Header image for news printout

End of mission statement by Michel Forst, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
Visit to Peru, 21 January – 3 February 2020


​Spanish

Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

Introduction 

I would like to start by warmly thanking the Government for inviting me to undertake an official mission, which took place from 21 January to 3 February. I wish to commend the Government for its excellent cooperation and efforts to ensure the fruitful visit. I am grateful for the opportunity to meet with high-level representatives of various ministries, several vice-Governors and state institutions. I am grateful to everyone who took the time to meet with me and shared their valuable experiences and insights, as well as those who helped in organizing this visit.

The objective of my visit was to assess, in the spirit of cooperation and dialogue, if in Peru there is a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders. In simpler words, the visit was seeking to answer the question whether human rights defenders feel safe and empowered throughout the country.

In line with international human rights law, the primary duty to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms lies within the State. This includes guaranteeing the right of everyone, individually or in association with others, to strive for the protection and realization of human rights. In other words, every one of us has the right to defend all human rights for all.

Ensuring these conditions is one of the principal responsibilities of the State. I have therefore focused primarily on evaluating some of the basic elements of such a safe and enabling environment, namely: a conducive legal and institutional framework; access to justice; an independent and strong national human rights institution; effective protection policies and mechanisms paying attention to groups at risk and applying gender-sensitive approach; non-State actors that respect and support the work of defenders; and a strong and dynamic community of defenders.

As I did not want to confine my visit to Lima, I travelled to Piura, Madre de Dios, Cuzco and Ucayali. As a result, I had a chance to meet with more than 475 brave human rights defenders, coming from different regions and sometimes travelling for long hours to meet with me, approximately 40 % of which were women defenders. This reinforced my impression of an active, vibrant and engaged civil society.

Who are human rights defenders in Peru?

The UN has a very broad definition of human rights defenders, which has been enshrined in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders of 1998. During the visit, I had the opportunity to refer to this definition. I recalled that human rights defenders are those who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights, nationally and internationally, in a peaceful manner. They are members of civil society organizations, journalists, bloggers, whistle-blowers as well as political activists who advocate for the right to a safe and healthy environment. They do not need to belong to any registered organization to be a human rights defender.

They can be ordinary women men and children, who believe in the universality of human rights and act to defend them. They are indigenous people who fight to defend and preserve their ancestral land and their cosmovision. They are agents of change, safeguarding democracy and ensuring that it remains open, pluralistic and participatory. Without human rights defenders our societies would be far less free, and far less hopeful. I urge the Government and the international community to refer to this universally recognized definition of human rights defenders, as it could help raise their profile and acceptance in broader society.

Today, I will confine myself to preliminary observations and recommendations on some of the main issues, which will be elaborated in more detail in the report, once I fully review the materials and documents that I have collected during the visit. The final report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, in one of its future sessions.

Significant advances

Let me congratulate the Government of Peru and in particular the Minister of Justice and Human Rights for the inclusion – for the first time - of human rights defenders as a special category in need for protection in the National Action Plan on Human Rights (2018-2021), the landmark and recent adoption of a Protocol for the protection of human rights defenders (April 2019) with the participation of civil society and State sectors and the ongoing work to set up a Registry of complaints and incidents of risks for human rights defenders, with the participation of civil society and the business sector. Since the adoption of the Protocol in April 2019, nine requests for activation of the Protocol were received and are being processed. These are remarkable first steps.

I call on the President of the Republic of Peru and the Government to commit to the adoption of a Multi-sectoral mechanism for the protection defenders, currently planned for 2021 in the National Action Plan on Human Rights, and to ensure an effective implementation of this Protocol by:

  • Ensuring the necessary human and financial resources for its effective implementation;
  • Guaranteeing a robust articulation and participation of the relevant Ministries, State and regional institutions in the implementation of protocol’s preventive and protection responses, including the judiciary, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and national police;
  • Upgrading the current normative ranking of the instrument establishing the Protocol, ensuring its content and respect for the human rights principles therein enshrined.

It is of paramount importance that the Business formal sector supports the implementation of the Protocol as well as the development of a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights by 2020, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human.

I also applaud the political commitment of the Government of Peru and the steps undertaken towards the ratification of the Escazú Agreement. On 2 August 2019, the Ratification Bill was sent for Congress approval. I hope that the recently elected Congress prioritizes this matter, upon resuming functions in March 2020. The ratification and implementation of this landmark environment treaty would be a major leap forward in the protection of environmental human rights defenders in Peru. A prompt ratification of the Escazú agreement would place Peru among the first 11 States in the region becoming party to the agreement and those enabling its entry into force.

Is there a safe and enabling environment for HRDs?

I have been deeply moved by all testimonies received from rights defenders, and especially indigenous people, local communities and peasants who reported that they commonly face threats, harassment, intimidation, criminalization and physical attacks. In many cases, they reported being labelled as “enemies of the State”, “anti-Government” or “against development” if they oppose development projects. I am also concerned about the misuse of the justice system to harass and silence defenders in the country, particularly those working to defend the environment, such as Oscar Mollohuanca Cruz and others in Cusco, the 16 defenders in Cajamarca who face charges for participating in protests or Máxima Acuña, a peasant farmer who was subjected to police violence for refusing to leave the land where she lives.

 I was also impressed by all testimonies received from indigenous people on the lack of proper implementation of the provisions of ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights with regard to consultations and free, prior and informed consent. In this context, all defenders working on access to land, natural resources and environmental issues, and those campaigning against illegal or forced evictions in the context of mega-projects, are at particular risk.

I heard that security guards or police officers employed by oil and mining companies have at several occasions threatened to kill, harassed and attacked human rights defenders during peaceful protests. Indigenous people and other defenders have also denounced cases where local authorities have colluded with the private sector, and cases in which private companies had aided and abetted the commission of violations against human rights defenders. I have also met with human rights defenders who were internally displaced from their communities or places of work and could not return due to a lack of safety.

I also heard numerous testimonies of indigenous and peasant communities affected by illegal mining and logging, and the lack of understanding and of protection by the local authorities, the police and the judiciary. The indigenous community Santa Clara of Uchunya is an emblematic example. After years of demanding their rights before administrative and judicial authorities, they managed to halt illegal logging in their ancestral lands, and the recognition of their title to parts of these territories. The affected communities and those defending their rights in this context are in dire need of protection and they also need access to appropriate remedy.

Summary of Preliminary Key Conclusions

While recognising the important advances mentioned above, and after having carefully considered the information received from the Government, civil society and other stakeholders, and despite efforts by the Minister of Justice and Vice-Minister of Human Rights, I regret to conclude that a large number of human rights defenders, and especially indigenous people and local communities defending the environment and their human rights are not able to operate in a safe and enabling environment.

Key trends

Lack of recognition, stigmatization and criminalization of human rights defenders

The lack of recognition, stigmatization and criminalization of human rights defenders by State and non-state actors are systemic issues that mutually reinforce each other and pose serious obstacles for the human rights work of environmental, land and indigenous people’s rights defenders, in particular.

Lack of recognition and stigmatization

There is a clear lack of public recognition by State, regional and municipal institutions of the important role of defenders and their contribution to society. In addition, defenders, and in particular environmental and indigenous peoples rights defenders, are stigmatised as criminals by the Media and other non-state actors. During my meeting with the business sector, I was shocked by the use of two videos - to generalize and depict environmental human rights defenders as individuals manipulated by their lawyers and advisers, who were presented as criminals and terrorists. Religious and conservative groups also stigmatise, defenders of gender equality, sexual and reproductive rights and LGBTI rights defenders, branding them as killers, sinners, criminals and inciting hatred against them, including in social media.

Criminalisation of human rights defenders

I have observed with concern a recurring pattern of misuse of criminal law against human rights defenders, by State institutions (ex- officio) or upon request of third parties (non-State actors) and the criminalisation of social protest.

Human rights defenders in environmental matters are particularly affected by this practice, in particular, those who organize and participate in social protests. Under the Penal Code and the Law of Organised Crime, the most common crimes used to criminalize human rights defenders include the crimes of: “rioting” (Disturbance), "Obstruction of the functioning of public services" (entorpecimiento del funcionamiento de los servicios públicos),"Aggravated damages” (daños agravados), “Violence and resistance to authority”(violencia y Resistencia a la autoridad), “extorsion” (extorsion), “kidnapping” (secuestro) “usurpation” (usurpación) and “criminal association to commit a crime” (asociación ilícita para delinquir). 

