16th HRC: Reprisals against Persons Cooperating with the UN
18 March 2011 9:00 pm
6 non-governmental and international organisations express concern on the issue of
reprisals against persons cooperating with the UN human rights mechanisms. The organisations encourage the Council to develop concrete responses.
16th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Item 5: Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms – General Debate
Joint Oral Statement by Asian Forum for Human Rights
and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies,
CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International Commission of
Jurists, International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, and International
Service for Human Rights
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
Reprisals against Persons Cooperating with the UN
Thank you, Mr President.
This is a joint statement on behalf of Cairo Institute for Human Rights
Studies, CIVICUS, FORUM-ASIA, International Commission of Jurists,
International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, and International
Service for Human Rights.
Mr President, we remain
deeply concerned about continuing reprisals against those who cooperate with
the UN human rights mechanisms. We acknowledge that the Council has
demonstrated more awareness of the issue of reprisals and appreciate the
integration of reprisals in resolutions renewing special procedures mandates,
such as that of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at the 15th
regular session. We encourage the Council to continue this approach and
mainstream such language in all resolutions that create or renew special
procedure mandates. We welcome the continued attention given to the issue of
reprisals in the outcome of the recently concluded review process. However, the
time has come for the Council to move beyond expressions of concern and
condemnation to begin to develop concrete responses.
report on reprisals against those cooperating with the UN human rights system
is a starting point. But the cases reported here no more than scrape the
surface of the real extent of the problem. Those who suffer reprisals are often
reluctant to report them, fearing to suffer further attacks. The collection of
information for the Secretary-General’s report to be presented in June to the
Council has clearly confirmed this. By failing to follow-up on the cases
reported to it, the Council further compounds the vulnerability of the victims.
It is therefore essential that the Council take steps to ensure that each
victim's case is taken seriously by the government concerned and properly
investigated, that the victims are not subject to further attacks, and that
States are held accountable when they fail to take these steps.
We regret the lost
opportunity to use the review of the Council to develop a concrete response to
reprisals. We encourage the idea of an annual panel on reprisals proposed in
discussions on the agenda and programme of work. This would allow the issue to
be placed firmly on the Council's agenda and ensure visibility and follow-up
for the cases included in the Secretary-General’s report. We welcome the
emphasis given by States today on flagging that report ahead of time, and urge
States mentioned in the next report to brief the Council in June.
However more needs to be
done. We reiterate our call on you, Mr President, to ensure that States provide
the Council with timely information on cases of reprisals, as your predecessors
have done following incidents in Kenya and Colombia.
individuals need to be assured that in cooperating with the UN human rights
system, they will be protected from harm. Without this assurance the Council
and other human rights mechanisms will lose access to the valuable information
from the ground that they need to take informed decisions regarding developing
human rights situations. OHCHR’s presence in the field should play a key role
in ensuring the physical protection of persons communicating with human rights
The development of a
concrete response requires input and specific recommendations from all human
rights mechanisms, including the special procedures, Treaty Bodies, the
Universal Periodic Review, and OHCHR. In this respect we welcome in particular
the recent statements to the Council by the Chair of the Working Group on
Arbitrary Detention. ISHR together with other co-organizers will be hosting a
side event tomorrow at 1pm which we hope will provide a forum for stakeholders
to offer their recommendations on the concrete steps that can be taken to
respond to the issue of reprisals and we encourage all here today to attend and
contribute to the discussion. Thank you, Mr. President.
16th Session of the UN Human Rights Council: FORUM-ASIA interventions, statements and events