Posts Tagged ‘Right Livelihood Award Foundation’

Five Laureates of the Right Livelihood Foundation speak about woman human rights defenders

May 22, 2019

On 6 March 2019, two days before international women’s day, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation brought together 5 women Laureates from around the world to discuss ‘local realities and shared global challenges’ facing Women Human Rights Defenders. The side event, organised in parallel to the Human Rights Council’s fortieth session, was co-sponsored by CIVICUS, Human Rights House Foundation, International Network for Human Rights, and supported by the International Platform against impunity and the International Dalit Solidarity Network.

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Fabiana Leibl, Sima Samar, Mozn Hassan, Helen Mack Chang, Ruth Manorama, and Charlotte Dos Santos Pruth. Photo by: Amy Au

Here are a few takeaways from the discussion:

Fabiana Leibl, Head of Protection and Advocacy at the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, opened the meeting by describing the worsening trend for women human rights defenders who are prevented from working, not only because they are advocating for human rights, but also because they are women. As the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders noted in his recent report, this trend is often fuelled by deeply rooted ideas about ‘who women are, and who they should be’. Nahla Haidar, a member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, remarked that women are frequently ‘targeted with charges of counter-terrorism’, which allows their oppressors to act with impunity.

Sima Samar, Chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and a leading women human rights defender in Afghanistan, emphasised that achieving parity in educating people of all genders was a key starting point. As we approach the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she explained, “we need female human rights defenders in order to really change the environment on the ground, and to make the environment conducive for the women to exercise their basic human rights.” She called for an end to the misuse and misappropriation of culture, tradition, and religion as justifications for male dominance. Access to paid work, reproductive services, and justice mechanisms was also identified as crucial in the struggle for gender equality. Samar received the Right Livelihood Award in 2012 “for her longstanding and courageous dedication to human rights, especially the rights of women, in one of the most complex and dangerous regions in the world.” See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/08/31/major-piece-by-departing-high-commissioner-in-the-economist/ 

Mozn Hassan, founder of Nazra for Feminist studies, is one of the defendants in the well-known NGO Foreign Funding case targeting civil society organisations in Egypt. Her career’s focus on sexual and reproductive rights adds additional restrictions to her work. In July 2018, she was charged with, among other things, establishing an entity in violation of the law and receiving foreign funding with the intention of harming national security. The charges – which are clearly politically motivated – could lead to life imprisonment. Hassan could not attend the event due to a travel ban imposed by the Egyptian government since 2016. However, via video message, she conveyed the serious dangers for human rights defenders, ranging from asset freezing to arrests, arbitrary detention and forced disappearances. On top of this, women must confront gender-specific threats from state and non-state actors. As Mozn noted, “women are facing various gender-based violence in their custodies from harassment to threats of rape.” Mozn Hassan received the Right Livelihood Award together with Nazra in 2016 “for asserting the equality and rights of women in circumstances where they are subject to ongoing violence, abuse and discrimination.” See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/02/right-livelihood-has-to-go-to-egypt-to-hand-mozn-hassan-her-2016-award/

Helen Mack Chang, who has persistently sought justice and an end to impunity in Guatemala as head of the Myrna Mack Foundation, emphasised that women often suffer multiple dimensions of discrimination. Indigenous women, for instance, “suffer double discrimination (…) when defending their land or territory against the claims of international corporations.” She noted that recent years have seen a resurgence of conservatism and of global threats to the rule of law and democracy. Corruption and impunity, she stressed, go to the heart of this challenge, in Guatemala and elsewhere. Helen Mack Chang received the Right Livelihood Award in 1992 “for her personal courage and persistence in seeking justice and an end to the impunity of political murderers.

Ruth Manorama is India’s most effective organiser of, and advocate for, Dalit women, belonging to the “scheduled castes” sometimes also called “untouchables.” She is, among other things, President of the National Alliance of Women (NAWO) and National Convenor to the National Federation of Dalit Women. Ruth called for counter-narratives to combat the negative view of human rights defenders in the media. In India, for instance, activists are routinely called “enemies of the State,” “militants,” “anti-nationals,” “traitors,” and “terrorists.” She stated: “I am a patriot. I am an Indian citizen. I must enjoy my constitutional rights. (…) Protecting human rights defenders is a state obligation.” Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to systematic sexual abuse at work, forced sexual slavery such as the Devadasi system, and forced labour. Manorama received the Right Livelihood Award in 2006 “for her commitment over decades to achieving equality for Dalit women, building effective and committed women’s organisations and working for their rights at national and international levels.” See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/11/07/forum-asia-25th-anniversary-event-in-geneva-on-16-november-2016/

Charlotte Dos Santos Pruth is an Advocacy and Policy Advisor at Kvinna till Kvinna, a Swedish organisation working to strengthen and promote women’s organisations in several regions of the world. She presented the findings of their recent report, “Suffocating the movement – shrinking space for women’s rights”, which identifies the main effects of shrinking civic space for women. “A strong feminist movement is the single most important factor to advance women’s rights and gender equality”, she stated, adding that women often have limited access to formal decision-making processes. “This makes defending civil society space particularly crucial”, Dos Santos Pruth continued by saying. She suggested that addressing the lack of funding for women’s organisations would be an important first step.

The speakers brought together experiences from very different cultural contexts. Nevertheless, there were important parallels in their descriptions of defending human rights on the ground. The panellists all showed that the crackdown on women human rights defenders must be viewed within the context of other global trends including growing material inequality, counter-terrorism, corporate impunity, environmental degradation, and corruption. As Sima Samar pointed out, in this worrying global landscape, international solidarity must remain an important principle. In her words: “We don’t only need women in positions of power, we need feminist women; women who don’t support male domination in order to keep their own space and position”.

rewatch the event:

 

List of grantees for the inaugural ‘Reporting Right Livelihood’ made public

August 3, 2017

grantees

On 3 July 2017 the Right Livelihood Foundation made public the list of Grantees of its 2017 Reporting Right Livelihood journalism programme.  Journalists will receive grants to shine the light on ‘under-reported‘ stories linked to the work of ‘Alternative Nobel’ Laureates. The grantees of the inaugural Reporting Right Livelihood journalism programme were selected from among 93 applicants from 48 countries. The grants, ranging from €200 to €5,000, cover essential travel, subsistence and communication costs to enable reporting on the selected stories over the next six months. The decision was made by a committee comprised of journalists and media experts from Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the UK.

This year’s grantees are:

  • Ms Aissatou Barry (Guinea), to produce a multimedia report on fighting impunity in Chad, Senegal and Burkina Faso, linked to the work of Laureate Jacqueline Moudeina (€ 4,800)
  • Mr Bikash Bhattacharya (India), to report on Indonesia’s logging sector corruption, an issue constantly raised by late Laureate Munir Said Thalib (€4,500)
  • Ms Fabiola Ortiz (Brazil), to provide a multimedia report on how Brazilian martial art Capoeira became a powerful tool to promote peace among men, women and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, linked to the work of Dr Denis Mukwege (€5,000).
  • Ms Mervis Elebe (Nigeria) and Mr Ray Mwareya (Zimbabwe) will share a grant to report on the current situation with maternal health in Nigeria and Zimbabwe, linked to Dr Catherine Hamlin’s work on eliminating obstetric fistula in Ethiopia (€ 2,500 each, €5,000 in total).
  • Mr Philipp Lichterbeck (Germany) to report on the ’slow genocide’ of a little known Guarani-Kaiowa indigenous group in Brazil, linked to Laureate Survival International‘s work (€ 1,500).
  • Mr Roger Anis (Egypt), to produce a photo report on Egypt’s current housing crisis, linked to the legacy of Right Livelihood Award’s inaugural Laureate Hassan Fathy (€4,000).
  • In addition, the selection committee made a discretionary allocation of €200 to Ms Zofeen Ebrahim (Pakistan) who applied for a grant of US $57 to cover fuel costs in order to report on Pakistan’s home-based workers rights, linked to the work of Laureate Asma Jahangir.

The announcement comes with quotes from grantees and selection committee members. Such as:

I was impressed by the variety, the creativity and relevance of proposals which made our decision so challenging and difficult. The projects we chose show a strong commitment to report on under-covered issues addressed by the Right Livelihood Award Laureates through their personal engagement. This shows how important it is to support journalistic coverage of these issues in order to improve the lives of people who suffer because of injustice, poverty, sickness or political pressure,” Adelheid Feilcke, Deutsche Welle, selection committee member

Partout dans le monde des femmes et des hommes courageux se battent contre les injustices. L’engagement des journalistes est indispensable, pour faire echo à ces combats. Ces bourses vont pouvoir faire avancer les causes défendues et honorer les lauréats du Prix Right Livelihood,” Romaine Jean, Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS), selection committee member

Fo more information: Xenya Cherny-Scanlon, Director of Communications, mobile: +41 76 690 8798, xenya@rightlivelihood.org,  www.rightlivelihoodaward.org #RightLivelihood #AlternativeNobel

Source: Reporting Right Livelihood 2017 Grantees AnnouncedThe Right Livelihood Award

Parallel Event on Asian Justice Institutions and HRDs on 2 March 2017 in Geneva

February 27, 2017

Parallel event on Asian Justice Institutions and Human Rights Defenders to be held on 2 March 2017 2:00 PM in Room: XXIII, Palais de Nations, Geneva, SwitzerlandModerator/Chair: Mr. Bijo Francis, Executive Director, Asian Legal Resource Centre

Speakers in the Panel:
1. Mr. Basil Fernando, Director, Policy and Programme, Asian Human Rights Commission
2. Mr. Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research, CIVICUS
3. Mr. Sharan Srinivas, Director, Research and Advocacy, Right Livelihood Award Foundation
contact: Md. Ashrafuzzaman, Main Representative, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Cell: +41 (0) 766 38 26 59, Email: zaman@ahrc.asia .
Background: Human rights defenders across the world today have to overcome restrictive and challenging circumstances to undertake their mandate. These challenges could be broadly classified into three categories. They are: (i) restrictions imposed through statutes or regulatory processes; (ii) false accusations and fabricated cases registered by the state against HRDs and their organisations; and (iii) threats presented against HRDs by non-state actors, including fundamentalist religious forces.

Of the above three categories, the first and second could be overcome to a large degree at the national level, had the criminal justice institutions in Asian states been independent, and are able to decide upon cases that these institutions are called upon to engage upon.

Asian states today often enact legislations to restrict the operations of HRDs and the organisations they represent. China for instance, has legislations that directly impede the operation of HRDs . Indeed, the law does not prohibit the operation of ‘foreign’ NGOs, but stipulates obtaining permissions from different state agencies before commencing work, and has cast a broad net that prohibits organisations from engaging in activities otherwise considered to be human rights work, including: advocacy, legal assistance, labour, religion, and ethnic minority affairs. State agencies are given unbridled powers to interpret an activity as one under any of these prohibited criteria. The situation of domestic NGOs, including lawyers is worse in China even before the enactment of the new ‘foreign NGO’ law. The government has imposed heavy scrutiny and restrictions upon domestic NGOs, and often detain HRDs and lawyers on criminal charges.

China however is not an exception in the Asian region. Thailand for instance has legislations in place even prior to the military coup that restricts HRDs and civil society work. Thai state has spared no resources to oppress HRDs, often using the law against defamation that has penal provisions, interpreted at the will of the state by the country’s courts. After the coup, the National Peace and Reconciliation Council has promulgated ordinances that literally restrict all forms of freedom. HRDs who campaigned against the military’s version of the current Thai constitution, and the namesake referendum that was organised by the military, were arrested and imprisoned.

Bangladesh, against all its obligations under domestic and international law detains HRDs, forces closure of civil society organisations by repeatedly raiding their offices and seizing office equipment and documents, and does not allow these organisations to operate their bank accounts. India too engages in similar tactics against civil society organisations that openly criticise the government and its policies. Similar circumstances exist in most other states in the region, including Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

In Pakistan, the state is engaged in a shadow war against the civil society using right-wing religious forces, including right-wing media, that has systematically targeted HRDs who have advocated for democratic governance, and in particular urged the country\’s military from illegally and arbitrarily intervening in civilian administration.

In all the above circumstances, what is witnessed is the increasing role played by the entire criminal justice apparatus in Asian states that collide with the state in repressing HRDs and civil society work. Asian states liberally use their agencies like the police, prosecutor\’s office and other specialised agencies to obstruct HRDs in their work, often alleging false criminal charges against organisations or the staff members of these organisations. On the other hand, Asian judiciary has repeatedly failed to intervene in these cases despite the civil society reaching out to the courts for justice.

In instances where restrictive legislations are enacted or executive orders issued, restricting civil society freedom, the judiciary has the responsibility to intervene, and if necessary, annul the law or the executive order holding it as one against constitutional rights and the state\’s obligation under international human rights law. Instead, the Asian judiciary often support state actions. Instances where cases are adjourned without a decision being made are common.

Improving Asia’s human rights standards is not possible without radical reforms brought into the region’s justice delivery framework, particularly of the criminal justice procedures. The absence of independence and professionalism of Asia’s justice architecture is the cornerstone upon which impunity is built in the region. Asian states are aware of this and has consciously kept their justice institutions under direct control. Today Asian HRDs and the entire civil society in the region suffers due to this. Effective judicial intervention in instances where the state exceeds its mandate and stifle civil society work is an exception than a norm.

The side event organised by the Asian Legal Resource Centre, along with The Right Livelihood Award Foundation is an attempt to expose the dubious role played by Asia’s justice institutions in stifling civil society work in the region. The event is also an attempt to raise awareness about this scenario in the global human rights community and to seek support to address this problem.

www.humanrights.asia.

 

2015 Right Livelihood Awards include Kasha from Uganda

October 1, 2015

The 2015 Right Livelihood Awards were announced today in Stockholm:Right Livelihood logo

Three Laureates will share the cash award of SEK 3 million (ca. EUR 320 000):

  • SHEILA WATT-CLOUTIER (Canada) “for her lifelong work to protect the Inuit of the Arctic and defend their right to maintain their livelihoods and culture, which are acutely threa2011 Laureate Kashatened by climate change.
  • KASHA JACQUELINE NABAGESERA (Uganda)for her courage and persistence, despite violence and intimidation, in working for the right of LGBTI people to a life free from prejudice and persecution.” Kasha was the Laureate of the 2011 Martin Ennals Award.
  • GINO STRADA, co-founder of EMERGENCY, (Italy) “for his great humanity and skill in providing outstanding medical and surgical services to the victims of conflict and injustice, while fearlessly addressing the causes of war.

The 2015 Right Livelihood Honorary Award goes to TONY DE BRUM and THE PEOPLE OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS “in recognition of their vision and courage to take legal action against the nuclear powers for failing to honour their disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

The Awards will be presented at a ceremony in Stockholm on 30 November 2015, hosted by the Society for the Right Livelihood Award in the Swedish Parliament.

Job opportunity: Right Livelihood Award seeks communication manager

May 20, 2015

Right Livelihood logois recruiting a Communications Manager, based in Geneva or Stockholm. The successful applicant will be shaping its international communications strategy and working closely with its Laureates.  She/he will lead the Right Livelihood Award Foundation’s communications team and be responsible for the conceptualisation, implementation and the daily running of all communications of the foundation. Read the rest of this entry »