Take Action to Improve Conditions for Dalit Women- UN Special Rapporteur #Vaw #Womenrights


Women and Girls Facing Caste-Based Discrimination Need Special Protections
JUNE 7, 2013
  • Many [Dalit women] experience some of the worst forms of discrimination. The reality of Dalit women and girls is one of exclusion and marginalization, which perpetuates their subordinate position in society and increases their vulnerability, throughout generations.
Rashida Manjoo, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women

(Geneva) – United Nations member states should focus urgent attention and decisive action to improve conditions for Dalit women, four international nongovernmental organizations said today. The combination of caste and gender makes millions of Dalit women extremely vulnerable to discrimination and violence, including rape, forced prostitution, and modern forms of slavery.

“Many [Dalit women] experience some of the worst forms of discrimination,” said Rashida Manjoo, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, in a written statement. “The reality of Dalit women and girls is one of exclusion and marginalization, which perpetuates their subordinate position in society and increases their vulnerability, throughout generations.”

Following a side event on June 4, 2013, at the UN Human Rights Council on multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence against Dalit women and women from similarly affected communities, IMADR, Human Rights Watch, Minority Rights Group International, and the International Dalit Solidarity Network called on UN member states to support efforts to eliminate gender and caste-based discrimination. The multiple forms of discrimination and violence against Dalit women have mostly been neglected until now, but some UN human rights bodies, including Special Rapporteurs and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, have begun to pay attention to this serious human rights issue.

Dalit women leaders from four caste-affected countries in South Asia took part in the side event and made strong appeals to the international community as well as their own governments to address discrimination. This was the first time that a UN event focused exclusively on the situation of Dalit women, whose courageous struggle for human rights has come a long way over the past decade.

Addressing the event in a written statement, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, reiterated her “fullest commitment in contributing to the eradication of caste discrimination and untouchability and the correlated deeply rooted exclusion, exploitation and marginalization of Dalit women and other affected groups” through the work of her office.

Pillay, who has spoken out strongly against caste discrimination on a number of occasions, also called on UN member states to “take on the challenge of addressing caste-based discrimination and the human rights violations flowing from this seriously and by mobilizing all of their relevant institutions to this end.”

The ambassador from the German UN Mission, Hanns Heinrich Schumacher, said he had been “shocked” when gathering information about the situation of Dalit women and came to realize the “urgency, the dimension of the problem.”

The fact that numerous states co-sponsored the event demonstrates the increased international attention to the situation of Dalit women – an interest that now needs to be transformed into concrete action by the international community as well as caste-affected countries.

One such country is India, home to almost 100 million Dalit women. Although there are laws in place to protect them, implementation remains an obstacle.
“New laws are useless unless they are implemented, as we have seen with previous efforts to ensure protection of Dalit rights,” said Juliette de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

Many of the speakers noted that the lack of implementation of legislation that is meant to protect Dalits is a key problem. Manjula Pradeep, director of the Indian Dalit rights NGO, Navsarjan Trust, stressed the importance of more data about the situation of Dalits and said that, “It is time to look at the intersection of caste and gender.”

Many victims of the combination of caste and gender-based discrimination live in South Asia where they are known as Dalits. Similar forms of discrimination occur elsewhere as testified by Mariem Salem, a parliamentarian from Mauritania and herself a member of a group targeted for discrimination, the Haratines, who are descendants of former slaves.

Salem noted that the pervading social attitudes and perceptions which stigmatize Haratine in general are “a key challenge for Haratine women.” She added that “specific types of work continue to be assigned to them on the basis of their hierarchical status,” a description that could also have been applied to Dalit women in South Asia.

 

World Bank President Jim Kim calls user fees ‘unjust and unnecessary’ #healthcare


World Bank President Jim Kim today at World Health Assembly called these fees ‘unjust and unnecessary’
 
‘The issue of point-of-service fees is critical.  Anyone who has provided health care to poor people knows that even tiny out-of-pocket charges can drastically reduce their use of needed services.  This is both unjust and unnecessary.  Countries can replace point-of-service fees with a variety of forms of sustainable financing that don’t risk putting poor people in this potentially fatal bind.  Elimination or sharp reduction of point-of-service payments is a common feature of all systems that have successfully achieved universal health coverage.’

