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The Situation of Human Rights Defenders
March 11, 2022

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders

Statement As Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor

Delegation of the United States of America

Human Rights Council – 49th Session

March 11, 2022

Thank you, Special Rapporteur Lawlor, for your overview of the plight faced by Human Rights Defenders globally.

The United States remains concerned by threats stemming from the misuse of technologies. The rise of technology-facilitated gender-based violence and online smear campaigns, and the misuse of technology to surveil and harass defenders, which has been particularly virulent against women and girls, racial, ethnic, religious minorities, LGBTQI+ persons, and other members of marginalized groups is especially worrying.

As defenders experience mounting threats online, they are more likely to self-censor, further limiting freedom of expression and accelerating the decline of civic space. Far too many governments misuse technology to suppress the voices of human rights defenders.

For example, in Cuba, authorities digitally surveil social media accounts, selectively cut Internet access, and even mount surveillance equipment outside of defenders’ homes to deter them from speaking out against human rights abuses. Surveillance technology has also been misused to target defenders in Bahrain, China, Cambodia, and Jordan.

We urge the international community to stand with defenders and protect them, both online and offline.

Question: How can the international community ensure the protection and promotion of an enabling space for defenders?