MENA

 

  • ‘Against hopelessness, we need to work not to lose the very small windows of freedom that we can find under this dictatorship’

    CIVICUS speaks to an Iranian woman human rights defender about the causes and significance of the recent protests in Iran, as well as the prospects for change in a country with a closed civic space and a theocratic government that maintains a firm grip on power. She asked to remain anonymous for security reasons.

     

  • #FreeAlaa: Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah on hunger strike protesting his continued illegal detention

    We, the undersigned civil society organizations, lawyers, journalists, and activists, urge the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Alaa Abdel Fattah, our courageous friend, human rights activist, and blogger.

     

  • 25 organisations' urgent appeal for the release of Nabeel Rajab

    25 human rights organizations have signed an urgent appeal letter to Ms Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Vice-President of the EU Commission, to ask for a clear, public stance on Nabeel Rajab's case and the human rights abuses in Bahrain.

    Read the full letter here

     

  • 36 States stand with Saudi women human rights defenders

    Human Rights Council Stands with Saudi Women Human Rights Defenders

    Since early 2018, tens of women human rights defenders have been detained in Saudi Arabia for their human rights work. Last week, a cross-regional group of 36 States, including all EU Member States, called for the release of detained women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia. This statement sent a strong message to the Saudi authorities that the Council will hold it accountable for human rights violations. The joint statement at the Council comes at a critical time as the Saudi Public Prosecution announced last week that some of the defenders will be referred to trial. 

    During the interactive dialogue held last week with the UN High Commissioner at the Human Rights Council, 36 States*, led by Iceland, called on Saudi Arabia to release women human rights defenders who are detained for exercising their fundamental freedoms. States also condemned the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and demanded that those responsible be held accountable.

    International Service for Human Rights, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Women’s March Global, CIVICUS and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain - have been advocating for the immediate and unconditional release of Saudi women human rights defenders. Ahead of the 40th session of the Council, over 50 NGOs called on UN Member States to adopt a resolution at the Council calling explicitly for the immediate and unconditional release of the detained Saudi women human rights defenders and establishing a monitoring mechanism over the human rights violations in the country.

    Salma El Hosseiny, ISHR’s Human Rights Council Advocate welcomed the leadership of Iceland for this landmark statement and criticised other states who didn’t join; and said that “this was the first time ever States at the Council collectively condemned human rights violations committed inside Saudi Arabia, a country that has until now escaped Council scrutiny despite being a Council member with an appalling human rights record. The Saudi authorities, as Council members, now have an opportunity to engage constructively with the Council and immediately release the defenders. States should follow up on the joint statement by presenting a resolution at the June session if inadequate progress has been made.” said El Hosseiny. 

    "We appreciate last week’s joint statement, a one of a kind initiative that followed tireless advocacy efforts by members of the Free Saudi Women Coalition. It's heartening to see this resolution calling for the release of ten prominent women human rights defenders, some of whom were subjected to severe torture and ill-treatment. Yet, we shouldn't forget that there are many more in prison who can't be named out of fear for potential reprisals to them and their families. Some family members have been targeted already. We will continue to work and advocate to ensure that all defenders are free from prison and retaliation and that their perpetrators are held accountable," said Weaam Youssef, WHRDs Programme Coordinator of the GCHR.

     “We welcome this joint statement from members states at the UNHRC,” said Masana Ndinga-Kanga MENA Advocacy Lead at CIVICUS. “We see this as the first step of a much more rigorous process of accountability for complete impunity towards human rights defenders. More needs to be done to protect civil society in Saudi Arabia.” Saudi Arabia is rated closed on the CIVICUS Monitor.

    "This is a very big step for the 36 member states who have come forward to take - yet we are disappointed that more have not followed" said Uma Mishra-Newbery, Executive Director at Women's March Global. "This step shows that while progress is being made and the work of our coalition is making a difference, more work still needs to be done in holding Saudi Arabia accountable. We are concerned with every passing day at the safety of these activists and hope that member states will continue to keep pressure on Saudi Arabia."

