» The Project
The involvement of Catalan cities in the defense and promotion of human rights has a long history that has been developed both in actions for the local citizens and done internationally. In the first aspect, a good example is the “Xarxa de Ciutats i Pobles pels Drets Humans” promoted by the “Diputació de Barcelona” that has more than 147 municipalities who have joined the European Charter for the Safeguarding of Human Rights in the City. As for the defense and promotion of human rights globally, Catalan municipalities have an extensive experience ranging from political incidence (with the approval of motions on human rights issues) awareness (by organizing various activities denouncing human rights violations that occur in all regions of the world) and more specific actions (such as financing cooperation to development projects directly related to human rights or cooperation with programs of reception of human rights defenders on risk).
“Ciutats defensores dels drets humans” is a joint project between the City of Sant Boi de Llobregat, the “Comissió Catalana d’Ajuda al Refugiat”, the “Institut de Drets Humans de Catalunya” and the “Institut Català Internacional per la Pau! with the participation of other municipalities and other Catalan institutions that want to publicize the work of human rights defenders, helping to educate the citizens of the participating cities on the need to integrate human rights in our daily work. We need to organize the stay in Catalonia of a group of human rights defenders for a period of 7/10 days to organize a series of activities of different nature (conferences, meetings, institutional meetings, visits to schools …) which will be used to publicize the work of defenders and the importance of supporting them. the project also considers the organization of a conference on the subject of defenders and other supplementary activities.
Improve the knowledge, promotion, and defense of human rights among citizens of the participating cities.
- To publicize the work of different defenders of human rights, helping in this way their protection.
- To make visible the work of the participating municipalities as human rights defenders cities.
- Helping the exchange of experiences between defenders from around the world, identifying similarities and differences in their work.
- Make known the roots, situation and the effects of the conflict that are lived in the places of origin of the defenders.
» Institutional statement
Institutional statement of the “ciutats defensores dels Drets Humans” (DH)
Respect for human rights and the promotion of peace are duties that all public administrations must assume and that must be done at the global and local levels. The municipalities have a fundamental role in the promotion and guarantee of human rights and peace.
In solidarity and support with the human rights struggles that take place around the world, several Catalan cities have organized for the fifth consecutive year, with the support of civil society and public institutions, the “Ciutats Defensores dels Drets Humans” project.
The purpose of this project is to value the work of individual and collective human rights defenders that promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly as regards displaced or disabled persons and groups that in certain circumstances can be found in situations of special vulnerability, such as women, youth or people belonging to national, ethnic, religious, or linguistic minorities.
Many of these defenders endanger their lives and freedom by claiming and exercising rights that are universal: social rights and political participation that are ruthlessly trampled in their countries by the public authorities or with their acquiescence. In 2016, 281 people defending human rights were murdered in 25 countries, almost half of which defended the land and environmental and indigenous rights, according to Frontline Defenders. In addition to the risk of losing their lives, hundreds of human rights activists are criminalized to silence their struggles.
The risk is especially serious for women defending human rights, which are susceptible to greater abuse and aggression. For this reason, 8 of the 9 activists invited in the framework of the project are women who are leading the defense of rights to geographical contexts as diverse as North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Europe, South America and North America. The daily threats suffered by many of them make the support and solidarity of the towns and cities of Catalonia imperative.
This year, we are particularly pleased with the presence of Wafae Charaf in the group of defenders, with whom we have had solidarity in the two previous editions of the project because of being jailed for denouncing human rights violations in her country. We regret, on the other hand, that Victoire Ingabire, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, and Ilham Tohti are still jailed for the same reason, and that Omid Kokabee, despite being temporarily released for her health, has not been unconditionally discharged.
In this context:
- We adhere to the “Ciutats Defensores dels Drets Humans” project that will be held between September 25 and October 7, 2017.
- We vindicate the validity and full respect for the rights of people who defend human rights in the development of their work without risks or threats, particularly for women who require special protection.
- We also vindicate the full respect for the fundamental rights of people who are forced to flee their homes, with particular regard to the rights of women and children, at all stages from their departure from the country until their final settlement.
- We recall the situation of special vulnerability that certain minorities live and the helplessness they face in the violations of their rights.
- We urge the Government of the Generalitat and the Government of Spain to maintain and expand public policies in support of human rights defenders on an international scale and, in particular, to make efforts to achieve the release of Victoire Ingabire in Rwanda, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja in Bahrain, Ilham Tohti in China and the unconditional freedom of Omid Kokabee in Iran.
- We condemn the imposition of limitations on the activities of human rights defenders, who are incompatible with international human rights law, and their persecution by governments.
- We renew our commitment to human rights at the local level and we are committed to maintaining and intensifying local public policies in support of human rights defenders, both locally and internationally.