39th Session of the Human Rights Council
Opening Statement to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
High Commissioner Bachelet, CIVICUS warmly welcomes you to the Council and congratulates your appointment as 7th UN High Commissioner. You take up this position at a time when human rights and the institutions to uphold them are under attack, and we look to you to be the voice of the thousands of human rights defenders working on the front lines, risking their lives on a daily basis.
We also welcome your call for new strategies and stronger tools for prevention, early intervention and also accountability so that the power of justice can deter and prevent even the worst violations and crimes.
The CIVICUS Monitor, a platform that tracks and rates civic space globally, has developed a Watch List of countries where on which individual activists and civil society organisations are experiencing a severe infringement of their civic freedoms as protected by international law, and urgent action is needed to reverse the trend. The Monitor recently placed Bangladesh, Cameroon, the DRC, Guatemala, Maldives and Nicaragua on its Watch List.
These violations include brutal attacks by police on peaceful protests in Nicaragua and Bangladesh; the killing of 18 human rights defenders since January 2018 in Guatemala; flagrant disregard for the rule of law in Maldives ahead of elections scheduled this month; killing of protesters, targeted campaigns of harassment and arbitrary detention of activists and political opposition in the DRC; and the prosecution of human rights defenders and journalists on trumped-up charges in Cameroon amidst an escalating civil conflict and humanitarian crisis.
We call on you, High Commissioner and on all delegations to address these attacks and restrictions as a bellwether for further violations to come, and act now to reverse these worrying trends.