January 2011

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January 2011

Contents

Democracy Alerts/Appeals
 
Announcements & Events
 
Defending Civil Society
 
Civil Military Relations
 
Conflict Resolution & Transitional Justice
 
Constitutionalism & Institution Building
 
Elections
 
Good Governance, Transparency, & Anti-Corruption
 
Human Rights, Equality, & Access to Justice
 
Media, Freedom of Expression, & Communication Technology
 
Political Parties & Political Leadership
 
Tolerance & Religious Freedom
 

Democracy Alerts/Appeals
 
World Movement Expresses its Condolences on the Passing of Armenian Participant, Anahit Bayandur
Anahit BayandurOn January 6, 2011, Ms. Anahit Bayandur - Armenian human rights activist, Co-Chair of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Armenian Committee, and long-time World Movement participant – passed away at the age of 70 from heart complications. The World Movement expresses its sincere condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues. Anahit was a very active participant, attending the World Movement’s Third, Fourth, and Fifth Assemblies. In remembering her, fellow participant Julia Kharashvili of Georgia reminded us that Anahit’s “whole life was dedicated to others,” and spoke of her tireless efforts in establishing peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. She will be sorely missed, but the legacy of her work will no doubt make for a better world.
 
Egyptian Democratic Academy Demands Security for Citizens
On January 3, the Egyptian Democratic Academy (EDA) issued a statement calling on the Egyptian government to implement meaningful solutions to the recent violence that respect the human rights and safety of all Egyptian citizens. On New Year’s Eve, the tenth anniversary of the Al Kousheh massacre that claimed the lives of 21 Egyptians, 22 people were murdered in an explosion in front of the Church of Saints in Alexandria. The officials attributed the explosion to Al Qaeda, which thus far has not claimed responsibility for the attack. EDA asserts that the official responses to this and previous incidences of violence have been inadequate and have actually worsened the situation in Egypt. Specifically, it seems the government has attempted to provide security by arresting peaceful activists. Moreover, on January 4, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued a statement condemning the bombing of the church, claiming that serious problems of discrimination, intolerance, and other human rights violations against members of religious minorities, as well as disfavored Muslims, remain widespread in Egypt. USCIRF calls on the US Government to follow up with the Egyptian Government to ensure protection of places of worship and to ensure public safety.
 
For the EDA statement, go to: http://egyda.org/blog/tag/alexandria
For the USCIRF statement, go to: www.uscirf.gov/news-room/press-releases.html
 
Announcements & Events
 
World Movement Posts New DemocracyVoices Interviews
The World Movement has recently posted three new DemocracyVoices interviews with Steering Committee chair and Former Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honorable Kim Campbell (in photo); Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Anton Burkov (Russia); and Steering Committee member (Brazil) Jacqueline Pitanguy of Cepia. Ms. Campbell speaks about the role of politicians in the World Movement, the role of former politicians in advancing democracy, and the unique perspective women bring to politics. In his interview, Mr. Burkov talks about the European Court of Human Rights and the judicial system in Russia. Ms. Pitanguy discusses Brazil’s role in promoting democracy and women’s rights in and outside of the region, and discusses the trend of an increasing number of women leaders in Latin America.
 
 
Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy Promotes Casablanca Call for Democracy and Human Rights
The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) has signed and posted the “Casablanca Call for Democracy and Human Rights.” The signatories of the Casablanca appeal believe that the achievement of democracy and the embodiment of human rights in the Arab world is an absolute necessity and requires the broader engagement of all citizens and political and social forces. CSID observes, with great concern, the dramatic and alarming backsliding of political reforms in the Arab world due to several structural obstacles since the beginning of the new century. The signatories are appealing to all parties concerned with the future of democracy - governments, civil society institutions, political organizations, trade unions, and the media - in the belief that the achievement of real and effective reforms is the responsibility of all parties.
 
To sign the appeal in Arabic, English, or French, go to: www.csidonline.org/component/content/article/591-casablanca-call-for-democracy
 
Call for Submissions: IFES 2011 Photo Contest
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) conducts an annual democracy-themed photography competition to profile the many ways individuals demonstrate a sense of civic responsibility around the world. This year IFES encourages images of individuals taking part in the electoral process or other activities that demonstrate the values of democratic governance and citizen engagement. The contest is divided into two categories: one open to the public and another open exclusively to IFES employees. One winner and as many as 10 finalists will be named for each category. The winner of each category will receive US$600. IFES will accept submissions for the competition from January 11 to March 10, 2011.
 

Defending Civil Society
 
International Center for Not-for-profit Law Publishes Special Issue of Global Trends in NGO Law
In late November, the International Center for Not-for-profit Law (ICNL) received reports that Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras, and Iran were planning to make their NGO laws more restrictive. As a result, ICNL has now published a special issue of Global Trends in NGO Law to address developments in these countries. The restrictions proposed in the laws will create burdensome regulations for civil society groups and are evidence that the backlash against civil society is ongoing, crosscutting legal systems and political cultures. ICNL will update information online as events unfold in each of the countries.
 
Recent years have witnessed proliferating efforts by various governments to restrict the space in which civil society organizations in general, and democracy groups in particular, operate. The Defending Civil Society project, an ongoing effort by the World Movement and its partner, ICNL, aims to develop strategies and build the capacity of civil society groups working to reform restrictive legal environments.
 
To read the latest issue of Global Trends in NGO Law, go to: www.icnl.org/knowledge/globaltrends/GloTrends2-2.htm
To read more about the Defending Civil Society project, go to: www.wmd.org/projects/defending-civil-society
 
Proposed Draft Law Could Restrict Freedom of Association in Cambodia
According to the Community of Democracies Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society, on December 15, the Royal Government of Cambodia released a “First Draft” of the Cambodian Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations. As currently written, the draft law would infringe upon freedom of association, and would regulate and dramatically curtail the operations and activities of domestic and foreign NGOs in the country. In its “Defending Civil Society” report, the World Movement addresses freedom of association, and articulates six principles for protecting civil society. The first principle addresses the rights of individuals to form and participate in associations, as well as the rights of non-citizens, namely funders, to participate in associations.
 
To read more about the draft law, go to: www.wmd.org/sites/default/files/0111dn07.pdf
To read more about the Defending Civil Society project, go to: www.wmd.org/projects/defending-civil-society

Civil Military Relations
 
Latin American Security and Defense Network Releases Comparative Atlas of Defense in Latin America
In January, the Latin American Security and Defense Network (RESDAL) released a new edition of its “Comparative Atlas of Defense in Latin America and the Caribbean.” The Atlas aims to provide transparent data about troops and defense organizations in the region. In the latest edition, RESDAL included analyses of the data, and for the first time, included data on Anglophone countries in the Caribbean.
 
For the report in English and Spanish, go to: www.resdal.org.ar

Conflict Resolution & Transitional Justice
 
Training Center in Romania Offers New Courses on Peace-building
The International Peace and Development Training Center (IPDTC) in Romania will offer two new courses on peace-building this summer. The first course, “Systemic Peace-building, Conflict Transformation, and Post-War Stabilization, Recovery, and Reconciliation,” will be held on June 6-10 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The course will give a policy and operational overview of the latest lessons learned, tools, and methods in peace-building, conflict transformation, and post-war stabilization and recovery. The second course, “Designing Peace-building Programs: Improving Sustainability, Impact, and Effectiveness in Peace-building and Peace Support Operations,” will be held on June 13-17 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Participants in this course bring actual projects and engagements they are working on with their organizations or governments, and will learn and apply improved, effective skills for designing peace-building programs for maximum impact, effectiveness, and sustainability.
 
To learn more about “Systemic Peace-building, Conflict Transformation, and Post-War Stabilization, Recovery, and Reconciliation,” go to: http://patrir.ro/images/stories/PCTR2011.pdf
To learn more about “Designing Peace-building Programs: Improving Sustainability, Impact, and Effectiveness in Peace-building and Peace Support Operations,” go to: http://patrir.ro/images/stories/DPP-2011.pdf

Constitutionalism & Institution Building
 
Research Project Posts Poll Results from Macedonia
The International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) has initiated the Democracy and Tolerance Capacity Research Project in an effort to ascertain the capacity of post-transition countries for sustainable democratic development. The project consists of a series of polls, each aimed at measuring the democratic discourse, tolerance capacity, and confidence in institutions among the general population in post-transition countries in Southeast Europe and the Former Soviet Union. A poll of the Macedonian population, conducted on December 20-25, 2010, reveals a general pessimism. Most of those polled felt their lives were not better than before, that the government was not doing enough to combat corruption, and that the media was being suppressed.
 

