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CSW pays tribute to human rights defenders

10 Dec 2018

CSW pays tribute to human rights defenders on International Human Rights Day today, the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 18 of the declaration enshrines a range of universal and interdependent human rights, including the right to freedom of religion of belief (FoRB).

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “As we celebrate 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we note that in countries across the world, human rights continue to be violated and the community of brave individuals who put their lives on the line to defend these rights for their fellow citizens are targeted with harassment and violence. We continue to call for fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom of religion or belief, to be upheld and promoted across the world, and for the international community to ensure that the safety of human rights defenders is guaranteed.”

International Human Rights Defenders Day on 9 December saw the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which was designed to protect those who stand up for human rights around the world, enshrining the importance and legitimacy of their work.

To mark Human Rights Day and International Human Rights Defenders Day, CSW has spent the past month interviewing human rights defenders (HRDs) across South Asia for a blog series entitled ‘FoRB on the Frontlines.’

In the series, HRDs including Nehemiah Christie, who advocates for FoRB in India, have described the challenges they face in their work, including harassment, threats and violent attack. Fatima Atif has described how being a woman and as HRD also makes her the target of sexist harassment, particularly online.

In the final post in the series, published today, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, writes:  “We must celebrate the 20th anniversary of the declaration [on HRDs] by showing appreciation for the HRDs across the world who work at the frontline in the defence of human rights. These brave HRDs, who work tirelessly for the protection of the sanctity of all people’s universally bestowed human rights, work at aid organisations, human rights institutions and elsewhere, or as individuals, in a fight for justice for the persecuted, and to empower the voices of those who are seldom heard.”

Read Michel Forst’s blog here.

Read CSW’s 'FoRB on the Frontlines' blog series here.

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We believe no one should suffer discrimination, harassment or persecution because of their beliefs