LAW AND THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS: AN ANALYSIS OF THE INTERNATIONAL, INTER-AMERICAN, AND BRAZILIAN LEGAL FRAMEWORKS FOR THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
Human rights defenders play a crucial role in strengthening democracy and bringing about human rights change. As they challenge dominant groups that control the economic and political powers, human rights defenders are frequently victims of state and non-state violence and, consequently, they are in constant need of effective protection. However, what do international, regional and Brazilian law say about the protection of human rights defenders? To whom belongs the obligation to protect human rights defenders exactly? While considering the interplay of international law, politics and national law in the protection of human rights defenders who are fighting for democracy, human rights and social justice locally, regionally and globally, this paper conducts an analysis of the legal frameworks for the protection of human rights defenders at the level of United Nations (UN) and Organisation of American State (OEA) human rights systems as well as Brazilian jurisdiction. It does so in order to argue that the Brazilian State has an obligation to protect human rights defenders and must adopt robust means of doing this, embracing their work as opportunity rather than a threat in building up a democratic society, as well as that there is a series of rights that are crucial for human rights defenders to be able to conduct their activities. The final section presents a brief conclusion in which this paper’s discussions are recapitulated.
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