Find out what other resources you can use if you face reprisals
The mechanisms within the UN system may not provide sufficient protection. There are other sources of protection, including at the national level, that human rights defenders may access in an effort to protect against reprisals when engaging at the regional and UN levels. In particular, States and NGOs can provide effective support.
The diplomatic community can be an important source of protection, albeit limited in most cases, at the national level. Some States have developed specific guidelines for their missions on the protection of human rights defenders in the countries in which their missions operate. Therefore, those missions would be particularly responsive to human rights defenders who have faced or are facing reprisals as a result of their engagement with regional or UN human rights systems.
Keep in mind:
For more information on this, see the ISHR Reprisals Handbook.
It can also be helpful to lobby States that are responsive to concerns about reprisals to raise cases bilaterally or in multilateral spaces and push States to ensure the safety of human rights defenders. For example, States might be persuaded to raise cases of reprisals in their statements at the Human Rights Council, in the context of the Universal Periodic Review, or at the General Assembly.
During a pre-session meeting for Cuba’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council in April 2018, two of the scheduled panellists were not in attendance as they had been detained by Cuban authorities at the airport (in Cuba). NGOs participating in the pre-session condemned this reprisal by the Cuban government, and noted that the OHCHR and the High Commissioner for Human Rights had been informed of the incident.
Representatives from Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, the UK, Finland, USA, Ireland, Slovakia, Croatia and Mexico all made interventions reinforcing this point.
NGOs can also be an important source of support and protection, whether administrative, material, financial, logistical, or practical. This could include:
ISHR aims to highlight cases of reprisals and communicate those cases to the international and regional human rights systems, provide protective publicity to human rights defenders at risk, and work towards ensuring that national, international and regional human rights systems have the mechanisms to prevent reprisals and ensure accountability where they occur.
Some options available for human rights defenders facing imminent threats or who have experienced targeted violence include the following organisations. This list is by no means exhaustive, nor is the inclusion of an organisation here an endorsement of any kind: