HRD Protection Hotline and Rapid Response Mechanism
Who is a human rights defender (HRD)?
“Human rights defender” can be anyone who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights by non-violent means. HRDs can be journalists, lawyers, members of human rights organizations or politicians who speak out against human rights abuses and promote human rights. They may be also friends and relatives of victims of human rights violations who have the courage to stand by their loved ones despite threats and intimidation.
The UN Declaration on human rights defenders, the “Declaration on the Rights and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” provides a framework for the protection of human rights defenders and their activities and also stipulates the obligations of the HRDs: to conduct peaceful activities and to accept the universality of human rights. The HRD Declaration legitimises human rights activism and recognises that individuals and groups are entitled to carry out human rights work without fear of reprisals.
What is the HRD Protection Hotline and where it is based
The SRMO is seeking to set up a 24-hour HRD Protection Hotline for urgent assistance to HRDs at risk in Afghanistan. The HRD protection Hotline will assist Afghan HRDs and women human rights defenders who have been subjected to serious intimidation or attacks because of their human rights work.
The Hotline will be located in Kabul, Afghanistan, but aims to serve cases from across Afghanistan. Subject to budget it may gradually expand to other provinces in future.
The Hotline intends to work with partner human rights organizations and civil society in Afghanistan to reach out to the most vulnerable HRDs working in the remote and insecure areas.
Who can use the HRD Protection Hotline?
The HRD protection Hotline will assist Afghan HRDs who have been subjected to serious intimidation or attack because of the human rights work they do in Afghanistan.
HRDs who have been targeted:
- as reprisal for their reporting or promotion of human rights;
to silence or prevent them from reporting/working on particular human rights issues;
for exposing human rights perpetrators;
WHRDs who have been targeted simply for their gender and for promoting women’s equality.
- As HRDs will be considered a wide range of actors, including professional HRDs, teachers promoting human rights and the rights of girls, gynecologists/doctors assisting women and girls victims of gender based violence, women’s shelter staff, policewomen/women politicians or other women active in the public life who have been attacked for promoting gender equality, journalists exposing human rights violations, or other individuals who engage in promoting or protecting human rights.
Cases of HRDs killed in criminal attacks, or accidentally in indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks (who have not been the target of the attack), will NOT be directly assisted by the Hotline.
How the HRD Protection Hotline can help HRDs at risk
Type of Protection Activities of the HRD Protection Hotline and Rapid Response Mechanism:
Urgent relocation/shelter for HRDs facing serious and imminent risk to their lives
- – Relocating HRDs internally;
- – Assessment will be made whether the family of the HRD is or could also be facing risk as a result of the HRD’s human rights work, and if necessary will be relocated with the HRD;
- – Period of relocation: depending on the case and seriousness of the threat. Cases will be re-assessed after 1 month.
Legal assistance to HRDs under threat or have been detained as result of their human rights work
- – Based on the assessment of the need, may hire a lawyer or if possible will refer the case to reliable other organization for providing legal assistance.
Financial or other assistance to HRDs or their families who have been attacked/killed as result of their human rights work (Depending on budget)
- -The amount, duration and type of assistance will be based on case by case assessment of the needs
Short-term trauma counseling activities
- -Many HRDs victims of attacks and intimidation are suffering from psychological trauma – based on the SRMO assessment, may cover the relevant fees and will refer to psychological counseling
Provide security assessment and risk mitigation arrangements to the affected HRDs
- – SRMO will conduct security surveillance of the office/workplace/home and risk assessment of the working methods/practice of the affected HRD and assist with preparing security plan to mitigate risks and/or provide temporary support to mitigate the potential imminent threats.
Work with the relevant Afghan authorities to provide assistance to particular cases
Advocacy on national and international level on strategic HRD at risk cases
Other preventative protection services SRMO can provide to HRDs at risk
In addition to the above activities to protect individual HRDs at imminent risk as result of their activities, the SRMO plans to carry out the following preventative protection activities aimed at mitigating current or potential risks to HRDs:
Set up an Early-Warning System
- SRMO will work with other partner organizations to identify potential security trends and risks to HRDs in the relevant areas and will provide risk mitigation advice in local languages and prepare security plans to the affected HRDs.
Need Assessments and Security Training Workshops for HRDs
- SRMO will provide vulnerable HRDs with security training to mitigate potential risks and create effective security plans.
Upon request, conduct regular security needs assessments and security surveillance of the office of vulnerable HRDs, and provide HRDs with relevant risk mitigation and security plans and arrangements.
Research and publications on the situations of HRDs in Afghanistan including recommendations for change to the relevant authorities.
- Working closely with the Afghanistan courts and the law enforcement agencies for better protection of HRDs and accountability for the cases of attack, intimidation and threats against HRDs in Afghanistan. Advocacy at national and international level for ensuring protection of HRDs and accountability for attacks against HRDs in Afghanistan.
For further safety services provided by SRMO to mitigate risks against HRDs and NGOs in Afghanistan, see SAFETY SERVICES