“If you drive 40 miles inland from Recife you go back in time 150 years.” Those were the words of a human rights defender from the Pastoral Land Commission in Pernambuco, Brazil, as he tried to explain the lawless brutality with which landowners managed their sugar cane plantations. The reach of the state is weak and the level of corruption and abuse of power is high.
There is growing concern over how democracy and the rule of law have deteriorated in Nicaragua, bearing important consequences for human rights defenders and society at large. As the presidential family has solidified its grip on Parliament, the Army, the Police and the media, civil society space has steadily narrowed.
My friend Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam is in detention again in Khartoum. He was taken by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) from the University of Khartoum on 7th December and is being held without access to his lawyer or his family. He has previously been detained on several occasions, for over a month in 2010 and earlier for a total of 18 months in several spells during 2003-2005.
In light of unprecedented attacks on human rights defenders, Andrew Anderson of Front Line Defenders argues for increased direct support to human rights defenders working at the local and national levels, flexibility in funding, and a greater focus on core, multi-year support.
On July 12-13, 2016, the annual EU-China Summit will take place in Beijing. After two weeks of Brexit-induced European turmoil, China is likely to see this as an opportunity to take advantage of the EU’s member states for better trade deals.
I returned last week from a visit to Palestine and Israel. Over six days my colleague and I met with brilliant, tenacious, creative and brave human rights defenders who work non-violently on behalf of others in the brutally occupied West Bank or in an increasingly hostile Israel. We were not allowed access to meet with beleaguered human rights defenders in Gaza.
When I visited Azimjan Askarov in prison in Bishkek in December 2010 there were some grounds for hope that he would be released. He had been sentenced in September 2010 to life in prison, but the process had been seriously flawed and the Kyrgyz human rights Ombudsman had found that the charges against him were politically motivated. When we met with Azimjan our main concern was that his health was improving following the torture he had been subjected to.