    "We welcome the joint statement on Saudi Arabia and calling attention to the country's systematic rights abuses. We remain concerned over the ongoing detentions of women rights defenders, journalists, and other peaceful critics of the government. We call on Saudi Arabia to release all prisoners of conscience to undertake serious and good faith steps to bring its domestic laws into line with international standards, in particular the country's overly broad counter-terror law." Tyler Pry, Advocacy Officer, ADHRB.

    The joint statement called for the release of Loujain Al-Hathloul, Aziza Al-Yousef, Eman Al-Nafjan, Nouf Abdelaziz, Hatoon Al-Fassi, Samar Badawi, Nassima Al-Sadah, Mohammed Al-Bajadi, Amal Al-Harbi and Shadan Al-Anezi. Some of the women have been subject to electrocution, flogging, sexual harassment and other forms of torture.

    Saudi Arabia has silenced women human rights defenders for decades and those named above are not the only ones in prison, they are just emblematic cases. The decision by the Saudi government to allow women to drive is only a cosmetic change that fails to address the root causes of discrimination against women: the male guardianship system. 

    * The States who signed the joint statement are: Iceland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Germany, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Estonia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Norway, Latvia, Montenegro, Malta, Slovakia, Liechtenstein, Italy, Bulgaria, France, Romania, Greece, Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, and Monaco.

    Read the joint statement here.

     

  • Afghanistan: CIVICUS stands in solidarity with Save the Children

    Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS condemns the horrific attack on the office and staff of Save the Children in Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan. We stand in solidarity with Save the Children and applaud the resolute courage of colleagues who continue their important work in very difficult circumstances.

     

  • Algeria: Critically-ill activist Abdallah Benaoum must be immediately released

    بالعربية

    The Algerian authorities have accelerated the arbitrary detention and prosecution of activists and journalists amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, most recently refusing requests to provisionally release and provide adequate medical care for Algerian activist Abdallah Benaoum, imprisoned solely for his critical views of the authorities' crackdown on Hirak protests, ten national, regional and international groups said today, ahead of his trial scheduled on 27 October. Lawyers and family members fear for Benaoum’s life. 

    Abdallah Benaoum has been in pre-trial detention for eleven months for Facebook posts he published criticizing the authorities and opposing the holding of presidential elections. He is in urgent need of a heart surgery that authorities are denying by his continuous unlawful detention and their refusal to grant him access to the medical care he requires. 

    On 28 May 2019, human rights defender Kamel Eddine Fekhar died in custody at the age of 55 after a 50-day hunger strike to protest his unlawful detention for expressing views critical of the government and his prison conditions. On 11 December 2016, British-Algerian freelance journalist Mohamed Tamalt, 41, died in custody in a hospital in Algiers, following a hunger strike to protest his ill-treatment during his imprisonment for Facebook posts "offending" then-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

    To avoid a similar fate for Abdullah Benaoum, the undersigned organisations call on Algeria to abide by its commitments under international human rights law, release Benaoum immediately and unconditionally, and allow him to undergo his heart surgery in accordance with his wishes. 

    Police in Oued Rhiou, a town in Relizane province, arrested Benaoum and another activist, Khaldi Ali, on 9 December 2019, three days before contentious presidential elections. A prosecutor in the Relizane First Instance Tribunal charged both men with "insulting state institutions," "undermining the integrity of the national territory," "harming national interest," “undermining army morale,” “attempting to pressure judges on pending cases” and "incitement to an unarmed gathering" under Articles 146, 79, 97, 75, 147 and 100 of the Penal Code. 

    None of these charges are legitimate offences under international human rights law since they impose undue restrictions to the right to freedom of expression. The case file indicates that the prosecutor presented as evidence videos and publications found on Benaoum's personal Facebook account, in which he called for the boycott of presidential elections, writing "no to military elections," "Hirak students in all governorates are faced with the harshest repression." In the posts he also criticized the light sentencing of a police officer for the killing of a young man in Oued Rhiou. The prosecutor submitted this as evidence that Benaoum was inciting disobedience and undermining state security.

    On the day of his trial on 16 July, Benaoum was unable to stand on his feet and talk, according to his lawyer. The judge eventually agreed to call a doctor three hours after the opening of the trial. The doctor concluded that Benaoum was unfit to stand trial. However, despite this, the judge refused his lawyer's request for provisional release. On 2 September, the judge again rejected another petition for his provisional release. The hearing is now scheduled for 27 October. 

