People's Stories Justice

International Holocaust Remembrance Day
by UN Office for Human Rights, agencies
Jan. 2020
Commemorating 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, United Nations human rights experts call for urgent action to combat antisemitism
States must take urgent and effective steps to monitor antisemitic incidents, ensure accountability for perpetrators of violence, and protect Jewish individuals, communities and sites as part of their effort to combat antisemitism.
In a statement marking the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January 2020, they expressed concerns about the dramatic – and often unchecked - increase in antisemitic rhetoric and violence around the world, and online. Their full statement is as follows:
"With profound sadness and outrage, we, as United Nations human rights experts, mark 75 years since the liberation of the notorious Nazi death camp, Auschwitz, with alarm. On this solemn commemoration, designated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, States around the world are failing to sufficiently counter antisemitic violence, discrimination, and hostility within their societies or to ensure that their populations are appropriately educated about the Holocaust.
"Driven by recognition of the need to repudiate the "disregard and contempt for human rights" that occurred during the Holocaust, ''We the peoples" demanded and the young United Nations itself proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
Since then, all Member States have committed themselves to ensure that all members of society are able to enjoy their human rights, including by protecting members of minority communities against hate crimes and discrimination.
"The legal framework affirming and protecting the human rights of all is a key legacy of the Holocaust''s victims - including the 6 million Jews who, alongside members of other targeted groups, were murdered in a uniquely brutal, systematic and state-sanctioned campaign of antisemitic dehumanization and persecution.
"Toulouse, Pittsburg, Brussels, Poway and Jersey City are just some of the places where Jews have been murdered in recent years. The reports of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism presented to the UN General Assembly last year outline the dramatic and persistent increase in anti-semitic rhetoric and incidents that has been reported in many countries, and online.
We urge all concerned persons, all leaders to read them, study them and implement their recommendations as a matter of urgency.
"We are also alarmed at reports documenting extensive Holocaust denial, particularly online, as well as surveys reflecting that significant proportions of the population are ignorant of key facts about the Holocaust, or even unaware that it occurred at all. We are deeply concerned by the misuse of social media to spread Holocaust denial and perpetuate antisemitic stereotypes and prejudice.
"Around the world, violence, discrimination and expressions of hostility motivated by antisemitism have created a climate of fear among a substantial number of Jews, impairing their ability to enjoy their fundamental rights to liberty and security, equality and non-discrimination, and to freedom of religion.
"We call on all States to respond to these trends by taking urgent action to uphold their human rights obligations, including by more effectively monitoring and recording antisemitic incidents; ensuring accountability for perpetrators of violence; and providing effective protection to Jewish individuals, communities and sites.
We call on states to respond more effectively to incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence against Jews and members of other targeted groups.
"States must also ensure that effective education, training and awareness-raising to combat antisemitic stereotypes and prejudices is being undertaken at all levels of society. Educational programs – for students, teachers, government officials, law enforcement, and others – must identify antisemitism in all its various forms. Educational programs should also include accurate, substantive information about the Holocaust.
"Among the most important lessons of the Holocaust is that antisemitism, fueled by political leaders and left unchecked, threatens not only Jews, but also other minority and vulnerable communities, and indeed the very foundations of democratic societies.
Now, 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we mourn the victims of the Holocaust and solemnly call on States to redouble their commitment to fight this unacceptable yet recurring threat."
* The UN experts: Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Mr. Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Ms E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Mr. Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association; Ms Fionnuala Ni Aolain, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Ms Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Ms Koumbou Boly-Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education and Ms Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights.

Visit the related web page

Spurious ''treason'' charges against opposition leader Kem Sokha must be dropped
by International Commission of Jurists, agencies
15 Jan. 2020
Today, following the commencement of the trial of political opposition leader Kem Sokha, the ICJ condemned his continuing legal harassment and called on the Government of Cambodia to drop the ill-founded and apparently politically-motivated charges of treason against him.
“The trial hearing today marks and extends more than two years of legal harassment of one of Cambodia’s most prominent leaders of the political opposition,” said Frederick Rawski, ICJ’s Asia Pacific Director.
“The charges against Kem Sokha are wholly unsubstantiated – They should be dropped, and the trial discontinued in the accordance with his right to fair trial.”
In September 2017, Kem Sokha, leader of the now-defunct main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was arrested without warrant by more than 100 police officers in a midnight raid on his home. His arrest, in violation of his parliamentary immunity, was reportedly made on the basis that he had allegedly committed a crime in flagrante delicto – the Prosecution Office of Phnom Penh Municipal Court argued that he had been caught “red-handed” in an act of treason despite the fact that the alleged act was a speech he had made four years earlier in Australia in 2013. In the speech, Sokha had alluded to receiving foreign assistance in advocating for democratic change in Cambodia.
Kem Sokha was thereafter charged with alleged “conspiracy with a foreign power” under article 443 of the Criminal Code, and detained in the remote Trapaing Thlong prison in Tboung Khmum Province near the Vietnamese border. His applications for bail were rejected multiple times before he was released from prison after one year in pre-trial detention.
During this period, Sokha was also denied access to independent doctors and medical treatment, despite his suffering from serious medical conditions. In 2017, the courts in Phnom Penh ruled that his pre-trial detention was legal under Cambodian law and refused him bail, even though Sokha had been barred from attending the proceedings, which his lawyers also boycotted in protest.
Kem Sokha’s arrest occurred in the midst of an intense crackdown on political opposition, civil society and independent media in the lead-up to the 2018 general elections. Two months after his arrest, Cambodia’s Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP and banned 118 CNRP officials from political activities for five years. In July 2018, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party won the elections by a landslide.
Following the elections, the Cambodian government has continued to systematically repress and persecute perceived critics of the regime through abuse of legal and judicial processes. In 2019, Cambodian authorities brought apparently politically-motivated charges against more than 100 members of the political opposition, more than half of whom were detained.
“There is an ongoing human rights and rule of law crisis in Cambodia, which needs to be urgently addressed,” said Rawski.
“The dissolution of the CNRP and imprisonment of its leader were crucial indicators that the Cambodian government had crossed a red-line a long time ago.”
The ICJ has called on the Cambodian authorities to fulfill the State’s obligations to protect people’s rights guaranteed under international law, including the rights to free expression, political participation and freedom of association, as well as the right to a fair trial and freedom from arbitrary detention.

Visit the related web page

View more stories

Submit a Story Search by keyword and country Guestbook