Posts Tagged ‘Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders’

BIG question: what to do with long-term detention of Human Rights defenders?

May 21, 2022

Event on 1 June 2022, 12:00-14:00: “Don’t forget about us: Strategies for resisting long-term detention of Human Rights Defenders”. Location: Cassese Room,  Villa Moynier, 120B Rue de Lausanne, Geneva (and online)

Figure of a person in a prison hallway

Logo Ennals

In 2021, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders published a report on cases of long-term detention of activists, which were estimated to number hundreds or thousands worldwide. This report confirms the terrible treatment and conditions many defenders bear in prison. However, while an objective of long-term detention may be to discourage defenders, many cases result in perennial campaigns and increased publicity for the defenders themselves.

How can governments, civil society and international mechanisms work together to keep the pressure on long-term detention cases? What strategies have proven successful in improving respect for defenders’ rights and physical integrity while imprisoned?

This event is co-organized by Geneva Human Rights Platform and the Martin Ennals Awards, which has a long experience with its laureates being detained. This year, two of its three winners are in prison! See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/04/20/save-the-date-and-come-to-the-mea-ceremony-2022-or-watch-online/

Opening

  • Gloria Gaggioli, Director, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Moderation

  • Brian Dooley, Senior advisor on human rights, Human Rights First

Panelists

  • Maryam Al-Khawaja, Human Rights defender and daughter of Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja, detained in Bahrain since 2011
  • Quynh Vi Tran, Journalist and colleague of Pham Doan Trang, detained in Vietnam since 2020
  • Fr. Xavier Soreng SJ, Lecturer, Ranchi Social Sciences Institute, on behalf of Father Stan Swamy (1937-2021), India
  • Gerald Staberock, Secretary-General, World Organisation Against Torture
  • Tor Hodefield, Vuka! Coalition Coordinator, CIVICUS

Registration

This event will take place in a hybrid format:

  • Register here to attend the event at Villa Moynier (places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis) until 26 May 2022
  • Register here to join online via Zoom.

https://www.geneva-academy.ch/event/all-events/detail/336-don-t-forget-about-us-strategies-for-resisting-long-term-detention-of-human-rights-defenders

Martin Ennals Foundation seeking a part-time Communications Officer

February 14, 2022

On 8 February 2022, the Martin Ennals Foundation published an opening for a communication officer.

The Martin Ennals Foundation is a small organization run by a highly motivated staff, Board and Jury. At different points in the year, its work will be fast-paced, intense and challenging. The Communications Officer and Programme Officer work closely together. An entry-level position to support both communications and programmatic activities will be opened in 2022. Several interns complete the team. The Communications Officer reports to the Director of the Foundation. The Communications Officer will also have frequent contact with members of the Board, with colleagues of the Jury organisations, and with MEA winners themselves. The Communications Officer will oversee service providers to the Foundation.

JOB DESCRIPTION: The Communications Officer is responsible for formulating and leading the MEF communications strategy in support of the organisation’s mission, which includes corporate communication elements and the delivery of a high-quality outreach campaign for the annual MEA ceremony. The Communications Officer provide supervision to the Programs and Communications Associate and interns. The Communications Officer’s tasks include:

  • Designing and delivering MEA’s corporate communications, regularly adapting social media activity, our website and newsletter to Foundation activities and current events.
  • Designing and delivering an outreach strategy for the annual MEA ceremony:
    • Overseeing the production of bespoke films about MEA winners
    • Collaborating with the City of Geneva in the production of marketing material for the MEA campaign (posters, flags, banners, etc.
    • Overseeing the production and dissemination of digital social media assets (both visual and editorial content)
    • Organizing a press conference to announce the winners of the Award
    • Producing and disseminating press material and other written and audio-visual products on our website and social media channels
  • Enhancing the impact of MEF’s advocacy activities with targeted communications strategies.
  • Monitoring and evaluating the performance of the Foundation’s communication strategy and its contributions to our annual objectives.

Requirements:

  • 7-10 years of relevant work experience in a communication function;
  • Familiarity with traditional media, media monitoring and media relations;
  • Strong background in digital communications (professional knowledge with WordPress, Mailchimp, Hootsuite, Canva, Tweedeck and Google analytics an asset);
  • Fluency or professional proficiency in both English and French;
  • A degree or work experience in journalism, communications, political science, international relations, law, or relevant subject;
  • Ability to work across organizations and collaborate easily with colleagues;
  • Ability to multi-task and coordinate the delivery of tasks by junior colleagues, service providers, or peers;
  • Ability to cope with pressure and challenging work periods. Self-starters, entrepreneurs, determined and creative types are welcome to apply.

