Archive for the 'human rights' Category

Norwegian Human Rights Fund publishes its theory of change

May 20, 2020

Perhaps the home-bound period of the pandemic is a good time to reflect more deeply on the way we work. The Norwegain Human Rights Fund has done this [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/07/29/nhrf-seeks-a-theory-of-change-consultant/] and now reports the first result:

The development of the theory of changewas a participatory process involving the NHRF Secretariat, its Board, NHRF local consultants, and a selection of grantee partners. It is a living document that represents our theory of how change is created and driven forward. It articulates expected outcomes and their preconditions that, together, form pathways of change that lead to the overall goal. We understand these processes to be non-linear, interconnected, interdependent, mutually reinforcing, and occurring simultaneously or separately. The theory of change will guide our work as a partner and grantmaker by informing the support we provide to human rights work to achieve the defined outcomes and overall goal. It is one of the key elements used in our monitoring, evaluation, and learning processes. We will regularly review and refine the theory of change as we assess if our interventions are bringing about change and if the pathways of change are accurate and realistic.

Download our Theory of Change

https://nhrf.no/what-we-are/theory-of-change

Mural of human rights defenders Vitaly Safarov, Greta Thunberg and Berta Cáceres unveiled at Hague university

May 19, 2020

A portrait of late human rights defender and multiculturalism activist Vitali Safarov was created as part of the mural by artists Karski & Beyond. Photo via Hague University of Applied Sciences.
On 15 May 2020 Agenda.ge reported that a mural portrait of Vitali Safarov, the Jewish-Georgian human rights defender and activist killed in Tbilisi in 2018, now adorns a facade of the Hague University of Applied Sciences alongside faces of student climate movement figure Greta Thunberg and assassinated Honduran indigenous activist Berta Cáceres. Re Safarov see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/04/22/vitos-trial-in-georgia-opens-crucial-to-challenge-raising-hate-crimes/. The 25-year-old can be seen on the large work by artist duo Karski & Beyond, painted on an outside wall of the university after the project originated at one of their sessions involving students. Thunberg, a teenage climate activist who has become widely acknowledged for inspiring school student strikes on climate change [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/09/17/greta-thunberg-receives-amnestys-ambassador-of-conscience-award/], and Cáceres, an indigenous leader on environmental concerns who was killed in 2016 [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/berta-caceres/], are the other two personalities seen in the artwork.

Started in an initiative by Justice & Peace Netherlands to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the declaration of universal human rights, the creative project pays tribute to the activists for their commitment to “climate, freedom and equality”, the university said.

The mural] is a tribute to three people who show that it is really possible to make a difference”Hague University of Applied Sciences

https://agenda.ge/en/news/2020/1530

Recent events make that May 20 elections in Burundi should be postponed

May 18, 2020

IDN-InDepthNews

It is a matter of extreme urgency that Burundi’s presidential, legislative, and local elections, scheduled for May 20, be postponed. Admittedly, it’s the eleventh hour, but the contagion of violence, and the viral contagion of COVID-19, make rescheduling imperative. Three events of the past several days make an incontrovertible  argument:

  • On May 14, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Burundi—investigating alleged crimes against humanity committed by Burundian government forces since September 2016  —released an urgent statement in light of the “numerous acts of violence and human rights violations” occurring during the election campaign. The Commission made clear that accelerating violence and the “shrinking of democratic space” put the electoral process at serious risk.
  • On May 13, the Burundian government expelled the World Health Organization (WHO) team just as the pandemic inexorably spreads in Burundi. The government has done little to address the COVID-19 crisis. Massive campaign events are being held—making a mockery of physical distancing — in blatant defiance of WHO recommendations. And now the government, in a spasm of defensive irrationality, declares the WHO persona non grata.
  • And, on May 8, the Burundian government informed the East African Community that election monitors would be required to quarantine for 14 days, effectively preventing them from entering Burundi before the May 20 vote. The election will thus be held without any international monitoring to ensure that the vote is free and fair.

Pierre Nkurunziza, granted the title of “Supreme Guide of Patriotism,” heads an authoritarian regime. Nkurunziza, who is not standing for re-election, has chosen as his successor a man who is complicit in the alleged crimes against humanity now being investigated by the UN’s COI and the International Criminal Court. His name is Evariste Ndayishimiye, a retired army general who has served as minister of the interior and security. “Do not be afraid,” General Ndayishimiye said of COVID-19 during the campaign. “God loves Burundi, and if there are people who have tested positive, it is so that God may manifest his power in Burundi.”

