UN resolution calls for greater protection of NHRIs
Graphic: Palais de Nations, Geneva
The resolution calls on governments to strengthen protection for NHRIs against reprisals or attacks they face for their human rights work.
A resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council calls on governments to strengthen protection for national human rights institutions (NHRIs) against reprisals or attacks they face for undertaking their human rights work.
The resolution – which was led by Australia and co-sponsored by States from across the globe – noted that NHRIs can experience "political pressure, physical intimidation, harassment or unjustifiable budgetary limitations, as a result of activities undertaken in accordance with their respective mandates".
This includes reprisals for taking up individual cases or when reporting on serious or systematic violations.
The resolution calls on States "to promptly and thoroughly investigate cases of alleged reprisal or intimidation against members or staff of national human rights institutions, or against individuals who cooperate or seek to cooperate with them, and to bring perpetrators to justice."
In the past 12 months, three staff members of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission have been killed in targeted attacks. A number of other NHRIs in the Asia Pacific region have also faced political pressure and attacks.
"NHRIs are established to assist the State meet its human rights commitments," said Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat.
"It is absolutely essential that States protect NHRIs so they can undertake their legitimate work."
Graphic: NHRI staff monitor the operations of a mobile health clinic during COVID-19, Iraq
The resolution also affirms the vital contribution of NHRIs to uphold human rights during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
This includes advising the State on human rights standards in responding to COVID-19; informing the public about their rights; examining and monitoring the national situation; working to protect groups in vulnerable situations; and cooperating with civil society.
The resolution encouraged States to support their NHRI's ongoing efforts during the pandemic, as well as ensure they are adequately resourced to undertake this work.
"This is a welcome recognition of the courageous work of NHRIs in the Asia Pacific and around the world during one of the most challenging times imaginable," Mr Fitzpatrick said.
"All NHRIs have sought to ensure that vulnerable groups – such as older people, migrant workers, people with disabilities and people in places of detention – do not face additional risks or harm during the pandemic," he said.
"A number of APF members have also been strong advocates for the rule of law in situations where their government has declared a state of emergency, ensuring those powers are used carefully and for the good of the community."
The resolution on NHRIs was adopted by the Human Rights Council on 6 October 2020.
Date: 9 October 2020
- Palais de Nations, Geneva - Mat Reding on Unsplash
- NHRI staff monitor the operations of a mobile health clinic during COVID-19, Iraq - Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights