March 5, 2019 -- The Human Rights Council this afternoon(March 1, 2019) held an interactive dialogue with Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism.
Presenting her report, Ms. Ní Aoláin reminded that security and human rights were fundamentally entwined and co-dependent. The clear link between the impact on civil society space and the enlargement of the security framework could be seen. Since its inception, 66 per cent of all relevant communications sent by the mandate of the Special Rapporteur related to the use of counter-terrorism, preventing and countering violent extremism or broadly defined security-related measures on civil society. For the last two years, the number was slightly higher, at 68 per cent. This was an extraordinarily high figure, which underscored the abuse and misuse of counter-terrorism measures against civil society and human rights defenders over a decade and a half. Restrictions on civil society did not make a country safe from terrorism. States had to assess the overly-broad definitions of terrorism and to establish independent mechanisms to review and oversee the exercise of emergency powers. The Special Rapporteur also briefed the Council about country visits to Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, France and Belgium.
Sri Lanka, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and France spoke as concerned countries. The National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, and the National Consultative Commission of Human Rights of France also spoke.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers noted that it was no coincidence that the proliferation of security measures related to terrorism and violent extremism on one hand, and the adoption of measures that restricted civic space on the other, were happening simultaneously. Speakers opposed any harm or exploitation of children by terrorists, noting that children needed to be protected from being influenced by extremist ideologies. Some speakers found it unacceptable to use human rights rhetoric to provide impunity for terrorism, using it as an instrument of political pressure and applying double standards rather than joining forces in a broad anti-terrorist coalition in order to act rapidly against terrorist acts. Others drew attention to remotely piloted aircrafts that had been used to target and kill terrorists outside the scope of a traditional armed conflict, thus violating the right to life and other human rights arbitrarily.
Speaking in the discussion were Angola on behalf of the African Group, Bahrain on behalf of the Arab Group, European Union, Pakistan, Estonia, Sudan, United Kingdom, Israel, State of Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Libya, Australia, Uruguay, Cuba, Syria, Nigeria, Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, Mexico, Maldives, Egypt, Morocco, Myanmar, Iceland, Chad, Algeria, Ireland, Iran, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Senegal, China, Burkina Faso, Albania, Lebanon, Trinidad and Tobago, India, Cameroon, Ecuador, Afghanistan and Qatar.
Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations: Iraqi Development Organization; China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS); Right Livelihood Award Foundation; Franciscans International (in a joint statement with Amnesty International); Human Rights Advocates Inc; Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries; International Commission of Jurists (in a joint statement with Article 19 - International Centre against Censorship, Amnesty International and International Federation for Human Rights Leagues) and the Open Society Institute.
Armenia, State of Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan and Qatar spoke in right of reply.
The Human Rights Council will next meet in public on Monday, 4 March, at 9 a.m., when it will hold the first part of its annual full-day discussion on the rights of the child entitled “empowering children with disabilities for the enjoyment of their human rights, including through inclusive education.”