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Session 10

Civil Society Organizations as Defenders of Migrant Justice: Repression, Persecution & Criminalization

The situation of people and organizations that defend human rights and their struggle to be safe in an ever more hostile political and social environment.


Many people and organizations have had to leave their countries because of the defense work that they carry out. Moreover, an excessive fiscal control strategy has been seen against civil organizations. On the other hand, the rise of fundamentalist religious parties and conservative leaderships has polarized the defense of human rights. This has led to more persecution and stigmatization of the human rights defenders’ work in the countries with democratic setbacks. Lastly, political xenophobia is turning into institutional xenophobia, which further aggravates the situation of human rights defenders and vulnerable groups fighting for their rights.


In this context, human rights defenders have to be prepared in terms of security and self-care protocols, as they are more exposed when they provide support and the work environment is complex. The State and society do not react as they should to protect them.


The proposed action points are: the importance of documenting and systematizing work in communities, promoting broad dialogues, and looking inside organizations with a critical eye, including reciprocity, self-criticism, and collective care. Participants also stressed the importance of working at a local level and strengthening security mechanisms for defenders. As for coordination with philanthropy, participants highlighted the need for funders’ agendas to be aligned with organizations and not the other way around. Participants underlined the importance of not quitting, contributing, and pushing for the construction of common agendas and joint advocacy work. They emphasized the importance of flexible, trust-based, sustainable, broad grants. Generally speaking, these recommendations point at a collaborative, critical, committed approach to address complex social issues.

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