Human Rights: Females

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 14th March 2019.

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Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd Labour, Cynon Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what diplomatic steps his Department has taken to help protect women human rights defenders around the world from (a) death threats, (b) attacks, (c) defamation campaigns, (d) judicial harassment and (e) criminalisation of their work.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd Labour, Cynon Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to the report on the situation if women human rights defenders, published by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders in January 2019, if his Department will take further steps to (a) protect women human rights defenders who are at risk and (b) help ensure a safe and enabling working environment for women human rights defenders.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd Labour, Cynon Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what plans he has to develop a cross-governmental approach to support and help protect women human rights defenders.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

The UK is committed to supporting all human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders. It is a key element of our work to promote universal human rights. The FCO and DFID work closely together to support human rights defenders. In our statement at the Human Rights Council in response to the Special Rapporteur's report on Human Rights Defenders, the UK acknowledged the stark challenges facing women human rights defenders. In November 2018, we co-sponsored a new UN resolution on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association which urged States to 'pay particular attention to the safety and protection of women and women human rights defenders from acts of intimidation and harassment'. In 2017, we co-sponsored the UN resolution on Human Rights Defenders to strengthen support for them and the work they do. Throughout 2019 our network of embassies and high commissions will continue to work with human rights defenders, using the UK Guidelines to inform their work. This includes taking into account groups who may face additional risks, such as women and those defending the rights of women. Our work to support human rights defenders can include attending trials, raising cases privately with the host government, making public statements, and lobbying for safe and open space for civil society and human rights defenders to operate. The FCO believes that a decentralised, flexible approach through the Guidelines allows UK diplomats to apply them in the local context of the country to which they are accredited.

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