Παρασκευή, 17 Νοεμβρίου 2017

THE HELLENIC ACTION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - "PLEIADES" CALL FOR A PRESS CONFERENCE ON A "PROPOSAL FOR A MODEL LAW FOR THE RECOGNITION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS"


"PLEIADES" CALL FOR A PRESS CONFERENCE ON MONDAY 20/11, 3-6 PM, AT THE Athens Bar Association - ABA[1] (3rd floor)

Given the risk lawyers often encounter in the exercise of our vocation, especially the most active among us, and the recent incidents of the assassination of Lawyer Michalis Zafeiropoulos in his office and the attack on Eugenia Kouniaki from members of the G.D.[2], as well as the previous global outcry for the victimization - treatment of lawyers and male or female defenders of human rights active in Greece, the expression of concern from a host of institutions, actors and organizations like the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), CCBE, Amnesty International, the European Parliament, and, autonomously, a number of lawyers' associations in the European and other continents, "Pleiades" NGO (Hellenic Action for Human Rights), following its actions to raise awareness about human rights advocates, presents a model law on the protection that the Greek State "owes", for decades, at the level of declarations it has adhered to as a country, seeking their adoption at the level of legislation so that human rights advocates (lawyers, journalists, activists, etc.) can be autonomously acknowledged as a group worthy of protection and protected as effectively as possible.
In this context, we invite you to the press conference we are holding on Monday, November 20, 2017, from 3 am to 6 pm, in the Room on the third floor of the ABA, in which we will announce and discuss the Proposal ("MODEL LAW FOR THE RECOGNITION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS"), which will be posted at the same time on-line, in order to open the public as well as the institutional dialogue on this burning issue.
The Draft Law aims to guide and help the state and other actors to ensure the full and effective implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Worldwide Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms" and the UN Principles on the Role of Lawyers (Havana, Cuba, 1990). It aims to act as a guide to helping legislators and advocates develop legislation on the acknowledgment and protection of human rights defenders and as a tool of accountability and reference for contributing to the development and review of such laws and policies.
Legal recognition and protection of HRDs is of vital importance to ensure that they can work in a safe and supportive environment, free from attacks, reprisals and unreasonable constraints. Legal recognition and protection of defenders also contributes to the wider objectives of defending human rights and promoting democracy, good governance, sustainable development and respect for the Rule of Law.
Human rights defenders, and especially Lawyers, serve and pursue the interests of rights holders, victims of violations and society as a whole. States have the primary responsibility to ensure that HRDs are able to freely exercise their work in a safe and favorable environment.
The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the "Principles on the Role of Lawyers" adopted by the UN (Havana, 1990) have been drafted to assist Member States in their work to promote and safeguard the role of Defenders, including Lawyers, and must be respected and taken into account by Democratic Governments in the context of national Law and practice.
In the proposal for a legislative initiative on Human Rights Defenders and, first of all, Lawyers seek de facto national legal recognition of the rights granted to them on the level of soft law, as well as the suitable to treaties and special status protection, with brief and consequently full consultation and adoption of specific legislation.
It is now imperative to develop, enact and implement every national law on the protection of human rights advocates in close consultation with defenders and other civil society actors, including gender perspective and sensitivity to particular situation and the need to protect women's human rights defenders and other groups or categories of defenders most exposed or at risk.
It is also imperative that awareness is raised, in that every law for the protection of human rights defenders enjoys a high-level political character, and must act as a 'National Mechanism' of Protection and Prevention, being accompanied by sufficient resources for its full and effective implementation.
The choice of the ABA. for the announcement of the proposal is semantically significant as professional associations of Lawyers have a vital role to play in protecting defenders from persecution, harassment and unfair restrictions so that they can perform their duties unhindered, promoting the aims of Justice and safeguarding the Rule of Law.
We believe that the ABA is of crucial importance for the implementation of such a level of protection in our country.
At the same time, we have the certainty that the issue of protecting ourselves as effectively as possible and addressing the threats of any kind that accompany the exercise of our function is not disconnected from our choice of the persons who will lead our professional association by collectively claiming support of our interests but, on the contrary, it is crucial, even at the level of pre-election commitments of the candidates who may determine the choices of many of us.
Hence this specific initiative addressed not only journalists, but also candidates for appointment to the ABA to take a stance and announce possible commitments related to the prospect of their election (a week after the Press Conference).

NB1: during the formulation of the proposal, a " Law Model " or "Model Law" (for the incorporation into national legal order of the UN Declaration on the Protection of Human RI) adopted by 27 high-level experts, was developed by the International Agency for Human Rights and included, inter alia, comparative legal research identifying both good practices and restrictive practices in the recognition and protection of defenders covering almost 40 national jurisdictions, interpersonal consultations with more than 500 human rights defenders from more than 110 countries, monitoring and review of comparative literature, extensive engagement of high-level human rights experts and a multitude of specialist lawyers.
The Hellenic Action for Human Rights - Pleiades' volunteer team translated the Model Law on the UN Declaration for the Protection of HRDs (in a 88 page text, with comments) and moreover transformed some of the UN's Basic Principles into a concrete proposal for legislation that will protect Lawyers in particular.
NB2: The initiative is supported, inter alia, by the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger (O.I.A.D.), the International Association for People's Lawyers (IAPL) and the Paris Bar Association, while further support for the project at national and European level is expected and invited.
NB3: The Centre for Social Work of the University of Essex also supports this initiative. 
Let's not forget that, often, social workers who support marginalized communities and participate in movements for and field work on the realization of human rights, are targeted, harassed, victimized -exactly because of such work, and they therefore fall into the definition of HRDs, given by the UN.

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