Posts Tagged ‘Robert Hard’

Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award 2017 goes to Edmund Yakani from South Sudan

January 25, 2017

On 24 January the Stockholm-based NGO Civil Rights Defender announced that human rights defender Edmund Yakani from South Sudan is recipient of the Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award 2017.

Edmund Yakani is the Executive Director of human rights organisation Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO), based in South Sudan’s capital Juba. He is among the most tenacious and vocal voices in the country when it comes to defending and promoting human rights, democratic transition and justice. He particularly stands out in his effort to ensure respect for rule of law and justice, and the inclusion of civil society in the ongoing peace talks. “For me, this award symbolises motivation and recognition of the efforts and hard work to protect human rights defenders in South Sudan. This is a call for more efforts to engage in further protection for human rights defenders and their families”, said Edmund Yakani to Civil Rights Defenders.

South Sudan, the youngest country in the world, gained its independence as recent as in July 2011. By many social, economic and political standards, the country is among the poorest in the world. Respect for civil and political rights has never been established to the level its citizens wished for at independence. The situation for human rights worsened following the outbreak of inter-ethnic and armed conflicts in 2013. Since then, human rights defenders and outspoken critics have been increasingly targeted by the government, security forces and other armed actors, and Edmund Yakani has himself been threatened on several occasions due to his work. “State authorities see human rights work as part of a politically motivated agenda against them, and hence human rights defenders are seen as enemies of the state. In addition, the rule of law is compromised to the level that impunity has become a norm in the South Sudanese society”, said Edmund Yakani.

Edmund Yakani

Edmund Yakani has, on a countless number of occasions, demonstrated his commitment in promoting genuine dialogue and efforts among social and political actors. He is active in calling for a greater inclusion of civil society in the peace talks. His contribution in promoting human rights and its defenders has been of paramount importance, in particular as he is working in the context of weak institutions and ongoing conflict. I am proud to announce him as this year’s recipient of the Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award”, said Robert Hårdh, Executive Director of Civil Rights Defenders.

For last year’s award:

Source: Civil Rights Defender Of The Year Award 2017 – Edmund Yakani > Gurtong Trust > Editorial

2017 (5): With Trump US president, Sweden must stand up for human rights

January 24, 2017

On 24 January 2017, published the English version of an opinion piece originally written in Swedish by Civil Rights Defenders executive director Robert Hårdh for newspaper Dagens Nyheter. Like my post published yesterday about the call for Canada to ‘compensate’ for Trumps election [], this piece argues that Sweden, also as a member of the EU and with its current place on the UN Security council, must step forward and take a greater responsibility to protect human rights on a global level: Read the rest of this entry »

Example of transparency in communication between Government and NGO in Sweden

January 26, 2013

In December 2012, the Stockholm-based NGO Civil Rights Defenders wrote a letter to the Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, and urged him to demand stronger protection for human rights defenders in Kosovo. Civil Rights Defender’s letter to Carl Bildt was sent after the attacks against the organisations ‘Kosovo 2.0’ and ‘Libertas’ in late 2012. Read more about the background:

English: Carl Bildt, foreign minister in Swede...

Carl Bildt (Wikipedia)

What is interesting is the frank exchange between the NGO and the Ministry and the fact that the exchange of letter can be made public. I think that in quite a few countries civil society can only dream of this kind of transparency.

For this reason I reproduce the response of 21 January 2013 by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs here in full:

Dear Robert,

Thank you for your letter about the human rights situation in Kosovo and the information about the attacks in Pristina against human rights defenders, addressed to Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. I’ve been asked to answer you. I would first like to apologize for the late reply.

The events you describe is obviously regrettable and unacceptable, and unfortunately part of a pattern in the Western Balkans where gay, bisexual and transgender people’s rights are not guaranteed and they are subjected to harassments. From a Swedish perspective, strengthening human rights in Kosovo is a priority both on a political level and within the framework of the Swedish development cooperation, where we work closely with the civil society, including Civil Rights Defenders. Improvement of the human rights situation is also crucial for Kosovo’s EU integration.

We are discussing these important issues on a political level with politicians in Kosovo. When Prime Minister Hachim Thaci visited Sweden in October, EU integration and the necessary reforms in Kosovo, including human rights, were major themes. In development cooperation, Sweden is working with great commitment with LGBT issues in several projects in the Western Balkans, including Kosovo. As you probably know the Swedish Institute in 2012 showed the exhibition “Article One” to empower the LGBT movement in Kosovo and make them more visible in the community.

One reason why Sweden wants to see Kosovo as well as the other Western Balkan countries as members of the EU, is the great development of these countries’ societies that comes with the EU integration. Democracy in Kosovo has made considerable progress in recent years, but significant challenges remain, not least in the field of human rights. A clear EU perspective with strict requirements and evaluations with regard to respect for human rights is the best way to drive development in Kosovo. Civil society engagement, both within countries and internationally, is of utmost importance for Kosovo to become a more open and democratic society.


Emilie af Jochnick