The video of the ProtectDefenders.eu 2016 Annual Beneficiaries' Meeting, held in Brussels on the 29 November 2016 under the motto "Defending Human Rights is not a crime - #DefendersNotCriminals", is now available.
The event gathered human rights defenders, NGO representatives, international and regional protection mechanisms and European insitutions to reflect on the first year of support of the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism and raise the awareness about the pressing threat of criminalisation against human rights defenders around the world.
Watch it now on Youtube.
ProtectDefenders.eu, the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism, will organise a panel session in the coming edition of the European Development Days 2017, on Thursday, June 8, 2017. Under the title 'Protecting human rights defenders as a development strategy', this session will highlight best cases and success strories of funding and support of the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism for local NGOs promoting human rights in a difficult environment, making sure that promotion of Human Rights is represented at the EDD2017 as an integral part of the discussions and debates around development.
Respect for human rights and the promotion of fundamental values are at the core of an equitable and sustainable development. After a year of intense activity, ProtectDefenders.eu, the EU mechanism for Human Rights Defenders, has provided material and financial support to dozens of local organizations and human rights groups working to advance the human rights agenda within their communities, including vulnerable groups of individuals. The projects funded and the training provided have reportedly contributed to the development of social cohesion, equality and the promotion of the rule of law worldwide. Through relevant examples, participants are encouraged to debate about how to overcome the challenges of the promotion of human rights as a development tool in difficult contexts.
"I am the founder and Executive Director of the Association jeunesse pour la Paix et la Non-violence (AJPNV), in Chad. The organisation works against torture and supports the of victims of torture and ill-treatment, as well as victims of sexual violence against women in the community. We also carry out activities to educate Chadian citizens in the field of human rights.
We provide free of charge medical, psychosocial, legal support to refugees, IDPs, women victims of sexual violence, abandoned children, as well as empower women to fight against inequality, discrimination, poverty and harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM). However, Human rights defenders Chad in general face threats, intimidation, harassment and are always brutalized.
This fellowship at the York University, supported by ProtectDefenders.eu within its Temporary Relocation Programme, is the opportunity to step back and look to what I am doing and make analysis to improve it. It is a kind of rest. It is also an opportunity to meet with others Human Rights defenders to share experiences, knowledge and learn new skills, which can help me to improve my way of work. Overall the fellowship is very beneficial for me and thanks for those who make it possible."
ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders mechanism implemented by international civil society, is launching its Index of attacks and threats against Human Rights Defenders, featuring a monitoring of alerts concerning violations perpetrated against individuals promoting Human Rights around the globe. The Index of attacks and threats against Human Rights Defenders is available as from today, Thursday 30th March, on ProtectDefenders.eu website.
Since January 2016 up to today, ProtectDefenders.eu has compiled more than 850 documented alerts, provided by ProtectDefenders.eu partners: Front Line Defenders, Reporters Without Borders and FIDH and OMCT within the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. Alerts are based on verified information concerning violations affecting Human Rights Defenders. As part of its advocacy mission to raise awareness about the plight of Human Rights Defenders, ProtectDefenders.eu has created this new platform to provide the necessary information for relevant actors to engage and take action to alleviate the situation of Human Rights Defenders at risk. It is ProtectDefenders.eu's belief that an adequate warning helps to break the isolation in which actors of repression attempt to place Human Rights Defenders.
Only in 2017, more than 200 violations have already been committed against defenders, with at least 17 murders and 51 defenders imprisoned around the world. Judicial abuses, including arbitrary detention, judicial harassment, criminalisation or sentencing, are the most frequent types of alerts concerning defenders, with more than 130 cases documented in 2017 alone.
Among the areas of action of threatened defenders, the Index of Alerts confirms the particular plight faced by defenders of land and environmental rights, pro-democracy activists and defenders of freedom of expression, as the most targeted categories of defenders around the world.
All of the alerts of the ProtectDefenders.eu Index can be searched and refined by country, field of action of the Human Rights Defender, gender, profile or specific type of violation faced. The Index features interactive graphs and listings and aims at ensuring optimal accessibility to the information available.
The list of alerts can not intend to be exhaustive, as many alerts and attacks go unreported and real figures are likely much higher. Still, this Index aims at becoming a source of reliable and updated information that should allow the identification of worrying trends and encourage the coordination of adequate responses by decision-makers and authorities to counter the violations faced by defenders.
