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FUNCTIONAL UNIT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

|MANDATE| |REPORTS| |PRESS RELEASES| |MISSIONS|

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March 6, 2012 – Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) publishes today the Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, which presents updated information on the situation of defenders in the region and on the applicable standards of international law. Moreover, it provides a follow-up to the first report, published by the IACHR on March 7, 2006.

The report was presented today in Geneva, in the context of the sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders, Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco, and the IACHR Executive Secretary, Santiago A. Canton, were in charge of the presentation in a seminar with the participation of the UN Rapporteur on this issue, Margaret Sekaggya. The seminar was organized by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR). The report will also be presented in Washington, D.C., on March 28, 2012, in the context of the 144th Period of Sessions of the IACHR.

The report has four chapters: (1) problems faced by human rights defenders in the region; (2) human rights defenders at particular risk; (3) independence and impartiality of justice operators as a guarantee of access to justice; and (4) protection mechanisms for human rights defenders.

The Commission recognizes that some Member States have made significant efforts in order to comply with the recommendations established in the 2006 report. Notwithstanding these efforts, the obstacles pointed-out in the 2006 report persist, and in some cases, they have intensified. There is a continuance of murders, assaults, forced disappearances, threats, illegal searches, as well as in the statements by high-level authorities discrediting and stigmatizing the work of defending human rights. Moreover, the Commission has noted a growing sophistication of the mechanisms designed to hamper, block, or discourage the work of defending and promoting human rights, which is reflected in criminal charges being filed, financing sources for organizations being restricted, and in the absence of adequate and effective mechanisms for their protection. (more…)

The Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders from the United Nations (UN), the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) express their grave concern over acts of reprisals against individuals and groups seeking to cooperate with the UN and/or the regional human rights systems. These reprisals against individuals and/or groups engaging directly with the UN, the ACHPR and the IACHR, or otherwise providing information on particular countries’ human rights situation, take the form of smear campaigns, harassment, intimidation, direct threats, physical attacks and killings.

The UN, the ACHPR and the IACHR all have normative agreements and rules of procedure explicitly prohibiting acts of reprisals by States and non-State actors.1/In an effort to safeguard the vital collaboration between civil society and the UN and regional human rights mechanisms, the Rapporteurs on human rights defenders commit to and call for enhanced monitoring and action to respect those rules, and support the recent initiative by the President of the UN Human Rights Council to call on States to immediately put an end to intimidation and harassment of individuals and groups attending the 19th session of the Human Rights Council.2/ (more…)

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