On 24 July 2018, the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) hosted a roundtable discussion with leading international and regional human rights experts. The gathering took place on the margins of the Eighth Inter-Mechanisms Meeting, which was held in New York on 23 July 2018. It was organized by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), under their partnership the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.
The main theme of the discussions, which were chaired by CTED Deputy Executive Director Mr. Weixiong Chen, focused on “Impact of national security and counter-terrorism laws and policies on the protection of human rights defenders.”
Led by United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Mr. Michel Forst, the delegation included Mr. Rémy Ngoy Lumbu, Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights on Human Rights Defenders; Ms. Katarzyna Gardapkhadze, First Deputy Director, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR); and senior representatives of the Council of Europe, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.
Following interventions by Deputy Executive Director Chen, Special Rapporteur Forst and members of the delegation, Mr. Edward J. Flynn, Senior Human Rights Officer with CTED, provided a brief overview of human rights related elements of the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s and CTED’s mandate and ways in which civil society is engaged in their work. The interactive exchange focused on potential synergies between CTED and the participating mandate holders, on how to advance their collective understanding on the topic and possible strategies for action.
Speaking on behalf of the mandate-holders, Mr. Forst expressed their deep concern that an increasing number of reports had been received of the misuse in some States of counter-terrorism laws to target human rights defenders and, in some cases, to subject them to prosecution. Mr. Flynn recalled, in this connection, that the Security Council and the Committee had directed CTED to take relevant human rights issues into account, in its assessment of States’ implementation of Security Council resolutions in counter-terrorism.
The inter-mechanisms meetings gather all intergovernmental institutions equipped with mechanisms or tools dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders, and aim at providing a space for in-depth reflections and exchange of experiences, as well as to promote the coordination between inter-governmental stakeholders with different mandates, activities, and working methods.