On Friday, October 21, Philip Alston, John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law, took part in a high-level panel discussion on preventing intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders at the United Nations in New York. Alston's fellow panelists included U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
Alston spoke in his capacity as former U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions. He admitted that in that role, which he held from 2004 to 2010, he had to "confront the reality that people who had had the courage to provide me with information subsequently suffered reprisals carried out or orchestrated by officials of the governments concerned. In several high-profile cases, individuals with whom I met paid the ultimate price–they were targeted and killed, almost certainly by the security forces and almost certainly, at least in part, because they had provided me with evidence of serious wrongdoing by those forces."