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Submission of information and of complaints from individuals or groups of individuals

In the framework of his/her mandate, the Special Rapporteur receives information on alleged violations of cultural rights. To the limit of available resources, he/she may accordingly write to the concerned government (through a “communication”), either jointly with other special procedure mandate-holders or independently, inviting comment on the allegation, seeking clarification, reminding the Government of its obligations under international law and requesting information, where relevant, on steps being taken by the authorities to redress the situation in question. The Special Rapporteur urges all stakeholders to respond promptly to his/her communications and to take all steps necessary to redress situations involving the violation of cultural rights.

Communications of the Special Rapporteur can take various forms including:

  • Urgent appeals, which are used in cases where the alleged violations are time-sensitive in terms of involving loss of life, life-threatening situations or either imminent or ongoing damage of a very grave nature to victims that cannot be addressed in a timely manner by the procedure of allegation letters.
  • Allegation letters, which are used to communicate information about violations that are said to have already occurred or in cases not covered by urgent appeals.

Submitting a complaint - To see all communications sent by the Special Rapporteur, click here

In order for a complaint to be assessed, the following information is needed:

  • Who is the alleged victim(s) (individual(s), community, group, etc.); Please also indicate whether:
    • The victim(s) has given you his or her consent to send this communication on his or her behalf. Please make sure you obtain the victim’s consent, whenever possible.
    • The victim(s) has been informed that, if the Special Rapporteur decides to take action on his or her behalf, a letter concerning what happened to him or her will be sent to the authorities.
    • The victim(s) is aware that, if this communication is taken up, a summary of what happened to him/her will appear in a public report of the Special Rapporteur.
    • The victim(s) would prefer that his or her full name or merely her initials appear in the public report of the Special Rapporteur.
  • Who is the alleged perpetrator(s) of the violation; Please provide substantiated information on all the actors involved, including non-state actors if relevant.
  • Date, place and detailed description of the circumstances of the incident(s) or the violation, in chronological order; The information submitted can refer to violations that are said to have already occurred, that are ongoing or about to occur. Information should include the legal remedies, if any, taken at the national level or regional level, and any other relevant information, such as relevant legislation, on the various aspects of the case.
  • Identification of the person(s) or organization(s) submitting the communication (this information will be kept confidential); As a general rule, the identity of the source of information on the alleged violation is always kept confidential. When submitting information, please indicate whether there is any of the submitted information which you would like to remain confidential.

It is also recommended to explain in detail why you believe the incident is relevant to the Special Rapporteur’s mandate. For example, which cultural rights are allegedly infringed upon, taking into consideration the relevant international standards, as well as to, where relevant, the thematic reports of the Special Rapporteur?

As a general rule, communications that contain abusive language or that are obviously politically motivated are not considered. Communications should describe the facts of the incident and the relevant details referred to above clearly and concisely. The information should be submitted by any person or group of persons claiming to be victim of violations and/or to have direct or reliable knowledge of those violations.

The Special Rapporteur is open to receiving communications under any format. You may also use our model questionnaire. Annexes such as pictures and copies of documents, etc., can also be included.

Please submit information preferably in English, French or Spanish.

A complaint can be submitted by:

E-mail: urgent-action@ohchr.org or srculturalrights@ohchr.org
Fax: +41 22 917 90 06

or Postal mail:

Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Follow-up

Communications from the Special Rapporteur to the government are confidential at an initial stage until the letters and the answer of the State are included in the communications reports of Special Procedures, which are submitted to each regular session of the Human Rights Council (in March, June and September).

It is important for the Special Rapporteur to receive updated and relevant information on the situations referred to in the complaints submitted to enable him/her to continue to follow-up on the issue through his/her dialogue with the involved Parties. Person(s) or organization(s) that have submitted information and complaints are urged to consider the response made by Government and to submit their comments, if necessary, to the Special Rapporteur.

Also note that several other individual complaint mechanisms have been established as part of the international human rights system. For more information please visit the Special Procedures page and the Human Rights Bodies-Complaints Procedures page.

Allegations that cover several human rights issues

The Special Rapporteur constantly consults with other Special procedures mandate holders whose own mandates are implicated in a particular case and frequently sends joint letters of concern with these mandate holders.