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim’s Speech at World Health Assembly: Poverty, Health and the Human Future

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim

World Health Assembly

Geneva, Switzerland

May 21, 2013

As Prepared for Delivery

Poverty, Health and the Human Future

Mr. President, Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, Excellencies, colleagues and friends:

We stand at a moment of exceptional possibility.  A moment when global health and development goals that long seemed unattainable have moved within our reach.  A moment, also, when dangers of unprecedented magnitude threaten the future of humankind.  A moment that calls us to shed resignation and routine, to rekindle the ambition that has marked the defining chapters of global public health.

A generation must rise that will drive poverty from the earth.  We can be that generation.

A generation must rise that will end the scourge of inequality that divides and destabilizes societies.  We can be that generation.

A generation must rise that will bring effective health services to every person in every community in every country in the world.  We will be that generation, and you—members of this Assembly—will lead the way.

Yes, I’m optimistic.  I’m optimistic because I know what global health has already achieved—what you have achieved.

In 2011, global average life expectancy reached 70 years, a gain of six years since 1990.  The global child mortality rate has fallen 40 percent in the same period.  In the ten years since Dr. LEE Jong-wook announced WHO’s commitment to support countries in scaling up antiretroviral treatment for AIDS, 9 million people in developing nations have gained access to this life-saving therapy.  These are just a few of the milestones of recent progress.

I have another reason to be optimistic.  I know global health is guided by the right values.

Thirty-five years ago, the Alma-Ata Conference on Primary Health Care set powerful moral and philosophical foundations for our work.  The Declaration of Alma-Ata confirmed the inseparable connection between health and the effort to build prosperity with equity, what the Declaration’s authors called “development in the spirit of social justice.”

Alma-Ata showed the importance of primary health care as a model of health action rooted in the community; responsive to the community’s needs; and attuned to its economic, social and cultural aspirations.  Alma-Ata set the bar high.  But we continue to struggle to provide effective, high-value primary health care to all our citizens.  Unfortunately, none of WHO’s 194 Member States has yet built the perfect health care system.  We can all get better and we know it.

But in the grand spirit of Alma-Ata, we must focus again on the link between health and shared prosperity.  And, this time, we must turn our loftiest aspirations into systems that build healthier, more productive, more equitable societies.

For what Alma-Ata did not do was provide concrete plans or effective metrics for delivering on its admirable goals.  In many cases, frontline efforts inspired by Alma-Ata lacked strategy; evidence-based delivery; and adequate data collection.  This shouldn’t have been surprising, and I’m certainly not criticizing global health leaders of that time.  Indeed, many of the architects of Health For All are my heroes to this day.

Today, we have resources, tools and data that our predecessors could only dream of.  This heightens our responsibility and strips us of excuses.  Today we can and must connect the values expressed at Alma-Ata to strategy and systems analysis; to what I have been calling a “science of delivery”; and to rigorous measurement.  And we must actually build healthier societies.

The setting for this work is the growing movement for Universal Health Coverage.

The aims of universal coverage are to ensure that all people can access quality health services, to safeguard all people from public health risks, and to protect all people from impoverishment due to illness: whether from out-of-pocket payments for health care or loss of income when a household member falls sick.

Every country in the world can improve the performance of its health system in the three dimensions of universal coverage: access, quality, and affordability.  Priorities, strategies and implementation plans will differ greatly from one country to another.  In all cases, countries need to tie their plans to tough, relevant metrics.  And international partners must be ready to support you.  All of us together must prevent ‘universal coverage’ from ending up as a toothless slogan that doesn’t challenge us, force us to change, force us to get better every day.

The good news is that many countries are challenging themselves, measuring outcomes and achieving remarkable progress.  Turkey launched its “Health Transformation Program” in 2003 to provide access to affordable, quality health services for all.  Formal health insurance now covers more than 95 percent of the population.  The health reform is one of a bundle of factors that have contributed to Turkey’s health gains.  Between 2003 and 2010, Turkey cut its infant mortality rate by more than 40 percent.

