International Human Rights Day

On the occasion of the day of Human Rights Day, Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, called member states to halt the attacks against human rights defenders and improve their safety and working environment.

The Commissioner stated that in spite of an international declaration and clear standards protecting the work of human rights defenders, there remains a huge gap between the principles and reality.

“I have observed a worrying retrogression in the protection of human rights defenders and their ability to work in a growing number of European countries. They face a variety of forms of reprisals, including judicial harassment, prosecution, illegal deprivation of liberty, abusive checks and surveillance, smear campaigns, threats and intimidation. Some have been physically attacked, subjected to ill-treatment, abducted and even killed. Activists defending the rights of migrants, LGBT persons, or women, as well as human rights defenders working on sensitive issues, such as accountability for serious human rights violations and environmental issues, have been increasingly targeted by state and non-state actors. Restrictive legislation and harmful political rhetoric is making the work of human rights NGOs increasingly difficult and unsafe” says the Commissioner.

She added that since the world celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Council of Europe member states should never forget their duty to ensure that human rights defenders can work freely and safely.

References from the official website of the Council of Europe