To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to help ensure the protection of human rights defenders imprisoned and at risk from covid-19, throughout the world.
3 February 2021
The UK strongly supports human rights defenders worldwide to enable them to carry out their work safely and without fear. We regularly assess how we can enhance our ability to make a positive difference, including in the context of the increased risks posed by the Covid-19 outbreak.
In July 2019, the UK set out its ongoing dedication to support and protect human right defenders in the document "UK Support for Human Rights Defenders". The publication makes clear that our diplomatic network will work with and alongside Non Governmental Organisation representatives and human rights defenders to address the challenges they face. This includes human rights defenders who are detained, on trial or imprisoned.
On 4 June 2020, the UK joined human rights Ambassadors from six other European nations to issue a statement highlighting the importance of ensuring a safe enabling environment for human rights defenders. The statement made clear that states have a responsibility to ensure that any emergency powers in place to combat Covid-19 are not used as tools to repress civil society, marginal groups or populations as a whole.