An Urgent Call to Release Human Rights Defenders in Honour of Nelson Mandela Day

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Dear World Leaders,

On Nelson Mandela Day, civil society organisations across the globe call on you to release imprisoned human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience.

Like Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison for his opposition to apartheid, there are thousands of human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience wrongfully accused and in jail around the world. They have been imprisoned for seeking gender, social, political, economic and environmental justice, for defending excluded people, and for promoting democratic values. 

Many of these human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience are serving sentences for crimes they never committed, after being convicted in unfair trials. Our organisations have for several years documented the unlawful jail terms handed down to human rights defenders in several countries.

We are particularly concerned that the authorities in many countries continue to detain human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognise the governments of Iran, Ethiopia, Turkey, Bahrain and Cameroon for releasing prisoners as part of their response to this unprecedented health crisis. However, not many human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience were included, and it is now more urgent than ever to release them.  

There are also hundreds of human rights defenders who remain in pretrial detention who have not been charged or tried. Overcrowding and poor sanitation in jails increase the risk of COVID-19 infection and should be strong factors for the reduction of prison populations.

We also urge you to stop the arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists in jail solely for reporting on human rights violations during the pandemic. Although COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted in some parts of the world, some countries have used the pandemic as a pretext to restrict civic freedoms. Journalists and human rights defenders have been physically assaulted and subjected to arbitrary detention and judicial persecution for reporting on the virus. 

We need human rights defenders now more than ever. It is their duty to hold governments to account, to ensure states respect international human rights laws during the pandemic, and to tackle environmental degradation and inequalities that have accelerated the impact of COVID-19.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, recently said:

“Governments are facing huge demands on resources in this crisis and are having to take difficult decisions. But I urge them not to forget those behind bars, or those confined in places such as closed mental health facilities, nursing homes and orphanages, because the consequences of neglecting them are potentially catastrophic.”

Sadly, some imprisoned human rights defenders have died under suspicious circumstances in various countries during the pandemic.

As we commemorate Nelson Mandela Day on 18 July, we remember that Mr. Mandela urged all of us to take on the burden of leadership in addressing social injustices. We call on you to give millions of families, friends and colleagues of human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience around the world a reason to renew their hope for a better future during these unprecedented times.

We urge you to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in jail solely for their peaceful human rights activities, and stop all judicial persecution against them.
  • Prioritise and release detainees who have not been charged, and those held in pretrial detention.
  • Stop carrying out new arrests and detentions, particularly on journalists and activists reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic, and those accused of breaking lockdown regulations.

 

Endorsed by:

 

