Archive for the ‘Human Rights Watch’ Category

China Says It Is Ready To Release Human Rights Plan

November 4, 2008

China will issue a “human rights action plan” that an official said will seek to improve citizens’ rights over the next two years, state media reported Tuesday.

The action plan would be the first of its kind for this one-party state that faces constant criticism from international rights groups for censorship and jailing peaceful dissidents and protesters, as well as rising demands from increasingly assertive citizens.

An official in the government’s public relations department said the plan showed the ruling Communist Party was committed to improving citizens’ rights.

“Respecting and protecting human rights…is an important objective and principle of the Chinese Communist Party and the government,” Wang Chen of the State Council Information Office told the official Xinhua news agency.

He did not say when the plan will be released.

The document will be drafted with contributions from courts, the Party-run parliament and non-government groups, and will include proposals to “expand democracy and strengthen rule of law,” the report said.

Wang did not mention any participation from the powerful ministries of public security and state security, which oversee the government’s sweeping powers to detain citizens.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by David Fox, Reuters)

Human Rights and Journalists Under Siege in Vietnam, Russia, China and Elsewhere

October 16, 2008

Vietnam has tried, convicted and jailed  reporters for several reasons.  Just this week, reporter Nguyen Viet Chien from the Thanh Nien newspaper was sent to jail by Hanoi’s people court.  He wrote stories about government corruption.   During the Beijing Olympics, China instituted temporary Olympics-related regulations that guaranteed reporting freedoms for foreign media — but these freedoms did not apply to Chinese journalists. In Russia, according to Human Rights watch, journalists and human rights activists are under siege.  “Human rights activists and journalists are the ones who bring to the public’s attention the failure of governments to live up to their promises of justice and rights protection made in national law and their obligations under international human rights treaties,” Amnesty International said. 
Reporter Nguyen Viet Chien from the Thanh Nien newspaper at ... 
Reporter Nguyen Viet Chien from the Thanh Nien newspaper at Hanoi’s people court. Chien was sentenced to two years in prison for his coverage of a major state corruption scandal and also jailed his police source for one year.(AFP)

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Amnesty International: On Russia

Recent attacks on independent journalists and human rights activists illustrate the risks under which they work in Russia, Amnesty International said on the eve of the second anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder. The organization urges the Russian authorities to end impunity for violence against human rights defenders and the media.

“Human rights activists and journalists are the ones who bring to the public’s attention the failure of governments to live up to their promises of justice and rights protection made in national law and their obligations under international human rights treaties,” Amnesty International said.

“However, it is the human rights activists and journalists in Russia who too often themselves face harassment by the authorities and even become victims of human rights abuses themselves.”

In a country where TV and many other media outlets are controlled by the state, there is less and less space for independent reporting. Those journalists who attempt to report independently are obstructed from conducting their professional work and they may face intimidation and possibly prosecution. For example, the radio station Ekho Moskvy was repeatedly asked to provide transcripts of their programmes to the prosecutor’s office in relation to preliminary investigations into allegations that they had aired extremists’ views.

The space to express critical views in the Russian Federation has been gradually and progressively curtailed in recent years.

“Two years after the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, human rights activists and journalists are still at risk in the Russian Federation, in particular in the North Caucasus region. They may be abducted and tortured, have their property attacked, receive death threats or killed in suspicious circumstances,” Amnesty International said.

Anna Politkovskaya was murdered on 7 October 2006 in the centre of Moscow. Two years after the killing, three people accused of involvement in the crime are in detention, but her murderer is still at large and there has been no independent investigation into those who may have ordered the killing.

“Anna Politkovskaya was one of those courageous people who tirelessly stand up for those who have suffered human rights violations. She was in all likelihood killed because of this,” Amnesty International said.

