(Geneva) – India should develop a national law on the protection of human rights defenders and strengthen the capacity and mandate of the national human rights commission focal point on defenders, the International Service for Human Rights said today.
The call follows a statement from Human Rights Defenders Alert India which recommends that the National Human Rights Commission of India establish and resource a full-time dedicated focal point to intervene in cases where human rights defenders are at risk and to investigate and promote accountability where threats and attacks occur.
HRDA India’s statement also called on the National Human Rights Commission to work closely with civil society groups and human rights defender networks to initiate the development of a national law on the protection of human rights defenders.
Both calls echo key recommendations contained within ISHR’s recent report ‘From Restriction to Protection’, which calls on all States, in consultation with civil society actors, to develop, enact and effectively implement a national law on the protection of human rights defenders.
The report also recommends that all States legislatively mandate and adequately resource a dedicated human rights defender focal point within a national human rights institution established in accordance with the Paris Principles.
‘ISHR joins with Human Rights Defender Alert India in calling for the State to give full legislative force and effect to the international Declaration on Human Rights Defenders at the national level,’ said Ms Pooja Patel of ISHR.
‘The legal recognition and protection of human rights defenders in a specific law is a necessary, although by no means sufficient, element of establishing a safe and enabling environment for their work.’
‘ISHR also joins with Human Rights Defender Alert India in calling for the National Human Rights Commission to fully mandate and resource their human rights defender focal point. Properly resourced, such focal points can provide protection to defenders at risk, document and follow up on alleged attacks and violations, review and advocate on laws that may affect defenders, and conduct training and education to raise awareness as to the necessity and legitimacy of defenders’ work,’ Ms Patel said.