issued a document to all broadcasters, cautioning against “negative and unprofessional trends such as lack of balance, sensationalism, incitement, abusive language and relying on unauthorized and unreliable sources of information”. Many media observers saw this directive as an attack on freedom of expression in the run-up to the 2016 elections to mention but a few examples.

Furthermore, obedience to superior orders as is often the excuse of police officers in Uganda shall be no defense if law enforcement officials knew that an order to use force and firearms resulting in the death or serious injury of a person was manifestly unlawful and had a reasonable opportunity to refuse to follow it. In any case, responsibility also rests on the superiors who gave the unlawful orders.

In a nutshell, it is important for Uganda to observe the Rule of Law in order to have peace and democracy .The Rule of Law" as we know it, dates back to John Adams, who said that rules should be based on the needs of the people, and should exist to help protect and defend their rights. The idea was that people had rights that were determined by laws, not rulers. The idea of the Rule of Law is also a building block for the development of our government as we know it today.






 
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  • By: sckawooya
    Parliament’s role in promoting Constitutionalism: Constitutionalism is the idea that a government can and should be limited in its powers by a fundamental law or set of laws, beyond the reach of an individual government to amend them; whose authority depends on its observing of these limitations. The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 as amended provides for a system of checks and balances amongst the 3 arms of government: Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. These three arms of government are each charged with specific duties. The Executive is charged with the duty to implement and maintain the Constitution and laws made under the Constitution; the Legislature is charged with the duty of formulating laws for the Country, which should be in conformity with the Constitution. Parliament is also charged with the duty to protect the Constitution and promote the democratic governance of Uganda; the Judiciary is the justice dispensing arm of government. Parliament is the legislative, elected body of government tasked with passing laws of Uganda that provide for good governance and playing the oversight role of the other arms of government. Parliament is thus the representation of the people. Parliament is principally charged with 2 roles in promoting constitutionalism. These have been enshrined in the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda; protecting the Constitution and holding the Executive accountable. Protecting the Constitution In order to appreciate this duty imposed on Parliament, Uganda’s history with regard to the constitutions had and the making of the 1995 Constitution should be noted. Benjamin J. Odoki, in his essay, “The Challenges of Constitution-making and Implementation in Uganda” he noted that the making of a new constitution in Uganda demonstrated the desire of the people to fundamentally change their system of governance into a truly democratic one. Further that the process was thus a major step towards the democratization of the country which had experienced nearly thirty years of oppression, tyranny and exploitation. The history of Uganda’s constitutionalism road is that up until 1995, Uganda had had 3 constitutions namely: 1962, 1966 and 1967 Constitutions. It should be noted that in making of these constitutions, massive consultations of the citizens was not done by the responsible authorities. They had simply been enacted, and handed down to be implemented. It could thus be argued that the views of the people had not been reflected in the Constitutions. Thus, in 1988, the Uganda Constitution Commission was established and it spearheaded the task of making the Constitution that was promulgated in 1995 by the Constituent assembly. The making of the Constitution was distinctly characterized by popular participation by the people which was achieved through wide consultation and national public debate. The Constitution under Article 79 lays down the functions of Parliament which are to make laws and protect the constitution and promote democratic governance of Uganda. The duty of protecting the constitution would among others include preserving the spirit of the constitution that way it is not amended or altered veering off the purpose of the people. Since 1995, the constitution has been amended a number of times; including September and December 2005. The amendments have among others been for the creation of new districts, new offices, creation of special courts to handle offences relating to corruption, remove the limits on the tenure of office of the President. The role of parliament in protecting the constitution must be to vote either for or against an amendment of the constitution whilst being mindful of the Uganda’s history. Parliament should also be mindful of the fact that the constitution that was promulgated in 1995 was one that reflected the views of the people who had lived through the oppression and tyranny that characterizes our past as a nation. Parliament is further urged to not only look at the present and past but also the future. Ideally, the test should be that if an amendment years down the road can easily lead to oppression or tyranny stands to be exploited to the detriment of Uganda and her citizens, that amendment should not be allowed. As earlier noted, Constitutionalism is about ensuring that governance is done in accordance with the law and not the whim of the government of the day. Similarly, the constitution should not be easily and frequently amended to suit the needs of the government of the day. And this is what in principle the duty of protecting the constitution is all about. Holding the Executive accountable As noted earlier, each arm of government has certain controls over the other 2 arms. For Parliament, it principally has the duty of holding the Executive or the state accountable for all decisions that it makes as well as its actions. This is provided for under the national objective I which makes it clear that the President has to report to Parliament and the nation all steps taken to ensure the realization of the national objectives and directive principles of state policy. The goal of holding the Executive accountable is such that there is difficulty in the State abusing the power that it is given by law. Parliament, in fulfilling this duty has held weekly plenary sessions in which the Prime Minister is tasked to explain state actions of lack thereof on issues, and through the parliamentary committee sessions, has held the state accountable. The expectation for the 10th Parliament is that it does not take the trend of the 9th Parliament, which during its first year was seen to be assertive and its actions promoting constitutionalism and over the course of time became less active with the fire unfortunately dying out. Members of Parliament should at all times be mindful of Parliament’s role in promoting constitutionalism and in all decisions have them at the forefront as they are the key in protecting Uganda from ever experiencing the past that we have worked so hard to distance ourselves from.

