Prevention should be at the core of the Council’s approach to human rights crisis

Statement at the 52nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council 

General Debate Item 4

Delivered by Sigrid Lipott

Thank you Mr President,

CIVICUS is convinced that the Council should play a more assertive role in preventing rather than reacting to human rights crisis, and the rapid deterioration of civic space is the first early warning sign on which the Council should act.

The rapid turn of events after President Castillo’s arrest has deepened Peru’s long-term institutional crisis and sparked protests in the country met with excessive and deadly force by the police. This is far from isolated as it represents a recurrent issue in regard to the policing of demonstrations. Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Peru continue to face violence, in particular Indigenous and environmental defenders.

In Zimbabwe, ahead of the July 2023 elections, civic space is under severe attack with increasing restrictions targeting civil society and opposition groups. Raids and suspension of civil society organisations (CSOs) registration have become commonplace. The Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Amendment Bill represents a great threat to freedom of association and is an attempt by the authorities to target civil society groups that have often raised concerns about violence related to elections.

In India, the authorities continue to use the draconian Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) to target CSOs, block foreign funding and investigate organisations that are critical of the government. Human rights defenders and activists are harassed and detained under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and other restrictive laws; journalists continue to be targeted and in Jammu and Kashmir, prominent human rights defender Khurram Parvez remains in detention.

We call on the Council to address these worsening situations and prevent further deterioration. 

We thank you.