TEMPORARY RELOCATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Collective Campaign for Peace (COCAP) is launching a call for Human Rights Defenders at threat to have temporary shelter in Kathmandu, Nepal.

COCAP would like to offer human rights defenders (HRDs) from Nepal and the South Asia region the opportunity to short-term relocate to Nepal for rest and respite by allowing them to escape an immediately threatening situation from their locality and country through this open call. HRD refers to a diverse group of activists, journalists, academics, writers, artists, politicians, lawyers, civil rights defenders, independent media professionals, civil society members, and others who work to promote human rights and democracy around the world. COCAP provides a safe space for human rights defenders at a time when they are particularly vulnerable and their safety at home is no longer assured.

The goal of the program is to provide up to three-month safe space for a human rights defender, during which time she or he can rest, build capacity, expand her or his network, and raise awareness about the situation in their country.

Participants are expected to return to their homes with new tools and energy after the program ends. While temporarily relocated, HRDs will be motivated to be engaged in tasks as per their interest and also to continue their ongoing work. The goal of the program is to provide up to three-month safe space for a human rights defender, during which time she or he can rest, build capacity, expand her or his network, and raise awareness about the situation in their country. Participants are expected to return to their homes with new tools and energy after the program ends. While temporarily relocated, HRDs will be motivated to be engaged in tasks as per their interest and also to continue their ongoing work.

Who are Human Rights Defenders?

Human rights defenders are the ones who defend and protect human rights by promoting and protecting civil and political rights, as well as the promotion, protection, and realization of economic, social, and cultural rights, and eventually work for safeguarding humans at risk and promoting the democratic principles and values.

Human rights defenders could be anyone who believes in democratic values and rights of each one of us and act peacefully to promote a just society. 

Social activists, artists, teachers, journalists, environmentalists, therapists, writers, lawyers, trade unionists, indigenous communities, LGBTIQA+ people, public employees, politicians, judges, and non-governmental organization workers and many more are all examples of human rights defenders. Defending human rights involves challenging powerful interests and often leads to suffering the risk human rights violation of HRDs.

OUR SUPPORT

COCAP provides up to three-month safe space for a human rights defender at threat, during which she or he can rest, build capacity, expand her or his network, and raise awareness about the situation in their home country. We aim to help them renew their energy and commitment to change while also making it safer and more effective.

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UN DECLARATION ON HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

For decades, human rights defenders have been on the United Nations’ (UN) agenda. The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1998 after more than 13 years of negotiations.

This was a historic achievement. It was the first UN instrument to emphasize the significance and legitimacy of human rights defenders’ work, as well as their need for better protection. Human rights defenders have gained recognition and visibility as a result of the adoption of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which has paved the way for the establishment of a UN mechanism to protect them. The UN mandate was established by the then Commission on Human Rights in 2000.

    The Declaration emphasizes that everyone has rights and freedoms, as well as responsibilities, such as helping to promote human rights, safeguard democracy and its institutions, and, of course, not violating each other’s human rights.

    According to the United Nations mandated Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 16) states must protect fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreements. The human costs associated with these attacks on HRDs cannot be easily quantified but if states do not take requisite actions to halt this onslaught, key targets of Agenda 2030 will be missed.

    SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN NEPAL

    A number of fundamental rights have been guaranteed under the new constitution, but their implementation is in jeopardy. For HRDs, the ongoing transitional justice process presents new opportunities as well as new risks and obstacles. HRDs are still exposed to threats and attacks from both public and private parties. This is especially true for HRDs working on sensitive problems including kidnappings, impunity, and conflict-related abuses, as well as child abuse and human trafficking. Women HRDs, LGBTI HRDs, HRDs defending the rights of oppressed groups, HRDs with disabilities, and young HRDs are all at risk because of Nepal’s patriarchal and hierarchical society.

    For decaHRDs residing outside of Kathmandu in more distant locations, as well as less traditional groupings of HRDs like as victims’ organizations and minority groups, are particularly vulnerable, as they may be unaware of their rights as HRDs and the tools at their disposal to protect them.

    A multitude of threats to freedom of expression, combined with inadequate protection, puts certain HRDs, particularly local journalists, in jeopardy. Even among human rights groups, there is frequently a lack of understanding about protective mechanisms and protection/promotional measures that can assist them lessen their susceptibility.

    HRDs sometimes lack the essential skills and up-to-date knowledge of the human rights protection system to properly defend human rights.

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