Front Line News Archive

Russian Federation – The burning of the office of the Joint Mobile Group in Grozny after threats and an attempted attack on human rights defenders working in Chechnyaposted on: 2014/12/13

Today, on 14 December 2014, at around 1 p.m. several armed men entered the apartment of the Joint Mobile Group located next to their burned office. They refused to identify themselves but later said they were from Leninsky district police department of Grozny. They forcibly searched the premises and two members of the JMG, Sergey Babinets and Dmitry Dimitriev. They had no warrant and provided no explanations except pointing out that Babinets is suspicious "because he has a beard." The policemen seized the mobile phones of the human rights defenders leaving them out of connection and without legal representation for around one hour and a half. Two computers of the JMG and CCTV cameras have been also seized. The human rights defenders were released at approximatively 2.30 pm.

On 13 December 2014, three unidentified armed men tried to enter the office of the Joint Mobile Group in Grozny. This followed a demonstration against the Joint Mobile Group and its head Igor Kalyapin which took place in Grozny that morning.

Dr. Sigrid Rausing to Present the 3rd Annual Front Line Defenders Lectureposted on: 2015/03/29

On Monday, 30 March, Dr. Sigrid Rausing will give the 3rd Annual Front Line Defenders lecture in association with University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin in the Royal Irish Academy on Dawson Street, Dublin 2 at 6.30pm.

Update: Morocco – Sentence upheld against human rights defender Mr Abdelkhalik Elmarkhiposted on: 2015/03/25

On 23 March 2014, the Second Instance Criminal Chamber at the Court of Appeal in Agadir upheld the sentence of human rights defender Mr Abdelkhalik Elmarkhi.

On 27 November 2014 he had been sentenced to four years' imprisonment on charges relating to “obstructing traffic”, “incitement to commit violence and disobedience”, “participating in an armed mob at night” and “deliberately beating and wounding public servants while they carried out their work duties”. During the trial, the defence was reportedly not given the opportunity to plea.

Algeria – Assault against human rights defender Ms Cherifa Kheddarposted on: 2015/03/25

On 8 March 2015, human rights defender Ms Cherifa Kheddar was arrested and beaten by members of the police in Algiers while demonstrating in front of the Central Post Office on International Women's Day.

Cherifa Kheddar is the head of Djazairouna (Our Algeria) Association, an organisation that raises awareness of the impact of terrorism in Algeria and provides support to victims of terrorism, including in their attempts to seek compensation for human rights violations. In 1996, in the middle of Algeria’s civil war the human rights defender witnessed the torture and murder of her brother and sister. Cherifa Kheddar's husband was also killed during the war, and she narrowly escaped an attempt on her own life.

Cherifa Kheddar and three other members of Djazairouna Association were arrested for refusing to put away banners that they had displayed bearing the names of women killed by fundamentalist armed groups in Algeria in the 1990s, including the human rights defender's sister.

Sri Lanka – Travel restrictions and gag order against human rights defender Mr Ruki Fernando remain in place after one yearposted on: 2015/03/24

21 March 2015 marked one year since restrictions were imposed on the freedom of expression and movement of human rights defender Mr Ruki Fernando, an adviser to INFORM, a human rights documentation centre in Colombo. At the request of the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID), the human rights defender and his colleague, Fr Paveen Mahesa, were restricted from speaking to international media and ordered to give sim cards and computers to police.

SYRIA - Trial of human rights defender Mazen Darwishposted on: 2015/03/24

Tomorrow, a Syrian court will hear the case of human rights defender Mazen Darwish, arrested over three years ago on charges of “promoting terrorist activities.”

Angola: Rafael Marques de Morais Facing Jail for Writing a Bookposted on: 2015/03/24

Journalist and human rights defender Rafael Marques de Morais wrote a book, and for that, he could go to jail. His book, published in Portugal in 2011, alleges serious human rights violations committed by army generals and companies in diamond fields in Angola. Those army generals and companies are taking him to court March 24th in Angola for criminal defamation, punishable under current Angolan law by both a prison term and a monetary penalty.

Angola – Update: Upcoming trial of human rights defender Mr Rafael Marques de Moraisposted on: 2015/03/20

On 24 March 2015, the trial against human rights defender Mr Rafael Marques de Morais will begin. The human rights defender is accused of defamation, following the publication of his book “Diamantes de Sangue: Tortura e Corrupção em Angola” (Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola) in 2011.

Azerbaijan – Update: Release of human rights defender Mr Bashir Suleymanli on presidential pardon while other human rights defenders remain in detentionposted on: 2015/03/20

On 18 March 2015, the President of Azerbaijan signed a pardon to 101 persons, including human rights defender Mr Bashir Suleymanli, the Executive Director of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDS) in Baku.

Kenya – Update: Reduced sentence against human rights defender Mr Joel Ogadaposted on: 2015/03/18

On 13 March 2015, the conviction of human rights defender Mr Joel Ogada was upheld on appeal, but the sentence was reduced to two years' imprisonment, one year of which has already been served.

Statement at UN Human Rights Council: Morocco Should Halt All Restrictions Imposed on Civil Society and Free Imprisoned Human Rights Defendersposted on: 2015/03/18

On 17 March 2015, Front Line Defenders, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), and the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) delivered an oral intervention before the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council, calling on the government of Morocco to halt all restrictions imposed on civil society and to free all human rights defenders imprisoned in the country, in accordance with the recommendations of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission and in respect to Morocco's human rights pledges.

India – Court orders lifting of travel ban against human rights defender Ms Priya Pillaiposted on: 2015/03/13

On 12 March 2015, the Delhi High Court ordered the authorities to lift a travel ban imposed on environmental rights defender Ms Priya Pillai. The senior campaigner with the local chapter of Greenpeace, who works to protect the rights of populations affected by development projects and extractive industries in India, has been the subject of a ban since January 2015.

Thailand – Disappearance of human rights defender Mr Somchai Neelapaijit: 11 years of injustice and impunityposted on: 2015/03/12

12 March 2015 marks 11 years since the disappearance of Mr Somchai Neelapaijit, a prominent human rights lawyer and former chair of the Muslim Attorney Centre in Thailand. Somchai Neelapaijit has not been seen since a group of unknown individuals forced the human rights defender into a car on Ramkhamhaeng Road, Bangkok, on 12 March 2004. Despite strong circumstantial evidence of his death, Somchai Neelapaijit's body has never been found.

Malaysia – Update: Suspension of trial against human rights defender Ms Lena Hendryposted on: 2015/03/12

On 10 March 2015, the High Court of Malaysia ordered that trial against human rights defender Ms Lena Hendry be suspended pending a decision of the Federal Court as to whether the Film Censorship Act 2002, under which she has been charged, is constitutional.

Western Sahara – Update: Sentencing of human rights defender Mr Mbarek Daoudi to 3 months' detentionposted on: 2015/03/11

On 9 March 2015, a military court in Guelmim sentenced Mr Mbarek Daoudi to three months' imprisonment and a fine of 1000 Moroccan Dirham (approximately €94) on charges relating to “possessing weapons”. Mbarek Daoudi had already spent more than 17 months in pre-trial detention. It is not clear why the authorities did not release the human rights defender given the time already served in pre-trial detention.