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Statement of Iceland on the protection of human rights defenders

Clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on torture

28 February 2019

 

Statement by Iceland

 

Iceland thanks the Special Rapporteurs for their latest reports.

Mr. Forst, we warmly welcome the focus of your report on the situation of women human rights defenders. We applaud the courageous and vital work carried out by women human rights defenders in challenging traditional notions of family and gender roles in society while acknowledging the significant and specific risks, threats and attacks they face.

It is important to highlight that not all women human rights defenders are female. All human rights defenders who work in the defence of the human rights of women or on gender issues are women human rights defenders. Women, however, as your report clearly highlights - are also targeted for or exposed to gender-specific threats and gender-specific violence.

States must stop criminalizing women for their work as human rights defenders and develop measures to tackle the root causes of discrimination against women, while ensuring the protection of human rights defenders in a manner that systematically integrates a gender perspective.

While the responsibility for ensuring a safe environment for human rights defenders belongs to the State, women defenders need spaces of trust among women to talk about the challenges that affects them. States must ensure that women human rights defenders enjoy freedom of movement, have safe spaces and communications channels in order to create and participate in networks.

I ask you Mr. Forst, how can Member States better ensure that women human rights defenders are recognized and supported and enabled to participate equally, meaningfully and powerfully in the promotion and protection of human rights, at the national and international levels?

I thank you.

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