The Secretariat of ProtectDefenders.eu is recruiting a Finance Officer to join their team, based in Brussels.
PURPOSE OF THE POSITION
Under the supervision of the Head of Secretariat and with the assistance of the other Secretariat staff, the Finance Officer maintains an effective and accurate financial reporting system or all the HRD mechanism activities. This includes ensuring that all expenditures are in conformity with the relevant EU guidelines, that records of receipts and other relevant documentation of expenditure are maintained and that the financial reporting to the EU and the relevant audit reports are delivered on time and to the highest professional standards.
He/she develops and adapts the necessary tools to successfully administer a consortium budget and provides financial analysis of the project's performance to inform decision-making processes. He/she oversees the coordination of accurate reporting by all organisations participating in the mechanism. Together with the Head of Secretariat, he/she ensures the development and implementation of work and expenditure plans and ensures that programmes are implemented within agreed and approved budgets through undertaking regular budget monitoring of expenditure against budget. He/she ensures that the Head of Secretariat and the Board are provided with accurate financial reports in an ongoing manner. He/she coordinates audit of the project and ensures that continuous monitoring and risk mitigation measures are in place. He/she ensures compliance with relevant legal frameworks in all contractual, financial, labor and taxation matters. He/she provides support on all other administrative and logistical aspects within the Secretariat whenever necessary.
Tasks & General Responsibilities
The Finance Officer will:
- Coordinate the financial aspects of the multi-state, multi-year, multi-partner program in line with EU requirements and the grant contract.
- Process the disbursement of funds in accordance with the agreed schedule.
- Ensure that financial management systems and records are effective and robust.
- Consolidate cash flows, reporting templates, financial plans and amendments throughout the project life.
- Maintain an adequate filing system for all financial and accounting deliverables to ensure ease of access during internal/external audit.
- Monitor budget burn rates and cash-flow projections.
- Recommend appropriate action on any significant variances ( +/-10%) and prepare budget amendments where necessary.
- Prepare the financial accounts for external audit and coordinate audit activities.
- Follow up on timely implementation of the recommendations to remedy significant variances.
- Oversee forward planning and preparation for reporting to EU, adherence with consortium requirements and time-lines, and timely submission of reports by the 12 member organisations.
- Produce integrated financial reports on a timely basis and in line with international accounting standards and EU regulations.
- Finalize yearly accounts and provides any ad-hoc financial reports that may be required.
- Ensure that all consortium members submit accurate timesheets.
Financial and administrative management of Secretariat managed activities:
- Ensure the daily accountancy of the Secretariat.
- Follow up the level of expenditures of the Secretariat's budget in close coordination with the Head of Secretariat.
- Ensure that all Human Resources procedures under Belgian Law are observed and carry out payment of salaries to the Secretariat staff.
- Ensure financial management of inter-mechanisms meetings, core group meeting, foundation meetings and consortium meetings.
- Be available to partners to clarify EU financial rules and check compliance of reporting.
- Put forward recommendations when appropriate.
- If needed, undertake support visit to consortium members.
- Participate in consortium meetings to foster compliance and to address any financial issues.
- Ensure that internal audit recommendations for grant-funded projects are adhered to.
- Share lessons learned with consortium members throughout the project's implementation.
General administrative and logistic support:
- Support in the logistical and administrative organisation of meetings when necessary.
- Ensure supply of stationery and necessary equipment for the Secretariat in coordination with other staff members.
- Perform other administrative tasks if needed.
- Ensures timely communication with the Head of Secretariat regarding eventual problems and possible solutions.
Masters Degree in Finance or Accounting or professional accounting qualification.
Minimum of five years of experience in a finance/accounting role preferably with an international NGO.
Demonstrated experience in developing and managing large budgets, with preference for previous experience working in a consortium or a network.
Considerable experience of successfully managing the implementation of complex projects.
Experience in working on projects funded by major international donors, with preference for previous experience with EU.
Strong coordination/negotiation skills specifically with the ability to effectively coordinate among partner organisations.
Understanding of the security and protection of human rights defenders around the world.
- Excellent oral and written English language skills.
- Strong financial management skills.
- Ability to work towards tight reporting deadlines.
- Strong analytical, interpersonal, communication and organisation skills.
The Finance Officer should have the necessary permit to work in the EU.
The Finance Officer will be based in ProtectDefenders.eu secretariat in Brussels. The gross annual salary for the position is €45 080 (full-time).
Applications comprising a CV with at least two references and a cover letter should be sent by email to email@example.com by March 5. Interview will take place on March 10 (in person or by Skype). The successful candidate will be expected to start working by the end of March if possible. The initial contract will be up to End of September 2018. The position is expected to be full-time, although a contract at 80% can be discussed.
"I am working in an increasingly restricted space: NGOs and human rights defenders in Egypt are generally coming under severe threat due to an investigation into their funding sources. A number of key human rights defenders and organisations are under threat of closure, and subject to travels bans, asset freezes and heavy prison sentences. My work as a human rights lawyer researching, documenting and defending those whose rights has been disrupted since the moment of my arrest, and I am regarded as a thorn in the side of the regime. There have been attempts to silence me on more than one occasion. I have even been detained in the Supreme State Security Prosecution Headquarters, one of the top investigating bodies in the country, where officers took me into a room to pressure me to cease my work and intimidated me to drop the work I am doing in the defence of human rights.
I work for an organisation whose directors are targets of the regime. Our director and co-founder, Mohamed Lotfy, was subjected in 2015 to a travel ban due to his human rights activities. He was informed of the ban after trying to fly to Germany, where he was invited to give a speech to parliament about the human rights situation in the country, at the same time that the Egyptian President was meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Our other co-founder, Ahmed Abdallah, was arrested from his home on 25 April 2016 and is facing charges under the counter-terrorism law for his human rights activities..."
"As a female lawyer, who comes into contact regularly with security officers, I am regularly sexually harassed by them through verbal insults. But this has not deterred me in my job, and going on a weekly and sometimes daily basis to police stations and prosecution offices to defend my clients. Also my 9-year marriage has recently ended because of the constant fear we live in. My husband could no longer take the fact that our home could be stormed by police at any point to arrest me, or anyone of my family as a means of pressuring me to stop the work I am doing. My husband asked me to switch careers even, and I found myself torn between my heart which loves this man, and my heart and mind that loves the work I do. I experienced the heartbreak of my two children, who I adore, moving in to live with their father for their own safety. But I truly believe that as long as a heavy price has been paid, there will be compensation."
Doaa Mostafa Ahmed Hassan is a lawyer and the director of the criminal justice programme in the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms. Due to the situation in the country and the threats and criminalisation she faced because of her work, Doaa left Egypt with the support of ProtectDefenders.eu, and is currently participating in a fellowship programme with the accompaniment and collaboration of York University.
ProtectDefenders.eu, together with the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), is organising the workshop: "How to improve the protection of threatened lawyers worldwide? Practical tools from the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism", on Thursday 30th March.
This workshop will gather together lawyers, representatives of the EU institutions, Human Rights organisations and lawyers' associations to explore the resources and initiatives at EU level to support threatened lawyers worldwide, including the coming ProtectDefenders.eu online monitoring platform on attacks and threats against Human Rights Defenders and other practical tools for the protection of HRDs/ Lawyers.
Registration is available at: firstname.lastname@example.org
WORKSHOP - How to improve the protection of threatened lawyers worldwide? Practical tools from the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism
Thursday 30 th March - 14.00-18.00
Press Club, rue Froissart 95, 1040 Brussels
14.30: Welcome speech by Ruthven Gemmell WS, President of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE)
14.40: Keynote address by Mercedes García Pérez, Head of Human rights Division, European External Action Service
14.50 : Session I - INITIATIVES AT EU LEVEL TO SUPPORT THREATENED LAWYERS WORLDWIDE
Moderator: Richard Sédillot, CCBE Human Rights committee member/French National Bar Council (CNB) Vice-Chair of International & European affairs committee
- Threatened lawyers worldwide – Patrick Henry, Chair of the CCBE Human Rights committee
- Testimony: the situation of lawyers in Colombia - Jairo Enríquez Céspedes, President of the Executive Committee of the Colombian Bar
- The European Commission’s support of human rights defenders/lawyers - Sarah Rinaldi, acting Head of Unit "Human Rights, Gender, Democratic Governance", Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO)
- The EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism – Joan Audierne, Head of Secretariat ProtectDefenders.eu
16.00: Coffee break
16.20 : Session II - NEW ONLINE PLATFORM AND OTHER PRACTICAL TOOLS FOR THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS / LAWYERS
Moderator: Richard Sédillot, CCBE Human Rights committee member/French National Bar Council (CNB) Vice-Chair of
International & European affairs committee
- The new online platform - Javier Roura, Communications Officer ProtectDefenders.eu
- Presentation of the different types of help available - Tommaso Mignani, Grants Coordinator,
- Testimony by a Burundi lawyer relocated in Belgium
- Testimony by an Egyptian lawyer relocated in the United Kingdom (tbc)
- Testimony by a Kenyan lawyer relocated in the Netherlands
17.50: Concluding remarks – Patrick Henry, Chair of the CCBE Human Rights committee
18.00: End – Drinks reception
Elena Pershakova, a Russian woman human rights defender defending the rights of citizens victims of law enforcement entities' abuses, has recently concluded a successful and fruitful temporary relocation stay in Georgia, funded by ProtectDefenders.eu with the support of the Tbilisi Shelter City programme.
