IHR LEGAL Newsletter  | January – March 2024 


1. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

The OHCHR is the principal human rights entity of the United Nations. Its functions include promoting and protecting all human rights, helping to empower people, and developing a human rights perspective in all United Nations programs. The current United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is Mr. Volker Türk.

News from the OHCHR:

– On February 22, 2024, the OHCHR released a report on the human rights situation in Sudan, which is characterized by hostilities and violence due to the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces.

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The UN report shows that the conflict in Sudan has resulted in thousands of civilians killed, millions displaced, property looted, and children recruited. The report is based on interviews with 303 victims and witnesses, photographs, videos, satellite imagery, and other open-source information. The report details multiple indiscriminate attacks by both the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in densely populated areas.

Among its findings, the report shows that more than 8 million people have been displaced by the conflict, both within Sudan and into neighboring countries. In addition, it exposes that by December 15, 2023, at least 118 people were victims of sexual violence, including rape, gang rape and attempted rape, among them 19 children. The attacks on civilians have increased, leaving dozens dead and buried in mass graves.  The report also expresses concerns about the attacks on specially protected objects, because as of December 15, 2023, the World Health Organization recorded 60 attacks on health facilities. Based on these conditions, the OHCHR called on both parties to the conflict to ensure rapid and unimpeded access to humanitarian aid in all areas under their control. The press release and report can be found here.

– On January 22, 2024, the OHCHR released a country report on freedom of expression in Somalia, which addresses both progress and violations of this human right.

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The country report provided an updated analysis of incidents affecting the right to freedom of expression, as well as other human rights documented from 1 August 2018 to 31 December 2022. It also examined the implementation of some recommendations that were previously made. For example, in 2021, the Universal Periodic Review Process (UPR) made various recommendations in connection with the right to freedom of expression. Specifically, the UPR exposed the necessity of revising the Somali Penal Code and the Media Law in compliance with international human rights standards and made seven recommendations focused on the fight against impunity for crimes against journalists, including killings, detentions, and harassment.

In this report, the OHCHR documented the killing of 11 journalists and other media workers during the period under review. Seven of these were claimed by Al-Shabaab on its affiliated website. It also showed 37 incidents of harassment and intimidation of journalists and other media workers, 22 of them held by police forces. The report also documented that, during the reporting period, 464 individuals were arbitrarily and unlawfully arrested and/or detained by state security forces when exercising their right to freedom of expression. Based on the documented cases, the OHCHR concluded that, while there had been a 47% decrease in killings and injuring of journalists and other media workers compared to the previous reporting period, media professionals informed that the reason behind this was the adoption of self-censorship as a protection mechanism to avoid physical attacks in the current security situation. At the same time, intimidation and harassment of media workers by security forces increased significantly by 270%. Moreover, there had been an 82% increase in incidents of arbitrary detentions among other individuals and non-media workers.

The report concluded that some of the articles of the Somali Penal Code or the Media Law continued to be incomplete. Therefore, the OHCHR recommended the Federal Government of Somalia adapt its national legislation, to comply with international human rights standards, and strengthen the protection of freedom of expression by effectively implementing the United Nations human rights mechanisms’ recommendations.  The country report can be found here.

2. Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua (GHREN)

– On February 28, 2024, GHREN released a report on Nicaragua, which demonstrates that the human rights situation continues to plummet at an alarming pace.

The report was presented to the Human Rights Council and showed the alarming situation about human rights in Nicaragua. Specifically, the report analyzed the violations and abuses directed against specific groups: university students and professors, Indigenous Peoples and Afro-descendants, members of the Catholic and other Christian denominations, and members of the peasant movement.

According to GHREN, the president and vice-president have centralized the power of the State, as they have taken de facto the power from the judiciary and have carried out a generalized persecution of any person opposing the government. By February 2024, 121 opponents of the government, or perceived as such, were still detained. The government has even persecuted the nationals living abroad, by prohibiting them from entering the country, depriving them of their nationality and legal identity, denying them access to official documentation and support, and preventing family reunification. Between 2018 and February 2023, 935.065 people had left Nicaragua.

The GHREN shows its concern about the deportation of the analyzed groups. In the case of the Catholic Church, many priests have been deported to Vatican City. Under the same patron, as it was known in 2023, the government expelled 222 persons who had been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty because of their opposition to the regime. Finally, the GHREN found enough evidence to conclude that the crimes against humanity of imprisonment and deportation have been perpetrated in Nicaragua and that these crimes were perpetrated in the context of a discriminatory policy to systematically persecute and silence persons who are opponents or perceived as such. The report can be found here.