Human Rights Council
10th session, Oral Intervention
Agenda Item: General Segment
Presented by: Nassera DUTOUR
Date: 04 March 2009
My name is Nassera DUTOUR and I’m from Algeria. I’m a human rights defender and the mother of a disappeared. I was invited by a group of NGOs to address the council today, in my personal capacity. Despite my wishes, I’ve had to work in the Diaspora. I work on establishing the truth about the disappeared and preserving their memory in order to put an end to this crime, a crime that denies the very existence of the human person.
Human rights defenders in the world are themselves subjected to a wide variety of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions, unfair trials, physical attacks and other forms of intimidation and damage to their reputations. Restrictions on forming NGOs and/or limiting their activities are often the norm. This is done through restrictive laws and regulations that are incompatible with international standards, or by resorting to non-independent judiciaries that end up criminalizing the activities of human rights defenders. Despite adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 60 years ago, several states are still failing to abide by the principles articulated in the UDHR and in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
Human rights defenders and those advocating for democratic reform are now the main target of repression in several regions of the world. They are generally considered in several countries as a political threat to national security. This situation often forces many human rights defenders in some countries to work in the Diaspora in order to be able to report t freely about the deteriorating human rights situation in their countries of origin.
Human rights defenders who participate in international mechanisms are also the target of such violations, especially those who provide information to the International Criminal Court and the Human Rights Council. In fact, especially in my region, travel bans have been issued, local NGOs forcibly closed or their bank accounts frozen and many human rights defenders tortured and given death threats due to such participation.
As an Arab, a woman and a human rights defender, I want to stress that NGOs participating in the Council have come with the aim to contribute to a greater respect for human rights and the rule of law in their countries. Thus we expect the Council to ensure a high level of protection to all human rights defenders participating in its proceedings and ensure protection against any repercussions for such participation. The failure of this Council to do so would endanger the very essence of its function. The Council also has the obligation to ensure that human rights defenders involved in its proceeding have the ability to speak openly and freely and specify the region and country of their work without fear of retaliation by either the Council or their own countries.
Thank you Mr. President.