January

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January 2007

Contents

Democracy Alerts/Appeals
Campaign for Belarusian Prisoner of Conscience Alyaksandr Kazulin
Prominent Somaliland Media House Under Attack

Announcements and Events
The Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan Launches Web Site
Call for Papers: Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy 8th Annual Conference
Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia Publishes Book on Democracy in Asia
Becket Fund Launches International Religious Freedom Newsletter

Civil Society Strengthening
Second Edition of "Directory of Civil Society Organizations in Jordan" Published
Civic Bangladesh Holds Roundtable on Democracy, Dignity, and Rights

Economic Reform and the Business Sector
CIPE Articles and Blog on Post-Conflict Reconstruction

Elections
Odhikar and IFES Issue Fourth Report on Election-Related Violence in Bangladesh

Gender Issues and Sexual Minority Rights
Women's Learning Partnership Announces New Advocacy Video
New Project to Help Citizens Stop Violence Against Women in South Africa
UNIFEM Releases Gender and HIV/AIDS Electronic Library on CD-ROM

Human Rights
Human Rights Watch Publishes World Report 2007
Human Rights Watch Publishes Report on Torture and Extrajudicial Killings by Bangladesh Security Force
Amman Center for Human Rights Studies Establishes Jordanian Human Rights Network
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Releases October Political Violence Report
Human Rights Education Associates Offering Online Course

International Democracy Assistance and Solidarity
The Democracy Coalition Project Releases Survey on Human Rights
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Releases Policy Focus on Russia
Asian Democrats to Develop Recommendations to Community of Democracies
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative Issues Report on Human Rights in Uganda
People in Need Publishes Russian Version of "Transformation: The Czech Experience"

Labor Unions and Worker Rights
Global Labor Movement Endorses Migrant Worker Rights Action Plan
Rights & Democracy Pays Tribute to Su Su Nway of Burma
Egyptian Association Develops Workers' Rights Program

Media, Freedom of Expression and Communication
Polish-Czech-Slovak Solidarity Foundation Offers Independent Media Internship
Reporters Without Borders Names Burma's U Win Tin "Journalist of the Year"
International PEN to Hold Asia Pacific Conference in Hong Kong

Political and Civic Participation of Youth
NAYMOTE-PADD Establishes Youth Network

Research
Centre for Democratic Institutions Begins Project on Post-Conflict Political Party Development
New Publication: Latinobarómetro Report 2006

Rule of Law and Judicial Independence

Humanitarian Law Center Issues Complaints about Serbia's Dealing with the Past
CPDI-Pakistan Demands Parliamentary Committee Transparency

Transparency and Anti-Corruption
U.S. State Department Updates Website on Anti-Corruption
Global Integrity Releases Investigative Report on Corruption in the World

World Movement Participating Networks, Organizations and Individuals Mentioned in this Issue

 

Democracy Alerts/Appeals

Campaign for Belarusian Prisoner of Conscience Alyaksandr Kazulin
On December 11, Alyaksandr Kazulin, leader of the Belarusian Socialist Democratic Party, former presidential candidate, and former rector of the Belarusian State University, who has been in prison since June 2006, ended the 53-day hunger strike he began on October 20. The hunger strike was an act of protest against Alyaksandr Lukashenka's tenure in power and a demand that the UN Security Council consider the Belarusian problem. Amnesty International has initiated a campaign calling for Kazulin's immediate and unconditional release. The organization believes that Kazulin is a prisoner of conscience, and that his continuing imprisonment is a violation of his rights to assembly, association, and expression. Amnesty asserts that Kazulin is being detained unlawfully following an unfair trial, and the organization is calling for the Belarusian government to conduct full and impartial investigations into reports of ill-treatment Kazulin has suffered on various occasions at the hands of law enforcement officials, and to ensure that he receives full redress. Amnesty believes that the continuing harassment and detention of opposition figures in Belarus is a deliberate attempt by the authorities to intimidate and deter people from exercising their rights. The result is the continued stifling of open, public debate and civil society activity within the country.

