I have the honour of speaking on behalf of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and my own country Norway.
We welcome the Special Rapporteur to the third committee and express our appreciation for her presentation today.
The trends described in her report to the General Assembly are alarming. States must protect human rights defenders from violations and abuses, prevent reprisals and ensure accountability. We fully agree with the Special Rapporteur that peacefully defending the human rights that States have agreed to should never be a crime. We also share her concern for the devastating consequences of long-term detention of human rights defenders on their health and wellbeing, their families, and their communities.
What can the United Nations, including the General Assembly, do to alleviate and address the situation for human rights defenders who serve long prison sentences?
The report again proves the relevance and significance of the mandate in identifying the gaps in the protection of human rights defenders, in bringing attention to concrete cases where human rights defenders are under threat or have been sanctioned for their legitimate work. We call on all states to engage constructively with the Special Rapporteur, including on specific cases.
Further, we invite all states to participate in the negotiations on the resolution on human rights defenders that Norway has presented. The resolution will address the continuing need to ensure protection of human rights defenders in the context of, and recovery from, the COVID19 pandemic.