Complaints addressed by the mandate

In the table below, you will find all the communications the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights has addressed since the establishment of the mandate in 2009. The list is organized in alphabetical order, according to the name of the country. Allegation letters are identified with (AL), urgent appeal with (UA). Most communications are addressed jointly with other Special procedure mandates, and are therefore joint communications, identified with as JAL or JUA.

Original letters and the response received by concerned States can be accessed through the joint communication reports, published on this page: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/CommunicationsreportsSP.aspx

Latest communications:

Country

Date

Type of comm and ref.

Summary of the allegations transmitted  (original language)

Reply from State

Bahrain

30/10/2015

JAL
BHR 6/2015

Alleged patterns of continuous discrimination against Shia citizens, including through cultural, economic, educational and social government policies in Bahrain since 2011. According to the information received, peaceful protestors and other Shia citizens have experienced excessive use of force during and after the protests of 2011, with Shia religious clergy being particularly targeted. Government violence has also led to the destruction of many Shia mosques and sites of religious and cultural significance and of other signs of Shia presence in the country. The official historical narrative which systematically undermines the role of Baharna and Shia religious and cultural heritage in the country is also promoted in the official school curricula and media. Shia citizens allegedly also experience discrimination in access to citizenship, public sector employment and government social policies, particularly housing and welfare programs, making them more vulnerable to poverty. Various aspects of this situation, including the destruction of two mosques and withdrawal of citizenship, have already been raised in previous communications sent on 5 may 2011, see A/HRC/18/51, case no. BHR 8/2011, and on 29 November 2012, see A/HRC/23/51, case no. BHR 12/2012.

Yes, 1/02/2016

India

10/12/2015

JAL
IND 15/2015

Alleged arrest and detention of a folk singer and activist, on charges of sedition for the lyrics of two of his recently released songs criticizing the Tamil Nadu state government and Chief Minister. According to the information received, Mr. S. Sivadas, also known by his stage name Kovan, was arrested in the night of 30 October 2015 at his home. The legal procedure for his arrest was not respected and a Habeas Corpus had to be filed by his lawyer. Mr. Kovan was released on bail on 16 November 2015. He has reportedly been charged with sedition, even though not yet formally, and is awaiting trial. Concern is raised that his arrest and detention may be related to his legitimate exercise of his rights to freedom of opinion and expression in the form of art, to take part in cultural life, and to the freedom indispensable for creative activities, as well as his work as a human rights defender,

NO

Iran

18/02/2016

JUA
IRN 4/2016

Allegations concerning the arrest, detention and sentencing of two musicians and a filmmaker for producing and distributing underground music. According to the information received, on 5 October 2013, Mr. Mehdi Rajabian, Mr. Yousef Emadi and Mr. Hossein Rajabian were arrested by the intelligence unit of the Revolutionary Guard and detained in the northern city of Sari, including in solitary confinement and without access to a lawyer. After 18 days, all three men appeared before the 3rd Branch of the Revolutionary Court and were sent to Evin Prison, Tehran, before being released after a period ranging between 40 days and two months, upon payment of a bail of 200 million Tomans (approximately 6.625 USD). In May 2015, the three individuals appeared at their trial before Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, who sentenced them to six years in prison and fined them 200 million Tomans for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state” through the production and promotion of underground music. On 22 December 2015, the three men appeared before Branch 54 of the Tehran Appeals Court, whose decision is expected shortly.

no

 

29/10/2015

JUA
IRN 20/2015

Alleged arbitrary detention, sentencing to flogging and subjecting human rights activists to a virginity test. According to the information received, Ms. Fatemeh Ekhtesari was sentenced to over 11 years in prison for her collection of poetry. Mr. Mehdi Moosavi was sentenced to six years in prison for his poetry. Ms. Atena Farghadani was sentenced to over twelve years for a cartoon. All three were also charged with “illegitimate sexual relationship short of adultery” for shaking hands with a non-relative of the opposite sex. Ms. Ekhtesari and Mr. Moosavi were sentenced to ninety-nine lashes. Ms. Farghadani has not been sentenced but has already been subjected to forced virginity and pregnancy testing. Ms. Narges Mohammadi, a prominent Iranian rearrested 5 May 2015, has been subjected to harassment and deprived of necessary medical care. Ms Farghadani and Ms Mohammadi have been the subjects of seven previous communications, the most recent of which was sent 4 June 2015, see above, case no. IRN 6/2015.