The criminalization of human rights defenders also takes place in other contexts. Indigenous and peasant communities are criminalized for exercising their own jurisdiction in line with the Constitution (Rondas campesinas), or in the defence of their human rights and the environment. Land rights defenders are also criminalised. In my visit to San Juan Bautista de Catacaos, in Piura, I listened to the testimonies of land rights defenders accused of a number of crimes, including usurpation, by Santa Regina Agricultural Company. These accusations take place in a context of impunity for physical attacks and the killing of two land rights defenders of the affected communities. Similarly, in Madre de Dios and Ucayali, I met with defenders at risks and facing death threats by illegal mining and logging actors, such as the case of the indigenous communities of Nueva Austria. They faced multiple criminal charges, including for failing to prevent these illegal activities in their lands.

Lawyers defending human rights defenders are also criminalised. A good example of this is the criminalization of the lawyer Juan Carlos Ruiz and the doctor Fernando Osores for their human rights work in support of the legal cases filed by four indigenous peoples’ organizations of Espinar (Cuzco) against the Glencore mining project. Both defenders have been acquitted in the first instance, of the criminal charges of “use of false public document (uso de documento público falso), and “issuance of false medical certificate” (“expedición de certificado médico falso”).  Human Rights defenders and journalists are also faced with numerous criminal charges for defamation and aggravated defamation, in connection to their human rights work and investigative journalism when exposing human rights abuses of State and non-State actors and corruption.

These are not isolated examples. According to information provided by the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos, since 2002, at least 960 individuals have been criminalised in connection to the defence and promotion of human rights. Out of these, 538 were criminalised in the context of social protests. 

The criminalization of defenders also has serious financial and social consequences both at the individual and collective levels. Many defenders from modest economic backgrounds do not have the financial resources to face prolonged legal battles. Criminalization might also push defenders to disengage from the promotion and protection of human rights.

  • Obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to protest and freedom of expression of human rights defenders

In social conflicts, serious threats to defenders arise when they advocate their rights with the effect of disrupting extractive activities by private companies, particularly through the disruption of traffic. For indigenous communities, a historically disenfranchised group inhabiting territories where mining, gas or oil projects operate, this is in practice the only means by which they feel that they can make their voices heard by the authorities.

Under Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the temporary disruption of traffic must be tolerated by the State. Restrictions are only legitimate where the assembly interferes with essential services, such as access to hospitals, or where the interference with traffic or the economy is serious and sustained. In Peru, these forms of assemblies are not seen as legitimate exercises of peaceful assembly, neither in law nor in practice (see e.g. Article 200 of the  criminal code of Peru, where the blocking of roads is defined as extortion). Although exceptionally tolerated, they are often disrupted through the use of force when the communities have not received prior authorisation or when they protract in time, leading to further escalation of violence. After the disruption of assemblies, there is a practice of criminally charging the community leaders for crimes committed by third parties. These cases often lead to the exoneration of the accused, albeit after long legal battles which dissuade the exercise of the right to protest.

I am deeply concerned at evidence suggesting disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force, and the failure to isolate violent protesters to protect peaceful defenders. I also raise concerns regarding the deployment of military to police assemblies following declarations of states of emergency or to protect oil, gas and mining installations (decree no 106-2017-PCM).

  • Inefficiency in response on the part of authorities to human rights violations

Justice system

The way in which the justice system reacts to criminal complaints against human rights defenders are of concern. We have seen numerous cases where investigations against environmental defenders draw out for years. Instead of discontinuing cases where evidence is too weak for conviction, the prosecutor’s office brings them to court and appeals judgments absolving the accused of guilt, leading to legal procedures that are unnecessarily long. I have evidenced the chilling effect this practice has in the work on the defence of human rights as well as financial and emotional cost to defenders and their families.

Defenders have found little or no protection measures by the police and the judicial system. Instead, they have faced repression and the excessive use of violence by police forces. I have observed numerous instances where the follow-up by the prosecutor’s office on complaints by HRDs facing threats is unduly slow, and that investigations often are discontinued. In the emblematic case of Saweto, 6 years have passed without the identified perpetrators being ordered to stand trial. When compared with the efficiency with which authorities respond when the interests of powerful economic actors are at stake, the imbalance is striking. Other shocking practices witnessed in Madre de Dios are of concern, where defenders alerting illegal mining to the authorities are often required to accompany prosecutors and police to the site to identify the place and perpetrators, putting the lives of defenders at risk due to retaliation.

