Frontline Defenders, Protection International, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (OBS), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and PBI call on the EU and its member states to use the revision of the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy as an opportunity to be more ambitious in the support it gives to human rights defenders. While the coalition welcomes the practical and measurable action points of the current Action Plan, the EU and its member states need to adopt a more coherent and holistic approach in their relations with human rights defenders.
Additionally, despite some progress, all of the three sub-action points of Action 18 of the Action Plan still require full implementation by the EU and its member states. In the spirit of the recent Council Conclusions, these actions should be rolled over to the future Action Plan to ensure continuity in commitment and actions undertaken by the EU and member states as support to HRDs is intensified.
Effective and meaningful support to HRDs by the EU and its member states should aspire to:
1. Better protect. For example: Assist and support governments and promote participation of local civil society in developing and implementing public policies and mechanisms for the protection of HRDs; and/or in advocating for the amendment or abrogation of restrictive laws; and in the fight against impunity for human rights violations committed against HRDs;
2. Reach Out. EU support to HRDs should take their point of view into consideration in the preparation of EU policies and action. It should also aim to ensure that any EU or member state action, be it in trade or development, comprehensively protects and promotes human rights.
3. Do No Harm. The EU and its member states should concretely monitor trade and development policies and programming to ensure they are consistent with human rights commitments; and offer recourse to HRDs in case their human rights or those of the people they defend are violated.
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Click here to download the PBI Report: Ten Years of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders: An Assessment from the Field