Amnesty International is asking concerned individuals to show their support by sending letters to Kazulin in prison and appeals to the Belarusian authorities. Letters to Kazulin should be sent to Kazulin's prison:

Alyaksandr Kazulin
IK No. 3
Vitsba
211300 Vitsebsk region
Belarus

Appeals should call for the immediate and unconditional release of Kazulin as a prisoner of conscience; remind the Belarusian authorities of their obligations under Articles 19, 21, and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which Belarus is a state party), which guarantee the rights to expression, assembly, and association; urge the Belarusian authorities to stop the harassment and intimidation of civil society activists engaged directly or indirectly in the promotion and defense of human rights in Belarus; and call for full and impartial investigations by the Belarusian authorities into reports of ill-treatment suffered by Alyaksandr Kazulin at the hands of law enforcement officials and to ensure that he receives full redress. Appeals can be sent by fax or by mail to the following individuals:

President Alyaksandr G. Lukashenka
ul. Karla Marxa 38
220016 Minsk, BELARUS
Fax: +375 172 26 06 10, +375 172 22 38 72
Salutation: Dear President Lukashenka

Procurator General Petr P. Miklashevich
ul. Internatsionalnaia 22
220050 Minsk, BELARUS
Fax: +375 172 26 41 66
Salutation: Dear Procurator General Miklashevich

Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir V. Naumov
ul.Gorodskoi Val 4
220615 Minsk, BELARUS
Fax: +375 172 26 12 47
Salutation: Dear Minister Naumov

Go to: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR490012007

Prominent Somaliland Media House Under Attack
On January 3, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders' Network (EHAHRD-Net) issued a press release concerning the continued attack on media workers in Somaliland, the latest being the armed invasion of the Haatuf Media House on January 2 and the subsequent arrest of its managing editor, Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, and Ali Abdi Dini. The journalists were doing their work at Haatuf Media House, which publishes the Somali language daily Haatuf, the weekly English Somaliland Times, and the weekly Haatef Arabia, at the time of their arrest in connection with an article published by Haatuf in which alleged corruption and nepotism practices by Somaliland president H.E. Dahir Rayale's wife were exposed. The two journalists were dragged from their offices by the police after insisting that the police produce a warrant of arrest sanctioned by the court.

Haatuf Media House is a regionally acclaimed publisher that fights for the freedom of journalists in Somaliland. The EHAHRD Network calls upon the Somaliland government to immediately and unconditionally release Yusuf Abdi Gabobe and Ali Abdi Dini. The Network also calls upon the Somaliland government to ensure media freedom by creating an enabling environment for media workers to carry out their responsibilities without undue interference. The government should also ensure that all the equipment confiscated from the Haatuf Media House be returned.

For further information, contact:
Tumusiime Kabwende Deo
Press Officer
+256-712-075721

Go to: www.yorku.ca/crs/AHRDP/publications.html

 

Announcements and Events

The Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan Launches Web Site
The Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan (WADAN) recently launched its new Web site. The Web site includes publications, archives, a gallery, project information, information on civic education, information on drug control, and contact information. Established in August 2002, WADAN is an indigenous nongovernmental organization that undertakes community and institutional development, civic education, and drug control projects in Afghanistan respecting the laws, culture and traditions of target communities. WADAN's mission is to advance the spread of democratic principles, development, social justice, human rights, and freedom in Afghanistan, as well as to strengthen communities and local governance by promoting effective community and institutional development practices and drug control initiatives. The Web site is currently available in English only, but WADAN plans to include information in Pushto and Dari.

Go to: www.wadan.org

Call for Papers: Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy 8th Annual Conference
The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) has announced a call for papers for its 8th Annual Conference to take place in Washington, DC, on April 27. The theme of this year's conference is "The Rights of Women and Minorities in Islam and Muslim Societies." This conference aims to explore critical issues in a rigorous, academic manner from a variety of perspectives, and to challenge commonly held assumptions about the rights of women and minorities among both Muslims and non-Muslims. The conference will explore the current complexities of this topic in the context of democracy and democratization in diverse Muslim-majority societies. The deadline for papers is January 25.

Go to: www.csidonline.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=366&Itemid=26

Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia Publishes Book on Democracy in Asia
The Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia (ARDA) recently published a book entitled, THOSE WHO DARE: VOICES OF ASIA'S DEMOCRATS. Authors of the book include World Movement participants Anwar Ibrahim, Chee Soon Juan, and Martin Lee, as well as other activists Sarwar Bari, Tian Chua, Loretta Rosales, Shih Ming-teh, Thich Quang Do, and Wang Dan. The various authors of the book write about their hopes for the future of democracy in Asia and about their personal struggles. The book is available for purchase online.

Go to: www.asiademocracy.org/content_view.php?section_id=8&content_id=726

Becket Fund Launches International Religious Freedom Newsletter
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, interfaith, legal and educational institute dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions, has launched its "International Religious Freedom News" newsletter. Each week, the Becket Fund, based in Washington, DC, compiles the top news items affecting the religious liberty of people of all faiths around the world. The newsletter focuses on stories that involve state action or inaction, and includes a feature essay for those interested in a more in-depth look at the issues affecting religious believers worldwide. The latest issue includes articles from Azerbaijan, Italy, Macedonia, Malaysia, Belarus, and Morocco.

