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Contact the Special Rapporteur

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Contact the Special Rapporteur

Within his mandate, the Special Rapporteur has to examine individual cases of human rights violations committed against human rights defenders. For this purpose, any person can contact him to give information about a violation of human rights defender’s rights. Following are some of the key steps when submitting a complaint.


1. Defenders/relatives or NGOs send information to the Special Rapporteur 


Anyone can contact the Special Rapporteur to inform him about acts committed against human rights defenders in violation of their rights.


To this end, the source of the information (states authorities, NGOs, United Nation’s institutions, media or human rights defenders themselves) sends a letter to the Special Rapporteur 


2. The Special Rapporteur checks the information


Once the Special Rapporteur received information about a human rights violation, he proceeds to a number of verifications:


  • Does the information falls within his mandate?
  • Are the denounced violations plausible and credible?
  • Is the source of the information reliable?


3. The Special Rapporteur sends the information to the State


After these checks, the Special Rapporteur makes contact with the State where the alleged violation is thought to have occurred.


This can be done in two ways:

  • The urgent appeal

This is used for ongoing or violations that are about to occur

  • The allegation letter

This is used for violations that ar thought to have already occurred


4. The State receives the letter


The State is considered informed about the violation situation and in capacity to act about it.


Three outcomes are possible at this point:

  • The State has investigated the violation and sends a satisfactory and complete reply to the Special Rapporteur
  • The State responds that the investigation has been conducted but its reply remains general and not relevant
  • The State remains silent and gives no response to the Special Rapporteur


5. The Special Rapporteur organises the monitoring of the communication


After informing the States, the Special Rapporteur monitors the follow-up of his letter


6. The communication is published in the report


In his reports, the Special Rapporteur summarizes the communications (letters sends to the States and their replies) on defender’s rights violation he was informed about (the identity of the person who sent this information will always be strictly confidential).


Contact details:

  • The Special Rapporteur’s staff will acknowledge the receipt of a submission if this is requested. They can be contacted at any time for further discussion.

  • E-mail contact details: urgent-action@ohchr.org The text of the e-mail should refer to the human rights defenders mandate.

  • Fax: +41 22 917 9006 ( Geneva, Switzerland)

  • Telephone: +41 22 917 1234.   This is the number for the United Nations telephone operator in Geneva, Switzerland . Callers should ask to speak with staff at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights dealing with the special procedures of the Human Rights, and specifically with staff supporting the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders.

If you wish to read more about the complaints, you can visit OHCHR's website and/or write to urgent-action@ohchr.org or to defenders@ohchr.org.

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