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Defend human rights

Dr. Jochen Motte in an online conversation with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas with the Forum's human rights report. (Photos: Florian Gaertner/

In yesterday's online meeting with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the German Human Rights Forum (HRF) welcomed the continuation of the Foreign Minister's initiative for more multilateralism. However, representatives of the network of over 50 human rights organizations stressed that human rights should not only be mentioned in headlines and policy papers of the Foreign Office. The protection of human rights must be a core component of Germany's multilateral actions, for example in the United Nations Human Rights Council, as well as in bilateral foreign policy.

Representatives of the HRF described human rights violations: "In many countries, repression against civil society and human rights defenders has been further intensified under the guise of Covid 19 measures," said Silke Pfeiffer, a member of the Coordination Circle. "The German government should work within the EU to ensure that states and individuals responsible for serious human rights violations are consistently sanctioned."

More protection of human rights defenders demanded

The HRF expressly welcomed the new Elisabeth Selbert Initiative of the German Foreign Office for the protection of human rights defenders under threat. "We expect that this initiative will offer protection and security to threatened persons unbureaucratically and quickly, for example by allowing them to leave the country for Germany or even other countries in the respective regions," said Dr. Jochen Motte, member of the Coordination Circle and the Board of the United Evangelical Mission (UEM). "Embassies in states with precarious human rights situations must be adequately staffed so that they can implement policies to protect human rights defenders," Motte demanded.

HRF criticized the situation of refugees, especially in camps such as Lipa in Bosnia-Herzegovina and on Lesvos and other Greek islands, as unacceptable. "The push backs of refugees, by land or sea, are inhumane and unlawful," said G√ľnter Burkhardt, a member of the Coordination Circle. "The credibility of the EU's human rights policy is called into question by the politically not only tolerated, but apparently wanted conditions. Human rights must also be credibly defended at the EU's external border."

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