6 October 2016 – Earlier this week, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed an Assistant Secretary General whose special mandate involves considering and responding to reprisals against Human Rights Defenders and civil society actors who engage with the United Nations.

The first expert appointed to this mandate will be Mr. Andrew Gilmore, who previously served as the UN Representative of the Secretary-General in Serbia (2009–2011), as well Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (Political) for the UN Mission in South Sudan and the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq.

ADHRB welcomes this much needed initiative by the Secretary General, as the environment for civil society engaging with the UN has become growingly difficult. Recently, in June and September 2016, ADHRB’s delegation from Bahrain was issued blanket travel bans, blocking them from attending the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

In May 2015, the UN Committee Against Torture (UN-CAT) also issued its concern regarding the arrest of Nabeel Rajab; only two months after the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, together with ADHRB and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, submitted a report to the UN Committee, highlighting the systematic practices of torture in Bahrain’s Jau prison.

“We are extremely pleased with the decision by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon which takes a significant step towards addressing the issue of reprisals against civil society actors engaging with the UN,” said ADHRB’s Executive Director Husain Abdulla. “We look forward to the further development and harmonization of a robust and effective UN response to reprisals.”