Côte d’Ivoire: Ensure effective protection of human rights defenders at national and international levels

18.09.2014

Côte d’Ivoire should be applauded for enacting the first law in Africa on human rights defenders but must now commit to its effective implementation and to other steps to protect civil society space both at home and at the UN, ISHR said today.

(Geneva) – Côte d’Ivoire should be applauded for enacting the first law in Africa on the recognition and protection of human rights defenders but must now commit to its effective implementation and to other steps to protect civil society space both at home and at the UN, the International Service for Human Rights said in a statement to the Human Rights Council today.

The Council met today to adopt a report and recommendations on Côte d’Ivoire following its Universal Periodic Review.

‘ISHR welcomes the adoption of Côte d’Ivoire’s second UPR report and, in particular, Côte d’Ivoire’s acceptance of recommendations made by Djibouti and Italy in relation to steps and measures to enlarge and protect civil society space,’ said Clément Voulé, who leads ISHR’s Africa program.

‘The recent adoption of a law protecting human rights defenders, together with Côte d’Ivoire’s constructive engagement with the UPR, are encouraging signs of a firm political commitment to preserve and expand democratic space in the country,’ Mr Voulé said.

‘Côte d’Ivoire’s law on the protection of human rights defenders, developed in consultation with civil society, is ground-breaking good practice that should inspire other countries to implement the international Declaration on Human Rights Defenders at the nation level,’ said Mr Voulé.

‘The law enshrines fundamental rights that are necessary for human rights defenders to undertake their vital work, and also articulates the State’s obligations to support, enable and protect that work.’

‘Having passed this historic law, we now call on authorities in Côte d’Ivoire to ensure that it is effectively implemented in practice, without discrimination,’ said Mr Voulé. ‘In this respect, it is regrettable that Côte d’Ivoire rejected a UPR recommendation made by the Netherlands to take steps to prevent discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and sexual orientation.'

In its statement to the Human Rights Council (available in English and French), ISHR also called on Côte d’Ivoire to ensure that it takes a firm, principled position of leadership in terms of protecting human rights defenders and non-governmental organisations in their engagement with the UN and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

‘Regrettably, we are seeing increasing efforts by some States to silence and shut NGOs out of the Human Rights Council and other spaces. With the passing of this law, we look forward to seeing Côte d'Ivoire at the forefront of initiatives to protect human rights defenders within regional and international human rights mechanisms, including in their engagement with these mechanisms’, Mr Voulé said.

Côte d’Ivoire’s general cooperation with the UN human rights machinery and its commitment to further cooperation with the UN Special Procedures is a sign of positive progress, especially with the upcoming appointment of a new Special Rapporteur on the country. According to Mr Voulé, however, the country should be doing more to cooperate with the Special Procedures, especially as a Member State of the Human Rights Council that mandates them.

‘We are concerned that Côte d’Ivoire has not responded to a number of allegations of violations contained in the joint communications report of the Special Procedures to this session of the Council. At a minimum, Member States should respond promptly and substantively to communications from Special Procedures and we call on Côte d'Ivoire to do so without delay,’ Mr Voulé said.

Contact:  Clément Voulé, ISHR, on c.voule@ishr.ch or + 78 867 52 50

Photo: UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

Category:

Region
  • Africa
Topic
  • Human rights defenders
Mechanism
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • Universal Periodic Review
Country
  • Ivory Coast