With regards to the implementation of judgments, the regional government of Madre de Dios has for over a year delayed the implementation of a judgment of the high court(675-2017) affirming a first instance judgment, requiring the regional government to annul over 140 mining concessions and 11 agricultural properties (predios agricolas) unlawfully given in violation of the rights of indigenous communities of Tres Islas. This should be intolerable in a society governed by the rule of law.

Law enforcement and protection

Across regions, I have observed malpractices on the part of the police, where it exercises discretion on whether to register complaints, particularly when put forward by environmental and LGBTI defenders.

Peruvian law permits agreements between the national police and private companies to offer police officers as security. This commercialisation of the police force creates institutional and individual ties that seriously interferes with the impartiality of law enforcement, exposing environmental defenders to additional risk.

Lastly, there is no effective system for offering protection measures to defenders at risk. Although anyone at risk can apply for guarantees with the sub-prefecture, the standard and burden of proof is unreasonably high and placed on the applicant. Particularly in the context of illegal mining and logging, acquiring ample proof of the threat faced places the defender at serious risk of irreparable harm. Moreover, where guarantees are granted, the efficiency of the response remains a serious challenge.

All these elements raise the broader question of corruption, conflicts of interest and other examples of undue influence. While I welcome the efforts made by the government to combat corruption, there is a systemic deficiency in the reaction by authorities against big economic interests, particularly at regional and local levels.

Who are the human rights defenders most at risk in Peru?

Land and environmental rights defenders

Indigenous communities, peasants, land rights and environmental defenders are the groups of defenders most at risk in Peru. They face smear campaigns, exclusion from decision-making fora, criminalization including with fabricated prosecutions, wrongful detentions, surveillance, threats, violence and murder.

A number of large-scale extractive projects have flourished thanks to weak environmental regulations, corporate capture and corruption. The absence of State authorities in remote areas has enabled the growth of the informal sector and the establishment of criminal networks. Unsustainable development projects have led in many parts of the country to natural and social disasters with heavy metals contamination and releases of wastes into natural waters that have deeply affected communities with limited chances to obtain reparation and remedy.

Many ongoing conflicts could have been avoided if meaningful consultations had been held, as guaranteed in ILO Convention No. 169 and the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples Rights. Entire local communities have been deprived of their lands and natural resources through “fake consultations” carried out when projects had already started. This was the case in the Tres Islas Community in Madre de Dios, among many other examples I have heard across the country. I am troubled by decisions made by national agencies and regional governors to approve large-scale projects, willfully ignoring consultation processes with local communities. The Regional Governor of Lambayeque has recently announced the approval and renewal of the construction of the Integral water system of the Valle-Chancay Lambayeque possibly by an Indian Company, without prior consultation with affected communities. This project would include the construction of two dams (Sicán y Montería) that would put an end to the award-winning Ecological Reserve Chaparri. Defenders of Chaparri Reserve have been subject to death threats, criminalization and even deprivation of liberty. I would also like to express my concern in particular over the regional ordinance 010-2018-GRU-CR which is estimated to affect more than 100,000 ha of forest land in Ucayali, in a context marked by corruption, land trafficking and threats against local villages.

Another root cause related to environmental conflicts is linked to the land title system. Indigenous and peasant communities have mentioned bureaucratic hurdles to obtain official recognition and formal land ownership rights, a slow and costly process compared to the granting of logging and mining concessions.

I am appalled by the criminalization of environmental defenders, by companies or/and by the public prosecutor’s office. I am particularly concerned by the use of charges to discredit ronderos, recognized by Article 149 of the Constitution of Peru and by Law N° 27908, like the media professional and rondero César Estrada, who play an important role in defending the rights of their communities. 

I am concerned by the lack of understanding of the role played by indigenous communities, land and environmental rights defenders in the protection and conservation of nature and common goods. Statements made by public officials, companies and disseminated by the media have been depicting defenders as terrorists or anti-development. While the large majority of community members peacefully participate in public demonstrations and protests, media tend to focus on a minority of violent individuals in order to delegitimize the community’s claims.

Women Human Rights Defenders

In Peru, women human rights defenders play a critical role in the promotion of human rights, whether it is linked to women’s rights as such or to human rights of their communities. However, women face many threats as a result of both their human rights activism and their gender identity. Discrimination, racism, patriarchy and a lack of recognition and understanding of women’s rights are some of the main causes of this situation. Over the past years, women human rights defenders and their organisations have faced growing stigmatization, intimidation and criminalization. They have also denounced increasing difficulty in access to funding for their activities. I am particularly concerned by the lack of public data on attacks against women defenders and by the lack of a systemic and intersectional approach by the authorities when women defenders filed complaints and sought remedy and reparation.

Indigenous, and rural women human rights defenders are some of the most at-risk groups of defenders in Peru. Persistent historical discrimination and racism have hampered their access to the most basic human rights such as their right to health, to education and to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Women who have been opposing large-scale projects such as extractive projects have faced intimidation, threats of sexual violence and public shaming. They have also been subject to criminalization by companies. I am also concerned by the perpetuation of strong racist and sexist stereotypes promoted by media outlets, in particular  through TV shows such as “Paísana Jacinta”.

In the field of sexual and reproductive rights, women and girls have been facing public attacks led by alliances between political parties, conservative civil society organisations and religious groups. Women advocating for access to reproductive health, to sexual education and for the rights of LGBTI persons have been targeted by smear campaigns on social media, threats of sexual violence and legal action. They have been called “feminazi terrorists”, “promoters of gender ideology” and a “threat to traditional family values”. Organisations who have been seeking justice and reparation for the thousands of victims of forced sterilizations have received threats and reported insults by public servants when they presented cases to the public prosecutor's office.

  • LGBTI human rights defenders

LGBTI human rights defenders in Peru face hate speech, incitement to violence and online threats against them by some media outlets, private individuals and some politicians , both for their human rights work and for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Such attacks often intensified following public interviews, their participation in public events or when running for elections.

They also face additional obstacles for staging LGBTI protests, such as “Kisses against homophobia” every 14 February. I received reports of physical and verbal attacks by Police and private individuals during a public demonstration celebrated in 2017 in front of the Congress. Teachers contributing to the elaboration of the recent education program integrating, gender equality LGBTI and sexual reproductive rights, risk losing their job, and faced different forms of intimidation and harassment.

  • Journalists

During my visit, I have seen examples of journalists injured while covering protests. I have also received testimonies of investigative journalists are faced with charges of defamation (Article 132 of the criminal code in Peru). Paola Ugaz was in 2019 subject to five different criminal procedures for her journalistic work. Among these, a defamation case was initiated by affiliates of the Sodalicio group.

While most such cases end with absolving the journalist on appeal, they should instead have been dismissed at the pre-trial stage in the first instance. The lack of a rigorous examination by the at this stage fosters a chilling effect for investigative journalism in the country.“

  • Other categories of defenders

In my meetings with children and adolescent defenders, I have and would like to encourage the government to promote the participatory rights of children in all decisions that affect them. Adolescent defenders of sexual and reproductive rights are exposed to harassment and abuse for their activism, especially online.

I have also met with representatives of trade unions, who emphasised the importance of legal and contractual safeguards for the effective defence of labour rights. A troubling case of criminalisation is that of Milagros Salazar, president of Frente de Defensa, who is facing judicial procedures, including aggravated defamation, initiated by the mining companies Shougang and Marcobre, for advocating for the rights of workers in Maracona, Ica.

The Role of the NHRI in supporting and protecting HRDs

As part of the institutional architecture of the State, national human rights institutions play a key role in ensuring a safe and conducive environment for defenders. I have met with the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman offices both in Lima and in the regions. The “Defensoria del Pueblo” is for me a key partner on protection of human rights defenders and promotion of the right to defend human rights. Its members and staff are also human rights defenders that sometimes face risks and I have been informed that some of them have faced threats or attacks for doing their work. In my meetings with rights defenders, many of them pointed out the confidence in the institution and the role that it plays to support them, while in other regions I also heard contradictory statements of indigenous people pointing out their disappointment and the lack of confidence in its actions.

