Impunity and the rule of law - Office of the High Commissioner for ...

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Impunity and the rule of law - Office of the High Commissioner for ...

IMPUNITY AND THE RULE OF LAWof Conduct were distributed to the 27,000 membersof the Internal Security Forces.In Tunisia, OHCHR, UNDP and ICR collaboratedto support the development of Standard OperatingProcedures (SOPs) with regard to the use of forceand firearms in public places, which were officiallypresented to the competent authorities in May.The Office provided information on human rightsstandards and norms and good practices relativeto the use of force and ethical and lawful policing.Once officially adopted, the SOPs will serve as animportant reference tool for the conduct and work ofTunisian law enforcement agents.Human rights educationHuman rights education plays a crucial role in ensuringthat relevant stakeholders, including civil society,are equipped with the human rights knowledge andawareness to contribute to the establishment andstrengthening of democracy and the rule of law.In Paraguay, the Ministry of Education requestedthat the HRA continue its cooperation in theimplementation of the National Plan on HumanRights Education which was adopted in 2012.OHCHR continued its efforts to consolidate theHuman Rights Masters Programme in the RussianThe new ambassadors for human rights in Somalia“There are no people moreimportant than lawyers to defendand advocate for human rights,”says Hassan, the Director of a LegalAid Clinic in Somaliland, reflectingon the impact lawyers can haveon the defense and promotion ofhuman rights for the protection ofthe people of Somalia.Hassan was one of 24 lawyers fromacross all regions of Somalia broughttogether for the first time in 20 yearsfor training on human rights in theadministration of justice. The trainingwas facilitated by the UNPOSHuman Rights Unit (HRU) incollaboration with UNDP in Hargeisalast May. With constitutionalsafeguards for human rightsreaffirmed under the ProvisionalConstitution, advocacy for humanrights by legal practitioners under aconstitutional framework is criticalto driving the emergence of a humanrights legal culture in Somalia.Following the collapse ofgovernment institutions during theconflict, customary practices wereheavily relied upon to mediatedisputes. A prevailing lack ofconfidence in the formal legalchannels is one of the challengesfaced by the justice institutions.The UNPOS Human RightsUnit’s support to justice sectordevelopment consists of enablingkey implementing actors such asjudges, prosecutors and lawyers toassume their roles more effectivelyin the promotion of human rights inthe administration of justice.A country-wide training projectfor legal professionals in Somalia,which started in November 2012,will continue in the future. It ishoped that this project will sparktransformational change encouraginglocal leadership for the promotionand implementation of internationalhuman rights standards in Somalia.“Human rights have to be at thecentre of the peace process”, upholdsUNPOS Deputy Representative, Peterde Clercq, recognizing that: “Humanrights abuses are at the root of theSomali conflict”.The UNPOS Human Rights Unittraining aims to encourage legalpractitioners to identify the manycommonalities that already existbetween international human rightslaw, Islamic law and the domesticlegal framework in Somalia. In orderto promote greater complianceand advocacy from those involvedin the administration of justice,international human rights standardsmust first be accepted as consistentwith the prevailing legal culture.To sustain these advancesthrough the next generation oflegal practitioners, UNPOS/HRUis further providing support tothe Somali academia. After ameeting in Djibouti in early 2012,representatives of four SomaliUniversities – namely, the Universityof Mogadishu, Puntland StateUniversity, East Africa Universityand the University of Hargeisa –committed to producing a draftcurriculum on human rights inthe administration of justice. InMay, the University delegationsharmonized these respectivedraft curricula into an integratedteaching tool for the training ofjudges, prosecutors and lawyersunder the aegis of the UNPOS/HRU in a follow-up workshop heldin Hargeisa, Somaliland. Hassannoted that the UNPOS/HRU trainingon human rights brought him torealize that “we can work togetherin the name of Somalia rather thanpolitical regions.” Indeed, both thehuman rights training and humanrights curriculum workshop broughttogether representatives of legalprofessions strongly divided alongregional lines. It gave them anopportunity to reflect on and discussa way forward for the developmentof the justice system in Somalia,in compliance with internationalhuman right standards and inrespect of legal traditions.36 OHCHR REPORT 2012


IMPUNITY AND THE RULE OF LAWFederation, building on the achievements reachedduring the first pilot year. OHCHR supportedthe inter-university partnership that enabled theConsortium of Russian Universities to jointly developand implement the programme cycle for 2011-2012. Following the Consortium’s development ofa comprehensive multidisciplinary curriculum, thecourse on International Human Rights Protection isaccredited as a specialized discipline within MastersDegree studies.Fair trial indicatorsOHCHR continued to promote the use of humanrights indicators, in particular on the right to afair trial, among governmental institutions, humanrights institutions, civil society organizations andacademics. In April, the Superior Tribunal of Justiceof Mexico City, together with OHCHR, published thefirst volume of a series of publications on fair trialindicators. As of the end of 2012, nine tribunals hadinitiated the elaboration of fair trial indicators, whichhave also been approved at the federal level by theSupreme Court of Justice of Mexico and the FederalJudicial Council. In Paraguay, fair trial indicators tomonitor and promote access to justice were adoptedby the Supreme Court of Justice.Prisons and other detention facilitiesAs a result of monitoring of detention facilitiesas well as advocacy and support by OHCHRand other partners, the treatment of prisonersin detention facilities and by law enforcementofficials has improved in many countries. Forexample, in Afghanistan, national authorities andthe International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)undertook a variety of measures to address issuespresented in the United Nations Assistance Missionin Afghanistan (UNAMA)/OHCHR report Treatmentof Conflict-Related Detainees in Afghan Custody(October 2011) concerning the human rights andhumane treatment of detainees in detention facilities.Cambodian prison authorities have increased theircapacity to protect the rights of prisoners. Threeministries issued an inter-ministerial directivebanning prison production for export, followingbriefings, consultations and advocacy effortsundertaken by OHCHR.In Honduras, the Human Rights Adviser conducteda comprehensive assessment of the prison systemand made recommendations for its improvement.In Libya, an inter-ministerial committee involvingthe Ministries of Interior, Defence and Justicewas established to resolve issues and carry outinspections of facilities where cases of torture ormistreatment were occurring. In Myanmar, the© UN Photo/Logan AbassiThe Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights tours theNational Penitentiary in downtown Port-au-Prince as part of hisofficial visit to Haiti, September 2012.Government announced a special mechanism toreview outstanding cases of political prisonersfollowing advocacy undertaken by OHCHR and theSpecial Rapporteur on the human rights situationin Myanmar. In Togo, the Government adopted adecision to reduce the number of pre-trial detaineesby 50 per cent by the end of 2012. To date,421 detainees have been released.Democracy and electionsOHCHR supported national authorities to strengthennational institutions and national capacity in order toensure free and fair elections and respect of humanrights, including women’s rights, during electionprocesses through advocacy, training and awarenessraisingin: Angola, Cameroon, the Democratic Republicof Congo (DRC), Mauritania, Senegal and Timor-Leste.In Angola, OHCHR contributed to the peacefulelections in 2012 and the reporting of alleged humanrights violations therein through advocacy with theAngolan authorities to ensure respect of humanrights. In Mauritania, following advocacy effortsundertaken by OHCHR, the Independent ElectoralCommission was established in accordance withdemocratic and human rights principles. In Senegal,OHCHR contributed to strengthening the capacitiesof Senegalese civil society organizations by creatingthe Women’s Platform for peaceful elections toensure women’s participation in the presidential andlegislative elections in 2012.In Timor-Leste, the Human Rights and TransitionalJustice Section of the United Nations IntegratedMission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) provided technicalsupport to the National Human Rights Institute,OHCHR REPORT 2012 37


IMPUNITY AND THE RULE OF LAWFollowing advice provided by OHCHR to theMinistries of Health and Justice on the need forhuman rights oversight in the national psychiatricservice, one of Moldova’s leading human rightsadvocates was appointed to the pilot position ofOmbudsperson for Psychiatry in May 2012.Participants at an OHCHR workshop for staff members of nationalhuman rights institutions from the Central Africa subregion.Provedoria, to enhance its capacity to monitor andreport on the human rights situation during the freeand fair presidential and parliamentary elections andensure compliance with human rights obligations.Increased engagement of national human rightsinstitutions in addressing impunityNational human rights institutions and Ombudspersoninstitutions are among the mechanisms that canensure compliance by States of their human rightsobligations and work to combat impunity andpromote the rule of law. In this regard, OHCHRadvocates for and supports their establishment incompliance with the Paris Principles.Establishment of NHRIsIn the Central African Republic, Chad, the DemocraticRepublic of Congo, Guinea, Haiti, Madagascar andYemen, OHCHR collaborated with other partnersto provide advice and assistance in drafting lawsto establish NHRIs or Ombudsperson institutions.Following the development of relevant legislation, itis anticipated that NHRIs will be formally created inthe Central African Republic, Chad and the DRC in2013. In Papua New Guinea, the National ExecutiveCouncil approved the draft enabling legislation forthe National Human Rights Commission.With the support of OHCHR, which included theprovision of legal advice to national authoritiesand civil society on applicable human rightsstandards and relevant good practices, NHRIs orOmbudsperson institutions were established in Côted’Ivoire, Iraq, Niger, Pakistan, Republic of Moldova,Sudan, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.© OHCHR/Central AfricaIn April, the Government of Yemen adopted a decisionto establish a NHRI and mandated a ministerialcommittee to prepare the legal framework. A joint HRA-UNDP project, signed with the Government in July,includes a component on supporting the establishmentof an independent NHRI.Increased compliance with Paris Principles andstrengthening of existing NHRIsIn Cameroon, Gabon, the DRC, Equatorial Guinea,Myanmar, Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka, OHCHRprovided advice, technical assistance, training andrelevant documentation to Governments to increasethe compliance of their NHRIs with the ParisPrinciples.As part of the steps taken by the Myanmar NationalHuman Rights Commission (MNHRC) to becomeParis Principles compliant, OHCHR advised on thedraft legislation to give the MNHRC a legislativebasis, which is awaiting finalization beforesubmission to the Parliament. The quasi-judicialcapacity of the Human Rights Commission of SierraLeone was further developed with the Human Rightsand Rule of Law Section of UNIPSIL which providedtechnical assistance in relation to a second publicinquiry into violations committed by the police inBumbuna in April 2012.In Burundi, the Commissioners of the newlyestablishedIndependent National Human RightsCommission enhanced their knowledge of theInternational Coordinating Committee (ICC) ofNational Institutions accreditation process throughOHCHR training. OHCHR, together with civil societypartners, assisted the staff of the Ombudsman Instituteof the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as civil society,to strengthen their knowledge of international humanrights standards, including through the monitoring andreporting of human rights violations. Both institutionsreceived an “A” status by the ICC.In Afghanistan, the work of all nine commissionershas continued despite the fact they have not beenreappointed since December 2011. This underminedthe capacity of the Afghanistan Independent HumanRights Commission to act as a strong advocatefor human rights. As of December 2012, thereappointment issue has not been resolved despitethe repeated interventions by the High Commissioner38 OHCHR REPORT 2012


IMPUNITY AND THE RULE OF LAWTransitional justice mechanisms (EA 3)Transitional justice mechanisms increasingly establishedand operating in accordance with international humanrights standards and good practices© OHCHR/South SudanOHCHR supports a comprehensive approach totransitional justice processes and mechanisms,which includes truth-seeking initiatives, judicialaccountability mechanisms, legal reforms andreparations programmes. During 2012, the Officeprovided assistance and training in this regard inmany countries across several regions of the world.OHCHR continued to be actively engaged inmonitoring, promoting and supporting transitionaljustice processes initiated in the Middle Eastand North Africa region (MENA). In November2012, together with the Special Rapporteur onthe promotion of truth, justice, reparation andguarantees of non-recurrence and the