12 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from 6 European Union Member States have joined OMCT's call for the release of all human rights defenders imprisoned worldwide including our #FacesOfHope.
➡Learn more about our #FacesOfHope campaign
Brussels, July 16, 2020
H.E. Mr. IlhamAliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan
H.E. Mr. Paul Biya,President of the Republic of Cameroon
H.E. Mr. AbdelFattah el-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
H.E. Mr. AlejandroGiammattei, President of the Republic of Guatemala
H.E. Mr. MartínAlberto Vizcarra, President of the Republic of Peru
H.E. Mr. RodrigoDuterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines
H.E. Mr. RecepTayyip Erdoğan, President of the Republic of Turkey
CC: Mr. EamonGilmore, EU Special Representative for Human Rights
CC: EU Ambassadors tothe Republics of Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Egypt, Guatemala, Peru, the Philippines,and Turkey
We the undersigned Members of the European Parliamentrespectfully write to you today to express our concern regarding the situation inthe current context of the COVID-19 pandemic of all human rights defendersimprisoned worldwide.
The sanitary crisis affecting all regions of the worldmakes inmates particularly vulnerable and puts their health in serious danger.In this regard, self-care and community-care measures recommended to avoid thespread of the virus based on self-isolation and on maintaining a minimumdistance of one metre between oneself and others are difficult to apply indetention centres where inmates live in close proximity with one another, andespecially in overcrowded prisons. Moreover, poor nutrition together with a lackof adequate sanitary conditions and weak health care infrastructure in placesof detention make virtually impossible to enforce any measures aimed at controlling the spread of the COVID-19 in prisons. Giventhe extremely contagious nature of the disease, this situation puts the livesof people deprived of liberty at risk as well as the lives of the rest of thepopulation.
Against this backdrop, imprisonmentrepresents a double burden for human rights defenders. In addition to theirunjust detention for peacefully and legitimately defending human rights, thepoor health of many of them results in a high risk of COVID-19 infection indetention centres that often fail to meet adequate health standards. Moreover, although many governments worldwideare making efforts to reduce prison population in the current context of healthcrisis, it is regrettable to observe the exclusion of incarcerated human rightsdefenders from these exceptional measures in some countries.
In this regard, it is important to stressthat the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bacheletrecently called on governments to release every person detained withoutsufficient legal basis, including human rights defenders, in order to protecttheir health and safety. Likewise,international civil society organisations, such as the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT), have launched several campaigns since the beginning ofthe pandemic calling for the release of all human rights defenders arbitrarilyarrested worldwide.
We believe human rightsdefenders are fundamental cornerstones of transparent and healthy democraciesas they work to ensure our rights are adequately respected and protected,especially in times of crisis. Accordingly, as MEPs we reiterate our steadfast commitmentto human rights and join the request to liberate individuals unjustlydetained for their legitimate work defending fundamental rights, includingthose in pre-trial detention.
In particular, we call for the release of thefollowing individuals: Mr. Elchin Mammad, Azerbaijani human rights lawyerdetained since March 2020; Ms. Teresita Naul, Filipino defender of the right tohealth detained since March 2020; Mr. Ibrahim Ezz El-Din, Egyptian defender ofthe right to adequate housing detained since June 2019; Messrs. Jorge Coc Cocand Marcelino Xol Cucul, Guatemalan defenders of indigenous rights detainedsince January and March 2018; Mr. Mancho Bibixy Tse, Cameroonian defender ofminority rights detained since July 2018; Mr. Walter Aduviri Calisaya, Peruviandefender of indigenous and land rights detained since August 2019; and Mr. SelçukKozağaçlı, Turkish lawyer and defender of the right to life detained sinceNovember 2017.
Diana RIBA I GINER