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States attack human rights experts at UN rights body; thirty-five organisations, including six IFEX members, express concern

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 12 June, 2009 - In an open letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council, thirty-five human rights organisations from every region of the world warned that recent "extraordinary attacks" by states on United Nations human rights experts at the Human Rights Council was "severely eroding the Council's legitimacy and credibility."

According to this global group of NGOs, which included international NGOs such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, as well as regional and national NGOs like the Asian Forum for Human Rights (Forum Asia) and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, state delegations at the Council are carrying out "what appears to be a coordinated effort to intimidate" human rights experts, "individually and collectively."

Such attacks at the ongoing 11th session of the Council "have focused in particular on the current Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression and on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. These Rapporteurs were subjected to threats of disciplinary action because they offered their expert analysis and recommendations on important human rights issues that they brought to the attention of this Council."

The group of NGOs contend that these "political attacks" are "fundamentally an attack on and threat to the Council itself," and go on to "appeal, in the strongest terms" for states at the HRC to refrain from undermining the independence of UN human rights experts, and "ensure that the long term integrity and credibility of the Human Rights Council itself are not sacrificed to political expedience."

A full version of the letter with a complete list of all NGO signatories can be seen here:
hrc-open-letter-on-mandate-holders.pdf (64 KB)

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
Human Rights Watch

Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD)
Amnesty International
Arab Sisters Human Rights Forum
ARC International
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Asian Legal Resource Centre
Association pour la Défense des Droits et Libertés (ADDL)
Association of World Citizens
Association for World Education
Baha'i International Community
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Centre for Economic and Social Rights(CESR)
CREA (Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action)
Damascus Center for Human Rights (DCHR)
Democracy Coalition Project (DCP)
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRDN)
Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (ECAPE)
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
Fédération internationale des droits de l'homme (FIDH)
The Federation for Women and Family Planning
Human Rights Council of Australia
Human Rights First Society-Saudi Arabia
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific)
New Woman Research Foundation (NWRC)
Palestinian Human Rights Organization in Lebanon (PHRO)

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