The Malian Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, the West African Human Rights Defenders Network, the International Service for Human Rights and Protection International welcome the adoption, on 4 January 2017, by the Malian Government of a draft law for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Defenders.
According to Mahamar Moctar, President of the Malian Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, ‘this draft law is the culmination of several months of advocacy by the Malian Coalition of Human Rights Defenders with the support of international and regional partners such as the International Service for Human Rights, the West African Human Rights Defenders Network and Protection International. We congratulate the Malian Government for its readiness to create an enabling environment for human rights defenders to carry out their mission of promoting and protecting human rights.’
Mali is a new addition to the list of countries in West Africa to initiate a process to create a legal framework for the protection of human rights defenders.
‘We are proud to see that, through the advocacy of civil society, more and more countries in West Africa are developing and passing laws to recognise and protect human rights defenders. We hope that other countries will follow the example of Mali and also that of Cote d’Ivoire, which adopted its law in 2014,’ said Mélanie Sonhaye Kombate, Program Director of the West African Human Rights Defenders Network.
The text of the draft law adopted by the Council of Ministers is not yet public, but the draft submitted to the Council of Ministers stipulates that a decree to be adopted by the Council of Ministers will fix the modalities of the implementation of this law.
‘It is important that any law for the protection of human rights defenders complies with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and establishes an effective protection mechanism. The latter should have the political support of the authorities and benefit from the resources necessary for its functioning,’ said Clément Voule, Director of the African Advocacy of the International Service for Human Rights.
In February 2016, 29 human rights experts from around the world endorsed a Model Law on the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders. ‘It is important that States use this model law as a basis for drafting their national laws protecting human rights defenders,’ Mr Voule added.
‘Success depends on the Government’s willingness to open spaces for civil society’s participation at all stages of the implementation of the protection mechanism. The Government must also provide the necessary means for its functioning so that it is able to respond quickly and adequately to the needs of defenders in the event of aggression, to create an enabling social and institutional environment for their work and to fight impunity of the perpetrators,’ said Liliana De Marco, Executive Director of Protection International.
The four organisations urge the Malian authorities to continue the process of enacting the law by ensuring that it is in line with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and other relevant instruments. They reiterate their availability to continue to support the Malian authorities in this process.
For more information please contact:
Mahamar Moctar, Malian Coalition of Human Rights Defenders
[email protected], +223 66 71 19 78
Mélanie SONHAYE KOMBATE, West African Human Rights Defenders Network
[email protected], +228 903 00 285
Clément VOULE, International Service for Human Rights
[email protected], +41 78 867 5250
Liliana DE MARCO, Protection International
[email protected], +32 2 609 4403
Photo: FlickR/European Parliament
 For more information on the content of the laws protecting human rights defenders, see the Model Law on the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders: https://www.ishr.ch/sites/default/files/documents/model_law_full_digital_updated_15june2016.pdf
This December, the International Service for Human Rights is fundraising to support defenders around the world with valuable skills and resources to achieve meaningful change.
On 21 November, ISHR celebrated the vital work of human rights defenders at a conference on 'The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Seventy-Five Years On: Achievements and Current Challenges.' A slightly shortened version of our speech is reproduced below.