New reports from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International amply testify that the crisis in Burundi has been worsening as the election nears. Government forces are launching attacks against real and perceived regime opponents. The few remaining independent media outlets are being threatened and harassed. Human rights defenders have either fled the country or been intimidated into silence…………..

[see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/burundi/]

 

https://www.indepthnews.net/index.php/the-world/africa/3544-burundi-threatens-to-deal-a-severe-blow-to-un-reputation

 

Brian Dooley to advice Mary Lawlor

May 13, 2020

Further to the announcement of Mary Lawlor as Special Rapporteur on HRDs [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/07/mary-lawlor-takes-up-post-as-un-special-rapporteur-for-human-rights-defenders/]. Human Rights First on 12 May 2020 proudly announced that Brian Dooley, its senior advisor on human rights movements and the risk of persecution and reprisal they face, will also serve as an advisor to Mary Lawlor. Dooley will advise the special rapporteur on a range of issues facing human rights defenders while continuing his work at Human Rights First.

We are incredibly proud Brian was chosen for such a distinguished and important role,” said Mike Breen, president and CEO of Human Rights First. “Brian has been critical to the success of numerous campaigns to support human rights defenders in Bahrain, Egypt and Hong Kong over the last ten years. He will be an asset to the UN Special Rapporteur’s team and his work will undoubtedly increase the visibility of the threats that human rights defenders face, and hopefully, lead to better protections for those doing the vital work of advancing human rights.”  For some of my older posts referring to Brian Dooley: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/brian-dooley/.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_J._Dooley

Tawakkol Karman on Facebook’s Oversight Board doesn’t please Saudis

May 13, 2020

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Yemeni Tawakkol Karman (AFP)

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Yemeni Tawakkol Karman (AFP)

On 10 May 2020 AlBawaba reported that Facebook had appointed Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman as a member of its newly-launched Oversight Board, an independent committee which will have the final say in whether Facebook and Instagram should allow or remove specific content. [ see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/04/11/algorithms-designed-to-suppress-isis-content-may-also-suppress-evidence-of-human-rights-violations/]

Karman, a human rights activist, journalist and politician, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her role in Yemen’s Arab Spring uprising. Her appointment to the Facebook body has led to sharp reaction in the Saudi social media. She said that she has been subjected to a campaign of online harassment by Saudi media ever since she was appointed to Facebook’s Oversight Board. In a Twitter post on Monday she said, “I am subjected to widespread bullying & a smear campaign by #Saudi media & its allies.” Karman referred to the 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi indicating fears that she could be the target of physical violence.

Tawakkol Karman @TawakkolKarman

I am subjected to widespread bullying&a smear campaign by ’s media&its allies. What is more important now is to be safe from the saw used to cut ’s body into pieces.I am in my way to &I consider this as a report to the international public opinion.

However, previous Saudi Twitter campaigns have been proven by social media analysts to be manufactured and unrepresentative of public opinion, with thousands of suspicious Twitter accounts churning out near-identical tweets in support of the Saudi government line. The Yemeni human rights organization SAM for Rights and Liberties condemned the campaign against Karman, saying in a statement that “personalities close to the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, as well as newspapers and satellite channels financed by these two regimes had joined a campaign of hate, and this was not a normal manifestation of responsible expression of opinion“.

Front Line Defenders seeks new Deputy Director

May 12, 2020

Front Line’s current Deputy Director Andrea Rocca is sadly leaving and Front Line Defenders is now seeking candidates for the position of Deputy Director, reporting to and working together with the Executive Director, Andrew Anderson. The post is based in the organization’s headquarters in Dublin. The division of responsibilities between the Executive Director and the Deputy Director may be revised based on needs and relevant expertise.

 

The Deputy Director has particular responsibility for the following areas of work:
➢ Research & Policy regarding security& protection of human rights defenders;
➢ Office security, mission security, security and well-being of staff;
➢ Advocacy/lobbying;
➢ Capacity Building;
➢ Digital security;
➢ Strategy & Planning;
➢ The Dublin Platform;

The role includes regular international travel and representation of the organization.

