OHCHR / MUKWEGE DEATH THREATS

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28-Aug-2020 00:03:47
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has “expressed deep concern over the death threats directed at the Congolese human rights defender and Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege,” the spokesperson for the High Commissioner told reporters in Geneva on Friday. UNTV CH

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STORY: OHCHR / MUKWEGE DEATH THREATS
TRT: 3:47
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH /NATS

DATELINE: 28 JULY 2020 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

1. Wide shot, podium in press room Palais des Nations
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Coville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has today expressed deep concern over the death threats directed at the Congolese human rights defender and Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege, and she is calling for swift action to investigate who is behind the threats and bring them to justice.”
3. Cutaway, journalist
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Coville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“He has also been a strong and consistent voice calling for those responsible for sexual violence to be brought to justice.:”
5. Cutaway, journalist
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Coville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Dr. Mukwege has received deaths threats in the past and he survived a major assassination attempt in October 2012, when five armed men invaded his home, killed his bodyguard and friend Joseph Bizimana and held his family at gunpoint.”
7. Med shot, journalists
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Coville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The recent alarming surge of threats against Dr Mukwege, which have been conveyed via social media and in direct phone calls to him and his family, followed his condemnation of the continued killing of civilians in eastern DRC and his renewed calls for accountability for human rights violations and abuses. His life seems to be at serious risk”
9. Close up, journalist
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Coville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“As the High Commissioner said this morning, Dr. Mukwege is a true hero – determined, courageous and extremely effective. For years, he helped thousands of gravely injured and traumatized women when there was nobody else to take care of them, and at the same time he did a great deal to publicize their plight and stimulate others to try to grapple with the uncontrolled epidemic of sexual violence in the eastern DRC.”
11. Cutaway, journalist
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Coville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“She has also called for an effective, prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the threats made against him. It is essential those responsible are brought to justice and that the truth is known, both as a means to protect Dr. Muwege’s life, but also as a deterrent to others who attack, threaten or intimidate medical workers and human rights defenders who, like him, work for the benefit of the Congolese people, often in exceptionally difficult circumstances.”
13. Cutaway, journalist
14. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Coville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The High Commissioner is also calling on the authorities to reinforce their efforts to prevent further human rights violations and abuses in eastern DRC and to take concrete steps to establish transitional justice processes that grant thousands of victims of successive conflicts their right to justice, truth, and reparations.”
15. Cutaway, journalist
16. Wide shot, podium
17. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Coville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“We are very concerned by reports of excessive use of force by security forces at a Madagascar jail on 23 August when 22 inmates were killed and eight injured during a mass escape. The prison breakout occurred amid concerns the country’s squalid and overcrowded detention facilities are a hotbed for the spread of COVID-19.Security forces opened fire on inmates attempting to escape from Farafangana prison in the country’s south-east. Reports said 88 inmates out of 380 escaped; 41 inmates were re-captured and 25 remain on the run. We remind the Malagasy authorities that the use of force must strictly comply with the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination.
18. Various shots, journalists

STORYLINE:

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has “expressed deep concern over the death threats directed at the Congolese human rights defender and Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege,” the spokesperson for the High Commissioner told reporters in Geneva on Friday (28 Aug).

The High Commissioner “is calling for swift action to investigate who is behind the threats and bring them to justice,” Rupert Coville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said.

Dr. Denis Mukwege, who founded and runs the Panzi hospital in Bukavu, has won international recognition, including the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, for his decades of work helping thousands of women victims of sexual and gender-based violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He has been a determined advocate against the use of rape as a weapon of war, and for increased protection of women.

“Dr. Mukwege has received deaths threats in the past and he survived a major assassination attempt in October 2012, when five armed men invaded his home, killed his bodyguard and friend Joseph Bizimana and held his family at gunpoint,” Colville said. “The recent alarming surge of threats against Dr Mukwege, which have been conveyed via social media and in direct phone calls to him and his family, followed his condemnation of the continued killing of civilians in eastern DRC and his renewed calls for accountability for human rights violations and abuses. His life seems to be at serious risk”

He was a staunch supporter of the 2010 ‘Mapping Report’ by the UN Human Rights Office which chronicled hundreds of serious human rights violations and abuses that occurred in the eastern DRC between 1993 and 2003, in many cases identifying the groups and entities believed to be responsible for perpetrating the crimes.

“As the High Commissioner said this morning, Dr. Mukwege is a true hero – determined, courageous and extremely effective. For years, he helped thousands of gravely injured and traumatized women when there was nobody else to take care of them, and at the same time he did a great deal to publicize their plight and stimulate others to try to grapple with the uncontrolled epidemic of sexual violence in the eastern DRC,” Colville said.

The High Commissioner has welcomed the public commitment of President Tshisekedi to ensure Dr. Mukwege’s security, and called on him and his team to be provided with comprehensive protection by the Congolese authorities so that the indispensable work they perform day after day at Panzi hospital can be guaranteed.

The High Commissioner “has also called for an effective, prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the threats made against him. It is essential those responsible are brought to justice and that the truth is known, both as a means to protect Dr. Muwege’s life, but also as a deterrent to others who attack, threaten or intimidate medical workers and human rights defenders who, like him, work for the benefit of the Congolese people, often in exceptionally difficult circumstances.”

Bachelet has also underscored the need for all relevant DRC authorities to openly condemn the threats. And, in order to tackle the problem in the longer term, she urged the authorities to adopt the draft law on the protection and regulation of the activity of human rights defenders in a form that is fully consistent with international standards. Attacks on human rights defenders are an endemic problem in the DRC.

“The High Commissioner is also calling on the authorities to reinforce their efforts to prevent further human rights violations and abuses in eastern DRC and to take concrete steps to establish transitional justice processes that grant thousands of victims of successive conflicts their right to justice, truth, and reparations,” Colville said.

The OHCHR Spokesperson also said the Office is “very concerned by reports of excessive use of force by security forces at a Madagascar jail on 23 August when 22 inmates were killed and eight injured during a mass escape. The prison breakout occurred amid concerns the country’s squalid and overcrowded detention facilities are a hotbed for the spread of COVID-19. Security forces opened fire on inmates attempting to escape from Farafangana prison in the country’s south-east. Reports said 88 inmates out of 380 escaped; 41 inmates were re-captured and 25 remain on the run.”

This is the seventh prison outbreak in the country since the outbreak of the pandemic.

“We remind the Malagasy authorities that the use of force must strictly comply with the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination,” Colville said.

As with many other jails, the conditions at Farafangana are deeply troubling. The prison is overcrowded, conditions are generally unhygienic, the food is poor and inmates lack proper access to healthcare. The OHCHR has previously engaged with the authorities to express concerns about conditions in the country’s jails, and the resultant dangers of overcrowding during the pandemic.

States have the duty to protect inmates’ physical and mental health and well-being, as set out in the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules.

At the start of the pandemic the High Commissioner had called on all States to reduce the populations of overcrowded prisons. She had specifically urged the release of at-risk groups such as pregnant women, people with disabilities, elderly prisoners, those who are sick, minor and low-risk offenders, people nearing the end of their sentences, and others who could safely be reintegrated into society and to apply non-custodial measures at the pre-trial stage.
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