“Human rights defender (HRD) is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights.”1 HRDs include all those who “seek the promotion and protection of civil and political rights as well as the promotion, protection and realization of economic, social and cultural rights.”
The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders,3 in characterizing HRDs, refer to all “individuals, groups and associations… contributing to… the effective elimination of all violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of peoples and individuals.”
Proposed domestic legislation defines HRDs in a similar manner, further expanding it to state that the “main or substantial work and advocacy [of HRDs] is to promote the respect for, foster knowledge of, and protect any forms of human rights and freedoms”5 at the “local, national, regional, and international levels.”
There are thus no specific guidelines that identify who HRDs are, rather, they are defined by the work that they do. HRDs engage in duties, whether for profit or pro bono, that aim to, among others, investigate and report on violations of human rights; provide support to ensure the fulfillment of international treaty obligations; lobby for legislative or judicial reforms; mobilize and shape public opinion on human rights; or secure accountability for human rights violations. HRDs include members of civic organizations, journalists, lawyers, representatives of marginalized sectors, members of the academe, government officials, and all others who engage in activities for the fulfillment of basic human rights.
Due to the nature of their work, HRDs worldwide are frequent victims of human rights violations themselves. Many are subjected to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, threats, harassment, and restrictions on their freedoms of expression, association and assembly.7 In the Philippines, there are similar allegations that HRDs are targeted and subjected to abuses, particularly by government agents.
This Inquiry was launched by the Commission on Human Rights (Commission) to ascertain the current situation impacting the work, safety, and security of HRDs in the country. The decision to launch this Inquiry was prompted by letters received from individuals and organizations containing allegations of human rights violations attributed to State officials.8 The Commission also took cognizance of reports coming out in various media concerning attacks against the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of certain groups and individuals and those who defend them. These allegations were similarly echoed in complaints received by the Commission’s regional offices.
Click the link for the complete report “CHRP-2020-Report-on-the-Situation-of-Human-Rights-Defenders“
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