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Poland: UN experts condemn measures to stop human rights defenders join climate talks

GENEVA (13 December 2018) - UN human rights experts* have expressed concerns at reports that several human rights defenders have been harassed, arbitrarily detained and questioned for several hours by the Polish authorities at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice.

The experts said some participants who had been officially accredited to attend the event from 2 to 14 December had been denied entry to the country or prevented from travelling to Katowice.

“We are dismayed at the actions taken by the authorities to prevent free and unfettered public participation in these critical multilateral discussions,” the experts said.

UN experts have previously raised their concerns with the Polish authorities about free and full participation, specifically the promulgation of a new safety and security law which was drafted for the conference and which they said could hamper civil society’s involvement.  
  
“We reiterate our call to the Polish Government to immediately ensure full and effective participation and access to COP24 to all civil society representatives, and to enable all human rights defenders to gather and exercise their rights to freedom of expression and opinion, association and peaceful assembly.”  

ENDS

* The UN experts: Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. David R. Boyd, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and of association; Mr. Joseph Cannataci, Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy.  

The Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

For further information and media requests, please contact Ms. Jessica Ní Mhainín at defenders@ohchr.org 

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383)  jlaurence@ohchr.org 

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.