Posts Tagged ‘thomson reuters foundation’

Human Rights NGOs in Europe no longer the standard to follow!

January 27, 2018

In January 2018 the EU Fundamental Rights Agcncy (FRA) published a Report “Challenges facing civil society organisations working on human rights in the EU“. Its conclusion is that the situation is getting more difficult. Also, on 26 January 2018, the Thomson Reuters Foundation published an interview with Michel Forst, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders said that the EU are setting a bad example by allowing some of its members to stifle human rights groups, which is encouraging crackdowns elsewhere in the world.

In the interview done by Umberto Bacchi, Michel Forst said that the EU has historically done a good job supporting and protecting rights advocates worldwide but the bloc’s authority is now being undermined from within. Officials in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel and other countries pointed at recent laws in Hungary and Poland to justify their own regulations which may curb the independence of non-governmental organisations.

There is a need for European countries to be more coherent … not to teach human rights outside of Europe and then not respecting human rights inside Europe,” said Forst, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. Charities in dozens of countries, from Angola to India and Tajikistan have faced restrictions targeting their funding and operations over the past two years, according to an EU report. The trend is part of a global backlash on civil society that has seen rights activists in some parts of the world criminalised or branded as troublemakers, Forst stated.

Last year, Hungary introduced a measure requiring NGOs that get money from abroad to register with the state, a bill that NGOs say stigmatizes them and is intended to stifle independent voices. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/06/13/human-rights-defenders-in-hungary-not-yet-foreign-agents-but-getting-close/]. Poland instead introduced legislation to set up a centralised authority controlling charities’ funding. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/03/02/backsliding-on-civic-space-in-democracies-important-side-event-on-3-march-in-geneva/%5D. As countermeasure, the EU should boost direct funding of rights groups operating within its borders, Forst said. “What is absurd for me is that the EU is funding organisations in Latin America, in Africa – which is good – but there is no more funding for EU NGOs,” he said. Money should be allocated from a dedicated fund and not channelled through governments, he said.

Besides Europe, Forst also singled out Australia for its treatment of asylum seekers held in offshore camps, adding it was “not a safe place” for human rights defenders due to pressure from the government. A December report by Pro Bono Australia and the Human Rights Law Centre, two rights groups, found Australian NGOs were often pressured into “self-silencing” their advocacy work fearing funding cuts and political retribution.

(Global civil society) space is shrinking because it is shrinking in Europe, because it is shrinking in the Americas, in Australia,” said Forst.

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The FRA’s report finds that civil society organisations in the European Union play a crucial role in promoting fundamental rights, but it has become harder for them to do so – due to both legal and practical restrictions. This report looks at the different types and patterns of challenges faced by civil society organisations working on human rights in the EU. While challenges exist in all EU Member States, their exact nature and extent vary. Data and research on this issue – including comparative research – are generally lacking. The report also highlights promising practices that can counteract these worrying patterns.

Images and military-style precision characterize violations-recording group

April 16, 2016

In this file photo, Videre Est Credere founder, Oren Yakobovich, holds a miniature camera with which he equips human rights defenders to expose abuses on the ground. Videre Photo/Handout via TRF

Videre Est Credere founder, Oren Yakobovich, holds a miniature camera with which he equips human rights defenders to expose abuses on the ground. Videre Photo

Astrid Zweynert of the Thomson Reuters Foundation published a very interesting interview on 15 April 2016 with Oren Yakobovich, founder of Videre Est Cruder:

Videre Est Credere, founded by Yakobovich, equips human rights defenders with cameras – some of them almost as small as a shirt button – and training to expose violence and human rights abuses around the world. “Our vision is that no human rights violation anywhere should go unnoticed, no matter how remote and dangerous a place is,” Yakobovich, a former Israeli army officer, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation before being awarded the $1.25 million Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship at a conference in Oxford this week.

Videre’s mission is to reveal abuses of armies, security forces, militia groups or officials through a network of activists who film and record abuses and violations of human rights, often at enormous personal risk. Since Videre was founded in 2008 it has distributed more than 500 videos to more than 140 media outlets, including major broadcasters such as the BBC and CNN. “It’s great to get something broadcast by a big TV channel but it’s most effective when it goes out on local stations – it makes it very clear to the perpetrators that they are being watched – and that’s powerful,” Yakobovich said. Footage has also been used in court cases to prosecute corruption and incitement to political violence.Yakobovich said his own journey to becoming a human rights activist started after he joined the Israeli Defense Forces at the age of 18.

I spent a lot of the time in the West Bank and it shocked me what we were doing there – checkpoints in crowded areas in the city, raids on Palestinian homes in the middle of the night, scaring small children,” the 45-year-old said. Eventually, he refused to serve in the West Bank, a decision that landed him in jail. “It gave me time to think and it struck me how powerful information is, but also how little voice those have who are suffering – and how little accurate information we are getting from those places.”

He became a documentary filmmaker but said he was not happy spending more time at film festivals than helping people. “I realised that people who are suffering need to tell their own stories, not the journalists or the filmmakers.” In 2005 Yakobovich joined the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and set up a video unit. Three years later he co-founded Videre Est Credere – which means “to see is to believe” – with Israeli filmmaker Uri Fruchtmann.

Videre has deployed some 600 people across Africa, the Middle East and Asia and has partnered with organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. In-depth research, solid on-the-ground contacts and thorough verification are key for Videre, which is highly secretive about its work to avoid putting human rights activists at risk. No one has been killed as a result of its work but some activists have been arrested. “The safety of the people we work with is paramount,” Yakobovich said, adding that Videre applies a “military-style” precision and security to its operations. “I’m still a soldier, just not in the army anymore,” he said.

(Visit news.trust.org to see more stories)

Source: INTERVIEW-Secretive human rights group fights abuses with military-style precision

 

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/responsible-data-forum-to-be-held-in-san-francisco-on-29-march/

Queen Noor of Jordan not the right choice to present human rights awards

December 14, 2013

Laila Alawa in a post on PolicyMic of 13 December puts a good question: should award givers not take care in selecting the one who hands out the award? She does not mince her words in stating that Queen Noor of Jordan was the wrong choice by the Thomson Reuters Foundation as she does not uphold the qualities that this foundation wants to reward. Read the rest of this entry »

Risks to Women Human Rights Defenders in Nepal rising

August 30, 2013

Via the Thomson Reuters Foundation Katherine Ronderos published on 23 August 2013 a detailed study on women human rights defenders [WHRDs] in Nepal. She writes that a decade-long conflict, sluggish peace and reconciliation process and delays in developing a new constitution, leave women human rights defenders in Nepal at great risk. Read the rest of this entry »