In January 2017, the High Commissioner released a draft addressing the needs of human and migrant rights defenders. The draft, Principles and Practical Guidance on Respecting the Human Rights of Migrants in Vulnerable Situations, is tabled in section 34 of the Human Rights Council.

Principle 18 of the draft demands states to respect all organizations working to provide assistance to migrants. In summary, principle 18 emphasizes that the state should not criminalize the legitimate work of human and migrant rights defenders through laws and policies.

They are instead required to protect and publicly support these groups. Additionally, the principle holds governments and stakeholders accountable for any case of violence, intimidation or discrimination faced by migrant defenders.

The above draft comes in the midst of rapid increase of attacks towards human rights defenders and the civil society. While the world experiences unprecedented influx of migrants, there is a new sense of urgency to provide these vulnerable groups with support and assistance.

Human rights and civil society groups play a significant role of upholding migrant rights while offering assistance to them.

They work to confront power, inequality, exclusion and privilege. Governments are obliged to protect migrants’ universal rights by collaborating with human rights defenders to ensure that these minority groups are safe.

However, numerous states have demonstrated unwillingness to support human rights groups and other civil societies. They are instead adopting policies and laws to restrict their operations.

According to reports by OHCHR, human rights advocates in France were barred from contacting their clients during the migrant settlement. Michel Forst posited that in Australia, lawyers and human rights defenders offering their service to refugees and asylum seekers operate in a chilled environment owing to stigmatization, retaliation and vilification. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase and Jim Larkin |

While addressing the UN Human Rights Council, ISHR noted that restrictive measures was barring human rights defenders in Serbia to access the facility housing unaccompanied migrant children. In Mexico, the groups working to support migrants in transit have constantly faced threat from criminals who rape, extort and kill.

In Hungary, activists have accused the government for failing to protect migrants and their defenders who experience excessive force during peaceful demonstrations. Sarah M. Brooks, a leader at ISHR, said that challenging immigration practices that violate human rights was not an easy task. She urged the international community to rise to the occasion and ensure that these defenders and the civil societies operate freely.

About Lacey & Larkin

Lacey & Larkin, a non-profit organization, is among the groups that are supporting the good work of human and migrant rights defenders and the civil society. Based in Arizona, Lacey & Larkin support groups that seek to promote civil, human and migrant rights, including the freedom of expression and association.

Lacey & Larkin was founded by prominent journalists Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, who are based in Arizona. The two are credited for founding Phoenix New Times and the Village Voice Media.

Michael and Jim raised $3.75 million after being wrongfully arrested by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. They have repeatedly exposed the Sheriff’s misuse of power and other ill deeds.