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Human Rights Comment

Living in a clean environment: a neglected human rights concern for all of us

04/06/2019 Strasbourg

Tomorrow, 5 June, is World Environment Day. Initiated as an annual event by the United Nations to draw attention to pressing environmental problems, this year’s theme is air pollution. The urgency of the problem cannot be overstated. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 9...

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Human Rights Comment

The Shrinking Space for Human Rights Organisations

04/04/2017 Strasbourg

In recent years I have noticed a clear trend of backsliding in several European countries in the area of freedom of association, particularly in respect of human rights organisations and defenders. The growing pressure and increased obstacles can take a variety of forms: legal and administrative...

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Human Rights Comment

Human rights defenders’ work is vital for redress to victims of enforced disappearance

29/08/2016 Strasbourg

Last March I published an Issue Paper on Missing persons and victims of enforced disappearance in Europe, aiming to help Council of Europe member states improve their law and practice. Much remains to be done, considering that thousands of cases of missing persons and enforced disappearance...

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Human Rights Comment

Remove obstacles to the work of women’s rights defenders

22/09/2015 Strasbourg

Human rights defenders and civil society organisations working to protect the human rights of women and gender equality perform an essential role in Europe. They provide much needed assistance to victims of gender-based violence, combat discrimination against women, contribute to peace-building...

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Human Rights Comment

Belarusian Human Rights Defenders Need Support

12/02/2013 Strasbourg

Belarus is not a member state of the Council of Europe and should not even be considered a candidate until it releases all human rights defenders and opposition activists imprisoned for political motives, abolishes the death penalty and carries out far-reaching democratic reforms. This means that...

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Human Rights Comment

Restrictions on defenders of migrants’ rights should stop

19/12/2012 Strasbourg

Defamation, threats, verbal and physical attacks, administrative sanctions and judicial harassment are used to deter human rights defenders from working with migrants and from combating the rising xenophobia and racism in Europe. Perpetrators can be both state and non-state actors. It is not...

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Human Rights Comment

Politically-motivated murders are not effectively investigated – this feeds a culture of impunity

29/11/2011 Strasbourg

Assassinations of human rights defenders, investigative journalists, activist lawyers and critical opinion makers have not been seriously investigated in a number of critical cases. These flagrant examples have come to symbolise the phenomenon of impunity, which encourages further murders and has...

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Human Rights Comment

Human rights defenders need solidarity from all parts of Europe when repressed by their governments

13/09/2011 Strasbourg

The clampdown on human rights defenders in Belarus continues unabated. In early August, Ales Bialiatski, the chair of the Human Rights Centre Viasna and vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), was arrested. He is still being held in pre-trial detention. Activists...

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Human Rights Comment

Human Rights Defenders in Belarus are severely persecuted

25/05/2011 Strasbourg

In Belarus, the crackdown on opposition politicians, civil society groups, human rights defenders and media continues. While no less than seven hundred demonstrators were arrested in the evening after the elections of 19 December, several of them have now been brought to court, have faced...

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Human Rights Comment

Those responsible for the death of Natalia Estemirova must be brought to justice

13/07/2010 Strasbourg

One year has passed since human rights defender Natalia Estemirova was brutally murdered. On 15 July 2009 she was abducted near her house in Grozny, Chechnya. She was pushed into a car by several assailants and some hours later her body was found in a forest in Ingushetia. She had been shot in...

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