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Essential guide to the right to defend human rights, now in Spanish

MEXICO CITY / GENEVA (5 march 2012) – “In many countries, the price paid by human rights defenders for carrying out their work is just too high,” said United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, while presenting the Spanish version of her essential guide to the right to defend human rights.*

“Unfortunately, rights defenders across the Latin American region continue to suffer serious human rights violations which impede their legitimate work, including killings, attacks, harassment, threats and stigmatisation, both by State and non-State actors,” Ms. Sekaggya said at the launching of her ‘Commentary to the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders’ in Spanish, a key document aimed at supporting those who stand for our rights by increasing understanding of the UN Declaration on human rights defenders and awareness on the dangers they face.

“I call on all human rights defenders in Mexico, the Latin American region and beyond, to help us disseminate and use the Spanish translation of the ‘Commentary’, as well as the Declaration,” the Special Rapporteur said. “It is of crucial importance that the ‘Commentary’ is accessible to all stakeholders everywhere in as many languages as possible. I hope this translation would inspire others to take similar initiatives in other regions.”

“With the publication of this essential guide to the right to defend human rights, we would also like to contribute to the creation and implementation of a National Protection Mechanism in Mexico,” Ms. Sekaggya said.

From the rights to protection and freedom of opinion and expression, to the rights to communicate with international bodies and to access funding, the ‘Commentary’ analyses what each of these rights entails and what is needed to ensure their implementation. It also addresses the most common restrictions and violations faced by defenders, as well as providing recommendations to facilitate States’ implementation of each right.

The Spanish translation of the ‘Commentary’ was presented today in Mexico City at an event organized by the Mexican Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, attended by representatives of the Government and the National Human Rights Commission, as well as the United Nations and civil society, with the participation of Ms. Sekaggya through video conference from Geneva. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was also represented by its Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez, through a pre-recorded message.

The Special Rapporteur thanked the Mexican, Guatemalan and Colombian Offices of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for their coordinated efforts in bringing about the publication in Spanish of this key document.

Margaret Sekaggya, a lawyer from Uganda, was appointed Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in March 2008 by the UN Human Rights Council. She is independent from any Government and serves in her individual capacity. Learn more about her mandate and work, log on: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/defenders/index.htm

(*) Download your copy of the Commentary to the Declaration: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/FactSheet29en.pdf

Check the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/freedom.htm

For media requests please contact:
In Mexico City: Rosa Gutiérrez (Tel: +52 50616374 / rgutierrez@ohchr.org)
In Geneva: Amanda Flores (Tel: +41 22 917 91 86 / aflores@ohchr.org) or write to defenders@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en