Go to: www.becketfund.org/index.php/article/622.html

 

Civil Society Strengthening

Second Edition of "Directory of Civil Society Organizations in Jordan" Published
Al Urdun Al Jadid Research Center (UJRC) recently announced that the second edition of the "Directory of Civil Society Organizations in Jordan" was published recently in Arabic and English. The book provides detailed information on 245 organizations in 14 main civil society sectors in Jordan, in addition to providing contact information and other essential information on 1,827 other organizations. The directory covers the following sectors: social voluntary organizations; professional associations; cultural associations; sports clubs and youth centers; human rights and democratic development organizations; political parties; women's organizations; labor unions; employers' professional organizations; environmental societies; civil protection and healthcare societies; teachers' forums; institutions for public support and research centers; and foreign nongovernmental organizations that operate branches in Jordan. The directory includes information on the history of each organization and its legal framework. To order a copy email: ujrc@ujrc-jordan.org.

Go to: www.ujrc-jordan.org/csd2.shtm#1

Civic Bangladesh Holds Roundtable on Democracy, Dignity, and Rights
On December 8, Civic Bangladesh, a civil society organization working for the promotion of democracy, organized a roundtable meeting on democracy, dignity, and rights at its office in Dhaka. The meeting concluded with a decision to form the Bangladesh Dignity Forum, with Civic Bangladesh as its secretariat, to promote human dignity as a precondition for democratic development. Civil society members, cultural activists, researchers, academics, journalists, and NGO professionals attended the meeting. Having discussed the factors and issues that constrain the democratization process in Bangladesh, the participants observed that it is not possible to develop democracy as an institution without addressing the issue of dignity.

Go to: www.civicbd.org/programmes.html

 

Economic Reform and the Business Sector

CIPE Articles and Blog on Post-Conflict Reconstruction
"Economic Reform Feature Service" of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) is now featuring articles and a blog on post-conflict reconstruction, a much-discussed topic due to the many high-profile countries featured regularly in the news. To explore the topic, CIPE recently published an "Economic Reform Feature Service" article, "The New Post-Conflict Strategy: Building Domestic Capacity for Reform," by Aleksandr Shkolnikov, Program Officer for Global Programs at CIPE. The author argues that while humanitarian assistance plays a valuable role in post-conflict reconstruction, it is impossible to achieve lasting peace, democracy, and prosperity unless local groups get involved and become grassroots drivers of institutional reforms aimed at building democratic market economies. CIPE invites all to comment on this topic.

Go to: www.cipe.org/blog/?p=356

 

Elections

Odhikar and IFES Issue Fourth Report on Election-Related Violence in Bangladesh
Odhikar and IFES have issued their fourth election-related violence report for Bangladesh. The Fourth Report on Electoral Violence, issued by the Odhikar Election Violence Education and Resolution (EVER) project, covers 1-15 December 2006. A total of 34 incidents of election-related violence were recorded and verified by EVER monitors during this period. The total number of incidents dropped to 34 from the 58 recorded in the last reporting period. The number of incidents has been declining since the first reporting period when 99 incidents were recorded. The Odhikar EVER project in Bangladesh, built on a network of monitors in 45 constituencies, aims to provide accurate and timely data on patterns of election violence to the public, political parties, election and security officials, and other stakeholders in Bangladesh to help them develop strategies to mitigate such incidents. In addition to this report, on January 4, Odhikar issued a press release comparing the extent of human rights violations in Bangladesh in 2005 and 2006. Odhikar prepared this report on the basis of 14 national dailies and its own fact-finding reports. Odhikar's data on human rights violations shows that in the year 2006, 374 persons were killed, 21,265 were injured, 2,358 were arrested, and 48 were abducted due to politically related violence. Moreover, 28,651 were the victims of mass arrest. In 2005, 310 persons were killed, 8,997 were injured, 1,216 were arrested, and 93 were abducted. The number of killings, injuries, and arrests has increased in the year 2006 by 21%, 136 %, and 94% respectively, while abduction decreased by 48%. The report goes into detail about who committed the acts of violence, who were the main victims, and the main reasons behind them.

