HRC36 | NGOs call on Council Members to take a stand against intimidation and reprisals

HRC36 | NGOs call on Council Members to take a stand against intimidation and reprisals

All States should take a strong stand to address reprisals and to support a crucial resolution being negotiated at this session of the Human Rights Council. A weak resolution would seriously undermine the ability of the UN system to address the needs on the ground, said 50 national and international NGOs in a letter to Human Rights Council members.

Click here to read the joint NGO letter.

The resolution on reprisals being negotiated at this Council session provides a timely and much needed opportunity for the Council to take a stand on ‘worsening incidences of intimidation and reprisals’, as reported in the Secretary-General’s most recent report on reprisals. The Secretary General stressed that ‘any act of intimidation or reprisal is absolutely unacceptable’.

‘The detention of Ibrahim Metwally in Egypt en route to the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances session is a clear example of the dire need to act now and ensure that the right of all people to communicate with the United Nations is protected’ says ISHR’s Director Phil Lynch.

The resolution tabled by the core group – comprising Ghana, Hungary, Ireland, Fiji and Uruguay – calls on various stakeholders. This call was echoed by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Right Defenders and by Peggy Hicks from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights during a side event on this issue last week as they urged:

  • Member States, in particular Council Members, to cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms;
  • States to take measures to prevent the occurrence of intimidation and reprisals;
  • The Human Rights Council President and Bureau to address and follow up on allegations of acts of intimidation and reprisal; and
  • All stakeholders to cooperate with the Assistant Secretary General on human rights regarding the mandate assigned to him by the Secretary General.

‘It is incredibly concerning that a resolution seeking to assist the Council to take a stand on the abhorrent trend of threats and attacks against those engaging with the UN, is being challenged so strongly. It is imperative that the Council adopt a strong and substantive resolution, following positive developments in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights‘, said Lynch.

Beyond the grave impact on the life of persons concerned and their relatives, intimidation and reprisals also constitute an ‘attack on human rights, the rule of law, and the international and regional mechanisms themselves‘. This was highlighted by ISHR in a statement to the Council earlier this session, when expressing deep regret that ‘four years since the detention and subsequent death of Cao Shunli, we continue to call on the President, this Council, the Assistant Secretary General and Chin to take action on her case’.

‘Any proposal to weaken the resolution should be seen in the context of ongoing, systematic efforts in a number of States to restrict civil society space, the right to communicate with the United Nations and its effectiveness and legitimacy’, said ISHR’s Legal Counsel and reprisals focal point Tess McEvoy.

‘If this is how defenders engaging at the UN are treated, it incidates a disturbing picture of the situation for defenders nationally. We call on all Member States to take action to address reprisals at the UN level in an effort to protect human rights on the ground’, added McEvoy.

 

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action –South India- Tamil Nadu: Brutal beating and ill treatment of human rights defenders by police and denying their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association to register their protest near Madurai, Tamil Nadu

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action –South India- Tamil Nadu: Brutal beating and ill treatment of human rights defenders by police and denying their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association to register their protest near Madurai, Tamil Nadu

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action – Assam: Arrest of Social activist Gyanen Chakravarty for his social media post allegedly exposing links between All Assam Students Union and Bajrang Dal in Assam

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action – Assam: Arrest of Social activist Gyanen Chakravarty for his social media post allegedly exposing links between All Assam Students Union and Bajrang Dal in Assam

Front Line Defenders – Urgent Appeal – India: Prominent human rights journalist Gauri Lankesh shot dead

Front Line Defenders – Urgent Appeal – India: Prominent human rights journalist Gauri Lankesh shot dead

7 September 2017

India: Prominent human rights journalist Gauri Lankesh shot dead

On 5 September 2017, human rights defender and writer Gauri Lankesh was fatally shot by unidentified assailants in front of her home in Bangalore, in southern India.

Gauri Lankesh was a human rights defender and the editor of the weekly local magazine Lankesh Patrike. A fierce defender of freedom of expression in India, she was known as a fearless and outspoken journalist advocating against communal violence in the country, as well as against the violent rhetoric of various Hindu nationalist organizations. For this work, she was subjected to regular violent threats, including death threats. Gauri Lankesh also extensively wrote articles criticising the caste system, corruption and conservatism, and often spoke in defence of women’s rights and women’s safety in the public sphere.

On 5 September 2017 evening, unidentified assailants opened fire on Gauri Lankesh as she was returning home from work in Rajarajeshwari Nagar in West Bangalore, Karnataka state. She was found dead in front of her residence around 8:00pm, having received several bullet wounds to her head and chest. She was subsequently taken to Victoria Hospital in Bangalore for postmortem examination. Police have reportedly launched an investigation into the killing.

Gauri Lankesh had previously received numerous death threats online, mainly from followers of Hindu nationalist organisations. It has also been reported that she was followed by two unidentified men the previous week, however she did not report the incident to the police. On 6 September 2017, several protests were held across India, during which journalists and rights activists reported being increasingly targeted by radical Hindu nationalists.

In November 2016, Gauri Lankesh was convicted for defaming members of the Bharatiya Janata Party – the Hindu nationalist party currently in power – in articles published in her magazine in 2008 and was sentenced to six months in jail along with a Rs. 10,000 (roughly 130 euro) fine. The human rights defender was later granted bail and was in the process of appealing the verdict.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the killing of human rights defender Gauri Lankesh, which it believes is solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate work for human rights in India, and calls on the Indian authorities to ensure that the culprits are brought to justice.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in India to:

  1. Strongly condemn the killing of Gauri Lankesh;
  2. Ensure that the ongoing investigation into the killing of Gauri Lankesh be thorough and impartial, with a view to bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in India are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Click here for pdf version