UN Secretary-General calls for submissions to report on reprisals against human rights defenders

08.05.2013

(New York - 8 May 2013) - The UN Secretary-General has called for contributions to his annual report on reprisals and intimidation against human rights defenders. The report will focus on attacks and retaliation against persons for their cooperation or attempted cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms or representatives.

“Reprisals against human rights defenders undermine human rights and the rule of law,” said Madeleine Sinclair of the International Service for Human Rights.

ISHR urges human rights defenders to submit cases of reprisals to the UN.

 

(New York - 8 May 2013) - The UN Secretary-General has called for contributions to his annual report on reprisals and intimidation against human rights defenders. The report will focus on attacks and retaliation against persons for their cooperation or attempted cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms or representatives.

“Reprisals against human rights defenders undermine human rights and the rule of law,” said Madeleine Sinclair of the International Service for Human Rights.

ISHR urges human rights defenders to submit cases of reprisals to the UN.

“By making cases of reprisals public, the Secretary General’s report can provide protective publicity and contribute to the fight against impunity,” said Ms Sinclair.

“Public accountability with regard to reprisals and intimidation against human rights defenders for cooperation with the UN assists to curb these unacceptable practices,” Ms Sinclair said.

The call comes on the heels of disturbing reports of reprisals against human rights defenders in Russia for cooperating with the UN. The charges have been brought by Russian authorities against the NGO Anti-Discrimination Centre (Memorial ADC) in retaliation for submitting a report on torture and ill-treatment in Russia to the UN Committee Against Torture. Memorial ADC has been charged with breaching a controversial new law requiring groups that carry out ‘political activities’ and receive international funding to register as ‘foreign agents.’

“A very real concern about cases such as that of Memorial ADC is the chilling effect on human rights defenders’ engagement with the UN,” Ms Sinclair said.

“The UN human rights system relies on accurate information from civil society and non-government organisations to fully understand and respond effectively to the human rights situation on the ground. Unfortunately those who expose human rights abuses often face retaliation from governments intolerant of criticism. In this way, reprisals against those seeking to hold governments accountable at the UN amount to an attack on international human rights, the rule of law, and the UN itself,” said Ms Sinclair.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has asked for submissions by 15 June 2013 to reprisals@ohchr.org. The Secretary-General’s report will cover the period from 15 June 2012 to 15 June 2013 and follow up information on cases included in the 2012 and 2011 reports.

To provide first-hand information about cases of reprisals or intimidation for cooperating or attempting to cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms, download the Reprisals questionnaire. For more information see ISHR’s new manual on preventing and redressing reprisals against human rights defenders available here.

Contact: Madeleine Sinclair, Manager and Legal Counsel, International Service for Human Rights at m.sinclair@ishr.ch or +1-212-490-2199.