Go to: www.wmd.org/documents/jan07demnews10.pdf

 

Gender Issues and Sexual Minority Rights

Women's Learning Partnership Announces New Advocacy Video
The Women's Learning Partnership (WLP) announced the release of a new advocacy video entitled "Against All Odds: Women Partnering for Change in a Time of Crisis." "Against All Odds" explores the challenges faced by grassroots women's rights activists in the Global South, including extremism, fundamentalism, war and conflict, and restrictive legislation. Women leaders from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, and other countries tell the story of how they are overcoming recent crises by building alliances, sharing inter-generational experience and expertise, and devising contextual, culture-specific, grassroots-based approaches to empowering women and girls. Testimonies from the video vividly demonstrate that while women are disproportionately affected by conflict situations and extremism, they are also key agents of change, upholding communities and families, and engaging in peaceful forms of resistance. WLP partners from Africa and the Middle East will premier the video at the World Social Forum on January 21 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Go to: www.learningpartnership.org/publications/multimedia

New Project to Help Citizens Stop Violence Against Women in South Africa
The pan-African organization, Fahamu, in collaboration with the Dutch International Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos) and the mobile phone company Clickatell, has established the UmNyango Project so that rural women in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, can use mobile phones to report violations of their human rights. The UmNyango Project will use SMS technology for rural women and men to access information to and report incidences of violence against women and children, as well as violations of women's right to land. In addition to text messaging, the project will enable women in these areas to produce their own radio programs, which will be made available to local radio stations, as well as being distributed over the Internet as "podcasts." If the project is successful, it will be expanded to other regions of the country. The partners are hopeful that there will be sufficient interest from other donor agencies, government, and the private sector to enable this initiative to be sustained beyond May 2007.

For more information, contact Adv. Anil Naidoo: anil@fahamu.org.za

UNIFEM Releases Gender and HIV/AIDS Electronic Library on CD-ROM
UNIFEM, with support from UNAIDS, has released a Gender and HIV/AIDS Electronic Library on CD-ROM that compiles resources from this Web Portal. It includes research and studies, training resources and tools, and multimedia advocacy materials on the gender dimensions of the HIV/AIDS epidemic produced by a variety of organizations. The Gender and HIV/AIDS Electronic Library is fully searchable by keyword and includes an easy-to-use tool called "e-Course Builder," which supports the creation of a tailored training course using the resources on the CD-ROM. The Library is a useful resource for academics, policymakers, practitioners, journalists, students. and others interested in the gender dimensions of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Go to www.genderandaids.org/index.php

 

Human Rights, Equality and Access to Justice

Human Rights Watch Publishes World Report 2007
Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently published its World Report 2007. The report contains survey information on human rights developments during 2006 in more than 75 countries. In addition to the introductory essay on the European Union, the volume contains essays on freedom of expression since 9/11, the plight of migrant domestic workers, and a human rights agenda for incoming UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The report identifies many human rights challenges in need of urgent attention. Among the findings, HRW claims that no situation is more pressing than the bloody crisis in Darfur; Iraq has degenerated into sectarian and political blood-letting, with civilians the principal victims; repressive governments in North Korea, Burma, and Turkmenistan deprive their people of fundamental rights and dignity; dictatorships persist in Saudi Arabia and Syria; China is moving backwards; Russia and Egypt are cracking down on nongovernmental organizations; Iran and Ethiopia are silencing dissident voices; Robert Mugabe would rather drive Zimbabwe to ruin than tolerate political opposition; civil war is reigniting in Sri Lanka and intensifying in Afghanistan and Somalia, while conflict continues in Colombia; Israel launched indiscriminate attacks in Lebanon and littered southern Lebanon with cluster bombs during its war with Hezbollah, while Hezbollah attacked Israeli cities without distinguishing between military and civilian objectives.

Go to: www.hrw.org/wr2k7/

Human Rights Watch Publishes Report on Torture and Extrajudicial Killings by Bangladesh Security Force
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has published a report that claims Bangladesh's elite anti-crime and anti-terrorism security force is responsible for widespread torture and killing more than 350 suspects in custody. The 79-page report, "Judge, Jury, and Executioner: Torture and Extrajudicial Killings by Bangladesh's Elite Security Force," describes how the Rapid Action Battalion, established in 2004 to stop spiraling crime, has made a practice of killing criminal suspects in detention. The report provides a history of Rapid Action Battalion and a description of its structure and top commanders. Torture methods used by the force include beatings, boring holes in suspects with electric drills, and the application of electric shock. The report urges Bangladesh's international donors not to provide material or financial support to Rapid Action Battalion as long as it persists in using torture and extrajudicial killings.

