Focus is a new Protection International (PI) web page, arising from a PI study looking into new and ad hoc national legislations and mechanisms to protect defenders, which have recently been developed by some governments.

Focus aims to be a witness to any news and developments concerning such legislation and mechanisms, as well as to share them with the international community of defenders. The aim is to contribute towards improving practices for the protection of defenders. This is an open project, all your contributions are welcome.

In recent years several governments have developed specific national mechanisms to protect defenders, all of them in countries seriously lacking in protection for human rights defenders. These mechanisms (laws, action policies, offices) have been established under pressure from (and with the cooperation of) national and international human rights organizations, with essential legal support from the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

At Protection International, this development has led us to study these national initiatives. In doing some, a question raised all the time: Is it necessary for the state to create mechanisms (laws, policies, offices) specifically for the protection of defenders or is it better to ensure the institutions (the legal system and security forces) fulfil their obligation to guarantee protection for this group?

The job of Protection International as an international NGO is to serve human rights defenders and we adopt a critical approach to state instruments and offices intended to offer protection to human rights defenders, without losing sight of the shared responsibility and duty of all its institutions, starting with the government. This is the main reason for setting up FOCUS as a global observatory for national policies and structures to protect human rights defenders.

We are confident that in making these proposals to the international community of defenders we are taking a step in the right direction. New improved practices will give people, who on a daily basis are determined to defend human rights despite tremendous obstacles, the protection they need and deserve.

This is a project open to collaborations, as you can see from the network of persons and institutions involved in it. Please contact us if you want to join us in this effort.