The significant role played by human rights defenders as contributors to change and the wellbeing of populations has increasingly been felt in recent years. It is thus crucial to protect their rights so as to enable them work in a conducive and safe environment. It is against this background that the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 53/144 in 1998, Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, known as the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
Several efforts have been made in Africa to increase the legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders, as well as their visibility and credibility. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights established a special mechanism called the mechanism of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa which is tasked with ensuring the protection of human rights defenders.
This mechanism has played an important role in recognizing the work of human rights defenders in Africa. However, the rights of human rights defenders are being violated across the African continent. Several methods are being developed to repress human rights defenders. State and non-state actors resort to several methods to restrict the activities of human rights defenders. Human rights defenders sometimes face administrative and judicial obstacles which make their work difficult (refusal to grant authorization to human rights organizations, implementation of restrictive laws, wild accusations – including being branded as terrorists, a threat to national security, and tax evaders).
The various tactics used to discredit and penalise human rights defenders are a real threat to their work and their lives. In recent years, several human rights defenders have been killed, arrested and imprisoned, while some have been abducted and have disappeared. Others have been forced to leave their countries or live in hiding.
Faced with these serious challenges, the mechanism of
the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa has created a platform
for discussions and reflections on protecting human rights defenders through
its bi-annual bulletin The Rapporteur’s
The mechanism of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa was established by Resolution ACHPR 69 (XXXV) 04 of 4 June 2004 which outlined the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, including developing and recommending strategies to ensure greater protection of human rights defenders and monitoring the implementation of such recommendations, as well as raising awareness and promoting the effective implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders on the continent.
It is in this context that the mechanism of the Special Rapporteur lays emphasis on promoting and protecting the rights of human rights defenders in Africa. The mechanism seeks to protect human rights defenders as individuals and their organisations, as well as protect their right to defend human rights.
The Rapporteur’s Newsletter
The mechanism of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa has developed a communication tool in order to maintain synergy with all stakeholders. The Rapporteur’s Newsletter is a bi-annual bulletin published since 2006 and often focuses on a current theme relating to the promotion and protection of human rights defenders and on the major activities of the Special Rapporteur.
Articles should be not more than 2,500 words and may be submitted in English or in French. Human rights defenders, rights activists, civil society actors and lawyers, among others, are invited to submit articles on issues of human rights defenders in Africa. Contributions should be presented in the form of articles. However, they may also take the form of testimonies and interviews.
All duly presented contributions will be published in the 8th Edition of the Rapporteur’s Newsletter. In order to ensure high quality articles, the various authors are highly requested to submit well-researched, edited and proofread articles that are ready for publication.
In order to be published in the upcoming edition, articles must be sent to the following three email addresses no later than 15 February 2013: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; and email@example.com.
Thank you for your kind collaboration.