HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
Oral Statement by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
8 March 2021
Thank you, Madam President.
The OMCT thanks Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor for critically shedding light on the killings of human rights defenders worldwide, as direct reprisals for their legitimate and essential human rights work. Every year, hundreds of defenders pay with their lives for defending the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While the numbers of killings and countries in which they take place keep rising, those responsible are rarely brought to justice.
The OMCT remains particularly concerned about the scale of such attacks and killings in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Brazil, Nicaragua, and Colombia, to name only a few.
Ms. Lawlor, you highlight in your report that while several States have introduced legislation providing for the recognition and protection of human rights defenders, killings of human rights defenders continue in these countries, as in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, or Mexico. Impunity also persists as a result of the lack of accountability of State and non-State actors for attacks against defenders. In Guerrero, Mexico, for instance, the expansion of macro-criminality networks in indigenous territories put defenders in a very vulnerable position, as the multiplication of criminal actors dilutes the responsibility of the State.
What measures should be taken to guarantee effective protection to human rights defenders and fight against impunity for attacks and violations against them, including by non-State actors, and in turn to create a safe and enabling environment for defenders?
Ms. Lawlor, we welcome the recommendations of your mandate’s report on Peru, where the defence of human rights remains a high-risk activity. Despite a Protocol to Guarantee the Protection of Human Rights Defenders since 2019, 220 human rights defenders have been killed and 960 criminalised since 2011. Last week, two indigenous and land rights leaders from the Amazon region, Herasmo García Grau and Yenes Ríos Bonsano, were killed. What measures should the Peruvian authorities take to renew their commitment to effectively protect human rights defenders and put an end to these murders?