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HRC45: Nordic and Baltic countries express deep concern for threats and attacks against indigenous human rights defenders

HRC45: Human Rights Council
45th Session
Statement by the Nordic-Baltic countries at the annual half-day panel on the rights of indigenous peoples

To be delivered by Ambassador Anna Jardfelt

Madame President,
I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Norway, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Denmark together with Greenland and my own country Sweden.

Human rights defenders are critical for the promotion and protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Meanwhile, the shrinking democratic space alongside restrictions imposed to tackle covid-19 increase the prevalence of violence and intimidation against them.

It is with deep concern we note that threats and attacks against indigenous human rights defenders, including through the criminalization of their activities, continue to escalate. Defenders protecting the rights of indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable to violence and killings. Impunity in relation to extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances as well as reprisals against indigenous representatives participating in United Nations mechanisms are unacceptable.

Indigenous women human rights defenders experience complex, multidimensional and mutually reinforcing human rights violations and abuses; especially so if they challenge traditional gender roles. Despite this, they perform vital work, for instance by promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.

To improve the safety of human rights defenders, we must find flexible, adapted and sustainable methods to assist them, including through cooperation with organisations that provide urgent support mechanisms. We call on all states to protect the rights of indigenous peoples, to protect those defending these rights and to ensure their safety, whether the threat comes from state or non-state actors. Accountability must be ensured.

We would like to ask the panellists how we best can address the heightened level of risk that indigenous human rights defenders experience?
Thank you.