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Worrisome findings on the global misuse of counter-terrorism measures in the latest UN Special Rapporteur Report

The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism on the role of measures to address terrorism and violent extremism released a new Report ahead of the  40th session of the Human Rights Council on closing civic space and violating the rights of civil society actors and human rights defenders. The Report gives an empirically-based assessment of the scale of misuse of measures and laws countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism (CT/PVE) as well as identifies trends and patterns in state practice.

In it, the Special Rapporteur presents a worrisome data analysis showing that between 2005-2018, numerous counter-terrorism measures and laws globally were used against human rights defenders and civil society actors. That data is cross-tabulated from a number of sources. This finding is of considerable importance, as it can advance discussions  about the global misuse of CT/PVE measures. It would be important to include these findings into general discussion with the international and regional CT actors as well as the states, to shift the current debate about security threats, affirming that CT measures are consistently used against civil society, undermining the very counter-terrorism efforts.

The Report additionally provides mapping of the trends and patterns of CT measures and their use against human rights defenders and civil society.  Such analysis can help better understand and hopefully address serious challenges in the use and misuse of CT. It can also provide recommendations for better oversight and accountability of actors using these measures. The Report clearly shows that targeting civil society violates human rights and undermines the fundamental interests of all states to effectively counter terrorism.

ECNL continues to engage with the relevant stakeholders at global, regional and national level to address these issues, making sure any CT measures are proportionate to established risks of terrorist abuse and do not hamper legitimate CSO activities.

As an immediate step we co-organize a side event at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council with Civic Space Initiative partners on March 1 to discuss with the UN Special Rapporteur the findings of the report and to identify ways how to reverse the trend of misuse and abuse of counter-terrorism laws that curtail civic freedoms. The event will be live streamed.

For the online report soon out, watch this space: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session40/Pages/ListReports.aspx