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European human rights system

Ensuring Protection—European Union (EU) Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders

These guidelines (available in several languages) are a very important, practical tool for supporting human rights defenders1. They are meant to be used by EU missions (embassies and consulates of EU member states and European Commission delegations) working with human rights defenders2. Each embassy should have the guidelines, and have developed a ’local implementation strategy’ that is specific to their country context.

Human rights defenders should contact representatives of relevant embassies and missions in their countries to ensure that the guidelines are available to all and to discuss the protection mechanisms described within them. This is an important protection strategy. In Serbia, for example, human rights defenders have worked with European embassies to facilitate access to visas for defenders, and to access funding.

The guidelines are valuable in numerous ways

  • leading to periodic meetings of embassy personnel and human rights defenders;
  • providing visible recognition of human rights defenders and their work;
  • observing trials involving defenders;
  • visiting defenders in jail;
  • delivering emergency visas;
  • elaborating local strategies for implementation of the guidelines; and
  • promoting regional and international mechanisms for the protection of defenders.

Regional human rights courts:

Regional human rights bodies:

The Inter-American human rights system

The African Human Rights System

UN Mechanisms: