Human Rights Defenders

Individuals who, by themselves or with others, act non-violently to promote or protect human rights are commonly identified as “human rights defenders”. They can be active on behalf of individuals or groups such as children, women, refugees or minorities, and can work to address any human rights concern, ranging from civil and political rights to economic, social and cultural ones. Amongst other activities, human rights defenders all over the world assist and support victims of human rights violations through, for example, legal assistance or counselling, provide trainings and education on human rights standards and collect information to denounce abuses and advocate for justice and accountability. As such, human rights defenders are also using their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly to advocate for the rights and liberties of their fellow-citizens.

As a result of their commitment for human rights and their actions to expose violations committed by the authorities, human rights defenders are often victims of reprisals by the State authorities as well as armed groups that want to silence their voices. Alkarama continues to receive testimonies of human rights defenders in the Arab world subjected to numerous forms of reprisals, which can take the form of an arbitrary detention as well as enforced disappearance, torture or summary execution.  

In order to counter this phenomenon and ensure a safe space for human rights defenders to advocate for the rights of others, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders (SR HRD) was created and can receive complaints in relation to acts of reprisals they may have suffered.