News Releases 2019

Myanmar: UN human rights experts say “terribly concerned” about press freedoms and democracy


UN GENEVA (8 May 2019 ) - UN human rights experts welcomed the news that convicted Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are back at home with their families in Myanmar, but expressed serious concerns about the judicial process in the country and the fact that their guilty verdicts still stand.

The two reporters, who won a Pulitzer Prize last month for their investigation into the 2017 massacre of Rohingya men and boys at Inn Din village, Rakhine State, were granted a presidential pardon on 7 May. They had been serving a seven-year jail sentence in connection with the reporting, charged with breaching the 1923 Official Secrets Act.

“While it is good news that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been reunited with their families and will not have to carry out the remainder of their sentences, their convictions under the Official Secrets Act have not been withdrawn and they should never have been prosecuted in the first place,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee and freedom of expression David Kaye.”

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UN expert hopes States can persuade North Korea to change direction during Geneva ‘peer review’


UN GENEVA/SEOUL (8 May 2019) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has expressed hope that the UN’s ‘peer review’ process will persuade authorities in North Korea to change direction and to prioritise improving the lives of ordinary citizens.

“This is a rare opportunity for States to directly engage with the DPRK Government on human rights issues,’ said Tomas Ojea Quintana, referring to the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the DPRK on 9 May in Geneva.

Under the UPR, the human rights situation of all UN Member States is reviewed every five years by the 47 members of the Human Rights Council. This is the third such review of North Korea.

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UN experts urge Iran to release imprisoned American scholar Xiyue Wang


UN GENEVA (7 May 2019) ­‑ UN experts firmly1 request Iran to immediately release American academic Xiyue Wang, whose arbitrary detention for nearly three years was a clear violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under international law, they said.

Wang, a doctoral student at Princeton University and an American citizen born in China, was arrested in August 2016 in Iran, where he was researching for his PhD on Eurasian history. In July 2017, the Revolutionary Court found Wang guilty of espionage and “collaboration” and sentenced him to 10 years’ imprisonment, in a trial held behind closed doors. His health is reportedly deteriorating and his life endangered amid claims of degrading treatment while in detention.

“Iranian authorities’ use of espionage charges against Mr. Wang simply for having sought access to century-old historical documents reaches the level of absurdity”, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, Javaid Rehman, and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, noted. “The closed nature of the proceedings only exacerbates our concerns around this case.”

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Brunei Darussalam’s human rights record to be reviewed by Universal Periodic Review


UN GENEVA (7 May 2019) – Brunei Darussalam’s human rights record will be examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the third time on Friday, 10 May 2019 in a meeting that will be webcast live.

Brunei Darussalam is one of the 14 States to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group during its upcoming session taking place from 6 to 17 May. Brunei Darussalam’s first and second UPR reviews took place in December 2009 and May 2014, respectively.

The delegation of Brunei Darussalam will be headed by Mr. Dato Erywan Mohn Yusof, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s human rights record to be reviewed by Universal Periodic Review


UN GENEVA (6 May 2019) – The Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s human rights record will be examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the third time on Thursday, 9 May 2019 in a meeting that will be webcast live.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is one of the 14 States to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group during its upcoming session taking place from 6 to 17 May. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s first and second UPR reviews took place in December 2009 and May 2014, respectively.

The delegation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will be headed by Ambassador Han Tae Song, Permanent Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

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The Philippines: Renewed allegations against UN expert are "clearly retaliation


UN GENEVA (1 May 2019) – UN human rights experts have expressed grave concerns over renewed accusations brought against the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, by the Philippines authorities.

The Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations, Brigadier General Antonio Parlade, told a news conference in Manila on 13 March that the United Nations had been infiltrated by the Communist Party of the Philippines through Ms. Tauli-Corpuz.

“The new accusations levelled against Ms. Tauli-Corpuz are clearly in retaliation for her invaluable work defending the human rights of indigenous peoples worldwide, and in the Philippines,” said the UN experts.

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India: UN experts call for release of human rights defender Saibaba


UN GENEVA (30 April 2019) - UN experts have called on Indian authorities to immediately release human rights defender Dr. G.N. Saibaba, a person with disabilities whose health is seriously deteriorating and who reportedly continues to be held in solitary confinement at a Maharashtra prison.

“Dr. Saibaba’s health problems require immediate and sustained medical attention and are reaching a point of being life-threatening,” the experts said.

Dr. Saibaba has been a leading voice defending the rights of religious minorities, adivasis (tribals) and Dalits. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2017 for “waging war against the State”, among other charges. On 25 March 2019, his application for bail and suspension of sentence on medical grounds was rejected by the Bombay High Court..

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Myanmar: UN experts call rejection of Reuters appeal a "grave injustice"


UN GENEVA (25 April 2019) – UN human rights experts said the rejection by Myanmar’s Supreme Court of a final appeal by two jailed Reuters journalists was a grave injustice, and represented a dark day for media freedoms and democracy in the country.

On Tuesday, Myanmar’s top court rejected the appeal by Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo who were jailed for seven years in connection with their investigation into the massacre of Rohingya men and boys at Inn Din village, Rakhine State, in 2017. Last week, they were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting.

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UN human rights expert to visit Cambodia


UN GENEVA/PHNOM PENH (24 April 2019) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, will visit the country from 29 April to 9 May 2019, at the invitation of the Royal Government.

"I will be focusing my mission on the current situation of human rights, and following up on the developments since my previous mission last November," Smith said. "I also aim to continue my examination of human rights with respect to the Sustainable Development Goals, looking in particular at non-discrimination and equality, and participation and accountability."

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Stand Up for Human Rights in Thailand – Join the Human Rights Defenders School 2019 Now


UN BANGKOK (19 April 2019) — Send your application now to the UN Human Rights Office in Bangkok to attend our Human Rights Defenders School Program, ten days of intensive training designed to enhance the capacity of mid-level human rights professionals in the country.

Since 2014, the Human Rights Defenders School has trained over 80 Thai human rights defenders, most of them women, and the number is growing. The programme is staged over two five-day periods at Mahidol University Salaya Campus in Nakorn Prathom province. Applicants are required to attend both training sessions. The first runs from 10 to 14 June 2019.

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East Timor’s commitment to customary justice and conservation sets examples for other countries


UN GENEVA (16 April 2019) — UN expert Victoria Tauli-Corpuz calls on Timor-Leste to regulate development projects and to undertake consultations with all affected communities.

“I am impressed by the pride the Timorese take in their cultural heritage and how indigenous practices have translated into important gains in environmental protection and biodiversity,” she said. “These can serve as inspiring examples for other countries.”

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UN torture prevention body concludes visit to Sri Lanka


UN GENEVA (12 April 2019) — The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture completed its first visit to Sri Lanka from 2 to 12 April.

“We have received good cooperation during the visit, having access to all places of detention, getting all relevant information and performing confidential interviews. We look positively on Sri Lanka’s prospective development of a national preventive mechanism, as required under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture,” said Victor Zaharia, who led the four-member delegation.

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Press briefing note on Myanmar


UN GENEVA (5 April 2019) — The consequences of impunity in Myanmar will continue to be deadly, OHCHR Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani tells journalists.

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Timor-Leste: UN expert on rights of indigenous peoples to visit


UN GENEVA (4 April 2019) — UN expert Victoria Tauli-Corpuz will visit Timor-Leste from 8-16 April to assess issues related to customary justice systems, community land issues and education.

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India: UN human rights experts condemn Rohingya deportations


UN GENEVA (2 April 2019) — UN human rights experts urge the Indian Government to stop forced deportations of Rohingya to Myanmar, which are prohibited under international law.

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Bachelet urges Brunei to stop entry into force of “draconian” new penal code


UN GENEVA (1 April 2019) — UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urges the Government of Brunei to stop a “draconian” new penal code.

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China must fulfil repeated pledges on chemical safety: expert


UN GENEVA (1 April 2019) — China must live up to its promises to implement effective measures to combat the hazards and risks in its fast-growing chemical industry - UN rights expert

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UN Human Rights Committee publishes findings on Viet Nam


UN GENEVA (29 March 2019) — The United Nations Human Rights Committee has published its findings on the civil and political rights record of Viet Nam.

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UN expert: Lao PDR’s economic strategy entrenches poverty


UN GENEVA (29 March, 2019) — Rapid economic growth has not led to an equal reduction in poverty in Lao PDR, says UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston at the end of his official visit to the country.

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UN torture prevention body to visit Sri Lanka


UN GENEVA (29 March, 2019) — The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture is set to carry out its first visit to Sri Lanka from 2 to 12 April to examine the treatment of people deprived of their liberty and the safeguards in place for their protection against torture and ill-treatment.

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