April 2010

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April 2010 

Contents

Special Announcement
 
Democracy Alerts/Appeals
 
Announcements & Events
 
Defending Civil Society
 
Conflict Resolution & Transitional Justice
 
Elections
 
Gender Issues & Sexual Minority Rights
 
Good Governance, Transparency, & Anti-Corruption
 
Human Rights, Equality, & Access to Justice
 
Legislative Development & Assistance
 
Media, Freedom of Expression, & Communication Technology
 
Young People’s Political & Civic Participation
 
 
Special Announcement
 
World Movement for Democracy to Meet in Jakarta 11-14 April: Hundreds of Democracy Activists will Honor Courageous Movements
The Sixth Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy, to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia, 11-14 April, 2010. More than 600 democracy activists, practitioners, scholars, and others engaged in building democracy from some 110 countries will discuss ways to work both across and within cultures to advance democracy around the world. The Assembly will also focus on the World Movement’s Defending Civil Society and Solidarity Across Cultures: Working Together for Democracy is the theme of the Sixth Assembly Assessing Democracy Assistance projects; will continue discussions on “making democracy work,” begun at the Fifth Assembly held in Kyiv, Ukraine, in 2008; and will address significant challenges to democracy work—in such areas as anti-corruption, free expression, youth engagement, independent media, human rights, local governance, elections, political party development, women’s political participation, and ethnic and religious inclusion, among others—through a wide range of practical workshops. of the
 
The highlight of each Assembly is the presentation of the World Movement’s Democracy Courage Tributes: the Movement for Human Rights in Syria, the Student Movement in Venezuela, the Women’s Movement in Iran, and the Human Rights Defenders in the North Caucasus.    at the concluding John B. Hurford Memorial Dinner, which will be held at this Assembly on Wednesday evening, 14 April. Tribute recipients will include four groups that have taken extraordinary risks to promote and protect democratic principles
 
Mr. Bambang Harymurti, member (Indonesia) of the World Movement Steering Committee and managing director of PT TEMPO INTI MEDIA Tbk, and a Host Country CSO Consortium , convened by Ms. Abdi Suryaningati (Yappika: Indonesia Civil Society Alliance for Democracy) and Mr. Rafendi Djamin (Human Rights Working Group), are serving as local partners.
 
Democracy Alerts/Appeals
 
CIVICUS Condemns Detention of Malawian Civil Society Activists 
CIVICUS has condemned the arrest of three members of the Malawian civil society organization Eye for Development. Edward Chileka, Howard Jimu, and Awoneji Chimera were arrested for incitement of violence after a press conference in which they criticized recent statements of President Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika. CIVICUS has found no evidence to suggest any incitement of violence against members of the ruling party as alleged by the authorities and calls upon the Malawian Government to uphold constitutional and legal commitments to the people of Malawi by guaranteeing space to exercise democratic dissent.
 
 
 
Announcements & Events
 
Call for Nominations: 2010 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award 
Nominations for the 2010 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award are now open to the public. The Award is presented annually by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy to one individual or organization that has made significant contributions to the advancement of democracy and human rights in Asia through peaceful means. The Award consists of a US$100,000 grant to support the ongoing work of the laureate. The nomination deadline is June 30, 2010.
 
 
One World Film Festival Held in Brussels 
The One World Brussels film festival will be held on April 12-19. The festivalwill offer a chance to see the 18 best documentary films from this year’s One World festivalin Prague. The films portray the political and social unrest in Iran, the growing concern over impunity in current-day Russia, the challenges and chaos of China, the reality of life under Burma’s brutal dictatorship, the complex issues around migration across the globe, and the ongoing debate about how to improve development work.
 
 
Women’s Learning Partnership Announces Winners of Youth Essay Contest 
On March 5, 2010, the Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) announced the winners of the Youth Essay Contest “We Can Change…” in New York City during “2020 Vision: Mobilizing for Women's Rights and Eliminating Violence against Women” and as part of the 54th annual Commission on the Status of Women.  The contest, which asked global youth to discuss the future of women’s rights in their countries, was a great success with nearly 100 entries from 33 countries.  Finalists in two age groups (14-18 and 18-25) came from Lebanon, Indonesia, India, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, South Africa, Malaysia, Uganda, Israel, and Nepal.  The finalists’ essays are available on WLP’s blog.
 