Thailand’s universal coverage reform dates from 2001.  The program has substantially increased health care utilization, especially among the previously uninsured.  And, as of 2009, the program had already reduced by more than 300,000 the number of Thai people suffering catastrophic health care costs.

And let me acknowledge that Thailand launched its universal coverage program against concerns over fiscal sustainability initially raised by my own institution, the World Bank Group.  Thailand’s health leaders were determined to act boldly to provide access for their whole population.  Today the world learns from Thailand’s example.

Many other countries are also advancing.  And the growing momentum for universal health coverage coincides with a new chapter in the global fight against poverty.

Last month, the organization I lead, the World Bank Group, committed to work with countries to end absolute poverty worldwide by 2030.  For the first time, we’ve set an expiration date for extreme poverty.

And we know that fighting absolute poverty alone is not enough.  That’s why we’ve set a second goal.  We’ll work with countries to build prosperity that is equitably shared, by nurturing economic growth that favors the relatively disadvantaged in every society.  We’ll track income growth among the poorest 40 percent of the population in every country and work with country leaders to continuously improve policy and delivery, so countries can achieve economic progress that is both inclusive and sustainable – socially, fiscally, and environmentally.

To end poverty and boost shared prosperity, countries need robust, inclusive economic growth.  And to drive growth, they need to build human capital through investments in health, education and social protection for all their citizens.

To free the world from absolute poverty by 2030, countries must ensure that all of their citizens have access to quality, affordable health services.

This means that, today as never before, we have the opportunity to unite global health and the fight against poverty through action that is focused on clear goals.

Countries will take different paths towards universal health coverage.  There is no single formula.  However, today, an emerging field of global health delivery science is generating evidence and tools that offer promising options for countries.

Let me give just one example.  For decades, energy has been spent in disputes opposing disease-specific “vertical” service delivery models to integrated “horizontal” models.  Delivery science is consolidating evidence on how some countries have solved this dilemma by creating a “diagonal” approach: deliberately crafting priority disease-specific programs to drive improvement in the wider health system.  We’ve seen diagonal models succeed in countries as different as Mexico and Rwanda.

Whether a country’s immediate priority is diabetes; malaria control; maternal health and child survival; or driving the “endgame” on HIV/AIDS, a universal coverage framework can harness disease-specific programs diagonally to strengthen the system.

As countries advance towards universal health coverage, there are two challenges we at the World Bank Group especially want to tackle with you.  These two areas are deeply connected to the goals on poverty and shared prosperity I described a moment ago.

First, let’s make sure that no family, anywhere in the world, is forced into poverty because of health care expenses.  By current best estimates, worldwide, out-of-pocket health spending forces 100 million people into extreme poverty every year, and inflicts severe financial hardship on another 150 million.  This is an overwhelming form of affliction for people, as the anguish of impoverishment compounds the suffering of illness.  Countries can end this injustice by introducing equitable models of health financing along with social protection measures such as cash transfers for vulnerable households.

Second, let’s close the gap in access to health services and public health protection for the poorest 40 percent of the population in every country.  Improving health coverage and outcomes among the poorer people of any country is critical to building their capabilities and enabling them to compete for the good jobs that will change their lives.  We have to close health gaps, if we’re serious about reducing economic inequality, energizing countries’ economies and building societies in which everyone has a fair chance.

The issue of point-of-service fees is critical.  Anyone who has provided health care to poor people knows that even tiny out-of-pocket charges can drastically reduce their use of needed services.  This is both unjust and unnecessary.  Countries can replace point-of-service fees with a variety of forms of sustainable financing that don’t risk putting poor people in this potentially fatal bind.  Elimination or sharp reduction of point-of-service payments is a common feature of all systems that have successfully achieved universal health coverage.

Now let me tell you five specific ways the World Bank Group will support countries in their drive towards universal health coverage.

First, we’ll continue to ramp up our analytic work and support for health systems.  Universal coverage is a systems challenge, and support for systems is where the World Bank Group can do the most to help countries improve the health of your people.

