Civil society activists are often imprisoned amid crackdown on dissent, Right Livelihood warns

News 16.03.2022

Civil society activists face imprisonment in many countries as the crackdown on civic space continues to intensify, Right Livelihood warned the UN Human Rights Council in a statement on Wednesday.

Read our statement here.

Addressing the 49th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, we highlighted the shrinking space for civil society as countries worldwide are moving to criminalise human rights work and restrict fundamental freedoms.

“Right Livelihood is gravely concerned by this trend, especially by the use of arbitrary detention as a method to silence dissenting voices, as well as by the harsh detention conditions to which imprisoned activists are often subjected,” the statement said.

Right Livelihood Laureates working on human rights have also been affected by this practice.

In Saudi Arabia, 2018 Laureates Mohammed al-Qahtani and Waleed Abu al-Khair are serving lengthy prison sentences for promoting democratic freedoms.

In Iran, human rights lawyer and 2020 Laureate Nasrin Sotoudeh is serving a 38-year sentence for practising her profession and defending women and children’s rights.

In Belarus, seven members of 2020 Laureate organisation Human Rights Center “Viasna” are currently behind bars, including its founder, Ales Bialiatski.

“We call on the Human Rights Council to keep these countries under close scrutiny and urge them to uphold their international human rights obligations, immediately release all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained, drop all charges against them and provide them with compensation and rehabilitation for the harm suffered,” the statement urged.

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