Posts Tagged ‘legal aid’

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).

Haiti: not a good place for HRDs

August 27, 2013

Via Front Line some good and bad news on Haiti, the country of one the finalists for the MEA 2013: Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

On 22 August 2013, the criminal charges of arson and conspiracy against human rights lawyer Mr Patrice Florvilus were dropped when the original plaintiff stated he would withdraw his complaint. Patrice Florvilus is the Executive Director of Défense des Opprimées/Opprimés – DOP, an organisation which provides legal assistance, in particular to social movements and residents of displacement camps.  For more information on this case, please see the urgent appeal issued by Front Line Defenders on 21 August 2013 http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/23580 .

But…on 23 August 2013, the home of human rights defender Ms Malya Villard Apollon was attacked by a group of armed men, who fired gunshots at the gate. Malya Villard Apollon is the co-director of the Commission of Women Victims for Victims (KOFAVIV), a grassroots women’s organisation working in the poorest areas of Port-au-Prince to prevent and redress sexual assault, care for survivors and build a movement for human rights in Haiti.  The attack took place in the early hours of 23 August 2013, at 1.30 am. The armed men fired gunshots at the gate of Malya Villard Apollon’s home, damaging the gate and the doorbell. The human rights defender called the police who rushed to her home, but by the time they arrived the group had fled the scene. However, the armed men returned shortly thereafter, and upon seeing the police they fired at them. Despite chasing the attackers, the police was unable to apprehend them. This attack is the latest in a series of escalating threats and acts of intimidation against Malya Villard Apollon and other members of KOFAVIV. While they have received threats for a number of years, threats and acts of intimidation have intensified since Malya Villard Apollon was nominated as one of the CNN Heroes in 2012. Her dog has been poisoned, unknown individuals have visited her home and office inquiring about her whereabouts, and both Malya Villard Apollon’s as well as KOFAVIV co-director Marie Eramithe Delva’s children have been followed and have been the subject of attempted kidnappings.

 

Two Somali Human Rights lawyers killed: in the wrong place at the wrong time

April 16, 2013

On 14 April 2013, two prominent human rights lawyers, Mohamed Mahmoud Afrah and Abdikarin Hussein Gorod, were killed when they were in the wrong place at the wrong time: Al-Shabaab adherents in army uniform stormed Somalia’s main court complex in Mogadishu. They were among the approximately thirty people killed in the suicide attack.

Both Mohamed Mahmoud Afrah and Abdikarin Hussein Gorod have worked for a Legal Aid programme funded by the UN Development Programme in Mogadishu and had previously assisted internally displaced persons and other vulnerable individuals. They had recently defended Abdiasis Abdinur Ibrahim, also known as Koronto, a journalist who was jailed for interviewing an internally displaced woman who said she had been raped by state security forces in Mogadishu. A case referred to in this blog and by Front Line Defenders http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/21570