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ODIHR releases report recognizing the shrinking public space of human rights defenders

OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) released a report on 15 September 2017 stating that threats and attacks against human rights defenders in the OSCE area have continued to increase in severity and frequency over the last three years.

The ODIHR report, “The Responsibility of States: Protection of Human Rights Defenders in the OSCE Region (2014-2016)”, was released on the sidelines of this year’s Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, in Warsaw. It assesses the implementation by OSCE participating States of the international standards outlined in the Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, published by ODIHR in 2014.

The compilation of the report was influenced by the joint activity of UNITED and the Civic Solidarity Platform (CSP), both networks having been drawing decision makers’ attention to the phenomenon and calling for the implementation of measures to increase protection of human rights defenders. Over the last year, two of our long-time activists experienced first-hand the shrinking of public space of human rights defenders: Alena Krempaská was brutally attacked because of her high profile human rights activism, and recently Evdokia Romanova was brought into court for supporting the rights of LGBTQ+ people on her personal Facebook page.

“The findings in this report point to a shrinking of public space in which civil society is able to effectively play its important role in helping to protect and promote the human rights of the members of all of our societies,” said Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, ODIHR Director. “Threats and attacks against human rights defenders are doubly harmful: to their own safety and security and to those of people they work to protect.”

During the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, members of the Civic Solidarity Platform organised over 20 side events on various topics connected to human rights violations in order to draw attention of the OSCE delegations. CSP is committed to continue focusing on topics related to migration, the shrinking of public space and security measures that are meant to increase protection against terror attacks but in fact are often used to violate fundamental rights, including freedom of speech, rule of law and the right to assemble.

Read more about the report here.

Image: Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, director of ODIHR showed great interest to meet CSP representatives, among them Balint Josa, Programme Coordinator of UNITED. (Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Warsaw)