Today, more than 550 human rights defenders at risk and their relatives from all corners of the globe have benefited from a temporary relocation grant from the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism, allowing them to get away from a dangerous context and strengthen their skills and capacities to continue their work.
Click to Read More to learn about Elena's experience
"My expectations towards my participation in Tbilisi Shelter City programme, thanks to the support of ProtectDefenders.eu, were fully met. I got to change the working situation, meet a lot of new people and even got new skills: had started to learn English, began to learn how to drive a car and other things. Despite my frequent working trips, I rarely manage to travel for personal purposes, and this was a great opportunity. I became calmer, less irritable, less nervous. On a 10-point scale, I feel myself at 9!
I think that participation in such programs as Tbilisi Shelter for Russian human rights defenders is needed not only because they are vulnerable and subjected to pressure and threats. First of all, it is important to understand the number of prejudices connected with the relations between Russia and Georgia: one must fight against prejudice. We need to discover the Caucasian traditions for ourselves by the example of the most hospitable Caucasian country - Georgia.
In addition, Georgia has much interesting achievements which we could learn: the success of the police reform; organization of public mass events and legislation on this topic. Now there are activists and NGO staff in Russia, in relation to whom there is a constant persecution from different sides. And the experience of Georgian NGOs that have evolved over the last 4-5 years under completely different conditions, even with regard to supervision and control over non-profit organizations will be very useful for my colleagues.
In Georgia, of course, you start to feel yourself much more secure. For example, my first trip to the metro in Tbilisi: I will never approach a policeman in Russia to ask anything, direction or advice. And in Tbilisi, I overcame myself, asked the way - and received a very friendly, human response. Psychologically, in Georgia, you are relaxing, and friendliness to non-citizens from the locals is helping on it. I was struck by the culture and nature of Georgia, but Georgians are generally a special attraction. To learn how to rest – what is was the most difficult skill for me - this is what you need to do in Georgia. In Moscow it is not common to show strong friendliness on the streets to strangers. In Georgia, you will not just be helped, but will also go where you need, or help you get any kind of service."
Picture: Tbilisi Shelter City
With the support of a grant provided through ProtectDefenders.eu and as part of an advocacy speaking tour organized by PBI, the director of Alianza Sierra Madre, Isela González attended the 34th Human Rights Council session in Geneva, where the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, presented his annual report, highlighting the grave human rights situation that environmental defenders face.
In the interactive dialogue with SR Michel Forst, PBI expressed concerns on the worsening situation of human rights defenders in the Latin American region and specifically the murders of the environmental defenders, members of the raramuri community, Isidro Baldenegro and Juan Ontiveros, which happened within two weeks of each other in the Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico.
In the meetings with UN special procedures, Isela González explained the accompaniment which the organization provides to the indigenous raramuri communities in Chihuahua, who are claiming their rights to land and territory against the exploitation of the wood resources in the region.
In the side event “Environmental Human Rights Defenders: Responding to a Global Crisis”, convoked by the Permanent Mission of Spain, UNHCHR, PBI and other human rights organizations and networks, the defender called the attention to the structural impediments that arose, such as the lack of recognition of their ancestral territory and the lack of adequate resources, which are an obstacle to legal and administrative's defence in litigation.
According to data from civil society, Chihuahua is the state with the highest number of killings of human rights defenders in Mexico, and a PBI early alert was published recognizing the gravity of the situation in the state, with the intention of preventing future violations.
You can download PBI statement here: bit.ly/34-HRC-PBI
ProtectDefenders.eu attended the East And Horn Of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net) General Assembly Meeting, which took place in Kampala, Uganda, on the 21st and 22nd of February 2017.
