UN Human Rights Council Adopted a Resolution on Human Rights Defenders

By Betre Yacob

As the authoritarian government in Ethiopia continues its violence against journalists and human right defenders, the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a new resolution on 21 March 2013 calling an end to the impunity and the protection of dissent.

In a statement issued on 21 March 2013, the council says that the resolution on “protecting human rights defenders (A/HRC/22/L.13)” is successfully adopted at its 22nd Session in Geneva having received the support of 62 states across 6 continents.

“We welcome the resolution as a significant statement by the UNHRC reaffirming the positive obligation upon States to facilitate the work of HRDs, and remove obstacles to their work, including legislation that illegitimately criminalises the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and information”, the statement explains.

The statement says that the new resolution can be seen as a timely response to the increasing challenges faced by human right defenders, and it strongly calls on States to ensure that it translates to real action on the ground.

“We call on all states to review their domestic laws and practices to ensure that they comply with the new resolution and with other international human rights standards in this area”, the statement adds.

According to the statement, the resolution supports the obligation upon governments (including the Ethiopian Tyrannical Regime) to: create a safe and enabling environment in which HRDs can operate free from hindrance and insecurity; ensure laws to protect national security are not misused to target HRDs and that counter-terrorism measures comply with international human rights standards; ensure HRDs can perform their important role in the context of peaceful protests; ensure that reporting requirements for civil society do not inhibit functional autonomy, and that no law criminalises or places discriminatory restrictions on funding sources; and protect the expression of dissenting views.

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