Amnesty International urges the Russian authorities to ensure on all levels that justice will be done in regard to her murder and to demonstrate clearly that there is no impunity for attacks on human rights defenders and journalists. The human rights organization will continue to follow the case closely and will continue to call for the protection of journalists and human rights defenders in the Russian Federation.

Cases

The disputed killing in police custody of Magomed Evloev, owner of an independent Ingush website, on 31 August 2008, needs to be investigated with utmost impartiality, to ensure that the circumstances under which he died are brought to light and that those who are responsible for his death are charged and tried in accordance with the law.

On 25 July 2008, human rights defender Zurab Tsechoev, working for the human rights organization MASHR (peace) in Ingushetia, was taken away from his home in Troitskaia, Ingushetia by armed men, thought to be federal law enforcement officials. A couple of hours later he was found on a roadside near Magas, the capital of Ingushetia, with serious injuries. He had to be hospitalized. Amnesty International calls for the perpetrators of this act against Zurab Tsechoev to be identified and to be brought to justice.

Late on 1 August 2008, an arson attack was allegedly made on the flat of human rights defender Dmitrii Kraiukhin from the town of Orel in the Central Russian Federal District. The arsonists had also allegedly tried to block the entrance door. Luckily, Dmitrii Kraiukhin was reportedly not in the flat, but his relatives who were, were able to alert the fire brigade in time. So far, to Amnesty International’s knowledge, no criminal investigation into this case has been undertaken, as the authorities allegedly considered the damage too insignificant to warrant a criminal investigation. However, this is not an isolated incident as far as threats to Dmitrii Kraiukhin are concerned.

On 14 August 2008, unknown assailants threw a brick through the window of the flat in Nizhnii Novgorod where human rights activist Stanislav Dmitrievskii lives. Luckily, nobody was hurt. At the same time, the entrance of his apartment building was covered with abusive language and threats against Stanislav Dmitrievskii. A criminal investigation into this attack has been opened.

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Human Rights Watch: On China

The Chinese government should extend without limitation the temporary Olympics-related regulations that guarantee reporting freedoms for foreign media, and apply them to Chinese journalists, Human Rights Watch said today. The regulations are set to expire on October 17, 2008. The Chinese government should extend without limitation the temporary Olympics-related regulations that guarantee reporting freedoms for foreign media, and apply them to Chinese journalists, Human Rights Watch said today. The regulations are set to expire on October 17, 2008.

Official logo of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games

The temporary regulations were adopted in January 2007 as part of the Chinese government’s commitments to improve its human rights record, a key aspect of its 2001 bid to win the 2008 Summer Olympics. Human Rights Watch has documented the flawed implementation of these regulations, which were supposed to give foreign journalists greater freedom to travel and interview people across China, in two reports detailing the abuses and harassment of foreign correspondents.

Chinese government officials who have suggested that the regulations may be extended past October 17 include State Information Office Minister Cai Wu, who said in December 2007 that, “If practice shows that the regulation will help the international community to know China better, then it is a good policy in accordance with the country’s reforms and opening up.” Asked on October 7, 2008, about the likelihood of the regulations being extended, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Qin Gang stated: “China’s principle of opening up stays unchanged [after the Olympics].  “Foreign media and journalists are welcome to report in China as always.”

“While there were serious problems in implementing Olympics-related media freedom regulations, they did mark a new and much higher standard in Chinese law for reporting freedom,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “But keeping the regulations in effect and extending them to Chinese journalists would be one of the most important legacies of the Games.”

For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on media freedom in China, please see the following:

� October 11, 2008 op-ed by Phelim Kine in The Wall Street Journal, “Censorship Isn’t Good for China’s Health,” at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122368047325124731.html � August 2007 report, “‘You Will Be Harassed and Detained’: China Media Freedoms Under Assault Ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games,” at: http://hrw.org/reports/2007/china0807/ � July 2008 report, “China’s Forbidden Zones: Shutting the Media Out of Tibet and Other ‘Sensitive’ Stories ,” at: http://hrw.org/reports/2008/china0708/

Related:
Vietnam Convicts, Imprisons “Whisle Blowing”
Reporter Who Found Government Corruption

U.S. rights campaigner denied entry into Russia

February 20, 2008
By Conor Sweeney

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The head of a New York-based human rights group accused Russia on Wednesday of “bureaucratic harassment” of civil groups critical of the Kremlin after he was denied a visa to travel to Moscow.

