Guidelines for submitting allegations of violations against human rights defenders

A. Essential information   B. Useful information C. Sample letter to the SRSG 

1. Name of alleged victim/s

Take care to give first and family names and to spell names correctly. Victims can be individuals, groups or organizations.

 If the victim is an individual, please provide information on gender, age, nationality and profession. If the victim is an individual or an organization, please provide contact details. Contact details are treated as confidential. Ms. Aabb Ddee, a lawyer, lives in [name of city/town and country]. 

2. Status of the victim as a human rights defender

In what human rights activity is the victim (person/s, organization) engaged?

Where relevant, please also indicate the city and country in which the victim (person/s, organization) conducts this human rights work. Aabb Ddee takes up legal cases supporting the right to adequate housing on behalf of ethnic minorities. She is also a member of the National Commission for Human Rights. 

3. Alleged violation/s committed against the victim

What happened? Where? When? What is the current situation?

 If an initial violation leads to other events, please describe them chronologically. E.g. if the initial concern is that a human rights defender has been arrested, details should be provided. But if he or she is later detained, other useful information would include: the place of detention; the person’s access to a lawyer; conditions of detention; the charges; etc.

Aabb Ddee received an anonymous threat to her safety. On [day/month/year] Ms. Ddee received a letter at her office in [name of town]. The letter was addressed to her and contained only the words “Be careful”. In addition, the following day Ms. Ddee was followed closely while driving from her office by two men in a white car.


 4. Perpetrators

Give available information on who allegedly committed the violation: e.g. two men (in uniform?); rank, unit or other identification or title.


Were there any witnesses to the alleged violation? Were there any other victims?



Aabb Ddee was unable to identify the two men following her or their vehicle. A friend accompanying Ms. Ddee in her car also saw the vehicle following them. 

5. Action by authorities

Has the matter been reported to the relevant authorities? What action has been taken?

Action taken by the victim or by human rights organizations

Has the alleged violation been made public? Has this information been sent to others?

Aabb Ddee reported both incidents to the police [name/address of police office] the same days they occurred. The police have opened an investigation. She also reported the incidents to a local newspaper [name].

6. Link between the violation and human rights work

Why do you think the alleged violation is a response to the human rights work of the victim?

Previous incidents

If there have been previous incidents which are relevant, please give details.

A year ago [date], another lawyer representing the same ethnic group as Aabb Ddee received a threatening letter similar to Ms. Ddee’s and was  later [date] killed by unknown persons.

 7. Who is submitting this information?

Give name, contact details and professional role (if relevant).

Submissions may be made by organizations or individuals.  This letter is submitted by the National Commission for Human Rights, with which Aabb Ddee works. 


Please send any updated information you have as soon as possible. It is especially important to know if there has been any change in the situation of the victim. Updates might be given where: 1) additional information becomes known (e.g. the identity of the perpetrator of the violation); or 2) new events occur (e.g. the victim’s release from detention).

[two months later] We learned today [date] that the police investigation was closed yesterday. Two men have been arrested and detained on charges of sending a threatening letter to Aabb Ddee on [date] and of following her in their car when she left work the next day. The men are due to appear in court in two weeks. While pleased with the arrests,  Ms. Ddee believes that the person who ordered these acts to be committed remains at liberty. She has asked that the police investigation be continued.

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