Go to: www.hrw.org/reports/2006/bangladesh1206/

Amman Center for Human Rights Studies Establishes Jordanian Human Rights Network
On November 28, the Amman Center for Human Rights (ACHRS) held a meeting to establish a Jordanian Human Rights Network. A group of 27 trainers in the fields of human rights and civil society affairs gathered at ACHRS to discuss the need for such a network, its goals, etc., and decided to establish it. The participants consider the network a mechanism of coordination among Jordanian trainers in the fields of human rights and civil society. A committee of six trainers was established for coordination and to preparate the final documents. The network currently consists of nearly 40 human rights trainers from 12 Arab countries.

Go to: www.achrs.org/english/CenterNewsView.asp?CNID=241

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Releases October Political Violence Report
On December 14, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum released its October Political Violence Report. The report notes an overall decrease in violence and torture during the month of October in comparison with September during which Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) activists were brutally tortured. In October there were two Parliamentary by-elections and countrywide elections for the Rural District Councils, during which there were several incidences of political intimidation and retributive violence. The report documents what it describes as 'an orgy' of political violence in the post-election period in Chitungwiza, which was allegedly instigated by the winning ZANU PF candidate Rebecca Jumbe. The report also highlights the arrest of five women from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA).

Go to: www.hrforumzim.com/frames/inside_frame_monthly.htm

Human Rights Education Associates Offering Online Course
Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) is offering an online course, "Human Rights Litigation," from February 14 to May 7. The course focuses on strategic litigation and legal aid both internationally and domestically, and explores a variety of strategies, including: issue- and group-oriented litigation, community based services, legal clinics, NGO and law firm resourced actions, and others. Participants are familiarized with court-ordered structural relief, as well as with conventional victim-centered legal remedies. Non-litigation strategies are considered as well. In the last portion, the course highlights litigation on behalf of several groups of substantive rights, including economic and social rights, freedom from torture, equality, and asylum. Participants will be provided with examples from various jurisdictions in the world illustrating strategic human rights litigation in practice. This course is particularly intended for legal professionals - lawyers, staff working in legal advice centers, and lawyers working at NGOs. The deadline for applications has been extended to January 22.

Go to: www.hrea.org/courses/13E.html

 

International Democracy Assistance and Solidarity

The Democracy Coalition Project Releases Survey on Human Rights
The Democracy Coalition Project, a public policy research and advocacy organization, has released its survey to mark the 48th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The study charts the votes of all 192 members of the Third Committee of the 61st Session of the UN General Assembly on six key human rights resolutions that illustrate UN member states' approaches to some of the worst human rights crises in the world today: "Promotion of Equitable and Mutually Respectful Dialogue on Human Rights," "Situation of Human Rights in Belarus," "Situation of Human Rights in Iran," "Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," "Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar (Burma)," and the No Action Motion on the "Situation of Human Rights in Uzbekistan." As evidenced by the vote tallies, the UN's Third Committee did not abandon the practice of country-specific resolutions, despite the collective desire of Belarus, China, Uzbekistan, Cuba and Iran to block them. The resolutions on Belarus, Iran, North Korea and Myanmar were all approved with clear double-digit majorities of those UN member states voting.

Go to: www.demcoalition.org/2005_html/undem_offic.html

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Releases Policy Focus on Russia
On December 14, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bipartisan federal agency, released its new Policy Focus on Russia. In preparing the document, a Commission delegation visited Russia in July 2006, meeting with senior government officials, religious leaders, human rights monitors, civil society representatives and journalists. In the new Policy Focus, the Commission recommends measures to combat xenophobia, intolerance, and hate crimes in Russia, and to ensure the equal legal status and treatment of Russia's various religious communities. USCIRF also recommends reforming or withdrawing the 2006 Russian law on NGOs, which may be used to restrict severely the NGOs' ability to function.

To read the Policy Focus in English, go to: http://uscirf.gov/countries/publications/policyfocus/Russia.pdf

To read the Policy Focus in Russian, go to: http://uscirf.gov/countries/publications/policyfocus/RussiaPolicyFocus2006(RussianVer).pdf

Asian Democrats to Develop Recommendations to Community of Democracies
On January 23-24, democracy activists from East, Southeast, and South Asia will meet in Taipei, Taiwan, to discuss the regional expectations of, and strategy towards, the Community of Democracies (CD) Ministerial Meeting, which will take place in Bamako, Mali, in late 2007. Organized by the CD Non-Governmental Process International Steering Committee and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, the regional meeting will seek to develop constructive recommendations on how the CD Non-Governmental Process can assist democratization in the Asia region. The meeting will evaluate the degree to which the Asian members of the CD lived up to their commitments to the CD's Seoul Plan of Action (adopted in 2002) and the Santiago Commitments (adopted in 2005) in the following areas: gender equality; strengthening rule of law; advancing press freedom; strengthening the culture of democracy; democracy education; improving standards for the conduct of elections; addressing the assault on democracy; freedom of association; and free enterprise and democracy. Asian democrats are welcome to send their views, ideas, and practical recommendations on how the CD can promote democracy in those areas. Those interested should write to bo@taiwandemocracy.org.tw or lchsiao@taiwandemocracy.org.tw by January 20. Submissions will be shared with the meeting participants.

