On 24 November we launched the HRD Memorial website and database. This is a unique project, developed by an international coalition of national and international human rights organisations, to commemorate all the human rights defenders (HRDs) who have been killed since the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders came into effect in 1998.
For the first time ever there will be a dedicated resource which will give a true picture of the scale of killings of HRDs world wide. Since 1998 an estimated 3,500 HRDs have been killed because of their peaceful work defending the rights of others.
This web site is a work in progress. We have launched with a limited number of cases but In the coming weeks and months we will be adding the names and details of all the HRDs who have been killed. The HRD Memorial aims to be not just a memorial but also a celebration of their life, work and achievements.
Killings of HRDs
An estimated 3,500 human rights defenders have been killed because of their peaceful work defending the rights of others since the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on Human Rights defenders by consensus. In many cases these killings have been carried out by state agents or with the collusion of state agents. In the vast majority of cases no one has been convicted or even charged. In recent years we have seen an increase both in the number of killings and in the number of countries in which they take place. Many killings are not even legally documented. It is this climate of pervasive impunity which normalises the killing of human rights defenders.
Who are human rights defenders ?
Human rights defenders are people, either individuals or members of a group, who work peacefully to defend the rights of others. They are key agents of social change working peacefully to create more just and equal societies in their own countries. This work is often seen by repressive governments, or other powerful interests, as a threat to the status quo. Their work is criminalised, and they themselves are the subject of smear campaigns in the media and are often the targets of threats, intimidation, arrest and killings.
The HRD Memorial
The HRD Memorial Project seeks to celebrate the lives and achievements of all the human rights defenders who have been killed since the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders came into effect in 1998. It is necessarily a work in progress and we welcome proposals to add cases. The HRD Memorial consists of two elements: a database of information on the human rights defenders who have been killed and any progress towards bringing the perpetrators to justice and a public web site with an individual profile page for each HRD that celebrates their lives and achievements.
Who is involved?
The HRD Memorial is a joint initiative by a network of national and international human rights organisations who are committed to working together to “Stop the Killings of HRDs”.
Currently, the Network includes: ACI-Participa, ACCUDEH, Amnesty International, Article 19, Brazil (representing the Brazilian Coalition for the Protection of HRDs), AWID, CALAS, CIVICUS, ESCR-Net, East and Horn of Africa Defend the Defenders Programme, FIDH, Forum Asia, Front Line Defenders, Global Witness, ILGA, KARAPATAN, Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM-Defensoras), OMCT, PBI, Protection International, RMP-NMR. Somos Defensores, UDEFEGUA, Urgent Action Fund.
The HRD Memorial Project Network is open to any organisation which shares the goal of the project – to end the killing of HRDs.
If your organisation would like to join the HRD Memorial Project Network email HRDmemorial@frontlinedefenders.org.
What is the goal?
The goal of the project is to keep the memory of HRDs who have been killed alive and to celebrate their courage and achievements. The HRD Memorial is a way of using the truth to confront those governments who think that HRDs are expendable people who can be eliminated without consequences. It is also a way of sending a message of solidarity and support to their family, friends and colleagues reminding them that they have not been forgotten. In addition, the project highlights the scale of the problem and will provide a basis for effective advocacy and campaigning to increase the political cost of killing a HRD to such an extent that governments, or their allies will think twice.
if your organisation would like to submit cases for inclusion in the HRD Memorial please contact HRDmemorial@frontlinedefenders.org.
The partners in the project have agreed a set of criteria in order to ensure that all cases included in the database are of human rights defenders killed because of their peaceful work defending the rights of others. All cases proposed for inclusion will be referred to a working group drawn from the members of the Network who will verify the case.