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Protecting human rights defenders

Over the past few years the number of reprisals against human rights defenders has been on the rise, the Committee on Legal Affairs has said. Some of them have been threatened, physically attacked, arbitrarily arrested, detained or imprisoned. Others have even been assassinated. Some of the most serious attacks have still not been effectively investigated.

Adopting a draft resolution based on a report by Egidijus Vareikis (Lithuania, EPP/CD), the committee called on member States to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of human rights defenders, including their rights to a “fair trial and their freedoms of expression and assembly and association”.

Member States should refrain from any acts of intimidation or reprisals against human rights defenders and “protect them against attacks or harassment by non-State actors”. Human rights defenders should have access to effective domestic remedies with respect to violations of their rights, especially those related to their work.

Also, member States should conduct effective investigations into all acts of intimidation or reprisals against human rights defenders, and especially cases of assassinations, physical attacks and threats.

In a draft recommendation also adopted, the parliamentarians called on the Committee of Ministers of the Organisation to establish a platform, similar to the Platform for the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists, for the protection of human rights defenders.