1. A Common Future
2. A.C. Reforma Judicial
3. Abraham's Children Foundation
4. ACPDH
5. ACSIS
6. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture
7. Action D'urgence pour Toute Détresse
8. Action for Humanity and Social Progress
9. Action pour la Lutte Contre l'Injustice Sociale
10. Action pour le Développement
11. Action To Heal Foundation Sierra Leone
12. Actions pour la Protection des Femmes
13. Active  Vision
14. Admiral development organization
15. Adolescents Initiatives Support Organization
16. Afghanistan Democracy and Development Organization
17. Africa Intercultural Development Support Trust
18. Africa Rise Foundation
19. African Center for Solidarity and mutual Aid between the Communities  CASEC - ACSAC
20. AFRICAN FOUNDATION FOR ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT - AFED
21. African Holocaust
22. African Observatory Of Civic Freedoms And Fundamental Rights OCFFR-AFRICA
23. AJBDEM DURABLE
24. ALUCHOTO
25. Amis des Étrangers au Togo
26. Amnesty International
27. Asia Pacific Forum on Families International
28. Association des blogueurs pour une citoyennetà active
29. Association Femmes et Enfants
30. Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives Trust
31. Association for Health, Safety and Environmental Awareness International
32. Association pour les droits de l'Homme et l'Univers Carcéral
33. Association pour les victimes du monde
34. Association pour l'Integration et le Developpement Durable Durable au Burundi, AIDB
35. ASUTIC Senegal
36. Avenir Jeune de l'Ouest
37. AWHES
38. Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights
39. Banjul Youth in Community Services
40. Banlieues Du Monde Mauritanie
41. Bareedo Platform Somalia
42. Bella Foundation for Child and Maternal Care
43. Bousla Organisation
44. BRIGHTER FUTURE FOUNDATION
45. Burundi Child Rights Coalion
46. CAHURAST-Nepal
  Campaign Against Ignorance and Illiteracy
48. Capellanes conacce
49. CAPTE - Uruguay Silvia FLORES MOSQUERA
50. CareMe E-clinic
51. CEAMUJER
52. Center for the Development of Civil Society
53. Centre d'Initiatives et d'Actions pour le Développement durable au Burundi
54. Centre for Human Rights and Social Advancement CEFSAN
55. Centre Oecuméniquepour la Promotion du Monde Rural
56. Centro para la Acción Noviolenta y Cultura de Paz en CentroamÃrica
57. CESPHA
58. ChildHelp Sierra Leone
59. Circles of Hope Community Support Group for PLHIVAIDS
60. CIVICUS
61. Commonwealth Society of Nigeria
62. Cooperation for Peace and Development
63. Corporacion Regional Yariguies GEAM
64. COSAD BENIN
65. Differentabilities
66. DISCOURAGE YOUTHS FROM POVERTY
67. Domestic workers Union
68. DreamBoat Theatre for Development Foundation
69. Droits de l'homme sans frontières 
70. Edmund Rice International
71. Edo Civil society organisations
72. EIP
73. Fater Bibi Technologies
74. FCPEEP
75. FEDERATION DES FEMMES POUR LE DEVELOPPEMENT INTEGRAL AU CONGO
76. FINESTE
77. Formidable Initiatives for Women and Girls
78. Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance
79. Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati
80. Free political prisoners
81. FUNDACION SIMAS
82. Fundación T.E.A. Trabajo - Educación - Ambiente
83. FUTURE LEADERS SOCIETY
84. Global Witness
85. Give Hope Uganda
86. Governance and Forest Initiatives
87. GreenLight Initiative
88. Hadejia youth movement for social cohesion
89. Health NGO's Network
90. Healthy Choices Ic.,
91. Human Rights Committee
92. Humanitarian Care for Displaced Persons
93. IFAN
94. INSPIRIT Creatives UG NGO
95. Institute for Public Policy Analysis and Implementation
96. Integrated Agricultural Association-I,A,A
97. International Dalit Solidarity Network
98. International Falcon Movement - Socialist Educational International
99. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
100. Iraqi journalists right deafenc association
101. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
102. Justice Acess Point
103. JusticeMakers Bangladesh
104. Key Populations Alliance of Zambia
105. Khpal Kore Organization
106. Kibera Joy Initiative
107. Kumakomo Community Radio
108. Le Réseau Nigérien des Défenseurs des Droits Humains
109. Leadership initiative network for the Advancement of women and youth
110. Local  Community Development Association
111. Lumiere Synergie Developpement
112. Maecenata Foundation
113. MAMAS FOR BURUNDI ASSOCIATION
114. Manna Development AGency
115. Marketplace 247
116. MFFPS
117. Millennium Sistahs Trinidad and Tobago Inc
118. Missing Link Uganda
119. Mouvement des Femmes et Filles pour la Paix et la Sécurité au Burundi
