“Reprisals must stop,” urge top international experts on human rights defenders

| Published on March 23, 2012 at 9:32 am

 

GENEVA (14 March 2012) – A group of international experts on the situation of human rights defenders urged today world governments to halt reprisals against individuals and groups seeking to cooperate with the United Nations and regional human rights systems.* They also called on States to ease, rather than hinder, civil society’s access to the UN and regional human rights institutions.

Margaret Sekaggya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Friday January 21, 2011. (Photo taken from the Hindu)“Reprisals have to cease immediately and credible investigations into pending cases of reprisals have to be carried out,” said the Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders from the United Nations (UN), Margaret Sekaggya; the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), Reine Alapini-Gansou; and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), José de Jesús Orozco.“These reprisals against individuals and/or groups engaging directly with the UN, the ACHPR and the IACHR, or otherwise providing information on particular countries’ human rights situations, take the form of smear campaigns, harassment, intimidation, direct threats, physical attacks and killings,” they said.

In an effort to safeguard the vital collaboration between civil society and the UN and regional human rights mechanisms, the three Rapporteurs appealed for enhanced monitoring and action to respect the UN, ACHPR and IACHR normative agreements and rules of procedure explicitly prohibiting acts of reprisals by States and non-State actors.

“Such steps towards full accountability for reprisals are an important preventive measure that should be combined with those that facilitate, rather than deter, civil society’s safe and unimpeded access to the UN and the regional human rights institutions,” stressed Ms. Sekaggya, Ms. Alapini-Gansou and Mr. Orozco.

The three international Rapporteurs also supported the recent initiative by the President of the UN Human Rights Council, Laura Dupuy Lasserre, calling on Governments to immediately put an end to harassment and intimidation of individuals and groups attending the on-going session of the Human Rights Council, taking place in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ms. Dupuy Lasserre expressed her concern about reports of State and other representatives using aggressive and/or insulting language against civil society representatives, and photographing and filming them without their consent on UN premisses, including in the main Council’s chamber, with a view to intimidate and harass them. She announced that those accusations will be investigated

Margaret Sekaggya, a lawyer from Uganda, was appointed Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in March 2008 by the UN Human Rights Council. She is independent from any Government and serves in her individual capacity.

Check the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights:

Joint statement on reprisals against individuals and groups seeking to cooperate with the United Nations, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders from the United Nations (UN), the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) express their grave concern over acts of reprisals against individuals and groups seeking to cooperate with the UN and/or the regional human rights systems. These reprisals against individuals and/or groups engaging directly with the UN, the ACHPR and the IACHR, or otherwise providing information on particular countries’ human rights situation, take the form of smear campaigns, harassment, intimidation, direct threats, physical attacks and killings.

The UN, the ACHPR and the IACHR all have normative agreements and rules of procedure explicitly prohibiting acts of reprisals by States and non-State actors.1/In an effort to safeguard the vital collaboration between civil society and the UN and regional human rights mechanisms, the Rapporteurs on human rights defenders commit to and call for enhanced monitoring and action to respect those rules, and support the recent initiative by the President of the UN Human Rights Council to call on States to immediately put an end to intimidation and harassment of individuals and groups attending the 19th session of the Human Rights Council.2/

The UN and the regional human rights systems depend entirely on free and safe cooperation from civil society for its effective functioning. Therefore, as the UN Secretary General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have repeatedly demanded, reprisals have to cease immediately and credible investigations into pending cases of reprisals have to be carried out. The undersigned Rapporteurs are convinced that such steps towards full accountability for reprisals are an important preventive measure that should be combined with other steps facilitating, rather than deterring, civil society’s safe and unimpeded access to the UN and the regional human rights institutions.

Margaret Sekaggya

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

José de Jesús Orozco

IACHR Rapporteur on human rights defenders

Reine Alapini-Gansou

Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders in Africa

1/ See: Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/RES/12/2, 12 October 2009; Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/RES/16/21, 12 April 2011, in particular Annex paragraph 30; Rules of Procedure of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Article 63; and Resolution Res.196 (L) 2011 on Human Rights Defenders in Africa from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

2/ On 5 March 2011, the President expressed her concern about reports of State and other representatives using aggressive and/or insulting language against civil society representatives, and photographing and filming them without their consent, on UN premises, including in the main chamber of the Human Rights Council, with a view to intimidate and harass them. She announced that those accusations will be investigated.


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Margaret Sekaggya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Friday January 21, 2011. (Photo taken from the Hindu)

“Reprisals must stop,” urge top international experts on human rights defenders

  GENEVA (14 March 2012) – A group of international experts on the situation of human rights defenders urged today world governments to halt reprisals against ...