London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Seminar 5

Wednesday 13th February 2008
Human Rights Defenders under Threat
Main Speaker: Ms. Hina Jilani, UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
Responder: Mary Lawlor, NGO Frontline
Chair: Prof Bill Bowring, Barrister and Prof of Law, Birbeck College, University of London

hrsj seminar photo

Top picture left to right: Hina Jilani, Bill Bowring, Mary Lawlor

Ms Hina Jilani, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, has argued that cases targeting human rights defenders represent not only a violation of the defenders’ rights, but also a violation of the human rights standards that the defender was working to support. Restrictions on the capacity of individuals, groups and organizations to defend human rights are also restrictions on the capacity within a State to implement and protect human rights standards. She has received numerous allegations of defenders being victims of killings, attacks, death threats, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, prosecution, prison sentences and fines, harassment and intimidation, surveillance, violations of freedom of expression, assembly and association, and the targeting of family members. The international community has responded to this threat through normative and institutional developments that move beyond the existing human rights instruments and mechanisms. These include the 1998 Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the establishment of the Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, and the establishment of a special unit for human rights defenders within the Inter-American system. There is also action from international NGOs that monitor abuses against human rights defenders, including the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH), the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Frontline and Freedom House. This seminar will investigate and analyse these important developments.


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