Before We Need OHCHR Help

Before OHCHR Two years ago, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations agency to protect, defend, and promote our human rights, published ”How To Follow Up On United Nations Human Rights Recommendations”. It is intended for civil society organizations (CSO), specifically the larger national and international ones. This sixty-page “Practical Guide” has both useful information on OHCHR procedures and mechanisms, and offers many short case studies and insights into how different CSOs have used the UN system to advance human rights.

The OHCHR system of ‘follow up’ is well-intentioned, although it is extremely slow, bureaucratic, and not accessible to those without resources — who are perhaps those most in need of having their rights defended. Although this OHCHR guide is good at what it aims to do, it doesn’t take into account the needs of individual rights-holders or small rights-seeking organizations in communities around the world. Poor people from marginalized communities need to be able to address, simply, cheaply and without fear, the failures of their governments or local authorities to implement UN human rights recommendations – failures that can be fatal for them or their families.

For example, there are billions of poor marginalized people currently being denied access to medicines and adequate care, water, or food, all of which are the legal obligation of Governments to provide. They also have little or no access to free legal aid, which means that this system of ‘follow-up’ is often a non-starter — it leaves behind those most in need.

Read more

Respect Prisoners’ Human Rights

Prisoners“Calling on Governments to Respect Prisoners’ Human Rights and Unite to End TB.” -Communique from ARASA

According to the World Health Organisation, Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide and is the leading cause of death amongst people living with HIV: In 2015, 1.8 million people died from TB. In many African countries, prison conditions violate peoples’ human rights in a manner that exacerbates vulnerabilities to infection with and death from TB.

On this World TB day, the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), ENDA Santé, the Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN), and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), call on African governments to respect prisoners’ human rights and unite to end TB.

TB in prisons

Globally, studies estimate that TB rates are between 5-50 times higher in prisons than in the general population. Cases of TB in prisons can account for 25% of a country’s TB burden.

“Prison conditions in the region provide near-perfect conditions for the spread of TB. Overcrowding, inadequate access to healthcare services, poor nutrition and sanitation in prisons are not only violations of human rights – these conditions also increase the spread of TB,” says Daouda Diouf, Executive Director of Enda Santé.

Read more