Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders
Austria fully aligns itself with the statement made by the EU.
First of all we would like to express our warmest welcome to both mandate holders and thank them for their valuable contributions today and the daily work they are doing for the protection of human rights worldwide.
Professor Mendez, we studied with great interest your report, which focuses on the important issue of commissions of inquiry. Your report is very timely given the growing number of commissions of inquiry established at the national and international level. The Human Rights Council alone established three commissions of inquiry in the last year. This is a positive development, in particular in a world where investigations into human rights violations still are the exception rather than the rule. Impunity prevails in a majority of situations.
We would be interested if you could further elaborate on how commissions of inquiry can be used as a tool to trigger transitional justice mechanisms? One cause of impunity are weak rule of law institutions - what role can commissions of inquiry play to strengthen the rule of law at the domestic level?
Madam Sekaggya, we welcome the focus in your report on the issue of protection of journalists. Austria is very concerned by the growing number of attacks against journalists, as highlighted in your report. Journalists are directly targeted, harassed, detained and intimidated, especially for reporting on human rights violations, corruption and organized crime. Journalists play a particular role in society. With their reports they can exert pressure on governments to fulfill their human rights obligations, raise human rights awareness among the public and expose human rights violations that governments themselves or other actors commit. They are a key component of people’s ability to be informed about their society and the world at large. Targeted killings of journalists are, thus, not only a violation of the right to life but also a violation of the individual and collective right to receive and access information. Especially the wide scale impunity for violations against journalists is alarming.
How can the problem of impunity be addressed more effectively? What is the role of the Human Rights Council on ensuring better protection of journalists?