Submission of allegations to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders

January 2011

[English] [français]

Submission of allegations to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders

- Overview

At its fifty-sixth session, the Commission on Human Rights requested the Secretary General to appoint a special representative on human rights defenders (resolution 2000/61 of 26 April 2000). Ms. Hina Jilani (Pakistan) was appointed in August 2000. Her work on the mandate, which began in September 2000, is based largely on the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (General Assembly resolution 53/144 of 9 December 1998).

The Declaration recognizes that the definition of a human rights defender must be broadly understood as encompassing also those striving for the promotion, protection and realization of social, economic and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights. As the Special Representative stated in her first annual report (E/CN.4/2001/94), she believes that the ambit of her mandate is broad enough to include, for example, those defending the right to a healthy environment, promoting the rights of indigenous peoples, or engaging in trade union activities. The mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders, as set out in Commission on Human Rights resolution 2000/61, is:

(a) To seek, receive, examine and respond to information on the situation and the rights of anyone, acting individually or in association with others, to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms;

(b) To establish cooperation and conduct dialogue with Governments and other interested actors on the promotion and effective implementation of the Declaration;

(c) To recommend strategies better to protect human rights defenders.

Any individual, group, non-governmental organization, intergovernmental agency or government organization with reliable knowledge of human rights violations against human rights defenders is encouraged to bring the relevant information to the attention of the Special Representative in writing. The Special Representative will transmit information she considers credible and reliable to the Government concerned and request that it respond with its comments and observations.

Because of the wide range of groups and individuals that send allegations to the Special Representative, those submitting complaints are encouraged to provide information regarding their own human rights work.

While there is no formal procedure for the submission of allegations, certain details must be provided to enable the Special Representative to bring the appropriate cases to the attention of the Governments concerned as soon as possible. The information required includes the identity of the alleged victim, the alleged violation, the perpetrator(s), and the steps, if any, taken by the authorities. Complaints must be made in writing and sent to:

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights United Nations 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland FAX: (41 22) 917 90 06

- Guideline for submissions

The following outline should be followed, to the extent possible, by those wishing to submit allegations of violations against human rights defenders.

1. Information regarding the alleged victim

 Full name

 Age

 Sex

 Profession or occupation

 Place of residence (or origin, if relevant to the violation suffered)

 The victim’s affiliation, if any, with an organization, association or group engaged in human rights work

 Name of the organization, association or group

 Name of the person heading the organization, association or group

 Nature of human rights work the individual performs

If the alleged violation is against an organization:

 Name of the organization

 Nature of the human rights work/activities it is engaged in

 Territorial scope of its work (national, regional, international)

 Affiliations with other human rights organizations, if any

 Name of person(s) heading the organization

Additional information on the history of the work the individual or organization has performed, if submitted, may be helpful in assessing the complaint/allegation.

2. Nature of the alleged violation

All relevant information regarding the violation allegedly committed against the human rights defender, or organization, association or group, including:

 Date

 Place

 Description of the events/incident

 Nature of violation suffered or threatened

The information must indicate the connection of the alleged violation to human rights activities performed.

If the violation involves or includes the arrest and/or imprisonment of an individual or group of human rights defenders, information is required on:

 Identity of the authority involved (individual and/or ministry and/or department)

 Date and place of arrest

 Any circumstances under which the arrest was made that are relevant to the violation

 Nature of charges, if any, and the legal statute invoked

 Potential penalties the individual or group faces

 Place of detention, if known

 Term of detention

 Information on the provision of access to legal counsel and family members

 Steps taken to seek administrative or judicial remedy, nature of the remedy sought, legal entity before which proceedings have been taken, and stage or result of such proceedings

If the defender is being prosecuted in the courts for any activity in defence of human rights or related activity, or as a consequence of such activity:

 The date and location of the trial

 The court hearing the case

 The relevant appeal procedures

 The penalties the group or individual faces

3. Perpetrator(s) of the alleged violation

 Name(s), if known

 If they are members of the security forces, their rank, functions, the unit or service, etc., to which they belong

 If they are members of a civil defence group, paramilitary or other forces or an armed group, details on whether or how these groups relate to the State (e.g. cooperation with the State security forces, including information on chains of command, if available, State collusion with or acquiescence in their operations)

4. Steps taken by or on behalf of the victim or organization to seek a remedy at the national level

 All relevant information regarding whether a complaint was filed

 If so, when, where, by whom and before which authority

5. Steps taken by the concerned authorities

 Whether or not an investigation or inquiry into the alleged violation has been initiated and/or concluded

 If so, by which authority, ministry or department of the Government

 Progress and status of the inquiry or investigation at the time of submission of the allegation

 Whether or not the investigation or inquiry has resulted in charges or other legal action

 If so, the reason why the result is unsatisfactory

 Measures, if any, taken to protect person(s) under threat

6. The violation alleged may not be the result of one incident or event, but may be a continuing violation owing to conditions, policies, practices or laws that obstruct the promotion, protection and/or realization of human rights

In such cases submissions must include:

 All relevant information regarding such conditions, policies, practices or laws

 The nature of the prejudice suffered by an individual or group(s) working for the defence of human rights because of the above

 Methods used to impede the work of human rights defenders on the basis of the above conditions, policies, practices or laws

 Agencies (State, non-State) employed to harass, intimidate and/or injure human rights defenders on the basis of these conditions or in implementing such laws, practices and policies

 Possible measures that can be taken to remedy the situation

 Any action taken by individuals or groups at the national level to reverse the conditions, policies and practices or for reform of the laws that are contrary to the rights recognized by the Declaration.

- For more informations

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