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States can no longer turn a blind eye to jailed human rights defenders

Urgent issue concerns every United Nations-member state

| Thailand
The ambassador of the permanent representative mission of Afghanistan to Geneva listens to a statement during the Human Rights Council special session at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva on Aug. 24.   © Keystone/AP

Mary Lawlor is the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. She is adjunct professor of business and human rights in the Centre for Social Innovation at Trinity College Dublin.

When Lodkham Thammavong attended a peaceful demonstration in Thailand about human rights abuses in her native Laos, she had no idea it would land her in prison. But soon after her return home to Laos, she was arrested and sentenced to 12 years in jail after an unfair trial.

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