The following statement has been issued by a group of United Nations independent human rights experts*

GENEVA (3 February 2011) – “Recent events in several countries are an expression of the frustration felt by many individuals whose voices have been neglected or ignored by their own Governments.

Over the past several weeks, men and women in many countries, including Belarus, Egypt and Tunisia, have expressed grievances related to, among others, lack of employment opportunities and infringements on the right to an adequate standard of living, including the rights to food and housing, which have been exacerbated by the increasing cost of food and other basic commodities. They have also denounced the denial of their right to participate meaningfully in decision-making, underscoring the indivisibility of all human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social.

We are alarmed at increasing limitations on the right to freedom of expression and information imposed by Governments actively seeking to suppress the rising number of voices who wish to be heard. We are particularly concerned by ill-treatment and arbitrary arrests of protesters, journalists, human rights defenders and lawyers. We are disturbed at the major disruptions in communication networks and transmissions of news so essential to the modern world. (more…)

The next report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders to the Human Rights Council in March 2011 will focus on “women human rights defenders and those defenders working on women’s rights and gender-issues”.

You can download the document HERE

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NEW DELHI (21 January 2011) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, expressed her concern for a contraction of the space for civil society in India, despite the country’s “comprehensive and progressive legal framework as a guarantor of human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as the existence of the National Human Rights Commission as well as a number of state and statutory commissions mandated to promote and protect human rights.”

“I am particularly concerned at the plight of human rights defenders working for the rights of marginalized people, i.e. Dalits, Adavasis (tribals), religious minorities and sexual minorities, who face particular risks and ostracism because of their activities,” Ms. Sekaggya said at the end of her first fact-finding mission to the country. (more…)

GENEVA (14 January 2011) – A group of UN independent human rights experts* urged the Tunisian Government to control the use of force against peaceful demonstrators, after 21 deaths were officially confirmed over the weekend of 8-9 January. Credible human rights organizations have reported a much higher number of killings since the beginning of the protests in mid-December.

The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, warned that “the killing of innocent civilians is a clear violation of international law and is totally unacceptable in any society.” (more…)

GENEVA (31 December 2010) – UN human rights experts* are deeply concerned that, according to credible sources, enforced or involuntary disappearances, arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and acts of sexual violence may have occurred or may still be occurring in Côte d’Ivoire in relation to the presidential elections.

“When committed in certain circumstances, enforced disappearances amount to a crime against humanity,” warns the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. “Those who have perpetrated such horrendous acts shall be held accountable.” (more…)