HRC46: Counter-terrorism and gender

HRC46: Counter-terrorism and gender - Civic Space


ARTICLE 19’s full statement during the interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism at the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council.

ARTICLE 19 welcomes the timely report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights impact of counter-terrorism and countering (violent) extremism policies and practices on the rights of women, girls and the family. We commend its detailed recommendations.

In this report, the Special Rapporteur breaks new ground by examining the myriad and, often insidious, ways national security policies adversely impact families and family members. The issue of interaction between family regulation and counter-terrorism has been so far grossly neglected by policymakers and unfortunately also underexamined by human rights advocates. ARTICLE 19 applauds the Special Rapporteur for calling attention to the profound and distinct implications for the protection of the rights of the family.

The report further highlights the negative effects of counter-terrorism measures on women’s and girls’ rights.  ARTICLE 19 shares the Special Rapporteur’s particular concerns over how surveillance for counter-terrorism purposes affects the right to privacy, and how surveillance laws are regularly abused to target particular groups based on ethnic background, race or religion.

Furthermore, increased securitisation and expanded counter-terrorism regulation have led to a dramatic shrinking of civic space. Some governments even argue that restricting civil society operations is necessary to effectively counter terrorism.

However, research has demonstrated that restrictions on civil society do not make a country safer from terrorist threats. It is more likely having the opposite effect. Governments need civil society to effectively counter terrorism.

These effects have been particularly felt by women-led civil society and women human rights defenders. In Turkey, Eren Keskin, a prominent woman human rights defender and lawyer, who has dedicated her life to defending women’s rights, was recently sentenced to over 6 years in prison on the basis of spurious terrorism related charges, because of her links to a now closed pro-Kurdish newspaper.

We call on Member States to adopt human rights-compliant and equality focused gender mainstreaming in their counter-terrorism practices and to ensure meaningful engagement with civil society at all decision points.