 
Women's Learning Partnership Releases "Leading to Choices" in Indonesian 
The Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) will release the newly published Indonesian Edition of “Leading to Choices: A Leadership Training Handbook for Women” this April as it participates in the World Movement for Democracy’s Sixth Assembly in Jakarta.  The “Leading to Choices” manual, already available in 19 languages, is used to train diverse groups of women and girls in the practice of inclusive, participatory, and horizontal leadership. The goal is to empower women to take on leadership roles in their families, communities, and societies.  “Leading to Choices” has been used in interactive training workshops with thousands of participants in more than 45 countries in the Global South, including women activists, academics, domestic workers, factory workers, NGO leaders, politicians, refugees, students, and indigenous women. 
 
 
 
Defending Civil Society
 
Studies Published on Legal Environments for Civil Society in Middle East/North Africa 
Partnership Document has published four studies in Arabic on the legal environments affecting civil society in Bahrain, Lebanon, Egypt, and Morocco. The Partnership Document is a charter that aims to improve the legal and political environment for civil society organizations. Its guiding principles were accepted by Arab governments during the Berlin Preparatory Meeting of 2007, but they have not yet been implemented. The organization is now analyzing existing laws and practices regulating the work of civil society in a selection of Arab countries and compares these laws to the principles stated in the Partnership Document.
 
 
 
Conflict Resolution & Transitional Justice
 
Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information Conference and Weekly Radio Show Now Online 
The Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) has uploaded a video onto YouTube detailing the organization’s recent peace education workshop and conference. The organization also runs a weekly radio show in Hebrew. The latest installment focused on Jerusalem with discussions on why Israel has decided to build neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and whether an Israeli-Palestinian agreement can be reached there.
 
For the conference video, visit: www.youtube.com/sleeplessingaza#p/u/3/8Vtc5RF5Z7I
 
To learn more about the radio show, go to: www.allforpeace.org/readarticle.aspx?articleid=7121&lang=3
 
‘Transitional Justice in the Arab Region’ Web Site Launched 
The Al Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center recently launched its new Web site “Transitional Justice in the Arab Region.” The Web site was created to assist Arab countries still suffering from civil wars, massive human rights violations, and other difficulties with democracy transition. The recent paper “Transitional Justice and Reconciliation in the Arab Region” is also available as a resource on the Web site.
 
 
 
Elections
 
ACE Electoral Knowledge Network Launches Quiz on Electoral Systems
In March, the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network launched a quiz with various questions related to the workings of electoral systems. Individuals can take the eight-question quiz online and test their knowledge of electoral systems.
 
 
Shams’ Iraqi Parliamentary Elections Preliminary Report Issued
The Shams network monitored the March 7 Iraqi Parliamentary Elections for opening, voting, counting, and verification. They generally found the voting process and organization to be reputable, but cited a few problems, such as campaign posters within 100 meters of the voting centers, unofficial identification (such as photocopied ID cards) being accepted, and a counting process that was highly dependent on individual Station Managers. The most pressing problem observed was the absence of a significant number of individuals from the voter rolls.
 
 
Burma Upcoming Elections Analyzed
The Burma Lawyers’ Council has produced a comprehensive analysis of the upcoming 2010 election by scrutinizing the political will of the regime, highlighting historical experiences of elections in Burma with reference to relevant constitutions, and exploring election standards that should be applied in Burma. The analysis responds to the misconceptions of the international community regarding the 2008 Constitution and 2010 election and analyzes the probability of free and fair elections under current political conditions in Burma. The Council also proposes concrete steps to provide for the peaceful democratization of Burma on the basis of rule of law and human rights.
 
 
Burma’s Movement for Democracy and Ethnic Rights Denounces 2010 ElectionsIn response to the military regime’s new election laws, Burma’s movement for democracy and rights of ethnic nationalities has launched a global campaign condemning the upcoming elections as shutting the door to any prospects for genuine democracy and national reconciliation. The Burma regime has banned prisoners from joining political parties and running in the elections, thereby excluding the country’s most important democratic leaders from the elections. The Global Campaign on Burma’s 2010 Military Elections calls on the international community to denounce these elections and refuse to recognize the results.
 
 
 
Gender Issues & Sexual Minority Rights
 
100th International Women’s Day Celebrated Widely throughout Asia
In early March, International Women’s Day was honored throughout Asia by several organizations. On March 5, Asia-Pacific Women, Law and Development (APWLD)  welcomed ASEAN’s new human rights regulations and invited ASEAN countries to commit to an open and transparent selection process for the representatives of the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children  . On March 8, the International Buddhist Information Bureau (IBIB) issued a statement in which UBCV leader Thich Quang Do called on three prominent women to lead a joint initiative for human rights and democracy in Vietnam. In Manila, women members of the Free Burma Coalition-Philippines (FBCP) joined 3,000 others calling for the release of women political prisoners in Burma and an end to SPDC's systematic attacks against the women of Burma.
 
