Best PracticesPart of the work we do at PI is to promote national legislation and public policies for the protection of HRDs. We believe that taking the necessary measures to guarantee appropriate protection of HRDs is the responsibility of the executive and the judiciary. We understand national protection mechanisms as public policies designed to improve the protection of HRDs in countries where they are attacked as a consequence of their work. These mechanisms are created by governmental policies and pieces of legislation and run by official bodies (i.e. recently created or ad-hoc bodies, or newly created functions attached to pre-existing bodies, like the Office of the Ombudsman).

Why is it necessary for the state to create specific mechanisms (laws, offices, policies) dedicated to the protection of defenders? Would it not be enough to make sure the existing institutions (the legal system and the security forces) fulfill their obligations and guarantee protection? Because mechanisms made available to HRDs generally have very limited power for implementation, in a legal sense as well as in a practical one, since these bodies lack the necessary resources and are unable to either launch an investigation or to wield any political power to guarantee appropriate protection for defenders. Although we admit the potential weaknesses of such legislation and mechanisms, we also feel that they can open a door to an improvement in protection, be it by making it easier to access otherwise inaccessible places, or by providing immediate support that can solve serious protection issues, at least in the short-term.

As part of our commitment to promoting national legislation and mechanisms for the protection of HRDs, we have undertaken research work and systematization of best practices and lessons learn. On this basis we have published a handbook titled “Protection of human rights defenders: best practices and lessons learnt”. It is a symbol of our work in many aspects, a compilation of the effective work carried out by defenders in many countries, with whom we collaborate directly in many cases through our Protection Desks.
In addition to this we have been working in a training and advisory capacity for different defenders´ organizations, United Nations and Government officials on this topic.
To the same end, we have created another tool: Focus, a Global Observatory for Public Policies on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.