September

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September 2007

Contents

Democracy Alerts/Appeals
Dr. Chee Soon Juan of Singapore Loses Appeal, Returns to Prison
Female Politician Murdered with Her Grandson in India
African Human Rights Network Calls for the Release of Ethiopian Activists
More than 100 Activists and Protestors Arrested in Burma
Student Protestors in Bangladesh Violently Suppressed
Harassment of Russian Human Rights Activist Continues

Announcements and Events
Institute of International Education Accepting Applications for Scholar Rescue Fund Fellowships
Call for Papers: Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law 2008 Human Rights Award

Civil Military Relations
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Releases Report on Zimbabwe Republic Police

Civil Society Strengthening
Egyptian Organizations Launch Initiative to Resist Restrictive Amendments to NGO Laws
CIVICUS Seeks Partner Organizations for Implementation of Civil Society Index

Conflict Resolution and Transitional Justice
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Holds Workshop on Justice in Sudan
European University Center for Peace Studies Accepting Applications for Spring 2008
Public International Law & Policy Group Releases Report on Sudan

Economic Reform and the Business Sector
Center for International Private Enterprise Publishes New Handbooks for Business Associations and Political Parties

Elections
Amman Center for Human Rights Studies Reports on Municipal Elections in Jordan
The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy Releases Publication on Electoral Systems

Gender Issues and Sexual Minority Rights
Report on African Democracy Forum's Conference on Women's Political Participation
UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Meets with Iranian Women Activists
Women's Learning Partnership to Conduct Arabic Online Course on Participatory Leadership
Center for Asia Pacific Women in Politics to Hold Eighth Training Course on Gender, Governance, and Leadership
Young Women's Leadership Institute Calls for Nominations for New Publication

Good Governance, Transparency and Anti-Corruption
AfriMAP Releases Reports on Ghana and Mauritius for African Peer Review Mechanism

Human Rights, Equality and Access to Justice
FORUM-ASIA to Hold Annual Human Rights and Diplomacy Training
New Tactics in Human Rights Launches New Community Based Web Site

Legislative Development and Assistance
Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency Launches Legislative Brief and Releases Citizens' Report

Media, Freedom of Expression and Communication Technology
Radio Host in Uganda Suspended for Broadcasting Debate on Homosexuality
Oxford Internet Institute Welcomes Applications for Civil Society Practitioners Programme
Gozaar Releases Issue on Media Freedom in Iran

Role of International Institutions
The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy Contributes to Policy Debate on Role of Parties in Fragile States

Tolerance and Religious Freedom
Monk in Vietnam Prohibited from Aiding Victims of Injustice

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

 

Democracy Alerts/Appeals

Dr. Chee Soon Juan of Singapore Loses Appeal, Returns to Prison
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) reports that on September 4, Singapore's High Court dismissed Dr. Chee Soon Juan's appeal of a lower court conviction of attempting to leave Singapore as a bankrupt citizen and upheld his three-week prison sentence. Dr. Chee, an SDP leader and chairman of the Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia (ARDA), was attempting to attend the World Movement's Fourth Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 1, 2006, when his passport was confiscated and he was subsequently charged. On February 26, 2007, he was found guilty of attempting to leave Singapore without permission. In October 2006, the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy issued a statement condemning the actions of the Singapore Government in the case. The Steering Committee called upon the Singapore Government to drop all charges against him, to return his confiscated passport, to restore his right to travel freely abroad, and to permit him to exercise his democratic rights both within and outside the country of Singapore.

The SDP also reports that on August 18, Singapore's High Court declared Ms. Chee Siok Chin, Dr. Chee's sister, and herself a senior member of the SDP and of ARDA, bankrupt together with two other party supporters after they failed to pay about US $15,700 in legal costs. Under the city-state's law, Ms. Chee will now be unable to run for Parliament due to her bankruptcy, putting the SDP's future at risk. She incurred the legal costs after she challenged a move by police to disperse a peaceful protest calling for greater transparency in state institutions. Chee Soon Juan was himself declared bankrupt in February 2006 after failing to make libel payments of US $328,937 to former Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong. Activists and critics such as human rights group Amnesty International claim Singapore's leaders have used such defamation lawsuits to cripple opposition politicians.

