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Action plan to support human rights defenders

Graphic: HRI staff monitor a demonstration, Iraq

Representatives from eight APF members have met online to begin drafting a regional action plan to protect and support human rights defenders.

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Asia Pacific Forum LogoAsia Pacific Forum

Representatives from eight APF member institutions have met online to begin drafting a Regional Action Plan to protect and support human rights defenders in the Asia Pacific.

The Regional Action Plan is part of a global effort by national human rights institutions to strengthen their work with and for human rights defenders.

In 2018, NHRIs from around the globe pledged to bolster their support for human rights defenders amidst a growing climate of threats, reprisals and a shrinking civic space.

The Marrakech Declaration, adopted at the 13th International Conference of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, set out a practical set of strategies for NHRIs to promote, protect and build cooperative partnerships with human rights defenders.

The APF Regional Action Plan will respond to many of the ongoing challenges facing human rights defenders in the Asia Pacific region, as well as new threats arising from COVID-19, where restrictions on freedom of assembly, freedom of movement and other fundamental rights have the potential to accelerate the shrinking civic space.

A man stands beside a protest sign on his car, Philippines

Through their actions, human rights defenders can uncover violations and abuses, bring them to public attention and call for fair and just solutions. They can also work to empower individuals and communities to understand and claim their rights.

However, human rights defenders can face grave challenges, including harassment, detention, death threats and torture. Some have been disappeared or murdered. Women human rights defenders can be subjected to sexual violence.

Preparation of the Regional Action Plan for the Asia Pacific will be supported by a drafting group of representatives from the NHRIs of Afghanistan, Iraq, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Palestine, Philippines and Sri Lanka.

The first online meeting of the drafting group, facilitated by APF Legal and Policy Manager Phillip Wardle, was held on 18 June 2020.

Mr Wardle said the Regional Action Plan would be finalised and endorsed by APF members by December 2020.

An accompanying online learning program on human rights defenders and implementing the Regional Action Plan will follow at the beginning of 2021.

Date: 22 June 2020

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These activities are part of the APF's contribution to the NHRI.EU Project Phase II, which aims to strengthen the capacities of NHRIs, individually and collectively, in line with the Paris Principles.

Image credits

  1. HRI staff monitor a demonstration, Iraq - IHCHR
  2. A man stands beside a protest sign on his car, Philippines - International Rivers, Flickr CC
  3. EU logo - European Union