    Benaoum suffers from a heart condition – atherosclerosis - which can lead to a heart attack and requires urgent medical intervention. He underwent a first heart surgery in 2018, but his health condition started to deteriorate after an incarceration later that year and deteriorated further after his latest arrest in December 2019. Doctors established that he needed a second surgery. 

    In a hand-written letter submitted to his lawyers on 4 September 2020, the activist complained of poor medical care and ill-treatment in detention.

    The authorities have denied multiple requests for provisional release on the motive that the allegations against him constitute serious crimes.  Authorities have been transferring Benaoum back and forth between a prison in Relizane near his hometown and two prisons in the Oran province, at 160 km from his place of residence, which has further deteriorated his health. He is currently detained in the Oran central prison.

    Denying a prisoner much-needed medical care violates the rights to health and to life and may amount to torture and other ill-treatment in certain circumstances. The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, known as the Mandela Rules, require states to ensure that people in detention can enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community. According to the UN Human Rights Committee, adequate or appropriate and timely medical care must be provided to all detainees as part of state duties. Similarly, according to Algerian law, “the right to medical care is guaranteed for all categories of detainees. Medical services are provided to inmates, in the establishment's infirmary or, if necessary, in any other health structures.”

    Pre-trial detention must be an exceptional measure and based on an individualised determination that it is reasonable and necessary, specified in law and without vague and expansive standards. The Algerian authorities have failed to justify the need for the imposition of this measure, notably against a prisoner of conscience whose health and life are at risk. The decision to hold Benaoum in pre-trial detention despite the circumstances contravenes article 123 of the Algerian Code of Criminal Procedure as well as Algeria’s obligations under international human rights law

    The National Union of Magistrates has denounced the pervasive and abusive recourse to pre-trial detention as well as the lack of independence of the justice system from executive authorities, in a country where members of the judiciary have been sanctioned professionally for working independently or calling for judicial independence. 

    The authorities’ refusal to release him also runs counter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ recommendation to release detainees to contain the spread of COVID-19, notably those who have underlying medical conditions and those held simply for expressing dissenting views. The  recent death of two detainees and the infection of at least eight others illustrates the heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 in in Algeria’s prisons. 

    Benaoum’s lawyers and his mother were not able to visit him on 1st and 2nd October 2020. Prison authorities claimed to his family that Benaoum himself had refused visits and claim he is refusing medical care. According to his lawyers, however, this is inconsistent with Benaoum’s request not to stop visiting him, which he wrote in a hand-written letter on 4 September, and the activist only requested for his doctor, who did his first surgery in 2018, to be able to supervise the second surgery. In July, in another letter, Benaoum complained of isolation from the outside world and difficult prison conditions. The activist had not been able to receive any family visits from March to September 2020 due to restrictions related to COVID-19. 

    Benaoum had only been free for five months before his new arrest in December 2019. The activist was incarcerated between April 2018 and June 2019 on charges of "offending the President of the republic" and "reviving the wounds of the national tragedy" under article 46 of the Law on Peace and National Reconciliation of 2006, which prohibits publications about the Algerian civil war. He was conditionally released following a request from his lawyers, 10 months before the end of his sentence. In 2013, Benaoum had also been the subject of two communications from UN Special Procedures in relation to arbitrary arrests and excessive use of force.  

    Signatories

    • Amnesty International
    • Article 19 
    • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
    • CGATA (General Autonomous Confederation of Workers in Algeria)
    • CIVICUS
    • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
    • Riposte Internationale
    • SNAPAP (Autonomous Union of Public Administration Personnel)
    • SESS (Solidarity Union of Higher Education Teachers)
    • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

     

  • Algeria: European Parliament calls for action on human rights and expresses solidarity with demonstrators

    Arabic

    The European Parliament’s second urgency resolution on Algeria in a year is an important step and should be followed by stronger public action from the international community

     

  • Bangladesh: Open letter on Digital Media Security Bill

    To

    The President of Bangladesh, H.E. Md Abdul Hamid

    The Chair of the National Human Rights Commission, H.E. Kazi Reazul Hoque

    Subject: Open letter on Digital Media Security Bill

    Your Excellencies

    We write to you as international civil society organisations engaged on human rights and sustainable development issues in Bangladesh. We are concerned that in the current political climate in Bangladesh, which is narrowing avenues for free debate and legitimate democratic dissent in the country, the Bangladesh Digital Security Bill 2018, likely to be introduced in the current session of Parliament, fails to protect the right of the media, civil society and members of the general public to freely express their opinions on policies and actions of decision makers.

    Many of our organisations have closely followed debates about this bill over the years. In the past we have raised concerns about the existence of overbroad definitions and harsh punishments in the bill which, if enacted, would severely undermine freedom of expression as well as the freedom of the press. From available information, it appears that our concerns about the bill’s provisions as likely to impinge on constitutional rights and well as Bangladesh’s commitments under international law persist. Both Article 29 of the Constitution of Bangladesh and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights allow the imposition of restrictions on the right to freedom of expression only in very limited and clearly defined circumstances.

    In the present situation we recommend that the bill’s provisions are carefully considered from a constitutional and international law standpoint. Mr. David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, has done extensive work on the subject including on the exercise of the freedom of expression in the digital age. We believe that the government would greatly benefit from engagement with Mr. Kaye, who could advise on the permissible limits on the freedom of expression under international law.

    Furthermore, we urge the government to seek assistance from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on measures to strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights in the country in line with constitutional and international standards. We are concerned to hear that an official visit to Bangladesh by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, H.E. Zeid bin Ra’ad Al Hussein has been postponed and request the facilitation of a such a visit at the earliest opportunity.

    We believe that Bangladesh’s democracy and commitment to human rights and sustainable development will be strengthened through constructive engagement with UN human rights experts. We urge you to kindly consider the above requests in the interests of the people of Bangladesh.

    Sincerely,

    List of signatories (in alphabetical order)

    Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)

    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

    Asian Human Rights Commission

    CIVICUS

    FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

    Human Rights Watch

    Odhikar

    People’s Watch

    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

    World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

     

  • Bin the Travel Ban: Lift undue restrictions on Mozn Hassan and Egyptian civil society’s right to freedom of association

    Mozn Hassan is a courageous feminist and a human rights defender who protested with her fellow citizens to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak, calling for a new era of freedom and democracy in Egypt. Her struggle for equal rights for women during and after the Egyptian revolution, through her organisation Nazra for Feminist Studies, earned her the 2016 Right Livelihood Award. But she’s unlikely to receive this prestigious award because of a travel ban imposed on her by the Egyptian authorities.

    Mozn’s travel ban is the latest in a series of measures taken against her and other prominent leaders of Egyptian civil society under the ambit of the infamous Case 173 of 2011, commonly known as the “NGO Foreign Funding case”.

    In March 2016, Mozn Hassan was summoned to appear before a judge investigating the “NGO Foreign Funding” case soon after her participation at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. On June 27, 2016, she was prevented by the airport authorities in Cairo - acting on the instructions of the investigating judge and the Prosecutor General - from participating in the Women Human Rights Defenders Regional Coalition for the Middle East and North Africa meeting held in Lebanon.

     

  • CIVICUS Fellowship Programme

    The CIVICUS Fellowship Programme is an exciting new venture in which key experts will be placed into national and/or regional organisations for the period of two years. Host organisations will be selected from CIVICUS’ Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA), which brings together national and regional associations from across the globe to foster greater co-operation and increased ability to collaborate on mutual areas of interest. The primary aim of the programme is to promote knowledge exchange and learning, and build the capacity of both the host organisation and their members by providing specialised support in a particular focal area. Examples of these focal areas include research, fundraising, communications, project management, advocacy and network management.

    We're pleased to announce the second round of the CIVICUS Fellowship Programme is now open!

    In this round, we invite AGNA members from Africa, Caribbean and Central America, Asia, and the MENA region to apply as the host organisation by 13 March 2017. Please send your completed application (in English, French, or Spanish) or any questions you may have to .

    If you are interested in becoming a fellow, please note that recruitment will start at the end of March 2017. 

