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HRC Dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders and on Torture
March 2, 2017

HRC Dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders and on Torture

Clustered ID with the SR on Human Rights Defenders and the SR on Torture

Erin M. Barclay
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs

Statement by the United States of America
As Prepared for Delivery

Human Rights Council, 34th Session
March 2, 2017

Mr. Vice President,

The United States would like to thank the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders for his report.  We remain deeply concerned by continued acts of intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders around the world on the basis of their cooperation with the United Nations and its human rights mechanisms.  Mr. Forst, we also share your concerns about the lack of public understanding about the role of defenders and the need both for better dissemination of information about this role and for better implementation by states of their obligations to protect human rights defenders.  We appreciate your initiatives in identifying the challenges faced by certain groups of defenders, such as women and whistle-blowers, as well as your efforts to improve coordination with other mandate holders, including those on freedom of opinion and expression and on the right to peaceful assembly and association.

A question for Special Rapporteur Forst:  We would like to hear more about the offer in your report to provide technical assistance to states in training police officers to better understand the issues facing human rights defenders, particularly in cases of reprisals.

We would also like to thank the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment for his report. Mr. Melzer, we congratulate you on your appointment and wish you the best successin fulfilling this critical mandate.  The prohibition of torture and cruel treatment is a fundamental part of our Constitution, and it binds our federal government and all 50 of our states.  Torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment are forbidden in all places, at all times, with no exceptions.  For that reason, the United States took a leading role in the negotiation of the Convention Against Torture more than thirty years ago.

A question for Special Rapporteur Melzer:  Could you discuss in greater detail how you intend to engage with states on the priorities you’ve identified for your mandate, in addition to civil society and other expert actors?