UNDPRegional Centre in Cairo, the Office co-organized aregional consultation on transitional justice, whichhelped raise awareness about international principlesand standards among stakeholders engaged intransitional justice initiatives in the region.In Tunisia, the technical committee in charge ofoverseeing the national consultation process anddrafting the law on transitional justice increased itsknowledge on transitional justice through trainingsand technical advice provided by OHCHR.In Libya, UNSMIL provided legal and technicaladvice, and jointly with OHCHR, trained prosecutorson the screening of detainees. Consequently,a screening committee was established andbegan reviewing cases of detainees. In a publicreport issued in September, UNSMIL maderecommendations on reforming the TransitionalJustice Law adopted by the National TransitionalCouncil. This contributed to the submission tothe General National Congress of a new draftTransitional Justice Law, which incorporates themajority of recommendations made by UNSMIL.Furthermore, one of the two Laws that grantamnesties to members of the former regime andthe Thuwar was amended as a result of effortsundertaken by UNSMIL to encourage nationalauthorities to revise the Laws.In Egypt, OHCHR implemented several awarenessraisingactivities on transitional justice forGovernment authorities, national human rightsinstitutions and civil society organizations. However,due to the prevailing political instability, progressmade on transitional justice issues was limited.Image of one of the activities carried out by UNMISS with childrenin secondary schools to commemorate Human Rights Day inKuajok, South Sudan.In Colombia, the new National Centre for HistoricalMemory was strengthened through the adoptionof an interdisciplinary methodology promotedby OHCHR through trainings for 40 newly hiredinterviewers of demobilized paramilitary membersin the context of a non-judicial truth-seekinginitiative.Uganda revised its Amnesty Law to eliminateprovisions in relation to the granting of a blanketamnesty, following advocacy efforts undertaken byOHCHR with national and international partners.In particular, a report containing recommendationsof national consultative workshops, co-organizedby OHCHR on the Amnesty Law, influencedthe Government’s decision to revise the bill. InSeptember, Madagascar adopted an amnesty law inline with international norms after a joint OHCHRand Southern African Development Communitymission to the country to provide technical supportto the transitional authorities in relation to itsdrafting.In Colombia, OHCHR advised authorities toundertake prompt and effective action in casesof threats, attacks and persecution of personsinvolved in land restitution processes, as part of theimplementation of the Victims’ and Land RestitutionLaw, and provided support to authorities for moreeffective protection to those involved. Furthermore,OHCHR fostered comprehensive reparation andreturn plans within the framework of TransitionalJustice Committees for the communities of Tulapasand Los Cedros in the department of Antioquia,which resulted in budgetary allocations to improve,inter alia, a road and a health centre.40 OHCHR REPORT 2012


IMPUNITY AND THE RULE OF LAWIn Nepal, OHCHR contributed to raising awarenesson transitional justice through the October 2012release of the Nepal Conflict Report, whichdocuments and analyses serious violations ofinternational law that occurred during the 1996-2006 conflict. It also worked to establish a databaseof around 30,000 documents, designed to providea tool for Nepalese institutions and civil society tocontinue the process of seeking truth and justice forthe crimes committed.Access to justice and basic services (EA 4)Increased access to justice for individuals and groupsfacing discriminationProgress was made in the development of a joint UNWomen, OHCHR and UNDP programme on accessto justice for women. All three organizations draftedand approved the concept note and the terms ofreference of the multi-partner Trust Fund to supporta joint programme. Project documents are expectedto be developed and approved in 2013.OHCHR also supported the elaboration of a RegionalProtocol for the Investigation of Femicide in orderto strengthen capacity of law enforcement officers inLatin America to investigate, prosecute, punish andredress femicide.In Cambodia, the Office increased awareness ofthe rights of people in police custody, includingthrough the publication, together with the Ministriesof Interior and Justice, and distribution of an “ArrestRights Card,” which explains in plain language therights of detainees. OHCHR also improved accessof rights-holders to quality legal representation,in