Go to: www.wfda.net/activities.htm?id=241

Foundation for Human Rights Initiative Issues Report on Human Rights in Uganda
On December 13, the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), under its Rights Monitoring and Policy Advocacy Programme, issued a report on human rights in Uganda. The report begins with an executive summary that includes recommendations for improving the situation. The main portion of the report is divided into two sections. The first section addresses the problems in Northern Uganda, including a brief history of problems in the region, the condition of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, the effect of conflict on children, and the peace process. The second section gives a broad overview of the condition of human rights in Uganda during July-December 2007.

Go to: www.wmd.org/documents/jan07demnews22.pdf

People in Need Publishes Russian Version of "Transformation: The Czech Experience"
People in Need - a Czech organization that provides relief aid and development assistance - with the support of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recently published a Russian version of TRANSFORMATION: THE CZECH EXPERIENCE, which was published in 2006. The collection of articles depicts individual aspects of the Czech transformation to democracy, including constitutional and economic reforms, judicial transformation, media changes, etc. The articles were written by people who were directly involved as ministers, experts, and journalists in the reform process and thus have first-hand experience with the challenges and obstacles faced after 1989. The major objective of the book is to help nations and oppositions in nondemocratic countries, and to provide them with ideas, blueprints, and moral support by sharing the Czech transition experience. The intention is to prepare the opposition in such countries for the transformation of their respective societies. The Russian version of the book is targeted at post-Soviet republics and Russian-speaking readers. The English version of the book is now being provided to the opposition and civil society groups in Burma and to the exile Burmese communities in Thailand. The previously published Belarusian and Spanish versions have been distributed to the people in Belarus and Cuba.

To download the full version of the book in English, Spanish, Russian or Belarusian, go to: www.peopleinneed.cz/transformation

 

Labor Unions and Worker Rights

Global Labor Movement Endorses Migrant Worker Rights Action Plan
In December, about 60 trade unionists and representatives of international organizations met in Brussels to lay the groundwork for a concrete action plan to organize migrants, defend and promote their rights, and improve their working conditions. According to the Solidarity Center, the meeting was coordinated by the International Trade Union Confederation, the global labor organization representing 168 million workers. The action plan will focus on four priorities: protecting migrant worker rights; organizing migrant workers into unions; coordinating migration and sustainable development; and information- and awareness-raising as key tools for ensuring safe migration.

Go to: www.solidaritycenter.org/content.asp?contentid=631

Rights & Democracy Pays Tribute to Su Su Nway of Burma
On December 6, Rights & Democracy (Canada) honored its 2006 John Humphrey Freedom Award laureate Su Su Nway of Burma for efforts to hold Burma's military junta accountable for its forced labor practices. Although Su Su Nway was unable to attend the award ceremony due to travel restrictions imposed by Burma's dictatorship, close to 200 people attended the event, including special guests Dr. Sein Win, Prime Minister in exile of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, and Cecilia Brighi, Board member of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Rights & Democracy has also launched a national campaign with ads in 14 newspapers across Canada to help end the use of forced labor practices in Burma. The campaign is supported by the Canadian Auto Workers Union, Confédération des syndicats nationaux, Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, Public Service Alliance of Canada, and the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

Go to: www.dd-rd.ca/site/media/index.php?lang=en&subsection=news&id=1945

Egyptian Association Develops Workers' Rights Program
The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE) with some 20 Egyptian Trade Unionists, NGOs, lawyers, and activists, has established a Workers' Rights program. This Egyptian Coalition on Workers Rights believes in collaborative work and is calling on organizations, networks and coalitions working in the same field to contact the Coalition, and exchange experiences and information as a necessary step to build international solidarity. The current program sponsors a number of workshops, and its objectives include: to develop a systematic approach to evaluating and monitoring the application and enforcement of the ILO core labor standards in Egypt; to raise public awareness of international standards and the obligation of the Egyptian government and employers to meet those standards; to strengthen the collaborative efforts of labor support organizations advocating for workers rights; and to enable labor support organizations reach out to workers through labor education programs.

