(New York) – Human rights defenders, civil society activists, non-governmental organisations and others who have experienced intimidation or reprisals in connection with their international human rights advocacy should consider submitting information about their case to the UN Secretary-General for inclusion in a major report to be considered by the UN Human Rights Council.

‘The Secretary-General’s annual report is a key tool to prevent, expose and seek accountability for intimidation and reprisals against those who cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms, whether perpetrated by State or non-State actors,’ said ISHR Legal Counsel Madeleine Sinclair.

Key Information
  • What – You are invited to provide first-hand information about cases of reprisals or intimidation for cooperating or attempting to cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms.
  • When – the deadline for submissions is 31 May 2014.
  • Where – send submissions to reprisals@ohchr.org.
Overview

Every year the UN publishes a report on alleged reprisals or intimidation (which includes any attacks, threats, harassment, victimization, vilification, discrimination and detriments) against persons cooperating with, or attempting to cooperate with, UN human rights mechanisms or representatives. This includes the Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteurs, Treaty Bodies, the Universal Periodic Review, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, its field presences and human rights advisers, United Nations Country Teams, the human rights components of peacekeeping missions, etc.

You are invited to provide information about new cases of reprisals that occurred between 16 June 2013 and 31 May 2014.

You are also invited to submit follow up information on older cases included in the 2012 and 2013 reports. This could include, for example, information on whether additional reprisals took place or whether steps were taken by the State to investigate or ensure accountability. The previous reports referred to cases in Algeria, Bahrain, Belarus, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malawi, Maldives, Morocco, Philippines, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

Requirements for submission
  • Note re disclosure/confidentiality: Please pay attention to the security needs of the persons concerned and the related requirements for disclosure. Unless the case is accompanied with a specific indication that those affected, or the family of the person(s) affected, have agreed to have the case included in the report, and have been informed accordingly, it will not be published.
  • Time period covered: the incident occurred between 16 June 2013 – 31 May 2014; or the follow up information relates to cases covered in the 2012 or 2013 reports;
  • Eligibility: Your case is eligible if you, a relative, or someone you have provided legal or other assistance to, has suffered threats, intimidation, or reprisal for interacting in any way with the UN human rights system.
  • Indicate if the alleged act of reprisal has been referred to in any UN documents (provide citations).

ISHR has prepared a questionnaire based on those guidelines to assist defenders in submitting cases in line with the requirements. ISHR may also be able to provide advice on how to formulate a submission to meet OHCHR’s. Please contact Eleanor Openshaw of ISHR (e.openshaw@ishr.ch) for more information.

Background

A report on reprisals is presented each year to the Human Rights Council and is the Council’s main source of information on reprisals faced by human rights defenders who cooperate or attempt to cooperate with the UN system.

The report is an important one – by making cases of reprisals public the report contributes to the fight against impunity with regard to reprisals and intimidation for cooperation with the UN, with the aim of curbing these unacceptable practices.

For more information see ISHR’s manual on preventing and redressing reprisals against human rights defenders available here.

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