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Support and protection for Human Rights Defenders: To what extent can the international instruments and their corresponding mechanisms provide support and protection for HRDs, especially those that are submitted to criminal prosecution within the national legal systems?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology. (Mänskliga Rättigheter)
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 180 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This study has aimed at examining the nature and function of the support and protection that is offered and provided to human rights defenders trough a selected few international as well as regional human rights instruments and mechanisms, among them the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders as well as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.

In order to conduct such a study in a fairly limited and concrete way a number of cases were selected of human rights defenders who have undergone or are currently undergoing criminal prosecution and are incarcerated in Guatemala. The selection was based on the notion that apart from murder, criminal prosecution and incarceration of human rights defenders constitutes one of the most harmful and effective ways to actively hinder the continuance of valuable human rights work. Consequently, it impedes the promotion, implementation and protection of human rights on a general level.

In regards to this States such as Guatemala have found ways to circumvent their international human rights duties by allowing others or themselves to label human rights defenders as criminal and violent actors, thus taking away the legitimate aspect of their roles and functions when it comes to promoting and safeguarding the enjoyment and exercise of human rights. The examined cases were meant to shed light on the situation for defenders in Guatemala but most importantly they were meant to illustrate a context in which one can examine the role and function that international human rights instruments and mechanisms have to combat such types of situations.

The study found that although the concerned instruments and mechanisms such as the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the EU-guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights have a positive, important and impacting role in providing support to human rights defenders they have not yet reached/obtained the function of preventing persecution of human rights defenders, most notably of the legal kind. Since these mechanisms can only recommend but not force States to recognize and treat advocates of rights as “human rights defenders” their role and function for this specific purpose becomes less effective. All is not negative however, and the instruments and mechanisms that exist today are an illustration of the ambitions of States to follow international human rights principles and standards, at least to some extent.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 48 p.
Keyword [en]
Human Rights Defenders, Guatemala, Support, Protection
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-295334OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-295334DiVA: diva2:933445
Subject / course
Human Rights
Educational program
Master Programme in Human Rights
2016-05-30, 12:229, Blåsens Hus, Uppsala, 23:33 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-06-07 Created: 2016-06-04 Last updated: 2016-06-07Bibliographically approved

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