UN Human Rights Office expresses concerns about restrictions on democratic space in Thailand
GENEVA (19 August 2016) - The UN Human Rights Office is very concerned about the continued, mounting constraints on the democratic space in Thailand, and calls for a prompt return to civilian rule.
Following the military coup in May 2014, severe restrictions on freedoms of expression and opinion and assembly have been in place through the use of criminal and military laws and orders, OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told a news briefing in Geneva. Read more...
UN experts urge the Philippines to stop unlawful killings of people suspected of drug-related offences
GENEVA (18 August 2016) – “Allegations of drug-trafficking offences should be judged in a court of law, not by gunmen on the streets,” today said two United Nations human rights experts, while urging the Government of the Philippines to put an end to the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings in the context of an intensified anti-crime and anti-drug campaign targeting drug dealers and users.
More than 850 people have been killed between 10 May, when Rodrigo Duterte was elected President of the Philippines vowing to crackdown on crime, and 11 August 2016. Over 650 were killed in the last six weeks alone. Read more...
UN human rights experts urge Indonesia to halt new wave of executions
GENEVA (28 July 2016) – A group of United Nations human rights experts today urged the Indonesian Government to halt executions of people convicted of drug-related offences and to re-try them in compliance with international standards. Before the end of the week, 14 death row prisoners are scheduled to be executed by firing squad. All of them have been sentenced to death for drug related offences.
“Such death sentences are unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution as they are undertaken in contravention of Indonesia’s international human rights obligations,” warned the UN Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns; on torture, Juan E. Méndez; and on the independence of the judiciary, Mónica Pinto. Read more...
UN Human Rights chief calls on Indonesia to stop executions
GENEVA ( 27 July 2016) - The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein today expressed alarm at reports that up to 14 people face imminent execution in Indonesia, most of them for drug-related offences. He appealed to authorities to immediately reinstate a moratorium on the death penalty.
The executions will reportedly be carried out later this week at a high security prison on Nusa Kambangan island in central Java. The UN Human Rights Office expressed its deep concern about the lack of transparency throughout the process and compliance with fair trial guarantees, including the right to appeal. Read more...
UN Expert urges Thailand to ensure free debate ahead of the constitutional referendum
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, today condemned the alarmingly high number of arrests and charges over public and social media expression brought under military orders and the Constitutional Referendum Act in Thailand.
The Act, adopted ahead of the constitutional referendum scheduled for 7 August, criminalises expression and access to information about the draft constitution. Read more...
UN Human Rights Office alarmed by mob violence directed at Muslim community
GENEVA (5 July 2016) – The UN Human Rights Office is alarmed by two major acts of mob violence directed against Myanmar’s Muslim community in the space of just eight days, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, told a news briefing in Geneva.
Last Friday, a mob burned down a mosque in Hpakant Township in Kachin State and a week earlier, on 23 June, another mob attacked and partially destroyed a mosque and other properties in a village called Thaye Thamain, in Bago Region. Read more...
UN expert urges the international community not to undermine human rights priorities in Myanmar
GENEVA (4 July 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, today called for greater efforts in furthering the democratic transition and respect for human rights, and urged the international community not to undermine the country’s rights priorities.
“It is vital that all actors work together to ensure human rights are respected and protected across Myanmar,” she said. Read more...
Zeid urges action to address serious rights violations against Rohingya and other minorities in Myanmar
GENEVA (20 June 2016) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Monday urged the new Government in Myanmar to take concrete steps to put an end to the systemic discrimination and ongoing human rights violations against minorities as he released a new report that highlights the plight of these minorities, in particular the large Rohingya Muslim community in Rakhine State.
The report, requested by the UN Human Rights Council in July 2015 on the situation of “Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar”, documents a wide range of human rights violations and abuses. Read more...
The full report can be accessed here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session32/Pages/ListReports.aspx
The official response of the Government of Myanmar to the report can be accessed here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session32/Documents/CommentsbyMyanmartoHCreport.pdf
UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar to undertake official country visit
GENEVA (17 June 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, will undertake an official visit to the country from 20 June to 1st July 2016. This visit takes place at an important juncture for Myanmar with a new Government in place since April following last year’s historic elections.
“Important steps have already been taken to further democratic transition, national reconciliation, sustainable development and peace.” Ms. Lee said. “I intend to make a comprehensive and objective assessment of the human rights situation taking these elements into account.” Read more...
Journalists’ killings: UN experts urge Philippines president-elect to stop instigating deadly violence
GENEVA (6 June 2016) – Two United Nations independent experts on summary executions, and on freedom of expression today urged Philippines president-elect Rodrigo Duterte to stop instigating deadly violence immediately. The experts strongly condemned Mr. Duterte’s recent statements suggesting that journalists are not exempt for assassination.
