The world is currently facing a global human rights crisis and is confronted with tremendous challenges. Human rights violations and abuses are on the rise in every region of the world: arbitrary detention and intimidation of opposition leaders in Venezuela; domestic violence in India; arbitrary detention and intimidation of lawyers and activists in China; death sentences carried out after unfair trials in Iran; excessive use of force by security forces in Egypt; killings, torture, enforced disappearances and mass arbitrary arrests in Burundi; abusive homophobic laws and attacks on LGBTs in Russia; increasing human rights violations in Turkey since the attempted coup last July; inadequate material conditions in immigration detention centres and ill-treatment of asylum seekers in Bulgaria; police violence towards prisoners, ethnic minorities and asylum seekers in various European States; arbitrary child detention in Greece and Hungary; arbitrary detention of asylum seekers in Belgium and in the Netherlands,… This list unfortunately goes on and on.
Let us also not forget the dangerous rise of populist leaders in the world, which constitutes a serious threat to human rights.
In addition to this overall context, there is something more at stake today, which may be of even greater importance as it risks having dramatic repercussions. The whole human rights based system, and international law itself, is indeed under attack by States themselves. Whereas they are precisely supposed to preserve this heritage so dearly acquired in order to protect their people, some of them are instead threatening to break it apart. African States Parties to the International Criminal Court have threatened to withdraw from the Rome Statute. States have already withdrawn from the Inter-American Commission and from the Inter-American Court of human rights. Ruling parties in European countries have openly attacked the European Court of Human Rights and have discussed withdrawals from the Convention. Some States are also threatening to leave the United Nations.
In these critical times, we believe it is of paramount importance to reaffirm the fundamental principals contained in international and regional human rights law and to defend them vigorously. This is precisely what we intend to do. Victims around the world are indeed in need of more justice, not less. Now is not the time to weaken the human rights system but to strengthen it. These considerations will necessarily be at the core of our efforts and hard work through which we intend to contribute to the promotion and to the effective use of human rights law.
The idea to create the Human Rights Litigation Foundation was based on this overall assessment, but also on two key observations.