Human rights defenders: breaching the walls of silence: issues at stake in the UN Draft Declaration on Human Rights Defenders
AI is campaigning to secure the completion and adoption of a strong text for the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Human rights defenders are the people on the front line of the struggle to realise the ideal proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that all people should be free from "fear and want". They are the lawyers, journalists, peasant leaders, trade unionists, students, and many others who denounce and investigate violations, support and protect victims, fight to overcome impunity, promote human rights education and set in motion campaigns to stop the violations. AI is concerned that the debates of the Working Group responsible for the Draft Declaration have been characterized by tensions between those who would protect human rights defenders and others who would like to impose limitations on them. Restrictive proposals have been tabled by several governments, a trend which has accelerated during the last two sessions.