To read more about Chee Soon Juan, go to: www.singaporedemocrat.org/articlecheeWMDistanbul18.html

To read more about Chee Siok Chin, go to: www.singaporedemocrat.org/articlecscbankruptcy2.html

To read previous alerts about Chee Soon Juan, go to: www.wmd.org/democracyalerts/cheeSoonJuan.html

Female Politician Murdered with Her Grandson in India
On August 13, the Steering Committee for the World Movement for Democracy sent a letter to President Shrimati Pratibha Patil of India condemning the recent brutal murders of Ms. Dhoolla Ratnam, a Panchayat member of Srungavruksham village of East Godavari district in the State of Andhra Pradesh, and her eight-year-old grandson, Veerababu. On July 15, one year following Ms. Dhoolla Ratnam's election to the Panchayat, her house was set on fire while she, her grandson, and her visitor, Ms. Taupati Achyamma, were asleep in bed. Ms. Ratnam and her grandson died in the fire; Ms. Achyamma escaped with her life, but remains bed-ridden due to the severity of her injuries. According to Dr. George Mathew, director of the Institute of Social Sciences (New Delhi) and World Movement Steering Committee member, Ms. Ratnam's immolation was the culmination of over a year's worth of harassment and threats by those who oppose women's participation in formal democratic bodies. When Ms. Ratnam, a member of the Yadava caste, first filed her nomination for the Panchayat she met opposition from the landlord class, and one of their spokesmen offered her money to withdraw her nomination, which she rightfully declined. Once elected a member of the Panchayat, she challenged the corrupt practices she witnessed several times. As a result, on one occasion her two heaps of harvested paddies were set on fire, and on other occasions her life was verbally threatened; now she has lost it, along with her grandson.

To see the letter from the Steering Committee, go to: www.wmd.org/documents/Sept07DemNews2.pdf

African Human Rights Network Calls for the Release of Ethiopian Activists
The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net) reports that on August 23, three executive committee members of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) were arrested along with 12 other individuals in Nekemte town, Eastern Wellega Zone in the Oromia Region. The arrested individuals have yet to be produced in court. EHAHRD-Net also reports that police searched the offices of the EHRCO on suspicion that the organization was hiding arms and papers calling for violence. EHAHRD-Net urges concerned individuals to write to the Ethiopian authorities requesting that the arrested human rights defenders receive a fair hearing or be released immediately. Appeals should be sent to representatives of the Ethiopian government in your home country as well as to the individuals listed below.

Prime Minister
His Excellency Meles Zenawi
Office of the Prime Minister
PO Box 1031
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251 11 1552020
E-mail: national.parliament@telecom.net.et , national.parliament@ethionet.et
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mr Seyoum Mesfin
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PO Box 393
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251 11 551 43 00
Email: mfa.addis@telecom.net.et
Salutation: Dear Minister

Minister of Justice
Mr Assefa Kesito
Ministry of Justice
PO Box 1370
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251 11 5517775 / 5520874
Email: ministry-justice@telecom.net.et
Salutation: Dear Minister

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

More than 100 Activists and Protestors Arrested in Burma
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), more than 100 human rights activists and peaceful protestors were arrested in Burma since August 19. Moreover, during the demonstrations, which took place from August 19 to August 25, the authorities brutally attacked demonstrators and media personnel both verbally and physically. Protests began after the military government, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), suddenly increased fuel prices by up to 250 percent, resulting in huge increases in the prices of basic commodities. On August 22, state-run newspapers accused the protestors of agitating to undermine Burma's stability and security. The regime claimed the human rights leaders were attempting to organize terrorist acts in order to disrupt its National Convention, a constitution-drafting process that is widely expected to enshrine military rule in Burma. The authorities have also been conducting searches of the homes of prominent activists, confiscating "illegal items" such as computers and mobile phones. The AAPP calls for the SPDC and Chairman Senior General Than Shwe to abide by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights by treating all detainees humanely and by releasing them immediately.

Go to: www.aappb.org/release90.html

Student Protestors in Bangladesh Violently Suppressed
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) reports that on August 20 and 21, army personnel violently suppressed student protests at Dhaka University and other educational institutions. Students were protesting against a number of alleged assaults on students by soldiers in Dhaka during a recent football match. Reports indicate the protestors were calling for the withdrawal of military and police camps from all educational institutions, an apology from the army chief for the assaults, punishment of the security forces involved in the assaults, proper medical care for the injured, and the lifting of the nationwide state of emergency. There are also reports that security officers arrested a number of teachers and professors from Dhaka University without making public their whereabouts or the nature of the charges against them. FIDH is urging the authorities in Bangladesh to put an end to all acts of retaliation against legitimate and peaceful protesters. They also call on the government to ensure that the rights of those arrested will be observed.

Go to: www.wmd.org/documents/Sept07DemNews5.pdf

Harassment of Russian Human Rights Activist Continues
ARTICLE 19 reports that on August 17 the Nizhni Novgorod District Court approved a motion by the Regional Department of the Implementation of Criminal Sentences to increase the sentence handed down against Stanislav Dmitrievsky of the Russian Chechen Friendship Society in February 2006. He was then sentenced to a two-year suspended prison term for inciting hatred on the basis of ethnicity and religion. Mr. Dmitrievsky's conviction was based on the publication of articles written by Chechen separatist leaders in 2004, which were non-violent and merely called for the peaceful resolution to the conflict. The recent court decision has made the terms of Mr. Dmitrievsky's original sentence, which means that now if in the course of his four-year probation, he commits only two administrative offences in the same year, his suspended sentence can be replaced by a two-year prison sentence. ARTICLE 19 considers Mr. Dmitrievsky's February 2006 conviction to be a violation of the internationally protected right of freedom of expression and also claims that there have also been serious procedural irregularities in this case, calling the fairness of the trial into question, as the defendant was given a mere two days to prepare for the hearing. ARTICLE 19 is calling upon the Russian authorities to reverse the decision on the motion to toughen the sentence against Mr. Dmitrievsky; amend the extremism legislation; and take measures to create conditions for media pluralism in Russia.

To read the statement by ARTICLE 19, go to: www.article19.org/pdfs/press/russia-harassment-hr-activist.pdf

To read a previous alert on the Russian Chechen Friendship Society, go to: www.wmd.org/democracyalerts/jan2407.html

 

Announcements and Events

Institute of International Education Accepting Applications for Scholar Rescue Fund Fellowships
The Institute of International Education (IIE) is now accepting applications for its Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) fellowships for the upcoming academic year. SRF fellowships are intended for established scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. These fellowships permit professors, researchers, and other senior academics to find temporary refuge at universities and colleges anywhere in the world, enabling them to pursue their academic work and to continue to share their knowledge with students, colleagues, and the community at large. Professors, established researchers and other senior academics from any country, field or discipline may qualify. Preference is given to scholars with a Ph.D. or other highest degree in their field; who have extensive teaching or research experience at a university, college, or other institution of higher learning; who demonstrate superior academic accomplishment or promise; and whose selection is likely to benefit the academic community in the home and/or host country or region. Applications from female scholars and under-represented groups are strongly encouraged. Applications are accepted at any time. Emergency applications receive urgent consideration. The next deadline for applications is October 1. Deadlines for winter and summer sessions are January 15 and April 1, respectively.

Go to: www.iie.org/programs/srf/apply.htm

Call for Papers: Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law 2008 Human Rights Award
The Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law has announced that the topic of its 2008 Human Rights Award will be "International Human Rights Law and the Protection of the Environment." The Human Rights Award is an annual competition sponsored by the Academy that seeks to stimulate the production of scholarly work in international human rights law. The Academy will grant two awards: one for the best article in English and one for the best article in Spanish. The panel deciding the award will be comprised of professionals with a recognized expertise in international human rights law. The best articles will be eligible to be published in the American University International Law Review. Rules and restrictions are available online. The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2008.

Go to: www.wcl.american.edu/hracademy/2008/hraward.cfm

 

Civil Military Relations

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Releases Report on Zimbabwe Republic Police
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum launched a report entitled "At Best a Falsehood, at Worst a Lie," which comments on the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) report, "Opposition Forces in Zimbabwe: a Trail of Violence." The Forum report illustrates that claims made by the ZRP, that opposition parties and civic organizations are grouped together for the purposes of violently overthrowing the government of President Robert Mugabe, are not only internally contradictory, inherently implausible, and manifestly false in many instances, but are easily overwhelmed by evidence to the contrary contained in numerous press statements, photographs, newspaper reports, and other reports that followed the events of March 11, when several civic leaders were brutally assaulted while in police custody. Furthermore, the Forum notes that the ZRP is responsible for perpetrating gross human rights violations during arrests and detentions. The Forum concludes that the ZRP's politicization, intolerance of democratic opposition, and violent suppression of opposition parties remains evident.

To read the report, go to: http://www.hrforumzim.com/frames/inside_frame_special.htm

To read previous alerts on the violence in Zimbabwe, go to: http://www.wmd.org/democracyalerts/zimbabwe07.html

 

Civil Society Strengthening

Egyptian Organizations Launch Initiative to Resist Restrictive Amendments to NGO Laws
The Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA) along with 42 other NGOs has launched the initiative "Be with us: It is our right to associate," which aims to resist expected amendments to Egypt's already restrictive NGO laws. According to APHRA, the Egyptian Government intends to modify Law 84, which was passed in 2002 and gave the Ministry of Social Solidarity ultimate control over NGOs. In modifying the law, the government intends to limit civil society, nongovernmental work through amendments such as prohibiting registration of NGOs focused on similar work in one geographical area. APHRA claims that the expected amendments to the NGO law explicitly conflict with all relevant international conventions. To date, no NGOs have been consulted in formulating these amendments.

Go to: www.wmd.org/documents/Sept07DemNews10.pdf

CIVICUS Seeks Partner Organizations for Implementation of Civil Society Index
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation welcomes applications to implement the Civil Society Index in Guinea, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Botswana in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme. The CIVICUS Civil Society Index is a participatory needs assessment and action planning tool for civil society around the world, with the aim of creating a knowledge base and momentum for civil society strengthening initiatives. It is initiated and implemented by, and for, civil society organizations at the country level. It also actively involves and disseminates its findings to a broad range of stakeholders including government, donors, academics, and the public at large. The deadline for applications is September 18.

Go to: www.civicus.org/new/media/Call-forApplications-CSI-Partnerorganisations.doc

 

Conflict Resolution and Transitional Justice

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Holds Workshop on Justice in Sudan
On August 8-13, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) held a workshop on the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and justice issues in Sudan. The workshop was held to raise awareness regarding the mandate and role of the ICC in Sudan. The trainees were Sudanese lawyers and activists in civil society organizations. The trainers were experts from the Office of the Prosecutor General of the ICC, and the Justice and Conciliation Center in The Hague, as well as specialists from Sudan and some other Arab countries. The agenda covered many themes: the scope and specialization of the ICC and the role it plays in protecting human rights; the concept of national sovereignty in the light of the application of international law, the ICC, and bilateral agreements; immunity and how it affects the functioning of the ICC; the ICC and the Sudanese Judiciary; the situation in Darfur; access to justice; and the supplementary role of ICC.

Go to: www.cihrs.org/left_details_en.aspx?left_id=1

European University Center for Peace Studies Accepting Applications for Spring 2008
The European University Center for Peace Studies (EPU) is currently accepting applications to join a select group of 50 students from around the world in an intensive course in peace and conflict studies during spring 2008. The EPU program is designed to provide students with the intellectual competence to analyze conflicts and their underlying causes. All courses will be taught in English by leading specialists in their field from around the world. Students from any discipline involved in peace and conflict resolution, young diplomats, government officials, NGO members, teachers, journalists, lawyers, and anyone interested in solving conflicts by peaceful means are welcome to apply. A first university degree (bachelors or equivalent) is required, and preferably some professional experience. The deadline for applications is September 15.

Go to: www.aspr.ac.at/epu/index.html

Public International Law & Policy Group Releases Report on Sudan
The Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) has released a report, "Governance without Government," regarding the Abyei region of Sudan. The report is intended for the Sudan Peace Support Project (SPSP) concerning the implementation of Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with specific reference to the Protocol on the Resolution of the Abyei Conflict (Abyei Protocol). Using a combination of research methods to analyze data from the local area, the researcher found that the lack of implementation of the CPA in the Abyei area is a threat to the national peace between North and South and that Abyei is a flashpoint from where renewal or outbreak of hostilities might potentially spread to other areas. The report provides recommendations to the SPSP for engagement with the Government of National Unity, Government of Southern Sudan, National Congress Party, Sudan People's Liberation Movement and the international community to bring about conditions that would lead to the implementation of the CPA, with specific reference to the Protocol on the Resolution of the Abyei Conflict.

Go to: www.wmd.org/documents/Sept07DemNews14.pdf

 

Economic Reform and the Business Sector

Center for International Private Enterprise Publishes Associations and Political Parties
The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) has published a new edition of its advocacy guidebook for business associations, HOW TO ADVOCATE EFFECTIVELY, as well as a new guidebook for political parties, MAKING YOUR ECONOMY WORK. The first handbook, HOW TO ADVOCATE EFFECTIVELY, introduces the concept of advocacy and provides a framework for participating in public policy, focusing specifically on developing countries. It details the positive impact of advocacy on the democratic and economic development of a country and provides detailed recommendations on designing and implementing an advocacy campaign. Although the guidebook focuses on business associations, the advocacy tools described in the document can be easily utilized by any civil society organization seeking better engagement in public policy reform. The second handbook, MAKING YOUR ECONOMY WORK, outlines the importance of economic platforms and offers a step-by-step process for political parties working with business associations and chambers of commerce to develop such platforms. The process outlined in the handbook is not limited to working with the private sector; it can be used to engage civil society and political parties to develop any other platform.

For more information on HOW TO ADVOCATE EFFECTIVELY, go to: www.cipe.org/publications/papers/pdf/advocacyhandbook.pdf

For more information on MAKING YOUR ECONOMY WORK, go to: www.cipe.org/programs/demgov/pdf/pphandbook.pdf

 

Elections

Amman Center for Human Rights Studies Reports on Municipal Elections in Jordan
On July 31, municipal elections were held in Jordan, but the Amman Center for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS) and other such organizations were not permitted to monitor them. ACHRS claims in its report that by forbidding election monitoring, the committee supervising the elections denied the electoral process a greater amount of fairness and transparency and the guarantee of respect for the law. ACHRS also notes that the committee supervising the elections was formed from personnel of the Ministry of Municipalities and the Ministry of Interior, thus having weakened the chances of having a neutral or independent committee serving for guaranteeing the fairness of the electoral process. Election day itself was a day of tension and turmoil. Fire was exchanged in several areas with escalating objections against having military personnel, who publicly announced that they were voting for specific candidates, participate in the elections. The report by ACHRS concludes that the elections were marred by several shortcomings and offers several recommendations for remedying them. The report is available in English and Arabic.

Go to: www.achrs.org/english/CenterNewsView.asp?CNID=334

The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy Releases Publication on Electoral Systems
The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) has released a publication titled, "Engineering Electoral Systems: Possibilities and Pitfalls." The publication provides an introduction to the different electoral systems that exist around the world, some brief case studies of recent electoral system reforms, and some practical tips to those political parties involved in development or reform of electoral systems. NIMD asserts that the choice of electoral system is one of the most important decisions that any political party can be involved in. Supporting or choosing an inappropriate system may not only affect the level of representation a party achieves, but may threaten its very existence. This publication aims to indicate which factors need to be considered in determining an appropriate electoral system.

To request a free copy of this publication, write to: info@nimd.org

 

Gender Issues and Sexual Minority Rights

Report on African Democracy Forum's Conference on Women's Political Participation
The African Democracy Forum (ADF), the World Movement's network in Africa, has released a report on a conference it held on Women's Political Participation in Monrovia, Liberia, on April 23-25, 2007. The conference brought together approximately 40 participants from Democratic Republic of Congo, the Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, and South Africa. The objective was to facilitate discussions among civil society representatives and practitioners on formulating innovative ways to promote and consolidate women's political participation to achieve greater social justice and political stability in Africa. The discussions at the meeting focused on assisting women's participation in electoral processes; preparing women to run for public office; and supporting women's professional life. Discussions were mainly organized as participatory round-table workshops facilitated by ADF members. Participants shared their experiences and knowledge regarding the use of national, regional, and international instruments to bolster democratic practice and foster partnerships among governments, civil society, and the media. The workshops provided participants with opportunities to analyze issues and challenges and to develop practical strategies for NGOs.

