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When President Macron visits Mali on Friday 19 May, he should urge the government to professionalize the security forces and hold them accountable, to support the chronically neglected judiciary, and to take concrete action against rampant corruption.

Group Recorded Spike in Anti-LGBT Acts in 2016

“Today, in France, we still cannot live and love freely just as we are,” said Joël Deumier, president of the association SOS Homophobie.

Decision Reverses Interior Ministry Denial

Israeli authorities on April 26, 2017, granted a work visa to Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, Human Rights Watch said today.

Let's Rise Up For Our Rights!

By Bénédicte Jeannerod, France Director at Human Rights Watch and Camille Blanc, President of Amnesty International France.

Published on Mediapart's website (in French)

Human Rights principles were proclaimed universal almost 70 years ago. They were articulated after a period of barbarity and contempt for human dignity caused by a lack of understanding of the critical importance of these rights. But we are seeing the most virulent attack on these principles in decades.

In France, speeches and proposals for emergency measures based on fear, intolerance, and stigmatization have been at the forefront of the presidential campaign. The disastrous logic behind these ideas has contaminated the political discussion. Even if candidates espousing these views do not win the election, which no one is in a position to predict conclusively, these ideas are settling into our political landscape.

We are concerned about the strength of the dikes protecting the rule of law and our democracy and of respect for the basic principles of human rights. Yes, we are afraid for the founding values of this country, which have been undermined and sometimes are even preempted by disturbing trends that we observe in Europe and in the world.

Expressions of xenophobia and hatred, which many leaders around the world have promoted, thrive on the feeling of insecurity in the face of terrorist attacks, unemployment, the crisis around welcoming refugees, and the perception of a dilution of national identity due to globalization. Demagogues play on the legitimate concerns of a section of the population to free themselves from the fundamental principles of the rule of law, which protect every human being. Instead they are promoting a double standard for protecting these rights, a contempt for justice, and a rejection of institutions that provide checks and balances on their power.

Hammered like a mantra and ignoring the facts, this rhetoric unfortunately seems to find a loud echo in a part of French society.

In the name of fighting terrorism, an elementary truth has been forgotten: that human rights were not invented by dreamers of beautiful and great principles. They are instead an essential condition to allow each and every one of us to live in safety, protected from arbitrary decisions to restrict our rights. They were acquired through social struggles and revolutions, and learned from the experience of previous generations. To be safe, we do not need fewer rights; instead, we must fight to ensure that all rights are effective for everyone.

In the face of a world that is disoriented and upset, wouldn’t the worst option be to give in to fear? To renounce the essential principles that guide us and let them be trampled? Should we not, on the contrary, reject without concession xenophobia and discrimination and preserve the understanding that the capacity for empathy defines our humanity? Should we not defend a strong and independent justice, and fiercely free and meticulous media in the search for the facts?

The situation is serious, but we refuse to see it as fatal. It is up to all of us working together to mobilize for the upcoming election and beyond, to show how much these principles matter to us and that they cannot be dissolved based on the fears of the moment.

Whichever candidate wins, we will be there to constantly remind the future President of the Republic of the principles for which they are the guardian and whose effective implementation they will have to ensure. These "human rights" are, above all, our own, so let us rise to demand them, defend them, protect them!

***

This call by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International France is supported by Robert Badinter (former Justice Minister), Tahar Ben Jelloun (writer), William Bourdon (lawyer), Clotilde Courau (actress), C215 (street artist), Mireille Delmas-Marty (professor emeritus at Collège de France), Dan Franck (writer), Costa Gavras (filmmaker), Emily Loizeau (singer), François Morel (actor), Franck Pavloff (writer), Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber (journalist), Lambert Wilson (actor).    

French Foreign Minister’s Beijing Visit a Chance to Raise Crackdown on Activists, Lawyers

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will arrive in China tomorrow for what

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will arrive in China for what will be his last official visit in this country. But he can make it much more than that: it’s an opportunity to publicly express his concern about the serious attack on human rights in China, and make it clear that France stands in solidarity with China’s courageous activists, whose space is constantly being narrowed by government repression.

Hollande Should Call for Release of Imprisoned Activists, Journalists

In Paris this week on an official visit, Azerbaijan’s autocratic President Ilham Aliyev has already scored one photo op.

In Paris this week on an official visit, Azerbaijan’s autocratic President Ilham Aliyev has already scored one photo op. Anyone reading yesterday’s Azeri media could see dozens of photos of Aliyev posing with leaders of top French companies, including Airbus, Suez, and Credit Agricole.

Like an addict, France does not know how to quit its state of emergency even though it has become clear that maintaining it erodes the rule of law and fosters human rights abuses while not keeping

Like an addict, France does not know how to quit its state of emergency even though it has become clear that maintaining it erodes the rule of law and fosters human rights abuses while not keeping the country safer. The February 22 report by the parliamentary commission tasked with monitoring the state of emergency provided yet another reminder that it no longer serves any meaningful purpose.

Troops Force Residents Out, Demolish Homes

(Erbil) – Iraqi forces have forcibly displaced at least 125 families said to have familial ties to affiliates of the Islamic State (also

Iraqi forces have forcibly displaced at least 125 families said to have familial ties to affiliates of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS). The families are being held against their will in a camp functioning as an open-air prison near Tikrit.