For more information, email Dr. Afaf Marei: cpe_eg@yahoo.com

 

Media, Freedom of Expression and Communication

Polish-Czech-Slovak Solidarity Foundation Offers Independent Media Internship
The Polish-Czech-Slovak Solidarity Foundation has launched the new edition of the journalists internship program, "Independent Media 7." Since 1996, the Foundation has been conducting the Independent Media Program, providing internships and study visits for journalists and editors working in the print and electronic media. To date, some 250 people representing every post-Soviet country have taken part in the Foundation's 2- and 3-week programs in Poland. Participants for "Independent Media 7" will be selected by means of an open competition, with the winners chosen by the Social Council of the Program. Applications are available upon request.

Go to: www.spczs.engo.pl/index_en.php?dzial=news&newsid=131

Reporters Without Borders Names Burma's U Win Tin "Journalist of the Year"
Reporters Without Borders has named U Win Tin "Journalist of the Year" for his commitment to freedom of the press in Burma. U Win Tin, a 76-year-old Burmese journalist, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for "subversion" and "anti-government propaganda" in 1989. After more than 17 years in prison and despite faltering health and extremely poor prison conditions, he still refuses to renounce his commitment to the National League for Democracy, despite being offered his freedom for doing so. He continues to call for the unconditional release of thousands of political prisoners. U Win Tin was one of the political mentors of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who also remains deprived of her freedom. Because of the conditions under which U Win Tin is being held, it is possible that he remains unaware that he has received this award.

To sign a petition for U Win Tin, go to: www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=2059

International PEN to Hold Asia Pacific Conference in Hong Kong
International PEN, the worldwide association of writers with 144 centers in 101 countries, will hold an Asia Pacific Conference in Hong Kong on February 2-5. The conference objectives include: to improve cooperation and communication among the region's centers; to develop strategies to counter threats to freedom of expression; to debate the role of the writer in society; to identify programmatic priorities in advance of the regional plan to begin in 2009; to develop strategies for center development in the region; and to support and nurture literacy writing in the region and in the Chinese language. There are two session topics for the conference: "Writers in the Chinese World" and "International PEN Regional Strategy and Planning."

Go to: www.internationalpen.org.uk

 

Political and Civic Participation of Youth

NAYMOTE-PADD Establishes Youth Network
In an effort to strengthen the voices of citizen groups and enhance youth development initiatives in various communities around Liberia, the National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections-Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-PADD) has successfully completed its discussion with 12 youth-focused organizations in three Liberian counties - Margibi, Bong, and Grand Bassa - to establish youth networks. Through these networks, young people would better confront challenging situations and promote their more effective participation in governance, leadership, decision making and development. Under the arrangement, NAYMOTE-PADD will first establish a coordinating secretariat of the networks as a means of decentralizing the activities of the networks through functional offices in the three counties. These county offices would serve multiple purposes and will each have a training and information management center and a legislative and citizens' bureau.

Go to: www.wmd.org/documents/jan07demnews30.pdf

 

Research

Centre for Democratic Institutions Begins Project on Post-Conflict Political Party Development
The Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI) of Australia, together with the United Nations University (UNU) and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), has begun a new collaborative international research project looking at "Political Party Development in Conflict-Prone Societies." Based on a paper prepared by CDI Director Ben Reilly in 2004, the project focuses on political party development in societies divided along cultural, linguistic, religious, gender, regional, or other kinds of social cleavages. In particular, it looks at the question of whether broad-based political parties can be sustained and encouraged by rules governing their formation, composition, funding, etc. The project is being carried out by a team of 16 authors from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and the Pacific. The outcome will be a policy-relevant book to be published by the United Nations University Press in 2008.

Go to: www.cdi.anu.edu.au/research/2006____RES_CDI_IDEA_UNU_ppd_in_confl_soc.htm

New Publication: Latinobarómetro Report 2006
The Latinobarómetro Corporation, a private, nonprofit institution based in Santiago, Chile, has published its 2006 Latinobarómetro Report. This poll on the political views of societies taken in 18 countries across Latin America shows that despite growing economies and higher spending on social programs, only about half of Latin Americans are convinced democrats and only one in three is satisfied with the way their democracy works in practice. These figures have remained almost identical for three years in a row. The report is written in Spanish and available online.

Go to: www.latinobarometro.org/index.php?id=149

 

Rule of Law and Judicial Independence

Humanitarian Law Center Issues Complaints about Serbia's Dealing with the Past
The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), a Belgrade-based NGO, issued a statement on the progress of Serbia's efforts to deal with its past. The statement reports that the government of Serbia seriously limits the efforts to re-establish the rule of law by not arresting those indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), who are still at large in Serbian territory, and by not carrying out reforms in the police, military, and security services. Furthermore, the government continues to influence the War Crimes Prosecutor's Office to prevent the establishment of the truth about the participation of Serbian institutions in planning, ordering, and executing crimes during armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. According to the statement, the government ignores its obligation to provide the victims' families with the full truth about the fate of their loved ones and to establish an appropriate reparation program for the victims. Finally, the government fails to accept the need to establish a public platform for truth-seeking and truth-telling about the harms done to others in the name of Serbia, which is a condition for restoring dignity of all victims, including Serbian victims.

Go to: www.hlc.org.yu/english/Other/Other/index.php?file=1565.html

 

Transparency and Anti-Corruption

CPDI-Pakistan Demands Parliamentary Committee Transparency
On January 7, the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, Pakistan (CPDI-Pakistan) issued a press release demanding all the chairs and members of parliamentary committees to implement completely transparent procedures in the course of considering legislative bills and exercising parliamentary oversight of government departments. The Centre also insisted that the parliamentary committees ensure that all information about their meetings, proceedings, initiatives and recommendations be easily accessible to all citizens of Pakistan. In addition, CPDI-Pakistan demands that the secretariats of the National Assembly and Senate recognize the importance of citizens' right to information and ensure that all parliamentary records are easily and promptly accessible. CPDI-Pakistan emphasizes that parliamentary secretariats must be the last places and institutions to be operating in an environment of secrecy.

Go to: www.cpdi-pakistan.org/07jan.htm

U.S. State Department Updates Website on Anti-Corruption
As part of its "Democracy Dialogues" initiative, the U.S. Department of State has introduced a new feature on its Web site regarding anti-corruption. The Web site materials include a background essay, key documents (both U.S. and international), discussion questions, bibliographies, and links to a number of practical manuals produced by USAID, Transparency International, the Impact Alliance and other organizations that are designed to equip civil society actors to address anti-corruption more effectively. In addition to English, the materials are available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Persian, Russian, and Spanish. In conjunction with this new feature, over the next two months the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) will be sponsoring a series of public Web chats addressing issues relating to anti-corruption, including chats on the international legal framework for fighting corruption and the actual or prospective role of NGOs and the media (among other actors) in addressing this problem. Active participation in the Web chats is welcomed.

Go to: www.democracy.gov

Global Integrity Releases Investigative Report on Corruption in the World

Global Integrity, an international nonprofit organization that tracks governance and corruption trends around the world, recently released an investigative report on corruption. The report reveals that despite widespread public support for higher ethical standards in government, the laws and practices designed to combat corruption and prevent abuses of power in various countries continue to be inconsistent and too often are ineffectual. The 43-country study is the product of several months of on-the-ground reporting and data gathering by a team of 200 in-country journalists and researchers. Among the key findings are that weaknesses associated with political financing – the nexus between money and power – are the number one anti-corruption challenge facing both developing and wealthy nations. In addition, Global Integrity's research reveals that poor legislative accountability is consistently a problem across nations and runs the risk of hindering prospects for enacting long-term anti-corruption reforms.

Go to: www.globalintegrity.org/journalists/pr011007.pdf

 

World Movement Participating Networks, Organizations and Individuals Mentioned in this Issue

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders' Network - www.yorku.ca/crs/AHRDP/
The Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan (WADAN) - www.wadan.org
Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) - http://csidonline.org
Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia (ARDA) - www.asiademocracy.org
Al Urdun Al Jadid Research Center (UJRC) - www.ujrc-jordan.org
Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) - www.cipe.org
Women's Learning Partnership (WLP) - www.learningpartnership.org
IFES - www.ifes.org
Amman Center for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS) - www.achrs.org
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) - www.fhri.or.ug
People in Need - www.clovekvtisni.cz/
Solidarity Center - www.solidaritycenter.org
Polish-Czech-Slovak Solidarity Foundation - www.spczs.engo.pl/
Rights & Democracy - www.ichrdd.ca
Center for Democratic Institutions (CDI) - www.cdi.anu.edu.au
International IDEA - www.idea.int
Humanitarian Law Center - www.hlc.org.yu/
Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, Pakistan (CPDI-Pakistan) - www.cpdi-pakistan.org/publications.htm
Transparency International - www.transparency.org

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