I was recently in Afghanistan, where the Bank Group has been working with the government and other partners to rebuild the country’s health system.  In Afghanistan, this abstract term ‘health system’ quickly becomes personal.  Let me tell one story. Several years ago, Shakeba, a young woman from Parwan province, gave birth at home, because there was no health center she could go to.  She developed complications and lost her baby.  Earlier this year, Shakeba gave birth to another child—in the delivery room of a recently-opened health center, with modern equipment and skilled personnel.  Shakeba and her new baby are thriving.  Improving health systems literally means life or death for many mothers and children.

The number of functioning health facilities in Afghanistan grew more than four-fold from 2002 to 2011.  During this time, the country reduced under-five mortality by more than 60 percent.

Middle-income countries may face very different challenges.  Many middle-income countries I visit are suffering from an epidemic of hospital-building.  In some countries, I’ve seen brand-new, ultra-sophisticated emergency facilities where specialists are preparing to treat, for example, complicated emergencies like diabetic ketoacidosis.  But when patients are released from these facilities, they can’t get adequate support in the routine, daily management of illnesses like diabetes, because the primary care system has been starved of financing.  It makes no sense to pour resources into responding to downstream complications, without investing in upstream prevention and disease management that could often keep those complications from happening in the first place.

When countries anchor their health systems in robust primary care and public health protection, health care costs can be controlled.  We will work with all countries to do just that.

Our second commitment is that we will support countries in an all-out effort to reach Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, on maternal mortality and child mortality.

Reaching these two MDGs is a critical test of our commitment to health equity.

We must continue to focus on the MDGs, even as we prepare for the post-2015 development agenda.  The MDGs have given energy and focus to everyone in the global development community. We have not finished the job.  Now is the time to do it.

Last September at the United Nations General Assembly, I announced that the World Bank Group would work with donors to create a funding mechanism to scale up support for MDGs 4 and 5.  Since then, we have been expanding our results-based financing for health, focusing on the maternal and child health goals.  Our results-based financing fund has leveraged substantial additional resources from the International Development Association, IDA, the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries.  This has been an unquestioned success: the trust fund has multiplied resources for maternal and child health.  Over the past five years, we have leveraged $1.2 billion of IDA in 28 countries, including $558 million for 17 countries since last September alone.  Now we are working with Norway, the United Kingdom and other partners to expand this effort.

Results-based financing is a smart way to do business.  It involves an up-front agreement between funders and service-providers about the expected health results.  Payment depends on the delivery of outcomes, with independent verification.  Results-based financing also allows citizens to hold providers accountable.  It puts knowledge and power in ordinary people’s hands.

These programs all have rigorous impact evaluations. In Rwanda, the impact evaluation showed officials that performance incentives not only increased the coverage and quality of services, but also improved health outcomes.  The study found that babies were putting on more weight, and that children were growing faster.

Our third commitment is that with WHO and other partners, the World Bank Group will strengthen our measurement work in areas relevant to universal health coverage.  In February, the Bank and WHO agreed to collaborate on a monitoring framework for universal coverage.  We’ll deliver that framework for consultation with countries by the time of the United Nations General Assembly in September.

We don’t have enough data.  For example, we don’t yet measure the number of people forced into poverty by health expenditures in every country each year.  We will work with countries and partners to make sure we get better data so countries can achieve better outcomes.

Fourth, we will deepen our work on what we call the science of delivery. This is a new field that the World Bank Group is helping to shape, in response to country demand.  It builds on our decades of experience working with countries to improve services for poor people.  As this field matures, it will mean that your frontline workers – the doctors and nurses, the managers and technicians – will have better tools and faster access to knowledge to provide better care for people.

Distinguished ministers, as you move towards universal coverage, tell us where you’re hitting barriers in delivery.  We’ll connect you and your teams to global networks of policymakers and implementers who have faced similar problems.  We’ll mobilize experienced experts from inside and outside the World Bank Group, including from the private sector, where much of the best delivery work happens.

Fifth and finally, the World Bank Group will continue to step up our work on improving health through action in other sectors, because we know that policies in areas such as agriculture, clean energy, education, sanitation, and women’s empowerment all greatly affect whether people lead healthy lives.

