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Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe : PACE

Adopting a report on the protection and role of human rights defenders, the Legal Affairs Committee has expressed deep concern about increased reprisals against them in certain Council of Europe member states, including Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation and Turkey. It also voiced particular concern about the situation in annexed Crimea and other territories outside states’ control.

 

“Too many human rights defenders are paying a high price for their work and their fate should receive much greater attention from the Council of Europe’s institutions and member states”, said the rapporteur, Mailis Reps (Estonia, ALDE).

Condemning acts of intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders, the committee called on member states to refrain from any physical attacks, arbitrary arrests and judicial or administrative harassment. Instead, they should ensure an enabling environment for the work of human rights defenders, afford them effective protection and conduct effective investigations into any attacks on them, including murders, abductions and torture.

The committee also urges member states to refrain from adopting laws that impose disproportionate restrictions on human rights defenders’ activities and on their access to funding, including foreign funding.

Lastly, in a draft recommendation, the committee calls on the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to establish a platform, such as that created for journalists, for the protection of human rights defenders. The committee also recommends that the Committee of Ministers should report regularly, and at least once a year, to the PACE on cases of intimidation of human rights defenders co-operating with Council of Europe bodies, and in particular, lawyers representing applicants before the European Court of Human Rights and representatives of civil society co-operating with the Commissioner for Human Rights and monitoring bodies.

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