     

  • CIVICUS stands in solidarity with Egyptian activist Azza Soliman, urges end to persecution against her

    Global civil society alliance CIVICUS is deeply concerned at the harassment of Egyptian activist Azza Soliman. Ms Soliman, a well-respected defender of women’s rights, is the founder of Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA). She was arrested on 7 December by Egyptian police from her home in Cairo in a worrying escalation of the continuing crackdown on civil society in Egypt. Ms Soliman was later released on 20,000 EGP (1,100 USD) bail.

    “Azza Soliman has been an ardent advocate of women’s rights in Egypt for over 20 years and is no stranger to persecution for her work," said Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS. “We believe that the current acts of intimidation against her, including through the imposition of questionable legal charges, are another ploy to silence her and prevent her from carrying our her legitimate work in the defence of human rights.”

    Ms Soliman has been presently charged with contravening Article 78 of the Egyptian Penal Code, which criminalises receipt of international funding for perceived “activities against national interest.” She is also being questionably accused of tax evasion. Last month, on 19 November, she was prevented from leaving Cairo Airport to travel abroad. In an attempt to further harass her, Egyptian authorities have also frozen her private assets and those of the legal firm that she directs.

    In 2015, Ms Soliman had to endure a lengthy trial and was subjected to judicial persecution for providing testimony as a witness in the murder of poet and writer Shaimaa al-Sabbagh during a public protest by the police. She was ultimately acquitted of the charges of unauthorised protest and breach of security and public order framed against her.

    CIVICUS believes that Ms Azza Soliman is being persecuted for her legitimate work as a human rights defender. CIVICUS urges the Egyptian Government to end acts of persecution against Ms Soliman and to take steps to create a safe and enabling environment for civil society in the country.

    Egypt is rated as repressed on the CIVICUS Monitor.

     

  • CIVICUS: International community must protect pro-democracy protestors in Yemen and Syria

    Johannesburg. 28 March 2011.CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation reiterates solidarity with pro-democracy protestors in Yemen and Syria. The international community must take concrete steps to ensure the safety of the protestors against deadly attacks.

    "As the world's attention turns to the crisis in Libya, it's important that the international community doesn't lose sight of the legitimate struggles for democratic rights being waged by the Yemeni and Syrian people," said Netsanet Belay, Policy and Research Director of CIVICUS. "Thousands of people in these countries are risking their lives by coming out onto the streets to express their revulsion at the decades of repression by their governments. They must be protected in the exercise of their rights."

     

  • Civil Society Calls for Urgent Release of Palestinian Prisoners and Detainees in Israeli Prisons

    Arabic

    As we mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day this year, Palestinian prisoners and detainees face the additional threat of a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Israeli prisons and detention centers. While governments around the world are being called on to release prisoners and those detained in violation of international law, the Israeli occupying authorities have taken no steps to release Palestinian prisoners and detainees or to adequately mitigate and prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in prisons. Instead, mass arbitrary detentions and arrests, a staple of Israel’s prolonged military occupation and widespread and systematic human rights violations against the Palestinian people, have continued during the pandemic.[i]

     

  • COVID-19 : Les gouvernements de la région MENA doivent prendre des mesures urgentes pour protéger la population carcérale

    À la lumière de la pandémie de COVID-19 − qualifiée « d'urgence de santé publique de portée internationale » par l'Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) − nous, les organisations soussignées, exprimons notre vive inquiétude quant à la situation des détenu·e·s et des prisonnier.e.s dans la région du Moyen-Orient et de l'Afrique du Nord (MENA). Si certains États de la région ont pris des mesures positives pour protéger la population dans son ensemble, la population carcérale reste particulièrement exposée à la propagation du virus.

    Plusieurs pays de la région MENA ont déjà des systèmes de santé surchargés, certains considérablement affaiblis par des années de conflit armé. Dans ces pays, les prisons et les centres de détention sont souvent surpeuplés, insalubres et souffrent d'un manque de ressources ; en conséquence, les détenu·e·s se voient régulièrement refuser un accès adéquat aux soins médicaux. Ces difficultés ne font que s'aggraver en période d'urgence sanitaire, exposant les personnes privées de liberté à des risques accrus, tout en accentuant la pression sur des infrastructures de santé en prison déjà fragilisées. De plus, les personnes en détention interagissent régulièrement avec les gardien·ne·s de prison, les policier·e·s et les professionnels de la santé qui sont en contact avec le monde extérieur. Ne pas protéger les prisonnier·e·s et le personnel pénitentiaire contre le COVID-19 peut avoir des conséquences négatives pour le reste de la population.

