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Video as Evidence Field Guide
by Kelly Matheson
Senior Attorney & Program Manager, WITNESS
 
April 2016
 
After in-depth research, field work and cross-sector collaboration, we have produced the first Video as Evidence Field Guide.
 
At the core of WITNESS is our steadfast conviction that video is a uniquely powerful tool for human rights change. But citizen video doesn’t often reach a standard for it to be considered legal evidence; and simultaneously, legal systems around the world have been largely under-equipped to handle the influx of citizen footage made possible by today’s mobile technologies.
 
The goal of the Video as Evidence Field Guide to is bridge existing gaps so that citizens, activists, and lawyers can — together — use video more effectively for justice.
 
The complete Video as Evidence Field Guide is available online. The more people out there who know how to effectively document human rights abuse, the closer we are to change, and to a better world.
 
The Guide’s primary audience is people working in the field who are or will potentially film human rights abuses. These may be citizen journalists, activists, community reporters, and human rights investigators.
 
If you are already filming abuses, the Guide can help enhance the evidentiary value of your videos. And if you are already investigating human rights abuses by traditional means, this Guide can help to strategically incorporate video into your human rights investigation so that it enhances your evidence collection, access the guide via the link below:
 
http://vae.witness.org/video-as-evidence-field-guide http://www.eyewitnessproject.org http://www.atha.se/blog/eyewitness-atrocities-innovative-technology-enhancing-accountability


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UN Rights Council adopts resolution on human rights defenders addressing economic & social rights
by International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
 
24 Mar. 2016
 
UN Human Rights Council adopts resolution on human rights defenders addressing economic, social, and cultural rights
 
The ICJ welcomes today’s adoption by the UN Human Rights Council of a resolution on human rights defenders addressing economic, social and cultural rights.
 
Negotiation of the resolution was led by Norway, who presented the draft to the Council with co-sponsorship with a large number of states from around the world. The resolution was ultimately adopted by a large majority.
 
The ICJ had earlier joined advocacy efforts to support the resolution text as presented, and welcomes the strong message the resolution as adopted sends affirming the importance of defenders’ work on economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the need for states to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of such defenders, including through a range of legislative, policy, and practical measures.
 
22 March 2016
 
ICJ joins call for strong UN resolution on Human Rights Defenders
 
Member States of the UN Human Rights Council should support the adoption of a vital draft resolution on the protection of human rights defenders and vote down over 30 hostile amendments proposed by China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan and Russia, which could substantially weaken the text.
 
In an open letter to governments, more than 100 non-governmental organisations from all regions of the world have said that the resolution – which focuses on the situation and protection needs of those working to promote economic, social and cultural rights – is a timely, balanced and important response to the worsening crackdown on human rights defenders.
 
States from all regions, including Australia, Brazil, France, Ghana, Japan and Tunisia, among others, have already pledged their support for the Norwegian-led text.
 
The undersigned civil society organisations, coming from all regions, urge your delegation to support the adoption of the resolution on the protection of human rights defenders working to promote economic, social and cultural rights as tabled. We urge you to resist efforts to undermine and weaken this resolution.
 
The draft resolution entitled ‘Protecting human rights defenders addressing economic, social and cultural rights (A/HRC/31/L.28) is being considered by the 31st session of the Human Rights Council. It will be presented for adoption on 23 or 24 March.
 
South African jurist and former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has articulated the importance of such a resolution in the following terms:
 
As a South African, I have seen and experienced first-hand the role of ESC rights defenders in combating poverty and injustice and in promoting universal human rights for all, even the most powerless and disadvantaged. I have seen how the work of those who defend ESC rights benefits entire communities; just as attacks against those who defend ESC rights harm entire communities. That is why it is so important and timely that the UN Human Rights Council is currently negotiating a resolution on the protection of ESC rights defenders.
 
The draft resolution has been developed through a number of open and transparent informal negotiations.
 
The text, as tabled, is balanced and appropriate, in recognising the vital contribution of human rights defenders to the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development. It is currently co-sponsored by a broad group of States from all regions of the world.
 
The text also identifies the threats, attacks and challenges facing this group of defenders and the obligations, duties and interests of State and non-State actors in terms of supporting and safeguarding this work. It provides good practice guidance to both State and non-State actors in this regard.
 
Despite the importance of the resolution – so tragically illustrated at the commencement of the 31st session with the murder of Honduran woman human rights defender Berta Caceres – a small group of States, led by the Russian Federation, China, Egypt, Cuba and Pakistan are seeking to seriously undermine the text.
 
A large number of adverse amendments being pushed by these States include proposals which have the purpose or would have the effect of:
 
Removing any reference to the term ‘human rights defenders’; Denying the legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders.
 
Weakening protection against, and accountability for, intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders and others who cooperate with the United Nations. Failing to acknowledge the specific risks and violations faced by women, indigenous, and land and environment human rights defenders, their families and communities; Diluting and regressing from consensus language and terminology from past human rights defenders resolutions; and seeking to justify limitations on human rights that are impermissible under international human rights law.
 
The amendments being advocated by the Russian Federation, China, Egypt, Cuba and Pakistan should be seen in the context of the systematic efforts currently underway in several of these States to restrict and criminalise the important and legitimate work of human rights defenders and independent civil society organisations in violation of international human rights law.
 
The proposal to weaken language on reprisals should similarly be understood in the context of several of the proposing States being the subject of allegations of intimidation or reprisals in both the Secretary-General’s report and the joint communications report of Special Procedures.
 
We urge you not to associate with such positions. Instead, we respectfully urge your delegation to co-sponsor resolution L.28 as tabled, vote against the amendments presented, and vote in favor of the resolution as drafted.
 
Civil society and human rights defenders around the world look to the Human Rights Council and its Member States for support and protection, and we hope your delegation will stand with us.
 
http://www.icj.org/un-human-rights-council-adopts-resolution-on-human-rights-defenders-addressing-economic-social-and-cultural-rights/ http://www.icj.org/icj-joins-call-for-strong-un-resolution-on-human-rights-defenders/ http://www.icj.org/theme/economic-social-and-cultural-rights/


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