The General Assembly of the Network meets every five years with the aim of assessing the progress made in the implementation of the plan of action, addressing the challenges met by the secretariat and the network members as well as mapping out a way forward. The Assembly elected the Chairperson of the Network and its focal representatives of countries.
The grants coordinator of the EU HRD mechanism had the opportunity to present ProtectDefenders.eu to the various stakeholders attending the event, met the Protection Team at EHAHRDP, and held bilateral meeting with the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies, one of EHAHRD-Net's partners based in Kampala.
In February 2017, ProtectDefenders.eu supported an international advocacy, outreach and solidarity mission in Mexico, carried out by OMCT in the framework of the Observatory. The mission was conducted in order to seek the release of human rights defenders Damián Gallardo Martínez, Enrique Guerrero Aviña and Librado Baños Rodríguez, who have been victims of arbitrary detention, criminalization, torture and ill-treatment for three years and a half, despite UN recommendations.
The mission delegation could visit the three defenders in prison, and met with numerous civil society representatives from across the whole State of Oaxaca as well as official representatives in Oaxaca and Mexico City. In addition to addressing the pattern of arbitrary detention of human rights defenders in Mexico, the mission also noted the lack of guarantees for human rights defence in the State of Oaxaca.
The February 2017 issue of the ProtectDefenders.eu digest reports alarming cases of judicial abuses, repression and harassment against human rights defenders in India, Saudi Arabia and Cameroon.
Moreover, only during the first month of the year, at least 17 defenders were killed in relation to their work of defence of human rights within their communities. Colombia, with 9 killings, has reportedly been the world's deadliest country for human rights defenders.
In February 2017, OMCT, within the framework of ProtectDefenders.eu and jointly with the Mexican NGO “Consorcio Oaxaca”, carried out a two-days training to 37 human rights defenders mainly from remote areas in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico, focusing on international mechanisms for the protection of human rights defenders and for the advancement of their causes.
During the training participants learnt in a very practical way about the ways to engage with UN mechanisms dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders including Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures, as well as how to engage with diplomatic missions in the country (including through the EU Guidelines). Participants also learnt about the tools available within ProtectDefenders.eu. Finally, they learnt about international and regional standards in the fight against torture and through the example of the right to be free from torture how to engage with international mechanisms to promote their causes (UN Treaty Bodies, UPR, UN Special Procedures, IACHR, etc.).
On the 18th and 19th February, RSF organised in Istanbul a training in Istanbul on the basics of journalism for 5 Syrian journalists, four of them exiled in Turkey and working for Syrian media, the fifth one still in Syria working as freelance reporter covering the war. This training, conducted within the framework of ProtectDefenders.eu, responded to their needs to be trained on the essential rudiments and principles of journalism, as well as on security, as they all learnt the profession by doing and never had the opportunity to be trained as such.
The training was led by a French journalist, Sophie Nivelle Cardinale, who is working with several French information media, and who has documented the war in Syria on several occasions. The RSF Head of Middle-East desk also followed the training and met with the participants.
One of the participants, Hadi Abdullah, was awarded in November 2016, 2016 RSF-TV5 Monde Press Freedom prize in the journalist category. He is a 29-year-old freelance reporter who has braved many dangers to cover the war in Syria, entering high-risk areas where few colleagues venture in order to film and to enable civil society’s actors to speak to the outside world. By his courage, Hadi Abdullah has become the international community’s eyes, reporting the atrocities committed every day in Syria.
For this reason, he is now a target for both pro-government forces and armed groups. He has had many brushes with death and was briefly kidnapped by the Al-Nusra Front last January. His cameraman, Khaled al-Issa, was killed in June by an explosive device left outside the home they shared, and Abdullah himself was badly injured by the blast.
Publication of an international judicial observation report, after the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a FIDH-OMCT partnership) mission, carried out in the framework of ProtectDefenders.eu
Paris-Geneva, February 15, 2017 – A Kyrgyz court ruled to uphold human rights defender Azimjan Askarov’s life sentence, after what was a mock retrial falling short of basic fair-trial requirements and running against United Nations recommendations to release him, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH-OMCT partnership) reported today.
The Chuy Regional Court, which reconsidered Azimjan Askarov’s case in appeal from October 4, 2016 to January 24, 2017, upheld the 2010 verdict which had been issued in a trial marred by a flawed investigation, bias, lack of substantial evidence and allegations of torture and the absence of investigation thereof. In its decision published in April 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee requested the authorities to release Azimjan Askarov and quash his conviction. Neither of the recommendations were brought into effect.
