HRC43: Oral statement during Item 2 General Debate

HRC43: Oral statement during Item 2 General Debate - Protection


ARTICLE 19 delivered the following oral statement on assaults on human rights defenders and journalists at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council during the Item 2 General Debate.

In Turkey, we share the High Commissioner’s concern at the government’s ongoing, politically motivated assault on civil society, the media and dissenting voices. The authorities’ misuse of overbroad counter-terrorism laws and interference in judicial independence underpins the “hostile environment” the High Commissioner rightly identifies.

Whilst we welcome the acquittal of 9 defendants in the ‘Gezi Park’ trials, the immediate re-arrest of civil society leader Osman Kavala – on baseless charges of ‘attempting to overthrow the constitutional order through violence and force’ (Article 309 of the Turkish Penal Code) in connection with the 2016 coup attempt – demonstrates the government’s determination to silence dissent, and choke off Turkey’s remaining civic space. Kavala has now spent more than 928 days in arbitrary detention: he must be released.

Ahmet Altan – released in November following a retrial, only to be rearrested days later in response to political pressure – must also be immediately and unconditionally released. We remind the Turkish authorities, and this Council, that journalism is not a crime.

In Honduras, we condemn ongoing threats and attacks against journalists and the media, including surveillance and digital attacks, smear campaigns, arbitrary detention, assaults and killings. Impunity remains the norm rather than the exception.

In Guatemala, the run up to 2019 elections were marked by an increase in attacks against journalists – including digital, legal, and physical attacks – designed to deter public interest reporting.

Such attacks not only violate the rights of those journalists they seek to silence, but constitute an attack on the public’s right to know.

We call on all States to create an enabling environment for independent media, including by reforming restrictive laws abusively applied against journalists, developing effective protection mechanisms, and fully investigating all threats to the safety of journalists to break the cycle of impunity.