  • By: jose
    UN expert hails role of equality bodies and action plans in combating racism: NEW YORK / GENEVA (2 November 2016) – States should maximize the use of specialized equality bodies and national action plans to tackle racism and xenophobia, a United Nations human rights expert has said. Using these tools was key to identifying the causes and shaping new policies, said the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Mutuma Ruteere. “National specialized bodies and national action plans address the root causes of discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, education, the justice system, law enforcement and access to different goods and services,” Mr. Ruteree said, presenting a report* to the UN General Assembly. “They also drive change in State and private organizations Read the Special Rapporteur’s report: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/71/325

  • By: mutawai
    Right to be employed: Dr Stella Nyanzi OF MISR undressed after she was locked out of her office. As human rights defenders how do we take this issue on and advise? We need to take on peace and conflict resolution as a focus area because not all situations require extreme measures.

  • By: kjose
    HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS SUBMIT JOINT REPORTS TO THE 26TH SESSION OF UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW WORKING: The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC) aimed at improving the human rights situation on the ground of each of the 193 United Nations (UN) Member States. Under this mechanism, the human rights situation of all UN Member States is reviewed every 4.5 years. 42 States are reviewed each year during three Working Group sessions dedicated to 14 States each. These three sessions are usually held in January/February, May/June and October/November. The result of each review is reflected in an “outcome report” listing the recommendations the State under review (SuR) will have to implement before the next review. The UPR is a full-circle process comprised of 3 key stages: 1) Review of the human rights situation of the SuR; 2) Implementation between two reviews (4.5 years) by the SuR of the recommendations received and the voluntary pledges made; 3) Reporting at the next review on the implementation of those recommendations and pledges and on the human rights situation in the country since the previous review. The process provides for the participation of all relevant stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations and national human rights institutions (NHRIs). Civil society actors and NHRIs can submit information which can be added to the “other stakeholders” report to be considered during the review. For the 26th Session of the UPR Working Group, Civil society actors submitted joint reports for the UPRs of Uganda. https://www.defenddefenders.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/NCHRD-U-UPR-Uganda-Cluster-Report-2016.pdf

  • By: Fapidi
    fapidi: Hi,am Tumwebaze Alfred of Foundation on Advocacy for People's Intergrity and Disadvantaged Individuals {Fapidi} in need of your guidance,seminar sponsoring and training , situated in Ibanda north.my mail is tumwebazesalfred@gmail.com.

  • By: hrcug
    The Anna Lindh lecture 2014: Ms Margaret Sekaggya guest speaker at the Anna Lindh lecture 2014 organized by @lunduniversity and @RWallenbergInst http://bit.ly/1w8qgsO

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