Human Rights violations alleged against the Republic of Benin

By: Wendy Neeley

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

Benin – On December 20, 2022, Eric Noudehouenou filed an application against the Republic of Benin with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Noudehouenou alleges several human rights violations against the respondent parties and asserts that many of these violations and actions were prohibited by previous judgments of the court. The allegations include violations of “respect for life and physical and moral integrity”, the “right to a fair trial”, the “right to freedom of opinion and expression”, the “right to freely associate with others”, and the “right to participate freely in the conduct of public affairs of one’s country”.

Noudehouenou filed the application on behalf of himself and other citizens of the Republic of Benin. Notably, the application states that Noudehouenou has been given power of attorney for Reckya Madougou. Madaougou was arrested while protesting the presidential election in 2021 which was prohibited by an earlier judgment of the court.

People gathered outside the court showing support for Reckya Madougou during her trial. Photo Courtesy of BBC News.

Benin is a West African country formerly known as Dahomey. It is underdeveloped and is ranked among the world’s poorest countries, but it has seen significant economic growth over the past few years. Although it is one of Africa’s more stable democracies, there is still some political unrest, as evidenced by the protests that resulted in the arrest of Madougou.

The application filed by Noudehouenou requests that the court enforce the judgments that would have prevented the 2021 Presidential Election and erase all of the effects of the election. He claims that not acting with urgency on the matter will cause irreparable harm. Additionally, the application calls for the suspension of Madougou’s detention. The circumstances around the arrest and trial have some questioning the conviction of acts of terrorism. Additionally, the application claims that Madougou is being held in appalling conditions and has not been allowed to communicate with her lawyers privately.

After reviewing the application, the court found that they can no longer take any measures regarding the 2021 Presidential election since it has already occurred, and the measures sought are not moot. Additionally, the court found no justification for the request for the suspension of the detention warrant for Reckya Madougou. Accordingly, and absent any further proceedings, she will be required to carry out her sentence of twenty years of imprisonment.

For further information, please see:

ACtHPR – Houngue Eric Noudehouenou v. Republic of Benin, 20 Dec. 2022

BBC News – Benin country profile – 16 Jan. 2023

BBC News – Reckya Madougou: Opposition leader jailing damages Benin democracy – laywer – 12 Dec. 2021 

Reuters – Benin opposition leader sentenced to 20 years in prison – 11 Dec. 2021 

IACHR Calls Honduras to Protect Human Rights Defenders After at Least Five Murders this Year

By: Marie LeRoy

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

HONDURAS — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) demands that Honduras investigate the murders of Human Rights Defenders “effectively and with due diligence” after yet another vicious murder this year.

Picture of activist in Guapinol, Honduras protesting open pit mining. Security forces look on from across the river. Picture curtesy of Ignatian Solidary Network.

At least five human rights activists, who focused on environmental rights, have been reported to have been murdered this year in Honduras. According to the IACHR, some of the activists have been targeted because of their involvement in the protests against the “operation of an open-pit oxide mine” in an aera in Guapinol, Honduras that had been designated as an “forest reserve”. Open pit mining can pollute rivers and contaminate water which directly effects the rural communities in Honduras relying on the river. The activists claim that the mining allowance was illegally granted because of the “forest reserve” status of the land and therefore should be stopped. The mining company and local authorities have responded to these protests by allegedly targeted around thirty-two leaders of these environmental groups and “falsely accusing them of crimes”.

Local police and prosecutor in Honduras have attempted to attribute these deaths to incidences of local violence unrelated to the Human Right Defenders’ protests. Some reports by the local police have stated that the victims’ deaths were a result of a “botched mugging” although the victims were found with their cellphones and money.

The lack of efforts by the police, prosecutors, and authorities to investigate and protect these Human Rights Defenders, and to even attempt to “cover up” the crimes, has not gone unnoticed. Human Rights Defenders in Honduras have had a longstanding history of being violently targeted in attempts to silence them in their opposition and their organizations. The way in which these Human Rights Defenders’ have been routinely targeted include acts of intimidation, including intimidating messages, harassment, and death threats, to outright acts of violence, including acts up to and including murder.

These acts on Human Rights Defenders can result in fewer and fewer individuals willing to advocate for these causes as well as similar important causes. The effects of the decline in advocacy seeps into every aspect of life, polluting and decaying entire communities’ quality of life until Human Rights in general are a thing of the past. The IACHR demands Honduras “take all measures necessary to protect the rights to life, integrity, and safety of human rights defenders” to ensure the continuation of advocacy in Honduras.

