Freemuse supports and welcomes the work of the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune. The latest report of Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights was published in January 2020. It is investigating the work and role of cultural rights defenders.
Presented below is the oral statement delivered by Freemuse during the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council.
Thank you, Madam Vice-President.
Freemuse welcomes the opportunity to engage in this dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and wishes to congratulate the mandate on its 20th anniversary.
We commend his report and the important contributions on the situation of human rights defenders in areas under occupation or recently affected by armed conflict, the incorporation of a gendered perspective, and the inclusion of non-commonly identified defenders into the narrative.
Human rights defenders push boundaries that transcend and challenge social and cultural norms. They embody and reflect our collective conscience. But in response, experience serious consequences for expressing their political and social opinions. Authoritarian regimes and populist movements systematically silence voices that express opposition opinions and individuals with intersecting identities experience additional compounding limitations.
Artists across the globe are arrested, detained, harassed, threatened, abused or killed for their political expressions defending human rights.
Freemuse reports show that artists continue to suffer illegitimate restrictions of artistic freedom on the grounds of:
- Anti-terrorism legislation used to silence dissent
- Religious values overriding artistic freedom
- Insult to the state and its symbols
- Undue government influence on museums and arts institutions
- LGBTI artists and artworks targeted
In this regard, we welcome the recent report by the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights on establishing a definition of cultural rights defenders into the existing relevant international human rights standards.
We encourage the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders to work alongside other Special Procedures to address the cross-sectional issues of artistic freedom and cultural rights to ensure that they are adequately addressed and upheld.
4 March 2020
Freemuse also prepared the following three oral statements for presentation at the 43rd Human Rights Council: