International protection mechanisms for human rights defenders
European human rights system
Ensuring Protection—European Union (EU) Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders
These guidelines (available in several languages) are a very important, practical tool for supporting human rights defenders.28 They are meant to be used by EU missions (embassies and consulates of EU member states and European Commission delegations) working with human rights defenders. Each embassy should have the guidelines, and have developed a 'local implementation strategy' that is specific to their country context.
Human rights defenders should contact representatives of relevant embassies and missions in their countries to ensure that the guidelines are available to all and to discuss the protection mechanisms described within them. This is an important protection strategy. In Serbia, for example, human rights defenders have worked with European embassies to facilitate access to visas for defenders, and to access funding.
The guidelines are valuable in numerous ways, such as:29
- leading to periodic meetings of embassy personnel and human rights defenders;
- providing visible recognition of human rights defenders and their work;
- observing trials involving defenders;
- visiting defenders in jail;
- delivering emergency visas;
- elaborating local strategies for implementation of the guidelines; and
- promoting regional and international mechanisms for the protection of defenders.
Regional Human Rights Courts:
- Inter-American Court of Human Rights: http://www.corteidh.or.cr/index.cfm?&CFID=487586&CFTOKEN=78136649.
- African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights: http://www.african-court.org/en/home/.
- European Court of Human Rights: http://www.echr.coe.int/echr/Homepage_EN.
Regional human rights bodies:
The Inter-American human rights system
- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR): http://www.cidh.oas.org/DefaultE.htm.
- The IACHR created a Human Rights Defenders Functional Unit in 2001 (http://www.cidh.org/defenders/defensores.htm).
- IACHR Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women: http://www.cidh.org/women/Default.eng.htm.
The African Human Rights System
- African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR): http://www.achpr.org/english/_info/news_en.html.
- Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa: http://www.achpr.org/english/_info/index_hrd_en.html.
- Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa: http://www.achpr.org/english/_info/index_women_en.html.
- UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N99/770/89/PDF/N9977089.pdf?O....
- The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/defenders/mandate.htm.
- The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/women/rapporteur/.
- Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee): http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/committee.htm.