Posts Tagged ‘Centre for Applied Human Rights at York University’

‘Risk and Protection’ – continuing research work for HRDs

May 11, 2015

On Tuesday the 5th May CAHR [Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York, UK] hosted a one-day workshop on Risk and Protection.

Protection and HRDs panel

from left to right, Jamshid Gaziyev (Office of the UN Special Rapporteur on HRDs); James Savage (Amnesty International UK); Andrew Anderson (Frontline Defenders); and Alice Nah (CAHR).

The workshop examined the lessons, synergies and tensions that emerge when considering the approaches to protection that have been taken by human rights, development and humanitarian actors. The workshop sought to address how actors from adjacent fields could work together, and learn from each other, to build safe and enabling environments for HRDs and broader communities at-risk.

The workshop brought together practitioners, academics and donors from across fields. Speakers included representatives from the office of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Amnesty International, Frontline, Global Witness, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre and the Overseas Development Institute (Humanitarian Policy Group). It was supported by a grant from the Open Society Foundations Human Rights Initiative. The learnings for the workshop will be written up as an article and will feed into CAHR’s ongoing work on HRDs.

via HRD protection workshop 2015 – Centre for Applied Human Rights, The University of York.

Human Rights Defenders from York: Hikma Rabih, Sudan

January 26, 2015

On 16 February 2015, the York Press carried a feature story by Stephen Lewis about 5 human rights defenders in the temporary shelter programme at York University. The aim of the placements is to give those fighting for human rights around the world a breather, as well as the chance to forge contacts with other human rights workers and organisations around the world.

In York, Hikma can wear jeans – something she’d never be able to do in her own country. “Sudan is a very patriarchal society,” the 33-year-old human rights lawyer says. “Women cannot wear trousers, and I cannot go out in public without a scarf on my head. I want to wear my trousers.

Born in North Darfur, she graduated with a law degree from Elnileen University in Khartoum in 2002, then started work as a protection officer at a refugee camp in South Darfur for civil war victims. In 2009, her organisation was closed down by the government.

York Press:
Hikma Rabih

Undeterred, in 2011 she set up a legal aid centre in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. Her organisation provides legal aid and representation for women who would otherwise have no chance of getting justice. Because of strict adultery laws, women who have sex outside marriage face 100 lashes, she says: married women who commit adultery can be stoned. If a woman is raped, but fails to prove it in court, she can be given 100 lashes as an adulteress. “The men always go free,” Hikma says.

5 human rights defenders in York tell their incredible stories (From York Press).

Human Rights Defenders from York: Katsiaryna Borsuk

January 25, 2015

On 16 February 2015, the York Press carried a feature story by Stephen Lewis about 5 human rights defenders in the temporary shelter programme at York University. The aim of the placements is to give those fighting for human rights around the world a breather, as well as the chance to forge contacts with other human rights workers and organisations around the world.

Katsiaryna Borsuk was born in a village not far from Chernobyl, Belarus, a year after the nuclear accident which made it infamous. The village was radioactively polluted. When she was four, her family were evacuated to the city of Gomel where, as a child, she was taunted for being ‘radioactive’ herself. Many people of her generation have chronic health problems, she says – her own brother has problems with his eyes and his throat.

Interested in environmental protection, she studied natural sciences at university in Gomel. She got caught up in student environmental protests, then became involved with the youth movement. When she graduated, she began working for a banned youth organisation – one that promoted democracy and civil rights. She was several times questioned by the KGB. “They pretended to not be KGB. But they took notes,” she says. “They mostly took you somewhere. Once, they came by car, and interviewed me in the car.”

York Press:
Katsiaryna Borsuk

In 2012, although heterosexual herself, she became involved with Gay Belarus. Homophobia is widespread in Belarus, and there are very few people willing to stand up for LGBT people, she says. They are regularly subjected to homophobic attacks – attacks which are often filmed and posted on social media. Her organisation works with the victims of homophobia, trying to convince families to prosecute cases, talking to police and prosecutors’ offices, arranging free legal representation and even psychological support. But it is not easy. “The police are homophobic. They won’t protect you. Even if people are killed – there have been murders – the police don’t take the case.”

5 human rights defenders in York tell their incredible stories (From York Press).

Human rights defenders from York: Valdênia Paulino Lanfranchi

January 24, 2015

On 16 February 2015, the York Press carried a feature story by Stephen Lewis about 5 human rights defenders in the temporary shelter programme at York University. The aim of the placements is to give those fighting for human rights around the world a breather, as well as the chance to forge contacts with other human rights workers and organisations around the world.
 

Valdênia grew up in the slums – or favelas – of Sao Paolo, Brazil’s biggest city. Home for her mother, father, three brothers, two sisters and herself was a small house with a tin roof. Her mother took in sewing. Her father worked in a factory until, in his mid-40s, he became ill. Because of poverty, many children end up on the streets, where they’re at risk of violence, abuse, disease and hunger. They have little chance of an education – and many girls end up in prostitution, Valdênia says.

