What does the Human Rights Council mean to victims of atrocities?

The UN Human Rights Council’s spring session is about to begin. Though the council cannot impose sanctions or prosecute rights abusers, it remains hugely important for victims of rights violations.

This content was published on February 22, 2022 - 11:00

Podcast host Imogen Foulkes is joined in this episode by human rights defenders and investigators.

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Human rights advocates bring their testimonies of atrocities to the UN – often at great risk to themselves – because it often is their last and only hope.

“I survived, I was able to finally leave the country, but if I hadn’t been able to do that, I would have ended up in jail, or tortured in prison,” says Khin Ohmar, a human rights defender from Myanmar.

“The feeling is always there, that sense of risk. We’ve had journalists, trade union leaders, human rights defenders, currently in prison,” says Feliciano Reyna, a human rights advocate from Venezuela.

“My only son was murdered by Dallas policemen, he was only 25 years old, he was unarmed, and shot seven times,” says Collette Flanagan, founder and CEO of Mothers Against Police Brutality.

UN investigators collect evidence that national or international courts can use to convict rights offenders. They too, have to face disturbing situations.

“I still know that the Myanmar butchers who are responsible for what happened may never individually be brought to justice,” says Chris Sidoti, an international human rights consultant.

“Is this possible? How can human beings do such horrible things to other human beings,” says Ilaria Ciarla, a UN human rights officer on the Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar.

“The idea that somebody has listened to your story, and you have taken your case to the United Nations is incredibly important,” says Andrew Clapham, a member of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.

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