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The situation of human rights defenders in Council of Europe member States

Doc. 12957: collection of written amendments | Doc. 12957 | Final version

Caption: AdoptedRejectedWithdrawnNo electronic votes

ADraft Resolution

1The Parliamentary Assembly pays tribute to human rights defenders, whose dedicated and selfless work is highly appreciated. Regrettably, in some member States of the Council of Europe, they risk their own personal security, especially when they champion sensitive issues such as fighting the impunity of State officials for serious crimes including murder, torture and corruption or promoting the rights of oppressed minority groups.
2The Assembly welcomes the fact that, in most member States, human rights defenders are able to work unimpeded and enjoy the protection of the law.
3It strongly condemns all attacks on human rights defenders that have nevertheless occurred, irrespective of whether they were carried out by agents of the State or others. It deplores the fact that some of the most serious attacks on human rights defenders in some countries, including murders, abductions, and torture, have still not been properly investigated.
4The Assembly recalls its Resolution 1660 (2009) on the situation of human rights defenders in Council of Europe member States and the Committee of Ministers’ Declaration on Council of Europe action to improve the protection of human rights defenders and promote their activities, of 6 February 2008. It recalls that the responsibility for promoting and protecting human rights defenders lies first and foremost with States.
5The Assembly therefore calls on the member States of the Council of Europe to:
5.1ensure full observance of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of human rights defenders as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5);
5.2put an end to any harassment of human rights defenders and ensure, in all circumstances, that they are able to carry out their activities without any hindrance, reprisals or threat thereof;

In the draft resolution, paragraph 5.2, before the word "harassment", insert the following words: "administrative, fiscal or judicial".

Explanatory note

Human rights defenders are especially subject to administrative, fiscal or judicial harassment; therefore, it is worth specifying these types of harassment, which are also described in the report.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 5.2, after the word "activities", insert the following words: "in accordance with international human rights standards and the national legislation of the country where they work".

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 5.2, insert the following paragraph:

"facilitate the visa issuing process for human rights defenders during periods of intense disturbances and extreme violence in their country of residence;"

5.3create an enabling environment for their work, including appropriate infrastructures and assistance programmes for defenders at risk;
5.4comply with international instruments on human rights defenders, especially the United Nations “Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” and the “Declaration on Council of Europe action to improve the protection of human rights defenders and promote their activities”;
5.5put an end to the impunity of perpetrators of violations against human rights defenders, in line with the Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers on eradicating impunity for serious human rights violations;
5.6stop accusing human rights defenders of being extremists or agents of foreign powers and subjecting them to administrative, fiscal and judicial harassment;

In the draft resolution, replace paragraph 5.6 with the following paragraph:

"avoid groundless accusations against human rights defenders of being extremists or agents of foreign powers, as well as their unfounded administrative, fiscal and judicial harassment;"

26 June 2012

Tabled by Ms Mailis REPS, Mr Klaas de VRIES, Mr Christoph STRÄSSER, Mr Serhii KIVALOV, Mr Mevlüt ÇAVUŞOĞLU

Falls if amendment 5 is adopted.

Votes: 46 in favor 1 against 0 abstention

In the draft resolution, paragraph 5.6, after the words "foreign powers", replace the words "and subjecting them to administrative , fiscal and judicial harassment" by the following words: "unless there exists compelling evidence to this effect".

Explanatory note

It is worth emphasising that any accusation of a human rights defender being an extremist or an agent of a foreign power should be supported by solid evidence and, in principle, ungrounded accusations should be avoided. Moreover, there is no need to repeat that states should put an end to the harassment of human rights defenders, as this idea has already been expressed in paragraph 5.2 of the draft resolution.

5.7encourage and support the development of vibrant civil societies and provide public recognition for the work of human rights defenders.
6The Assembly calls on national parliaments and their members to ensure that:
6.1legislation relating to human rights defenders and their work is in conformity with international standards, and to refrain from adopting laws imposing undue restrictions and administrative burdens on human rights defenders, or if appropriate to repeal such laws;
6.2human rights NGOs and defenders are involved in the process of drafting legislation concerning them through proper public consultations.
7The Assembly recognises the crucial role played by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights in protecting and supporting human rights defenders and reiterates its willingness to pursue its co-operation with him.