Americas: Inter-American Commission Publishes Practical Guide for the Elaboration of Risk Mitigation Plans for Human Rights Defenders

Washington D.C., 29 April 2021 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today published a Practical Guide on guidelines and recommendations for the development of risk mitigation plans for human rights defenders. The main objective of this document is to provide a tool for civil society and states in the region that addresses the basic contents of risk mitigation for human rights defenders. It also makes a series of recommendations with a view to contributing to the mitigation of the risks faced by these groups in the Americas.

The Inter-American Commission has repeatedly highlighted the importance of the work of human rights defenders in the consolidation of democracies and the rule of law in the Americas. Despite this, it has noted with concern that in recent years there has been a steady increase in attacks against these persons, ranging from stigmatising speeches and subjection to unfounded criminal proceedings, to attacks on their lives and personal integrity.

In this context, this Practical Guide analyses the obligations of States to guarantee the right to defend human rights. Each section of the document analyses international standards, develops concepts and identifies key guidelines to be considered when designing and implementing risk mitigation plans. In addition, it identifies persistent challenges to the fulfilment of these obligations and analyses good practices implemented by some states, which can serve as experience and guidance for other countries in the region seeking to replicate similar practices.

The approach of this Practical Guide is based on the indispensable condition of respect and guarantee of the right to defend human rights and that this right can be exercised in an environment that is conducive and free from any type of intimidation. In this sense, the IACHR recalls that the work carried out by human rights defenders can only be exercised freely when these groups are not victims of threats or any type of physical or psychological aggression or other acts of harassment. Given this persistence of violence, it is a priority for the States of the region to ensure full compliance with their obligations regarding the protection of human rights defenders in order to guarantee a free and safe environment for the defence of human rights.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organisation of American States (OAS), whose mandate derives from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the observance and defence of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this field. The IACHR is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

Find the original publication here in Spanish (Organisation of American States).