37th Session of the Human Rights Council
Oral statement

Across the globe, CIVICUS has observed a pattern of judicial persecution, smear campaigns, threats, intimidation, physical assaults and killings targeting human rights defenders.

We remain deeply concerned by the relentless and unwarranted restrictions on fundamental freedoms and attacks on civil society leaders, members of unions and members of the political opposition that have expressed criticism of government policies and practices.

These attacks are particularly prevalent before, during and after politically charged periods like elections as recently observed in Gabon, where the movements of members of the political opposition and threats to human rights defenders have continued after the violence that followed the 2016 elections. Sadly, this is a trend we observe in many countries.

We are alarmed by the growing tendency of states to use restrictive legislation and policies to pre-empt peaceful protests by citizens and civil society under the pretext of national security.

Many states deploy armed security forces who use violence and live ammunition to disperse demonstrations. Protesters are killed and some are injured. As observed in Benin, these actions are often followed by arrests and detention of protesters, some of whom have reported being tortured.

We call on states to uphold and protect the rights of citizens to freely assemble and express themselves in line with national and international human rights standards.

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