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Weak UN Resolution on Sri Lanka Creates Problems March 12th, 2014

In a well-reasoned analysis of the situation in Sri Lanka,  argues that the UN resolution put forward by the United States at the UN Human Rights Council needs to be strengthened in order to avoid creating additional problems in Sri Lanka. According to the award-winning Sri Lankan journalist, “A resolution that establishes a weak investigating body will only render ineffectual what the international community says it is working for – strengthening human rights to promote reconciliation in a country recovering from war.” Even worse, a weak resolution is likely to lead to less protection for human rights advocates and discourage those who have been working for justice. It would also undermine the legitimacy and relevance of political party voted into power in the north, which has called for a credible investigation as the basis for negotiation of a political solution.

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leads High Profile Group to Geneva on Sri Lanka March 6th, 2014

Archbishop Tutu (picture: Wikimedia Commons)

Archbishop Tutu (picture: Wikimedia Commons)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and other human rights campaigners have urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to commit to an independent international investigation in the form of a Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations in Sri Lanka.

The following is the text of their statement:

We, concerned individuals and organisations from around the world, urge the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to use their March 2014 session to pass a resolution that will include a commitment to an Independent International investigation in the form of a Commission of Inquiry. Only this will help to put the country on the path to justice and reconciliation.

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Mannar Bishop and Over Two Hundred Tamil Catholic Priests and Sisters Call For International Investigation of Sri Lanka Human Rights Abuses March 4th, 2014

“…we are concerned about the post war intensification of systematic efforts to destroy the identity of the Tamil community.”

The bombing of the safe zone, March 4, 2009. Some 40,000 Tamils were killed in the final stages of the war.

The bombing of the safe zone, March 4, 2009. Some 40,000 Tamils were killed in the final stages of the war.

Two hundred and five Tamil Catholic Priests and Sisters from the North and East of Sri Lanka, including the Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar and many Oblates, have written to the members of the UN Human Rights Council calling for an international investigation into Sri Lanka’s war crimes and human rights violations. The religious have called for the adoption of a strong and action-oriented resolution on Sri Lanka at the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council. That session opened this week in Geneva.


Below is the statement in full:

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Celebrate International Human Rights Day: December 10 December 9th, 2013

Celebrated since 1950, Human Rights Day is held on December 10 every year. This is the date on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaiming its principles as the “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”

The principles are based on a statement developed by a committee made up of U.S. Catholic laity and bishops appointed by the “National Catholic Welfare Conference” (the national agency of the American Catholic Bishops). Learn more…

For more information on human rights and the United Nations, please see our webpage on Human Rights, which offers both information and links to additional material



Action Alert: Keep Human Rights Tied to US Military Aid November 5th, 2013

Thanks to the Latin America Working Group (LAWG) for the information in this Action Alert.

Tell Congress you don’t want your tax dollars used to violate human rights!

Some members of Congress who oversee foreign aid want to eliminate human rights conditions tied to military and police assistance for Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, and Guatemala. These conditions are an important means to try to ensure the United States does not do business with human rights violators.

Tell Congress you don’t want your tax dollars used to violate human rights! Sign LAWG’s petition and demand that Congress stand for human rights!

Unfortunately, rape, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, torture, and other grave human rights violations continue to be committed by members of the armed forces of Colombia, Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala.

  • Colombia: Of the over 3,000 extrajudicial executions allegedly committed by members of the security forces, the vast majority remains unpunished.
  • Honduras: 149 civilians have been killed by the police in the past two years alone. As violence has soared, so has impunity. Crimes committed by both police and military personnel have not been investigated.
  • Mexico: Since 2006, when former President Calderón deployed tens of thousands of soldiers across Mexico to take on public security matters in an effort to combat organized crime, Mexico has seen a significant increase in the number of reports of human rights violations committed by Mexican armed forces. Between 2003 and 2006, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) received 691 complaints of human rights violations committed by the armed forces. This figure surged to 4,803 reports of human rights violations between 2010 and 2012.
  • Guatemala: The military is increasingly used for law enforcement, leading to abuses. In October 2012 soldiers fired on and killed 6 indigenous protestors and wounded 34. The military continues to fail to fully cooperate with investigations into human rights violations committed by members of the armed forces during the civil war.

Send a message to Congress: Support human rights, not abusive militaries!


Celebrate Human Rights Day: December 10th October 28th, 2013

solitaryconfinementOn December 10, 2013, the world community will commemorate the 65th anniversary of the adoption and proclamation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On this day, we are being encouraged by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) – as people of faith, who acknowledge the dignity of every human being – to reaffirm the Universal Declaration’s statement that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture’s theme for Human Rights Day 2013 is “Confronting Solitary Confinement in an Age of Mass Incarceration.” NRCAT developed a Human Rights Day toolkit to help congregations and religious organizations observe the day. The 2013 toolkit includes:

  • A bulletin insert with educational material and an interfaith prayer
  • A poster for the promotion of Human Rights Day
  • Talking points for integrating the reality of solitary confinement into sermons and prayers during worship
  • Links to other worship resources, as well as to educational and advocacy activities that congregations can do to commemorate Human Rights Day

We encourage you to observe Human Rights Day during worship services, as a part of your religious education efforts and through advocacy activities during either the weekend of December 6-8, December 13-15, or another time of your choosing. If your congregation plans to commemorate Human Rights Day in any way, please let NRCAT know.

Access the NRCAT Human Rights Day Toolkit (Download PDF)

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