Applications

Applications should be sent by email to recruit@frontlinedefenders.org with the job title “Deputy Director” in the subject heading. Applications should contain a CV and cover letter with two references in one pdf format document that should not be more than five pages. Please do not include additional attachments. The deadline for applications is 25th May 2020. We expect to organize a first round of interviews online in early June.

Required Competencies

  • She/he should have at least five years of working at a senior level for the protection of human rights defenders /or equivalent experience in a human rights based activity/organisation in a leadership role and have experience of management, budgeting, planning and evaluation. The Deputy Director will have strong communication and analytical skills. She/he will have a very good understanding of the political environment for human rights defenders and an understanding of international human rights law and the relevant parts of the UN system. She/ he will have a high level of interpersonal skills and will lead by example to motivate staff and ensure the values and culture of the organisation are maintained.
  • Experience of working in an international context for the protection of human rights/human rights defenders, ideally experience of working in an international or regional human rights/human rights defenders NGO.
  • Experience of working with gender-focused initiatives, including but not limited to gender policies and gender-sensitive programming. Proven understanding of how gender intersects with race, disability, class and sexuality in human rights defenders’ lived experiences and their protection needs.
  • Excellent political judgement, including the ability to make strategic choices based on sound analysis of potential costs and benefits.
  • Management experience in a relevant field that includes financial management, people management, staff well-being, strategic planning and evaluation.
  • Experience of building and working successfully with teams of people with different professional or cultural backgrounds.
  • A third level qualification, ideally in the area of human rights, law, politics, international relations or other relevant discipline.
  • Personal leadership, initiative and proactivity. Capable of identifying and resolving potential problems before they arise. Sound decision making, extremely well organised and structured in approach.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication and presentation skills in English is essential and working knowledge of one of Front Line Defenders other working languages (Arabic, French, Russian and Spanish) is desirable.

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Download the Deputy Director Job Advert

Applications for the 2021 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders now possible

May 11, 2020

Nominations for the Martin Ennals Award 2021 are currently accepted. The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders honours individuals and organizations who have shown exceptional commitment to defending human rights, despite the risks involved, and who are in need of protection. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/11/26/breaking-news-mea-has-3-women-hrds-as-finalists-for-2020/] The deadline for nominations is June 12th 2020. Three finalists will be selected by the Jury and announced in October/November 2020. The Laureate will be announced in February 2021.

 

In addition to the achievements of the nominee, several criteria are taken into consideration for the Award:

• Nominees must be currently active in the promotion and protection of human rights. The Award does not consider defenders who are deceased.

• The nominee should not employ or advocate violence.

• Self -nominations are not accepted.

• Defenders who are no longer in need of protection (e.g. because they are now in a safe environment) will normally not be considered.

Please feel free to spread the word about the nominations so that MEA can find exceptional human rights defenders for the 2021 selection.

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Nomination form

Mary Lawlor takes up post as UN special rapporteur for human rights defenders

May 7, 2020

Mary Lawlor

Mary Lawlor

Mary Lawlor takes up her post as UN special rapporteur for human rights defenders, reportes the Irish Legal on 6 May 2020 [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/03/16/good-breaking-news-mary-lawlor-the-new-un-special-rapporteur-for-human-rights-defenders/].  In spite of all the (sometimes understandable) criticism of the UN and its procedures, I would like to put on record that in my view the UN has made excellent appointments when it comes the big majority of special rapporteurs and espescially with regard to this mandate for human rights defenders which originated in 2000.

Mary Lawlor

Ms Lawlor has decades of experience in human rights, having helped to grow Irish-based NGOs as a previous director of Amnesty International in Ireland and a founder of Front Line Defenders (FLD). She led FLD from 2001 until her retirement in 2016, overseeing its growth to become a global organisation providing resources for the protection and security of human rights defenders (HRDs) at risk. Ms Lawlor helped spearhead civil society efforts to bring the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders into effect and became a recognised leader in focusing on attention on the unique protection needs of HRDs. Congratulating Ms Lawlor on her appointment, Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said: “Mary has been a tireless advocate for human rights for over 40 years both in Ireland and overseas. “This appointment is deserving recognition of her work and that of the organisation she founded – Front Line Defenders – supporting human rights defenders at risk around the world.

 

https://www.irishlegal.com/article/mary-lawlor-takes-up-post-as-un-special-rapporteur-for-human-rights-defenders

Ali Gharavi of the “#Istanbul10” speaks about his experience and his hope

May 6, 2020

Ali Gharavi is a consultant working with human rights defenders, their organisations and communities. He is one of ten people who were arrested in Turkey in July 2017 at an information management and well-being workshop on Buyukada island. The hashtag #Istanbul10 was used in the sustained advocacy efforts that called for the dropping of all charges against them and their immediate release. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/02/16/turkey-who-will-defend-the-human-rights-defenders/]

In March 2020, ahead of an anticipated – but since postponed – verdict hearing, Ali spoke with IFEX Regional Editor Cathal Sheerin about how his experience being arrested in Turkey and jailed for four months has affected his life and informed his work. “While I breathe, I hope: In conversation with Ali Gharavi of the #Istanbul10″ (interview published through a partnership between Global Voices and IFEX).

Ali Gharavi. Credit Annie Game
CS: How do you feel about the upcoming hearing? I feel a combination of anticipation and anxiety. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions over the last almost three years and the verdict was supposed to have been reached at the last hearing. In terms of realistic outcomes, we’ve talked about two or three possibilities with our families, lawyers and the authorities in Sweden. I’ve been trying to keep my wits about me and not putting all my eggs in one basket, but we’re pretty optimistic that the outcome could be acquittal.

What makes you optimistic for acquittal? I’m only nominally optimistic really because these things can turn on a dime. At the hearing before the last one, the prosecutor said that – of the ten of us plus Taner Kılıç – he would accept acquittal for five because of lack of evidence, but the rest he wanted to convict. I was in the acquittal group. All of us are quite adamant, however, about not having this ‘split’ decision.

Why do you think you were divided into two groups? It’s really hard to say. Two of us in the acquittal group – Peter Steudtner and I – are not Turkish, so it’s possible that they want to remove the international angle from all of this. However, that’s just my speculation. It’s actually quite arbitrary, and I think this is partly because they have no evidence. It might even be a way to ramp this down: Let’s acquit half of them now and then acquit the rest in a trickle.

…..
How aware were you when you were detained of the advocacy that was taking place on your behalf? What impact did it have on your morale? Maintaining my morale was one of the biggest challenges for me. I was held at four different sites. At one point, they transferred us to the anti-terrorism headquarters for interrogation, which sounds like – and was – quite a harrowing experience. ……

I’ve done letter-writing campaigns in the past, and I never knew for sure if they had any effect on the people who were in jail, but having been on the inside, I can say that those moments were life-saving. Sometimes my lawyer would search for my name on Twitter and print out all the tweets that had been posted that week about me; there was also this Twitter campaign, #haikusforAli, and demonstrations in Brussels, sit-ins in front of embassies. All of those moments reminded me that people on the outside were thinking of me and mobilising. I’m not exaggerating when I say that those were the things that saved me when I was in the depths of an abyss.

How has the experience affected how you work?  The kind of work I’d been doing was intended exactly for this kind of situation, where you need to pay attention to the whole person, not just their devices or the organisation’s activities. Because of my incarceration, I now understand that at a molecular level. For me, the whole experience has placed a higher premium on understanding people – who they are, where they are – as a big part of how we can actually help them regardless of whichever aspect of their work we’re trying to assist them with. One thing the experience revealed was how inadequately resourced and researched care and crisis response is: how do you care for not just the person incarcerated, but also his family, the community around him, his colleagues?

Once the crisis is ‘over’ the assumption is that life goes on as usual, whereas there’s actually recovery that needs to be done. Often there’s also a massive financial burden due to legal costs and the inability to work for a while. After my release I went to Berlin and arrived into a very supportive debriefing environment. It’s a very privileged situation to be in – those ten days were very helpful in making me understand that I’d be going through this trauma and recovery and that it’s not just business as usual. There was a crowd-funder created for me so that I didn’t just have to drop back into work, and there was physical and psychological therapy too. I knew it intellectually, but now I know it viscerally, that just because you get released the trauma doesn’t just go away. It takes years to be functional again. People assume that when you recover you’re going to go back to being who you were, but that’s not true.

