As soon as I took up this mandate as Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in May last year, I committed to making defenders working against corruption one of my key priorities.
I know from many years of working with HRDs all over the world how corruption damages lives, and how corruption threatens the work of HRDs.
I know that not everyone immediately sees corruption as a human rights issue, but corruption clearly undermines the realisation and enjoyment of human rights, as well as the functioning of public institutions and the rule of law.
Put more simply, corruption often prevents the enjoyment of human rights, and those working peacefully against corruption are Human Rights Defenders. Corruption also hurts HRDs even if it’s not an issue they work on directly.
Over the last year and a half I’ve heard directly for many HRDs working against corruption, often in very dangerous contexts. The issue comes up again and again in my conversations with HRDs, whether anti-corruption work is the main focus of what they do, or only a smaller part.
We know that Environmental Human Rights Defenders exposing corruption in mega business projects are often at real risk of physical attack, and that Women Human Rights Defenders working against corruption are attacked not only for what they do but for who they are. For some HRDs, corruption is a relatively new issue to work on, and has surfaced since last year in the context of the Covid pandemic.
My next report, focusing on difficulties and successes of anti-corruption HRDs, will also recommend to governments what they can do to protect and encourage their work. In the next few weeks, governments, businesses and civil society will be responding to a set of questions I’ve asked about anti-corruption HRDs to help me prepare the report.
For instance, I’m asking governments to provide details of attacks on HRDs, and what they’ve done to bring those responsible to account. I’m also asking them what they’ve done to publicise and celebrate the work of HRDs working against corruption in their country.
I’m asking HRDs and those in civil society for examples of good practices that have been effective in protecting HRDs working on anti-corruption, and what more their government could do to protect HRDs working on these issues.
A full list of questions for Governments, businesses, National Human Rights Institutes and civil society is available at the link below.
I’m asking you to help me with this – to share these questions and to answer them yourselves if you are one of these audiences.