Defending human rights

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1 April 2020

After two years of working as a researcher in the social field, I engaged about a year ago in the human rights field and specialized in human rights violations against Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of their difficulties and direct pressures.

            Advocating for human rights in Middle Eastern countries is a high-risk activity, where individuals who take this path may be target for government entities and security agencies and sometimes of private groups within the local community if they support a specific political party involved in the government.

            Defenders are exposed to numerous violations, starting from threats and/or harassment to security prosecution and/or arbitrary detention and/or threats of deportation. For this reason, many defenders (especially those who were effectively active in raising voices demanding public rights and freedoms), have been forced to leave the country seeking safety and protection in other countries. Therefore, we are witnessing a decrease in activity in this field due to fear and obstacles they encounter during their work; the least of which is the lack of freedom of opinion and expression.

            The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the United Nations in 1998, was a historic achievement for the need to protect human rights activity and considered the first tool of the United Nations recognizing the legitimacy of human rights defenders’ activity as well as their protection. As article 9 of the aforementioned Declaration states: “In the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the promotion and protection of human rights, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to benefit from an effective remedy and to be protected in the event of the violation of those rights.”

            However, despite all the treaties and conventions that enshrine the protection of human rights defenders in public and binding on states, the course to be undertaken in the field of human rights’ defense remains long ahead in most countries.

            The Access Center for Human Rights focuses on supporting human rights defenders and provide young adults with the space to engage in its team and have an influential and active role in human rights issues which ACHR works on.

Nabila AL-HAMWI – Senior Researcher

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