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HRC51: Denmark calls for the release of human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

Human Rights Council 
51th session

Interactive dialogue on the Secretary-General’s report on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights

29 September 2022

Intervention by Denmark

Mr. President,

We thank the Secretary-General for preparing the annual report on allegations of intimidation and reprisals. Denmark remains highly concerned that the report once again lays out a very high number of reported acts of intimidation and reprisal by State and non-State actors against individuals or groups having cooperated with the UN. 

We share the Secretary-General’s concern that when multiple UN-actors raise concerns about cases, it can be a sign of widespread and severe incidents of intimidation and reprisals and that this deserves our continuous engagement, especially when civic space is increasingly being eroded. 

Mr. President,

I specifically wish to draw your attention to the situation of Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is mentioned in the report and in the annex hereto.

Mr. Al-Khawaja is a human rights defender and a dual-citizen of Bahrain and Denmark. Since 2011, he has been serving a life sentence in Bahrain on terrorism related charges.  Both in 2011, 2012, last year and now again in 2022, Mr. Al-Khawaja’s name was mentioned in the annual report of the Secretary-General, on allegations of arbitrary arrest, torture and heavy sentencing 

Throughout the years, Denmark has continuously called for the release of Mr. Al-Khawaja and we continue to do so here today.

In the same vein, we call on States to release all human rights defenders imprisoned for excising their fundamental freedoms and for States to refrain from any act of intimidations and reprisals against human rights defenders.

Thank you.