Go to: www.africandemocracyforum.org/files/adf_liberia_conference_final_report.doc

UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Meets with Iranian Women Activists
The Women's Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP) reports that on September 2-3, Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, met with women and human rights defenders in Iran in an effort to investigate increased pressures on these sectors. The meeting with women human rights defenders followed a July letter by Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi to Ms. Arbour requesting that a delegation visit Iran to investigate the status of women's rights defenders. Iranian women's rights defenders have come under increased pressure as they have stepped up efforts to reform laws that discriminate against women. Activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign, a peaceful and civil effort to collect signatures asking the Parliament to reform laws which discriminate against women, have faced consistent pressure in the past year since the launch of the Campaign. In all, 13 members of the Campaign have been arrested for their activities in this peaceful effort. In meeting with Ms. Arbour, the women's rights activists sought to highlight some of the pressures they have faced in recent years due to their increased activism on behalf of women's rights. They hope that the meeting will impress upon the Iranian government that the activities of women's rights defenders are indeed peaceful and not intended to undermine national security.

Go to: www.learningpartnership.org/advocacy/alerts/iranmillionsigns0207

Women's Learning Partnership to Conduct Arabic Online Course on Participatory Leadership
On September 3, 25 women and men from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine began participating in an online distance learning course designed by the Women's Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP) with the input of the Collective for Research and Training for Development-Action to develop inclusive and participatory leadership skills, encourage dialogue on rights, and facilitate cooperation for gender-equitable change initiatives. The online course will focus on five themes, including participatory leadership, personal leadership skills, developing a shared vision, communicating persuasively, and mobilizing resources. Over a ten-week period, participants will complete reading and writing assignments and participate in online discussions and group activities. WLP has conducted four online courses in three languages (Arabic, English, and Persian). Participants include women whose ability to attend face-to-face workshops is constrained by security considerations, socio-cultural factors, or long distances.

Go to: www.learningpartnership.org/programs/ICT

Center for Asia Pacific Women in Politics to Hold Eighth Training Course on Gender, Governance, and Leadership
The Center for Asia Pacific Women in Politics (CAPWIP) will hold its eighth training course on gender, governance, and leadership, entitled "Making Governance Gender Responsive" on November 12-19, 2007 in Manila, Philippines. The course is designed for parliamentarians, middle- and senior-level government executives and officials; women and men in local governments; political parties; research and training institutes; civil society organizations; and NGOs that are participating in governance reform initiatives in their respective countries. The intent of the course is to enhance the participants' understanding of the link between gender and governance as well as to increase their awareness of gender biases in governance. Application materials are available online and should be submitted no later than October 26.

Go to: www.capwip.org/training/mggr.htm

Young Women's Leadership Institute Calls for Nominations for New Publication
The Young Women's Leadership Institute (YWLI), an organization based in Kenya, is soliciting nominations of outstanding and exemplary women from different corners of Africa for an upcoming publication, INVISIBLE GIANTS OF AFRICA. The Invisible Giants project is an effort to celebrate African diversity. It recognizes women as a great but untapped resource of Africa. The book will inspire change through lessons learned by highlighting successful practices that have worked. Women leaders in Africa are deeply motivated to move their communities forward economically, politically, spiritually and socially. YWLI hopes that the book will recognize the critical role that African women have played and must continue to play in moving the continent forward to achieve greater welfare and more stable governments and economies. The project welcomes submissions about anything that extraordinary women are engaged in - big or little - that are empowering communities. Submissions should include the woman's name; detailed description of their social change involvement, work, or volunteer affiliations; country of origin or residence; contact information; and a photo if available.

Send submissions to: invisiblegiants@gmail.com

 

Good Governance, Transparency and Anti-Corruption

AfriMAP Releases Reports on Ghana and Mauritius for African Peer Review Mechanism
The Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP) has released reports on Ghana and Mauritius for the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). A unique and innovative approach designed and implemented by Africans for Africa, the APRM is an instrument voluntarily acceded to by the Member States of the African Union (AU) as an African self-monitoring mechanism. Regarding Ghana, two detailed reports were produced on the functioning of the justice sector and the rule of law, as well as on the state of democracy and political participation. The reports are intended to complement the APRM review of Ghana and to provide detailed and constructive recommendations for the reforms needed to consolidate Ghana's democratic progress. The report on Mauritius focuses on the country's re-entry into the APRM process.

For the reports on Ghana, go to: www.afrimap.org/english/images/report/AfriMAP_APRM_Ghana_EN.pdf

For the report on Mauritius, go to: www.afrimap.org/english/images/report/AfriMAP_APRM_Mauritius_EN.pdf

 

Human Rights, Equality and Access to Justice

FORUM-ASIA to Hold Annual Human Rights and Diplomacy Training
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a regional human rights organization with 40 member-organizations in 15 countries in Asia, will hold its 17th Annual Human Rights and Diplomacy Training for Human Rights Defenders on October 29 - November 16, 2007, in Wellington, New Zealand. The course will include sessions on the effect of globalization on human rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; civil and political rights; human rights based approach to development; strategic advocacy; media and video skills; Internet research and advocacy; an introduction to human rights fact-finding and investigation; corporate accountability and human rights; and the environment and human rights. The training is intended for people from Asia/Pacific countries who work in nongovernmental and community based organizations committed to promoting human rights. Applications are available online.

Also, on August 6-9, FORUM-ASIA held its Second South Asia Human Rights Forum outside Columbo, Sri Lanka. The forum was intended to address emerging challenges and issues facing human rights defenders and organizations in South Asia. This year's forum was organized under the theme "Combating Impunity for the Promotion of Rule of Law in South Asia," addressing the issue in the context of transitional justice and armed conflicts in South Asia. Implementation of the action agenda and tactics that were adopted during previous forums were discussed.

For more information on the 17th Annual Human Rights and Diplomacy Training, go to: www.forum-asia.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=385&Itemid=42

For more information on the Second South Asia Human Rights Forum, go to: www.forum-asia.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=913&Itemid=132

New Tactics in Human Rights Launches New Community Based Web Site
New Tactics in Human Rights is launching a new community based Web site to encourage dialogue among human rights activists. The new Web site will include community member blogs and monthly featured tactical discussions. Membership in the Web site is free and open to anyone interested in sharing ideas related to human rights and collaborating with others. Members will be able to work privately, within the community, or seek interaction with a broader audience. Public users of the New Tactics Web site will still be able to access all of the New Tactics resources and tools, as well as read posted discussions, but will not have access to the benefits of posting comments or reading items intended only for community members. Public users will also not have access to the membership directory. Membership will open on September 18.

Go to: www.newtactics.org/main.php/WebsiteAnnouncement#site

 

Legislative Development and Assistance

Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency Launches Legislative Brief and Releases Citizens' Report
The Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) has launched its first Legislative Brief, part of its effort to help legislators better understand the background, significance, and impact of proposed legislation. The Legislative Briefs series, the first of its kind in Pakistan, has been launched under a broader PILDAT program of People-Parliament Connect to engage citizens with their lawmakers. The key aim of the Legislative Briefs series is to facilitate informed participation among citizens in parliamentary processes, specifically lawmaking. Each Legislative Brief presents an overview of legislation in the Parliament at a given time and will not only inform citizens and civic groups about key components of a specific bill, but will also encourage citizens to communicate their views on the legislation. The Legislative Briefs will be issued in both English and Urdu, and PILDAT plans to issue about 24 briefs each parliamentary year. PILDAT has also released its Citizens' Report on the performance of the 12th National Assembly of Pakistan during the past four years. The report reveals that the National Assembly passed only 42 laws with an average of about ten per year, compared to 73 Presidential Ordinances issued during the same period. PILDAT considers the dominating role of legislating by presidential decree detrimental to the sovereignty of the Parliament and to democracy in general.

For more information on PILDAT's Legislative Briefs, go to: www.pildat.org/Publications/Publication/pildat/PILDAT_Legislative_Brief_Transplantation_of_Human_Organs.pdf

For more information on PILDAT's Citizens' Report, go to: www.pildat.org/Publications/Publication/pildat/PILDAT_Citizens_Report_on_NA_Performance.pdf

 

Media, Freedom of Expression and Communication Technology

Radio Host in Uganda Suspended for Broadcasting Debate on Homosexuality
The International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) reports that on August 28, the Uganda Broadcasting Council (UBC) suspended a popular Capital FM radio presenter, Gaetano Kaggwa, for hosting gay activists who used what UBC considers foul language on air. On August 22, Kaggwa hosted a gay activist and a lesbian activist on his show, which also included two individuals who oppose homosexuality. The UBC met on August 28 with a representative of the station to discuss the broadcast in question, but the representative was then asked to leave the meeting and was instructed to keep Kaggwa off the air until the matter was resolved. The Ugandan Constitution criminalizes homosexuality and prohibits same-sex marriage, and Ugandans are not accustomed to debating matters of homosexuality freely. When the "Daily Monitor" newspaper published a lead story on August 11 containing the number of gay organization and registered followers in the country, the recent debate emerged on the matter. IFEX believes that the UBC is barring Kaggwa from broadcasting to silence debate on the topic, which is gaining notice ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting slated for Kampala in November.

