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Human rights: Disturbing trends continue in reprisals against those who cooperate with the UN |

Human rights: Disturbing trends continue in reprisals against those who cooperate with the UN |


For a third of the countries mentioned in the report, individuals and groups have either refrained from cooperating, or have agreed to report only on an anonymous basis, for fear of retaliation.

Although this number is shocking, many cases of reprisals are not even reported, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights (OHCHR) Ilze Brands Kehris said Un Human Rights Council on Thursday.

report, Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rightsdetails how victims of rights violations, human rights defenders and journalists have suffered retaliation and intimidation by states and non-state actors, including detention, targeting of restrictive legislation and surveillance both online and offline.

Broad base of revenge

All cases highlighted occurred between 1 May 2021 and 30 April 2022 and involved individuals and groups who cooperated with UN human rights mechanisms, or used UN procedures to share information, evidence and request redress for human rights violations and abuses.

People who tried to cooperate with the UN or were perceived to be doing so were also affected.

Despite positive developments, including pledges and joint commitments by Member States against reprisals, this report shows once again the extent to which people are pursued and persecuted for raising human rights concerns at the UN, said Ms. Kehris Brands.

Worrying trends

According to the report, surveillance of individuals and groups cooperating with the UN continued to be reported in all regions, with growing evidence of enhanced online surveillance and cyber-attacks.

Moreover, the massive digital change accelerated by COVID-19 The pandemic further increased the challenges related to cyber security, privacy and access to online spaces.

At the same time, the use and impact of restrictive government legislation that prevents and punishes cooperation with the UN resulted in several sentences of long-term imprisonment or house arrest during the year.

And repeated and similar allegations of intimidation have been reported in many countries, which may indicate a pattern, the OHCHR said.

Cooling effect

Self-censorship, choosing not to cooperate with the UN or doing so anonymously amid concerns for their security, is becoming another global trend.

Increased surveillance and monitoring, as well as fear of criminal liability, have created what the report calls a chilling effect of silence when it comes to reporting violations, stopping people from further cooperating with the UN and preventing them from others do this.

As in previous years, the report shows that threats and retaliation disproportionately affect some populations and groups, including representatives of indigenous peoples, minorities, or those working on environmental and climate change issues, as well as people who may suffer from discrimination based on age, sexual orientation and gender.

The risks to women victims, as well as women human rights defenders and peacebuilders who share testimony and cooperate with the UN, remain dire, the senior OHCHR official said, pledging to work to ensure that everyone can safely engage with the UN.

Zero tolerance

In closing, she said the Human Rights Council and the entire UN system must continue to send a clear message of zero tolerance to threats and reprisals and must take action to address the issue decisively.
We need to better support, empower and protect those who engage with us, often in response to mandates set by Member States.

The impact of our work and our credibility depend on it and, above all, we owe it to those who trust us.

Click here for a list of countries mentioned in the report.




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