Of 193 member states, 42 have been singled out by the UN for criticism. This places them on a “blacklist” for retaliating against journalists and human rights advocates. Some of the most repressive authoritarian governments in the world are present among the 42 nations mentioned in the report. UN Secretary-General: Civil society organisations are the lifeblood of democracy and serve as catalysts for harmony, social advancement, and economic expansion. Ales Bialiatski, Memorial, and the Centre for Civil Liberties were awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize last week.
UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric gave reporters an update on the military government in Myanmar on October 6. At least 170 journalists have been detained since the military took over in February last year. UNESCO is still dedicated to preserving and defending their right to freedom of the press. Intimidation and retaliation disproportionately affect some populations and groups, such as representatives of indigenous peoples, minorities, or those who work on environmental and climate change issues. The report refers to the increased monitoring and surveillance and the risk of criminal prosecution as having generated a “chilling effect” of silence.
Out of 193 member states, 42 have been singled out by the UN for criticism, placing them on a “blacklist” for retaliating against journalists and human rights advocates.
You probably likely end yourself in jail, under government monitoring, or subject to persecution if you work with the UN and report human rights violations in your native country.
Some of the most repressive authoritarian governments in the world, known for their severe human rights violations, are present among the 42 nations.
The annual report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres describes how individuals—primarily victims of human rights violations, human rights defenders, and journalists—have been subjected to retaliation and intimidation by States and non-State actors, highlighting several “disturbing trends” over the past year.
This included individuals who were being detained, the targets of restrictive laws, and both online and offline surveillance. Also impacted were those who attempted to work with the UN or were seen as doing so.
Civil society organisations (CSOs) and other individuals and groups, including those in a third of the nations mentioned in the report, either refused to cooperate or only disclosed their experiences anonymously out of fear of retaliation.
“This report reveals the extent to which persons are pursued and prosecuted for raising human rights concerns with the UN,” the report’s authors write, “despite good advances, including pledges and shared commitments by the Member States against reprisals.”
Although this number is frightening, many retaliation incidents are not documented, according to Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ilze Brands Kehris.
Afghanistan, Andorra, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Laos People’s Democratic Republic, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Philippines, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sao Tome
According to Dr Simon Adams, President and CEO of the Center for Victims of Torture, the largest international organisation that provides treatment for survivors and campaigns to end torture worldwide, the UN is an unbiased humanitarian body committed to the growth of humanity.
“Some states or armed organisations are breaking the ‘trust in fundamental human rights that the UN Charter proudly embraces,” he said, “when they consider civil society activists or journalists speaking to the United Nations as a danger to their interests.”
Wherever we may be in the world, “We the people” have the right to communicate to UN officials without having some evil authority peer over our shoulders, listen to our phone calls, or threaten us with incarceration or disappearance, he stated.
Dr Adams said that human rights activists in the nations listed in the UN Secretary-report General’s not only deserved our respect and support but also needed protection.
Ales Bialiatski, Memorial, and the Centre for Civil Liberties were awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize last week. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres congratulated them and said this year’s prize “sheds light on the strength of civil society in advance of peace.”
“Civil society organisations (CSOs) are the lifeblood of democracy and serve as catalysts for harmony, social advancement, and economic expansion. They convey the voices of the weak into the halls of power and aid in holding governments accountable. ?
Yet, as the Secretary-General noted, civic space is becoming more condensed globally. ?
He claimed that human rights defenders, supporters of women’s rights, environmentalists, journalists, and others are subject to arbitrary detention, severe prison terms, smear campaigns, debilitating fines, and physical attacks.
As we give this year’s awardees our congratulations, Guterres added, “let us promise to preserve the heroic defenders of universal principles of peace, hope, and dignity.”
Agnès Callamard, the secretary general of Amnesty International, responded to the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) decision to create an independent monitoring mechanism on the human rights situation in Russia by saying her organisation welcomes the decision to scrutinise Russia’s human rights record finally.
She noted that “the country has seen its political opposition crushed, grassroots NGOs and activists blocked, independent media shuttered, and civil society as a whole burnt to the ground” under Vladimir Putin’s rule.
“Vladimir Putin’s longtime contempt for life and human rights could not be more clearly demonstrated than by Russia’s criminal intervention in Ukraine.”
According to Callamard, creating this crucial mechanism will provide the independent media, the Russian civil society, and many other groups fighting against repression with a desperately needed lifeline.
“We call on all states to support the prompt implementation of this monitoring and reporting obligation and to provide unwavering assistance to those who have been the victims of national authorities’ violations of human rights and humanitarian law.”
She urged the Russian government to “hear the unambiguous message that the Human Rights Council conveys with the formation of this mechanism and to radically shift direction to cease its crimes at home and abroad.”
UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric gave reporters an update on the military government in Myanmar on October 6, saying that according to UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), at least 170 journalists have been detained since the military took over in February of last year.
Twelve women journalists are among the nearly 70 who are still detained. Over 200 instances of media repression, including murders, arrests, detentions, legal proceedings, incarcerations, and raids on editorial offices, have also been documented by UNESCO.
He said local courts had sentenced 44 journalists, including seven women, for criminal offences. Additionally, media professionals claim to be the targets of digital surveillance on social media and mobile devices. UNESCO is still dedicated to preserving and defending their right to freedom of the press.
According to the UN report, there is increasing evidence of internet surveillance and cyberattacks. The management of people and organisations that support the UN is still being reported in all regions. The COVID-19 epidemic has expedited the profound digital change, worsening problems with cyber-security, privacy, and access to online spaces.
Another worrying global trend is the prevalence and effects of restrictive laws that forbid and punish UN collaboration, leading to lengthy prison sentences or home arrest in certain instances. Numerous nations reported recurrent and comparable intimidation charges, which might point to a pattern.
Self-censorship is another global trend, with people either refusing to work with the UN or doing so anonymously out of fear for their safety. The report refers to the increased monitoring and surveillance and the risk of criminal prosecution as having generated a “chilling effect” of silence, preventing some persons from collaborating with the UN further and discouraging others from doing so.
The report demonstrates, as in previous years, that intimidation and retaliation disproportionately affect some populations and groups, such as representatives of indigenous peoples, minorities, or those who work on environmental and climate change issues, as well as individuals who may experience discrimination based on age, sexual orientation, and gender.
The dangers to women victims, human rights defenders, and peacemakers collaborating with the UN and sharing their testimonies are still outstanding. As Brands Kehris delivered the report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, she emphasised that “we will continue to work to guarantee that everyone can safely engage with the UN.
Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network