An Oral Statement to the 31st Session of the UN Human Rights Council from the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) on Situation of Human Rights Defenders
Thank You, Special Rapporteur, on the situation of human rights defenders, for your report.
The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to bring to your attention threats faced by human rights defenders in Asia, with respect to their professional freedom and independence.
The Bangladesh and Chinese governments are undertaking an unprecedented and systematic crackdown against human rights defenders. Lawyers, journalists, defenders, and their organizations stand accused with fabricated charges; they are detained for unreasonably long periods on the pretext of investigation.
Pakistani defenders face dire threat from the Military and fundamentalist religious outfits. Presently, a former UN Special Rapporteur is also facing death threats in Pakistan. In India, defenders criticizing the government are accused as ‘anti-national’, ‘foreign-funded agents’; their offices are being forced shut.
The Nepal government arbitrarily detained 12 human rights defenders last month. In the Terai region, defenders and independent media face threats from the police and private militia. Many Thai lawyers and academics, identified by the Military as supportive of the civil society movement, have had passports confiscated.
All these governments are misusing the criminal justice apparatus to detain, deny bail, and shut down human rights organizations. The ALRC is of the opinion that the criminal justice process in these countries is either completely flawed – as in Bangladesh, China, Nepal, and Thailand – or is not professional, independent, or mature enough to protect defenders at risk.
Has the Rapporteur’s Office tried to engage in detail on the criminal justice institutions of these countries, to uphold their independence and help improve professional capacity? Has the Rapporteur tried to engage with these institutions to understand the challenges faced in fulfilling their mandated responsibility, i.e. providing protection to human rights defenders?
Thank you, Mr. President.
Webcast video: Link. Please scroll down to number 32 in the list and see Asian Legal Resource Centre, Mr. Ashrafuzzaman.