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Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network

Human Rights Defenders

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1

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For the purpose of defining human rights defenders for these Guidelines operative paragraph 1 of the “UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” (see Annex I), which states: 

 “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”

The Human Right Principles


The human rights principles contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights illuminate that vision and point to the means to achieve it.

These principles affirm:

  • freedom from persecution;
  • the right to participate in society;
  • protection from harms like torture and discrimination; and
  • the goal of achieving the highest attainable standard of health for everyone.

“Where after all, do universal human rights begin?  In small places, close to home—so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world.  Yet they are the world of the individual person: the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works.  Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, and equal dignity, without discrimination.  Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

Medical Whistleblower UPR report is now able to be viewed on the UN website

 http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/session9/US/JS14_JointSubmission14.pdf

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

-  John C. Maxwell

What do Human Rights Defenders Do?

Individuals, groups and organs of society all play important parts in furthering the cause of human rights. The activities of human rights defenders include:

 

- documenting violations;

- seeking remedies for victims of such violations through the provision of legal, psychological, medical or other support; and

- combating cultures of impunity which serve to cloak systematic and repeated breaches of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Human Rights Defenders Declaration

In 1998, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. This marks the first international recognition afforded to human rights defenders, and the first overt commitment by the international community and by the states that are members of the United Nations to the defense of the rights of human rights activists. It is a document adopted by consensus and as such represents a broad based recognition of the importance to protect human rights defenders and promote their work.

 

It does not create new rights, but speaks to the applicability of existing human rights norms and standards to the specific needs of human rights defenders. While the Declaration is not in itself a legally binding instrument, it contains a series of principles and rights that are based on human rights standards enshrined in other legally binding international instruments such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).  Above and beyond its legal validity, the Declaration gives due recognition to the status of human rights defenders and reinforces the legitimacy of their work. It also lays out the basis on which human rights defenders can seek redress for the violations committed against them.

 

The position of Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders was created in 1999. Its functions include submitting an annual report to the UN Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights defenders worldwide. Reports, communications to governments and other initiatives from this office have further strengthened the discourse on human rights defenders and the responses to their needs for recognition and protection. The Declaration and the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders refer broadly to the rights and responsibilities of states and other actors with regard to the recognition and protection of human rights defenders. While the language does not focus particularly on any specific group of defenders, it allows for the broadest possible interpretation of the term. In her reports to the UN Commission of Human Rights, Hina Jilani, the Pakistani human rights advocate who is presently the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on the issue of Human Rights Defenders, has singled out the specific situation of women who are actively engaged in the defense of human rights.

Please note that in the UN documents the word States means nation states, countries not individual states in the USA - so the word States with a capital S means the USA as a nation.


"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."

– Gandhi

Who is a Defender of Human Rights?


Human Rights Defenders can be of any gender, of varying ages, from any part of the world and from all sorts of professional or other backgrounds. In particular, it is important to note that human rights defenders are not only found within non-governmental organizations, and intergovernmental organizations but might also, in some instances, be government officials, civil servants or members of the private sector.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." 

- Edmund Burke

"The concept of restorative and reparative justice is based on the premise that a crime represents a debt owed not only to the state, but to the victim, the victim’s family and to the community as a whole. In addition, the offender is to acknowledge responsibility for the harm that has been done. It is the responsibility of the community to provide a forum in which justice can occur."

Missouri Sentencing Advisory Commission exploring real alternatives to imprisonment , their report  to the Governor and General Assembly and written for the Commission’s 2005 report.

"Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind. Persecuted groups and sects from time to time throughout history have been able to criticize the oppressive practices and laws either anonymously or not at all... It is plain that anonymity has sometimes been assumed for the most constructive purposes."

Justice Hugo L. Black

Source: Tally v. California, 1960

Why Do Human Rights Defenders Need Protection?

The work of human rights defenders often involves criticism of government’s policies and actions. However, governments should not see this as a negative. The principle of allowing room for independence of mind and free debate on a government’s policies and actions is fundamental, and is a tried and tested way of establishing a better level of protection of human rights. Human rights defenders can assist governments in promoting and protecting human rights. As part of consultation processes they can play a key role in helping to draft appropriate legislation, and in helping to draw up national plans and strategies on human rights. This role too should be recognized and supported.

There is an increasing need to ensure greater protection for the victims of violations. The defenders themselves have increasingly become targets of attacks and their rights are violated in many countries. In this regard it is important to apply a gender perspective when approaching the issue of human rights defenders.