The comments by Human Rights Watch head Kenneth Roth came two weeks before a presidential election opposition groups say furnishes Vladimir Putin‘s chosen successor with blanket media coverage. Europe‘s human rights watchdog, the OSCE, has opted not to field observers, citing lack of official cooperation.

Roth had been due to present a report in Moscow that said new laws on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were being used to crack down on groups the Kremlin does not like.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080220/us_nm/russia_ngos_dc_1

Moscow accused of quashing activism

February 20, 2008

By Svitlana Korenovska
The Washington Times
February 20, 2008

Russia is deliberately using government regulations to choke off independent activism, says a report prepared by Human Rights Watch for release today in Moscow.
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The report, “Choking on Bureaucracy: State Curbs on Independent Civil Society Activism,” documents the effects of such regulations on nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, in Russia.
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Legislation adopted in 2006 appears designed to interfere with the work of foreign-funded NGOs that associate….

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080220/FOREIGN/627199205/1003

Activists warn China’s Olympic PR woes set to deepen

February 17, 2008
By Charles Whelan

BEIJING (AFP) – China‘s public relations woes over the Olympics are just beginning, activists have warned, after a torrid stretch of headlines highlighted by Steven Spielberg ending his links to the Games.

A woman cycles past an old billboard showing the Olympic rings ...
A woman cycles past an old billboard showing the Olympic rings in Beijing February 15. China’s public relations woes over the Olympics are just beginning, activists have warned.(AFP/Peter Parks)The international leg of the torch relay during April is set to be a target for protests over the many complaints about the Chinese government, while Beijing itself will likely be a magnet for critics during the August Games.

Jill Savitt, director of Olympic Dream for Darfur, an organisation set up to pressure China into helping end the bloodshed in the western Sudanese region, told AFP protests were already being planned for the torch relay.

“We will be targeting the various stages of the torch relay for demonstrations and we plan to be in Beijing during….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080217/wl_asia_afp/
chinarightsdarfursudanunrestoly200
8chn_080217042841

Performers wave Olympic flags during the unveiling of the official ...
Performers wave Olympic flags during the unveiling of the official uniforms of volunteers, technicians and referees of the Beijing Olympics and Paralympic Games in Beijing in this January 20, 2008 file photo. Volunteers, unpaid and self-supporting, have become an integral part of the Olympics over the last few decades and Beijing is recruiting a record 100,000 for the Summer Games in August and the following Paralympics.Picture taken January 20, 2008. To match feature OLYMPICS-CHINA/VOLUNTEERS REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV/Files (CHINA)

Vietnam releases rights activist

February 1, 2008

January 31, 2008

NEW YORK, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Vietnam has released imprisoned dissident writer Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, but continues to hold other dissidents under house arrest, Human Rights Watch said.
Tran Khai Thanh Thuy 
Thuy was arrested April 21, 2007, on charges of “causing public disorder.” She was released Thursday following an unpublicized trial in Hanoi, at which she was sentenced to nine months and 10 days, or time served, the rights organization said in a release.

Thuy, 47, was the 2007 winner of the Hellman/Hammett prize for persecuted writers. She was one of an estimated 40 activists who have been imprisoned or held under house arrest during the past 18 months in Vietnam, Human Rights Watch said.

Those being held include human rights lawyers, opposition party members, underground publishers, religious activists, Internet dissidents and labor union leaders.

“Like the dozens of other peaceful dissidents who have been jailed, Tran Khai Thanh Thuy should never have been arrested in the first place,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. “The Vietnamese government should stop locking people up simply for expressing their views.”

