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HR defenders, victims vulnerable to reprisals for reporting to UN

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13th-Sep-2018       
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UNB, Dhaka :
People globally face harsh reprisals and intimidation for cooperating with the United Nations on human rights, a "shameful practice," a major UN report warns.
This trend deters others from engaging with the UN and results in "self-censorship."
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour, the senior UN official designated to address the issue, will present the report to the Human Rights Council on September 19.
A total of 29 countries in which new cases are listed in the report are: Bahrain, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, India, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, the Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Myanmar, the Philippines, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Venezuela.
The annual report on reprisals of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the ninth of its kind, details country by country cases in two annexes, including allegations of killing, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and detention, surveillance, criminalisation, and public stigmatisation campaigns targeting victims and human rights defenders.
It includes allegations of reprisals and intimidation documented in a total of 38 countries. Some of the States are current members of the
Human Rights Council, according to a message UNB received from Geneva.
Some have featured in the annual report on reprisals nearly every year since it was instituted in 2010.
"The cases of reprisals and intimidation detailed in this report and its two annexes represent the tip of the iceberg, while many more are reported to us. We're also increasingly seeing legal, political and administrative hurdles used to intimidate - and silence - civil society," said Andrew Gilmour.
The report noted that selectively applied laws and new legislation are used to restrict and obstruct organizations that are likely to cooperate with the UN. This includes limiting their ability to secure and maintain funding, especially from foreign donors.
The impact of fear of reprisals is not only visible in the field, where United Nations personnel often encounter people too afraid to speak with them, but also at headquarters in New York, Geneva, and elsewhere, the report says.
The report highlights a "disturbing trend in the use of national security arguments and counter-terrorism strategies by States as justification for blocking access by communities and civil society organizations to the United Nations."

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