 

The institutional framework of the country in which they work can have a major impact on the ability of human rights defenders to undertake their work in safety.  Issues such as legislative, judicial, administrative or other appropriate measures, undertaken by States to protect persons  against any violence, threats retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of any of the rights referred to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders are all relevant in this regard.

 

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”

Abraham Lincoln

“Is it not the great end of religion, and, in particular, the glory of Christianity, to extinguish the malignant passions; to curb the violence, to control the appetites, and to smooth the asperities of man; to make us compassionate and kind, and forgiving one to another; to make us good husbands, good fathers, good friends; and to render us active and useful in the discharge of the relative social and civil duties?”

  William Wilberforce

Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network submission to the UPR on U.S.A. 2010.

This report to the UN Universal Periodic Review is provided by Medical Whistleblower both as an individual stakeholder and as an advocacy network, including - Whistleblowing Airline Employees Association, and the Illinois Family Court Accountability Advocates. Medical Whistleblower joins with an array of U.S.A. organizations and individuals that are concerned about U.S.A.’s failure to implement its international human rights commitments to human rights defenders. Medical Whistleblower is located in Lawrence, KS, USA and was established in 2001 to meet the advocacy needs of persons who have stepped forward to provide information about medical fraud against vulnerable populations, patient abuse and neglect, and human rights violations. Many are mandated reporters under state or US federal law.

http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/session9/US/JS14_JointSubmission14.pdf

http://www.slideshare.net/MedicalWhistleblower/j-s14-joint-submission14-medical-whistleblower

Democracy

Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow's bread.

Freedom
Is a strong seed
Planted
In a great need.

I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.

- Langston Hughes

The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders

In December 1998, after fourteen years of negotiations, the Declaration on Human Rights Defenderss adopted by the General Assembly. This Declaration protects human rights defenders around the world. Under the Declaration, a human rights defender is anyone working for the promotion and protection of human rights. This broad definition encompasses professional as well as non-professional human rights workers, volunteers, journalists, lawyers and anyone else carrying out, even on an occasional basis, a human rights activity.

The Declaration outlines specific duties of States as well as the responsibility of everyone to defend human rights. The rights protected under the Declaration include the right to develop and discuss new human rights ideas and to advocate their acceptance; the right to criticize government bodies and agencies and to make proposals to improve their functioning; the right to provide legal assistance or other advice and assistance in defense of human rights; the right to observe trials; the right to unhindered access to, and communication with, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations; and the right to access resources for the purpose of protecting human rights.

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
― Abraham Lincoln

"The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press,  freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections."

Justice Robert H. Jackson

(1892-1954), U. S. Supreme Court Justice

The UN Resolution on Human Rights Defenders April 2010

 
The USA is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. The USA joined the UN Human Rights Council in 2009.


15 April 2010 Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council*
13/13

Protection of human rights defenders
The Human Rights Council,

Recalling General Assembly resolution 53/144 of 9 December 1998, by which the Assembly adopted by consensus the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms annexed to that resolution, and reiterating the importance of the Declaration and its promotion and implementation, Recalling also the continued validity and application of all the provisions of the above-mentioned Declaration,

Recalling further all previous resolutions on this subject, in particular General Assembly resolution 64/163 of 18 December 2009 and Human Rights Council resolution 7/8 of 27 March 2008,

Stressing that the level of respect and support for human rights defenders and their work is important to the overall enjoyment of human rights,

Gravely concerned by threats, harassment, violence, including gender-based violence, and attacks faced by many human rights defenders, reflected, inter alia, in the reports of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and other human rights mechanisms,

Gravely concerned also that, in some instances, national security and counterterrorism legislation and other measures have been misused to target human rights defenders or have hindered their work and endangered their safety in a manner contrary to international law,

* The resolutions and decisions of the Human Rights Council will be contained in the report of the Council on its thirteenth session (A/HRC/13/56), chap. I.
United Nations A/HRC/RES/13/13 General Assembly Distr.: General 15 April 2010 Original: English A/HRC/RES/13/13

Recognizing the immediate need to put an end to and take concrete steps to prevent reats, harassment, violence, including gender-based violence, and attacks by States and non-State actors against all those engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all,

1. Takes note of the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders (A/HRC/13/22) on the security and protection of human rights defenders;

2. Urges States to promote a safe and enabling environment in which human
rights defenders can operate free from hindrance and insecurity;