partnership with Avocats sans Frontières, toprovide free legal representation for four monthsin criminal cases throughout the country. A legaladvocacy officer will be recruited to assist lawyersin developing arguments using international humanrights law.In Colombia, OHCHR encouraged victims to usenational protection mechanisms and fostered theadoption of protection measures by the NationalProtection Unit in cases of threats and attacksagainst and the persecution of persons involvedin land restitution processes. For instance, in thedepartment of Bolívar, OHCHR, in coordinationwith the National Protection Unit, helped ensureprotection measures for a land restitutionclaimant whose life had been threatened bypost-demobilization groups. The intervention ofOHCHR in Becerril (Cesar) also helped a groupof investigators and journalists working on landgrabbing to receive the necessary protection tocontinue carrying out their work.A human rights case in CambodiaOHCHR employed a Legal Advocacy Officer whoserole it is to work with lawyers in pursuing emblematichuman rights cases (strategic litigation) as well as tosupport lawyers defending their clients with argumentsbased on national and international human rights law.In late 2011, a female garment factory worker (S.R.)was convicted under the human trafficking lawbecause of her same-sex relationship with a teenagefellow factory worker. S.R. assumed her girlfriendto be at least 15 years old (the age of consent)because of her employment, however, she was infact under 15 at the time, having used someoneelse’s birth certificate to gain employment in thefactory. The prosecution was pursued at the requestof the girlfriend’s family, who disapproved of therelationship. S.R. was sentenced to five years prisonafter a trial with fair trial rights concerns.OHCHR’s Legal Advocacy Officer supported S.R.’sappeal against her conviction, engaging a lawyer andproviding expert legal support to the lawyer, includingarguments based on article 14 of ICCPR and GeneralComment No. 32 of the Human Rights Committee.OHCHR and the lawyer successfully sought an expeditedhearing by the Court of Appeal. During the hearing on12 December 2012, the Court recognized the existenceof a same-sex relationship. On 31 December 2012, theCourt of Appeal overturned the first instance decision,dropped the charges against S.R. and ordered herimmediate release.Human rights defense lawyers in KyrgyzstanOne-month strategic litigation internships wereorganized by OHCHR for lawyers in Kyrgyzstan towork with leading NGOs in Russia. The participatinglawyers were selected as being among the mostqualified and motivated in defending victims of serioushuman rights violations. The internships allowedKyrgyz lawyers to benefit from the experience of theirRussian colleagues in defending victims of torture,ill treatment and arbitrary arrest. Upon their return,these lawyers proved to be better equipped to draftindividual petitions to the Human Right Committeewhich improved the quality of their defence strategy atthe national level. OHCHR also provided professionalmentoring and practical training to the lawyers.OHCHR REPORT 2012 41


IMPUNITY AND THE RULE OF LAW© REUTERS/Jorge AdornoWomen and children taking part in a march in Asuncion, Paraguay, to demand the protection of their rights. The placard reads, “We want thegovernment to value our rights.”Responsiveness of the internationalcommunity and the United Nations system(EA 10)Increased responsiveness of international entities,including the International Criminal Court,international tribunals, the Human Rights Counciland UN human rights mechanisms to combatimpunity in critical human rights situationsOHCHR, together with other relevant entities,contributed to ensuring that the Declaration onthe rule of law at national and international levels,adopted by the General Assembly on 24 September2012 at the High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law,included numerous reaffirmations by MemberStates of their commitments related to human rightsand various components of the rule of law. Thiswas a unique occasion for Member States to makeindividual pledges, including regarding issues such asthe independence of the judicial system, equal accessto justice and transitional justice and impunity.The High Commissioner continued to advocateglobally, through a continuous output of publicstatements, speeches and opinion articles, onthe need to investigate human rights violations,ensure the accountability of those responsible andprovide reparations to victims. In addition, the HighCommissioner continued to engage with MemberStates during sessions of the Human Rights Council,while on mission to 10 countries (including Algeria,Barbados, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kazakhstan,Kyrgyzstan, the Netherlands, Pakistan, South Sudanand Zimbabwe), and during high-level bilateralmeetings in Geneva and New York, to advance theresponsiveness of the international community onaccountability situations. The High Commissioneralso contributed to increasing the prominence ofhuman rights and accountability aspects of crises42 OHCHR REPORT 2012


