Press Release

IACHR Launches Questionnaire About Guidelines and Recommendations to Mitigate and/or Eliminate Risks for Human Rights Defenders

July 30, 2020

   Related links
   Contact info

IACHR Press Office

   More on the IACHR
A+ A-

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) notes that, in recent years, there has been an increase in violence against human rights defenders and a broader deterioration in their overall security in several countries in the Americas. The Commission would like to gain a better understanding of the risks faced by defenders, the roots and causes of those risks, and the actions that States have adopted or should adopt to mitigate and/or eliminate those risks.

With this premise in mind and in the context of its own monitoring efforts, the IACHR is working on a set of practical guidelines to design plans to mitigate and/or eliminate risks for human rights defenders in the Americas, with support from the Spanish government. 

These guidelines are intended as a practical tool to provide civil society—particularly human rights defenders—and States in the region with an instrument to address the fundamental aspects of the mitigation and/or elimination of risks faced by human rights defenders. These guidelines further seek to evaluate best practices and experiences in risk assessment and mitigation, and any actions that remain pending to fully protect the right to defend human rights. 

The IACHR calls on States, civil society, experts, academics, and any interested individuals and organizations to provide information on the following topics.

Concerning the obligation to prevent violations of the human rights of defenders while they do their work: 

  1. Main challenges that States need to address regarding the prevention and mitigation of risks faced by human rights defenders in the Americas; measures that States need to adopt to prevent potential risks for human rights defenders 
  2. Best practices that are being implemented by States to mitigate the risks faced by human rights defenders in their historical and structural context 
  3. Normative frameworks and regulations that include measures to protect the right to defend human rights in the Americas
  4. Normative frameworks and regulations that you think restrict the right to defend human rights in the Americas

Concerning the obligation to protect the lives and personal integrity of human rights defenders when they are at risk:

  1. Progress made and pending challenges for the protection of human rights defenders in the Americas
  2. For States that have national protection programs in place: (a) progress made by protection mechanisms to mitigate risks faced by human rights defenders; (b) main challenges for an adequate implementation of effective national protection programs
  3. Aspects that States need to take into consideration when assessing the level of risk faced by human rights defenders in the Americas; challenges identified in the methods currently used to establish risk levels
  4. Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the right to defend human rights (in particular, risks faced by human rights defenders in the Americas and how the pandemic has affected the protection of defenders, including the activities of protection mechanisms)

Concerning the need to investigate, try, and punish acts of violence against defenders: 

  1. Impact of investigations (or of the lack thereof) of crimes against human rights defenders on mitigation of the risks faced by these groups
  2. Final judgements by national courts punishing crimes committed against human rights defenders based on these individuals’ work to defend human rights

This questionnaire can be partially or fully completed, depending on the available information. Investigations, reports, and other relevant pre-existing and/or published documents may also be submitted.

The IACHR will receive this information from today until midnight on August 28, 2020 (local time in Washington, D.C.), at the email address cidhdefensores@oas.org. Information may be submitted in English, French, Portuguese, and/or Spanish. The information that is submitted must be concise, objective, and verifiable. The form to respond to this questionnaire is available here.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 184/20