120. Mouvement Populaire pour la Santé au Gay
121. Movement for Social Justice MSJ-4
122. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda
123. Network of Civil Society Organisations for Election Observation and Monitoring - ROSE
124. Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago  for the Advancement of Women
125. New Owerri Youth Organisation
126. NGO Collective for Food Security and Rural Development - COSADER
127. NGO CONSTRUISONS ENSEMBLE LE MONDE
128. NGO Defensoria Ambiental
129. NGOs Council ASDGC Kenya
130. Nipe Fagio
131. Nouveaux Droits de l'homme Congo Brazzaville
132. ONG ASSAUVET
133. ONG BAL'LAME
134. ONG Programa sociocultural CRP
135. Palestinian Non Governmental Organizations Network
136. PAMOJATWASIMAMA
137. Partenariat pour la Protection Integree
138. PAYNCOP
139. Peace and Life Enhancement Initiative International
140. PHY ORG
141. Plan international
142. Princegnf
143. Prisma European Network
144. Psychologues du Monde Afrique
145. Reacción Climática 
146. Real Agenda For Youth Transformation Trust
147. REDHNNA-Red por los Derechos Humanos de los niños, niñas y adolescentes
148. REPONGAC
149. Research and Advocacy Unit
150. Root Change
151. Ruheso Tanzania
152. RUKIGA FORUM FOR DEVELOPMENT
153. Safety and Risk Mitigation Organization
154. Save Our Continent, Save Nigeria.
155. Save the Climat
156. Secours de la Femme Rurale au Developpement, Safrd
157. SHAKHI 'Friends of Women'
158. Shanduko Yeupenyu Child Care
159. She's  Writes
160. Sierra Leone School Green Clubs
161. Social Justice Forum
162. Social Mission Catalysts LLC
163. Solidarity health Foundation
164. Solidarity Youth Voluntary Organisation
165. SOS Jeunesse et Enfance en Détresse - SOS JED
166. South Sudan Civil Society Forum
167. Sustainable Develipment and Peace Building Initiatives
168. Tanzania Development Trust
169. Tanzania Peace Legal Aid and Justice Center  PLAJC
170. Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
171. the  Wuhan election campaign
172. The Angelic Ladies Society
173. Transitional Justice Working Group
174. Tsoro-o-tso San Dev Trust
175. Ugonma Foundation
176. Ukana West 2 Community Based Health Initiative
177. Unión Nacional de Instituciones para el Trabajo de Acción Social- UNITAS
178. Unique Foundation The Gambia
179. Vijana Corps
180. Wacare Organization
181. Welfare Association for Development Alternative -WADA
182. Women Against Violence and Expediency Handling Initiative
183. Women Friendly
184. Women Working for Social Progress
185. World Federalist Movement Canada
186. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
187. WORLDLITE
188. Young Professional Development Society Nepal
189. Your Health Your Responsibility
190. Youth Alliance for Rural Development in Liberia Inc.
191. YOUTH AND ENVIRONMENT VISION
192. Youth Arm Organization
193. Youth For The Mission
194. Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana
195. YOUTHAID-LIBERIA
196. Zambian Governance Foundation
197. Zimbabwe We Want  Poetry Campaign

 

 

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jean Luc LIKILO BOSO · 3 months ago
    Dear Colleague World Leaders,
    Thank you very much for the program advocacy on Nelson Mandela Day,
    Like Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison for his opposition to apartheid, there are thousands of human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience wrongfully accused and in jail around the world. They have been imprisoned for seeking gender, social, political, economic and environmental justice, for defending excluded people, and for promoting democratic values:

    Immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in jail solely for their peaceful human rights activities, and stop all judicial persecution against them.
    Prioritise and release detainees who have not been charged, and those held in pretrial detention.
    Stop carrying out new arrests and detentions, particularly on journalists and activists reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic, and those accused of breaking lockdown regulations.
    Again thanks for the synergy and congratulation to all, together, we are one and strong for global change, I'm joining advocacy program's.

    For the DRC, Me. Jean Luc LIKILO BOSONGOSONGO +24 9955 7 6, +24 810 82509 '' Civicus team from RDC, Legal defender at Kisangani Courthouse, Human rights and Civil society Activist of the DRC Tshopo Province, Président of the Commission Justice and Peace, Saint Jean Paul II Parish ''