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Protecting human rights defenders: UN expert launches survey to identify best practices

GENEVA (4 November 2015) – Human rights activists face increasing risks, UN human rights expert Michel Forst said today as he launched a worldwide survey* to identify effective practices in protecting human rights defenders.

“In countless countries, across every region of the world, defenders are targeted, threatened, arbitrarily detained, tortured or killed,” said Mr. Forst, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. He highlighted that violations are perpetrated by States as well as non-State actors, such as religious and armed groups or transnational companies.

“It is important to expose the abhorrent violations against defenders, but it is also important to showcase good practices that support and protect activists,” the independent expert told the Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders.

“The aim of the survey is to demonstrate to sceptical governments that there are encouraging and supportive ways they can defend activists better,” said Mr. Forst, who has heard the testimonies of hundreds of defenders.

The survey will be used to generate a discussion at the UN Human Rights Council in March 2016 on concrete actions needed to disseminate good practices, which are in place in some countries and could be duplicated in others.

(*) Check the survey on good practices in the protection of human rights defenders here:


Mr. Michel Forst (France) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in 2014. Michel Forst has extensive experience on human rights issues and particularly on the situation of human rights defenders. In particular, he was the Director General of Amnesty International (France) and Secretary General of the first World Summit on Human Rights Defenders in 1998.

The UN human rights experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information, log on to:
Human rights defenders:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/SRHRDefendersIndex.aspx

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