Posts Tagged ‘NGO’

A new human rights NGO: Rights Initiative

September 19, 2022

To the plethora of existing human rights NGO was recently added Rights Initiative. Inspired by people who stand up for their rights, human rights defenders. Its mission is to uncover the political economy of human rights and increase the resources of civil society activists. Founded in 2021, in the Netherlands, with the idea to reflect, disrupt, and shift-the-power in practice, as an independent non-governmental organization advancing economic and social rights. It wants to generate knowledge, strengthen the voice of social movements and build alliances to influence decision making around resource mobilization and public spending. Rights Initiative co-creates, supports or takes on sub-grantee roles, trialing innovative and #decolonizingaid ways of working. Enhancing public finance is a means to advancing economic and social rights.

More at: www.rightsinitiative.org

International NGO opens office in Taiwan

May 17, 2022

On 16 May 2022 Safeguard Defenders announced the opening of its first Asian office in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.

With our focus on the decline in human rights in China and other authoritarian states in the region, Taiwan was an obvious choice because of its open society and geographic proximity. Only recently emerging from its own authoritarian past, this progressive democracy has now become a popular base for civil society and media, particularly as Hong Kong’s human rights situation rapidly deteriorates under Beijing’s control.”

The story behind Safeguard Defenders goes back to 2009, the year when a small NGO called China Action was founded in Beijing by human rights activists Peter Dahlin from Sweden and Michael Caster from the U.S. and a small group of Chinese rights lawyers and other human rights defenders (HRD). ,,China Action was shuttered in 2016 after Chinese authorities targeted it in a major crackdown and when many of its staff and partners were detained, disappeared or imprisoned, including Peter. The foundation for Safeguard Defenders was laid in 2016, and was publicly launched in 2017. The organisation has inherited the mission of China Action, but with an expanded scope to support the survival and effectiveness of civil society and HRDs in some of Asia’s most hostile environments, including China.

Safeguard Defenders has been researching developing rule of law issues including arbitrary detention, the black jail systems of RSDL and Liuzhi, forced confessions, transnational repression including global harassment and kidnappings, and the CCP’s secret police institution, the National Supervisory Commission. See e,g, : https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/01/18/china-goes-after-dissidents-abroad/

Coming in the next few months, Safeguard Defenders will have several key and ground-breaking reports on China on issues including the practice of sending political prisoners to psychiatric hospitals, the latest violations of human rights in the name of Covid, and how Beijing has weaponized exit bans. It will also be launching a brand new website. Follow on Twitter. 

China’s reaction will not be nice…

https://safeguarddefenders.com/en/blog/safeguard-defenders-opens-taiwan-office

https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202205170025

New program director of Human Rights Watch generates interest

May 7, 2022

In 1 May 2022 the Times of Israel reported that “Sari Bashi, a longtime activist with the organization who is married to a Palestinian, to head up programming at HRW amid search for successor to departing director Kenneth Roth” {see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/04/27/after-almost-30-years-kenneth-roth-will-leave-human-rights-watch/]

I’m thrilled, honored, humbled and grateful to announce that next month, I will begin my appointment as @hrw’s new Program Director, supervising our research and investigations as we reorient ourselves to strengthen the broader human rights ecosystem and meet today’s challenges,” Bashi tweeted on Friday.

In the past, Bashi, a lawyer by training, co-founded and directed Gisha, an organization that pushes for freedom of movement for Palestinians in Gaza. From 2015 to 2018 she served as the director of Israel-Palestine for HRW, and returned to the organization last year as a special adviser.

A year ago, HRW issued a sweeping 213-page report accusing Israel of apartheid. Israel rejected the report, calling its “fictional claims… both preposterous and false,” and accusing HRW of having “a long-standing anti-Israel agenda.” [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/05/10/israeli-government-sponsored-app-goes-after-hrw-for-apartheid-categorisation/]

HRW’s Israel and Palestine director, Omar Shakir, was expelled by Israel in 2019 over allegations that he supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to isolate Israel over its alleged mistreatment of Palestinians. [See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/11/06/human-rights-watch-omar-shakir-loses-his-appeal-in-israeli-supreme-court/]

In recent years, Bashi, a US native, has been open about her relationship with a Palestinian man originally from Gaza, and the struggles they have faced to live in the same place. They lived together for a few years in the United States as well as in South Africa, and have based their lives in Ramallah, she said, since they are unable to live together in Israel.

The reaction was quick in coming. On 2 May Just the News stated: “A powerful nongovernmental organization with a massive budget and an alleged ideological bias against Israel will continue targeting the Jewish state after it completes a major leadership change now underway, according to experts and lawmakers who spoke to Just the News.” “Unfortunately, the extremely biased attitude toward Israel which Kenneth Roth represented in Human Rights Watch will, most probably, be cemented with the appointment of Sari Bashi,” said Sarah Stern, president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, a think tank. “Throughout her career, Ms. Bashi has constantly demonstrated her lack of objectivity and overwhelming animus towards the state of Israel.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/jewish-israeli-to-become-new-programs-director-of-human-rights-watch/

https://justthenews.com/accountability/whistleblowers/experts-human-rights-watch-continue-targeting-israel-after-leadership

New NGO launched in UK to defend human rights in Saudi Arabia

May 13, 2021
Mohammed bin Salman Editorial credit: Matias Lynch / Shutterstock.com

On 12 May 2021 5Pillars (RMS) announced the creation of a new NGO to deal with human rights in Saudi Arabia. The UK-based Standing Against Nefarious & Arbitrary Detention (SANAD) was aunched in an online conference, which focussed on human rights in Saudi Arabia, especially the freedom to criticise the regime and violations perpetrated against those who have been detained, imprisoned or even disappeared.

Bilal Ithkiran, the SANAD CEO, said the organisation would “seek to identify anyone who has been detained for criticising the regime and those who have been denied due process or have had their rights violated.

He said SANAD hopes, via peaceful means, to develop an optimistic society that looks to the future in a professional manner.

Dr Sue Conlan, a human rights activist and lawyer, said SANAD aims to establish human rights in Saudi Arabia through media awareness and to collaborate with other similar organisations and bring about legal and civil proceedings where appropriate.

“We aim to build databases on human rights violations in Saudi Arabia and collate evidence and initiate legal proceedings against anyone involved in perpetrating human rights violations in Saudi Arabia,” she said.

Dr Saeed Al Ghamdi, an academic and chair of the trustees, said the organisation has launched “to support the the oppressed and push back the oppressors.” He said that the “human rights situation in Saudi Arabia is passing through a very difficult and painful time.”

He added that “the courts are dictated to by the regime” resulting in “prolonged sentences for a stance, an opinion, a tweet or a word they’ve said.”

Abdullah Al Ghamdi, a board member of SANAD, said the path ahead will be “difficult but it is not impossible.” But Al Ghamdi, whose mother is currently being unlawfully detained, ended on an optimistic note saying: “Victory will belong to those who are patient, resilient and steadfast.”

Finally, Fahad Al Ghuwaydi, who has been detained on three occasions in Saudi Arabia for his activism, said the Saudi government’s abuses can be broken down into four phases.

He said: “As a previous detainee myself, I know too well these four phases. I know all too well how they will follow you. How they will follow an individual before they’re detained. I know too well what happens inside the prisons and I know too well how you are denied your most basic of rights as a detainee. I also know too well the obsession that the detainee suffers after they are released from prison.”

Al Ghuwaydi concluded by demanding “the decreasing of pressure upon the people. We demand the release of the political detainees, who were detained oppressively.”

Amnesty International says repression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly have intensified in Saudi Arabia.

“Among those harassed, arbitrarily detained, prosecuted and/or jailed were government critics, women’s rights activists, human rights defenders, relatives of activists, journalists, members of the Shi’a minority and online critics of government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Amnesty says on its website.

“Virtually all known Saudi Arabian human rights defenders inside the country were detained or imprisoned at the end of the year. Grossly unfair trials continued before the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) and other courts. Courts resorted extensively to the death penalty and people were executed for a wide range of crimes. Migrant workers were even more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation because of the pandemic, and thousands were arbitrarily detained in dire conditions, leading to an unknown number of deaths.”

https://5pillarsuk.com/2021/05/12/human-rights-organisation-launches-in-uk-to-safeguard-rights-in-saudi-arabia/

Human Rights First to Present Saudi Organization ALQST with William D. Zabel Human Rights Award

October 7, 2020

On 6 october 2020 Human Rights First announced that it will present Saudi human rights organization ALQST with its annual William D. Zabel Human Rights Award, in recognition of its unwavering commitment to human rights in Saudi Arabia and around the world. For more on this award, which was renamed in 2018: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/984CA015-FE02-4992-8AED-4EB1AEC7D0EE

Human Rights First has tremendous respect and admiration for the work of ALQST for Human Rights and its founder, Yahya Assiri,” said Michael Breen, president and CEO of Human Rights First. “Their work documenting human rights violations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the face of escalating pressure on human rights defenders couldn’t be more important, especially in an environment where information on these abuses is difficult to come by. In the present climate, where Saudi leaders can kill their critics with impunity, the work of Yahya Assiri and ALQST is critical.” [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/28/3-saudi-women-human-rights-defenders-released-but-for-how-long-and-what-about-the-others/]

ALQST is one of the most active and trusted organizations that consistently monitors and documents human rights issues in Saudi Arabia, where escalating repression in recent years has decimated civil society and criminalized human rights activists. Through its extensive network of local sources, ALQST has unparalleled access to developments on the ground. Its analysis and reports are relied upon by international NGOs, media outlets and others amplifying the voices of Saudi human rights defenders and their messages among the international community. In the run-up to this year’s G20 summit in November, due to be hosted by Saudi Arabia, ALQST has been at the forefront of calls for governments and businesses not to turn a blind eye to the Saudi authorities’ egregious rights violations.

This award sends a message that all the heroes who have courageously defended human rights in the country, for which they have often paid the highest price, have not been forgotten. We take this occasion to reiterate our call for their immediate and unconditional release.”aid ALQST founder Yahya Assiri. [see also: /https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/yahya-assiri/]

The award is typically presented to recipients at an in-person award dinner and ceremony in New York. However, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Human Rights First will instead host a virtual event on October 21 to honor ALQST. The event will showcase ALQST’s work and feature an interview between Mr. Assiri and CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley.

https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/human-rights-first-present-saudi-organization-alqst-prestigious-william-d-zabel-human

​International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk Launched Officially

September 8, 2020

On September 7, 2020 IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam) announced that an ​International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk has been launched officially in Venice.

To activate the film community’s collective response to cases of filmmakers facing severe risk, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, International Film Festival Rotterdam and the European Film Academy have joined forces in establishing the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk.

With civil society in danger around the world, filmmakers are increasingly struggling to make their voices heard. Over the past few years, the world has seen a growing number of filmmakers being threatened, arrested, imprisoned and even killed in an attempt to silence them.

In these critical situations, the international film community could make a difference in supporting campaigns for the freedom of these filmmakers or pressuring authorities for their release. As the response of the film community has so far been deeply fragmentized, more co-ordinated action is needed.

On the side of the Venice Film Festival, “Join the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR)” saw Marion Döring (Director, European Film Academy), Mike Downey, (Chairman, European Film Academy), Vanja Kaludjercic (Festival Director, International Film Festival Rotterdam), Orwa Nyrabia (Artistic Director, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam) and Marjan van der Haar (Managing Director, International Film Festival Rotterdam) unite at the festival’s Spazio Incontri. To the invited festival attendees—film professionals and journalists—they explained the ICFR’s idea and activities:

The mission of the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk is to advocate for and to act in solidarity with filmmakers at risk. The Coalition will respond to cases of persecution or threats to the personal safety of these filmmakers and will defend their right to continue their work, by mobilizing the international film community.

Activities will include:

  • Advocacy
  • Accessing the support system
  • Monitoring and observatory.

That there is scope may be clear from the following examples:

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/08/26/sad-story-continues-saba-sahar-afghanistans-first-female-film-director-shot/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/08/07/update-to-monas-campaign-for-her-sister/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/02/filmmaker-and-human-rights-defender-shady-habash-dies-in-egyptian-pre-trial-detention/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/04/04/500-signatories-demand-release-of-indian-filmmaker-sarangi/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/06/26/human-rights-film-makers-kidnapped-in-sulu-philippines/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/06/20/more-known-about-hrd-du-bin-in-detention-in-china-thanks-to-hu-jia/

https://www.idfa.nl/en/article/135007/international-coalition-for-filmmakers-at-risk-launched-officially-in-venice?utm_source=IDFA+Newsletters&utm_campaign=6cdd331ab2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_09_08_08_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_32b31333b2-6cdd331ab2-70115329

NEW: Casualty recording is now a human rights issue in the UN

July 7, 2020

On 1 july 2020 Rachel Taylor, a consultant researcher working with AOAV, wrote that for the first time “Casualty recording has been recognised as an essential component of human rights at the highest international level”. The topic is too important for just a reference, so here long excerpts:

Casualty recording was explicitly mentioned in three resolutions passed by 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva: the biennial thematic resolution on Prevention of Genocide; the resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar; and the resolution on the situation of human rights in Syria.

[A bit more on this UK-based NGO: Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) central mission: to carry out research and advocacy in order to reduce the incidence and impact of global armed violence.It does research on the harm wrought by explosive weapons. AOAV carries out research and advocacy campaigns to strengthen international laws and standards on the availability and use of conventional and improvised weapons, to build recognition of the rights of victims and survivors of armed violence, and to research the root causes and consequences of armed violence in affected countries. It publishes Global Explosive Violence Monitor, as well reportsn on manufactured weapons, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and guns.]

In the early months of this year, AOAV worked with diplomats to ensure the importance of casualty recording was recognised within the Council’s agenda.

The importance of civil society-led casualty recording, alongside initiatives by states and/or internationally mandated organisations, is acknowledged in the Prevention of Genocide resolution. Similarly, the resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar includes casualty recorders alongside human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and others for whom the right to access and share information publicly merits special protection. This strengthens high-level recognition of the validity of casualty recorders’ work and its legal relevance. It also supports casualty recorders’ demands for access to official information on casualties which states may be reluctant to share.

The Myanmar resolution cites casualty recording as a component of victims’ and survivors’ right to an effective remedy. This is reinforced in the Prevention of Genocide resolution which recognises the contribution of casualty recording towards ‘ensuring accountability, truth, justice, reparation, [and] guarantees of non-recurrence’. These rights are universal, non-derogable and legally binding under international human rights law. The incorporation of casualty recording as a component or contributing facet of these rights paves the way towards its recognition per se as a specific legal obligation of states.

The resolution on the Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arabic Republic draws a link between casualty recording and states’ obligations under humanitarian law to search for and identify missing persons in armed conflict. It also calls upon parties to the conflict to enable communication with families during the recording process. This supports families’ rights to demand information and transparency from state authorities concerning the death of a loved one. Elsewhere, the Syria resolution notes that the absence of casualty records can affect inheritance and custody rights, particularly for women and children. This is important recognition of the gendered impact of inadequate casualty recording, which links the issue with the ‘Women, Peace and Security’ agenda as well as efforts related to the rights of children in armed conflict.

For many years, casualty recording has been promoted as a humanitarian tool rather than a human rights principle. This was misguided. Although there is clear evidence of casualty recording obligations in international humanitarian law, the link between casualty recording and human rights is far more pertinent. There can be no effective right to life, to truth, or to accountability without casualty recording, to name just a few.

Bringing new concepts and terminology into Human Rights Council resolutions is never easy. Semantic battles over virtual synonyms can rage for weeks. States seem to be – by default – often opposed to things that may place new or more stringent obligations upon them. Many arguments are used to push new issues away from the Council’s agenda and onto a different body whether this be humanitarian, development or security-focused.

Effective humanitarian responses rely on rapid production and transmission of rough, ‘good enough’ data. This is far removed from the comprehensive and meticulous investigation, identification, and documentation of individual deaths which casualty recording entails. These initiatives take place over many years, often alongside judicial or pseudo-judicial processes, long after humanitarian actors have left the field. In short, casualty recording is not a humanitarian issue. It is an essential element of the human rights regime.

The 43rd session of the Human Rights Council recognised this and has taken the first steps towards international recognition a legal obligation on states to respect, protect and fulfil the right to comprehensive and individualised casualty recording. This is only good news.

https://reliefweb.int/report/world/getting-it-right-casualty-recording-human-rights-issue-un-has-now-shown

In the same context also a reference to the Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG – slogan: “We are statisticians for human rights“) analyzes the patterns and magnitude of large-scale human rights violations. Together with local partners, HRDAG collects and preserves human rights data and helps NGOs and other human rights organizations accurately interpret quantitative findings. HRDAG statisticians, programmers, and data analysts develop methodologies to determine how many of those killed and disappeared have never been accounted for – and who is most responsible. HRDAG is one of the pioneers for the calculation of scientifically sound statistics about political violence from multiple data sources including the testimony of witnesses who come forward to tell their stories. It describes methodologies that HRDAG analysts have developed to ensure that statistical human rights claims are transparently, demonstrably, and undeniably true. See: http://(http://www.hrdag.org/

I should furthermore declare my interest in the topic of documenting human rights as one of the founders of HURIDOCS in 1982, see: https://www.huridocs.org/who-we-are/

FIDH makes fresh start with Congress in Taiwan and new Board and President

October 28, 2019

Botswana human rights defender Alice Mogwe, newly elected president of the FIDH, says: “The universality of human rights is under attack – we must fight back!

The member organisations of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) elected their new president during its 40th Congress in Taiwan. Alice Mogwe, will lead the Federation for the next three years, ushering in its 100th anniversary in 2022. In December 2018 Alice Mogwe was the first civil society leader to address the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of over 250 human rights defenders from around the world. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/17/tuesday-18-december-first-time-a-human-rights-defender-addresses-un-general-assembly/] As founder and director of DITSHWANELO – the Botswana Centre for Human Rights – she has spearheaded efforts to advance human rights in Botswana and its Southern African neighbours.
Our fellow human rights defenders the world over are criminalised, disappeared, threatened, and even killed. The space given to us to express ourselves is shrinking. It is thus more important than ever to emphasize that our values are universal and that we must fight back!” declared Alice Mogwe. Ms. Mogwe’s academic background in law, public policy, African studies, and mediation has served her well in advocating for the rights of indigenous peoples, women, LGBTI+ communities, children, migrants and refugees. She also fought for the abolition of the death penalty in Botswana and Africa, and for demanding accountability from the extractive industry in her native country. “We must amplify local voices at regional and international levels. Member organisations are the lifeblood of FIDH; our strength lies in our diversity.

During her three-year mandate, Ms. Mogwe’s priorities will include:
• Strengthening the work of FIDH to raise attention and protect human rights defenders, who face an unprecedented wave of attacks all over the world. Responding to the closure of civic space through programmes providing rapid and practical support for human rights defenders;
• Protecting human rights defenders from digital surveillance and tracking, fostering safe and effective use of technology by human rights defenders, indigenous communities, ethnic, religious, linguistic minorities, and others;
• Strengthening horizontal cooperation between the Federation’s members, both intra- and inter-regionally, to fully utilise their collective power and capabilities. During the Congress, 16 new organisations were approved to join FIDH, increasing its membership to 192. The newly elected International Board is composed of 22 activists from 21 countries.

Composition of the new FIDH International Board:

President
Alice MOGWE

Treasurer
Dominique LEDOUBLE

Secretaries General:
Kaari MATTILA
Gloria CANO
Shawan JABARIN
Adilur RAHMAN KHAN
Drissa TRAORE

Vice Presidents
Sheila MUWANGA
Sandra CARVALHO
Alexis DESWAEF
Reinaldo VILLALBA VARGAS
E-Ling CHIU
Juan Francisco SOTO
Tola Thompson ADEBAYOR
Paul NSAPU MUKULU
Guissou JAHANGIRI
Reyhan YALCINDAG BAYDEMIR
Nedal AL SALMAN
Tolekan ISMAILOVA
Maryse ARTIGUELONG
Artak KIRAKOSYAN
Valiantsin STEFANOVIC

https://www.fidh.org/en/region/asia/taiwan/botswana-activist-alice-mogwe-elected-new-fidh-president-the

Rasmus Alenius Boserup new Executive Director of EuroMed Rights

May 21, 2019

On 16 May 2019 the NGO EuroMed Rights announced that it has appointed Rasmus Alenius Boserup as its new Executive Director. He will assume the position on 1 June, 2019, succeeding Marc Schade-Poulsen, who will take up a position as consultant and research fellow at the University of Roskilde.

A Danish national, Rasmus Alenius Boserup has a background in social science research and organisation management. Until 2019, he worked as Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies focusing on power and politics in the Middle East and North Africa. Prior to this, he served as Executive Director of the Danish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute in Cairo from 2008 to 2011. An expert and opinion writer in Danish and international media, Boserup holds a doctoral degree in culture and civilisation from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and a PhD degree in Arabic Studies from the University of Copenhagen.

Boserup said: “I look forward to take up the position with EuroMed Rights. I have followed the network since its creation in 1997 and have collaborated with several of its outstanding member organisations in the South and in the North.”  “Today we face numerous worrying trends in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The crumbling of the liberal order and rise of international authoritarianism add fuel to populism and illiberalism in Europe. And it further emboldens repressive and autocratic leaders in the Middle East and North African. Under these urgent conditions, I look forward to engage fully in promoting and defending human rights and democracy as a part of a prestigious organisation like EuroMed Rights.”

EuroMed Rights President Wadih Al-Asmaradded: “We are pleased to have Rasmus on board and look forward to leveraging his expertise in steering EuroMed Rights forward. Our network has grown to occupy a strategically important position while Marc Schade-Poulsen held the position of Executive Director and we are eager to capitalise on this with Rasmus Alenius Boserup”.

https://mailchi.mp/euromedrights/euromed-rights-appoints-new-executive-director?e=1209ebd6d8