In 2021, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders published a report on cases of long-term detention of activists, which were estimated to number hundreds or thousands worldwide. This report confirms the terrible treatment and conditions many defenders bear in prison. However, while an objective of long-term detention may be to discourage defenders, many cases result in perennial campaigns and increased publicity for the defenders themselves.
How can governments, civil society and international mechanisms work together to keep the pressure on long-term detention cases? What strategies have proven successful in improving respect for defenders’ rights and physical integrity while imprisoned?