“The criminal proceedings against women rights defender Vanessa Mendoza Cortés undermine her freedom of expression and have a chilling effect on the work of human rights defenders, as well as on others who stand up for the rights of women and girls in Andorra” said Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović today, ahead of the hearing set for 4 December.
“As indicated in the UN Secretary-General’s Annual reports since 2020 on reprisals for cooperation with the UN, the upcoming trial against Ms Mendoza Cortés is linked to her reporting to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and to the media in 2019 on the obstacles women and girls face in enjoying their human rights in Andorra. This led to the opening of a criminal investigation against her on counts of defamation, defamation against the co-Princes (Articles 172 and 320 of the Criminal Code of Andorra, carrying prison sentences), and crimes against the prestige of state institutions (Article 325 of the Criminal Code). The defamation charges were dropped by the Prosecutor in 2021, and the upcoming trial concerns the remaining charge of crimes against the prestige of state institutions.
The Andorran authorities should take all necessary steps to guarantee Ms Mendoza Cortés’ freedom of expression and ensure an enabling environment for the work of women’s rights defenders.”