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APF launches HRDs Working Group to protect rights defenders in the Asia Pacific

Graphic: Participants of the HRDs Working Group meeting

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Asia Pacific Forum LogoAsia Pacific Forum

The APF held the first meeting of its newly formed Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) Working Group on 8 May, bringing together representatives from the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) of Fiji, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, Oman, Philippines, and Qatar.

The HRDs Working Group was established to provide strategic guidance and leadership in implementing the APF Regional Action Plan on HRDs. The Plan, adopted in 2021, outlines the actions that the APF and its members will undertake by 2025 to strengthen the rights of HRDs in the Asia Pacific.

HRDs increasingly face challenges to their security, well-being, and freedom to address rights violations. The shrinking civic space and decline in democratic values in the region also impacts on the ability of defenders to work safely. To tackle these issues, advocacy, strategic partnerships, and collaboration between NHRIs and other stakeholders is crucial.

The Regional Action Plan also fulfills a significant commitment made by the APF and its members under the 2018 Marrakesh Declaration, which focuses on expanding civic space and promoting and protecting HRDs with an emphasis on women and the role of NHRIs.

During the meeting, Working Group participants provided inputs to a baseline study that examines the challenges and opportunities faced by APF members in implementing the Regional Action Plan, and discussed next steps forward.

The Working Group will provide guidance to ensure the Plan's implementation, and will monitor progress, review indicators, and make recommendations to the APF Forum Council and General Assembly on the rights of HRDs in the region. 

A comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework will also track the Plan’s progress and will include regular public reports.

The HRDs Working Group serves as a platform for collaboration among NHRIs within the APF membership and the wider Asia Pacific region. It facilitates the sharing of experiences in national protection and promotion activities, as well as the development of skills and systems. 

The APF welcomes the seven members of the Working Group, who bring valuable experience and unique perspectives that will contribute to the better promotion and protection of the work of HRDs in the region.

For more information on the HRDs Working Group, please contact Fia Hamid-Walker, Human Rights Defenders Project Manager at: fiahamid-walker@asiapacificforum.net

Date: 17 May 2023

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Funded by the European Union

Image credits

  1. Participants of the HRDs Working Group meeting - APF
  2. EU logo - European Union