Nord Sud XXI is an NGO in special consultative status with the UN that was formed by senior statesman and women. The current President is Mr. Ahmed Ben Bella, the founding President of a free Algeria.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oral Statement to the African Commission: Human Rights Defenders

Oral Statement by Nord Sud XXI to the 45th Ordinary Session
of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
13 to 27 May 2009, Banjul, Gambia
Item 7(b)(iv): Human Rights Defenders

Human rights defenders are the backbone of the protection of human rights in Africa. Whether they
are in government, members of this august Commission, or individuals and NGOs working to
ensure that governments respect human rights, human rights defenders everywhere deserve respect
and protection.
The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders is the focal point for the Commission's
activities in favour of the protection of the human rights defenders who operate as members of civil
society. The individuals who fall under this mandate are often critics of their government's actions
and unfortunately require the protection of outside bodies, including regional international human
rights bodies like this Commission. For this reason, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights
Defenders has sometimes found it necessary to intervene with governments to ensure that the
human rights of human rights defenders are respected.
To facilitate the protective functions of the Special Rapporteur, including for the purpose of
providing her information that may led to quicker more effective action and for providing a
collective memory for her mandate that can be passed on to future mandate holders, we propose the
establishment of a database of human rights defenders. We fully realize that the establishment and
maintenance of such a database requires the utmost concern for the privacy of the individuals whose
data is therein included. We believe that this is a concern that with the establishment of proper
confidentiality procedure and rules can be satisfactorily dealt with.
We have provided a short summary of the project to the Special Rapporteur. We hope that with the
Special Rapporteur, the Commission will consider this proposal and make an in principle decision
on it so that, should the Commission wish to proceed, we can do our best to provide or secure any
support that might be necessary.

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