Legislative Protection | NHRIs take a stand in the protection of civic space and human rights defenders


This month, at the 13th annual Conference of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions in Morocco, national human rights institutions adopted the Marrakech Declaration that sets out strong commitments regarding the protection of human rights defenders.

From 10 to 12 October, more than 260 representatives of national human rights institutions (NHRIs), along with representatives from United Nations and regional human rights bodies and mechanisms, and human rights defenders explored the roles and contributions of NHRIs in expanding civic space and promoting and protecting human rights defenders, with a focus on women human rights defenders.

The adoption of the Marrakech Declaration (‘The Declaration’) which identifies commitments to promote, protect and work with defenders is a very welcomed development within the current global crackdown on civil society space, what has been said to be unprecedented attack on human rights defenders and the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on human rights defenders.

In the Marrakech Declaration, NHRIs committed to:

‘Human rights defenders' legal recognition is a vital factor contributing to their practical protection and a safe and enabling environment for their work. NHRI’s can play an integral role in this. We welcome the broad commitment made in the Declaration to establish national protection systems for human rights defenders; this is something currently being contemplated at the national level in Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Mali alongside the establishments of laws for the protection of human rights defenders,’ said ISHR’s Tess McEvoy.

‘Defenders continue to suffer intimidation, threats and reprisals for their work. We welcome the commitment in the Marrakech Declaration to report on cases of intimidation, threats and reprisals generally suffered by human rights defenders. Defenders dedicate their lives to fighting for the rights of others, they should not suffer because of this work,’ added McEvoy.

Contact: Tess McEvoy, ISHR Programme Manager and Legal Counsel, t.mcevoy@ishr.ch

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