HRC43: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders

43rd session of the Human Rights Council

Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders

March 4, 2020

Thank you, Madam President.

Mr. Forst,

The OMCT commends the work you have carried out over the past six years as you are presenting your last report to the Council, and welcomes the latter’s focus on the situation of human rights defenders operating in conflict and post-conflict areas. We thank you also for shedding light on the often-overlooked psychological impact on defenders of their work conditions as well as of repeated violations of their rights.

Human rights defenders play an essential and legitimate role in ensuring peace and justice. Yet, as you rightly point out in your report, defenders working in conflict or post-conflict zones are among those who are most exposed and at risk, as for instance in Afghanistan, Burundi, Cameroon, the DRC, India, Iraq, Libya, the OPT, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria or Venezuela.

Mr. Forst, what measures should be taken to guarantee effective protection of defenders operating in conflict and post-conflict areas, to fight against impunity for attacks and violations against them, including by non-State actors, as well as to prevent negative psychological impact of their work?

We further welcome your mission report on Colombia, where defending human rights remains a high-risk activity. Only a comprehensive policy establishing guarantees for the right to defend human rights - and the strong political will to implement it - would put an end to the ongoing bloodshed against defenders in Colombia. This is why the OMCT is seriously concerned that instead of engaging constructively, the Colombian authorities have responded by attacking your conclusions. The OMCT strongly supports your recommendations and calls upon the Colombian Government to rectify its strategy and promptly implement them.

Last but not least, we call upon all States to show their commitment to human rights, peace and sustainable development through strong and unconditional support for the renewal of your mandate.
I thank you.