Would you ever return to Turkey? It would be very difficult for me to feel safe there, but I would go, if only in order to ‘get back on the horse’. If the verdict doesn’t go the way we expect, then I’d be incarcerated if I turned up there, so I obviously wouldn’t return. I love Turkey – the people and the environment – and I feel like a big part of my life and friends is now off-limits to me. But I dream of when I’ll be able to go back, hug the people who were inside with me and eat baklava with them. As Cicero said: ‘While I breathe, I hope.’

The humanity of what I experienced in detention was humbling. Regardless of why those people were incarcerated with me, they – that young 19-year-old who spoke to me in German, and others – were an amazing source of inspiration and support. During the toughest times I’d be angry with them, but they were amazingly unwavering. I’ve heard via word of mouth that those two supposed ISIS members are now back with their families and all is well. I owe them a big debt of gratitude.

Most of the time I was incarcerated alongside political prisoners who faced trial on specious charges, or who had been (and continue to be) detained for years on end as they wait for an indictment. And now we hear that despite the mortal threat of COVID-19 sweeping through the prison system, those prisoners will stay behind bars.

[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/03/20/corona-virus-threatens-human-rights-defenders-in-detention-egypt-and-turkey/]

‘While I breathe, I hope’: In conversation with Ali Gharavi of the #Istanbul10

While I breathe, I hope: In conversation with Ali Gharavi of the #Istanbul10

European Union on human rights in times of the coronavirus pandemic

May 6, 2020

I did several posts on the policy response of NGOs and the UN on human rights in the times of the corona virus pandemic [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/covid-19/]. Other intergovernmental bodies have of course also staked out their position. Here the EU through its High Representative, Josep Borrell:

… Respect for all human rights must remain at the heart of fighting the pandemic and supporting the global recovery.

The pandemic and its socio-economic consequences are having a disproportionate impact on the rights of women, children and elderly persons, and on all persons in vulnerable situations, including refugees, migrants, internally displaced persons, and are deepening pre-existing inequalities. Response measures should take account of the needs of those that are most at risk of marginalisation, stigmatisation, xenophobia and racism and other forms of discrimination. Prevention of, and protection from, all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, including through appropriate redress mechanism, and continued access to all essential health services, are particularly important in a time of confinement. All measures and actions taken in response should be inclusive and gender-responsive and ensure the women’s full and effective participation in decision-making processes and in all stages of response and recovery. The heavy impact of the crisis on economic and social rights also needs to be addressed.

The European Union reaffirms the need to pay special attention to the growing impact of the pandemic on all human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In emergency circumstances, international human rights law allows states to limit certain human rights provided that the measures are necessary, proportionate, temporary in nature, and non-discriminatory. The coronavirus pandemic should not be used as a pretext to limit democratic and civic space, the respect of the rule of law and of international commitments, nor to curtail freedom of expression, freedom of the press and access to information online and offline. The measures should not be used to restrict the work of human rights defenders, journalists, media workers and civil society organisations. Digital technologies that have the potential to help contain the pandemic should be used in full respect of human rights including the right to privacy.

Protecting the right of everyone to the highest attainable standard of health requires access to reliable information. People must be empowered to protect their own health and those of others. Misleading or false information can put lives in danger. It is therefore crucial to resolutely counter disinformation with transparent, timely and fact-based communication and thus reinforce the resilience of societies.

The European Union recognises that the role of civil society and human rights defenders is more important than ever to encourage solidarity, support those who are most in need, and defend human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic space, and to promote accountability.

This is a time for solidarity and global cooperation through multilateral efforts.  The European Union reaffirms its commitment to contribute to the global response to the pandemics. The European Union will promote coordination in all relevant multilateral fora, including working with the UN, WHO, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and other regional organisations. Measures taken at the national level are also of particular importance. The European Union supports the important role of the UN system in mobilising and coordinating the global response to the pandemic with human rights at the forefront. We strongly support the UN Secretary General’s call for an immediate global ceasefire, as well as the call to end gender-based violence, and the work of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office……..

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/05/05/declaration-by-the-high-representative-josep-borrell-on-behalf-of-eu-on-human-rights-in-the-times-of-the-coronavirus-pandemic/