Conditions of the position

  • Indefinite term contract at 40%
  • A competitive salary
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • 25 days’ vacation pro-rata
  • Preferred start date: mid-March

To apply, please send your CV, a cover letter, and an example of your work to info@martinennalsaward.org by end of day, Sunday March 6th 2022.

Burkina Faso: Coup Puts Rights at Risk – Diallo asks military to respect international law

January 29, 2022

Burkina Faso military officers responsible for the January 2022 coup should ensure the protection of human rights and a swift transition to democratic rule, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should give priority to the humane treatment of people in custody, respect freedoms of the media and rights defenders, and ensure that counterterrorism operations respect basic rights. ..  

“The Burkina Faso military coup occurred in a country with weak democratic institutions amid a brutal armed conflict and a growing humanitarian crisis,” said Corinne Dufka, Sahel director at Human Rights Watch. “The military authorities now in control need to act urgently to protect people’s rights and ensure they don’t make a bad human rights situation even worse.”

During a January 24 news conference, the self-proclaimed Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration led by Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, announced the suspension of the constitution, the dissolution of the government and national assembly, and a nationwide curfew. The movement’s spokesperson said elections would be held “within a reasonable time frame” and pledged to respect Burkina Faso’s international commitments, notably including human rights.

The coup leaders claimed the coup took place “without bloodshed.” However, there is uncertainty about the safety of President Kaboré and his close associates, amid reports of potential injuries and deaths during the military takeover. The MPSR should publicly account for the whereabouts and condition of government officials in custody and allow the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the national human rights commission, and independent human rights monitors to visit Kaboré and any other detainees. All those detained should be promptly brought before a judge and charged or be released.

The coup occurred within the context of a marked deterioration in the country’s human rights and security situation over the past year as attacks and atrocities by armed Islamist groups surged and the humanitarian situation worsened. Burkina Faso was already struggling to ensure justice for hundreds of unlawful killings by all sides, and to uphold the civil and political rights of its population.

During 2021, armed Islamist groups killed at least 250 civilians and scores of security force members during attacks in several provinces. Since 2018, Human Rights Watch has documented that government security forces and pro-government militias allegedly summarily executed hundreds of suspects, mostly in the country’s northern regions. Virtually none of these attacks have resulted in investigations and prosecutions.

Burkinabé rights defender, Dr. Daouda Diallo, secretary-general of the Collective Against Impunity and Stigmatization (CISC), and laureate of the 2022 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, told Human Rights Watch that he hoped the military authorities would “address Burkina Faso’s deepening social divisions, and ensure crucially needed protection for all civilians at risk from conflict, while scrupulously respecting international humanitarian law.”  See also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/ca7f1556-8f73-4b48-b868-b93a3df9b4e1

The military authorities should also ensure respect for freedom of expression. In late 2021 and early 2022, the government shut down internet services in a move to quell protesters who had taken to the streets to demand an end to the violence and to protest rising food prices. A 2019 law criminalizing some aspects of reporting on security force operations dampened media freedom, with journalists reluctant to report on allegations of abuses by pro-government forces. Further, in 2021, the government implemented a de facto ban on visits by journalists to internally displaced camps. After taking power, the MPSR issued a warning against the communication of “false news.”..

Military takeovers in Africa in the past year occurred in Chad, Guinea, Mali, and Sudan. Coup leaders have often taken advantage of social unrest, grievances about corruption, and the failure of governments to respect basic rights, uphold constitutional obligations, and carry out promised reforms. Democratically elected governments need to look beyond elections as a marker of democratic progress, and focus on upholding human rights, strengthening the rule of law, and building credible, independent institutions, Human Rights Watch said…

“Burkina Faso’s military leadership should not allow the political upheaval created by the coup to lead to a vacuum in the protection of basic rights,” Dufka said. “The military authorities need to maintain discipline within the security forces and ensure that the human rights of all Burkinabé are respected, including their right to vote freely in elections.”

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/01/27/burkina-faso-coup-puts-rights-risk

Follow the Announcement of the Martin Ennals Laureates 2022 on 19 January

January 17, 2022
Webinar banner

The 2022 Martin Ennals Award Laureate Announcement will be live-streamed at a press conference, announcing the 2022 Laureates on Wednesday 19 January at 11am CET. More on this awards and it laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/043F9D13-640A-412C-90E8-99952CA56DCE

Media requests can be shared at media@martinennalsaward.org. To register, follow link below:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_C–uTIoFQAumucPTbGOeeQ

You can follow the livestreaming on the MEF website for general audience: https://youtu.be/UgvIli5X-T8

Xu Yan, the wife of Yu Wensheng, sets up a legal aid firm

November 8, 2021

The wife of Yu Wensheng, a jailed human rights lawyer, has set up a legal firm to help persons struggling with China’s justice system. Xu Yan’s husband is currently serving a four-year sentence on the charges of ‘incitement to subvert state authority.’ “My husband will be allowed to return home in around four months, but his law licence will be cancelled. This will have a significant impact on his profession as well as our family,” Yan was quoted as saying by Radio Free Asia. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/06/24/martin-ennals-foundation-reaches-out-today/] Notably, he had received the Martin Ennals Award 2021 for his work as a human rights defender earlier this year. [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/69fc7057-b583-40c3-b6fa-b8603531248e]

According to Radio Free Asia, the Martin Ennals Foundation labelled Yu “one of the best-known and most intrepid human rights campaigners” in China, noting that he had been subjected to arbitrary arrest, a secret trial, and the revocation of his law licence.

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/china/china-jailed-human-rights-lawyers-wife-establishes-legal-firm-to-help-people.html

https://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/271623682/china-jailed-human-rights-lawyer-wife-sets-up-legal-consultancy-to-help-people

Venerable Luon Sovath gives Master class on 23 November in Geneva

November 8, 2021

As part of the Human Rights Week at the University of Geneva, the Venerable Luon Sovath, the 2012 Martin Ennals Award winner, gives a master class on November 23, 2021, from 12:30 – 14:00. [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/3F3F580C-3E8F-01C3-92CC-E6B02940BCD4]

Venerable Sovath is a Buddhist monk and human rights activist from Siem Reap, Cambodia. In March 2009 he witnessed the forced eviction of his family and fellow villagers from their homes, without reason and in most cases without compensation. This unfortunate event pushed him towards human rights activism.

Venerable Sovath was compelled to flee his native Cambodia in May of 2020, after fake videos and accusations appearing on Facebook served as the bases for a decision to ‘de-frock’ him of his monk’s robes. In retaliation for his advocacy against land grabbing and in favour of human rights, Venerable Sovath and his loved ones have suffered years of threats and reprisals by the authorities of Cambodia. Finally, the prospect of losing his religious freedom convinced Venerable Sovath that his position in Cambodia was untenable and he sought a temporary safe haven in Switzerland.

Because the fake evidence used against Venerable Sovath circulated on Facebook, the case also has critical lessons for the role of social media in upholding human rights. During his segment, he will discuss the story of how he became a human rights activist, and how social media can be a double-edged sword in the fight for human rights; as it gives visibility to the defenders but also puts them at risk. He will focus on social media as a tool of liberation and repression; and also discuss how a lack of accountability by these social media companies can play a role in the repression of human rights defenders. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/11/02/bbc-podcast-on-the-framing-of-video-monk-luon-sovath/

This master class is hosted by the Martin Ennals Foundation and the Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights.

Date: Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Time: 12:30 – 14:00
Location: UniMail, MS 150

Registration for this master class will open on November 11 with limited places available. COVID certificate is required.

Venerable Luon Sovath with a camera in his hands

https://gcbhr.org/insights/2021/11/master-class

Martin Ennals Foundation reaches out: today

June 24, 2021

Martin Ennals Foundation, together with the Geneva Academy, IBAHRI, and ODAGE, is organizing a high-level panel discussion on how to effectively defend human rights lawyers in authoritarian times. Today 24 June at 13h30 Geneva time. With Belarussian human rights activist Tatsiana Khomich, sister of political prisoner Maria Kalasnikova; Xu Yan, wife of 2021 Martin Ennals Laureate Yu Wensheng of China; and Turkish human rights lawyer Ayşe Acinikli. You will also have the opportunity to hear Diego García-Sayán, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC and ISHR Director Phil Lynch.  

 Register for the event here >>

The MEA has also started an occasional newsletter with in this summer edition:

After a successful campaign, nominations for the 2022 Martin Ennals Award are now closed. We are excited by the high-quality nominations and thank those who contributed to our search for the next generation of human rights heroes.   Meanwhile, our support for human rights defenders continues through the Martin Ennals programs.

Director Isabel de Sola shares how education is paving the way for a more sustainable human rights movement. She informs about the Foundation’s education project – a program aimed at familiarizing students with the concept of human rights and the causes promoted by our Defenders.

Programme Officer Cristina Rendón writes “It takes a village to protect defenders”.  Because the three 2021 awardees were unable to communicate freely with the Martin Ennals Foundation, we had to reinvent our “Geneva Residency” programme by extending its activities to the support networks of our awardees. We learned about the importance of building a strong network of allies who can support defenders, in the good times and the bad

 https://www.martinennalsaward.org/upcoming-event-defending-human-rights-lawyers-in-authoritarian-times/
 

Reminder: Call for Nominations MEA closes on 30 May

May 26, 2021

Only a few days remain to submit candidates for the 2022 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. For detials see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/04/15/call-for-nominations-martin-ennals-award-2022-with-a-focus-on-digital-rights/

Call for Nominations Martin Ennals Award 2022 with a focus on digital rights

April 15, 2021

On 13 April 2021 the Martin Ennals Foundation opened it call for nominations for the 2020 award. For more on the award see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/043F9D13-640A-412C-90E8-99952CA56DCE

More than 60 defenders from 34 countries have been recognized by the Martin Ennals Award to this day.  For last year see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/01/18/%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8Bmartin-ennals-award-finalists-2021-announced/

Focus on Digital rights in 2022

A human rights lens is urgently needed so that the opportunities of digital technology reach all of humanity and solutions can be found for risks online. Human rights Defenders are at the forefront of ensuring digital technology is inclusive, respectful of human rights and employed for human betterment. To offer our support to them and keep the spotlight on these issues, the Martin Ennals Award 2022 will reserve one of its three prizes for defenders working at the intersection of human rights and digital technology.  

The deadline for nominations is: 30 May 2021. The independent Jury composed of 10 major NGOs will select three Finalists to the Award, who will be announced publicly in early 2022. The Laureate of the Award will be announced in the first semester of 2022. 

Read the Nominations FAQ here to learn more about the nominations process. 

Euronews on Achilova and the MEA was banned by Turkmenistan

March 10, 2021

It now transpired that Turkmenistan on March 8 stopped broadcasting the news TV channel Euronews, which showed the footage about the 2021 Martin Ennals Award Ceremony for Human Rights Defenders and one of its finalist, the Turkmen journalist Soltan Achilova, independent foreign-based news website Chronicles of Turkmenistan reported.

The 2021 Award Ceremony of the most prestigious award for human rights defenders was held in an online format on 11 February.

As Vienna-based Chronicles of Turkmenistan has reported, l This year’s finalists included Soltan Achilova, a 72-year-old journalist and activist who has reported on state repression in Turkmenistan in the face of relentless intimidation. Her story was well told in a recent profile by AFP news agency. [see also; https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/02/23/soltan-achilova-has-issued-a-rare-rebuke-of-the-turkmen-president-on-youtube/]

Akhal-Teke is a weekly Eurasianet column compiling news and analysis from Turkmenistan. It added on 9 March: Euronews is about as anodyne a news channel as one could hope to find. So much so that the Turkmen Foreign Ministry in January 2020 hosted the channel’s chief business development officer, Roland Nikolaou, for talks on future cooperation. That makes the inclusion of Euronews among the ranks of undesirables all the more remarkable. 

Turkmenistan has the backup option of Mir 24, a Euronews clone based out of Moscow and focused on news from Commonwealth of Independent States members. Turkmenistan is an associate member of the post-Soviet bloc. The station began broadcasting inside the country in December 2020, following a cooperation deal signed with the Turkmen state broadcaster a month earlier. 

Mir 24 also produces content, of the most unimaginably inoffensive kind, from inside the country. Recent reports have included one on a highly chaste beauty contest for female students, several touching upon celebrations for International Women’s Day and a piece about the creation of a national annual holiday devoted to the Alabai dog breed

Blocking Euronews is of little import in the larger scheme of things. As RFE/RL wrote on March 7, police are adopting invigorated measures to make sure that smartphone owners are not using VPN services to circumvent censorship. The broadcaster said that authorities in the city of Mary are stopping people in the street for spot inspections of their phones.  

The cause of this alarm is the continued seepage of news belying the absurd government insistence that the country has experienced no cases of COVID-19.

https://www.timesca.com/index.php/news/23543-turkmenistan-stops-broadcasting-euronews-channel-after-tv-footage-about-turkmen-journalist

https://eurasianet.org/turkmenistan-a-ban-on-all-news-ye-who-enter-here