3. Underscores that the legal framework within which human rights defenders work peacefully to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms is that of national legislation consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and international human rights law;

4. Urges States to publicly acknowledge the legitimate role of human rights defenders and the importance of their work as an essential component of ensuring their protection;

5 Encourages States to create and strengthen mechanisms for consultation and dialogue with human rights defenders, including through establishing a focal point for human rights defenders within the public administration where it does not exist, with the aim of, inter alia, identifying specific needs for protection, including those of women human rights defenders, and ensuring the participation of human rights defenders in the development and implementation of targeted protection measures;

6. Urges States to take timely and effective action to prevent and protect against attacks on and threats to persons engaged in promoting and defending human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Declaration and their relatives, when they are attacked or threatened as a result of these activities, including through the possibility of developing, in consultation with human rights defenders, an early warning system to facilitate broader awareness of imminent risks and to enable effective responses;

7. Also urges States not to discriminate against human rights defenders on any grounds, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, and to desist, in this context, from any discriminatory measures against them, including intimidation, profiling, confiscation of assets, suspension of activities and exclusion from national consultative processes;

8. Calls upon States to fully support the role of human rights defenders in  situations of armed conflict and provide them with the protection due to all civilians in such situations;

9. Welcomes the role of national human rights institutions as human rights  defenders and protectors, and encourages States to strengthen the mandate and capacity of national human rights institutions where they exist, as necessary, to enable them to fulfill this role effectively and in accordance with the Paris Principles;

10. Calls upon States to ensure both coordination within national and local levels and that those involved in the protection of human rights defenders and their relatives are trained in human rights and the protection-related needs of human rights defenders at risk, including those promoting the rights of members of marginalized groups;

11. Also calls upon States to allocate resources for the effective implementation of necessary protection measures, including specific training for persons involved in their implementation;

12. Urges States to investigate, in a prompt, effective, independent and accountable manner, complaints and allegations regarding threats or human rights violations perpetrated against human rights defenders or their relatives and to initiate, when appropriate, proceedings against the perpetrators so as to ensure that impunity for such acts is eliminated;


42nd meeting
25 March 2010
[Adopted without a vote]

Please note that in the UN documents the word "States" means nation states, countries not individual states in the USA - so the word States with a capital "S" means the USA as a nation.


"Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law." Immanuel Kant

"We must understand the role of human rights as empowering of individuals and communities. By protecting these rights, we can help prevent the many conflicts based on poverty, discrimination and exclusion (social, economic and political) that continue to plague humanity and destroy decades of development efforts. The vicious circle of human rights violations that lead to conflicts-which in turn lead to more violations-must be broken. I believe we can break it only by ensuring respect for all human rights."

—former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson

UN Resolutions Human Rights Defenders

2010

A/HRC/RES/13/13

 Human Rights Council resolution on Human Rights Defenders

2009

A/RES/64/163

 General Assembly resolution on Human Rights Defenders

2008

A/HRC/RES/7/8

Human Rights Council resolution on Human Rights Defenders

2007

A/RES/62/439

General Assembly resolution on Human Rights Defenders

2006

A/RES/60/161

General Assembly resolution on Human Rights Defenders

2005

E/CN.4/RES/2005/67

Commission on Human Rights resolution on Human Rights Defenders

2004

A/RES/59/192

General Assembly resolution on Human Rights Defenders

2004

E/CN.4/RES/2004/68

Commission on Human Rights resolution on Human Rights Defenders

2003

A/RES/58/178

General Assembly resolution on Human Rights Defenders

2003

E/CN.4/RES/2003/64

Commission on Human Rights resolution on Human Rights Defenders

2002

A/RES/57/209

General Assembly resolution on Human Rights Defenders

2002

E/CN.4/RES/2002/70

Commission on Human Rights resolution on Human Rights Defenders

2001

A/RES/56/163

General Assembly resolution on Human Rights Defenders

Informed consent is a requirement, not a courtesy

The Nuremberg Code arose as part of the trial of the United States v. Karl Brandt. Karl Brandt and others were tried at Nuremburg for crimes against humanity committed in their roles as the Nazi high command.  The case was  United States v. Karl Brandt et al., "The Medical Case, Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law No. 10" (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949)  On August 19, 1947, the judges delivered their verdict in the against Karl Brandt and several others and also expressed their opinion on medical experimentation on human beings. Dr. Leo Alexander had submitted to the Counsel for War Crimes six points defining legitimate medical research. The trial verdict adopted these points and added an extra four. The ten points constituted the "Nuremberg Code". Although the legal force of the document was not established and it was not incorporated directly into either the American or German law, the Nuremberg Code and the related  Declaration of Helsinki are the basis for the Code of Federal Regulations Title 45 Volume 46, which are the regulations issued by the United States Department of Health and Human Services governing federally-funded research in the United States.

