Information on the Reprisal Procedure

The Chairs of the human rights treaty bodies endorsed the Guidelines against Intimidation or Reprisals (the San José Guidelines) (HRI/MC/2015/6) at their twenty-seventh meeting, held in San José from 22 to 26 June 2015.   The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW) reviewed the Guidelines noting their deep concern over allegations received by the treaty bodies of intimidation and reprisals against individuals and groups who seek to cooperate, are cooperating or have cooperated with the treaty bodies, and decided to endorse the Guidelines at their twenty-fourth session held in April 2016.  The Committee also decided to appoint a Rapporteur on reprisals, in accordance with the Guidelines.

Information received regarding allegations of appraisal is confidential.  The Rapporteur on reprisals is charged with reviewing and verifying the information received along with the secretariat and to undertake protection measures, which are considered on a case by case basis, always with the consent and agreement of the persons concerned and in line with the principle of “do no harm”.  Protection measures may include:

(a) Confidential and public actions, such as meeting with Government officials, and sending communications to States and other stakeholders;

(b) Raising the case with United Nations representatives in the field and at headquarters, including the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights in New York (UN system’s focal point on reprisals) and the High Commissioner for Human Rights;

(c) Raising the issue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and other relevant special procedures mandate holders of the Human Rights Council for sending of an urgent appeal or issuance of press release, or with respect to country visits;

(d) Raising the case with the Human Rights Treaty Bodies in OHCHR for matters relating to sessions of the Treaty Bodies (ICESCR, ICCPR, CAT, CERD, CEDAW, CRC, CMW, CRPD and CED) to be handled by the corresponding Treaty Body pursuant to the San Jose Guidelines and/or individual communications depending upon the treaty concerned, including the possibility of interim measures or urgent procedures in the case of CERD;

(e) Raising the matter to be included in the Secretary-General’s annual report on reprisals and for potential discussion in the Human Rights Council;

(f) Raising the case in public statements, press releases, reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, or during their interactive dialogues with these two bodies;

(g) Raising the case with the States concerned during their interactive dialogues with the human rights treaty bodies;

(h) Raising the case with UN Resident Coordinators, Heads of UN Missions and diplomatic missions of third States;1

(i) Raising the case with regional human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions, and NGOs working on the issue of protection of human rights defenders;

(j) Referral to United Nations Department of Safety and Security for situations on United Nations premises.

CMW Rapporteur/Focal Point for Reprisals

Ms. Myriam Poussi and Mr. Pablo César Garcia Saenz, Members of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

How to report an allegation of reprisal

A human rights defender and other individuals who are victims of acts of intimidation or reprisals for seeking to cooperate, cooperating or having cooperated with the Committee may make a complaint/application for protection measures in writing to the Rapporteur for Reprisals through the CMW secretariat at  In order to make an assessment of the allegation, the complaint/application for protection measures should provide the necessary details, including a description of the act(s) of intimidation or reprisals and the causal link of the activity which allegedly led to the act(s) of intimidation or reprisals.

Documentation relating to reprisals, by States parties

1/ Protection measures should be coordinated with Norway and EU (Presidency) for formal diplomatic measures, trial monitoring, physical protection and financial support. See Front Line Handbook for Human Rights Defenders – What Protection Can EU and Norwegian Diplomatic Missions Offer?
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Fact Sheet No.24
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Migration, human rights and governance - Handbook for Parliamentarians N° 24
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Situations of migrants in transit
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OHCHR’s recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders
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Behind Closed Doors - Protecting and promoting the human rights of migrant domestic workers in an irregular situation

Shining new light on the UN Migrant Workers Convention (Alan Desmond, 2018)

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