UN must protect human rights experts from threats of violence

UN must protect human rights experts from threats of violence

The Human Rights Law Centre joined 14 other non-governmental organisations to express concern about the governments of Human Rights Council members attacking and discrediting UN experts when human rights abuses by Council members are called out.

For example, the Philippines Government, a Human Rights Council member, has threatened the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings with physical violence on numerous occasions and made terrorism accusations against the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Edwina MacDonald, a Legal Director of the Human Rights Law Centre, said UN human rights experts play an essential role in calling out human rights abuses wherever they occur and they must not be silenced.

“The UN’s human rights experts should be free from attempts to discredit, intimidate, deter and silence them. If these countries don’t like what the experts have to say about their human rights abuses then it’s simple: stop violating human rights,” said MacDonald.

The Special Rapporteur on Myanmar has faced reprisals and received violent threats on social media. The Maldives has accused the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief of spreading anti-Islamic activities, also resulting in death threats against him online.

“It is important that, as a member of the Human Rights Council, the Australian Government support and defend the role of the UN’s human rights experts. We are engaging with the Government to ensure Australia is doing everything possible to safeguard the role of the Special Rapporteurs.”

The joint NGO statement is available here.