45 CFR 46 Protection Of Human Subjects

Guidelines for Conduct of Research Involving Human Subjects at NIH (Gray Booklet) (pdf file)

The Belmont Report Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research

Nuremberg Code Directives for Human Experimentation

World Medical Association Declaration Of Helsinki

 

In the United States governmental agencies which legally participate in human experimentation, like the  Department of Health, Education and Welfare and its subsidiaries like the National Institute on Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) must have legal policies and regulations which include standard "human consent forms" to be filled out by participants to acknowledge that they are participating in human experimentation, thus keeping the United States government in compliance with the Nuremberg Code of International Law and other international

 

"Informed consent is a requirement, not a courtesy," says Yvette Pearson, a visiting professor for philosophy who teaches bioethics at Old Dominion University in Norfolk about the secret experiment. "Even if it was completely undebatable, even if we know it is perfectly safe, it's still the case that you ask people for their consent. You ask parents for consent to do things to their children."

 

"In giving rights to others which belong to them, we give rights to ourselves and to our country."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy quotes (American 35th US President (1961-63), 1917-1963)

"There can be no assumption that today’s majority is “right” and the Amish or others like them are “wrong.”  A way of life that is odd or even erratic but interferes with no right or interests of others is not to be condemned because it is different."

-- Justice Warren E. Burger

Chief Justice, U. S. Supreme Court

What Governments Must Do Protect Human Rights Defenders

- Guarantee effective exercise of freedom of expression. States should take the necessary steps to guarantee the effective exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression for all individuals and social sectors, without exception or discrimination of any kind.

 

- Security legislation should not be used to persecute defenders. States should ensure that security legislation is not applied against human rights defenders as a means to prevent their human rights work. Derogations from human rights standards and the granting of additional powers to security forces should not hinder the work of defenders or result in their being targeted (A/58/380, para. 70).

 

- Guarantee access to places and basic information. States should seek to ensure that, when implementing security legislation, they guarantee an opportunity for human rights defenders to effectively monitor its application, the relevant court proceedings and the actual physical integrity of persons targeted by such legislation. For example, in the context of the arrest and detention of a person under security legislation, defenders should, at a minimum, have regular access to the detainee and to basic information on the substance of the charges on which the detainee is held. These two conditions are the absolute minimum for defenders to monitor the most fundamental human rights involved in the application of security legislation (A/58/380, para. 74).

 

- Laws and policies should reflect the right of access to information. States should ensure that laws and policies reflect the right of defenders’ to access information and sites related to alleged violations, and that the relevant authorities are trained to give full effect to this right (E/CN.4/2006/95, para. 86). In relation to the access to information held by the State, the latter is under an obligation to take all necessary steps to fully discharge its obligations pursuant to article 22, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. States should also ensure that information held by non-State actors — and in particular private companies — that can harm the public or is linked to public interest is made available to the public (A/HRC/13/22, para. 41).

States should establish an effective and independent mechanism for this purpose.

 

- Avoid measures aimed at criminalizing freedom of expression. States should refrain from criminalizing any manifestation of the freedom of expression as a means of limiting or censoring that freedom. Accordingly, any measure of this kind should be abolished, except for the permissible and legitimate restrictions established in international human rights law.

 

- Defamation offences must be dealt with under civil law. States should decriminalize defamation and similar offences. These should be dealt with under civil law. The amount of fines to be paid as compensation should be reasonable and allow the continuation of professional activities. Governments should release immediately and unconditionally all journalists detained because of their media-related activities. Prison sentences should be excluded for offences concerning the reputation of others such as defamation and libel.

 

- Refraining from introducing new norms. Governments should also refrain from introducing new norms which will pursue the same goals as defamation laws under a different legal terminology such as disinformation and dissemination of false information. Under no circumstances should criticism of the nation, its symbols, the Government, its members or their actions be seen as an offence.

 

References:

 

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, A/HRC/14/23, para. 119, report 20 April 2010.

 

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, A/HRC/14/23, para. 120, report 20 April 2010.