Mexico has done an impressive job in this respect.  Mexico’s Seguro Popular, for instance, works in concert with the Oportunidades cash transfer program.  Oportunidades has increased poor people’s spending capacity and reduced the depth of poverty.  It has also raised school enrollment and access to health services among the poor.  Meanwhile, Seguro Popular has reduced out-of-pocket health care payments and catastrophic health expenditures, especially for the poorest groups.  All countries can’t match Mexico’s resources.  But promising options for similar types of action exist for all countries.

When ministers of health seek to integrate expanded health coverage with efforts to reduce poverty, the World Bank Group’s policy advice, knowledge resources and convening power are at your disposal.  For instance, we can help facilitate discussions with ministries of finance.  We saw promising steps in this direction at the meeting of African health and finance ministers in Washington last month.

But specific actions from the World Bank Group must be part of a wider change in how we work together as a global health community.

The fragmentation of global health action has led to inefficiencies that many ministers here know all too well: parallel delivery structures; multiplication of monitoring systems and reporting demands; ministry officials who spend a quarter of their time managing requests from a parade of well-meaning international partners.

This fragmentation is literally killing people.  Together we must take action to fix it, now.

Aligning for better results is the approach of the International Health Partnership, or IHP+.  And it’s gaining momentum.  Earlier today, Director-General Margaret Chan and I took part in an IHP+ meeting.  It’s inspiring to see more and more countries taking charge, setting the agenda based on strong national plans, and making development partners follow the lead of governments.

We are reconfirming our shared commitment to IHP+ as the best vehicle to implement development effectiveness principles and support countries driving for results.   But, honorable ministers, we must hold each other accountable.  We all have to be ready to pound the table and demand that we stop the deadly fragmentation that has hindered the development of your health systems for far too long.  The stakes are high and the path will be difficult, but I know we can do it.

My friends,

Together, we face a moment of decision. The question is not whether the coming decades will bring sweeping change in global health, development and the fundamental conditions of our life on this planet. The only question is what direction that change will take:

Toward climate disaster or environmental sanity;

Toward economic polarization or shared prosperity;

Toward fatal exclusion or health equity.

Change will come—it’s happening now. The issue is whether we will take charge of change: become its architects, rather than its victims. The gravest danger is that we might make decisions by default, through inaction. Instead, we must make bold commitments.

Since the turn of the millennium, we have experienced a golden age in global health, shaped by the achievements of the leaders in this hall. But will history write that the golden age expired with its hopes unfulfilled, its greatest work barely begun? That it sank under the weight of economic uncertainty and leaders’ inability to change, to push ourselves beyond our old limits?

We know what the answer must be. The answer that the peoples of all our nations are waiting for—those living today and those yet to be born.

We can do so much more. We can bend the arc of history to ensure that everyone in the world has access to affordable, quality health services in a generation.

Together, let’s build health equity and economic transformation as one single structure, a citadel to shelter the human future.

Now is the time to act.

WE MUST BE the generation that delivers universal health coverage.

WE MUST BE the generation that achieves development in the spirit of social and environmental justice.

WE MUST BE the generation that breaks down the walls of poverty’s prison, and in their place builds health, dignity and prosperity for all people.

Thank you.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay applauds Indian movement to eradicate ‘manual scavenging’


GENEVA (31 January 2013) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today welcomed the strong movement that has been developing over the past few months in India to eradicate the practice known as ‘manual scavenging’ which, because of the stigma attached to it, has traditionally been carried out by Dalit women in a clear manifestation of discrimination based on caste and gender.

The focus on manual scavenging – essentially the manual removal of human excreta from dry latrines and sewers – has recently been significantly heightened in India by a National March for the Eradication of Manual Scavenging (also known as “Maila Mukti Yatra”). The March, which in addition to advocating the eradication of manual scavenging has called for the comprehensive rehabilitation of those who have been conducting it, took place over a period of 63 days, starting on 30 November 2012 and crossed a total of 200 districts in 18 states. It will be formally concluded on Thursday in New Delhi.

“I congratulate the strenuous efforts and commitment of the organizers, and of all the participants — especially the thousands of liberated manual scavenger women — who marched across the country in support of the many others who are still being forced to carry out this dreadful practice,” the High Commissioner said.

“An estimated 90 percent of manual scavengers are Dalit women who face multiple inequalities and discrimination based on their caste and gender, and who are often exposed to violence and exploitation,” she added.

