Benelux statement on reprisals - PR UN, WTO and other organisations Geneva

Benelux statement on reprisals

News item | 21-03-2024 | 15:30

Statement on behalf of the Benelux countries delivered by H.E. Mr. Paul Bekkers, Permanent Representative, Permanent Representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN in Geneva

Mr. President,

I am honoured to deliver this statement on behalf of the three BENELUX members: Belgium, Luxembourg and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Human rights defenders do incredible work in promoting human rights and democracy worldwide. Here in Geneva, they make this Council stronger and more effective with their valuable contributions. We will advocate for their effective participation, and stand firm in supporting and protecting human rights defenders worldwide. 

We strongly condemn all acts of intimidation or reprisal against individuals seeking to engage with the UN. We will continue to raise the names of those who have been silenced:

  1. Bahraini-Danish human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in peaceful protests in Bahrain. He must be released immediately.
  2. Staff members of Human Rights Center Viasna, facing arbitrary arrest and criminal charges in Belarus, in connection to cooperation with the UN. The charges must be dropped and those detained must be released immediately.
  3. Li Qiaochu , a woman human rights defender and researcher advocating for labour-, migrants- and women’s rights, arbitrarily detained in China. She must be released immediately and get prompt access to adequate medical care.
  4. Journalist and human rights defender Kadar Abdi Ibrahim from Djibouti, whose passport was confiscated after his participation at the Human Rights Council in 2018. A valid passport should be immediately returned to him.
  5. Researcher and human rights defender Felix Maradiago who was arbitrarily deported from Nicaragua and deprived of his nationality, in connection to his earlier briefing to the UN Security Council in 2018. The charges must be dropped and his passport should be immediately returned to him.

We call on all States to put an end to all forms of reprisals against human rights defenders, these in particular.

Thank you.