 

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, A/HRC/4/27, para. 81, report 2 January 2007.

 

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, A/HRC/4/27, para. 82, report 2 January 2007.

Please note that in the UN documents the word "States" means nation states, countries not individual states in the USA - so the word States with a capital "S" means the USA as a nation.


“The Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to "create" rights. Rather, they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be preexisting.”

 William J. Brennan, Jr.

“The reward of the general is not a bigger tent, but command.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Source :Letter to Charles Bunn, 1917

"The weakest can appeal to it (conscience) in the strongest, and the appeal, though often unsuccessful, is always disturbing. However, corrupted by power or wealth we may be, either as possessors of them or as victims, there is something in us serving to remind us that this corruption is against nature.”

John Plamenatz

Human Rights Instruments

Universal Instruments

_ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966

_ International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966

_ International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1965

_ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979

_ Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment, 1984

_ Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989

_ United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime,

2000, and Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the Convention

*****

_ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

_ Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and

Abuse of Power, 1985

_ Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, 1993

 

Regional Instruments

_ African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 1981

_ American Convention on Human Rights, 1969

_ Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women, 1994

_ European Convention on Human Rights, 1950

_ European Convention on the Compensation of Victims of Violent Crimes, 1983

*****

_ Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (85) 11 to the Members States of the Council of Europe on the Position of the Victim in the Framework of Criminal Law and Procedure, 1985

UN Documents on Victim Rights

Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power

Guide for Practitioners Regarding the Implementation of the Declaration

According to paragraph 1 of the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, the term “victims”

“means persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm,  including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws operative within Member States, including those laws proscribing criminal abuse of power”.

 

This definition covers many categories of harm sustained by people as a consequence of criminal conduct, ranging from physical and psychological injury to financial or other forms of damage to their rights, irrespective of whether the injury or damage concerned was the result of positive conduct or a failure to act.

 

A person may be considered a victim “regardless of whether the perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted and regardless of the familial relationship between the perpetrator and the victim”. According to the same article:

“The term ‘victim’ also includes, where appropriate, the immediate family or dependants of the direct victims and persons who have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent victimization.”

What is the International Criminal Court?

Victim’s Rights and Needs: Requirements for a Victim’s Rights System

  • Compensation
  • Redress
  • Testimony
  • Truth
  • Acknowledgment
  • Memory
  • Reparation
  • Justice
  • Prevention (Never Again!)

JUSTICE

Obligation to Investigate

Irrespective of the terms used in international human rights treaties, States parties are duty bound to provide effective protection for the rights and freedoms recognized therein to all persons within their jurisdiction.

These legal obligations comprise the duty effectively to prevent, investigate, prosecute, punish and redress human rights violations.

Legal Redress

The legal duty under international law to provide effective human rights protection comprises the obligation to ensure that effective domestic remedies are available to victims of human rights violations.

This means that it is not sufficient for a remedy to be available under a country’s constitution or other legislation. It must exist in practice and be allowed to function freely.

To be able to provide effective remedies, the authorities concerned, including the courts and the legal professions in general, must therefore be competent, independent and impartial.

States should endeavour to develop judicial remedies for alleged violations of human rights.

In order to be effective, the exercise of a remedy must not be hindered by acts or omissions of the State concerned.

While effective remedies must exist for all violations of human rights, their prompt and unhindered exercise is particularly important in the case of grievances suffered by persons deprived of their liberty, whose life and personal health and security must be protected at all times.

To deprive a detained person of his or her right to bring complaints regarding, for example, unlawful deprivation of liberty or torture or other forms of ill-treatment amounts to placing the person concerned in a legal  vacuum where he or she has no possibility of redress. Such a situation is a manifest violation of a State’s legal obligations under international human rights law.

Effective domestic remedies must also be ensured for complaints of discrimination such as alleged racial and gender-based discrimination, including acts of violence arising either in the domestic or in the public sphere.

It is the professional responsibility of all judges, prosecutors and lawyers to ensure that claims of human rights violations are addressed effectively and with due diligence.

Tactics that Prevent Human Rights Abuses

In order to prevent human rights abuses we must recognize when people are in physical danger; when freedom of movement, the right to work or to adequate housing will be curtailed; when a group is in danger of losing its voice in society or a community is in danger of falling into poverty; or when an indigenous way of life is disappearing.

