DOHA: Under the patronage of Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani and with the participation of over 250 organisations, the largest international conference themed “National, Regional and International Mechanisms to Combat Impunity and Ensure Accountability under international law” will begin today at the Ritz-Carlton Doha.
The two-day conference is being organised by the Qatar National Human Rights Committee (QNHRC) in partnership with the European Parliament, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).
The conference will feature rich discussions in four main sessions and three working groups, and total of more than 20 research papers will be presented aiming at developing practical proposals. The conference will be an important platform for deliberations on the assessment and development of national and regional mechanisms to ensure combating impunity under international law.
The opening session of the conference will be addressed by Dr. Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri, Chairman of the QNHRC; Antonio Benziri, Chairman of the European Parliament Human Rights Committee; Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Carlos Alfonso Negret Muskira, President of the GANHRI and Catherine Marchi-Ohel, President of the International and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes Committed in Syria.
Over 250 representatives of governmental and non-governmental organisations, as well as the heads and experts of international commissions of inquiry, senior OHCHR staff, representatives of the United Nations contractual and non-contractual committees, experts and judges of specialized international tribunals and the International Criminal Court experts and lawyers who have filed cases before national courts operating in universal jurisdiction will attend the conference.
In addition, some specialised international agencies, regional human rights mechanisms, chairpersons of the European Parliament, national human rights institutions, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, research centers and think tanks in Europe and other relevant bodies and organizations as well as regional networks of national institutions will participate in the conference.
This is a big participation of a large number of journalists unions from the four continents and a number of representatives of Arab universities.
The working papers will be presented by important and competent figures on the issue of impunity, accountability and trial by experts, courts and international organizations, including the President of the African Court of Human and Peoples Rights and the International Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for Sierra Leone, as well as officials from the International Coalition of the International Criminal Court and parliamentarians; chairman of the committee of inquiry in Myanmar, the head of the UN Commission of Inquiry in Syria, judges of the International Criminal Court, heads of major international organisations, ministers of human rights and justice of some Arab countries, senior officials of the United Nations and the European Parliament, Commission on Human Rights in the European Parliament.
The opening session will be followed by three important sessions, moderated by officials and experts from international and international organizations. The first session of the Conference deals with the issue of “accountability for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law discussing two fundamental areas: investigation, prosecution, and the right of victims to redress, in accordance with the fundamental principles and guidelines of international law.”
The session will be chaired by Mohammed Ali Al Nosor, Director of the Middle East and North Africa division of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Office in Geneva, and Rapporteur Anna Katolo, OHCHR, Geneva.
The speakers at this session include Brenda J. Hollis, Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone; Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Chairman of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syrian; Mona Rishmawi, Chief of the Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch, OHCHR; and Nicole Amelin, Vice-Chairperson of the CEDAW Committee, UN.
The second session of the Conference will discuss “Protecting and promoting human rights in the fight against impunity” under three main theme: “The right to know, the right to justice, the right to compensation and guarantees of non-repetition”.
The session will be chaired by Ore Sylvain, President of African Court on Human and Peoples Rights and Rapporteur of the meeting will be Yasmin Abu Mansour, OHCHR. Marzuki Darusman, Chair of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar; Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Center for Responsibility to Protect; Ahmed Chawki Benyoub, the ministerial representative responsible for human rights in Morocco, and François Membrez, lawyer and international expert, Geneva will participate in the session.
The second day of the Conference will consist three simultaneous working group sessions on “Good practices, lessons learned and concrete proposals to combat impunity”.
The first working group will examines the issue of “Access to Justice: Basic Principles and Guidelines”, and will be chaired by Nikolo Vieja Tlemanca, Secretary-General of “No Peace Without Justice” in Italy and Rapporteur, Michael Wiener of the OHCHR.
Presenters include Catherine Marchi-Uhel, Head of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for the most serious crimes under International Law committed in the Syrian and Kimberly Prost, Judge at the International Criminal Court, UN, Hague, Dijwaida Siachi, President of the Rohingya Support Group in the United States of America.
The second working group will discusses the issue redressing and is chaired by Karen Smith, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Responsibility to Protect, and Rapporteur, Anna Katolo, OHCHR. Speakers will include Ben Keith, lawyer and Heidi Djekstal, a lawyer specializing in international criminal law and human rights, both of them from UK.
Working Group III will discuss access to information on violations and compensation mechanisms, chaired by Fausto Pocar, President of the Institute of International of Humanitarian Law, and Rapporteur, Yasmin Abu Mansour, OHCHR.