“Because of the nature of the work, manual scavenging has contributed to a self-perpetuating cycle of stigma and untouchability,” Pillay said. “Manual scavenging is not a career chosen voluntarily by workers, but is instead a deeply unhealthy, unsavoury and undignified job forced upon these people because of the stigma attached to their caste. The nature of the work itself then reinforces that stigma.”

The High Commissioner met two years ago in Geneva some of those campaigning against manual scavenging “I was deeply moved when they presented me with a brick they had broken off a dry latrine,” she said.  “I keep it by my office to this day as a reminder of their struggle.”

“I am encouraged to hear that the march has been supported by a wide cross-section of society, who have come together to energize the growing movement to abolish this degrading form of work, which should have no place in 21st century India,” Pillay said.

In September 2012, a new bill on The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation was submitted to the Indian Parliament by the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment. The bill builds on the strong legislative framework already in place prohibiting untouchability and bonded labour, and adds a comprehensive definition of manual scavenging.

“The new bill provides a solid framework for the prohibition of manual scavenging,” Pillay said. “India already has strong legal prohibitions on caste discrimination, so the key to the new law will be effective accountability and enforcement. It is also crucial that adequate resources are provided to enable the comprehensive rehabilitation of liberated manual scavengers. This is the only way these grossly exploited people will be able to successfully reintegrate into a healthier and much more dignified work environment, and finally have a real opportunity to improve the quality of their own lives and those of their children and subsequent generations.”

 

#India-Train judges handling sex crimes in psychiatry #Vaw #Justice


 

DHNS
BANGALORE : The judiciary, especially judges handling cases related to sexual abuse against women, must have basic training in psychiatry and mental illness to handle the sensitivity of the subject, said the Indian Psychiatric Society president Prof Indira Sharma.


At the 65th annual national conference of Indian Psychiatric Society which began here on Thursday, Prof Sharma said, “It is unfortunate to hear cases about sexual abuse of women with mental illness. There is a need to relook into the judicial aspect of handling such cases,” she added.


Prof Sharma said there was no standard mental health policy in place and made out a case for having one. Referring to the recent Delhi gang-rape incident, she said there is a need to frame elaborate guidelines on handling rape victims and recommended that the amended anti-rape law be called the Jwala Act.


Prof Norman Sartorius, former director, Mental Health, World Health Organisation, Geneva, said due to rapid urbanisation and globalisation, the number of people suffering from mental illnesses has increased over the years. “It is unfortunate to hear that today’s world which measures everything in terms of economics has also tagged health as a commodity wherein you pay more, you get more even in terms of cure for illness,” he added.


Briefing about the recommendations sent to Justice Verma committee on amending laws against sexual abuse, Dr R Raghuram, Head, Department of Psychiatry, Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences, said rape victims should be counselled regularly in tandem with the legal process.


The four-day conference will witness a host of lectures by psychiatrists from across the world and will be attended by over 3,000 delegates including psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.

 

Enforced disappearances: UN expert body to study more than 400 cases from over 30 countries


GENEVA (1st November 2012) – The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances* started reviewing more than 400 cases of enforced disappearances. These include a number of cases under its urgent action procedure and information on newly-submitted cases, previously accepted ones and other communications concerning over 30 countries.

The independent experts will meet with Government delegations and civil society representatives, including family members of those who have disappeared, to exchange information and views on individual cases under consideration and on the phenomenon of enforced disappearances in general. The Working Group will also meet with the Committee on Enforced Disappearances.

The Working Group will, in addition, examine allegations received regarding obstacles encountered in the implementation of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The members will hold discussions on two draft general comments in relation to women and children respectively, its methods of work, and forthcoming and potential country visits. The human rights experts will also discuss and adopt its annual report.

The current Working Group’s 98th session is taking place from 31 October to 9 November in room IX of the Palais des Nations, in Geneva. All meetings are held in private. A press release will be issued at the end of the session, on 9 November 2012.