    En vertu du droit international relatif aux droits humains, tout individu a droit au meilleur état de santé physique et mentale susceptible d'être atteint. Les États ayant l'obligation de garantir la réalisation de ce droit sont tenus de veiller à ce que les détenu·e·s et les prisonnier·e·s soient traité·e·s humainement dans le respect de leur dignité et ne soient pas soumis·e·s à des traitements cruels, inhumains et dégradants. Les Règles Nelson Mandela exigent le respect du principe d’équivalence des soins, ce qui signifie que les personnes placées en milieu pénitentiaire doivent pouvoir bénéficier de soins de santé équivalents à ceux mis à disposition de la population civile générale. Cela ne change pas en période de pandémie.

    Bien que des restrictions, notamment sur les visites en prison, puissent être imposées pour freiner la propagation de maladies infectieuses comme le COVID-19, elles doivent respecter les principes de proportionnalité et de transparence. Toute mesure, y compris les libérations de prisonnier·e·s, doit être prise conformément à des critères clairs et transparents, sans discrimination.

    À la lumière de ce qui précède,

    Nous appelons les gouvernements de la région MENA à:

    (1) Rendre publiques les politiques et directives spécifiques à leur pays et, le cas échéant, les politiques et lignes directrices mises en place pour empêcher la propagation de COVID-19 dans les centres de détention, les prisons et les commissariats de police.

    (2) Partager leurs plans d’interventions d'urgence et dispenser une formation spécifique au personnel et aux autorités compétentes afin de garantir un accès suffisant et durable aux soins de santé et à l'hygiène.

    (3) Procéder à un examen approfondi de la population carcérale et, en conséquence, réduire leur population carcérale en ordonnant la libération immédiate:

    1. des détenu·e·s et prisonnier·e·s « à faible risque », y compris celles et ceux qui ont été condamné·e·s ou placé·e·s en détention préventive pour des infractions non violentes, les personnes placées en détention administrative ainsi que toute personne dont la détention continue ne peut être justifiée;
    2. des détenu·e·s et prisonnier·e·s particulièrement vulnérables au virus, y compris les personnes âgées et les personnes présentant un état médical sous-jacent grave, tel que des maladies pulmonaires et cardiaques, le diabète ou encore des maladies auto-immunes.

    (4) Permettre aux personnes actuellement en liberté surveillée de s'acquitter de leurs obligations depuis leur domicile.

    (5) Garantir que les personnes qui restent en détention:

    1. voient leur droit à la santé effectivement respecté en ayant pleinement accès aux soins médicaux nécessaires;
    2. aient accès au test du COVID-19 et à une assistance appropriée selon le principe d’équivalence des soins;
    3. disposent de moyens de communication et de possibilités d'accès au monde extérieur lorsque les visites en personne sont suspendues ;
    4. continuent de jouir de leur droit à une procédure régulière, y compris, sans s'y limiter, le droit de contester la légalité de leur détention, et leur droit de ne pas subir de retards qui rendraient leur détention arbitraire.

    Nous appelons l'Organisation mondiale de la santé, le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge et les titulaires de mandat au titre des procédures spéciales du Conseil des droits de l'homme des Nations unies à publier des déclarations publiques et des directives mettant en évidence les recommandations et les meilleures pratiques à l’attention de tous les gouvernements en matière de détention et d'emprisonnement en période de pandémie.

