Denials and delays during the issuance of visas to delegates participating in UN events are a shadow form of repression against members of the civil society, a group of 11 countries said in a statement.
"We reject any political pressure on civil society representatives by creating artificial barriers preventing them from participating in United Nations events in line with respective rules of procedure and modalities," says the statement, signed by 11 countries, including Belarus, China and Russia.
One of such instruments that has being used more and more frequently is entry visa denial or lengthy reviews of visa applications for those who have passed all accessibility criteria and have been checked and registered by the Secretariat, the document says.
The document, delivered by Russian delegate Yevgeny Ustinov during the 54th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, also reaffirms the countries’ stance on "the unacceptability of undermining the mutually-respectful and constructive dialogue on human rights issues, inter alia, by Western countries’ silencing civil society representatives."
They urged the Human Rights Council and its Special Procedures as well as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights "to pay due attention to this shadow form of reprisals against civil society representatives." The document also urges these organizations, agencies and mechanisms to make efforts to ensure the geographically equitable participation of civil society in relevant events within the United Nations, including "by ensuring timely visa issuance."
The statement was co-authored by Belarus, Bolivia, Venezuela, Iran, China, North Korea, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria and Eritrea.
The 54th session of the Human Rights Council is taking place in Geneva between September 11 and October 13. Although Russia is not a member of the council, it actively participates in its sessions.