Comments on legislation and policy


On this page, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders shares all comments provided by the mandate to States and other actors on national laws, regulations and policies. The mandate regularly provides comments on the adequacy of normative and policy developments with international standards on the rights of human rights defenders.

Below is a list of communications concerning national norms sent by the Special Rapporteur, and the responses from Governments to these communications, where available.

Recent communications (by country)

Bulgaria

  • 02/10/2020 – Comments on the draft law on amendments to the Law on Non-Profit Legal Persons/ Entities (the bill), submitted by a group of members of the Bulgarian Parliament on 1 July 2020. If adopted into law, the bill may hamper the work of independent non-profit organizations, including those that promote and protect human rights and stigmatize those that receive funding from abroad. – (JOL BGR 3/2020)

Burkina Faso

  • 18/09/2020 - examen de la loi N°044-2019 qui modifie le Code pénal du Burkina Faso et craintes que son application puisse entrainer des atteintes importantes aux droits de l'homme et aux libertés fondamentales, notamment au droit à la liberté d'expression et la liberté de recevoir et communiquer des informations et des idées. Les dispositions de la nouvelle loi, soient susceptibles de restreindre l'accès à l'information dans le pays ainsi que les activités légitimes des défenseurs des droits de l'homme, des journalistes et d'autres acteurs. – (JOL BFA 2/2020, réponse 18 Sep 2020)

China

  • 19/06/2020 - Comments on the Decision of the National People's Congress on Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanisms for Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. This concerns the proposed changes to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's legal system and enforcement mechanisms proposed in the Draft National Security Law, which fails to include assurances that the measures will be fully compliant with international human rights law, in particular with the obligations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). There are concerns that general assertions of conduct that threatens "national security" without proper definitions and limitations may severely curtail civic space and the rights of minorities and other civil society actors. Human rights defenders may find that their right to defend human rights becomes increasingly precarious, as many legitimate avenues through which they carry out their activities are designated as terrorist activity. – (JOL CHN 13/2020)
  • 01/09/2020 – concerning the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ("National Security Law"). This legislation lacks precision in key respects, infringes on certain fundamental rights and may not meet the required thresholds of necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination under international law. The terms subversion and secession appear to be used interchangeably in national legislation, this conflation may lead to the potential misuse of these legal categories against human rights defenders, journalists and civil society actors. The use of these terms in the legislation, leaves open the possibility for application beyond incitement to violence. – (JOL CHN 17/2020)

India

  • 06/05/2020 - concerning the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act 2019 (the amended Act), to the current counter-terrorism legislation, the 1967 Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (the Act), which provides specific procedures to deal with terrorist activities. The Act expands its legal scope to individuals. This broadens potential discrimination against human rights defenders among others, and is being used to target certain civil society actors. – (JOL IND 7/2020)

Kyrgyzstan

  • 06/05/2020 – Concerning the proposed law of the Kyrgyz Republic on Countering Terrorism, which will replace the Law of the Kyrgyz Republic "On Countering Terrorism", adopted on 8 November 2006. The drafted law raises concerns about the principle of confidentiality on tools, techniques and tactics of counterterrorism, undermines legal accountability and deters transparency from military, intelligence, and security actors. The draft law is likely to restrict journalists, human rights defenders, civil society actors and others from reporting on anti–terrorist operations. Its proposed definition of "terrorist organization" is broad and may as a result criminalize a range of actors and organizations. – (JOL KGZ 3/2020, reply 16 Jun 2020)

Peru

  • 22/07/2020 – concerniente al Proyecto de Ley 4701/2019-PE que modificaría los artículos 3 y 6 del Decreto Ley No. 25475 y penalizaría el uso de tecnologías de la información y comunicación y la realización de "propaganda" relacionada con el terrorismo. También concierne al Proyecto de Ley 4114/2018 que modificaría las condiciones que constituyen la "reincidencia" en cuanto a delitos relacionados con el terrorismo. Por otra parte, el Proyecto de Ley 04852/2020-CR modificaría la Constitución política del Perú para consagrar en ella la participación conjunta de las Fuerzas Armadas y la Policía Nacional en la lucha contra el terrorismo y el narcotráfico. La legislación propuesta podría conducir a una posible restricción de la libertad de expresión, censura y castigo de las actividades de la sociedad civil, incluso los defensores de los derechos humanos, en el Perú. – (JOL PER 3/2020)

Philippines

  • 29/06/2020 - Comments on the pending legislation 'The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020' (the Act), which raises serious concerns especially regarding the designation of individuals and civil society and humanitarian organizations as "terrorists" in the context of ongoing discrimination directed at religious and other minorities, human rights defenders and political opponents. Provisions of the act are likely to restrict journalists, human rights defenders, civil society actors and others from reporting on anti-terrorist operations. – (JOL PHL 4/2020, replies 4 Aug 2020 and 27 Aug 2020)

Turkey

  • 26/08/2020 – Concerning the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713 ("Anti-Terror Law") and the amendments made to this law and the Penal Code through Law No. 7145, adopted on 31 July 2018. The legislation includes measures that could significantly limit the exercise of fundamental freedoms, including those of opinion, expression, and association. This legal framework could also impact the right to fair trial and prohibition on arbitrary detention. The broad definition of "terrorist offender" and categories of speech-based offences can be directed against human rights defenders and civil society and limit the work of human rights defenders. – (JOL TUR 13/2020)