I strongly believe the Ombudsman’s office should be more vocal in its support of human rights defenders, especially on indigenous peoples and its condemnations of attacks against them. I encourage the prompt approval of the guidelines on actions by the Ombudsman in cases concerning human rights defenders (Lineamientos de Actuacion Defensorial Frente a Casos de Defensores y Defensoras de Derechos Humanos). It also needs to strengthen its efforts to be closer to remote human rights defenders in order to increase its support in a range of forms. Lastly, I would also recommend the Ombudsman’s office to review and challenge laws that restrict the recognition and effective enjoyment of human rights.

Conclusion

As I recalled during our discussions with the Government, my mandate has been established by the United Nations to support all efforts made by governments to improve the full recognition and the protection of human rights defenders. I am convinced that the protection of human rights defenders and their quest for justice will remain a persistent problem as long as the challenges of access to effective justice and of corruption are not addressed.

The protection of human rights defenders in Peru should be seen in the context of three obligations that international human rights law imposes on States. The obligation:

  • to respect human rights by refraining from violating them;
  • to protect such rights by intervening through protective action on behalf of defenders against threats by non-state actors such as private companies;
  • and to fulfil them by ensuring a safe and enabling environment for defenders to enjoy their rights and to carry out their activities.

In order to address the risks faced by human rights defenders, I recommend the following measures by the State, the international community and non-State actors.

The State should take the following measures:

  • Reduce the risk to human rights defenders in social conflicts by:
    • guaranteeing the right to free, prior and informed consent of indigenous communities in accordance with the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples Rights, and meaningful consultation processes to guarantee the protection and respect of the rights of indigenous communities, as guaranteed in ILO Convention 169;
    • ensuring the legal recognition of the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples through the provision and registration of land ownership titles; and
    • increasing efforts to remedy the consequences of pollution.
  • Put an end to the prevailing criminalisation of defenders. It should also implement a state-wide campaign to promote a change of narrative that portrays human rights defenders, including women, as key actors for the public good and positive change.
  • Ensure the active public participation of women human rights defenders, including indigenous and rural women, in the design, implementation and evaluation of all policies and protocols that affect them and their communities.
  • Foster strong public institutions through proper measures combating corruption, conflicts of interest and undue influence. In particular, the government should increase the budget and human resources of the Ombudsperson’s Office to increase its presence at regional and local levels and to fully exercise its new mandate as National Preventative Mechanism under the UN Convention on Torture (OPCAT).
  • Amend relevant laws and practices enabling the declarations of states of emergency in social conflicts and the privatisation of police security services to the benefit of private companies, in accordance with human rights standards.
  • Combat impunity by ensuring prompt and effective investigations to prosecute and punish those responsible for violations committed against human rights defenders, including by law enforcement officials.

The United Nations country team should promote the work of defenders and ensure their safe and easy access to the United Nations presence in the country.

The international community should make greater efforts to reach the diverse community of defenders, particularly those in remote areas, with support, funding and through monitoring trials.

Private companies should demonstrate their commitment to human rights and defenders through adherence to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. They must ensure meaningful consultations with communities affected by their operations, and establish or strengthen effective grievance mechanisms. Private companies must refrain from stigmatising and criminalising defenders. 

Lastly, I propose seven principles to guide the government of Peru when developing policies and strategies to protect human rights defenders. The government of Peru should:

  1. Adopt a rights-based approach to protection, empowering defenders to know and claim their rights and increasing the ability and accountability of those responsible for respecting, protecting and fulfilling rights.
  2. Recognize that defenders are diverse; they come from different ethnic groups, backgrounds, cultures, belief systems and have diverse gender identities. From the outset, they may not self-identify or be identified by others as defenders.
  3. Recognize the significance of gender in the protection of defenders and apply an intersectionality approach to the assessment of risks and to the design of protection initiatives and also recognize that some defenders are at greater risk than others because of who they are and what they do.
  4. Focus on the “holistic security” of defenders, in particular their physical safety, digital security and psychosocial well-being.
  5. Acknowledge that defenders are interconnected. The policy or strategy should not focus on the rights and security of individual defenders alone, but also include the groups, organizations, communities and family members who share their risks.
  6. Involve defenders in the development, choice, implementation and evaluation of strategies and tactics for their protection. The participation of defenders is a key factor in their security.
  7. Bear in mind that the protection should be flexible, adaptable and tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of defenders.