Elections
 
Transitions Online Launches Web Site on Belarus
On the eve of the Belarusian presidential election in December, Transitions Online (TOL) based in the Czech Republic launched a new Web site, “Life under Lukashenka,” in an effort to counter general ignorance of Belarus. The Web site includes two blogs to keep visitors up-to-date on developments on the ground during and after the election. The blogs have so far highlighted the various demonstrations in Belarus and the campaigns to free those arrested during the mass arrests that occurred after the election.
 
To learn more about “Life under Lukashenka” from Transitions Online, go to: http://belarus.tol.org
To learn more about the Belarusian presidential election and the resulting protests, violence, and arrests, go to: www.wmd.org/networking/central-and-eastern-europe-eurasia/spotlight/eastern-europe
 
IFES Launches Updated Election Calendar
In January, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) announced improvements to its Web site, ElectionGuide.org, which tracks national elections and referenda globally, while also providing comprehensive, detailed information on every country’s electoral system. In addition, the site’s new digest tracks relevant democracy and governance related events, research, and reports.
 
 
ACE Electoral Knowledge Network Launches Election Observation Portal
In December, the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network launched the ACE Election Observation Portal, which provides an online forum for election observers to share reports on elections from around the world. In cooperation with other organizations endorsing the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, the pilot of the ACE Election Observation Portal was presented in October 2010 in Atlanta, USA, at the annual conference of endorsing organizations. Former US President Jimmy Carter commended the initiative at the closing of the conference.
 
 
Economic and Social Research Consortium Holds Online Debate on Electoral Processes in Latin America
As the April general elections in Peru draw closer, the Economic and Social Research Consortium (CIES) has initiated an online debate to discuss the role of research-based evidence in electoral processes across Latin America. In preparation for the Peruvian elections, CIES is also disseminating information on the ground and trying to center the electoral debate on issues rather than personalities. CIES asserts that its activities will bridge the gap between researchers and policy makers.
 
To see the debate (in Spanish), go to: site
To read more about the general elections in Peru, go to: www.cies.org.pe/proyecto/elecciones2011

Good Governance, Transparency, & Anti-Corruption
 
CIPE Releases Videos on Anti-Corruption
On December 9, in recognition of International Anti-Corruption Day, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) posted two videos online. In the first video, CIPE chairman Greg Lebedev and CIPE partners talk about the urgency of fighting corruption to protect and promote democracy. In the second video, CIPE board member Michael Hershman reflects on the role of business in fighting corruption.
 
To watch the first video, go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvcMdbC93bo
To watch the second video, go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9kYNED2Uek

Human Rights, Equality, & Access to Justice
 
Democracy Coalition Project Releases Human Rights Report Card for 2009-2010
In December, the Democracy Coalition Project (DCP) released its annual report, “Human Rights Council Report Card: Government Positions on Key Issues 2009-2010.” The report assesses the work of the UN Human Rights Council on issues debated by the body during its fourth year of work, from July 2009 to June 2010. In its first full year since the United States joined the Human Rights Council, the body has seen significant improvements in addressing gross violations of human rights in several countries; however, it has been unable to engage on new situations when the state in question has refused cooperation and genuine dialogue. The unbalanced response to serious situations indicates a need for improvement. As the Human Rights Council undergoes its five-year review, governments, NGOs, and human rights experts will have a critical opportunity to re-examine the body's effectiveness in promoting and protecting human rights. DCP hopes that this report will serve to assist governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders in taking stock of the achievements and challenges facing the international community in the promotion of universal human rights standards and democratic development.
 
