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  4. September 2006 - Volume 45
  5. Human Rights Defenders

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FOCUS September 2006 Volume 45

Human Rights Defenders


Defending the so-called "human rights defenders" was highlighted in the 1998 United Nations' declaration which provides that everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Unfortunately for a number of human rights defenders in Asia and the Pacific, they suffer restrictions in their work due to rules and regulations of States, illegal acts of private entities, and values, practices and traditions of society. Quite a number of them have been killed, and those responsible for their deaths have not been made accountable.

It is worth repeating that the same declaration recognizes the human rights defenders (be they individuals, groups, institutions and non-governmental organizations) for having "an important role to play and a responsibility in safeguarding democracy, promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms and contributing to the promotion and advancement of democratic societies, institutions and processes."

At ground level they help educate people about their rights, protect them as much as possible, and facilitate their realization despite restrictions. Human rights defenders can be ordinary people devoting their own little efforts to human rights.