Colombia: Preliminary Report on the Plan of Action for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders at Risk
What We Do
Freedom of Expression, Association and Assembly
In many countries, individuals are arrested or assaulted for exercising their legitimate right to participate in a peaceful gathering or protest, form associations, or exercise their right to speech. The Justice Defenders Program supports human rights defenders -- including journalists and labor activists -- working to amend laws that restrict these rights and to challenge them in court.
Fair Trial Rights
Human rights advocates are increasingly facing frivolous legal proceedings as a way to discredit their work and impede their activities. The Justice Defenders Program observes trials and other proceedings to discourage the misuse of legal processes against defenders and provides technical assistance to local counsel representing defenders.
Business & Human Rights
Many individuals working to protect the environment, expose corrupt business practices or ensure protections for workers or indigenous communities face different forms of retaliation. These include violent threats, restrictions on their ability to form associations and frivolous criminal charges. The Program works with local partners facing such threats to develop innovative strategies to document abuses, form cross-sectoral coalitions, build public support and engage key stakeholders to increase respect for human rights in business operations. Additionally, the Program helps activists to obtain protection when facing violent threats.
Misuse of Terrorism Charges Against Defenders
Many states have begun using counter terrorism laws to crack down on legitimate human rights defenders. The Program has analyzed various national counter terrorism laws, outlining the problematic provisions of these laws that open them up to abuse. This has helped civil society advocate for the repeal or amendment of these laws before local courts and regional bodies.
Independence of Lawyers and Judges
The Program has supported threatened attorneys, prosecutors and judges in over twelve different countries. Our efforts and support resulted in the activists' releases from prison, dropped charges, improved conditions of confinement, increased protective measures, reinstatement to the bench, decreased restrictions on the independence of the bar and increased investigations into violent attacks against lawyers.
Protecting Defenders Against Violence
Individuals working to defend fundamental rights, including journalists, lawyers, union organizers, and indigenous leaders, are facing increasing acts of intimidation and persecution for the legitimate work that they do. The Program supports these defenders by petitioning international bodies to obtain protective measures (such as court-ordered bodyguards), referring them to organizations that provide funds for physical security and psychosocial support, raising their public profile where appropriate, engaging local authorities to investigate threats, and holding officials accountable when they fail to investigate credible threats or are complicit in such threats.