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Human Rights Council should protect human rights defenders worldwide

49th session of the Human Rights Council

Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders

11 March 2022

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) thanks the Special Rapporteur for her report. We echo Ms. Lawlor’s serious concern over the attacks, threats and stigmatisation that anti-corruption defenders are subjected to in a high number of countries, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Niger, the Republic of Congo, Togo, and Zimbabwe.

Many defenders exposing corruption have also been detained as direct reprisals for their human rights work. This is part of an increasing trend of criminalization and detention of human rights defenders across the globe, in an attempt by States to silence them, including through the abuse and misuse of anti-terrorism laws and other security measures.

Ms. Lawlor, how States could better and effectively protect defenders and guarantee that they can carry out their work free from fear and reprisals? How could they protect those already detained and work towards their release?

Human rights defenders play a key role in ensuring peace and justice. Yet, those working in conflict or post-conflict zones are among those who are most at risk, as for instance in Afghanistan, Burundi, Cameroon, Colombia, the DRC, India, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, the OPT, the Philippines, Russia, Sudan, Syria, and now Ukraine. We call on this Council to work towards the adoption of a strong resolution on human rights defenders operating in conflict and post-conflict situations, paying a particular attention to the protection needs of different groups, integrating an age and gender responsive approach.

I thank you.

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