Defenders protection mechanisms must include defenders

On 30 April, ISHR delivered a statement following the presentation of the report of the Special Rapporteur on defenders in Africa. The statement focused on the need to include civil society in the newly established protection mechanisms and the need for the Special Rapporteur to publish their first report on reprisals against those who engage with African human rights mechanisms.

The statement delivered by ISHR shared some concerns about the lack of institutional involvement of defenders in the protection mechanism in Côte d’Ivoire. 

“While we welcome the institutional involvement of civil society in the mechanisms in Mali and Burkina Faso, we regret that this is not yet the case in Côte d’Ivoire” stated Stéphanie Wamba, ISHR’s Africa Programme Advocate.

ISHR reminded the Commission of its report which presented a disturbing pattern of intimidation and reprisals in several African countries against civil society working with African human rights mechanisms and the need for the mandate of the Focal point on reprisals to publish their overdue first report on reprisals.

“For the African human rights system to function at its best, human rights defenders need to be able to share crucial opinions and information about situations on the ground” added Stéphanie Wamba.

To conclude ISHR reminded the Commission of the efforts made so far for the legislative protection of defenders in Africa and the importance to ensure those are in line with the content and spirit of the UN Declaration on human rights defenders.

“We call on the Rapporteur to continue to support and accompany civil society and States in adopting laws and policies in line with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders” concluded Stéphanie Wamba.

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