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Human Rights Council, 30th Session: Statement by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The UK delivers a statement under Item 5 at the Human Rights Council, Geneva, on 22 September 2015.

Mr. President

The UK supports the EU statement and has some additional remarks.

Reprisals or the threat of reprisals are designed to create a culture of fear. Those who make and carry out such threats want people to be too afraid to speak out against them, to challenge them and to change the situation for the better. We see this every day throughout the world where civilians, human rights defenders and journalists live under constant intimidation. Oppressive governments, criminal gangs and religious extremists all fear the light these people will shine on them. Preventing journalists from reporting the truth doesn’t remove the issue, only our knowledge of it. Silencing Human Rights Defenders only robs a society of the very dedicated people who can improve it.

The UK holds that such atmospheres of intimidation are toxic to civilised society. It is important that states take all steps to prevent such acts and prosecute those who perpetrate them; there can be no impunity for such acts.

In the past year we have seen journalists murdered by criminal gangs, we have seen human rights defenders branded as foreign agents, secular bloggers hacked to death in the street, and human rights lawyers imprisoned en masse. These acts can never be justified. These acts can never be tolerated.

Furthermore people should not be attacked for working or cooperating with the UN. UN officials, including Special Rapporteurs, should not be attacked for doing their internationally-mandated job.