Go to: www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/85917

Oxford Internet Institute Welcomes Applications for Civil Society Practitioners Programme
The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) at Oxford University is accepting applications from the global south to fill two places in its Civil Society Practitioners Programme. This visitor program is intended for civil society practitioners of distinction or outstanding promise who wish to visit the Institute for a period of six weeks between February and December 2008 to undertake research concerning the social impact of the Internet and related information and communication technology. The Civil Society Practitioners Programme is intended to serve as a model for similar initiatives of universities and civil society, fostering an exchange of ideas and collaboration between Internet researchers in university-based settings, such as the OII, and Internet policy advocates active within civil society in the global south. The deadline for applications is September 26.

Go to: www.oii.ox.ac.uk/people/CSPP_Application_Information.pdf

Gozaar Releases Issue on Media Freedom in Iran
Gozaar, an online journal on democracy and human rights in Iran, has released its 13th issue, marking its first anniversary of supporting Iranians in their struggle for a transparent, accountable government and celebrating diverse perspectives on human rights and democracy. The latest issue examines Iran's complex media climate where freedom of expression has ebbed and flowed from the pre-Revolution days, when any dissent was met with brutal repression, to Khatami's attempts to deliver such freedoms, to today's repressive environment where last month a new government office was formed to confront publications critical of the regime. The current issue features an article by scholar Majid Mohammadi, who demonstrates how skirmishes in the political environment are reflected in shifts in the press landscape. Student activist Ali Afshari traces the path of student publications and their role in amplifying the political message of students. Karin Karlekar and Eleanor Marchant, editors of Freedom House's annual Freedom of the Press survey, report on the trends in press freedom across the globe. Journalist Mohammad Tahavori examines the importance of the press as an instrument of political power.

Go to: www.gozaar.org/index.php

To access Gozaar in Iran, go to: www.parisa2.org or www.niaz9.org

 

Role of International Institutions

The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy Contributes to Policy Debate on Role of Parties in Fragile States
The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) has provided input into the European Union's (EU) policy on fragile states. The European Commission is currently working on the definition of an EU strategic response to situations of fragility. To enrich the policy-making process, the European Commission has asked NGOs, individual experts, and donors to participate in the debate on this important topic. NIMD's input reflects some of the main assumptions and guidelines that have recently been defined in its Political Party Assistance in Post-Conflict Societies Strategy, which will be published in November 2007. The public consultation which began in July, will be followed by a debate at an informal meeting of EU Ministers for Development Cooperation on September 21 and a formal debate in the General Affairs and External Relations Council on November 19-20, 2007.

Go to: www.nimd.org/default.aspx?menuid=14&type=newsitem&contentid=420&special

 

Tolerance and Religious Freedom

Monk in Vietnam Prohibited from Aiding Victims of Injustice
Que Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam reports that on August 23, Venerable Thich Khong Tanh, Commissioner for Social and Humanitarian Affairs of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), was released from custody in Hanoi and forcibly escorted to Ho Chi Minh City by Security Police. He was held for interrogations throughout the day and prohibited from carrying out a UBCV humanitarian mission to bring relief aid to peasants and farmers demonstrating in Hanoi against State confiscation of their lands and official corruption. As reported by the International Buddhist Information Bureau (IBIB), Thich Khong Tanh was arrested outside the government Complaints Office on August 23 as he began distributing aid to the demonstrators. Thich Khong Tanh arrived with a UBCV delegation in Hanoi on August 21 with approximately US $19,000 raised by the UBCV. He had hoped to distribute the money to the dispossessed farmers and peasants. Thich Khong Tanh's trip was the first in a series of planned initiatives to distribute funds donated by Vietnamese around the world to a "Relief Fund for Victims of Injustice" set up by the UBCV.

Go to: www.queme.net/eng/news_detail.php?numb=835

 

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

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