Posts Tagged ‘families of prisoners’

Evaluations should allow also to find unexpected impacts of human rights work

January 15, 2016

Evaluations of human rights work should not just be results assessment, but instead, like (in line with Emma Naughton and Kevin Kelpin) as a learning process to discover un expected impacts. Muriel Asseraf in an article in Open Democracy on 22 October 2015, “Finding the unexpected impacts of human rights work“, argues just that in the context of Conectas in Brazil:

Only by understanding if advocacy strategies have been effective and why (or why not), can we understand whether it would make sense to replicate it. Last year, for the first time, Conectas and partner organizations from the Criminal Justice Network launched a large media campaign against the practice of invasive strip-searches for family members who visit their relatives in prison. The impact of the campaign was two-fold: in the state of Sao Paulo, where the campaign was launched, a law was passed to ban the practice, which in and of itself was a great victory. In addition, while not endorsing “human rights” directly, a new audience started to empathize with the situation of these women—grandmothers, mothers or daughters—who have to go through these humiliating treatments in order to visit their relatives in prison. By appealing to people’s understanding of the barbaric situation that prisoners’ relatives have to go through, as opposed to prisoners themselves, the campaign gathered unprecedented support. This impact was unexpected, and learning to identify it has helped us think about other human rights campaigns that could rally an even larger audience to our causes.

In fact, the unexpected lessons that we learn from our evaluation processes happen often. They are frequently surprising and always relevant, and they have informed our strategies and planning processes in ways both profound and constructive.

For example, another evaluation process helped us understand that Conectas’ use of international mechanisms was largely reinforced by how the international press covered the case. Resolutions and recommendations do impact official interlocutors, but if recommendations are somehow featured in international dailies, the reaction of government officials can be much more rapid….

Over time, we have raised our team’s awareness of the need to evaluate their work. Conectas now carries out rigorous planning processes: based on our five-year strategic plan, and our three-year tactical plan, our programs and areas develop annual operational plans that are reviewed twice a year during formal evaluations. The teams themselves conduct these evaluations because, as Naughton and Kelpin have also noted, they are the best suited to understand the subtleties and complexities of a particular situation, and to identify changes or unplanned impacts that others might not see.

During these evaluations, we try to consider not only the quality of the implementation of any given action—although that is also a critical part of the process—but more importantly the feedback of important stakeholders. Participants in our bi-annual Colloquium are asked to answer an opinion survey at the end of the event, as well as six months later in order to measure the impact of the event on their lives and work. Readers and contributors to the Sur Journal are also regularly questioned about how relevant and useful they find the articles for their work.

These survey results have at times been surprising, such as the finding that despite our many efforts to disseminate the print edition of the Sur Journal, the online version has a much larger following. As a result, we decided to transform it into a primarily online journal. The Colloquium surveys have also revealed important elements about the program and format of the meeting….

…. by remaining open to unexpected results, we hope to always evolve and adapt to what is around us. And we can only hope that each organization will do the same, in order to build a more complete view of the field and create more effective interventions.

Full article at: Finding the unexpected impacts of human rights work | openDemocracy

Humberto Prado Sifontes in Venezuela falsely accused by Minister

April 10, 2013

On 8 April 2013, the Minister for the Prison Services, Ms Iris Valera, accused prominent human rights defender, Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes, of instigating violence within the country’s prisons ahead of upcoming elections on 14 April. Humberto Prado Sifontes is the Director of the Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones – OVP (Venezuelan Prisons Observatory) which documents cases of violations against persons in detention in Venezuela.

At a press conference at her office,the Minister stated that on 3 April Humberto Prado Sifontes had met with the families of prisoners in the Comunidad Penitenciaria de Coro. The Minister accused the human rights defender of planning protest actions within prisons all over the country, beginning with hunger strikes before escalating to blood strikes, where prisoners self-mutilate in order to bring attention to their situation. She alleged that Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes quickly departed from the Plaza and went to the Diocesan of the Archbishop when he noticed the presence of officials from the Ministry of Prison Services who were there to investigate what was going on. She claimed to have found evidence for these plans in the notebooks of a prisoner. Minister Valera also linked the human rights defender to two unrelated incidents; one in which five women tried to smuggle grenades into the same prison, and a foiled escape attempt at the Metropolitan Prison Yare II in Caracas. Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes was in fact in Coro to participate in two conferences organised by the University of Falcón. When the families of the prisoners heard of his presence in the State, they arranged to meet him in order to give him photographic and video evidence of torture in the prison.

In 2009 Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes was the winner of the Canadian Embassy in Venezuela’s first human rights award. Front Line Defenders has previously issued appeals to protect him in his peaceful and legitimate work on behalf of prisoner’s human rights in Venezuela. Given the political climate in the run-up to elections in Venezuela, Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned that statements such as those made by the Minister could lead to reprisals against the human rights defender, up to and including physical attack.  Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped