UN must recognize the role of human rights defenders and the need for their protection

Open Letter
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In a letter addressed to Member States, FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, along with numerous other civil society organizations urge Members States to reject amendments intended to weaken the resolution on protection of human rights defenders, which will be adopted on Wednesday, 25 November 2015 in the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee.

The resolution, as drafted, includes robust protection measures for human rights defenders, including the need to combat impunity for violence against human rights defenders and to release defenders who have been arbitrarily detained for exercising their fundamental freedoms. With the recent attacks on human rights defenders in places such as Burundi where the prominent activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa and members of his family have been systematically attacked, it is time for UN Member States to take strong action to prevent and punish such acts. However, amendments, tabled by the African Group, China, and Iran seek to dramatically weaken the resolution on human rights defenders and delete entire paragraphs regarding the need for their protection.

At a time when the work of human rights defenders has become extraordinarily dangerous and increasingly criminalized in many states, it is important for Member States to send a strong message on the need to protect human rights defenders. The Observatory urges States to live up to their human rights commitments by rejecting the amendments designed to weaken the resolution and to adopt the resolution as drafted.

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