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15 Jan 2018

Berkley Law, University of California (USA)

New report highlights the effects of closing space on women human rights defenders

"Rights Eroded: A Briefing on the Effects of Closing Space on Women Human Rights Defenders",  December 2017

Human rights defenders around the world find themselves operating in an increasingly hostile climate...This phenomenon is known as “closing space.” It erodes rights, threatens social justice movements, and undermines participatory democracy and human rights promotion...Adopting a human rights perspective, this...report highlights how women human rights defenders (WHRDs) are experiencing closing space. It throws into stark relief the degree to which States are falling short of their obligations under international law to these activists...[A] number of laws and practices were identified that jeopardize funding for women...and HRDs and foster a climate hostile to their work...These barriers fall into four broad categories: burdensome registration requirements; restrictions on funding; limitations on civil and political rights, including through misapplication of anti-terrorism laws and criminalization of activism; and targeted harassment, threats, and intimidation committed against WHRDs or the communities they serve...Self-censorship is the most common, tangible consequence of closing space on WHRDs...[States should] comply with both negative and positive international legal obligations...[The UN should] adopt resolutions that unequivocally reaffirm previous international legal commitments to ensure an enabling environment for women.