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Allocution de Michel Forst, Rapporteur spécial pour les défenseurs des droits, devant le Conseil des droits de l'homme
Extraits (en anglais)
Over the past years the threats and constraints faced by human rights defenders have been steadily growing and changing. In many countries, albeit to different extents, it remains extremely dangerous or challenging for human rights defenders to operate freely and openly.
Today, it is no longer a matter of recognizing the dramatic nature of the situation experienced by many defenders. This reality has been observed, denounced and relayed by many actors. There is an urgent need and duty imposed on us to act.
The assessment has been made many times by my mandate as well as by many other stakeholders.
I am deeply disturbed at the persistent and steadily increasing pattern of attacks and killings of defenders who oppose the interests of powerful businesses, local politicians and elites, as well as armed and criminal groups.
Addressing the rampant level of impunity for the violence committed against defenders should be a matter of utmost priority. Identifying institutional gaps and the factors feeding impunity are primordial requirements. Political will is also necessary to take preventive action and carry out investigations when needed.
It is also crucial to make our shared ‘human rights language’ accessible to all. The rise of intolerance towards defenders is partly due to the fact that ordinary people are often unfamiliar with their rights and the role of those who defend and protect them.
Defenders often make unthinkable sacrifices, including, sometimes putting their lives and the safety of their families at risk. They take these risks so that the rest of us can have access to basic rights, which, let’s be frank, we often tend to take for granted. And when defenders are attacked, democracy itself is ultimately threatened.
It is the very essence of this mandate to ensure that every effort is made within every country and territory to exclude a situation when a person loses his life or his liberty for having defended human rights and human dignity.