 
International Council on Human Rights Policy Releases Report on Contemporary Patterns of Social Control
In January, the International Council on Human Rights Policy (ICHRP), based in Switzerland, issued a new report, “Modes and Patterns of Social Control: Implications for Human Rights Policy.” This report looks into the human rights implications of contemporary patterns of social control: how laws and policies influence and respond to people or behaviors defined as undesirable, dangerous, criminal, or socially problematic. Drawing on research across five policy areas - infectious diseases, urban spaces and the poor, policing, migration, and punishment and incarceration, as well as a case study of the Roma in Europe - the report is relevant to human rights advocates and professionals working in diverse policy areas.
 
For the report in English, go to: www.ichrp.org/en/projects/126
For the report in Spanish, go to: www.ichrp.org/es/proyectos/126
 
Human Rights Education Associates Launches e-Course on Human Rights in Europe
The Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) has launched a new online course, “Human Rights in Europe,” which will focus on asylum, minority rights, women’s rights, social rights, and torture. The course is self-paced, but generally takes 3-10 hours to complete. The course will consider the roles of the European Court of Human Rights, the Council of Europe, the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). In November, the World Movement co-organized a Parallel OSCE Conference, which was held in Kazakhstan to address how the OSCE can better address human rights issues in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Participants at the conference developed and submitted an Outcome Document with suggestions for the OSCE leadership.
 
For more about the online course, go to: www.hrea.org/index.php?&doc_id=1457
For more about the Parallel OSCE Conference (in English), go to: site
For more about the Parallel OSCE Conference (in Russian), go to:
 
Civil Society Calls for Greater Attention to Human Rights Violations in the Current Cote d’Ivoire Political Crisis
Networks and coalitions of civil society organizations in West Africa have highlighted serious human rights violations against civilians that have taken place since the December 3 announcement of the run-off presidential election results in Cote d’Ivoire, and are calling for the protection of human rights, freedom of expression and information, and responsible journalism. The groups also urge Ivorian political actors to demonstrate greater accountability in the management of current political and institutional crises and thus ensure the safety and physical integrity of civilians.
 

Media, Freedom of Expression, & Communication Technology
 
IFEX-Tunisia Monitoring Group Calls on European Union to Support Free Expression
On December 22, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange-Tunisia Monitoring Group (IFEX-TMG) issued a statement calling on the European Union (EU) to play a larger role in urging its economic partner to respect free expression, put an end to violations against journalists and independent judges, and fully respect its commitment to abide by the independence of the judiciary. In the first half of December in Tunisia, there was a series of violations of the right to access information, free expression, and free movement, as well as a blatant assault on a journalist. Specifically, on December 17, journalist Zouhair Makhlouf was violently assaulted in front of his family near his home prior to leaving to cover protests in the southern town of Sidi Bouzid.
 
Police agents have been harassing other journalists and cracking down on anyone supporting freedom of speech. According to Freedom House, on January 6, cyber activists Slim Amamou, Azyz Amami, Hamadi Kaloutcha, and rapper Hamada Ben Omar were arrested. The cyber activists have been supporting protests against President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali’s government. Rapper Hamada Ben Omar had recently released on Facebook two songs criticizing the government before his arrest.
 
For the IFEX-TMG statement in English, go to: www.ifex.org/tunisia/2010/12/22/yearend_civilliberties
For the IFEX-TMG statement in French, go to: www.ifex.org/tunisia/2010/12/22/yearend_civilliberties/fr
For the Freedom House statement, go to: www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=1308
 
“Donkey” Bloggers of Azerbaijan Post Video Thanking Supporters
In December, shortly after their release from prison, Adnan Hadji-zadeh and Emin Milli, the “Donkey” bloggers of Azerbaijan, posted a video thanking their supporters who initiated and supported actions for their freedom. In July 2009, Hadji-zadeh and Milli were arrested under charges of “hooliganism.” Both men were sentenced to 2.5 years in prison, a sentence initially upheld on appeal. Human rights organizations and governments worldwide were highly critical of the case, calling actions against the bloggers “politically motivated.” On November 18, 2010, the Court of Appeals in Baku ordered the release of Hadji-zadeh after he served half of his sentence. The next day, Milli was also released. In their video, Hadji-zadeh and Milli give special thanks to the World Movement for Democracy, in addition to several other organizations.
 