When she was 14, Valdênia helped open a ‘safe’ house for young girls who worked as prostitutes. The police didn’t approve. “Who controls prostitution?” she says. “The policemen, and the men who have money.”

York Press:
Valdênia Paulino Lanfranchi

She lived with the girls for ten years, then helped open two human rights centres to help families in the favelas. She went to university, and got degrees in education and law. Eventually, after suffering repeated attacks and threats, she and her husband Renato, also a human rights worker, moved to Paraiba, in north-eastern Brazil. There Valdênia, now 47, joined the Oscar Romero human rights centre, working to protect the rights of local ‘indigenous’ people.

She also, in 2011, became Police Ombudsman for Paraiba – the first woman to hold the post. It brought her into conflicts with ‘those in power’. “I was then a victim of everything from raids on the headquarters of our organisations to sexual violence and death threats.” Brazil is supposed to be one of the world’s emerging democracies. “But we have more than 100 human rights defenders threatened with death,” she says. “We have inequality, poverty, hunger. Why? What has happened?”

5 human rights defenders in York tell their incredible stories (From York Press).

Human rights defender from York: Ahmed Al-Kolaibi, Yemen

January 23, 2015

On 16 February 2015, the York Press carried a feature story by Stephen Lewis about 5 human rights defenders in the temporary shelter programme at York University. The aim of the placements is to give those fighting for human rights around the world a breather, as well as the chance to forge contacts with other human rights workers and organisations around the world.

Ahmed Al-Kolaibi grew up in a mountain village in Dhamar in rural Yemen where the law counts for little, and what matters is tradition and custom. For more than 30 years, there have been ‘revenge’ wars between neighbouring villages. When he was seven, Ahmed lost his own father in one of these revenge killings. An uncle was also badly hurt As he grew older, Ahmed, now 27, began trying to persuade other young men in his village that the killings were senseless. The village elders, incensed that he didn’t want to fight for the ‘honour’ of his village, decided to make an example of him.

íYork Press:
Ahmed Al-Kolaibi

They punished me. They took my house, they took my land, because they wanted me to be an example,” he says. He went to Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, where he began to work for a peace-keeping organisation, the Dar Al-Salam Organisation. He works as a mediator in the warring villages, trying to arrange truces between rival sheikhs. He has helped train 360 other mediators – and has even secured the release of abducted foreigners. But being a mediator is very dangerous. “We have lost 15 people,” he says quietly.

It can also be deeply frustrating. Once, trying to negotiate a peace between two villages, he was told that 25 people had been killed in one, and ‘only’ 23 people in the other. Before the fighting could be resolved, he was told, ‘we have to kill two people from that village so it is 25/25′.

5 human rights defenders in York tell their incredible stories (From York Press).

Human rights defenders in York programme tell their story: Ruth Mumbi

January 22, 2015

On 16 February 2015 the York Press carried a feature story by Stephen Lewis about 5 human rights defenders in the temporary shelter programme at York University. The aim of the placements is to give those fighting for human rights around the world a breather, as well as the chance to forge contacts with other human rights workers and organisations around the world.As these are not the human rights defenders who figure highly in the news, I will in the coming days give you their stories. The first is Ruth Mumbi from Kenya:

York Press:
Ruth Mumbi

LIFE is tough in Nairobi’s Mathare slums in Kenya and “a lot of young people opt for crime so that they can have something to put on the table,” says Ruth Mumbi, who grew up here. There are small seeds of hope, however: among them the Bunge la Wamama Mashinani. It means the ‘grassroots women’s parliament’, says Ruth, flashing a smile. She helped found it, and now acts as coördinator.

We wanted to create a space for women to come together to discuss the challenges they are facing. Most women felt that we were not being fully heard.” The Bunge has few resources – not even a building. “We usually use small open spaces in the slums to hold our debates“.

The slum is riven by racial divides as well as crime – in 2006, fighting between rival Luo and Kikuyu groups saw at least ten people killed and hundreds of homes burned. But the young men who go out to rob, and rape, and kill, all have mothers or wives, Ruth says. “At the end of the day, they go back to their households, to their women. We should be talking with our kids to stop this.”

The Bunge also lobbies for better access to health care – and better access to justice for women who are raped or abused. The law can be an impossibly expensive business. “So we have been working with pro-bono lawyers and women’s rights organisations to provide free legal representation to women,” Ruth says.

As a human rights defender, she herself has faced harassment and intimidation. In 2011, she and a colleague were charged with incitement and remanded for two days in prison after leading a protest about the high death rates at a local maternity ward. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/kenya-rights-defenders-remain-under-attack/]. The harassment continues Ruth says: “Telling me to stop, sending threat messages, sending my mother messages telling her daughter to shut up or else.” And who is this shadowy ‘they’? “I believe they were the police.”

5 human rights defenders in York tell their incredible stories (From York Press).

Defending Human Rights – Online Programme by York University

November 26, 2014

Defending Human Rights” is a part-time distance learning programme delivered wholly online in a fully supported environment by the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the
University of York in the UK. The programme was piloted successfully last year, with the support of the Sigrid Rausing Trust and Open Society Foundation. Students can take one, two or three modules as a continuing professional development student, without academic credit, or complete all three modules as a postgraduate student, with academic credit. Postgraduate students who complete all three credit-bearing modules are awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Defending Human Rights.

  • Scholarships available to cover 50% of fees (especially several people sign up from one organisation).
  • Online teaching by tutors and guest lecturers with practical field experience
  • Modules in International Human Rights Law and Advocacy, Working Safely: Managing Risk and Strengthening Protection, and Leading and Managing Effective Human Rights Organisations.

The Centre is now accepting applications for the Post Graduate Certificate, commencing in January 2015.  For more details, see http://www.york.ac.uk/cahr/studying/online/#tab-1

Leading and Managing Effective Human Rights Organisations: learn on-line

April 4, 2014

How can human rights defenders lead and manage human rights organisations well? How can human rights defenders practice rights-based approaches and principles in their workplace? What key issues do human rights defenders face when working in organisations? These are the questions that inspired the Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York, United Kingdom, to run a 10-week course from 23 April to 1 July 2014. This module is aimed at human rights defenders and practitioners interested in leading and managing organisations more effectively.

This course is part of CAHR’s Defending Human Rights distance learning programme delivered wholly online in a fully supported environment. Students can take one, two or three modules as a continuing professional development (CPD) student, without academic credit, or complete all three modules as a postgraduate student, with academic credit. Postgraduate students who complete all three credit-bearing modules are awarded a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in Defending Human Rights.

Partial scholarships (50 percent of fees) are available for both types of students in non-OECD countries who are:

  • actively involved in human rights work; and
  • either hold a leadership position in a civil society organisation or demonstrate strong potential for such leadership.

For more information, including on the application process, see: http://www.york.ac.uk/cahr/studying/online/ or contact Dr Alice Nah (alice.nah[at]york.ac.uk)

 

Two more side events on Human Rights Defenders on 10 and 12 March

March 5, 2014

In a post earlier in the day I mentioned that I would restrict myself to announcing Side Events to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that are specially focused on Human Rights Defenders, but that seems not be much of a restriction with two more interesting events scheduled for next week:

1.Human Rights Defenders and the Shrinking Space for Civil Society” on Monday 10 March 2014 from 14 to 15h00 in Room XX Palais des Nations. Speakers:

  • Navi Pillay UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Halah Eldoseri – Saudi Arabia [researcher on women’s health services; blogs (Saudi women’s rights) to educate women about the country’s  international obligations towards women; writes and organises lectures and workshops in Saudi Arabia for activists and the public]
  • Maksym Butkevych – Ukraine [radio and TV journalist working with “Hromadske Radio” (“Public Radio”) in Kiev; Co-Founder of “No Borders” project of the NGO “Social Action Centre”, which works on anti-discrimination issues;  organised an independent radio station to directly cover the events in Ukraine; Co-Ordinator of the Independent Civic human rights violations Investigation Commission]
  • Mary Lawlor Director of Front Line Defenders [Chair]Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

Co sponsors: Troicare, International Commission of Jurists, Permanent Mission of Ireland.

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2. “Global Trends for Human Rights Defenders” on Wednesday 12 March from 09h30 -12h00 in the office of International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), Rue de Varembé 1.  This Roundtable brings together human rights defenders, practitioners, academic scholars, intergovernmental officials, government representatives, and donors to discuss innovation and the way forward to improve understanding and protection of HRDs, specially to foster an enabling environments for human rights defenders. This discussion will draw upon:

  1. Recommendations made in the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders  to the Human Rights Council on 10 March 2014,
  2. Ideas shared in the Side Eventof the Human Rights Council on ‘Creating a Safe and Enabling Environment for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders’ on 11 March 2014 (see my post:https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/important-human-rights-council-side-event-on-11-march-to-be-followed-on-internet/)
  3. Issues in the Special Issue on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in the Journal of Human Rights Practice (https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/special-issue-on-human-rights-defenders-of-the-oup-journal-of-human-rights-practice/).

To attend this event, please register by Friday March 7 at 12:00 noon by completing this on-line form:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/19rJ44GM_VQybtestvtH8gH26vn9B2TLCBQ0VVftpobs/viewform

Somali Human Rights Defender Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim receives Oxfam Novib/PEN Award For Freedom Of Expression

February 24, 2014

Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, a participant in the Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders At Risk at the Centre for Applied Human Rights at York University, was jailed in his native Somalia in 2013 after he interviewed a woman who claimed she was raped by government security forces. On 21 February 2014 he was honored as the recipient of the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award For Freedom Of Expression which recognises writers who have been persecuted for their work and continue to write

via Persecuted journalist in spotlight at University of York From York Press.

http://www.pen-international.org/oxfam-novibpen-award-for-freedom-of-expression/