The Slovak National Centre for Human Rights has mapped experiences of threats, intimidation, harassment and restrictions of rights faced by human rights defenders and civil society in the field of environment protection. The research aimed to find out whether cases of harassment occur, and, if they do, what their nature is and whether they are reported to public authorities. The information was collected via questionnaires which asked respondents to detail their experiences. The NHRI collected 11 cases considered by respondents as a threat, harassment, or intimidation. Harassment of and slander against individuals or their families were most common. Additionally, threats and the use of administrative procedures as a form of harassment (e.g. complaints, criminal reports) were prevalent. In most cases, human rights defenders sought to defend themselves by legal means and addressed existing public authorities. However, human rights defenders perceived the options available to defend their rights as very limited.
In its report to the UN Committee against Torture, the Federal Institute for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights criticised the use of the concepts of “radicalism” and “radicalisation” by Belgian authorities to preventatively manage the threat of terrorism. It highlighted the increasing tendency to use vague and ill-defined concepts to justify a variety of actions. These include bans on working in certain sensitive areas, refusal to grant Belgian nationality, the closure of establishments by local authorities, refusing to issue a Belgian passport or travel document, revoking residence permits, and expelling foreigners from Belgian territory.
NHRIs can individually and collectively intervene before the European Court of Human Rights. ENNHRI, through its Legal Working Group, provides support for strategic litigation and prepares third-party interventions on key human rights concerns. In the case Big Brother Watch & Others vs The United Kingdom, which related to the right to respect for private life and data protection, ENNHRI submitted written observations through two third-party interventions in 2013 and 2019. These provided recommendations based on an analysis of the international and European legal framework, as well as practices by Member States. The Court delivered its judgements on the 13 September 2018 and 25 May 2021. On both occasions, ENNHRI’s submission was included within its conclusions.
The French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights has addressed issues related to human rights defenders and civil society in many of its opinions and declarations. In its September 2021 statement on the situation facing Afghan people, the NHRI stressed that human rights defenders, as well as all Afghan people, at risk of persecution by the Taliban and who wish to seek asylum in France must be able to benefit from protection.