“Speaking at a press conference, Mr. Duterte reportedly stated that most journalists killed in the country have done something wrong. ‘You won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong,’ the President-elect said, suggesting that victims were partly to blame for their fate. Read more...
UN experts urge Viet Nam to stop the persecution and torture of religious leaders and rights defenders
GENEVA (2 June 2016) – Two United Nations human rights experts today called on the Government of Viet Nam to stop the persecution of Ms. Tran Thi Hong, who has been repeatedly arrested and tortured as retaliation for informing the international community of human rights violations against her husband, who is in prison for peaceful religious activities.
The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, and the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, also urged the Vietnamese authorities to put an end to all persecution and harassment, including criminalization, against religious leaders and human rights defenders, women rights defenders and members of their families. Read more...
UN Human Rights Office welcomes Thailand decision to criminalize torture, enforced disappearances
BANGKOK (25 May 2016) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) welcomes the decision by the Thai Government to enact a law to criminalize torture and enforced disappearances, and to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
“These decisions by the Government are positive steps toward meeting international human rights standards, and we urge the National Legislative Assembly to pass the torture and enforced disappearance law as a matter of priority,” said OHCHR’s Acting Regional Representative, Laurent Meillan. Read more...
UN Human Rights concerned by violence against mass fish deaths protesters
GENEVA (13 May 2016) – The UN Human Rights Office is concerned about the increasing levels of violence perpetrated against Vietnamese protesters expressing their anger over the mysterious mass deaths of fish along the country’s central coast.
The Office calls on the Government of Viet Nam to respect the right to freedom of assembly in line with its international human rights obligations. Read more...
UN rights experts urge Cambodia to stop attacks against civil society and human rights defenders
GENEVA (12 May 2016) – United Nations human rights experts* today called on the Government of Cambodia to stop targeting civil society, human rights defenders, parliamentarians and UN personnel, and to take effective measures to protect civil society and respect fundamental freedoms in the country.
"The escalation of criminal charges, questioning, court proceedings and public statements against them must cease,” the experts said. Read more...
UN Human Rights Office concerned about implications of environmental disaster in Viet Nam
BANGKOK (5 May 2016) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) expressed concern on Thursday over the impact of mysterious mass fish deaths along Viet Nam’s central coast on the enjoyment of human rights in the country, in particular the right to health and food.
The Regional Office is also concerned about the treatment of those joining protests which erupted over the fish deaths, and called on authorities to respect the right to freedom of assembly in line with international law.” Read more...
UN Human Rights Chief deeply concerned at growing military role in Thai Government
GENEVA (22 April 2016) - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Friday expressed growing concern about the military’s deepening role in Thailand’s civilian administration, as well as tight curbs on dissent, as the Kingdom prepares to vote on a final draft Constitution.
“High Commissioner Zeid said that several critics of the draft Constitution have already been arbitrarily arrested, detained and harassed since the draft was made public at the end of March.” Read more...
Press briefing notes on Myanmar
GENEVA (12 April 2016) – The High Commissioner warmly welcomes the release Sunday of a second wave of 83 prisoners on Myanmar's New Year, by Presidential amnesty.
“Released prisoners include land rights activist Naw Ohn Hla who had been jailed six times for various peaceful protests; human rights defender Nay Myo Zin; community campaigner Htin Kyaw; five journalists from the Unity newspaper who were sentenced to seven years in prison in 2014 after the publication of an article; four labour activists convicted for supporting garment workers on strike; and Htin Lin Oo, sentenced in 2015 to two years in prison with hard labour for "insulting religion" after he delivered a speech criticising the misuse of religion to incite religious hatred.” Read more...
Release of political prisoners in Myanmar hailed by UN expert
GENEVA (12 April 2016) – The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, welcomes the recent release of political prisoners as a truly significant moment for Myanmar. She also welcomes the commitment by State Councilor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to release additional political prisoners as a fundamental step towards further democratic transition and national reconciliation.
“It was particularly touching to see the joyful scenes across the country as individuals, who should never have been imprisoned for exercising their basic rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, were freed and able to reunite with their families. As one political prisoner told me in Insein Prison last year, these men and women want to help bring more positive changes to Myanmar. Now they can take their rightful part in the country’s continuing transformation. This is a truly significant moment for Myanmar.” Read more...
UN Human Rights Office concerned by ongoing use of death penalty in Singapore
BANGKOK (5 April 2016) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) is concerned by the Singapore Court of Appeal’s decision on Tuesday to uphold the death sentence given to Kho Jabing of Malaysia and urges the Government to immediately establish a moratorium on capital punishment.
