8 October 2014, Brussels- In April 2015, Honduras is scheduled to be reviewed at the 22nd session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR is ‘a mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC) aiming at improving the human rights situation on the ground of each of the 193 United Nations (UN) Member States’ (1).
In the run up to the UPR 2015 of Honduras, several civil society organisations have outlined recommendations to the Congress and Government of Honduras to take into account with the drafting and implementing of a law to improve the situation for activists in the country.
As the situation is now, human rights defenders in Honduras face intimidation and threats of many kinds. Both the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, as well as the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders Magaret Sekaggya, have expressed their concern about the criminalization and distinctive attacks persistently occurring in the country – such as assassinations, death threats, coercion, break-ins and theft at organization headquarters.
Protection International has submitted a briefing paper with key recommendations to the UPR working group of the Human Rights Council. Another INGO, ISHR, also recently submitted a briefing paper to the UPR. The briefing paper of Protection International recommendens the following to the State of Honduras:
•Further develop a public policy to protect human rights defenders, including effective preventive measures and coordination with authorities in charge of investigations of violations against human rights defenders.
•Ensure the full participation of human rights defenders, civil society organizations and experts when formulating all secondary legislation and operational protocols related to the draft law.
•Explicitly recognise the right to defend human rights.
•Ensure independence of the national protection mechanism and coordination of participating governmental institutions by the Secretary of State through its Offices of Human Rights, Justice, Interior and Decentralization (Despachos de Derechos Humanos, Justicia, Gobernación y Descentralización).
•Adopt a risk-analysis model based on predefined criteria that conform to best practices concerning risk assessment and identifying protection needs.
•Adopt measures that appropriately address the specific risks of a given situation and further develop tools for the protection of collective beneficiaries and bodies.
•Provide capacity building and adequate training to all stakeholders involved and in particular to police forces working to enforce the protection mechanism.
•Ensure informed consent of all beneficiaries when adopting protective measures.
•Allocate sufficient financial resources to governmental entities involved in the law’s implementation.
•Establish transparent and clear coordination mechanisms with the Inter-American Human Rights System emphasizing that the local protection mechanism cannot revoke or substitute granted protection measures.
For more information about the UPR, or the situation for human rights defenders in Honduras, please contact Protection International at: firstname.lastname@example.org