Reprisals: ISHR documents cases of reprisals in 23 countries for UN Submission

On 17 April 2023, ISHR submitted its annual submission to the report to the UN Secretary General on reprisals and intimidation against defenders engaging or seeking to engage with the UN and its human rights mechanisms.

ISHR’s 2023 submission presents a disturbing pattern of intimidation and reprisals in 23 countries, with the addition this year of Algeria and France.

The submission demonstrates the need for the UN and States to do more to prevent and ensure accountability for intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders and others cooperating or seeking to cooperate with the UN and its human rights mechanisms. It also outlines developments in the international human rights system, and documents a number of new cases, as well as follow up on previously submitted cases.

Cases of reprisals featured in the submission range from States defaming and stigmatising defenders, to criminalising their work, but also to arbitrarily detaining, arresting and killing them. 

In Israel, Palestinian defenders face ongoing intimidation and repression as reprisals for their cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms. In Bahrain, the situation still shows no signs of improving, with human rights defenders continuing to be arbitrarily detained and denied timely and adequate medical treatment by the government. Defenders in Algeria, Andorra, Cameroon and India continue to be criminalised and defenders in China are still facing online surveillance, harassment and enforced disappearance. Many more defenders in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Yemen face arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and criminalisation.  

Other cases of reprisals include threats, harassment, hate speech, surveillance, property damage, disbarment, death threats, travel bans, enforced disappearances, unjustified raids, dissolution of associations, judicial harassment, smear campaigns, forced deportations, confiscation of travel documents, red tagging, denial of healthcare and family visits as well as accusations of terrorism, among others.

Other countries cited in the submission include cases in the Andorra, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Burundi, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, France, The Maldives, Morocco, Nicaragua, The Philippines, Russia, and Thailand. 

The submission also includes follow-up information on a large number of cases, demonstrating that incidents of reprisals and intimidation are very rarely, if ever, adequately resolved.