    Organisations signataires:

     

    ACAT - France (Action by Christians Against Torture)

    Access Now

    Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

    ALQST for Human Rights

    Arab Network for Knowledge about Human rights (ANKH)

    Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)

    ARCI (Associazione Ricreativa Culturale Italiana)

    Association of Detainees and Missing in Sednaya Prison

    Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)

    Bahrain Centre for Human Rights

    Bahrain Transparency Society

    Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales

    CIVICUS

    Committee for Justice

    Democratic Transition and Human Rights support (DAAM Center)

    Digital Citizenship Organisation

    DIGNITY - Danish Institute Against Torture

    Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms

    Egyptian Human Rights Forum

    El Nadim Center

    HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual

    Human Rights First

    Initiative franco-égyptienne pour les droits les libertés (IFEDL)

    International Commission of Jurists

    International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

    Kuwaiti Transparency Society

    Lebanese Centre For Human Rights

    medico international e.V., Germany

    MENA Rights Group

    Mwatana for Human Rights

    Physicians for Human Rights - Israel

    Project on Middle East Democracy

    Reprieve

    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

    Syrian Center For Legal Studies and Researches

    Syrian Network for Human Rights

    Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)

    UMAM Documentation & Research (MENA Prison Forum)

    Women's March Global

    World Organisation Against Torture

     

     

  • COVID-19: Urgent measures must be taken by MENA governments to protect the prison population

    Arabic

    In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic outbreak—qualified as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization (WHO)—we, the undersigned organisations, express grave concern over the situation of detainees and prisoners across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). While certain states in the region have taken some positive steps to protect the general population, the prison population remains particularly vulnerable. 

    Several countries in the MENA region have overstretched health systems and infrastructures, some of which have also been considerably weakened by years of armed conflict. In these countries, prisons and detention facilities are often overcrowded, unsanitary, and suffer from a lack of resources; accordingly, detainees are routinely denied proper access to medical care. These challenges are only further exacerbated during a health emergency, subjecting detainees and prisoners to heightened risk and placing weak prison health infrastructures under immense stress. Moreover, individuals in detention regularly interact with prison wardens, police officers, and health professionals who engage with the general population. Failure to protect prisoners and prison staff from COVID-19 may have negative implications for the population more broadly.

    Under international human rights law, every individual has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. States have an obligation to guarantee realization of this right. In addition, states have the obligation to ensure that detainees and prisoners are treated humanely and with respect for their dignity and not subject to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.  The Nelson Mandela Rules require equivalence in healthcare—meaning that healthcare in prisons must meet the same standards as healthcare outside of them. This does not change during a pandemic.

    While restrictions, including on prison visits, may be imposed to curb the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19, they must abide by the principles of proportionality and transparency. Any measure, including prison releases, must be taken in accordance with clear and transparent criteria, without discrimination. 

    In light of the above, 

    We call on governments in the MENA region to:

    1. Make known to the public their country-specific, and if relevant, facility-specific policies and guidelines in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in detention centers, prisons, and police stations.
    2. Share their emergency preparedness plans and provide specific training to relevant staff and authorities to ensure sufficient and sustained access to healthcare and hygiene provision.
    3. Conduct a thorough review of the prison population and in turn, reduce their prison populations by ordering the immediate release of:
      1. “Low-risk” detainees and prisoners, including those convicted or held in pretrial detention (remand) for nonviolent offences; administrative detainees; and those whose continued detention is not justified;
      2. Detainees and prisoners particularly vulnerable to the virus, including the elderly, and individuals with serious underlying conditions including lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases.

           4. Allow individuals serving probation and probationary measures to fulfill their probation and probationary measures in their homes.
           5.Guarantee that individuals who remain in detention:

      1. Have their right to health effectively upheld by being granted full access to medical care as required;
      2. Access COVID-19 testing and treatment on a standard equal to that governing the general population;
      3. Are provided with means of communication and opportunities to access the outside world when in-person visits are suspended;
      4. Continue to enjoy their right to due process, including but not limited to the right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention, and their right not to experience delays that would render their detention arbitrary. 

    We call on the World Health Organization, International Committee of the Red Cross, and UN Human Rights Council Special Procedures mandate holders to issue public statements and guidance highlighting recommendations and best practices for all governments around detention and imprisonment during a global pandemic. 

