Human Rights Institute Annual Review 2018

International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has launched its Annual Review for the year 2018. The Review presents the IBAHRI’s main activities and accomplishments over the past year.

2018 began on a positive note, with the appointment of the Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG as Co-Chair of the IBAHRI Council. However, the year was not without its challenges for human rights. Right-wing extremism and populist movements continued to gain ground, capitalising on an atmosphere of growing hostility and intolerance towards vulnerable populations. Governments also increased their efforts to silence perceived opponents, including journalists and legal professionals.

Video: IBAHRI Annual Review 2018

In light of these developments, the IBAHRI’s mission to advance and support human rights and rule of law across the globe has gained renewed urgency. Protecting the independence of the legal profession and building capacity of the local legal profession have been at the heart of the IBAHRI’s efforts to promote and defend human rights since 1995, and are still as important as ever.

“When I got to know the IBA’s Human Rights Institute and I learned more about human rights, it was as if someone has lit a guiding light for me.“

IBAHRI Training Participant

The IBAHRI continued its efforts in the name of torture prevention in Brazil, by offering tailored training programmes in all five regions of the country in conjunction with the release of an informational video. As part of its work in the Americas, the IBAHRI also continued monitoring the trial of Judge María Lourdes Afiuni in Venezuela. In December 2018, the IBAHRI sent an open letter to President Maduro expressing deep concern about the Judge’s prosecution and detention.

In the Asia Pacific region, the IBAHRI called on Chinese President Xi Jinping to end persecution of human rights lawyers in China. The IBAHRI also condemned the decision by a court in Malaysia to cane two homosexual women for attempting to have sexual relations.

The IBAHRI delivered an oral statement at the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of five other organisations regarding widespread human rights violations against lawyers in Turkey and the intimidation and harassment of judges in Poland. The IBAHRI also repeatedly called attention to the targeting of and attacks on members of the legal profession in Turkey, including by contributing to a joint submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers. The IBAHRI also released a short film on the situation of the legal profession in Tajikistan, as part of its broader efforts in Europe and Central Asia.

In Iran, the IBAHRI called for the immediate release of prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in an open letter to His Excellency Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei. The Syria project was one of IBAHRI’s most significant undertakings in the Middle East and North Africa. The project, organised in collaboration with the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC), aimed at providing training to Syrian lawyers on how to engage with international and national human rights and accountability mechanisms. Similar capacity building took place in Tunisia, where the IBAHRI partnered with ILAC to set up a project consisting of a series of training programs for administrative judges, lawyers and civil society actors to adjudicate, litigate and report violations of economic, social and cultural rights.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the IBAHRI, in collaboration with the African Commission’s Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, held a panel discussion on states’ obligations with regard to resources to fulfil economic, social and cultural rights in The Gambia. The IBAHRI also contributed to the coordination of the Annual Jurists Conference in South Africa. Furthermore, the IBAHRI published the findings of its 2017 fact-finding mission to Tanzania.

In 2018, the IBAHRI focused on the following thematic areas: human rights in the administration of justice, independence of the legal profession, equality and non-discrimination, and poverty and human rights.

To receive a hard copy of the Annual Review 2018, please contact hri@int-bar.org