INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Uk Works with Eu to Bolster Human Rights Defenders

Published: Thu 17 Dec 2009 02:02 PM
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RR RUEHWEB
DE RUEHLO #2843 3511400
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171400Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4461
INFO RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
UNCLAS LONDON 002843
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SENSITIVE FOR DRL/MLGA, IO/HRR AND L/HRR
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM UNGA UK
SUBJECT: UK WORKS WITH EU TO BOLSTER HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS REF: STATE 126673
1. (SBU) Responding to reftel demarche on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), FCO Civil Society and Freedoms Officer Sarah Murrell told Poloff that over the past five years, the UK has refined its efforts to bolster human rights defenders around the world. The EU set guidelines on supporting HRDs in 1998 and the UK began working with the EU to encourage EU missions abroad to come up with practical programs to implement these guidelines. This resulted in a series of country-specific plans in 2006 and 2007. According to Murrell, the first round of action plans were somewhat unfocused. They tended to be a mix of a situation report and a laundry list of possible activities the missions could carry out.
2. (SBU) The EU revised its HRD guidelines in 2008, which the UK leveraged as an opportunity to re-focus EU work in support of HRDs. It hosted a conference in April 2009 that brought together academics, NGOs, and diplomats. The conference concluded that while many EU missions abroad took important actions to support the work of HRDs, the efforts were often uncoordinated and depended on the particular interest of individual diplomats or activists. British diplomats argued for an approach that was more systematic within each mission abroad and more coordinated between EU missions. The recommendation of the conference was that the EU come up with a concrete Action Plan for its missions in third countries and then share the burdens of that action plan between missions to ensure that: the maximum possible number of activists are engaged; issue gaps are addressed; best practices are learned and shared; and the host government hears a consistent message from the international community. The report also recommended more cooperation with non-EU partners such as Norway, Canada, and the U.S.
3. (SBU) Murrell provided Poloff with an example of one of these new action plans, which the Swedish Presidency issued for Kenya on July 8, 2009. The plan says that the EU Heads of Mission agree to "appoint within each EU mission a liaison officer for contacts on and with Human Rights Defenders and relevant actors" who will organize meetings with HRDs, coordinate with other EU missions and share information on HRDs, prepare EU messages on HRDs for public dissemination, ensure that the EU visibly recognizes HRDs, visit HRDs in custody where appropriate, and consider a public event for International Human Rights Day.
4. (SBU) Post will provide by unclassified email copies of the Kenya action plan, an example of a UK-specific 2007 action plan, the full 2009 conference report, FCO guidance to its missions abroad on creating action plans and working with human rights defenders, and the revised 2008 EU guidelines on HRDs. The documents are not classified, but the FCO requests that they not be shared publicly. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX
Susman
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