The speakers include Michel Fathi, Vice President of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law and Ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; and Amal Nassar, Permanent Representative of the International Criminal Court, International Federation for Human Rights.
The Conference will conclude with remarks in a session chaired by Dr Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri, Chairman of NHRC, Vice-President and Secretary-General of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.
The conference is expected to produce important recommendations that will make a leap in the development and effectiveness of these mechanisms, especially in light of the field experiences of the participating organizations and their impact on mobilizing international public opinion.
More than 50 leading media outlets in world capitals such as Washington, Paris, Geneva, Brussels, Madrid and Berlin, including 20 of the worlds leading opinion writers, will attend the conference testify to the importance of the issue of “preventing impunity” as one of the issues that occupy world public opinion for the development and evaluation of the effectiveness of the international, regional and national system to combat impunity in cases of gross violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law at the level of mechanisms, organs and legislation.
“In Limbo” – Poor identification of Missing Leaves Bereaved Families of Mediterranean Migrants
Berlin – A new briefing from IOMs Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) shows that thousands..
Berlin – A new briefing from IOMs Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) shows that thousands of people lost in the Central Mediterranean crossing have not been identified.
IOMs Missing Migrants Project database has recorded over 15,000 fatalities in the Central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Italy since 2014. Yet remains of fewer than 5,000 of those who lost in the dangerous sea crossing – fewer than 1 in 3 – have been recorded as recovered.
Moreover, even among those bodies that have been found, net identification rates in Italy and Malta range around 22 per cent between 1990 and 2013.
By comparison, the Pima County (Arizona) Office of the Medical Examiner – one of the best practices identified in the report – identified 62 per cent of all migrant bodies found between the years 1981 and 2018 in the desert north of Mexico.
This new IOM report points to both the lack of outreach by the Italian authorities and to the absence of a visible and centralized entity to provide support, feedback and transparency for families reporting missing persons as two reasons behind the poor identification rates.
Among the few successful identifications of migrant bodies, well over half of those rendered in Italy are not done forensically. Rather, authorities rely on “visual” identification, usually by families viewing a corpse or examining photographs of the remains. This technique is prone to producing false identifications, while limiting identification to cases in which family members are available to be near sites of shipwrecks in Italy.
For three high-profile shipwrecks, the Italian Special Commissioner for Missing Persons has mobilized a high-quality forensic operation. Even in these limited cases, where comprehensive forensic data have been collected from migrant bodies, few identifications have been made.
Despite a dedicated state-of-the-art forensic operation for the 3 October 2013 shipwreck, in which at least 366 people lost their lives, net scientific identification rates remain at only 8.5 per cent. When surviving family members provided ante-mortem data samples, identification was far more successful: 58.5 per cent of these cases were identified.
The crisis of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean has prompted media attention on the shocking reality of shipwrecks and the bodies they produce, but relatively little focus on the impacts on the families of the dead who are awaiting news of their loved ones. These families are also the victims of the humanitarian disaster ongoing in the Central Mediterranean.
“Thousands of families of missing migrants remain in limbo,” said Frank Laczko, Director of IOMs Global Migration Data Analysis Centre. “They face the disappearance of a loved one that may never be acknowledged or confirmed.”
For more information, please contact Julia Black at IOMs Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email: [email protected]
Awareness Campaign Seeks to Protect Venezuelan Migrants from Trafficking and Smuggling Networks
Bogotá – #TuVidaCambia (Your Life Changes) awareness raising campaign has been launched in Colombia ..
Bogotá – #TuVidaCambia (Your Life Changes) awareness raising campaign has been launched in Colombia to protect Venezuelan migrants and refugees from falling prey to trafficking and smuggling networks. This is a common danger Venezuelans face as they migrate through Colombia, as they seek places to settle, or while in transit to other South American destinations, including like Chile, Ecuador and Perú.
Implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with financial support from the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), this new campaign is based on a song–#TuVidaCambia—which is, itself, an adaptation of a Venezuelan folk song, Sentir Zuliano*.
The song easily transmits prevention messages during the long and exhausting journeys of refugees and migrants crossing the country who are at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking given their significant levels of vulnerability.
Ana Eugenia Durán Salvatierra, IOM Chief of Mission in Colombia explained: “The new version of the song is performed by the band Vos y yo, formed by Venezuelan migrants residing in Colombia.”
