Within the framework of the social, economic and public health emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic, Protection International Colombia created the following guidebook aimed at human rights defenders and their communities within the country.
This guide contains relevant information and basic recommendations for addressing the risks faced by human rights defenders and communities, which are intensified under current conditions. The guidebook first explains that the State’s obligations to respect and guarantee the conditions for the exercise of the right to defend human rights apply even during a decreed state of emergency, which is the current situation in Colombia as a result of COVID-19.
First, the guide helps to identify situations and events that may constitute risks or a violation of the right to defend human rights, such as false accusations, attempts to steal information, and threats against someones’ safety—all while taking into account the specific risks faced by women and their organizations. Regarding the obligations of the State, it recalls that the measures adopted by national and local authorities must not interfere, nor impede, the activities of communities while they are defending their human rights. In addition, States should under no circumstances intensify the risks of the work of defenders and their communities or generate new risks.
In the following chapters, the guide mentions the key elements for registering cases and useful information for establishing communication and requesting attention from some specialized agencies at the regional and national levels. Finally, it has a directory of national and regional institutions with their contact information.
Although it is a document designed for Colombia —and the directory of institutions is only useful in the country— the first two chapters can serve as a guide for defenders from other countries or territories, due to the common risk situations that many defenders share within the context of managing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This guide is meant for human rights defenders, their organizations and communities to download, share and use as a basis for their own collective protection work, taking into account our Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license, which allows the material to be used as long as its authorship is acknowledged, and without changing it in any way or using it commercially.
The guidebook is only available in Spanish: “Guarantees and protection of the right to defend human rights during the COVID-19 emergency”.