The Working Group was established by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1980 to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives. It endeavours to establish a channel of communication between the families and the Governments concerned, to ensure that individual cases are investigated, with the objective of clarifying the whereabouts of persons who, having disappeared, are placed outside the protection of the law. In view of the Working Group’s humanitarian mandate, clarification occurs when the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person are clearly established. The Working Group continues to address cases of disappearances until they are resolved. It also provides assistance in the implementation by States of the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

(*) The Working Group is comprised of five independent experts from all regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Mr. Olivier de Frouville (France) and the other members are Mr. Ariel Dulitzky (Argentina), Ms. Jasminka Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Mr. Osman El-Hajjé (Lebanon), and Mr. Jeremy Sarkin (South Africa).

For more information on the Working Group, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx

How to submit cases to the Working Group?: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/disappear/docs/Communication_form_E.doc

Read the Working Group’s 2011 report to the UN Human Rights Councilhttp://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session19/A-HRC-19-58-Rev1_en.pdf

For more information and media requests, please contact Mr. Ugo Cedrangolo or Ms. Michelle Erazo (wgeid@ohchr.org)

 

Open Letter to the Board of the Swiss Press Club- Silencing Alternative Media and Insulting citizens


switzerland

switzerland (Photo credit: siette)


Below is the open letter sent to the Board of the Swiss Press Club, among others, to report on the censorship of alternative media and civil society by the Executive Director, Guy Mettan, on the occasion of a press conference just before the WHA, at which the Swiss delegation to the World Health Assembly were presenting the Swiss government’s position on a variety of  issues including WHO reform.

 

The extraordinary behavior of the executive director is strongly reminiscent of “Les Nouveaux Chiens de Garde” (The new watch dogs) referring to a recent French film documenting the service offered to those in power, by certain journalists who collude, often with zeal, in preventing democratic discussion of issues that are critical to the people and in this case, to their health and survival.

 

It is no wonder that “Health for All” remains a dream. We must support independent journalism everywhere and I want to thank the other staff of the Swiss Press Club whose welcome and respect for freedom of expression were exemplary.  

 

Alison

 

 

 

 

Open Letter to the Board of the Swiss Press Club

Guy Mettan, Executive Director of the Swiss Press Club,

Silences alternative media and insults citizens

Dear Members of the Board of the Swiss Press Club,

On Monday 14 May 2012, a press conference on “Switzerland and Global Health, Swiss foreign policy in the area of health and reform of the World health Organization”.

As a member of the People’s Health Movement (PHM), I attended the press conference in order to report back to the PHM electronic information network (phm-exch).  I am not a professional journalist but I contribute articles to newspapers, medical journals, and magazines on various aspects of international health.

I also contribute regularly to alternative media working on health and environmental issues, and in particular the People Health Movement internet information network (phm-exch) which serves health professionals and /or health activists all over the world. I was an international civil servant with the World Health Organization for 18 years. I continue to defend the constitutional mandate of the people’s international health authority.

The PHM is closely involved in the highly controversial issue of current WHO reform which was the subject of the press conference. Furthermore, PHM, on invitation by the WHO, has participated in all the preparatory discussions on WHO reform that were open to civil society.

Other “simple citizens” were also present at the press conference. Their particular interest was the Swiss delegations’ position on the 1959 Agreement (WHA 12-40) between the WHO and the IAEA which prevents the former from fulfilling its mandate in radiation and health, and the re-establishment of a department of radiation and health, which was closed down 3 years ago, leaving WHO with no competence in this critically important area of public health.

After the four ambassadors’ presentations, the participants were invited to ask questions. There were a dozen journalists in the room of whom 5 or 6 asked a question. With a censorious gesture of the hand, Guy Mettan indicated a vigorous “No” several times to a young woman wishing to ask a question. He informed participants that the Press Conference was for professional journalists and that “he would not take questions from anyone else in the room”.

Ambassador Silberschmidt intervened to say that he and the other ambassadors were very willing to answer questions posed by citizens. Forced to concede and show a minimum of good will and respect for democracy, Mettan announced that professional journalists with press cards would have priority and then he “would allow one question from one other person in the room”.

Astonished at what appeared to be an attempt to censor civil society and alternative media, I remarked that there were no more questions from journalists and that twenty minutes of press conference remained.

“You are here to make propaganda” replied Mettan and he announced that the press conference was over.

Shocked by this behaviour, I approached the podium to ask Mettan about the status of alternative media at the Swiss Press Club. Without replying to this question, Mettan lashed out again: “You are here to make propaganda” and he added “You are here to criticize WHO”.

It is interesting to note that Raphael Saborit, who is the spokesperson for the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs came rapidly up to the podium to support Mettan, and repeated his words. His unfortunate gesture somewhat tarnished the courtesy shown by the four ambassadors.

This clumsy censorship had surprised the participants and attracted a small crowd of people one of whom filmed the exchange. Under this pressure, Mettan informed me that I could ask questions after the press conference during the tea break. I observed that the point of a press conference was that the journalists present take advantage of the discussions. Some of the ambassadors were still present around the podium and listening to the exchange. Mettan snapped at me “So ask your question!” which I then did.[1]

Dear Members of the Board of the Swiss Press Club,

I leave aside the question of Guy Mettan’s lamentable rudeness.

I observe that the Executive Director of the CSP deprived the Swiss Ambassadors of the opportunity to respond to question posed by alternative media, which may reflect the positions and aspirations of Swiss citizens. He also deprived the Geneva and international media of precious information on the complex and controversial question of WHO reform. Alternative media, often linked with associations and NGOs, are privy to specialized information which are rarely available to professional journalists working for mass media. Their questions are often incisive and the responses are especially important for their internet readers.

Just to put the incident in context, I must explain that the group, IndependentWHO (of which I am a member and of which PHM is a founding association)  had  held its own press conference at the CSP three days before (for the Scientific and Citizen Forum on Radioprotection: from Chernobyl to Fukushima). Two women, welcoming us with warmth and professionalism, had informed us about the interesting press conference that was to take place the following Monday. We had asked if the event was open to the public and if we could participate and they had replied “Of course, you are very welcome!”

I remind you that “the SPC was established by the Republic and Canton of Geneva and the City of Geneva for public institutions” and I would like to ask the following question:

Given that a large proportion of information today is disseminated through alternative media (often electronic networks) what is the position of the SPC on the participation in press conferences of the many people who are active in the dissemination of information through these networks?

It goes without saying that I respect the current procedures of the SPC. I assume that the SPC fully recognizes the legitimacy and value of alternative media and the need to offer facilities for these networks in the interests of plurality of information sources and freedom of expression.

Yours sincerely,

Alison Katz

Member, Peoples Health Movement, IndependentWHO, SolidaritEs, Centre Europe Third World


[1] I welcome the fact that the Swiss delegation recognizes WHO as the chief architect of international health policy. But the delegation also supports the “multiplicity of health actors” including public private partnerships (PPP). One of the biggest and most influential of these is the Global Fund which deals with the three big killers worldwide (AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria), and WHO does not even have a seat on the board of the GF. Is support for PPPs  therefore incompatible with support for WHO as the central architect of international public health?

JOINT STATEMENT of Srilankan Human Rights Defenders


සිංහල: ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ජාතික කොඩිය தமிழ்: இலங்கைய...

සිංහල: ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ජාතික කොඩිය தமிழ்: இலங்கையின் தேசியக்கொடி English: Flag of Sri Lanka Deutsch: Flagge Sri Lankas Esperanto: Flago de Sri-Lanko Italiano: Bandiera dello Sri Lanka Polski: Flaga Sri Lanki Română: Steagul Sri Lanki Русский: Флаг Шри-Ланки संस्कृत: श्रीलङ्का ध्वज Volapük: Stän Sri-Lankäna (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Friends,

 

Greetings from HRDA!

 

We would like to share with you the Joint Statement of three Sri Lankan human rights defenders Messrs. Sunila Abeysekara, Nimalka Fernando and Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, who have come most under attack by the state media in Sri Lanka in the past week, because of their active involvement with the on-going session of the UN Human rights Council in Geneva.

Kindly see the attachment herewith.

 

Thanks & Regards,

Pamelin

Secretariat – HRDA-India

 

JOINT STATEMENT – Srilankan Human Rights Defenders – Messers. Sunila , Nimalka and Dr. Saravanamuttu

 

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,231 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,810,765 hits

Archives

September 2020
M T W T F S S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  
%d bloggers like this: