Special Rapporteur on HRDs: Increase political cost of attacks against activists


The UN expert on human rights defenders should find ways of increasing the political cost of attacks and threats against human rights activists, ISHR said in a statement to the Human Rights Council today.

(Geneva) - The UN expert on human rights defenders should find ways of increasing the political cost of attacks and threats against human rights activists, the International Service for Human Rights said today.

In a statement delivered to the Human Rights Council, ISHR expressed concern about increasing legislative restrictions imposed on human rights defenders, observed in all regions of the world. Of particular concern in this regard are counter-terrorism measures used to criminalise defenders.

Welcoming the move by Brazil, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire and Mexico - among other States - to enact specific laws and policies on the recognition and protection of human rights defenders, ISHR affirmed implementation remains patchy.

‘Positive legislative developments to protect defenders are very welcome,’ said Michael Ineichen of ISHR. ‘The question remains, however, how those governments can go beyond lipservice and step up their efforts at implementing the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders’ Mr Ineichen said.

The statement also expressed ISHR’s appreciation at Mr Forst’s increasing focus on human rights defenders seeking accountability and remedies for business related human rights abuses, and invited the expert to further explore the role of non-state actors, including corporations, in contributing to the recognition and protection of defenders.

ISHR welcomed the suggestion of developing new working methods and activities that would enhance the capacity of the mandate to act as an effective protection tool for human rights defenders. This is particularly important where national protection measures fail or are inexistent. For instance, the Special Rapporteur’s communications report to the current session lists 39 States from all regions as not even responding to requests for information, which highlights the need for action by the UN expert to increase the political cost of attacking and threatening human rights defenders.

In closing, the statement requested more information on how the mandate intends to work towards the release of detained Chinese women’s rights activists Li Tingting, Wu Rongrong, Churan Zhang, Wang Man and Tingting Wei.

‘We remain extremely concerned about the fate of these courageous activists,’ Mr Ineichen said. ‘China has demonstrated before how brutally it treats human rights defenders in detention, and it is imperative that the international community unites to protect these women,’ Mr Ineichen said.

Contact: Michael Ineichen, Human Rights Council Advocacy Director, on m.ineichen@ishr.ch or + 41 78 827 77 86.


  • Human rights defenders
  • Reprisals and intimidation
  • United Nations
  • Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Special Rapporteur on HRDs
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Ivory Coast
  • Mexico