Czech Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
The Centre is an independent academic institution monitoring human rights developments both domestically and worldwide, issuing a monthly Bulletin, as well as organizing conferences.
You can download Czech Human Rights Review here.
The Czech Centre for Human Rights and Democracy is proud to present a new issue of the Czech Republic Human Rights Review examining the year of 2019. Together with our members and trainees, we have prepared a total of 11 articles that are related to the Czech Republic.
To start the Review, we are pleased to publish a very special story. In 2019, we commemorated the 80th anniversary of Sir Nicholas Winton’s trains, which saved the lives of 669 Jewish children on the brink of World War II from the occupied territory of Czechoslovakia. We asked one of the rescued children, John Karlik, to share his memories.
Since 1987, Taiwan has had a long journey in the process of democratization and promotion of human rights. In spite of the repetitive rejections of its application for a seat in the United Nations, it has become determined to gradually adapt its national law to the United Nations’ human rights standards. The milestone was reached last year when Taiwan established the National Human Rights Institution according to the Paris Principles.
Self-made review process
Taiwan (officially named the Republic of China) is not a member state of the United Nations (UN). Its international status dates back to 1971 when the UN General Assembly passed Resolution No. 2758 recognizing the People’s Republic of China as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations”. Despite this fact, Taiwan has made vigorous efforts to step out from the international isolation and establish a functional democratic society based on the rule of law and the protection of human rights according to the UN human rights framework. It has started to comply with UN human rights treaties and implement their obligations in its domestic law. To date, Taiwan has implemented five of such treaties.
You can download the spring V4 Human Rights Review here.
We are delivering the spring issue of the online journal V4 Human Rights Review, which provides information on the developments in the areas of human rights and democracy in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
We bring you an interview with Mr Pavol Žilinčík, who is a member of the Judicial Council in Slovakia. His professional focus is on safeguarding judicial independence and strengthening the accountability of the judiciary. How does he evaluate the developments in Slovakia and other V4 countries?
On 20 February 2020, seven countries, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the League of Arab States, and another 34 applicants, including NGOs and distinguished scholars were granted leave to be amici curiae (‘friends of the Court’) in the determination on jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Palestine situation. They will express their position on whether the ICC has territorial jurisdiction pursuant to Art. 12 of the Rome Statute over the crimes committed in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
Preliminary examination and a struggle of the Court
The situation in Palestine has been subject to a preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) since 16 January 2015. On 20 December 2019, the OTP concluded that the issue of territorial jurisdiction needed to be resolved before a commencement of a formal investigation. In its request of 22 January, the OTP asked the Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) to rule on the issue. The decision has been praised by some as a sign of prudence and criticized by others as a cowardly move. Effectively, it shifts the burden of such an emotionally, politically and legally difficult decision from the executive to the judicial branch of the ICC.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom made a bold step, which can re-write textbooks. In the R v TRA case, the Court held that acts of torture under the UN Convention Against Torture can be committed by non-state armed groups, challenging the conservative state-centric view. How was the judgment received? What is the way forward?
The end of the decade was marked by the much anticipated judgment released by the United Kingdom Supreme Court (UKSC) in the R v TRA case. The UKSC, then still presided by Lady Hale, decided that for the purposes of domestic prosecution, the definition of torture under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) can be understood to include torture committed by officials of non-state armed groups. Such interpretation confirmed a broader understanding of who can commit torture under the UNCAT that stretches beyond the more conservative state-centric model.
In October, Turkey launched “Operation Peace Spring” in the northeastern part of Syria, which was controlled by Kurdish-led forces. The operation began after President Trump withdrew US forces from northern Syria. The Kurdish-led forces have been a strong US ally against the so-called Islamic State radical group in the past. The Turkish president, Recep Erdoğan, has been strongly criticised for these actions by his Western allies.
Who are the Kurds?
There are between 25 and 35 million Kurds, who are an ethnic group inhabiting parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Even though there are many members of this minority, they have never been able to create a nation-state.
You can download the winter V4 Human Rights Review here.
We are delivering the second issue of the new online journal V4 Human Rights Review, which updates you on recent developments in the areas of human rights and democracy in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. We are proud to organize this project together with our expert partners from all V4 countries.
The introductory contribution was written by Kateřina Šimáčková, a Judge of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic, who is also a representative in the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. In her article, Judge Šimáčková focuses on how the Venice Commission deals with issues regarding judicial independence, illustrating the problem on examples of recent developments in Hungary and Poland.