Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa



            FOR HUMAN RIGHTS


51STsession of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights


Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa


Agenda Item: Point 7 (biii)

Madam Special Rapporteur,

The International Service for Human Rights welcomes your report and congratulates you on your re-election as Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders in Africa. We hope that ISHR will continue to enjoy the fruitful collaboration with the mandate.

Madam Rapporteur, as we emphasized in our statement under item 4, human rights defenders cooperating with international and regional human rights mechanisms continue to face reprisals. We welcome the joint press release denouncing reprisals issued on 14 March 2012 by you Madam together with Rapporteurs on human rights defenders of the Interamerican UN human rights system and are pleased to see a great acknowledgement of the issue.

At a side event convened by OHCHR in New York on the issue of reprisals, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that the Un could not do its work without human rights defenders. He added that the Un owes its best efforts to ensure that human rights defenders can carry out their vital work. The SG also said, I quote, that when their vice is stifled the Un’s work for human rights is also a victim, end of quote. Without a robust, sustained response to reprisals the overall protection of human rights defenders is undermined. We believe that the words of the SG are applicable to the African human rights mechanisms. Therefore, we are looking forward to see a greater commitment from the commission by creating a follow-up mechanisms to the resolution on reprisals adopted during the 50thsession.

Mme Special Rapporteur, as mentioned in your report we organized a consultation of Middle East and North of Africa HRDs with UN and ACHPR special mandates, on 13 and 14 April in Cairo. The aim of the consultation was to allow the UN and ACHPR special mandates to better understand the challenges faced by HRDs in this region in the wake of the Arab spring. As you witnessed Madame Rapporteur, it is very difficult for these defenders to freely conduct their work. Some countries are in the process of adopting restrictive legislations which would limit the rights to freedom of association, peaceful demonstration and the right to receive funding as it is already the case in some States. How will your mandate engage with States parties on this issue? We recommend your mandate to elaborate minimum standards for NGO work regulation to counter any attempt by States to restrict the work of HRDs.

Madame Special Rapporteur,

We welcome your plan to focus your work on group of defenders facing critical challenges such as women human rights defenders, defenders working on SOGI rights, defenders working in conflict situations. Thematic reports on these problematic issues will help State to understand better these challenges and the necessary measures to be taken. We are ready to support your mandate for such initiative by providing you with adequate information.

Madam Special Rapporteur, we are concerned about the lack of country visits as mentioned in your report. Country visits constitute a vital tool to engage constructively with States. We call upon States to open their doors for your mandate and fulfill their obligations to collaborate with the commission and its special procedures. We also urge the AU to provide adequate resources to special procedures to perform their duties of promoting and protection human rights on the continent.

I thank you.