She added: “The adapted lyric and other components of the campaign, including live presentations and printed and digital materials with prevention messages, support our goal to provide relevant information to raise awareness among refugees and migrants on the dangers of being deceived and compelled to work under forced labour conditions, becoming victims of sexual exploitation or mendicity, among other forms of trafficking in persons crimes.”
Vos y yo, the band that recorded the track, also travelled between Cúcuta, Colombia, the city on the border with Venezuela, and Bogotá, performing before over 1,000 people in some 20 live shows last week.
Venezuelan refugees and migrants received additional messages to prevent them from falling into human trafficking networks. This crime violates human rights and pursues economic or other benefits by exploiting people, both in and outside Colombia.
As of June 2019, over four million Venezuelans have left their country, with neighboring Colombia thus far their main destination, according to the Coordination Platform for Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants (R4V). As reported by the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by 30th April 2019 nearly 1.3 million Venezuelans remain in Colombia.
Ministry of Interior data reveal that between 2013 and 2018, there were 422 cases registered as victims of trafficking in persons in Colombia. Women accounted for 84 per cent of victims and sexual exploitation was the most frequent modality (60%), followed by forced labour (25%). Out of such cases, 58 per cent of the victims were 18 to 30 years of age.
Since the mid 1990s, IOM together with its global partners has provided protection and assistance to nearly 100,000 men, women and children victims of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual and labour exploitation, slavery and other similar practices, such as domestic servitude or organ removal.
Campaign messages may be disseminated and replicated among refugee and migrant communities, with the hashtag #TuVidaCambia.
- Norberto Pirela and Joseito Rodríguez composed the original song Sentir Zuliano.
Deputy Humanitarian Chief concludes visit to countries affected by Cyclone Idai calling for support
(Lilongwe, 12 June 2019): At the end of a week-long mission to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi to se..
(Lilongwe, 12 June 2019): At the end of a week-long mission to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi to see first-hand the humanitarian response to Tropical Cyclone Idai, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ursula Mueller called on the world to support the three countries to address the challenges, risks and impacts of extreme weather events and climate change on the most vulnerable. The Cyclone Idai weather system hit the region three months ago, leaving a path of destruction and more than three million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
“While the impact of Cyclone Idai was different in the three countries, this disaster gives us a clear picture of how the effects of climate change are increasing the humanitarian needs of people who are already extremely vulnerable,” said Ms Mueller. “The climate crisis is hurting most those who have done the least to create it.”
In Mozambique, which was affected by two consecutive cyclones, Idai and Kenneth, the deputy humanitarian chief visited Beira, the port city which took the brunt of Idai, and travelled to Dondo, where she met with people who have been resettled after they lost everything. “I am inspired by the incredible resilience of the Mozambican people, who are already rebuilding their lives,” she said. “However, I am deeply concerned for the months ahead, as food insecurity is expected to rise due to the extensive damage to crops and livelihoods. We must ensure that no one is left behind, and that displaced people are resettled in a way that is safe, dignified, voluntary, informed and durable.”
Ms Mueller welcomed the initial outpouring of support and solidarity with Mozambique, but urged the international community to do more. The Humanitarian Response Plan for Mozambique, that calls for US$440 million including the response to Cyclone Idai and Kenneth and the drought in the south, is only 34 per cent funded.
In Zimbabwe, the deputy humanitarian chief visited Chimanimani, one of the locations hardest-hit by Idai, which was already facing a food insecurity crisis before the weather system arrived. “I talked to people who were displaced, most of them women. They told me of how they were already struggling before the storm and, while they are striving to recover, they need support to be more resilient and to improve their lives”, she said.
Ms Mueller stressed during her meetings with the government, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa and various ministers, the critical importance of preventing a further deterioration in the situation, as the humanitarian needs across Zimbabwe escalate as a consequence of the pre-existing drought and economic situation. The Zimbabwe Flash Appeal—which covers the drought, economic crisis and Cyclone Idai— is just over 26 per cent funded, with $75 million received out of $294 million required.
In Malawi, the last country visited during the mission, the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator visited Chikwawa District, which was impacted by the massive floods caused by the Cyclone Idai weather system in early March. “With the response transitioning from relief to recovery, and a good harvest expected, it is critical that the Government and development partners take this opportunity to tackle the longer-term challenges which cause recurrent humanitarian crises in Malawi. It is also critical to invest in resilience, both of the communities and the national systems,” she said.
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