HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
31st session - March 4, 2016
Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
Oral statement delivered by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory)
OMCT and FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, thank Special Rapporteur Michel Forst for the submission of his second report to the Human Rights Council, in a context of increased repression and stigmatisation of human rights defenders around the world.
Mr. Forst, you recall in your report the numerous threats faced by human rights defenders worldwide, in an increasingly hostile and shrinking environment. Could you please mention some of the worst country situations in terms of the safety of defenders as well as of the closing of civil society space, as documented in your annual report on communications?
You also mention that several States have introduced legislation that provides a framework for the protection and promotion of the work of defenders, such as in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico or the Philippines. Yet those countries are also where human rights defenders continue to face harsh repression. Yesterday, prominent Honduran human rights defender Berta Cáceres was assassinated. Mr. Forst, what measures should be taken by these States to ensure that such mechanisms effectively protect defenders?
We also take note of your recent mission report on Burundi . Considering the serious deterioration of the human rights situation since November 2014, we call on your mandate to continue to closely monitor attacks on human rights defenders and their families; to urge the Government of Burundi to immediately end such violations and bring those responsible to justice; and to make recommendations for action to the UN Human Rights Council and, where necessary, the UN Security Council.
On a more general note, we remain alarmed by the number of States that persistently deny visits or fail to confirm specific dates despite their commitment, such as Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan , Mexico, Peru, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia. We are also concerned by the lack of replies to your communications. Mr. Forst, could we obtain clarification on which States fail to respond and what are the reasons?
Last but not least, our organisations remain particularly worried by the scale of attacks against economic, social and cultural rights defenders, in particular land rights defenders, in countries such as in Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, the Philippines, Sierra Leone and Thailand.
We therefore call on member and observer States of the Council to work towards the adoption of a strong resolution on economic, social and cultural rights defenders, which would inter alia:
Highlight the legitimate work carried out by human rights defenders, and the need for their protection from harassment and attacks;
Denounce impunity of attacks and urge States to hold those responsible to account;
Create and maintain a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders.