Posts Tagged ‘Ministry of Foreign Affairs Netherlands’

Shelter City Netherlands: Call for Applications for September 2022

April 20, 2022

On 20 April 2022, Justice & Peace Netherlands launched a new call for applications for at risk human rights defenders to participate in Shelter City. The deadline for applications is 3 May 2022.

Shelter City provides temporary safe and inspiring spaces for human rights defenders at risk where they re-energise, receive tailor-made support and engage with allies. The term human rights defender is intended to refer to the broad range of activists, journalists and independent media professionals, scholars, writers, artists, lawyers, civil and political rights defenders, civil society members, and others working to advance human rights and democracy around the world in a peaceful manner.

From September 2022 onwards, several cities in the Netherlands will receive human rights defenders for a period of three months. At the end of their stay in the Netherlands, participants are expected to return with new tools and energy to carry out their work at home.

Justice & Peace aims to promote the safety of journalists, and in particular women journalists, worldwide so that they can build new strategies and continue their important work for freedom of expression in their country of origin. With support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Justice & Peace will be able to provide two additional temporary safe spaces per year in The Hague for journalists at risk and provide them with tailor-made support.

Justice & Peace and the Asser Institute have established a collaborative relationship to strengthen and support the capacity of local human rights defenders worldwide. In the context of the Institute’s Visiting Researchers Programme, the Asser Institute hosts one Fellow per year within the framework of the Shelter City initiative by Justice & Peace. The selected Fellow will carry out a research project during the three-month period and take part in other human rights relevant (research) activities of the Asser Institute. Only in English.

To be eligible for Shelter City, human rights defenders should meet the following conditions:

  • They implement a non-violent approach in their work;
  • They are threatened or otherwise under pressure due to their work or activism;
  • They are willing and able to return to their country of origin after 3 months;
  • They are willing to speak publicly about their experience or about human rights in their country to the extent that their security situation allows;
  • They have a conversational level* of English (limited spots are available for French or Spanish speaking human rights defenders);
  • They have a valid passport (with no less than six months of validity) or be willing to carry out the procedures necessary for its issuance. Justice & Peace covers the costs of issuing a passport and / or visa (if applicable);
  • They are not subjected to any measure or judicial prohibition to leave the country;
  • They are willing to begin their stay in The Netherlands around September 2022.

Note that additional factors will be taken into consideration in the final round of selection, such as the added value of a stay in The Netherlands as well as gender, geographic, and thematic balance. Please note that only under exceptional circumstances are we able to accept human rights defenders currently residing in a third country.

To apply for Shelter City, please click on the link below. Application forms must be submitted by 3 May 2022 at 23:59 CET (Central European Time). An independent commission will select the participants.

Apply now to Shelter City for September 2022

Note that selected human rights defenders will not automatically participate in Shelter City as Justice & Peace is not in control of issuing the required visas to enter the Netherlands.

For more information, please contact us at sheltercity[at]justiceandpeace.nl.

Nicholas Opiyo Laureate of the 2021 Tulip award

December 7, 2021

Ugandan human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo was awarded the 2021 Human Rights Tulip. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs awards the honour, which is accompanied by a cash prize of 100,000 euros to help the recipient continue or expand their work. For more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/D749DB0F-1B84-4BE1-938B-0230D4E22144

Opiyo opposed a controversial anti-gay law that included a life sentence for homosexuality. According to the ministry, the human rights defender also played an important role in criminalizing torture in his country. His work often leads to him being accused of criminal violations with no evidence to back up the charges, and he is often closely monitored by security forces. “Human rights activists see the charges against Nicholas as a way to hinder his work as a human rights lawyer. Even in jail, he used his time to talk to prisoners who sought advice,” the ministry stated. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/12/23/ugandan-human-rights-defender-nicholas-opiyo-arrested-like-a-criminal/]

His work has made the LGBTI community in Uganda feel stronger, knowing that there are allies who support them,” said caretaker Foreign Minister Ben Knapen.

Opiyo beat out two other finalists for the prize. Nunca Más and Russian lawyer Mari Davtyan. See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/11/22/the-3-nominees-for-the-2021-tulip-are-known/

Last year the Human Rights Tulip went to Lilit Martirosyan [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/12/11/armenian-lilit-martirosyan-receives-human-rights-tulip-2020/] who said: “Since winning the Human Rights Tulip in 2020 I’ve felt stronger and more protected, knowing that the Dutch government is on my side and that I’m no longer on this journey alone“.

https://nltimes.nl/2021/12/06/ugandan-lawyer-receives-dutch-human-rights-prize

https://chimpreports.com/ugandas-nicholas-opiyo-wins-global-human-rights-award/

The 3 nominees for the 2021 Tulip are known

November 22, 2021

The Netherlands ministry of foreign affairs sponsors since 2008 a human rights award, the Tulip [for more information on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/D749DB0F-1B84-4BE1-938B-0230D4E22144]

A committee of 5 human rights experts has selected a shortlist of 12 human rights defenders from among the nominees for 2021; since then an independent jury composed of 5 members has select 3 candidates from this shortlist. The Minister of Foreign Affairs will now choose a winner from the three remaining candidates:

Human rights activist and lawyer in Uganda

As a child, he grew up in the epicentre of a brutal war between the Lord Resistance Army and government forces. Today, working as a human rights lawyer, he is being threatened, spied on and shadowed. This is his story.

Nicholas Opiyo
Nicholas Opiyo.

As a human rights lawyer, Ugandan Nicholas Opiyo is not afraid to take on sensitive cases. He challenged the law that gave the police the right to ban public gatherings. He led the campaign for the enactment of a law criminalizing torture and drafted the initial bill that was enacted by parliament in 2012. He, alongside other brave Ugandan activists, successfully challenged Uganda’s anti-gay law in 2014. He has provided legal representation to the gay community in Uganda.

Nicholas is executive director of Chapter Four Uganda, an NGO that works to protect civil liberties and improve universal observance of human rights. He defends human rights activists who are being persecuted in Uganda. He also stands up for people who are in trouble with the government and lack the resources to defend themselves. See: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/6743A94B-BA1A-AA2A-AC6C-592EBD981EDA

Surviving war

Nicholas grew up on the outskirts of the northern Ugandan city of Gulu. His village was repeatedly attacked by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group that used child soldiers. Unlike many young people abducted into the ranks of the rebels, he survived abductions.  The rebels kidnapped his father and sister, who managed to return after several months in captivity. To avoid being kidnapped, Nicholas walked several kilometres every day so he could sleep in the city. It was safer in a church compound or on the pavement in front of shops than in his village.

Government soldiers detained Nicholas’ father as part of an operation to eliminate traitors. The soldiers took all men 18 and older to a stadium where they were held for days without food. Looking through a crack in the stadium wall, Nicholas could see his father being beaten. Nicholas’ father was released after three days because he was innocent. Unable to forget these events, Nicholas decided to become a lawyer. ‘First I wanted to be a journalist so I could speak about [mistreatment],’ he said in an interview met Buzzfeed News. ‘But I thought … I can go to court and change things.’ 

Nicholas’ work often gets him in trouble with the state. He is being threatened, spied on and shadowed. In December 2020, in the run-up to the elections, he was arrested and imprisoned. Although he was charged with money laundering, the government presented no evidence. He spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve in jail. Human rights activists see the charges against Nicholas as a way to hinder his work as a human rights lawyer. Even in jail, he used his time to talk to prisoners who sought advice. In fact, he says, his arrests give him the energy to do even more. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/12/23/ugandan-human-rights-defender-nicholas-opiyo-arrested-like-a-criminal/]

Nunca Más: they had to flee from Nicaragua, but their struggle continues

Banished from Nicaragua, a target of cyberattacks: despite all these setbacks, the activist collective Nunca Más is continuing to work for human rights in Nicaragua. This is their story.

Nunca Más
Nunca Más.

When Daniel Ortega became president of Nicaragua, his supporters said that there was no longer any reason for us to exist. That human rights work in Nicaragua was a thing of the past. But that can never happen! Anyone who exercises power is capable of abusing it.’ So said human rights defender Gonzalo Carrión Maradiaga in an interview with the Nicaraguan magazine Envío. For 14 years he had been legal adviser of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), which combats impunity and human rights violations.

In December 2018 the Ortega government closed CENIDH by force. The human rights defenders on its staff were expelled from Nicaragua. Gonzalo and his colleagues fled to Costa Rica, where they continued their work and in 2019 founded Nicaragua Nunca Más. Nunca Más reports on torture and other human rights violations in Nicaragua, in the interests of justice and to discourage new violations. They offer legal and psychosocial support to victims and their family members, journalists and human rights defenders, and conduct human rights training courses. They also work at international level on behalf of victims of human rights violations. At the moment, justice cannot be sought through the Nicaraguan legal system, as it is under influence of the president. Nonetheless, gathering evidence is crucial to ensure justice for human rights violation in the future.   

It was not easy to make a fresh start in a new country, but the founders of Nunca Más have managed to recover. Between 2019 and 2021 the group documented over 400 cases of serious human rights violations. The collective has now issued five reports, including information on victims who have been tortured, humiliated and arbitrarily imprisoned. The reports also contain information about extrajudicial executions and denial of the right to organise. Such reports are crucial in the absence of free press.

Under pressure

The Nicaraguan government have not been pleased with Nunca Más’ reports, and are subjecting the organisation to severe pressure. Its website has been the target of repeated cyberattacks. Extra digital security measures have enabled the collective to safeguard personal data and sensitive digital information. Despite these difficult conditions, including being forced to live far from their familiar surroundings, its human rights defenders are persisting bravely with their struggle. Gonzalo has not seen his wife or one of his daughters for 18 months. ‘But the time will come. One day I’ll go back,’ he said resolutely in the interview with Envío.

It was not easy to make a fresh start in a new country, but the founders of Nunca Más have managed to recover. Between 2019 and 2021 the group documented over 400 cases of serious human rights violations. The collective has now issued five reports, including information on victims who have been tortured, humiliated and arbitrarily imprisoned. The reports also contain information about extrajudicial executions and denial of the right to organise. Such reports are crucial in the absence of free press.

Mari Davtyan, lawyer in Russia, opposes domestic violence

The Russian police do not always respond to domestic violence complaints. Sometimes their failure to act has fatal results. Lawyer Mari Davtyan has been working for years now to change this situation. This is her story.

Mari Davtyan
Mari Davtyan.

In December 2017 Margarita Gracheva’s husband chopped her hands off with an axe. She had asked the police for help several times in the preceding months – in vain. Mari Davtyan was Margarita’s lawyer. Now Mari is working on the case of three teenage sisters who killed their father on 28 July 2018, when they could no longer bear his many years of physical and sexual abuse. Their mother had reported the violence to the police, but was ignored. Domestic violence is seen in Russia as a ‘family issue’, and outside interference is viewed as meddling, Mari noted in an interview with Voice of America. Mari’s strong defence for the teenage sisters has sparked a debate in Russian society on domestic violence and conservative family values.

Since 2017 domestic violence is no longer a serious offence in Russia, but a misdemeanour. Perpetrators are fined, have to do community service or are served with a training order. They are only taken to court in cases of repeated violence or serious injuries. This law is meant to preserve the ‘unity of the family’; according to this logic, fathers don’t belong in jail. Mari has been fighting for years now to change this law, ‘because it has been proven dangerous for the safety of thousands of women in Russia’, Mari said in an interview with Marina Pisklakova-Parker of the Anna Center in Moskou. Fighting and winning cases like this has ‘helped the government understand that we are not dealing with violence in the right way,’ said Mari in an interview with the Washington Post. Growing numbers of people are putting pressure on the courts and government to reflect on how they are treating victims.

Mari is also the head and legal expert of the Consortium of Women’s NGOs, which works to protect victims of domestic violence in Russia. The organisation gives courses on women’s rights to lawyers and the police and helps victims with their legal cases. ‘We have more than 100 lawyers working with us today, this year we have more than 150 cases, and I think about 1,000 consultations with individual women,’ said Mari in an interview with the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC). She sees that women are becoming more confident and more often have the courage to seek her out. ‘They are finding the power to ask for help and they’re starting to understand what a healthy relationship should look like,’ she said in her interview with Voice of America.  

https://www.government.nl/topics/human-rights/weblog

https://www.government.nl/topics/human-rights/human-rights-tulip/shortlist-of-candidates-for-human-rights-tulip-2021

Call for nominations 2021 Tulip award

July 19, 2021

The nomination period for the Human Rights Tulip 2021 is open and will end on 27 July at 11:59 PM.

For more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/D749DB0F-1B84-4BE1-938B-0230D4E22144

Nominations can be made by filling out Nomination form for the Human Rights Tulip 2021. Please note that human rights defenders and organisations cannot nominate themselves. The nomination form is available in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic.

For any questions, please send an email to dmm-tulip@minbuza.nl.

Selection procedure: To decide who should win, all the submitted nominations are reviewed using agreed selection criteria. A certain weight is given to each criterion. 

The selection criteria are as follows:

  1. Working to peacefully promote and/or protect human rights, especially in one of the following fields:
    • freedom of expression (including online);
    • freedom of religion or belief;
    • equal rights for LGBTI persons;
    • equal rights for women and girls;
    • fight against impunity and accountability for international crimes.
  2. Level of repression and risks faced as a result of the human rights work.
  3. Level of innovation and creativity in the approach to promote and protect human rights.
  4. Ability to achieve impact and to reach and improve the life of (marginalised) beneficiaries through the human rights work.
  5. Working with and involving relevant partner organizations and/or communities.
  6. Sustainability of the project and the possibility to scale up the approach or project.

A panel of 5 human rights experts pre-selects the top ten candidates with the highest scores as well as three ‘wild cards’, so that strong candidates who don’t score well on every single point still have a chance of winning. This list of 13 candidates is then submitted to an independent jury with 6 members. The jury discusses the profiles of these candidates and selects three candidates most eligible for the Human Rights Tulip award. The names of these three candidates are given to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who picks the winner of Human Rights Tulip.

https://www.government.nl/topics/human-rights/human-rights-tulip/nomination-and-selection-procedure

Armenian Lilit Martirosyan receives Human Rights Tulip 2020

December 11, 2020

On Human rights Day 10 December 2020 the Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok presented the Tulip award during an online ceremony to Lilit Martirosyan.

Lilit Martirosyan

For more on this and similar awards see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/D749DB0F-1B84-4BE1-938B-0230D4E22144

Minister Blok tijdens de uitreiking van de Mensenrechtentulp

‘This year,’ said Mr Blok, ‘the three candidates shortlisted for the Human Rights Tulip 2020 were an indigenous women’s rights advocate from Guatemala [on behalf of a network of female healers], a doctor from Sudan [on behalf of an association of trade unions] and a transgender woman from Armenia. They all share a common dedication to promoting human dignity and equality, and work to defend other people’s fundamental rights. They have demonstrated the true meaning of hope, and shown that human rights are for everyone. Regardless of who you are, where you’re from or how much money you have. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/10/15/final-three-nominees-human-rights-tulip-2020/]

Lilit Martirosyan is Armenia’s first registered transgender woman. As founder and current president of the Right Side human rights defender NGO, she works fearlessly for equal rights for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. ‘Lilit has never given up on the peaceful path towards change,’ said Mr Blok, ‘even after receiving death threats. Throughout everything she has remained hopeful and has stood up to defend what she believes in. Hopefully this prize will help her continue to make meaningful strides in her human rights work.’

Thanks to the peaceful activities of Lilit and Right Side, there is now a community centre that serves as a home and safe place for the LGBTI community and sex workers in Armenia. They receive legal and social-psychological support, and if they want to change their name in their passport they can do so without undergoing gender reassignment. The Dutch government recognises Lilit Martirosyan for her constant leadership in demanding attention and respect for transgender people and sex workers in Armenia. Her nomination has also drawn attention to the plight of transgender people and sex workers throughout the region.

https://www.government.nl/ministries/ministry-of-foreign-affairs/news/2020/12/10/lilit-martirosyan-receives-human-rights-tulip-2020

National level Tulip award in Georgia

December 9, 2020

Interesting example of enhancing international awards at the local level: Several Dutch embassies have started to issue a local version of the Ministry’s international human rights award, the Tulip [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/D749DB0F-1B84-4BE1-938B-0230D4E22144]. Here the case of Georgia where the Ambassador, Maaike van Koldam, has awarded 3 Georgian media activists with a Human Rights Tulip prize

Established in 2008 by the Dutch government, the Human Rights Tulip is an annual award intending to support human rights defenders and help them learn from each other. Photo: The Embassy of Netherlands to Georgia.

The winner is Kamilla Mamedova, the founder of Radio Marneuli. The second prize went to Tsabunia Vartagava, an LGBTI and women’s rights activist from Georgia’s western region of Samegrelo, and Manana Qveliashvili, a journalist working on various human rights issues in the Adjara region.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the award ceremony took place virtually. The Tulip prize will remain with the ambassador for now, until she will be able to hand it over to the winner in person.

https://agenda.ge/en/news/2020/3851

10 December: World Press Freedom Conference 2020

December 6, 2020

Journalism without fear or favour

Journalism without fear or favour
.unesco.org/news/visualizing-journalism-without-fear-favour (Image by UNESCO)

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made even clearer the importance of being able to access reliable, unbiased information in a time of crisis – and of independent media as the source of such information. But freedom of the media is under attack in many countries all around the world and journalists are subject to harassment, repression and violence. The World Press Freedom Conference 2020 (WPFC) aims to stand up for a free, safe and independent media and protect journalism from new and existing forms of unwanted control, pressure and influence.

The WPFC is co-hosted by UNESCO and the Kingdom of the Netherlands and will take place on 9 – 10 December 2020 in a new, innovative format, merging digital and in-person elements. It will bring together journalists, media companies, human rights defenders, members of the judiciary, policymakers, academics, youth and NGOs from around the world and is open to anyone, anywhere, who is interested in press freedom. [see also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/world-press-freedom-index/]


RNW Media will be hosting a session called PRESSure is ON: creating an inclusive and enabling online space for digital media communities. This session puts the spotlight on the marginalised voices of young media makers. Bloggers, vloggers and media makers from teams in Libya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and India will discuss their on-the-ground experiences in their local contexts, the challenges they face when it comes to digital rights (both access and content takedowns) and the possible solutions.

The session on 10 December 12:15 – 13:15, will be led by Melody Patry, Advocacy Director at the digital rights NGO Access Now. The audience will be able to use a chat function to share their thoughts on the topics discussed and will be asked to respond to questions that will pop up on their screens throughout the session. These questions are designed to gather the audience’s opinions on such issues as what poses the biggest threat to freedom of speech and whether or not governments should have the right to censor media content they consider harmful to society.

The RNTC media training centre has joined forces with UNESCO and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs to hold an online competition in the run-up to the conference offering the chance to win a two-day online Masterclass in Investigative Journalism. People are invited to submit a short story, picture or 10-second video message explaining what press freedom means to them or how they’ve contributed to it, via direct messaging @UnescoNow. A total of 20 winners will be selected to take part in RNTC’s masterclass which will take place in January.

The on-line training will introduce key concepts and tools for investigative journalism and strengthen participants’ capacity to identify and research issues of governance, accountability, corruption, and misuse of power. In order to publicise the competition, RNW Media has been sharing videos on its social media channels of journalists from around the world explaining what press freedom means to them

Chinese Government quote of the year

December 6, 2018

It is not often that this blog can quote the Chinese authorities in full agreement:

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters: “…detention without giving any reason violates a person’s human rights.”

[“We have made solemn representations to Canada and the US, demanding that both parties immediately clarify the reasons for the detention, and immediately release the detainee to protect the person’s legal rights.”]

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46465768

Mexican Graciela Pérez Rodriguez to receive 2017 Human Rights Tulip

November 10, 2017

The 2017 Human Rights Tulip has been awarded to Mexican human rights defender Graciela Pérez Rodriguez. Foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra will present her with the prize on Friday 8 December in The Hague, two days ahead of Human Rights Day. The Human Rights Tulip is an annual prize awarded by the Dutch government to human rights defenders who take an innovative approach to promoting human rights. The prize consists of a bronze sculpture and €100,000, which is intended to enable recipients to further develop their work. See: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/tulip-award

Graciela Pérez Rodriguez defends the rights of family members of disappeared persons in Mexico. Through her work she attempts to break through the taboos surrounding this issue. The human rights defender is herself searching for her disappeared daughter, brother and three nephews. Graciela Pérez Rodriguez, a non-professional who has immersed herself in forensic science, is a founding member of the Forensic Citizen Science project. This national collective of disappeared persons’ family members in various Mexican states helped establish the Mexican National Citizen Registry of Disappeared Persons and a DNA database run by and for citizens, which facilitates the identification of victims’ remains at a late stage.

Despite the difficult circumstances in which she works, Graciela remains committed to searching for disappeared persons in Mexico,’ Mr Zijlstra said. ‘Human rights defenders like Graciela are indispensable in the fight for a better world. It takes pressure from the inside to achieve real change.’ Disappearances are a serious problem in Mexico. Between January and August this year over 2,400 people were reported missing. In mid-October the Mexican Congress passed a new law to combat disappearances, which provides for longer prison sentences and a committee tasked with finding disappeared persons. The Dutch government sees this law as an important step forward in dealing with this problem.

see also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/mexico/

https://www.government.nl/latest/news/2017/11/09/graciela-perez-rodriguez-to-receive-2017-human-rights-tulip

NEW: how to digest over 175 human rights awards in a few minutes

September 27, 2017

Today, 27 September 2017, Geneva-based True Heroes Films (THF) unveils it new Digest of Human Rights Awards.

In order to assist in accessing the growing number of human rights awards THF launched its unique Digest of international and regional human rights awards. The Digest of Human Rights Awards is an online searchable database hosted on True Heroes Films’ website (www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest). It not only allows anyone to find out information about the almost confusing number of awards, but also permits human rights defenders and their supporters to quickly find the right award for them. Users can search the awards by theme, geographical focus, whether they accept public nominations as well as other information such as the deadline for submissions. Links to the awards’ external websites are also provided.

The Awards Digest is the first phase of a larger project that foresees a Digest of Laureates (over 1900 award winners included in the Awards Digest). This second phase is still under preparation and its completion is planned for 2018, subject to funding.

The Digest is also accessible on any device including mobiles and tablets.

The Digest has been made possible with the support of Brot für die Welt and the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Geneva and other international organizations in Geneva.

For further information contact me at thedigest[at]trueheroesfilms.org or Jo Maxwell-Scott[at]trueheroesfilms.org (mobile +41 78 842 3403).

to see a short video teaser: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/06/16/teaser-on-the-digest-of-human-rights-awards/