EU Protect Defenders: Joint civil society statement calls for changes to EU visa framework

7 September 2022 |

Araminta joined over 50 international NGOs in signing a  joint statement initiated by, which calls on all European Union institutions and Member States to enact concrete initiatives, establish good practices, and support policy changes to ensure that at-risk human rights defenders can obtain EU visas securely and predictably.

As the international HRD community has long advocated, visas are widely regarded as a crucial element of a comprehensive security strategy for at-risk HRDs. However, HRDs from around the world currently lack consistent procedures to effectively and predictably request EU visas. This makes it difficult for HRDs both to access a safe haven or opt for a “cooling-off period,” and also prevents them from engaging in opportunities for rest and respite, temporary relocation programmes, or international advocacy, mobilisation, or networking activities in EU territory. The current situation renders at-risk HRDs as well as their family members more isolated and vulnerable.

The joint statement  calls for the creation and implementation of a special, accelerated visa process for HRDs in the EU, which would provide the opportunity to receive multiple-entry, long-stay visas allowing HRDs to better manage their protection needs.

Under the proposed accelerated process, EU embassies abroad, rather than third-party agencies, should process visa applications, with specially designated HRD contacts, as well as local and international NGOs, assisting in various ways with visa processing. Member States should engage their national human rights institutions and local civil society in implementing the new visa application process for HRDs. In addition, EU stakeholders should immediately update the EU Visa Handbook to include instructions on granting facilitations to HRDs and their family members, work towards amending the legal instruments on visas, particularly the Visa Code, and introduce amendments to the Temporary Protection Directive that would allow at-risk HRDs to receive temporary protection status in the EU.

Read more:

Joint Statement Text

EU Protect Defenders graphic on HRD visas: