UN denounces ‘shameful’ reprisals on activists in 38 countries

Report alleges countries have intimidated or punished people for cooperating with the UN on human rights.

Antonio Guterres
UN denounces reprisals and intimidation in 38 countries for those cooperating with the organisation on human rights [Reuters]

The United Nations has listed 38 countries which it said had carried out “shameful” practices including harsh reprisals and intimidation against people cooperating with it on human rights.

The annual report from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released on Wednesday detailed allegations of killings, torture and arbitrary arrests.

The report also alleged instances of ill-treatment, detention, surveillance, and public stigmatisation targeting victims and human rights defenders.

“The world owes it to those brave people standing up for human rights, who have responded to requests to provide information to and engage with the United Nations, to ensure their right to participate is respected,” Guterres wrote.

“Punishing individuals for cooperating with the United Nations is a shameful practice that everyone must do more to stamp out.”

The 38 countries included 29 countries with new cases, and 19 with ongoing or continuing cases.

The new cases were in Bahrain, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, India, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Venezuela.

Tip of the iceberg 

The report states there is a “disturbing trend in the use of national security arguments and counter-terrorism strategies by States as justification for blocking access by communities and civil society organisations to the United Nations”.

Women cooperating with the UN have also reported threats of rape and being subject to online smear campaigns.

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour, who will present the report to the Human Rights Council on September 19, said in a statement that the cases in the report were the tip of the iceberg.

“We are also increasingly seeing legal, political and administrative hurdles used to intimidate – and silence – civil society,” he said.

Some of the countries listed are current members of the Human Rights Council, which adopted a resolution last year reaffirming that everyone – individually or in association with others – had a right to unhindered communication with the UN.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies