Annual Report 2022
Human rights defenders
human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in 36 countries
defenders at risk in 55 countries
NGOs at risk in 55 countries
In 2022, the right to defend human rights has remained under attack from all sides. Violence against human rights defenders has increased every year for over a decade, and is now systematic.
Those who speak out, promote, protect, and defend our rights are regularly intimidated, harassed, persecuted, arbitrarily detained, convicted of baseless offences, tortured, and many are even killed.
Surveillance technologies are used to infiltrate their networks, threaten, manipulate, and dissuade them from carrying out their activities. These pressures are exacerbated by restrictions on their access to funding, further weakening civil society. Together, these attacks negatively affect human rights defenders’ work and seriously impact their physical and psychological wellbeing.
Rising crises globally, including in Syria, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Belarus, Ukraine and Nicaragua, have often forced defenders into exile. As a result, dissent is silenced, impunity prevails, and these countries and regions are further destabilized.
Yet, human rights defenders continue their work in many countries. In 2022, they have shown incredible resilience and determination. The OMCT keeps supporting them and strengthening its protection and promotion of the right to defend.
Solidarity mission to support human rights defender Kenia Hernandez in Mexico
In May, the OMCT coordinated two joint letters to the Mexican authorities requesting the immediate release of human rights defender Kenia Hernández, who is arbitrarily detained. We also called for the permission to visit her in the prison where she has been held since October 2020, without access to her family or a lawyer. Kenia Hernández is a lawyer, feminist, defender of the Amuzga indigenous people and member of the Movement for the Freedom of Political Prisoners. She is being criminalized for her human rights work. To date, she has been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison in two of the nine fabricated criminal cases for which she is charged. Through their sustained advocacy work, the OMCT and eleven other human rights groups managed to visit Kenia Hernández in prison in October. The mission documented the human rights violations perpetrated against her in detention. Our findings were compiled in a report published in November.
Psychosocial support: a guidebook for human rights defenders
The psychological well-being of human rights defenders is essential to the sustainability of the human rights movement. This is why the OMCT published a guidebook on self-care and psychosocial support for human rights defenders at risk. Based on experience from across the OMCT Network, the guidebook identifies effective tools and approaches for resilience, taking into account the specificity of each country and individual contexts. In 2023, the OMCT will use it to reinforce the capacities of partners it is working with worldwide.
urgent interventions published
defenders from 12 countries highlighted in social media campaigns
defenders benefitted from financial support in 27 countries
Release of three defenders from the Democratic Republic of Congo
In August, the OMCT granted legal and social support to Serge Mikindo Wasso, Claude Lwaboshi Buhazi and Faustin Ombeni Tulinabo, three human rights defenders from the DRC (North Kivu), resulting in their release a month later. The three members of the grassroots movement Jicho La Raiya had been sentenced to two years in prison for organising a peaceful sit-in in February.
Through its Network member the Alliance pour l’universalité des droits fondamentaux (AUDF), the OMCT provided legal support to the defenders in the appeal of their conviction. We also provided them with food and basic necessity as well as social assistance for their families. On 30 September, the North Kivu Court of Appeal acquitted the three men, who were released immediately.