Over the past few months, HRS undertake a project to investigate six key areas of human rights abuses in India. The current BJP Indian government has been responsible for some of the significant human right violations. The government and its associated have been involved in extrajudicial killings; torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by police and prison officials; political prisoners or detainees; and unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists. HRS has undergone a project over the past few months to investigate six key areas of human rights violations in India:
Freedom of Expression
Freedom of Assembly
Discrimination based on Caste
Human rights violations against Kashmiris
Rights of Children
Each of the six reports details past and present studies and details of the current situation in India respective to the topic covered, while also providing points of reflection and recommendation for ways forward. The hope is to both spread awareness and inspire action.
In the panel held in the British Parliament, crimes of torture and countermeasures involving state officials in Turkey were discussed. On Monday 26th of June 2023, Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws hosted an event in UK Parliament in collaboration with The Arrested Lawyers Initiative and Human Rights Solidarity.
The event covered ‘The Deterrence Potential of Multilateral Sanctions for Human Rights Abuses in Turkey’ to discuss Impunity, torture, and ill-treatment in Turkey in relation to Magnitsky Sanctions from the United Kingdom. Speakers, Kevin Dent KC, Sarah Teich, Natalia Kubesch, and Michael Polak, presented at the event on their work against this issue and encouraged the public to raise awareness on the current political situation in Turkey and the UK’s benefit to help.
Baroness Helena Kennedy
The state of emergency in Turkey marked the beginning of gross human rights violations, including widespread torture facilitated by the adoption of impunity provisions, enforced disappearances and mass detention on an industrial scale. According to official figures, more than 600,000 people have been detained by the police on overly broad terrorism charges, while more than 100,000 have been remanded in custody. Between 2016 and 2021, more than 310,000 people were convicted of membership of an armed terrorist organisation. Since 2016, more than 1,600 lawyers have been detained, and so far, 551 lawyers have been sentenced to 3,356 years in prison on terrorism-related charges, mostly for membership in terrorist organisations.
In September 2020, The Arrested Lawyers launched the Turkey Human Rights Accountability Project in response to the ongoing rule of law violations and imprisonment of lawyers, activists, journalists and academics on trumped-up charges. Prominent British barristers Kevin Dent KC and Michael Polak, who both attended the event. An extra step was made towards the Canadian Government, authored by Mr Dent and Mr Polak, as well as Ms Sarah Teich.
Baroness Kennedy: “Turkey has been brought in front of the European Court of Human Rights and the court found defiance of rule of law time and again. At this point in time, the Council of Europe is weighing the possibility of taking action against Turkey.”
Michael Polak: “Sanctions work better when multiple countries are involved.” “We provided the Foreign Ministry a well studied 500 pages long evidence file. Two years passed over our submission and every other month I am sending them an email and asking, did you read it. No response.”
Sarah Teich: “There are things we can learn from the UK and there are things they can learn from Canada. Multilateral learning is as good as multilateral sanctions.”
Kevin Dent KC: “This sense that you cannot sanction a friendly country has to be overcome. When I speak to people who are critical of Turkey’s human rights records, they say it is too complex to have sanctions on nationals of Turkey.”
Natalia Kubesch: “The fact that nationals of friendly countries avoid sanction gives a message of hypocrisy and that some lives matter more than others.”
Sarah Teich, Michael Polak, Kevin Dent QC, Beatrice Travis (London Advocacy, Moderator) Natalia Kubesch
Key Points made in the event:
• The event covered case submissions made to the governments of the UK, US, and Canada, detailing first-hand accounts of torture present in Turkey.
• The UK has a close security and diplomatic relationship with its Turkish counterparts. Turkey is a NATO member, a formal ally of Britain and has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1950. Turkey is also a close trade partner to Britain, with the UK being the second biggest importer of goods from Turkey.
• This context creates significant diplomatic sensitivities, impacting the UK government’s willingness to impose targeted human rights sanctions Turkish officials, in the fear that it could jeopardise future relations. Instead, the UK’s government’s preference to date has been to raise any concerns pertaining to the human rights situations in Turkey bilaterally, at the ministerial level on an ad hoc basis.
• The case of Turkey demonstrates that even established democracies face the risk of sliding into authoritarianism and instability if they fail to confront emerging abuses and allies to do not hold them to account.
• There is a demand for action from governments who are yet to respond despite it being nearly two years since submissions to the UK and Canada:
• These sanctions are about visa arrangements and asset freezing.
• Sanctions can also provide an important symbolic form of accountability by expressly recognising the harm suffered by victims and calling out perpetrators for their involvement in the abuses: sanctions can convey strong signs of disapproval by condoning, and explicitly demanding changes, to the targeted individuals’ or entities’ behaviour. Specifically, sanctions enable states to send a statement “that this will not stand”, deterring others from engaging in similar conduct.
This report reveals the extent to which the rights of minority and opposition groups have been violated after the disaster. South-eastern provinces of Turkey were hit by one of the deadliest natural disasters of human history on the 6th of February 2023. The affected region is dominantly inhabited by Kurds, Alevites and Syrian refugees — all traditionally discriminated against, or at least considered to be neglected populations in Turkey.
As a result, the earthquake exacerbated the existing social cleavages and made the existing injustices increasingly more visible.
Our report reveals particularly the extent to which the fundamental rights and freedoms of minority groups are violated in the post-disaster period.
You can read our information note on rights violations after the earthquake in Turkey in the section below:
The final report of Baroness Casey’s investigation into the London Police Department (Met) was made public in late March.
Commissioned by Mayor Sadiq Khan in response to the murder of Sarah Everard, the report reveals disturbing findings about the culture and practices of the Metropolitan Police.
The review found a culture of sexism and harassment within the Met, and many female officers and staff reported their experiences of harassment and sexism. These behaviours were often ignored or rejected by senior leadership, creating a toxic environment for women in power. The report also highlighted insufficient education on gender and race issues; many officials and staff did not have sufficient knowledge of how to handle cases involving women and minority groups. This has led to bias and discrimination in the handling of cases.
Additionally, the report noted a lack of diversity in leadership within the force, with senior leadership being predominantly white and male. This led to a lack of diversity in decision-making and policy development, which further perpetuated biases and discrimination within the force.
To address these issues, the report made several recommendations. One of the key recommendations was a cultural overhaul, with the men’s club needing to develop a comprehensive plan to address the sexist and discriminatory culture within the club. The report also recommended better training for members on issues of gender and race, with mandatory training required for promotion and advancement within the club. The report called for a more efficient and transparent disciplinary process, with stricter penalties for members found guilty of misconduct. Finally, the report recommended that the club take active steps to recruit and promote more women and minority members into leadership positions.
In conclusion, the final report of Baroness Casey’s review paints a concerning picture of a men’s club in need of significant reform. However, the report’s recommendations provide a clear roadmap for how the club can begin to address these issues and create a more equitable and just institution. We must work together to dismantle the exclusive culture of the men’s club and create a more inclusive environment for all members.
Human Rights Solidarity organised two panels at the CSW-67 conference held at the United Nations, where women’s issues were discussed. From March 6th-17th, HRS attended the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 67 conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City where representatives of UN Member States. Civil society organisations and UN entities gather at UN headquarters in New York to discuss progress and gaps in women’s rights and their status in society, with a focus on innovation, technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.
HRS engaged in various panels, discussions, and networking opportunities held both in the UN and by participating NGOS and global companies eager to help the women’s movement, while also hosting their own event: Women Power in the World Economy with special guest speakers Dr Virginia Valian and Dr Jenna Carpenter. The event took us through the past, present, and future of women in the workforce, economy, and STEM through both a lens of social psychological factors and female empowerment in male dominated sectors.
The event was greatly successful, and the HRS members gained valuable experience and knowledge from the insightful panels and the powerful women they met from within the UN and around the world.
Funding girls’ education supports the mission to end poverty long-term and to bring women into the workforce
Enabling access to technology and the digital world to all girls and women will increase access to education, help, and the ability to share experiences and struggles with others
How we can help:
Education: Advocate for equitable education, encourage, create, and join a course for digital literacy
Urge national and local governments to guarantee a network of support for women with localized organizations and leaders
Call on nations to work with localized communities to address gender gaps in schooling collaboratively and commit resources.
You can read our detailed report on these meetings in the section below: