Human rights defenders attacked in Asia – UN experts |
Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor said Indonesia must immediately stop threatening and intimidating human rights defender Veronica Koman and her family.
Living in voluntary exile in Australia, Ms Koman, a human and minority rights lawyer, is accused of inciting racial hatred, disseminating false information and disseminating information aimed at inflicting ethnic hatred .
The allegations were allegedly brought against her in retaliation for providing reports to UN human rights mechanisms and attending UN meetings – for which she was questioned by security forces – in West Papua and in the United States. the provinces of Papua.
Ms. Koman was one of six human rights defenders mentioned in the UN Secretary-General’s 2021 annual report on cooperation with the UN.
“This case shows how human rights defenders are often targeted for their cooperation with the United Nations, which is fundamental for their peaceful and legitimate work in the protection and promotion of human rights, ”said the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.
“Chilling effect” on society
Intimidation and threats against Ms. Koman’s family were also reported, most recently on November 7, when unidentified individuals threw two small boxes of explosives into the garage of Ms. Koman’s home. his parents in West Jakarta.
The boxes reportedly contained threatening messages, including one stating “we will burn the earth wherever you hide and your protectors”.
Another delivered to a family member’s home contained a dead chicken and a message saying whoever hid it “will end up like this”.
“I am extremely concerned at the use of threats, intimidation and acts of retaliation against Veronica Koman and her family, which are aimed at undermining the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the legitimate work of lawyers. human rights, ”Ms. Lawlor said.
She urged the Indonesian government to drop the charges against her, investigate the threats and intimidation and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Impunity for violations against human rights defenders has a chilling effect on civil society as a whole, ”she added.
Mary Lawlor’s appeal was supported by special rapporteurs Fernand de Varennes on minority issues and Diego García-Sayán on the independence of judges and lawyers.
Pakistani rights activist unjustly condemned
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, 12 independent UN experts on Wednesday condemned the conviction of minority civil society activist Idris Khattak, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison following what UN rights office OHCHR called “a seemingly unfair trial” , in a military courtroom.
“Sir. Khattak’s reported conviction is an attack on the human rights community in Pakistan and sends a chilling message to civil society activists who monitor and report alleged violations, committed by or with the military and security forces. their consent or assent, such as systematic or generalized enforced disappearances, ”UN human rights experts said in a statement.
The special rapporteurs have confirmed that Mr. Khattak and other rights defenders and civil society leaders – including those belonging to the Pashtun minority – who have been arrested or disappeared for their human rights work, must be immediately released.
“Their families should receive reparations, truth and justice“, They added, while stressing that those responsible for these abuses must also answer for their acts.
Mr. Khattak, who has worked to defend the rights of the Pashtun minority in northwest Pakistan, including documenting enforced disappearances, was tried by a military tribunal under the Pakistan Army Act and charged with espionage and other conduct “endangering the security or the interests of the state” for allegedly revealing information on regional military operations in 2009.
He was reportedly sentenced in secret by the General Court Martial in Field, and neither his family nor his lawyer were told of the judgment.
“As a civilian, he should have been tried by a civil court . It is the state’s obligation to guarantee Mr. Khattak’s rights to a fair and public trial by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law, ”the experts stressed.
Calls for liberation
Kidnapped by security agents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in November 2019, Mr. Khattak was subjected to seven months of enforced disappearance, putting him at high risk of torture.
In June 2020, the authorities admitted that he was being held, without revealing where and since he has been held incommunicado.
“Sir. Khattak’s rights were systematically violated during his detention and trial. Khattak’s detention and sentencing is part of an alarming trend to silence human rights defendersand outspoken leaders of civil society through the systematic abuse of anti-terrorism and security legislation, intimidation, secret detention, torture and enforced disappearances, ”the independent experts said.
They called on the authorities to disclose all details of Mr. Khattak’s case and immediately allow his family and lawyer regular and unhindered access.
“In addition, in addition to releasing him, we reiterate our call on Pakistan to ensure a swift and impartial investigation … and that those responsible are held accountable for any violation of his human rights,” they concluded.
Special rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, to examine and report on a specific human rights theme or on the situation of a country. The posts are honorary and the experts are not remunerated for their work.