For information on APWLD, go to: www.apwld.org/women_celebrate_asean.html
 
For information on IBIB, visit: www.queme.net/eng/news_detail.php?numb=1294
 
 
 
‘Direction of the Women’s Rights Movement’ Roundtable Discussion Held in Bangladesh
In early March, Odhikar, UBINIG, and Narigrantha Prabartana jointly organized a three-day program on women’s struggles to celebrate International Women’s Day.  More than 100 women activists working in different parts of the country attended the meeting and discussed the constraints and achievements of their work in the society. The activists reported that acid violence, rape, dowry, domestic violence, forced marriage, and unequal wages are common in Bangladesh.  They encouraged awareness-building in the society, making law enforcement agencies accountable, and strengthening the judiciary as the key ways to create positive changes for women.
 
 
QuotaProject: Gender Quota Database Analyzes Women’s Participation
The QuotaProject, a joint project of International IDEA and Stockholm University, was recently updated online. The QuotaProject looks at women’s participation and representation in decision making bodies at the executive and legislative levels. The Database provides information on the various types of quotas in existence today, detailing the percentages and targets in countries where they are applicable. This Database is intended as a working research tool.
 
 
 
Good Governance, Transparency, & Anti-Corruption
 
Joint Statement of Cambodian Civil Society Organizations Criticizing New Anti-Corruption Law
On March 10, the Cambodian National Assembly debated a draft of a new anti-corruption law. Before the debate, a coalition of Cambodian civil society organizations criticized the draft of the law, citing that some of the principles and comments that the organizations had suggested for the law were not included. They feared that without these inclusions, the Anti-Corruption Body would not work properly or effectively.  Unfortunately, their concerns were ignored.  On March 11, the organizations issued a joint statement to the Royal Government of Cambodia to consider ten further recommendations to amend the anti-corruption law.
 
 
CIPE Afghanistan Conducts Roundtable on Illegal Payments and Extortion 
In March, CIPE Afghanistan and the National Center for Policy Research at Kabul University conducted a policy roundtable this week on “Illegal Payments and Extortion: Combating Corruption in Afghanistan.”  Forty-five participants attended the event including members of the National Assembly, academics, government officials, business leaders, members of civil society organizations, and representatives from international non-governmental organizations. The roundtable concluded by putting forth strong recommendations about how to address illegal payments and extortion and combat corruption in Afghanistan.
 
 
 
Human Rights, Equality, & Access to Justice
 
Vaclav Havel Declares Support for Iranian Student Movement Activists
Two imprisoned activists and representatives of Iran’s student movement, Abdollah Momeni and Majid Tavakoli, are this year's recipients of the Homo Homini Award, which is awarded annually by the Czech NGO People in Need ‘in recognition of a dedication to the promotion of human rights, democracy, and nonviolent solutions to political conflicts.’ Former President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel declared his support to the awarded students, and criticized the Iranian government for imprisoning and executing participants of peaceful protests.
 
 
Son of Imprisoned Syrian Human Rights Defender Calls on UN Human Rights Council
Iyas Maleh, son of the prominent Syrian human rights defender Haitham Maleh, recently addressed the Human Rights Council, urging all United Nations human rights experts and member states of the Council to take stronger action to address the increasing attacks on human rights defenders throughout the Middle East. Haitham Maleh has been imprisoned and subject to inhumane conditions in Syria since October 2009 for speaking out about human rights violations by his government.  
 
 
East and Horn of African Human Rights Defenders Project Calls for an End to Attacks on Human Rights Defenders in Ethiopia
The East and Horn of African Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) called on the Ethiopian delegation present at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 19 to end attacks on human rights defenders and to significantly amend new legislation that restricts the work of defenders.  One of the pieces of legislation criticized is the poorly defined Anti-Terrorism Proclamation that has resulted in innocent journalists being charged with anti-state actions.
 
 
 
Legislative Development & Assistance
 
CIPE Releases French Version of the Legislative Advisory Services Reform Toolkit
The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) has released the French version of the Legislative Advisory Services Reform Toolkit. This resource equips private sector organizations with tools and mechanisms to design and implement an effective legislative advisory service. The toolkit also helps legislators make informed decisions and educates the public about economic measures being considered by its government. This is part of CIPE’s program to provide French-speaking reformers in the Maghreb region and beyond access to resources that link economic and democratic reform, and help them take part in national economic policymaking.
 
 
 
Media, Freedom of Expression, & Communication Technology
 
Journalists Oppose Draft Bill in Uganda
On March 15, the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) and the African Regional Organization of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) issued a statement strongly criticizing the Press and Journalists Bill in Uganda on the grounds that it is unsound and constitutes a major stumbling block to press freedom and democratic standards in the country. Under the bill, which is currently before the cabinet, newspapers will be required to renew their licenses annually and will also be barred from publishing “material that is detrimental to national security, stability and unity or any matters injurious to Uganda’s relations with its neighbors and friends as well as news that amounts to economic sabotage.” FAJ is calling for the bill to be suspended and for the government to allow a dialogue with journalists and media houses.
 
 
Center for International Media Assistance Releases Two New Publications
The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) is undertaking a series of new publications under the title “Media Visionaries: Conversations With Key Players.This will be an occasional series of feature articles profiling people who are making a difference in the field of international media development. The inaugural piece, “Reinventing the Media Investor,”is about Sasa Vucinic, managing director of the Media Development Loan Fund.
 
CIMA has also released the report “Shifting Sands: The Impact of Satellite TV on Media in the Arab World,” by Deborah Horan.  The report discusses how media in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are freer than they were a decade ago due to the proliferation of satellite television news channels. However, most governments in the MENA region have managed to retain a tight grip on media, whether through the arbitrary application of restrictive and vague press laws or limits on media production.  This report also examines the positive effects satellite coverage has had on the media environment and the reasons why the region still lacks overall media freedom.
 
 
New Media Resource: Civil Society Gateway
The Civil Society Gateway is a free online civil society communication resource for journalists and the media. It is designed to help the media quickly and easily find sources for their stories within civil society on a variety of themes. Civil society organizations’ profiles within the database are searchable by both thematic and regional focus, and include the details of the media contact within the organization. This database aims to facilitate access to smaller, Southern, national, and local NGOs in an effort to provide the media with on-the-ground sources.
 
 
African Regional Conference on the Right of Access to Information Held
The African Regional Findings and Plan of Action for the Advancement of the Right of Access to Information was recently released.  It was issued at the close of the African Regional Conference on the Right of Access to Information, which was held on February 7-9 in Accra, Ghana, and chaired by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.  The African regional plan provides a blueprint for the regional and international community, states, and non-state actors to establish, develop, and nurture the right of access to information and calls on them to commit to the plan in furtherance of their common objective. 
 
 
 
Young People’s Political & Civic Participation
 
E-Democracy.org Launches Participation 3.0 for Online Civic Engagement
With the support of the Ford Foundation, E-Democracy.org is recruiting people interested in furthering local online civic engagement with Participation 3.0.  It will focus on transparency, participation, collaboration, and problem-solving. While the project is currently focused on the United States, input from around the world is encouraged, so as to connect people everywhere with the best ideas and opportunities for local online civic engagement. Currently, Participation 3.0 funds four civic engagement initiatives.
 
 
New Tactics Dialogue: Engaging Youth in Non-Violent Alternatives to Militarism
On April 21-27, New Tactics will host a dialogue focusing on engaging youth in non-violent alternatives to militarism. In response to governments targeting youth for military recruitment to service, human rights organizations have developed innovative ways of introducing youth to non-violent alternatives to military service and combating the culture of militarism. This tactical dialogue provides a space for those working with and interested in engaging youth in non-violent alternatives to militarism to share their stories, challenges, resources, and ideas.
 
 
9th Global Conference on National Youth Service
The International Association for National Youth Service is holding their 9th global conference on October 25-28 in Egypt. This is an opportunity for professionals in the field of youth development to come together to share information and current developments in the field with other policymakers, practitioners, and researchers; nurture connections for developing future projects; and discuss the potential for scaling up national youth service for greater impact on community and youth development. Registration for the conference begins in April.
 
 
Third Session of the Youth Parliament Pakistan
The Youth Parliament Pakistan will be holding its third session on March 31 - April 5, and will discuss issues pertaining to the water crisis, inflation, poverty, and unemployment. Guest speakers during the conference will include Shams ul Mulk, Former Chairman of the WAPDA and Former Caretaker Chief Minister of the NWFP who will discuss the water crisis, and Dr. Ashfaque H. Khan, Dean of NUST Business School and Former Special Secretary Finance who will share his perspectives on inflation, poverty, and unemployment.
 
 
 
World Movement Participants Mentioned in This Issue