1 Physical protection tactics that prevent harm through physical presence. Sometimes the most effective way to do that is just to be there. The physical presence of others —persons who will serve as witnesses — can deter potential abusers. Observers can be available to accompany human rights activists who are threatened by the government or paramilitary organizations. If they witness abuse, observers alert authorities in the country, their own native government and activists around the world. Knowing they can expect an international response, abusers are deterred from their planned attacks. At the same time, the accompanied activists are empowered to continue and expand their work for human rights.

2 Tactics that get critical information into the hands of people who can prevent abuse. Sometimes abuse occurs because people don’t have the information they need to prevent it. Getting information into the right hands — of those who will be directly affected by the abuse or of others who can mobilize against it — can stop abuse from happening.  Knowledge is power.  some ave usedmobile phones to create a network of communication that can stop violence before it escalates.  Survivors of human rights abuse have a unique knowledge of the form abuse can take and a unique ability to recognize it. Such information can be used to prevent others from suffering the same fate. Constitutional guarantees of certain rights are often not protected by law or implemented in reality.  Providing Information and Skills Needed to Claim Rights can be empowering and enable people to use the legal system to exert their rights. Is a rapid response network needed for your struggle? If so, what type of network would be useful?

3 Tactics that anticipate abuse and create obstacles to stop it. And sometimes the best way to preserve human rights is to remove the possibility for abuse. Recognizing the pattern of abuse makes it possible to change the situation, so that abuse is far less likely to occur. There is often a pattern to human rights abuses — they occur in predictable places under predictable circumstances. Recognizing those patterns and disrupting them can be key to protecting human rights. If torture is known to be a problem in prisons, then keeping people out of prisons may prevent torture.  Remove opportunities for abuse.


Intervention Tactics to Prevent Human Rights Violations

1 Resistance tactics demonstrate opposition to abuse.
2 Disruption tactics use direct action to influence a perpetrator to end the abuse.
3 Persuasion tactics use respected leaders or non confrontational institutional mechanisms to negotiate an end to violations.
4 Incentive tactics provide alternatives to human rights abuse.

 

Example:   

In Turkey, the participation of large numbers of people in a campaign not only provided a measure of safety, but encouraged more and more people — millions, ultimately — to become involved.  The Campaign of Darkness for Light mobilized 30 million people in Turkey to flick their lights on and off as a public demonstration against government corruption. Corruption had been an open secret and yet the public felt apathetic and powerless to end it. With many citizens afraid to participate in political action, organizations needed a tactic of low personal risk that would help overcome the sense of isolation that comes with fear. The Campaign gave people an easy and no-risk action everyone could take — simply turning off their lights at the same time each evening — to show their displeasure with the lack of concerted action against corruption.

Tactics of this nature have the virtue of making the invisible visible. They should be measured by their ability to stimulate a sense of solidarity in a population and to help redefine new political space in which more citizens are willing to act together.

Example:

Training Victims as Human Rights Monitors: Training victims of human rights abuses to monitor and defend their rights.   Armed with new skills in documentation and legal defense, members of these communities are able to take their complaints to the highest levels.  Defenders are trained through monthly seminars covering the theories and concepts of human rights work as well as the practical skills needed to ensure human rights violations are documented, reported and prevented. Through this process, they learn what constitutes a rights violation and how to document it through the use of video, photography and computers. They also learn various ways to respond. Defenders present complaints to the government, give information to the press and human rights monitoring groups and seek the release or legal defense of people unjustly detained. They are able to locate detainees and present requests of habeas corpus (the right to be brought before a judge to determine if an individual was lawfully detained) when rights are in jeopardy. They know how to file a request for precautionary measures when human rights violations are imminent and who to approach to denounce violations when they occur. For cases that go before the courts or require long-term legal strategies, attorney advisers work collaboratively with the defenders. At home, defenders engage in a range of work depending on community need. They collect testimony from victims and witnesses of human rights violations, gather video and photo evidence of abuse and determine appropriate ways to intervene when a violation has occurred. They also train other community members in this work.

Seeking Redress - The Alien Tort Claims Act

The Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA)  has been used in the USA  to bring legal cases against multinational corporations complicit in human rights abuses.  Dating to 1789 and created to address and prevent piracy, the ATCA is a United States federal statute allowing foreign nationals to bring civil actions against U.S. citizens and corporations for violations of international law. While legal tactics have long been used to provide redress for human rights, the use of national laws for abuses taking place outside of a country represents a new opportunity for victims of human rights violations. This approach is also unique in its focus on abuses committed by multinational corporations.  Many foreign nationals do not have the option to bring cases in their own countries.