China shirking Olympic pledge, pressure needed

January 31, 2008

NEW YORK (AFP) – China is shirking its pledge to improve human rights for the Olympic Games and world pressure is needed to force Beijing to comply, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

The New York-based rights group said that rather than improve human rights, China’s preparation for the Games had actually brought about new violations, such as the eviction of residents for Olympic construction, appalling working conditions at Games venues and tighter controls on government critics.

“Despite China’s official assurances that hosting the 2008 Olympic Games will help to strengthen the development of human rights in the country, the Chinese government continues to deny or restrict its citizens’ fundamental rights,” the group said in a statement as it issued its World Report for 2008.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080131/wl_asia_
afp/rightschina_080131192128

China is shirking its pledge to improve human rights for the ...

Secretary Negroponte: Secure The Release of At Least One Jailed In Vietnam

January 13, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
January 13, 2008

In the endless, general discussions of international diplomacy, sometimes, it seems, absolutely nothing is accomplished.

For that reason, we urge U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who travels to Vietnam this week, to make a commitment to free Le Thi Cong Nhan, a young Ho Chi Minh City attorney in a communist Vietnam jail.

Le Thi Cong Nhan in court in Hanoi on 11 May 2007

Ms Nhan is one of the latest activists to be sent to prison bt communist Vietnam.
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In early November, 2006, just before President George W. Bush and other heads of state from around the globe assembled in Hanoi for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC), Ms Nhan’s apartment was surrounded by communist Vietnam police. Her phones and internet were cut off. She was told she was not allowed to leave her home.

Ms Nhan, she was told, had spoken out against human rights abuses in Vietnam, one crime; and then she used the internet to spread her views, her second crime in Vietnam.

The BBC reported on 16 November 2006, “The move seems to be part of a general attempt to prevent anyone from disrupting the summit.”
Nguyễn Minh Triết and First Lady Trần Thị Kim Chi meet with George W. Bush and Laura Bush at the President's Palace, November 2006.

Nguyễn Minh Triết and First Lady Trần Thị Kim Chi meet with George W. Bush and Laura Bush at the President’s Palace, Hanoi, November 2006, during the APEC summit.
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The BBC also reported, “Miss Cong Nhan’s mother was told by police that her daughter cannot leave her apartment or talk to foreigners until … after the Apec summit has finished.”

Another factor in Ms Nhan house arrest may have been this: she was scheduled to defend a British woman of Vietnamese origin potentially facing the death penalty for drug smuggling.

Despite communist Vietnam’s verbal assurances that it stands for a free and fair judicial system, defense attorneys who take positions contrary to the state’s are often in for at least ridicule and often harassed or imprisoned.

Soon after Vietnam was admitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO), on 6 March, 2007, Ms Nhan was arrested and accused of collaborating with overseas pro-democracy advocates and using the internet to spread her views.

On May 10, Ms. Nhan was tried and found guilty of “spreading propaganda intended to undermine Vietnam’s Communist government.”

About a month later the President of Vietnam, Nguyễn Minh Triết, visited with President Bush in the White House.

At their White House meeting on June 22, 2007, President Bush told Mr. Triết , “In order for relations to grow deeper, it’s important for our friends to have a strong commitment to human rights and freedom and democracy.”

Mr. Triết has shown little or no inkling of a reaction to the President of the United States’ urgings.

Left, Presidents Triết and Bush in the White House.
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Ms Nhan was sentenced to four years in prison by the Hanoi People’s Court.  She was also ordered to serve several years’ house arrest after the completion of her prison sentence.

So, we ask Mr. Negroponte, as the second most senior full-time U.S. diplomat, to commit to seek the immediate freedom of Ms Nhan.  She is a political prisoner among many others. 

