One of our main missions has been defending human rights defenders, including indigenous leaders, women defenders, defenders of the land, as well as those that fight repression, torture, and enforced disappearance, among others. We have worked to protect and expand the capacities of our colleagues, so that they can continue defending the rights of others. CEJIL has represented human rights defenders in order to obtain precautionary and provisional measures (protection measures granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Inter-American Court) on their behalf.
Our efforts have not only achieved strong measures of physical protection, but also political measures to promote and protect the right to defend rights, and ensure our colleagues are able to work. We have also taken actions to ensure that States effectively and adequately investigate the structural causes of violence against human rights defenders in order to prevent future attacks.
CEJIL has a long record of work on the development of standards, processes, and mechanisms to investigate attacks against defenders. For example, in 2009, thanks to our strategic litigation, the IACHR ordered Colombian authorities for the first time to hand over illegally collected information by the country’s intelligence agencies on human rights defenders. More recently, on May 4, 2018, the Public Prosecutor of Guatemala approved a protocol to investigate crimes against human rights defenders, following an advocacy project started together with UDEFEGUA in 2014.
Additionally, we have promoted innovative strategies, such as the creation of the GAIPE, a group of independent experts mandated with the investigation of the murder of our colleague Berta Cáceres. On a broader international scale, we are leading a project to create the La Esperanza Protocol, an international protocol for the effective investigation of threats against human rights defenders, journalists and other persons linked to public interest. This international protocol will in turn promote effective national policies that expand the working capacity of human rights defenders.