UN protection of individuals cooperating with its mechanisms


Geneva: UN should enhance protection of individuals cooperating with its mechanisms

The UN should take a more proactive role in the protection of individuals cooperating with its mechanisms, Ms Laetitia Bader of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) said in an intervention to the UN Human Rights Council (Council) yesterday.

In response to a report by the Secretary General on acts of intimidation and reprisals against individuals cooperating with the UN presented to the Council, EHAHRDP described how, over the course of the last year, human rights defenders engaging with a variety of UN human rights mechanisms, notably with the Universal Periodic Review and Special Procedures of the Council, in the East and Horn of Africa have faced both reprisals, in the case of the Oscar Foundation killings in Kenya, but also intimidation, notably prior to and following engagement with UN mechanisms in Ethiopia.

EHAHRDP expressed its concern that the report by the Secretary General failed to reflect the extent of these acts of intimidation and reprisals and therefore called on the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) to “raise awareness amongst key actors on the ground of the existence of the report – notably via its field offices- and establish permanent complaint mechanisms, in order to ensure systematic documentation of such incidents”.

Stressing that more often than not state authorities are the very perpetrators of these acts, and are often unwilling or unable to protect those at risk or to ensure that those responsible for reprisals are held to account, EHAHRDP questioned the overreliance in the report’s recommendations on the relevant authorities to offer protection to individuals at risk of intimidation or reprisals.

Ms Bader therefore called on the UN as a whole and the Human Rights Council in particular to take this reality into account and to take a more proactive role: “the Council should ensure that it takes the lead by dedicating a permanent slot within the Council agenda to discussing the report on reprisals and guarantee follow-up on all cases. Furthermore, the Council Presidency should systematically seek to raise the political costs of attacks on individuals cooperating with UN mechanisms by responding in a public manner to such acts”.

For more information please do not hesitate to contact Ms. Laetitia Bader, Human Rights Officer at EHAHRDP on + 41 76 203 0261 or Mr. Hassan Shire Sheikh, Executive
Director of EHAHRDP on +41 79 33 75 8 75.


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The final quarter of the year is one of the busiest periods at DefendDefenders. This is also heightened by the deteriorating situation in Sudan and Ethiopia that continues to destabilize an already delicate region.

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As the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights holds its 69th ordinary session, DefendDefenders and the South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network (SSHRDN), call on the government of the Republic of South Sudan to respect the rights of its citizens to peacefully assemble, associate, and express opinions and views, strengthen the legal framework that allows citizens and civil society organizations to form and operate without any hinderances.


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