Yesterday, on March 4ths the Human Rights Council hosted the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. Human Rights House Foundation delivered the following statement:

“Thank you, President.

We thank the Special Rapporteur for his extensive work during his six years as a mandate holder.

In his report, the Rapporteur highlights the important role that defenders play in conflict and post-conflict contexts, including to ensure that human rights stay “on the agenda”.

However, these contexts bring overlapping challenges which increase their vulnerabilities.

In the Chechen Republic, the hostile environment makes it very difficult for defenders to operate. We highlight the recent violent attacks and harassment against the journalist Elena Milashyna and the lawyer Marina Dubrovina in Grozny, and against their families.

We call on Russia to protect defenders in the Chechen Republic and to conduct an investigation into these attacks to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Heightened sensitivities toward Defender’s work can also increase their vulnerability.  In South Ossetia, Tamara Mearakishvili has faced legal action by the de facto authorities after efforts to expose government corruption.

We urge Russia to use its influence in this situation to ensure charges against Mearakishvili are dropped and ensure “protection against deportation” as highlighted in the Rapporteur’s report.

Madame President.

We ask the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on the practical responsibility of legitimate, de facto, or occupying authorities to ensure the protection of human rights defenders in conflict and post-conflict settings?

Thank you.”