GENEVA / CANBERRA (30 September 2016) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Michel Forst will visit Australia from 4 to 18 October 2016 to assess the overall environment for human rights defenders and civil society in the country.
“Experience has taught us that human rights defenders are critical to sustaining a democratic society and strengthening the rule of law,” the expert said. “The visit is a fertile opportunity for me to consult the vibrant Australian civil society about their situation and to have a focused dialogue with the Government on ways and means to support the important work of rights defenders in the country.”
The independent expert, with the global mandate from the UN Human Rights Council to assess the promotion and protection of defenders, will gather first-hand evidence on potential challenges facing civil society organisations in Australia and explore possible actions that can help enable the environment for human rights defenders.
“I look forward to the dialogue with the Government and civil society organisations to identify concrete ways of empowering human rights defenders and supporting their vital and legitimate work,” Mr. Forst said.
During the two-week visit, at the invitation of the Australian Government, the Special Rapporteur will meet with both federal and state level officials, parliamentarians, various rights commissioners and ombudsman, as well as human rights defenders and a broad range of civil society representatives from various parts of the country.
The rights expert will visit Melbourne (3-4 Oct), Sydney (5-6 Oct), Hobart (7-9 Oct), Brisbane (12-13 Oct), Darwin (14-15 Oct) and Canberra (10-11 Oct and 16-18 Oct).
NEW YORK / GENEVA (19 September 2016) – In many countries, defenders of moral values are being outflanked by race-baiting bigots, who seek to gain power by wielding prejudice and deceit at the expense of the most vulnerable, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told Monday’s UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York.
Full text of speech:
Distinguished presidents, Secretary-General, Excellencies, This should not be a comfortable summit. While the leadership of the Secretary-General, and his fine report, should be acknowledged by all – as well as the admirable efforts by Ireland and Jordan to achieve political consensus – this summit cannot be reduced to speeches and feel-good interviews, a dash of self-congratulation and we move on.
On the 14 September the Regional Representative for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Dr Chitra Massey traveled to Canberra at the beginning of her mission to Australia.
During her visit to the Capital UNIC Canberra arranged a diplomatic briefing during which Dr Massey spoke about human rights challenges across the Pacific.
She spoke about a recent visit to the Nauru detention centre in mid-August, describing the negative effects of incarceration on the detainees, particularly on children. Asked to elaborate further, she said her office had noted cases of rape, robbing and brutality in the centre and the systemic self- harming practices including by children as young as six.
In a wide-ranging opening speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein sheds a light on “preventable calamities” and worrying trends in human rights around the world, including detailed concerns about the situation in more than 50 countries. Continue reading
The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox; the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, stress that protecting environmental rights defenders is crucial to protect the environment and the human rights that depend on it.
“Being an environmentalist can be a dangerous, even deadly undertaking. Berta Cáceres, the Goldman Prize winner who was assassinated in Honduras in March, was only one of dozens of environmentalists to be killed this year.
Every week, on average, two environmental and land rights activists are killed and the numbers are getting worse, according to the international NGO Global Witness. The situation is particularly grave in Latin America and Southeast Asia, but it affects every region of the world. It is truly a global epidemic.
On this World Environment Day, we want to underscore that environmental human rights defenders should be lauded as heroes for putting themselves at risk to protect the rights and well-being of others. Instead, they are often targeted as if they were enemies of the country.
On the 24th May, UNIC Canberra NIO, Julia Dean traveled with the Community Organiser from Amnesty International Australia, Bede Carmody to Billabong High School in southern New South Wales. The students from the school had invited both the UN and Amnesty to talk to year nine on LGBTI rights. Continue reading
The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined second to fourth periodic report of Samoa on the implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Introducing the report, Faimalotoa Kika Stowers, Minister for Women, Community and Social Development of Samoa, said that Samoa was the first Pacific island country to have submitted the instruments of ratification for the three Optional Protocols to the Convention, which was a demonstration of Samoa’s strong commitment, political will and leadership in the promotion and protection of children’s rights. Continue reading
Samoa’s human rights record will be examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the second time on Tuesday 3 May 2016 in a meeting that will be webcast live. Samoa is one of the 14 States to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group during its upcoming session taking place from 2 to 13 May. Samoa’s first review took place on 9 May 2011. Continue reading
The rights of two deaf people in Australia were violated when they were called up for jury service but then told they could not have the support they needed, in the form of sign language interpretation and real-time captioning, to participate in the proceedings, UN experts have found. Continue reading