yes
4/03/2016

Lao People’s Democratic Republic

16/02/2016

JAL
LAO 1/2016

Alleged human rights violations associated with the Don Sahong dam development project of the lower Mekong River in the territory of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, 2 kilometres from the Laos-Cambodia border. According to the information received, the dam construction, operated by a Malaysian developer, Mega First, is likely to adversely affect approximately 29.7 million people residing both upstream and downstream from the Mekong dam in Lao PDR, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. Despite the anticipated risks, it is alleged that the project is proceeding without adequate environmental and human rights impact assessment and in the absence of meaningful consultations with the concerned population while posing a considerable threat to the livelihoods of people living in the area, particularly in relation to their right to an adequate standard of living, including the rights to adequate food and housing, the right to the highest standard of physical and mental health, cultural rights, the rights to information and participation, as well as the rights of indigenous peoples. A related communication was sent to the Government of Malaysia on 29 February 2016, see below, case no. MYS 1/2016, as well as to Mega First Corporation Berhad and the Mekong River Commission on 29 February 2016, see below, case nos. OTH 12/2016 and OTH 13/2016.

yes
10/05/2016

Malaysia

29/02/2016

JAL
MYS 1/2016

Alleged human rights violations associated with the Don Sahong dam development project of the lower Mekong River in the territory of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, 2 kilometres from the Laos-Cambodia border. According to the information received, the dam construction, operated by a Malaysian developer, Mega First, is likely to adversely affect approximately 29.7 million people residing both upstream and downstream from the Mekong dam in Lao PDR, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. Despite the anticipated risks, it is alleged that the project is proceeding without adequate environmental and human rights impact assessment and in the absence of meaningful consultation with the concerned population while posing a considerable threat to the livelihoods of people living in the area, particularly in relation to their right to an adequate standard of living, including the rights to adequate food and housing, the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, cultural rights, the rights to information and participation, as well as the rights of indigenous peoples. A related communication was sent to the Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic on 16 February 2016, see above, case no. LAO 1/2016, as well as to Mega First Corporation Berhad and the Mekong River Commission on 29 February 2016, see below, case nos. OTH 12/2016 and 13/2016.

no

Other
(Mega First Corporation Berhad)

29/02/2016

JAL
OTH 12/2016

Alleged human rights violations associated with the Don Sahong dam development project of the lower Mekong River in the territory of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, 2 kilometres from the Laos-Cambodia border. According to the information received, the dam construction, operated by a Malaysian developer, Mega First, is likely to adversely affect approximately 29.7 million people residing both upstream and downstream from the Mekong dam in Lao PDR, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. Despite the anticipated risks, it is alleged that the project is proceeding without adequate environmental and human rights impact assessment and in the absence of meaningful consultation with the concerned population while posing a considerable threat to the livelihoods of people living in the area, particularly in relation to their right to an adequate standard of living, including the rights to adequate food and housing, the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, cultural rights, the rights to information and participation, as well as the rights of indigenous peoples. Related communications were sent to the Governments of Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Malaysia on 16 and 29 February 2016, respectively, see above, case nos. LAO 1/2016 and MYS 1/2016, as well as to Mekong River Commission, see below, case no. OTH 13/2016.

no

Other
(Mekong River Commission)

29/02/2016

JUA
OTH 13/2016

yes
6/05/2016

Pakistan

13/01/2016

JAL
PAK 1/2016

Alleged destruction of many historic buildings and neighbourhoods for the purpose of the Orange metro line in Lahore, in violation of the right to housing and cultural rights. According to the information received, works for the construction of the Orange metro line have started regardless of the important opposition the project has met and of procedural flaws. Concerns are expressed about the lack of transparency and adequate information to the affected residents, forced evictions and disregard for various Pakistani law provisions prohibiting construction near heritage sites as well as activities leading to environmental degradation.

NO

Saudi Arabia

30/11/2015

JUA
SAU 10/2015

Allegations concerning the imposition of the death sentence following an unfair trial against a poet of Palestinian origin in Saudi Arabia. According to the information received, on 25 May 2014, Mr. Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to four years imprisonment and 800 lashes for allegedly having committed apostasy. The prosecution appealed the verdict and, on 17 November 2015, the General Court of Abha sentenced Mr. Fayadh to death under the same charge. Mr. Fayadh, who had no legal representation during the judicial proceedings, was given 30 days to appeal the sentence. He remains in detention.

yes, 4/03/2016

For all communications in alphabetical order please click here.