Phnom Penh, Monday 29 May – Today, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, had an unofficial visit in Phnom Penh at Heinrich Böll Stiftung. Mr. Frost gave a brief overview and explained various trends and situations of Human Rights Defenders across the world and the region of Southeast Asia.
Mr. Forst discussed new trends where governments are now implementing and creative laws to criminalize activities of Human Rights Defenders and reduce spaces for civil societies. In addition, Mr. Forst emphasized the importance of a gendered analysis to his work, as women Human Rights Defenders (in addition to LGBTIQ defenders) are usually at a higher risk than other defenders. Moreover, the importance of engaging not only with governments but also companies in investigating potential impacts of the work and safety of Human Rights Defenders is important. Companies can have a large impact on the work of eco-defenders especially, as the work of mining and other extraction companies can be in opposition to the work of defenders of the environment or land use.
In the end, Mr. Forst encouraged the audience to support Human Rights Defenders and become defenders themselves. Moreover, he hoped that the government of Cambodia would invite him to complete a report on the situation of Human Rights Defenders in the country.
More on Destination Justice’s Justice for All program: Alternative Human Rights Defenders: Justice For One, Change for All