Press Release

COMECE offers recommendations on EU Human Rights Defenders Guidelines 

The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) offers, on Tuesday 7 March 2023, some recommendations to the European Parliament in view of the upcoming debate and vote on the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. “It is crucial to strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights and environmental defenders.” Read the document

In close dialogue with human rights defenders in Latin America, the COMECE Secretariat has elaborated a working document ahead of next week’s debate and vote in the European Parliament on the Draft Report on the implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.

The document presents some concrete recommendations aiming at strengthening and promoting human rights and environmental defenders worldwide who – as stated by the Holy Father Pope Francis – “risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis”.

Based on grassroots experiences of affected communities in Latin America, the COMECE contribution calls on the European institutions to update the pertinent Guidelines and include the protection of new categories of human rights defenders, such as environmental activists and religious actors.

Among the recommendations, the COMECE document pleads for emergency support underpinned by a long-term policy, encompassing the provision of adequate psychological and medical accompaniment, so as to not only ensure the physical safety, but also the emotional well-being of threatened human rights defenders.

COMECE also encourages members of the European Parliament to promote a systematic engagement and consultation with human rights defenders in all processes concerning the Guidelines and their implementation.

Download the COMECE contribution