To watch the video, go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEI6ASpRWTA
 
Gambian Editor Wins Torture Case
On December 16, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court ruled that Musa Saidykhan, the former editor-in-chief of the banned Banjul-based newspaper, The Independent, was tortured by President Yahya Jammeh’s security agents while in detention in 2006. The regional court also ruled that his arrest and subsequent detention by the authorities were illegal and violated his right to personal liberty and a fair hearing as guaranteed by Articles 6 and 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. Femi Falana, lead counsel for Saidykhan, described the judgment as a victory for the rule of law in West Africa and appealed to leaders in the region to respect the rights of their citizens.
 
 
Civil Society Activists in Sierra Leone Acquitted of Criminal Libel
According to National Election Watch (NEW), a coalition of civic and nongovernmental organizations in Freetown, Sierra Leone, after a nine-month legal battle, NEW leaders Frances Fortune, Ngolo Katta, and James Lahai were acquitted on charges of criminal libel on December 17. The three civil society activists were accused of defamatory libel against a Member of Parliament during an election. The case was dropped due to lack of evidence.
 
 
CIMA Releases Report on Citizen Journalism
In December, the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) released a new report, “By the People: The Rise of Citizen Journalism,” by Eugene Meyer, a veteran journalist. Citizen journalism is seen by some as an antidote to the decline of traditional print and broadcast news media. Yet in societies that could benefit most from citizen journalism, repressive regimes are working to suppress freedom of the press, whether traditional or not. The CIMA report examines both the challenges and opportunities of citizen journalism around the world.
 

Political Parties & Political Leadership
 
“The Diplomat’s Handbook” Now Available in Arabic
“The Diplomat’s Handbook for Democracy Development Support” is a publication of the Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD) that documents and provides a rationale for how diplomats support democracy abroad. The Handbook is meant to present a wide variety of case studies documenting and explaining specific country experiences. With the assistance of the Beirut office of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Foundation for the Future based in Jordan, the Handbook is now available in Arabic.
 
To read the Handbook in Arabic, go to: http://diplomatshandbook.org/pdf/Arabic_Translation.pdf
To read the Handbook in English, go to: http://diplomatshandbook.org/pdf/Diplomats_Handbook.pdf
 
Bahrain Center for Human Rights Issues Report Evaluating the Council of Representatives
In December, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) issued a report evaluating the work of the Council of Representatives (the lower house of Bahrain’s Parliament) from 2006 through 2010 regarding human rights in the country. The report emphasizes that despite the efforts of some of its members, the Bahraini Parliament failed significantly during the 2006-2010 period to carry out the bare minimum of its legislative or monitoring role to promote human rights. The report also emphasizes that civil, economic, and social rights cannot be safeguarded without the genuine promotion of political rights.
 

Tolerance & Religious Freedom
 
European Court of Human Rights Rules in Favor of Hindu Vaishnava Community Member in Serbia
According to the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) in Serbia, on December 14, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Zivota Milanovic, a member of the Hindu Vaishnava religious community in Jagodina, Serbia, who was violently attacked five times between 2001 and 2007 because of his religious beliefs. On one particularly heinous incident, Milanovic had a cross carved into his forehead. While several criminal complaints were made, the government took no action. As stated in the ruling, the government of Serbia is in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, according to which no one shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and in violation of Article 14, according to which the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground including religion.
 
 
World Uyghur Congress Expresses Concern for 20 Uyghurs Forced to Return to China
On December 15, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) issued a statement expressing concern for 20 Uyghur asylum-seekers who were forced to leave Cambodia for China over a year ago and whose whereabouts are still unknown. WUC asserts that the Chinese government has “disappeared” these Uyghurs, despite having promised the international community that it would deal with the Uyghurs transparently upon their return. WUC calls on the Chinese authorities to disclose these Uyghurs’ whereabouts immediately and to release them unconditionally. Although the Chinese government has alleged that the Uyghurs committed criminal and violent acts, it has not produced any evidence to substantiate such allegations. WUC states that the Chinese government routinely makes unsubstantiated accusations against Uyghurs of crimes and violence and also regularly equates Uyghurs’ peaceful political dissent, as well as peaceful religious and cultural activities, with terrorism, religious extremism, and separatism.
 
 
World Movement Participants Mentioned in This Issue

 

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