Published on HURIDOCS, August 3, 2011.
GENEVA (27 July 2011) – “It is not easy being a human rights defender; in too many countries it is dangerous, plain dangerous,” said United Nations Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya launching her essential guide to the right to defend human rights, a key document aimed at supporting those who stand for our rights by increasing understanding of the UN Declaration on human rights defenders and awareness on the dangers they face.
“Despite the efforts to implement the Declaration, human rights defenders continue to face numerous violations,” Ms. Sekaggya said. “I hope that this essential guide, the new ‘Commentary to the Declaration on human rights defenders’, will contribute to the development of a safer and more conducive environment for defenders to be able to carry out their work.”
The ‘Commentary to the Declaration on human rights defenders’ is a 100-page downloadable document which maps out the rights provided for in the Declaration, based mostly on information received and reports produced by the two Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders, Hina Jilani (2000-2008) and Margaret Sekaggya (since 2008), during the past eleven years.
From the rights to protection and freedom of opinion and expression, to the rights to communicate with international bodies and to access funding, the ‘Commentary’ analyses what these rights entail and what is needed to ensure their implementation. It also addresses the most common restrictions and violations faced by defenders, and provides recommendations to facilitate States’ implementation of each right.
“More than 12 years after its adoption, the Declaration on human rights defenders is an instrument that is not sufficiently known and I would like to build on the efforts to raise awareness about it and the crucial role of human rights defenders,” Ms. Sekaggya said. “This essential guide also offers a comprehensive reference document for journalists covering the situation of human rights defenders in their countries, their regions and the world” … (full text).