March 2012 Chaired session on Ethics, Sustainability and Eradicating Ecocide with Michael Meacher and Polly Higgins

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Annual Report 2012





Dear Colleague,



2012 was a very productive year for SIHRG with many meetings, missions, training sessions and intervention letters written.


Demonstrating the value of our organisation was the provision over the last year of three solicitors who work for tribunals in The Hague to workshops for Syrian activists on the subject of international criminal law and the documentation of gross human rights violations.


The year saw more different members than ever before participate in conferences and missions on our behalf. Three SIHRG solicitors were selected by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network to assist Working Groups on Palestineand Israel (Tessa Gregory), Freedom of Association (Sophie Priestley) and Justice (Jastine Barrett). Other members’ activities are mentioned below.


Sasha Zernova has worked extremely hard in organising several of our speaker events and training courses. We are also indebted to her for consolidating our very productive partnership with the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies where we hold our regular speaker events where frequently our meetings have been packed. Additionally she was instrumental in bringing to SIHRG our first full trial observation mission.


David Palmer has worked tirelessly on our accounts and membership, supporting a number of our working groups in particular for the Americas Group for which he has initiated numerous letters of intervention across the region.


We have several active Working Groups generating interesting ideas and projects such as: South Asia’sWG – ‘Prisoners’ Rights in India’ authored by newly recruited member Alex Cisneros and Syed Ahmed, Africa’s – International Model’s Project on Women’s Rights (Chantelle de Sousa), Americas – Criminalisation of HRDs,  International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) research initiated by William Russell.



SIHRG has been awarded its first project grant to provide an international internet based training course in human rights. The project is in development and no less than 20 members are involved writing Guides for the course. The Project has the potential to involve many more members as mentors to overseas activists in the years ahead.


I am grateful to all the committee and members for the efforts they have made in making 2012 such a successful year for SIHRG.


If I have omitted any activities of importance to anyone forgive me for doing so.

Let me review some of our events:


[If you are reading this on a computer this document contains hyperlinks to further details.]



In December our vice chair Tessa Gregory of Public Interest Lawyers introduced “Extraordinary Rendition” web cast link here with Crofton Black and Clara Gutteridge.


During November SIHRG issued a report on a politically important trial in Kazakhstan following our own observation team’s attendance in September. Click here for the report pages.


Ruby Sandhu of Amsterdam Peroff introduced “Ethics, Sustainability and Eradicating Ecocide” with Michael Meacher, Polly Higgins and Sue Willman.


In October Michael Ellman introduced “Libya: where from and where to?” with Elham Saudi Director of Lawyers for Justice in Libya.


We held our regular “United Nations Human Rights Enforcement Mechanisms” Introductory Course with Dr Nazila Ghanea, followed by Trial Observation training with Paul Garlick. Both events hosted by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.


Tessa Gregory introduced “Peoples In South America: Land Rights and Wrongs for Guyana’s Amerindians” with former SIHRG committee member Melinda Janki – specialist native title expert international lawyer.


In July member Augustus Della-Porta represented SIHRG at a conference in Brussels bringing together various Syrian civil society groups.


In June Sasha Zernova introduced “Spotlight On Ukraine – The truth about the rule of law, democracy and human rights in the Ukraine: Recent cases – what can we learn from them?” with Valentyna Telychenko, well-known as the defence lawyer of Myroslava Gongadze in the murder case of her husband, journalist Georgiy Gongadze.   Click here for the live recording of the meeting.


During May I introduced former SIHRG committee member Rosa CURLING Solicitor with Leigh Day and Co on “Rendition and holding to account secret Government.”


Trudy Morgan represented SIHRG at the bi-annual conference of the Euro-Med Human Rights Network in Copenhagen, chaired a break out session and ensured SIHRG’s formal membership of the network was approved. Her report is here.


John Halford of Bindmans LLP, the solicitor representing the victims’ families, spoke about why the truth of what happened at Batang Kali has been suppressed for six decades and why the outcome of the case is highly relevant today “The Batang Kali massacre trial: end of a very British cover up?” He was introduced by SIHRG member and Leigh Day partner Shubhaa Srinivasan.


One of our members working in The Hague represented SIHRG in Tunisia to provide training to Syrian activists.


In March another of our members working in The Hague represented SIHRG in Geneva to provide training to Syrian activists.


“Placing Human Rights at the Core of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” was the title of the meeting with Adam Ognall – Chief Executive New Israel Fund UK, who was introduced by Michael Ellman.


In February SIHRG arranged a return visit of Hary Pahaniaila Belarus human rights lawyer to the Haldane Society and Amnesty International conference on defenders 25th February 2012. Read Sasha Zernova’s report here.


Syed Ahmed of SIHRG attended a Euro-Med Human Rights Network organised conference in Rabat on The Reform of Judiciaries in the Wake of the Arab Spring. You can read his detailed report HERE.


Michael Ellman introduced Saul Lehrfreund. The title of his talk was “Restricting the use of the Death Penalty: the relevance of international human rights norms.” Saul has been running the Death Penalty Project since its inception in 1992. Click here for audio cast and written report.




Lionel Blackman


25th January 2013