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EU GUIDELINES ON HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

|MANDATE| |REPORTS| |STATEMENTS| |RESOLUTIONS|

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Brussels, 17 February 2012 A 61/12 – The spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, issued the following statement today:

“The High Representative deplores the arrest on Thursday by Syrian security forces of human rights defender Mazen Darwish, the head of the Damascus-based ‘Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression’, as well as at least 12 other human rights defenders, including blogger Razan Gazzawi, and the wife of Mazen Darwish. The EU stresses the need to respect the freedom of expression and the freedom of human rights defenders to carry out their work, in line with Syria’s international obligations.

The High Representative expresses her concern for the physical safety of Mr. Darwish and others arrested, and demands information about their whereabouts and access for their families. She calls on the Syrian authorities to immediately release Mr Darwish and all those human rights defenders arrested on Thursday, and to release all political prisoners in accordance with Syria’s commitments to the Arab League to end violence.

The High Representative strongly condemns the level of violence in recent weeks committed against civilians by the indiscriminate bombardment of residential districts in Homs, Zabadai, Hama and Deraa. The violence has reached unspeakable levels of criminality and destruction.”

Brussels, 22 December 2011 A 528/11 – The spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, issued the following statement today:

The High Representative is deeply concerned at the news that Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhiseng, who has been missing for 20 months, has been sentenced again to 3 years in prison. The High Representative calls for his immediate release and for information about his well-being and location.

The High Representative has repeatedly called on the Chinese government, at the highest level, to reveal the whereabouts of Mr Gao, to give Mr Gao access to a lawyer and to allow Mr Gao to maintain contact with his family.

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Brussels, 9 December 2011 18424/1/11 REV 1 PRESSE 487 – On Human Rights Day, the European Union pays tribute to human rights defenders who dedicate their lives to promoting and protecting people’s fundamental rights around the world. This year, Human Rights Day focuses on the work of human rights defenders, and on how social media can be used to promote and underpin change.

The Arab spring vividly reminds us that human rights are universal and that people everywhere aspire to live in dignity and freedom. In 2011, thousands of people decided that the time had come to claim their rights. Social media carried their message, and allowed activists and individuals to break free from their isolation, to disseminate ideas and to denounce oppression.

Use of social media to promote human rights should not be restricted by governments. The EU has repeatedly and publicly condemned restrictions on freedom of expression and on access to the internet, as well as the arrest of bloggers, witnessed in many countries around the world.

Brussels, 23 November 2011 A 468/11 – Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, and Stefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, made today the following statement:

“We are seriously concerned about the detention and prosecution of internationally renowned Belarusian human rights defender Ales Byalyatski for alleged tax evasion.

We consider the charges against Ales Byalyatski in the ongoing trial as a politically motivated pretext to target his important work to the benefit of victims of repression. As such, the ongoing trial is a highly visible and symbolic manifestation of the crackdown on civil society in Belarus since the 19 December 2010 Presidential elections.

We call on Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release Ales Byalyatski and to drop the charges against him and against his deputy Valyantsin Stefanovich.”

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Brussels, 8 October 2011 A 399/11 – The spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, issued the following statement today:

“The High Representative wishes to express her concern over the 11 year prison sentence given to Iranian Human Rights Lawyer and activist, Ms Narges Mohammadi, a founding member and Executive Chair of Nobel Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi’s “Centre for Human Rights Defenders” (CHRD).

The High Representative is also concerned about Ms. Mohammadi’s health and the reports that she may not be receiving the medical attention she needs.

The High Representative has called on Iran numerous times to respect the work of human rights lawyers and activists. The sentence against Narges Mohammadi is yet another example of unjust persecution of those who show the courage and determination to stand up for human rights in Iran.”

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