17, passage de la Main d’Or

75011 Paris


10 April 2020


Dear friends

At  a time when the  world is facing an  unprecedented crisis  with  an uncertain outcome, and when a large majority of us are confined in our homes for several weeks, I wanted to express my support for you and to remind you that the FIDH is more than ever, by your side.

We know that our situations, in relation to COVID-19, are deeply worrying. These are exacerbated in some countries more than in others, due to the limited state of their health infrastructure, medical, financial and human resources. We hold them closely, in solidarity.

During these difficult times, we, the member organisations of the FIDH, have a crucial  role  to  play  to  ensure  that  this  pandemic  and  the  resulting  measures taken by government, do not open a new door to violations of human rights and individual freedoms. We  have an even greater duty than usual, to be vigilant. The  standards  of  proportionality  and  non-discrimination  are  key  where extraordinary measures are taken  by States and the COVID-19 virus is used as justification for the suspension of the respect and protection of human rights.

In this regard, the International Secretariat has undertaken several actions to support our member organisations and to monitor  human rights violations:

1)  On  20  March  2020,   communication  was  sent  to  you  and  to  our  partners explaining  how  the  IS  will  continue  to  work  in  spite  of  our  colleagues  being confined to their homes,  working remotely and implementing the travel ban. We have  found  a  way  to  adapt  to  these  new  circumstances  in  order  to  continue implementing some of our activities.

2)  We  sent  the  following  political  statementsto  our  partners  and  media  to indicate our human rights approach to the COVID-19 and responses to it:

On 27 March 2020 – “Covid19 – Prioritising human rights and protecting the most vulnerable”

On 7 April 2020 – calling for the release of prisoners in detention centres

3)  Our  Observatory  team  has  continued  to  send  urgent  appeals to  protect human rights defenders. We have acted on several statements from our member organisations from all over the world. Please find a few examples of these below:

4)  On  8  April  2020,  we  launched  a  global  campaign (FIDH  +  86  member organisations) calling for the release of Human Rights Defenders.

5)  A  working  group has  been  set  up  within  the  International  Secretariat,  to closely  monitor  and document,  in connection  with  you  of  course,  violations  of human rights and individual freedoms. More information about this initiative will be sent to you in the coming days.

Finally and as  I undertook to do as President, the International Secretariat has established    a  Task  Force  to  reflect  on  strengthening  communication  and interaction with its member organisations (the engagement mechanism). Draft terms  of  reference  will  be  presented  to  the  next  International  Board  meeting. Summary Minutes from our first International Board (March 2020) will be sent to you soon.

Your organisations, and all those who work within them, are the raison d’être of the  FIDH.  I  know  that  together  we  will  be  able  to  continue  to  ensure  the protection of human rights, in spite of these challenging circumstances.

I wish you all, and you loved ones, the courage to face these difficult days. Please do take care of yourselves, your families and your colleagues.

Warm regards,

Alice Mogwe

FIDH President