Latin America was the pioneer region in terms of the implementation of public policies for the protection of HRDs (the first protection programme, worldwide, started in Colombia in 1997, even a year before the adoption of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders by the UN General Assembly). The same region was a pioneer in passing the first national law on the protection of HRDs (Mexico, 2012).

In both Mesoamerica and South America there have been two types of initiatives to implement these policies. On the one hand, pressure from civil society organisations has been key to getting governments to agree to regulate the protection of HRDs.

On the other hand, the structuring role of the Inter-American Human Rights System (IAHRS) must be taken into account. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has stipulated the obligation of states to protect human rights defenders through four specific duties: facilitate the necessary means for human rights defenders to freely carry out their activities; protect them when they are subject to threats, in order to prevent attacks on their lives and integrity; refrain from imposing obstacles that hinder their work; seriously and effectively investigate violations committed against them.

In addition, in two of its judgments, the Court has ordered states to create public policies for the protection of HRDs in three judgments – towards Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has pointed out to the American states the need to take into account a series of parameters to develop a “global protection policy”, beyond “restricting themselves, for example, to providing security schemes for defenders at risk without investigating the origin of the threats to which they have been subjected”.

As of mid-2021, the list of countries with protection policies is as follows:
•Law in force: Mexico, Honduras (IACHR Court ruling) and Peru.
•Decree or sub-national regulation: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador
•Discussions in force: El Salvador, Guatemala (IACHR Court ruling).
•Previous debates, not currently taken up: Paraguay, Nicaragua (IACHR Court ruling)

Protection International
On the 4th of March 2018, governments, NGOs, academia and other stakeholders from the Latin American and Caribbean region signed...
Defensoría del Pueblo Perú
In an effort to place the need for more efficient protection measures for environmental defenders on the national public agenda,...
Corte Constitucional. República de Colombia
Boletín No 39 – Bogotá, April 18, 2022. The Constitutional Court is considering nine tutela actions1 filed by 18 citizens...
Protection International
National and international organizations sent this letter to President Gustavo Petro and Vice President Francia Márquez with three recommendations so...
La Nueva Prensa, AP News
Concerning news has come forward on the Colombian National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección or UNP in Spanish). Personnel...
The Office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights of Oaxaca participates in updating the Agreement on the Recognition and Protection...
Secretaría de gobernación. Gobierno de Mexico
In January 2022, discussions on a general law for the protection of human rights defenders in Mexico were renewed. Discussions...
Departamento Nacional de Planeación
This document was issued on 29/Nov/2021 by the government of Iván Duque and approved on 6/Dec/2021 by the National Council...
Unidad Nacional de Protección
In September 2022, the Colombian government introduced the Emergency Plan for the Protection of Social Leaders, Human Rights Defenders and...
El Peruano
On the 8th of March 2021, the Peruvian Secretary General adopted Resolution Nº 028-2021, creating the functional Unit for Environmental...
Ministerio de Justicia y Derechos Humanos
Translation from original article by Protection International. The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights (MINJUSDH) today published Supreme Decree No....
Translation by Protection International of the original article from Infobae. The country’s National Press Association reported more than twenty cases...
Diario oficial Bicentenario El Peruano
On April 21st 2021, Peru adopted Decree 004-2021, creating the Intersectoral mechanism for the protection of human rights defenders. As...
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Public servants, journalists, and indigenous defenders have suffered targeting and reprisals from an increasingly brazen government, confirming the urgent need...
Secretaria de gobernación Mexico
Translation by Protection International of the original article by the Secretaría de Gobernación. This international meeting brings together representatives from...
Plataforma Digital del Estado Peruano
On the 23rd of July 2021, the Ministry of the Environment adopted Resolution N° 134-2021-MINAM on the Protection of Environmental...
Federación Guatemalteca de Escuelas Radiofónicas FGER
On October 14 2021, the Guatemalan Federation of Radio Schools (Federación Guatemalteca de Escuelas Radiofónicas) held a meeting with human...
Justiça Global. Terra de Direitos
Justiça Global and Terra de Direitos have launched “The Beginning of the End?” (“Começo do fim?”, in Portuguese), a critical...
Whistleblower Network News
“Peru has long been one of the world’s most dangerous countries for activists and indigenous leaders. At least 57 environmental...