    Undersigned organisations:

    (Listed in alphabetical order)

    ACAT - France (Action by Christians Against Torture)

    Access Now

    Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

    ALQST for Human Rights

    Arab Network for Knowledge about Human rights (ANKH)

    Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)

    ARCI (Associazione Ricreativa Culturale Italiana)

    Association of Detainees and Missing in Sednaya Prison

    Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)

    Bahrain Centre for Human Rights

    Bahrain Transparency Society

    Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales

    CIVICUS

    Committee for Justice

    Democratic Transition and Human Rights support (DAAM Center)

    Digital Citizenship Organisation

    DIGNITY - Danish Institute Against Torture

    Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms

    Egyptian Human Rights Forum

    El Nadim Center

    HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual

    Human Rights First

    Initiative franco-égyptienne pour les droits les libertés (IFEDL)

    International Commission of Jurists

    International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

    Kuwaiti Transparency Society

    Lebanese Centre For Human Rights

    medico international e.V., Germany

    MENA Rights Group

    Mwatana for Human Rights

    Physicians for Human Rights - Israel

    Project on Middle East Democracy

    Reprieve

    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

    Syrian Center For Legal Studies and Researches

    Syrian Network for Human Rights

    Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)

    UMAM Documentation & Research (MENA Prison Forum)

    Women's March Global

    World Organisation Against Torture

     

  • Egypt: Call to postpone the EU-Egypt Association Council

    A coalition of civil society organisations have written to Ms. Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission and Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and EU Member States’ Ministers of Foreign Affairs urging them to postpone the EU-Egypt Association Council and not to extend a formal invitation to the Egyptian authorities for July 2017.  This event would constitute a public political gesture conveying to them, and to public opinion in Europe and in Egypt, an endorsement of Egypt’s policies of the past few months, by the EU and its Member States. We consider that would encourage President Al-Sisi’s government to proceed with further, broader repressive measures, thus accelerating the destabilisation of Egypt even further. This would serve neither the Egyptian people’s interests, nor those of Europe in its search for stability, resilience and security in the MENA region.

    Readthe letter 

     

  • Egypt: open letter calling for an independent investigation into the death of Shady Habash

    Arabic

    CIVICUS, together with more than 60 organisations, calls for an open and independent investigation into the jailing and death of filmmaker hady Habash. 

     

  • Emirati Women continue to face Systemic Oppression by Authorities

    Women in the United Arab Emirates continue to face incredible barriers to their rights to civic freedoms by state and non-state actors. Living under the male guardianship system, that grants control over their movement, finances and interactions, these women can face detainment for merely reporting sexual violence in authorities. Because of this already patriarchal system, women human rights defenders face additional barriers in campaigning for their rights – they are frequently targeted and shamed by state and non-state actors (including family, communities and society at large). While imprisoned, women are also subject to torture and violence – but largely erased from the public sphere because of entrenched patriarchy. During CSW63, we highlight the great challenges facing WHRDs in the UAE and ask you to stand with them – calling for greater protections for Emirati women by state actors. The United Arab Emirates is rated ‘closed’ on the CIVICUS Monitor.

    UAE Infographic

     

  • En cette journée du prisonnier palestinien, la société civile appelle à la libération urgente des prisonniers/ères et détenu/es palestiniens des prisons israéliennes

    En cette journée du 17 avril qui leur est consacrée, les prisonniers/ères palestiniens affrontent une menace supplémentaire avec l’apparition du risque de propagation du coronavirus (COVID-19) dans les prisons et les centres de détention israéliens. Alors qu’un appel a été lancé aux gouvernements du monde entier pour la libération des prisonniers/ères et notamment de ceux détenus en violation du droit international, les autorités d’occupation israéliennes n’ont pris aucune mesure dans cette direction, et n’ont pas adopter de mesures visant à atténuer la propagation du coronavirus derrière les barreaux. Au contraire, les arrestations et les détentions arbitraires de masse, au centre de la politique ’occupation militaire israélienne prolongée et des violations des droits de l’homme généralisées et systématiques à l’encontre du peuple palestinien, se poursuivent pendant la pandémie.

     

  • Free Saudi Activists commemorate 2-Year anniversary of the Saudi government's arrest of women's rights defenders

    COALITION TO HOST A WEBINAR ON MAY 15 PROVIDING UPDATES ON PRISONERS, STATE OF WOMEN’S HUMAN RIGHTS IN SAUDI ARABIA AND CAMPAIGN PROGRESS

     

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