IMPUNITY AND THE RULE OF LAWthrough her interventions at the Security Council onthe situations in Libya, Sudan and South Sudan, Syriaand the State of Palestine.Throughout the year, the Office continued to providemethodological advice to commissions of inquiryand fact-finding missions, set up by the HumanRights Council, including to the Syria Commission ofInquiry and the Fact-Finding Mission on the IsraeliSettlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,which led to an increased coherence in approachesand methodologies. Lessons learned exercises wereconducted following the Commission of Inquiry onLibya and the second phase of the Commission ofInquiry on Syria. OHCHR also led an internal reviewof commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missionswhich will enhance their effectiveness and OHCHR’sability to support the work of these investigativebodies.Advocacy work undertaken in relation to theuniversal abolition of the death penalty continued in2012. In preparation for the adoption of resolutionA/67/44 by the General Assembly in December,which calls for a global moratorium on the deathpenalty, the Office organized a Global Panel event inNew York. The event resulted in greater awarenessof the human rights deficits of implementing thedeath penalty and possible strategies for transitioningto abolition or the application of a moratorium.OHCHR also continued to raise the awareness ofMember States regarding due process and the rightto fair trial in the context of counter-terrorism andpromoted progress at the national level througha series of recommendations on the protection ofhuman rights while countering terrorism. For thispurpose, OHCHR organized, in collaboration withthe UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation TaskForce, two regional expert symposia for stakeholdersfrom the MENA region and Europe.With a view to ensuring better protection for thehuman rights of those who are deprived of theirliberty, OHCHR continued to participate in theUNODC-led process to revise the Standard MinimumRules for the Treatment of Prisoners, including byproviding information on relevant human rightsstandards and jurisprudence.Challenges and lessons learnedDuring 2012, OHCHR continued to activelycontribute to the ongoing efforts of the UNsystem to enhance the rule of law and combatimpunity. Bearing in mind ongoing demandsarising out of developments in North Africa andthe Middle East, as well as in other regions in theworld, more efforts and resources are needed toensure that OHCHR can effectively respond to themany human rights challenges being faced. Forinstance, many challenges remain in regard to theadequate resourcing of investigative bodies andthe establishment of fast-track procedures for therecruitment of staff that supports such investigations.Strategic efforts should be made to address thesechallenges. In particular, OHCHR needs to advocatemore visibly and effectively for the mandatoryinclusion of commitments to combat impunity andthe promotion and protection of human rights inpeace mediations, negotiations and agreements.The Declaration on the rule of law at nationaland international levels adopted by the GeneralAssembly in September 2012 constitutes a goodadvocacy tool in this regard, which will requireadequate follow-up to ensure implementation ofindividual pledges made by Member States.Much more remains to be done at the nationallevel, including securing clear political commitmentsfrom States to counter impunity and ensuring theirimplementation through effective legislation andpolicies. OHCHR’s advocacy work will thereforeneed to be strengthened and its capacity must beincreased in order to respond to calls for technicalassistance and the provision of expert legal advice.OHCHR’s leadership role in enhancing accountabilityfor violations, fostering transitional justicemeasures and supporting institution-building hasgreatly benefited from its partnership with otherorganizations within the UN system. OHCHR isstrongly committed to a coordinated, coherentand responsive approach to the rule of law andaccountability in order to strengthen the delivery ofassistance and underline the broader human rightsmessage.OHCHR REPORT 2012 43

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