“We are gravely concerned that Mr. Kho is at imminent risk of hanging as the court has lifted the stay of execution,” said Laurent Meillan, OHCHR’s acting regional representative in Bangkok. “We are also concerned that he has been forced to endure years of immense suffering as his sentence has been changed on a number of occasions.” Read more...
UN expert urges Cambodia to strengthen protection of women and indigenous peoples’ rights
GENEVA/PHNOM PENH/BANGKOK (1 April 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, called on the Cambodian authorities to further strengthen the protection of women and indigenous peoples’ rights in the country.
“Of great concern to me is the prevalence of violence against women, which continues to present itself as a pervasive human rights violation in Cambodia and women who have suffered sexual and gender-based violence encounter barriers when perpetrators should be brought swiftly to justice,” Ms. Smith said at the end of her second official visit to Cambodia. Read more...
UN Human Rights Office concerned by convictions against Vietnam bloggers
BANGKOK (24 March 2016) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) is very concerned by the conviction of well-known Vietnamese political blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh and his assistant Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy on anti-state charges.
The OHCHR Regional Office also expressed concern about the conduct of the hearing, and its respect for the principle of fair trial in line with international law. Read more...
Technical Note: Key human rights principles for the draft constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand
BANGKOK (24 March 2016) – In light of the ongoing constitution drafting process* in Thailand, the UN Human Rights Office has produced a technical note that summarizes some key human rights principles that should be incorporated in the draft constitution to ensure its compliance with Thailand’s obligations under international human rights law.
This note focuses on a few key areas of the draft constitution, namely the sections on the rights and liberties of the Thai population; the duties of the State; and the provisions on transitions.
* On 29 January 2016, the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) made public the first draft of the new constitution seeking comments from the public and interested organizations. Read more...
In Thailand’s far south, OHCHR calls for protection of civilians and medics at all times
BANGKOK (16 March 2016) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) deplores the recent actions of armed insurgents who took over a public hospital in the far south of Thailand and used it to launch an attack against government forces.
Hospitals, medical units and medical personnel are protected under international humanitarian law, and they should not be targeted or used for military purposes at any time. Read more...
UN expert urges Pacific Rim countries not to sign TPP without human rights
GENEVA (2 February 2016) – United Nations human rights expert Alfred de Zayas called on Governments not to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without reaffirming their human rights treaty obligations and their recent pledges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
“The TPP is fundamentally flawed and should not be signed or ratified unless provision is made to guarantee the regulatory space of States,” said the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order in a statement* made public today. Read more...
File Photo: Activists take part in a rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Lima, Peru, 22 January 2015. (EPA).
OHCHR calls on Thai authorities to drop all charges against student activists
BANGKOK (22 January 2016) – The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) urges the Thai military to drop all charges against 11 student activists arrested for violating a ban on political gatherings.
Sirawit Seritiwat, a student activist with the New Democracy Movement, said he was apprehended by uniformed men near Thammasat University campus in the capital Bangkok late on Wednesday. On Thursday morning, Chonticha Jaeng-rew, Chanoknan Ruamsap and Korakoch Saengyenpan visited Sirawit at the police station where he was being held, and were themselves charged with the same offence. Read more...
OHCHR says encouraged by Cambodia decision to register Montagnards for refugee status
BANGKOK (21 January 2016) – The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) said on Thursday it was encouraged by the Cambodian Government's pledge to assess the refugee claims of more than 170 Montagnards from Vietnam.
OHCHR calls upon the Royal Government to process all the asylum claims in a fair and efficient way, and in compliance with international standards. Read more...
UN human rights chief Zeid identifies "extremist" challenges
NEW YORK (18 January 2016) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein spoke with the UN News Centre about the challenges ahead in human rights and the challenges of serving as High Commissioner after a career in multilateral diplomacy.
"The moment we do not support the human rights agenda we see it rolling back in many parts of the world."
"In the diplomatic world, you’re negotiating, there is some etiquette involved – in the world of human rights, and particularly from the side of the High Commissioner, it’s a lot of straight-talking and it creates tension which in the past I never used to experience."
""The rise of violent extremism and extremist thinking has greatly affected the way in which governments approach human rights, and, in particular, we’ve seen governments put pressure on civil society as a way to fend off extremist thinking."
Zeid urges Thailand to fully investigate enforced disappearances
GENEVA (6 January 2016) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday urged the Thai Government to take decisive and sustained efforts to investigate the whereabouts of at least 82 people listed as disappeared, including respected lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit who went missing nearly 12 years ago.
Zeid also called on the Thai Government to criminalize enforced disappearance in its legislation, in line with international standards.Read more...
File Photo: A Thai activist holds a placard next to a photograph of a missing lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit during in a rally in 2004. (EPA).