Since I last wrote you, you’ve received several alerts from us about activists who were targeted under their nation’s counterterrorism laws.
Today, I’d like to tell you about a less visible – but equally pernicious – U.S. trend that could gravely impact human rights defenders around the world: the gradual undermining of an independent judiciary.
Human Rights First has recently been alarmed and disappointed by comments made by certain Members of Congress that could threaten the safety of U.S. judges and compromise their independence.
These comments, if turned into actions, threaten the basic rights and freedoms we enjoy in the United States. Even worse, from our perspective in the Defenders’ Program, they damage the ability of the U.S. government to promote judicial independence and respect for the rule of law around the world.
I hope you’ll take a moment to read about the threats to an independent judiciary in the United States and around the world. More»
With best wishes,
Dr. Mudawi was release Monday, May 16, after having been arrested for the third time in apparent reprisal for his human rights work in Darfur. Human Rights First remains concerned that charges of “espionage against the country” and “photographing military areas,” have not been dropped. The charges carry a potential death sentence, and Human Rights First believes that they are unfounded. Speaking after his release Dr Mudawi said, “I do thank all of those people who supported me, the pressure is part of the reason for my release.”
The Carter Center and Human Rights First To Co-Sponsor Upcoming Policy Forum
Leading human rights defenders from thirteen nations will gather in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 6 and 7, 2005. The theme of the 2005 Human Rights Defenders Policy Forum will be “Human Rights Defenders on the Frontlines of Freedom: Advancing Security and Rule of Law.” The Forum will be co-chaired by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour. The Forum will provide defenders regular opportunities to present their concerns and recommendations directly to major international news organizations and senior U.S. policy makers.
“In our meeting she [Ludmilla Alexeyeva] explained that during Soviet rule, the US loudly condemned the imprisonment of dissidents–with little result. Things are different now, but not the way you’d think. When critics of the government are threatened, the U.S. and the international community could really have an impact–but instead of speaking out, nobody complains. Ludmilla confirmed what we thought: it is becoming more and more difficult to do this work here – and more important to have organizations like ours speaking up and reminding the U.S. and others of these injustices,” wrote Archana Pyati.
Indonesia: The fact-finding team investigating the death of Munir has at last been allowed to interview officials of the State Intelligence Agency, rumored to have links to an airline pilot already named as a suspect. On May 11, the team met with the Indonesian President, who pledged his support. Crucial interviews with intelligence officials continue this week. More»
Iran: Roya Toloui continues her activities promoting women’s rights in Iran’s Kordestan province. Blogger and human rights defender Arash Sigarchi remains in prison in Iran serving a 14 year sentence for “espionage and insulting the country’s leaders.” Take Action»
Russia: No resolution has been reached in an investigation into threats against Oksana Chelysheva of the Russian Chechen Friendship Society. As part of a mounting campaign against the human rights organization, prosecutors are likely to file criminal charges against the organization’s chairman in the next few weeks. The second trial under extremism laws against Ruslan Badalov, chairman of the Chechen Committee for National Salvation, is continuing. More»
Sudan: Our members responded overwhelmingly to a recent alert urging the U.S. government not to block the referral of the Darfur situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC). We are pleased to report that on March 31, the U.N. Security Council – with the U.S. abstaining – decided to refer the situation in Darfur to the ICC. The referral authorizes the Court to hold accountable those responsible for grave crimes in the region. More»
Thailand: Hearings were held in the case against five policemen charged in the disappearance of Somchai Neelaphaijit in March 2004, and the Prime Minister assigned two top deputies to follow the case. But the police are still being trusted to investigate themselves, and the trial, set to begin in August, is based on lesser charges of robbery and coercion, rather than more serious crimes of kidnapping or murder. The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances is expected to consider the case when it meets in Bangkok later this month. More»
Tunisia: Mohamed Abbou is serving a three and half year prison term in Tunisia. His protests against torture in Tunisia were deemed an “insult to the judiciary” and a danger to public order. Take Action»