Joint statement condemns global persecution of youth activists

News 14.03.2024

Right Livelihood, FIDH, and OMCT brought attention to the alarming trend of judicial harassment and arbitrary sentencing of youth activists worldwide in a joint statement delivered at the 55th Session of the Human Rights Council. The practices are aimed at stifling dissent and discouraging civic engagement, we warned.

You can read the entire statement here.

Youth activists across the world are facing increased rates of arbitrary persecution, we told the Council.

One such example is the youth activists of 2023 Laureate organisation Mother Nature Cambodia. Six young environmental defenders currently face a handful of charges, including “plotting against the government” and “insulting the king”, both of which carry 10 to 15-year prison sentences.

The joint statement also shed light on the situation in Belarus, where authorities are targeting human rights defenders of all ages. Despite the peaceful nature of their efforts, activists from Laureate organisation Viasna,  such as Marfa Rabkova and Andrei Chapiuk, are serving unjustifiably long sentences for their work with the human rights group. Meanwhile, even primary and secondary school children daring to express dissenting opinions face threats and institutional reprisals.

Addressing the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders directly, we called attention to the broader implications of cracking down on youth activists–as such actions threaten the existence of civil society at large.

“We urge the Council to call for the immediate release of these young activists,” said Right Livelihood. “But we must also consider how we can expect youth activists to remain engaged in such a hostile environment.”

As the 55th session continues, Right Livelihood and its partners remain committed to advocating for the protection of human rights defenders worldwide, particularly the brave and resilient youth who continue to fight for justice in increasingly difficult contexts.

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