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The Esperanza Protocol


‘In 2016, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) launched the Esperanza Protocol.

This project hopes to provide a timely and effective solution in addressing threats faced by human rights defenders, journalists, and others tasked with preserving democracies and the full enjoyment of human rights across the world.

Historically and globally, threats against human rights defenders are used as a means of intimidation. However, threats are generally left uninvestigated and unpunished, inhibiting the work of defenders and threatening the stability of democratic institutions and enforcement of human rights. This absence of investigations and accountability promotes a state of impunity that feeds a never-ending cycle of violence.

While prevention and risk-reduction mechanisms exist, they are rarely effective for multiple reasons: they affect the protected HRD’s integrity; freedom of movement, and ability to work in group settings. They also do not address the root causes of risk, violence, and stigmatization, and thus, do not provide a sustainable solution.

Through the Esperanza Protocol, we expect States throughout the world to design policy measures for the protection of human rights defenders that incorporate the investigation of threats.

Beyond general standards of due diligence developed for the investigation of grave human rights violations, few concrete guidelines for the investigation of threats exist.

With the Esperanza Protocol, States will have a roadmap that establishes the individual and collective impact of threats on human rights defenders at risk.

Through its application, we expect the Protocol will buttress the development of national, regional, and international policies that include standards to fight against impunity by means of adequate legal standards and/or criminal policy measures to facilitate prosecution.

We also see the Protocol playing a role in the development of local protection mechanisms that are intersectionally and collaboratively conscious of culture, race and gender; and encourages States to develop prevention policies; measure compliance with their international obligations; and establish violations of international law, when appropriate.

Our goal is to guarantee that there is #Hope4Defenders across the globe.’

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