Rule of law

Human rights defender strategy for the UK government

We’ve collaborated with Amnesty International (UK) and other organisations to develop a strategy to support human rights defenders (HRDs) worldwide that the UK government can adopt and adapt.

The proposed strategy takes into account the views of 82 HRDs in seven countries:

  • Afghanistan
  • Colombia
  • Egypt
  • Libya
  • Zimbabwe
  • Russia
  • The Philippines
  • Zimbabwe

This strategy is one of the results of a sustained engagement – since 2016 – by the Law Society, Amnesty and other contributing organisations with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on HRDs and how they can best be supported.

The report identifies examples of good practice by the UK government, but also a lack of coordinated approach.

It calls for the adoption of a cross-departmental strategy on HRDs, the implementation of which could be led by the FCDO.

The report also highlights that lawyers, and other member of the legal profession, are often only regarded as legal representatives of HRDs, rather than as HRDs themselves.

Lawyers should be recognised as a specific group of HRDs at heightened risk because of their profession, much like journalists.

Worldwide lawyers are attacked to restrict access to justice and silence those who seek to uphold the rule of law.

They should be adequately supported to enable them to continue carrying out their profession free from intimidation and harassment.

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