For further information, please see:

Aljazeera – UN calls for probe into killing of two Honduran environmentalist- 12 Jan. 2023

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre – Honduras: IACHR condemns killing of at least 5 land defenders and calls on the State to investigate them diligently and effectively – 14 Feb. 2023

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre – Honduras: Local activists & UN call for investigation after murder of 2 human rights defenders—17 Jan. 2023

IACHR- Press Release IACHR Condemns Murders of Right Defenders in Honduras- 14 Feb. 2023

The Guardian – Honduran environmental defenders shot dead in broad daylight – 11 Jan. 2023

ProtectDefenders.edu – Honduras: Violent attacks & murder of human rights defenders—9 Feb. 2023

Sentence and Conviction of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Signals Bealrus’ Efforts to Deter Human Rights Activists

By: Nathanael Linton

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

            On March 3, 2023, Ales Bialiatski, among other human rights activists, was sentenced by the Lieninski District Court of Minsk, under presiding Judge Maryna Zapasnik, to serve long-term prison terms. Mr. Bialiatski won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022 for his “courageous work and dedication to promoting human rights and democracy in Belarus.” He founded the organization Viasna to “provide support to incarcerated demonstrators and their families” who opposed Belarus’ constitutional amendments made in 2016 to keep then-and-current President Alexander Lukashenko in power.

Ales Bialiatski in cage enclosure during trial. Photo courtesy of Viasna

Mr. Bialiatski is currently serving ten years for being found guilty of “smuggling by an organized group” under Part 4 Article 228 of the Criminal Code, and for “financing of group actions grossly violating the public order” under Part 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code. However, this is not his first time being sentenced by the Belarusian government. In 2011, he was sentenced to three years for alleged tax invasion, and again in 2021 for protesting current President Lukashenko’s administration for human rights violations committed by the Belarus government. To date, Mr. Bialiatski has been in Belarusian custody since July 14, 2021.

Human rights activists and opponents of the current Belarusian government have stated that the imprisonment of human rights activists is “politically motivated.” In his defense, Mr. Bialiatski argues that “the activities of Viasna has been completely legal and comply with all international obligations of the Republic of Belarus.” However, Judge Zapasnik has found the allegations against Bailiatski, as well as the other high-level leaders of Viasna organization, to be “fully proven.” During their detainment, Mr. Staradubets, a spokesperson for Viasna, states that the conditions in which Mr. Bialiatski and others are being kept should be considered “torture.” According to Staradubets, ‘We call [it] torture because

they’re being held for several months in a 19th-century building, poorly lit cells with no fresh air, no sunlight, poor food, [and] little to no healthcare.” However, when confronted with allegedly imprisoning activists as a form of oppression, Mr. Lukashenko simply argues that all government opponents, including Mr. Bialiatski, were incarcerated for breaking the law. The recent decision now sends him to a medium-security penal colony.

            The incarceration of Mr. Bialiatski though is not the first time Belarus makes headlines for its troubling human rights issues. According to the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Council of Europe, Belarus made headlines after their 2020 presidential elections in which “various peaceful protestors were arrested, and other individuals reported missing.” The right to life is being troubled by Belarus’ numerous deprivations of liberty. These individuals’ sacrifices should not be in vain, especially those of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In a country such as Belarus, whose actions have been condemned by various international bodies, work should be done to prosecute Belarus for its egregious and hostile actions toward workers of human rights. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Bialiatski, his family, and all other human rights activists who still fight for justice despite their current conditions.


For further information, please see:

BBC News – Ales Bialiatski: Nobel Prize-winning activist sentenced to 10 years in jail – 3 Mar. 2023

Council of Europe, Commissioner of Human Rights – Press Statement: Belarus: today’s conviction of Nobel Laureate Bialiatski and other human rights defenders is a blatant attack against justice – 3 Mar. 2023

Council of Europe, Commissioner of Human Rights – Press Statement: Human rights violations in Belarus must stop immediately – 21 Sept. 2020

PBS News – Belarusian court sentences Nobel laureate Bialiatski to 10 years in prison – 3 Mar. 2023.

U.N. Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights – Press Statement: Sentencing of Human Rights defenders in Belarus – 3 Mar. 2023

Viasna – Viasna leadership receives from 7 to 10 years in jail – 3 Mar. 2023

Wall Street Journal – Nobel Laureate and Activist Ales Bialiatski Sentenced to 10 Years in Belarusian Prison – 3 Mar. 2023

ICC Prosecutor Announces Conclusion of Investigation Phase in Central African Republic

By: Sallie Moppert

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – After over a decade of investigations into the atrocities and crimes occurring in the Central African Republic, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it would be concluding the investigation phase into a situation being addressed by the Court. The ICC opened its first investigation into the Situation in the Central African Republic in May 2007. The goal of the investigation was to uncover and examine evidence of alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes during the armed conflict occurring in the Central African Republic (CAR) between July 2002 and July 2003. A second investigation was launched in September 2014 after a referral by the Government of the CAR, with this investigation looking into the alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes occurring between the armed groups Séléka and the Anti-Balaka since August 2012.

Muslim families in a neighborhood near Bangui, trapped by the violence occurring, make plans to flee their homes.
Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch.

“Our work in the Situation in the Central African Republic is, however, far from over,” ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC explained in his statement. “My Office will now concentrate its efforts on ensuring the successful prosecution of those subject to arrest warrants and significantly deepening its cooperation with the Special Criminal Court for the CAR.”

Since the commencement of the investigations into the Situation in the CAR, several individuals have been arrested and charged with various crimes against humanity and war crimes. Two notable cases include that of Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona, who have been charged with a multitude of crimes, including intentional attacks against the civilian population, murder, rape, cruel treatment, mutilation, persecution, severe deprivation of physical liberty and recruiting child soldiers. Another ongoing case involves the confirmation of charges against Maxime Mokom, who has been arrested and transferred to the ICC in March 2022 for similar crimes. The Mokom case was recently postponed by the Pre-Trial Chamber on January 24, 2023.

“Since the opening of these investigations, my Office has examined evidence related to alleged crimes committed by all parties to the armed conflict. It carried out its work in an independent, impartial and objective manner, in partnership with survivors, civil society, and with fruitful cooperation of relevant national authorities,” Khan said. “In the discussions held between my Office and Central African Republic authorities, we have addressed a common vision through which the focus of action for accountability will now move to the domestic level, with the committed and meaningful support of my Office. My Office stands ready to continue its work with and alongside the authorities of the Central African Republic, survivors, the families of victims, and civil society in the task that lies ahead.”


For further information, please see:

Human Rights Watch – Central African Republic: ICC Investigation Needed – 26 June 2014

ICC – Situation in Central African Republic II: Alfred Yekatom surrendered to the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes – 17 Nov. 2018

ICC – Situation in Central African Republic II: Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka surrendered to the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes – 14 Mar. 2022

ICC – The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim A.A. Khan KC, announces conclusion of the investigation phase in the Situation in the Central African Republic – 16 Dec. 2022

ECHR Finds Plaintiff’s Husband’s Right to Life Violated While he was Held in an Armenian Detention Facility

By: Marie LeRoy 

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

STRASBOURG, France – The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) reverses a District Court judgment and finds that Armenia failed to protect Slavik Voskanyan’s right to life through its negligent provision of medical services.

Picture of hallway of an Armenian prison. Photo curtesy of: AZERNEWS

On October 7, 2010, Plaintiff’s husband, Slavik Voskanyan, was arrested under suspicion of murder and armed assault. Voskanyan was placed in an Armenian detention facility while he awaited trial. Eleven days later, Voskanyan began complaining of pain in his left shin. One of the detention facilities’ doctors immediately began treating Voskanyan for his injury. On October 19, the doctor noted that “crepitation was observed upon palpation” of Voskanyan’s shin and that “brown pus with an unpleasant smell” was found within the injury.

On October 21, a different detention doctor went to check Voskanyan’s injury and reported to the chief detention facility doctor that Voskanyan’s injury was getting worse. The doctor noted that they believed that the “infected area may possibly spread” and that Voskanyan was experiencing severe pain. Three days later, Voskanyan was finally transferred to the local hospital with the intention that he undergo surgery on his shin. Voskanyan, however, succumbed to the infection and died the same day in the hospital.

A forensic investigation was immediately commenced, and a panel of experts were consulted. The experts concluded that the detention facility doctor did not diagnosis Voskanyan correctly. The experts indicated that the October 19 examination should have alerted the doctor to the seriousness of the injury and the presence of an infection diagnosis like “gangrene.” They noted that the doctor should have recognized Voskanyan’s injury deterioration and reacted accordingly by changing the treatment method. The panel further concluded that the doctor, when noting the “crepitation” and “unpleasant smell,” was “obliged” to send Voskanyan to the hospital for treatment. The panel of experts finally concluded that it might have been possible, if the doctor employed the correct treatment and response, to prevent Voskanyan’s death.

Despite these findings, multiple Courts have dismissed Voskanyan’s wife’s claims for medical negligence because it is unclear whether Voskanyan’s shin injury originated and was made worse through methods of self-harm.

However, the ECHR found for Voskanyan’s wife, deciding that the domestic authorities did not do everything that was “reasonably possible, in good faith and in a timely manner” to save Voskanyan’s life. The ECHR stated that the dentition facility had a duty, because Voskanyan was “under their control”, to protect his life and that Voskanyan’s own actions were irrelevant to that duty. Therefore, the ECHR reversed the prior decisions finding for the Armenian government and held that the Armenian government must pay Voskanyan’s wife twenty thousand euros worth of damages.


For further information, please see:

Voskanyan v. Armenia – ECHR—24 Jan. 2023

Voskanyan v. Armenia –ECHR Communicated Case — 1 Sept. 2015