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Reprisals against indigenous human rights defenders (HRC45, 2020, OS)

Date : 2020.09.23

IMADR delivered the oral statement on “Reprisals against indigenous human rights defenders” at the 45th session of the Human Rights Council. Whole text can be read below or download here.  .


Oral Statement: 45th session of the Human Rights Council

Annual half-day panel discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples

23 September 2020

Thank you Madame President,

We welcome the decision of the Human Rights Council to dedicate the issue of indigenous human rights defenders to this annual panel.

We share concerns with the panellists about the prevalence of intimidation, harassment and violence against indigenous human rights defenders.

Indigenous human rights defenders’ engagement with the UN human rights mechanisms including the treaty bodies is crucial at all stages: inter alia, they monitor and report on States’ compliance with their obligations and take follow-up actions to implement recommendations. Their engagement is all the more pertinent where there is no robust regional human rights mechanism.

In this regard, we want to stress the important role played by the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples and the OHCHR Fellowship Programme. The fellowship empowers indigenous human rights defenders with the knowledge of the international human rights system, and the Voluntary Fund allows them to apply such knowledge into practice. IMADR has continuously assisted the beneficiaries to engage with the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). We strongly encourage Member States to contribute to the fellowship and the Voluntary Fund.

However, when indigenous human rights defenders face reprisals for cooperating with the UN human rights bodies, the impact of these programmes is critically undermined as well as the protection of human rights in countries concerned, as we have seen from the case of indigenous human rights defenders from Russia who engaged with the CERD in 2017.

Against this backdrop, we would like to ask the panellists – What further actions can be taken by the Human Rights Council to ensure State accountability for reprisals against indigenous human rights defenders?

Thank you.

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