Who are your allies?

Can you identify “potential allies”—people who care about a particular issue but are not actively involved in it?  They may be uninvolved because they don’t see it affecting them or simply because they have never had the opportunity to do so or because society has traditionally distanced them from the issue.

"We all know that human rights cannot just be transplanted as external principles into individuals or their communities. Human rights principles must be internalized by each individual, women and men, and must be absorbed and expressed in their own ways and within the positive aspects of their cultural values and beliefs. In order for this to happen, women must believe in human rights and must believe that these rights will protect them and not expose them in a battle against the society. They do weigh the social costs of entering into conflict as opposed to the benefits coming from the status quo. Women will claim their rights if they know there is a support system that will protect them from the reaction of their own communities. This support system should certainly include some of those who hold the keys to the power structures—religious, community and traditional leaders."

—UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya A. Obaid

Annex I to Annex to the ANNEX

Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and

Fundamental Freedoms

The General Assembly,

Reaffirming the importance of the observance of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations for the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons in all countries of the world,

Reaffirming also the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights2 and the International Covenants on Human Rights as basic elements of international efforts to promote universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the importance of other human rights instruments adopted within the United Nations system, as well as those at the regional level,

Stressing that all members of the international community shall fulfil, jointly and separately, their solemn obligation to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction of any kind, including distinctions based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, and reaffirming the particular importance of achieving international cooperation to fulfil this obligation according to the Charter,

Acknowledging the important role of international cooperation for, and the valuable work of individuals, groups and associations in contributing to, the effective elimination of all violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of peoples and individuals, including in relation to mass, flagrant or systematic violations such as those resulting from apartheid, all forms of racial discrimination, colonialism, foreign domination or occupation, aggression or threats to national sovereignty, national unity or territorial integrity and from the refusal to recognize the right of peoples to self-determination and the right of every people to exercise full sovereignty over its wealth and natural resources,

Recognizing the relationship between international peace and security and the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and mindful that the absence of international peace and security does not excuse non-compliance,

Reiterating that all human rights and fundamental freedoms are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated and should be promoted and implemented in a fair and equitable manner, without prejudice to the implementation of each of those rights and freedoms,

Stressing that the prime responsibility and duty to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms lie with the State,

Recognizing the right and the responsibility of individuals, groups and associations to promote respect for and foster knowledge of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels,

 

Declares:

Article 1

Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.

Article 2

1. Each State has a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms, inter alia, by adopting such steps as may be necessary to create all conditions necessary in the social, economic, political and other fields, as well as the legal guarantees required to ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction, individually and in association with others, are able to enjoy all those rights and freedoms in practice.

2. Each State shall adopt such legislative, administrative and other steps as may be necessary to ensure that the rights and freedoms referred to in the present Declaration are effectively guaranteed.

Article 3

Domestic law consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and other international obligations of the State in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms is the juridical framework within which human rights and fundamental freedoms should be implemented and enjoyed and within which all activities referred to in the present Declaration for the promotion, protection and effective realization of those rights and freedoms should be conducted.

Article 4

Nothing in the present Declaration shall be construed as impairing or contradicting the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations or as restricting or derogating from the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,2 the International Covenants on Human Rights and other international instruments and commitments applicable in this field.

Article 5

For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels:

(a) To meet or assemble peacefully;

(b) To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;

(c) To communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations.

Article 6

Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others:

(a) To know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including having access to information as to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial or administrative systems;

(b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms;

 (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters.

Article 7

Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to develop and discuss new human rights ideas and principles and to advocate their acceptance.

Article 8

1. Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to have effective access, on a non-discriminatory basis, to participation in the government of his or her country and in the conduct of public affairs.

2. This includes, inter alia, the right, individually and in association with others, to submit to governmental bodies and agencies and organizations concerned with public affairs criticism and proposals for improving their functioning and to draw attention to any aspect of their work that may hinder or impede the promotion, protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Article 9

1. In the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the promotion and protection of human rights as referred to in the present Declaration, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to benefit from an effective remedy and to be protected in the event of the violation of those rights.

2. To this end, everyone whose rights or freedoms are allegedly violated has the right, either in person or through legally authorized representation, to complain to and have that complaint promptly reviewed in a public hearing before an independent, impartial and competent judicial or other authority established by law and to obtain from such an authority a decision, in accordance with law, providing redress, including any compensation due, where there has been a violation of that person’s rights or freedoms, as well as enforcement of the eventual decision and award, all without undue delay.

3. To the same end, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, inter alia:

(a) To complain about the policies and actions of individual officials and governmental bodies with regard to violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, by petition or other appropriate means, to competent domestic judicial, administrative or legislative authorities or any other competent authority provided for by the legal system of the State, which should render their decision on the complaint without undue delay;

(b) To attend public hearings, proceedings and trials so as to form an opinion on their compliance with national law and applicable international obligations and commitments;

(c) To offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.

4. To the same end, and in accordance with applicable international instruments and procedures, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to unhindered access to and communication with international bodies with general or special competence to receive and consider communications on matters of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

5. The State shall conduct a prompt and impartial investigation or ensure that an inquiry takes place whenever there is reasonable ground to believe that a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms has occurred in any territory under its jurisdiction.

Article 10

No one shall participate, by act or by failure to act where required, in violating human rights and fundamental freedoms and no one shall be subjected to punishment or adverse action of any kind for refusing to do so.

Article 11

Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to the lawful exercise of his or her occupation or profession. Everyone who, as a result of his or her profession, can affect the human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of others should respect those rights and freedoms and comply with relevant national and international standards of occupational and professional conduct or ethics.

Article 12

1. Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against _violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

2. The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.

3. In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Article 13

Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to solicit, receive and utilize resources for the express purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms through peaceful means, in accordance with article 3 of the present Declaration.

Article 14

1. The State has the responsibility to take legislative, judicial, administrative or other appropriate measures to promote the understanding by all persons under its jurisdiction of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

2. Such measures shall include, inter alia:

(a) The publication and widespread availability of national laws and regulations and of applicable basic international human rights instruments;

(b) Full and equal access to international documents in the field of human rights, including the periodic reports by the State to the bodies established by the international human rights treaties to which it is a party, as well as the summary records of discussions and the official reports of these bodies.

3. The State shall ensure and support, where appropriate, the creation and development of further independent national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all territory under its jurisdiction, whether they be ombudsmen, human rights commissions or any other form of national institution.

Article 15

The State has the responsibility to promote and facilitate the teaching of human rights and fundamental freedoms at all levels of education and to ensure that all those responsible for training lawyers, law enforcement officers, the personnel of the armed forces and public officials include appropriate elements of human rights teaching in their training programme.

Article 16

Individuals, non-governmental organizations and relevant institutions have an important role to play in contributing to making the public more aware of questions relating to all human rights and fundamental freedoms through activities such as education, training and research in these areas to strengthen further, inter alia, understanding, tolerance, peace and friendly relations among nations and among all racial and religious groups, bearing in mind the various backgrounds of the societies and communities in which they carry out their activities.

Article 17

In the exercise of the rights and freedoms referred to in the present Declaration, everyone, acting individually and in association with others, shall be subject only to such limitations as are in accordance with applicable international obligations and are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

Article 18

1. Everyone has duties towards and within the community, in which alone the free and full development of his or her personality is possible.

2. Individuals, groups, institutions and non-governmental organizations have an important role to play and a responsibility in safeguarding democracy, promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms and contributing to the promotion and advancement of democratic societies, institutions and processes.

3. Individuals, groups, institutions and non-governmental organizations also have an important role and a responsibility in contributing, as appropriate, to the promotion of the right of everyone to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments can be fully realized.

Article 19

Nothing in the present Declaration shall be interpreted as implying for any individual, group or organ of society or any State the right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of the rights and freedoms referred to in the present Declaration.

Article 20

Nothing in the present Declaration shall be interpreted as permitting States to support and promote activities of individuals, groups of individuals, institutions or non-governmental organizations contrary to the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

"Whatever career you may choose for yourself - doctor, lawyer, teacher - let me propose an avocation to be pursued along with it. Become a dedicated fighter for civil rights. Make it a central part of your life. It will make you a better doctor, a better lawyer, a better teacher. It will enrich your spirit as nothing else possibly can. It will give you that rare sense of nobility that can only spring from love and selflessly helping your fellow man. Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for human rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country and a finer world to live in."

-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
 
― Leo Buscaglia

Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network

MEDICAL WHISTLEBLOWER ADVOCACY NETWORK

P.O. 42700 

Washington, DC 20015

MedicalWhistleblowers (at) gmail.com

CONTACT

"Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself."  Confucius

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt- Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic", delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910