Democratic republic of Congo
Gaza / Israel
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Jean-Marie Fardeau and Jon Elliott, Africa advocacy director, met with various decision-makers to discuss the situation in the DRC, among other African countries. They were received by the Central African and East African divisions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as by Romain Serman, Africa advisor to President Sarkozy. Jean-Marie Fardeau and Jon Elliott reiterated Human Rights Watch’s appeal to the United Nations to prioritize civilian protection in Eastern Congo and to fight against impunity.
In light of President Sarkozy’s visit to the DRC on May 25, the Paris office distributed a media advisory to the French press about various human rights issues. On May 24, the Secretary of State for Human Rights organized an event about sexual violence in the DRC. Jean-Marie Fardeau was invited to speak and present the work that Human Rights Watch is doing to end this tragedy.
To support the recent decision made by the International Criminal Court, we sent out several press releases and media advisories to the French media about the arrest warrant of Omar Al-Bashir, president of Sudan. Jean-Marie Fardeau gave several interviews on the subject to the French press and Human Rights Watch supported the publication of an Op-Ed written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the magazine Jeune Afrique. In early March, Jean-Marie Fardeau and Jon Elliott met with decision-makers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the situation in Sudan, in particular the expulsion of thirteen humanitarian organizations from the country.
In January, six NGOs (Human Rights Watch, FIDH, Reprieve, Amnesty International, Center for Constitutional Rights, Ligue des Droits de l’Homme) sent a letter to Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to urge the French government to accept some ex-detainees from Guantanamo Bay. We are maintaining our advocacy efforts following President Sarkozy’s decision to welcome one detainee into France.
GAZA / ISRAEL
Following the Israeli offensive in Gaza from December 28 to January 1è, the Paris office kept up the pressure on France to take a position on the creation of an international, impartial, exhaustive commission to investigate war crimes committed by both Israeli forces and Hamas. The commission created by the UN Human Rights Council, entrusted to Mr. Richard Goldstone, should play this crucial role. We also defended free and unlimited access to goods as well as various human rights organizations in the Gaza Strip.
The human rights situation remains worrisome in Vanni, in northern Sri Lanka, where there are battles between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels. Over 100 000 civilians are trapped in rapidly-shrinking war zones while tens of thousands have been taken under the control of the Sri Lankan army. Human Rights Watch has continuously pressed France on the issue of civilian protection.