Steadfast in Protest
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
publishes its 2011 Annual Report
Geneva-New York-Paris, October 24, 2011.The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory)releases today its 14th Annual Report on the situation of human rightsdefenders during a press conference held at the United Nations Headquarters inNew York.
While the revolutions that took place inthe Arab world in 2011 reminded the international community of the emergency toput the issue of human rights back at the top of its political agenda, utmostattention must be paid to the alerts made by human rights defenders worldwide,and no compromise must be made towards the harassment they face.
Therelease of the Annual Report is a key momentum of the daily activity of theObservatory. This report tells of the struggle of human rights defenders inabout 70 countries - civil society activists, journalists, trade-unionists,lawyers or simple citizens “indignant” at injustice, arbitrariness, or horror.
Thedocument highlights the universality of the claims raised by the “Arab Spring”.As pointed out by Stéphane Hessel and Aung San Suu Kyi in the foreword to thereport, “everywhere, respect for human rights was at the heart of thepeoples’ claims, (…) These movements did not feed on identity, religious orcultural politics, but were rather founded on the principles enshrined in theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights (…)”.
“Atthe same time”, FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen says, “human rightsdefenders are more than ever at risk. As the Report is being published, theblood bath continues in Syria, in Libya and in Yemen. In Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Americas, Asia, humanrights defenders are harassed, imprisoned, sometimes tortured”.
For OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock, “farfrom being recognised for what they are - vital protagonists for change, theguarantors of a free society - human rights defenders are, on the contrary,subjected daily to repression by regimes that are all the harsher for havingunderstood the force and the legitimacy of their claims”. “The presentreport calls for stronger protection for those involved in human rights anddemocracy”, he concludes.
The Observatory for the Protectionof Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federationfor Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT),accompanies, follows and protects human rights defenders at risk throughout theyear.
Margaret Sekaggya, Gerald Staberock, Souhayr Belhassen, Radwan Ziadeh
The report is divided by region:
OMCT: Sarah Petitpierre: +41 (0) 22 809 49 21
FIDH: Arthur Manet / Karine Appy: +33(0) 143 55 90 19 /14 12
The FIDHand OMCT wish to thank the European Union for making the publication of this report possible, as well as the International Organisation of theFrancophonie, the Republic and Canton of Geneva, the Norwegian Ministry ofForeign Affairs, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the French Ministryof Foreign and European Affairs,the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the SigridRausing Trust for their support. Its content is the sole responsibility of OMCTand FIDH and should in no way be interpreted as reflecting the view(s) of the supportinginstitutions.