The EU welcomes the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders and thanks him for his report and presentation. As this is your final time presenting to the Council in this capacity, the EU would like to express our sincere appreciation for your tireless work in discharging this mandate. The EU also strongly supports the renewal of this critically important mandate at this Council Session.
The EU‘s commitment to both protecting human rights defenders and their efforts in defence of human rights is unwavering. We greatly value the pivotal role they play in all regions across the globe, often at significant personal risk. We will continue to strongly condemn any acts of intimidation, violence, harassment or reprisal against civil society and human rights defenders, and will strengthen our support to create a safe and enabling environment for them to carry out their work.
The EU has a wide range of measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders and it remains a central priority of our Action Plan on Human Rights. Moreover, support to human rights defenders in situations where they are most at risk is the first objective of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.
We welcome the focus of this year‘s report and the recommendations included therein. We share the Special Rapporteur’s views on the critical role human rights defenders play towards peacebuilding and sustainable development. We acknowledge the extreme risks that defenders can face as they find themselves on the frontline in the protection and promotion of human rights and that women human rights defenders are particularly exposed to gender-based violence, including sexual violence. The report highlights the responsibility of states to protect defenders under their jurisdiction, the worrying persistence of systemic protection gaps, particularly in remote conflict areas, and the need for context-specific approaches to protection.
Please could you elaborate on some examples of best practices to address these protection gaps, such as specific protective measures and mechanisms?