The EU warmly welcomes the Special Rapporteur and thanks her for her first report to the Human Rights Council. We reiterate our staunch support for your mandate and for your indispensable work in highlighting the critical role human rights defenders play in the protection and promotion of human rights.
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 and its Member States are deeply troubled by the findings in this year’s report: the international community must be clear that there can be no impunity for the killings of human rights defenders.
The report refers to “gender-based threats” faced by women human rights defenders, and by human rights defenders working on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights; it is crucial that protection mechanisms are gender-responsive and holistic. The particularly heightened risk faced by environmental human rights defenders is also of grave concern, and we are alarmed that the report finds that one in two victims of killings recorded in 2019 by the OHCHR had been working with communities on related issues.
Special Rapporteur, we support your assertion that governments around the world must do more, intervening to prevent killings and responding more effectively to threats. We share your view that businesses must also act when threats are made against human rights defenders. The European Union is committed to being a leader in this field and continues to strengthen its legal and policy framework in the area of business and human rights.
What best practices should States follow when establishing/improving human rights defender protection mechanisms?
What concrete steps should States take to respond to reports of death threats against human rights defenders in order to prevent escalation?