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Norwegian statement on Human Rights defenders and SR on Torture

Mr. President,

Norway welcomes the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mr Michel Forst, to the Human Rights Council.

We commend the report presented by the Special Rapporteur, with a well thought through strategic work plan for the implementation of this important mandate.

The Government of Norway is deeply concerned by the increased pressure on human rights defenders around the world. We condemn - in the strongest terms - reprisals against human rights defenders.

The international community needs to address such reprisals, and more generally: the implementation gap between states’ commitments and realities on the ground: We must better address the shortcomings in terms of respecting and following up on commitments to create an enabling environment for human rights defenders.

We commend the brave and courageous women human rights defenders around the world for the sacrifices they make to promote human rights despite the particular risks and threats that they face. The OHCHR campaign “Reflect2Protect” is a great initiative to build upon in support of women human rights defenders.

We call on all states to issue a standing invitation and accept request for a visit by the Special Rapporteur.

Furthermore, we would like to see an increased number of follow up missions to countries already visited to look at better implementation.

We support the Special Rapporteur’s approach through regional consultations and we support the promotion of closer cooperation with all parties concerned: UN agencies and organizations, regional mechanisms and national level institutions and actors.

All possible synergies should be utilized in order to increase the effectiveness of the mandate.

We welcome the proposed emphasis on technical and advisory services focusing on legislation and administrative provisions, in accordance with Council resolution 22/6.

Legislation criminalizing activities in defense of human rights should be repealed, as called for by resolution 22/6.

We look forward to the proposed study on the effectiveness of national measures and mechanisms for the protection of human rights defenders.

In light of the increasingly difficult situation for defenders, we will expect more visibility for the mandate on actions taken, achievements and results.

In particular, we support increased communication around the mandate and use of social media to create greater attention for the situation of human rights defenders in the regions.

Summing up, we look forward to working closely with all co-sponsors and the wider membership as well as the UN system and civil society in supporting the work of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

Mr. President,

We also thank the Special Rapporteur on torture, Mr. Méndez, for his report and for his statement here today. Norway appreciates the manner in which this mandate is implemented. We welcome the focus on torture and ill-treatment of children deprived of their liberty in the report.

Torture is never under any circumstance justified. The use of torture has far-reaching effects - not only on the victim, but also on the victim’s family, local communities - and on a larger scale: on the society as a whole.

The fight against torture and ill-treatment should be on everyone’s agenda. In our view the underlying structural reasons for the use of torture and ill-treatment, such as deficient national legal frameworks, the malfunctioning of the administration of justice and impunity must be addressed. This calls for political leadership.

Thank you