If the communist government of Vietnam is serious about its pledges made before and during the APEC summit in 2006, if communist Vietnam is serious about honoring the pledges it made to gain entry into the WTO and if President Triết is serious about his pledges to President Bush when the two met in Washington D.C. in June, 2007, then the release of Ms Nhan would be a delightful, if symbolic, signal that Vietnam truly intends to become a member of the civilized community of nations.

Just today, January 13, 2008, the President of the United States said during his address in Abu Dhabi, “You cannot expect people to believe in the promise of a better future when they are jailed for peacefully petitioning their government.”

The president continued, “And you cannot stand up a modern, confident nation when you do not allow people to voice their legitimate criticisms.”

Words mean nothing unless Vietnam and the United States act upon their words — and their beliefs.

Related:

Vietnam Striving to be Good WTO Participant

China, Vietnam: Global Issues

We encourage all to contact their elected representatives on this and all human rights issues.

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Fair Elections Not Possible in Pakistan: Rights Group

December 19, 2007

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Fair and free elections in Pakistan are “impossible” following the dismantling of an independent judiciary and a crackdown on critics by President Pervez Musharraf, a rights group said Wednesday.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said scores of lawyers, judges and other government critics remained detained in Pakistan despite the lifting of the state of emergency on December 15.

Musharraf’s “dismantling of an independent judiciary and the crackdown on the vocal lawyers’ movement mean free and fair elections, scheduled for January 8, will be impossible,” the international rights group said in its latest report on Pakistan.

Thailand’s Criminal Abuse of Refugees: a Shameful 30+ Year Saga

September 18, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Earlier today, we featured a report from Bangkok, Thailand by Ed Cropley of Reuters who wrote that North Korean Refugees in Thailand had apparently been subjected to human rights abuses.

This is nothing new for Thailand.

Earlier this year, international human rights groups unanimously condemned Thailand for its abuse of Hmong refugees who had originated in Vietnam (where the Hmong are hated for their assistance of the U.S. during the war that ended in 1975).

But Thai people didn’t just invent their abuse for refugees this year. After we featured the Reuters report on Thai abuse to North Korean refugees, we heard from refugees who had been abused by Thai people dating to 1975.

When the Vietnam war ended in 1975, a vast migration of Vietnamese people began. So many entered Thailand that the Thai government, the United Nations, and international human rights groups established refugee centers inside Thailand.

“But the cost of entering Thailand and the cost of entering the refugee camp was rape,” a Vietnamese American woman told us.

“My sister was raped 13 times,” she said. 

“Many of my relatives disappeared. We are sure they must have been killed.”

“This occurred in 1975 but continued for more than ten years as Vietnamese people came out of their home country,” the former refugee told us.

Thai sailors at sea were notorious as pirates searching the ocean for Vietnamese “Boat People.”

If the Thai men found helpless Vietnamese “Boat People,” they usually killed all and stole anything of value they found.  First they raped the women of all ages.

“I was eight months pregnant,” one told us.  “I was the only person not raped and killed in my boat.  I saw my husband killed and one of my other relatives beheaded.”

No Thai government has ever effectively dealt with the human rights abuses they have witnesses for the last three decades.

One of the more notorious camps for refugees inside Thailand was known as “Sikhiew.”

“When I was 12, my family and I was in a refugee camp called “Sikhiew Camp” in Thailand,” wrote Chhai. “Life in the camp was no different to a prison, I could tell that the grown up were going crazy and very much depressed. There were brick walls surround us, we live, eat, and sleep in a building that housed around 200 people, each person were given a 65cm x 2m space.”

Another woman told us that after 6 PM, Sikhiew became a lawless area.  “Thai men came in, grabbed a refugee woman, and disappeared to rape her all night.”

So it is no surprise that now, as North Korean refugees are supposedly offered “refuge” inside Thailand, these helpless people are the subject of abuse and maltreatment.

Referenced article by Reuters:
Thailand Accused of Abuse, Neglect of Refugees