HRD Identity Card

Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Africa often face threats, harassment, and other restrictions upon their rights as recognised in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (1998). In this context, the main goal of AfricanDefenders (the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network) is to improve the safety and security of HRDs across the continent.

Increasing the profile of HRDs and demonstrating their connections with national and regional networks can, in certain circumstances, increase the ‘cost’ of attacking HRDs or violating their rights. In this light, the HRD Identity Card was conceived as a tool to assist African HRDs in reminding duty-bearers of their rights under international law, and to demonstrate that their human rights work is recognised and supported by the national, regional and international networks.

What the ID card is

  • A tool to improve the protection and effectiveness of human rights defenders in Africa, in conjunction with other security measures;
  • A reminder to duty-bearers of their obligations under international law to protect the rights of human rights defenders;
  • A reminder to duty-bearers that the HRD is known to international networks;
  • A resource containing emergency contact information;
  • A tool independently operated by the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network and its member networks.

What the ID card is not

  • It is not a replacement for an organisational ID card;
  • It may not be used to avoid responsibility for criminal conduct;
  • It is not an exclusive recognition of an individual’s status as a human rights defender;
  • It is not issued by any intergovernmental body.

How you should use the ID Card

In interactions with authorities, you may produce your Defender ID card to demonstrate your recognised history of human rights work and your known connection to international human rights networks, if you feel that such an action would protect yourself from violation of your rights. Card-holders should use their judgement to decide when to use the card, and when it would be unhelpful.

How to apply?

To request a Defender ID Card please send the following documents to [email protected]:

  1. A recommendation from a steering committee member of AfricanDefenders, sub-regional networks, national coalitions or any other operating partners with relation to the defender and indicating that the applicant:
    1. Is known by the recommending partner as a human rights defender;
    2. Does not use violence or support violent movements;
    3. Is not known to engage in criminal activity with the exception of non-violent civil disobedience.
  2. A completed application form;
  3. A signed copy of the Defender ID Agreement, recognising principles of personal responsibility,  integrity, non-violence, non-discrimination, and respect of the rule of law.