13 May

COVID-19 presents huge challenges and opportunities for human rights; including for human rights defenders, for human rights mechanisms and for the human rights movement. ISHR Director Phil Lynch shares nine key reflections on what it might mean.

12 May

In order for the African human rights system to function to its fullest potential, human rights defenders must be able to share crucial information and perspectives regarding situations on the ground. However, many defenders still face unacceptable risks and are unable to cooperate safely with the African human rights system.

10 May

With Covid-19, human rights bodies are needing to re-think their priorities and working methods. In a first ever webinar, ex and current members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights spoke to the Commission’s efforts to keep relevant and effective in the face of the region's huge challenges.

04 May

To recognise International Labour Day, and the critical contributions of essential workers everywhere, ISHR is publishing a guide in English and Chinese to the 15 Principles developed by the UN expert on human rights and hazardous substances. These aim to empower workers to know their rights, protect their health, and stand up to employers and governments who fall short or fail to provide remedy.

07 May
Angkhana Neelapaijit

In a submission to the UN Human Rights Committee, ISHR highlights Thailand’s failure to comply with the Committee’s recommendations on enforced disappearances and that more must be done to protect relatives and spouses surviving the disappeared.

HRC 40 | Accountability under attack in Guatemala


The International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG) – created through an agreement between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Government of Guatemala – has successfully held individuals in the highest positions of government to account.  It has provided means to revitalise and strengthen the national judicial system.  Government efforts to stop its work have been rejected by the Constitutional Court but its future in the country remains uncertain. 

CICIG must be defended, said ISHR and the International Platform Against Impunity in a statement delivered to the Human Rights Council.  

Attacks against CICIG are taking place in a context in which key achievements in strengthening the rule of law are threatened. 

Amendments to the National Reconciliation Law, if passed, will lead to impunity for grave internationally recognized crimes, including genocide and torture.  Convictions could be overturned and the important drive against impunity will be reversed.  

UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet has expressed deep concern about the initiative, noting, 

'This amendment, if passed, will represent a drastic set-back to accountability and the rule of law in Guatemala. At the same time, it will gravely endanger the progress made by the country to grapple with the legacy of the civil war and to prevent further violence.'  

Changes to other laws further threaten the struggle to secure justice and accountability.   The Law of NGOs for Development is amended, will impose increased inspection and registration requirements that would restrict the work of NGOs.  

'Guatemala stands at a cross roads, ' said ISHR and the International Platform Against Impunity in their statement.  'Those calling for key post- conflict human rights achievements to be respected and built upon are facing the likelihood of greater threats.' 

ISHR and the International Platform Against Impunity made the following three calls:  

1/  States must make public their support of the work of CICIG and to urge Guatemala to reengage with the processes of accountability CICIG promotes.  

2/ Amendments that seek to undermine laws that have provided for individuals to be held to account for the gravest of crimes must be rejected. 

3/  Guatemala must  ensure that human rights defenders’ rights are upheld, including during the upcoming period of Presidential elections in June. 


Contact: Eleanor Openshaw 

Photo:  Zero-CC0 Justice



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Since 2017, we have been building our abilities to use positive and values-based narratives to drive more understanding for how human rights defenders, and the human rights they defend, matter to each and every one of us. We are now ready to take the next step!

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