UN report names 38 countries that carried out reprisals on rights activists

UN report names 38 countries that carried out reprisals on rights activists

The annual report [materials] of UN Secretary-General António Guterres to the UN Human Rights Council [official website] listed 38 countries, including China and Russia, that have carried out harsh reprisals and intimidation tactics against individuals who cooperated with the UN on human rights issues.

Contained in the report are details of cases [press statement] that include allegations of “killing, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and detention, surveillance, criminalisation, and public stigmatisation campaigns targeting victims and human rights defenders” in addition to claims of reprisals and intimidation.

The report also focuses on a “disturbing trend in the use of national security arguments and counter-terrorism strategies by States as justification for blocking access by communities and civil society organizations to the United Nations.” According to the report, many governments have labeled some NGOs, advocacy organizations and individuals as “terrorists” which are then consequently denied access to participate at the UN.

Another aspect the report highlights is the need to take violations by non-state actors seriously. “Private citizens, corporate actors and non-State groups must be held accountable as well,” the report states.

The report urges the UN to “strengthen the collection of information on acts of intimidation and reprisal, including do more to ensure that incidents experienced by women human rights defenders and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons are documented, disaggregated and properly analysed.” It also encourages all those invested in upholding the standards of human rights to report and follow-up on acts of intimidation and reprisal.

Many of the countries listed in the report are current members of the Human Rights Council, which just last year adopted a resolution that protected and reaffirmed [Reuters report] that everyone is entitled to unhindered communication with the UN. The report will be presented to the Human Rights Council next week by UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour.