Alert: Torture survivors speak out in our new report on human rights abuses in Ethiopia
Burkina Faso

The misuse of counter-terrorism measures hurts the vulnerable and creates conflict

Oral Statement delivered by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
46th regular session of the Human Rights Council

Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism

Madam President,

The OMCT welcomes and supports the report of the Special Rapporteur. While countering terrorist acts, States have a duty to protect individuals in situations of vulnerability, including women and girls.

Expansive counter-terrorism laws and practices have increased acts of violence, torture, and other forms of ill-treatment. This strongly impacts family and community life, mainly putting an additional burden on women and girls. In the past months, we have documented the situation in Burkina Faso. Law enforcement officials and State-created vigilante groups have perpetrated large-scale arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and summary executions against the Fulani community. These acts are often based on spurious and generic suspicions and grounded in endemic discrimination.

Security and intelligence agencies have not only increased the stigmatisation of women and girls as potential terrorists, but also violate their intimacy and privacy rights and commit sexual and gender-based violence. As we keep seeing within our global Torture and Terrorism working group, such policies not only violate fundamental freedoms, but they ultimately create conflict and feed further radicalisation.

More States are enacting sweeping and vague counter-terrorism regulations that deter women leadership and civic engagement. Such laws and practices are misused to target human rights defenders, including women rights defenders. We have recently seen this at work in various countries, including Israel and Bangladesh, to quash criticism over the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We would like to ask the Special Rapporteur whether she plans to document the impact of Covid-19 emergency policies in the context of counter terrorist operations, mainly against most vulnerable groups.

Thank you.

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