Member of the Estonian delegation to the PACE Mailis Reps, who was elected the Secretary General of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, emphasised in her report on the role of human rights defenders that the situation in Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey has considerably worsened during the last two years, and there have been alarming examples also from many other countries.
“Human rights activists are considered a political threat in many countries, and their freedom and lives are increasingly in danger, like also the freedom and lives of journalists and lawyers,” Reps said.
Reps said that during the week in Strasbourg, she met with the representatives of dozens of human rights organisations who once again confirmed the alarming trends set out in her report.
The report pays special attention to conflict regions in East Ukraine, Transnistria, North Caucasus and certain regions in Turkey. “In Azerbaijan, dozens of human rights activists have been imprisoned, in Russia and Ukraine, many of them have been reported missing,” Reps noted. In several other countries, the human rights activists are in her opinion facing repressions.
“The resolution of the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg are the only ray of hope to many people, and the systematic harassment of lawyers who have been brave enough to represent applicants before the Strasbourg Court is a threat to the whole system,” Reps emphasised.
The Winter Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which was held in Strasbourg this week, focused on the most urgent issues in Europe: the geopolitical debate on the spheres of influence of Russia and America through the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the refugee crisis and its possible connection with violence against women and children, and the deteriorating human rights situation in several Council of Europe member states.
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