Moreover, the Chuy Regional Court itself, by refusing to hear some defence witnesses, restricting access to the courtroom, failing to investigate credible allegations of torture and ignoring acts of pressure and intimidation targeting defence witnesses and lawyers, failed to guarantee Askarov’s right to a fair trial in accordance with international human rights standards.
“Kyrgyzstan has also made a complete mockery of its international human rights obligations, ”said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General. “If this country wants to be a European trading partner it has to be clear to it that it has to behave very differently.”
Tomorrow, President Atambayev is scheduled to meet with European Union (EU) leaders in Brussels, including EU Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, to discuss a new Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation and a Memorandum of Understanding on a 13 million euros worth project aimed at supporting judicial reform in Kyrgyzstan. Shortly after the court’s decision on January 24, 2017, UN bodies and the EU voiced serious concerns over the “ serious shortcomings” in Kyrgyzstan’s judicial system, recalling that “ full compliance with its international human rights obligations, including the opinions of the UNHRC, is essential to maintain the international standing of the Kyrgyz Republic”.
“The arbitrary character of Azimjam Askarov’s detention is unquestionable. EU leaders must take the opportunity of President Atambayev’s visit to remind him of Kyrgyzstan’s human rights commitments and the need to demonstrate at the highest level the will to support a genuine judicial reform. Support to judicial reform is meaningless if the right to a fair trial is not guaranteed and justice remains vulnerable to political interference, ” said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH Honorary President.
Azimjan Askarov is a human rights defender from the South of Kyrgyzstan where he had been investigating police brutality from 2002 to 2010. He was arrested on June 15, 2010, in the immediate aftermath of violent inter-ethnic confrontations opposing Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities. He was charged with participating in mass unrest, inciting ethnic strife, illegal weapons possession, complicity in the murder of police officer Myktybek Suleimanov, attempted murder of other police officers and incitement for taking hostage a mayor. Azimjan Askarov argued that he was not present on the bridge where the attack on Mr. Suleimanov occurred. His claim was corroborated by several testimonies.
From the very beginning of the judicial proceedings in 2010, the case against Azimjan Askarov, built on testimonies extracted under torture and on statements from Kyrgyz police officers whose work had been under the scrutiny of Azimjan Askarov, was marked as politically motivated. As reported by the Observatory in “ Kyrgyzstan at a crossroads: shrink or widen the scene for human rights defenders”, Mr. Kubatbek Baybolov, former Prosecutor General at the time of Mr. Askarov’s conviction recounted that Interim President Roza Otunbayeva had instructed the Judiciary to sentence AzimjanAskarov to life imprisonment. He added that the elements in the criminal case failed to demonstrate Mr. Askarov's guilt.
The report is available on FIDH and OMCT websites at the following links (ENG/RU):
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
On February 1st, the Hamburger Stiftung für politisch Verfolgte welcomed their new guest Nur Nobi Dulal (46) from Bangladesh in the safety of Hamburg. Nur Nobi Dulal will be relocated away from danger for the next twelve months, as part of a relocation programme funded by ProtectDefenders.eu and supported by Amnesty International and PEN International.
As a blogger, writer and filmmaker, Dulal has been campaigning for the freedom of speech, women’s rights and against religious oppression as well as terrorism in his home country for years. Just as long, he has been threatened by islamists but also by the Bangladeshi government. Because in his home country the writer is in constant danger of being killed by a radical Islamist movement, the Dulal family has had to relocate again and again since 2015. Moreover, he risks up to 14 years of imprisonment due to his criticism of state and religion on the basis of article 57 of the “Information and Communication Technology Act” of the Bengali penal code.
In 2011, Nur Nobi Dulal was voted Bangladesh’s “Blogger of the Year“. In 2012, he founded the Online Activist Forum, which is advocating the freedom of speech. His blog Itishon, founded in 2013 – in terms of readership the second largest blog of the country – was shut down by the authorities on 25 September 2016. In addition, he runs the online bookstore iKarigor.com, which is renowned for its liberal and religion-critical range of books.
In 2013, the terrorist group Hefazat published the names of 84 "Islamophobic" bloggers, among others Dulal’s name. So far, eight of these bloggers have been murdered. Dulal’s name is also on a death list of the terror organization Ittehadul Mujahedini. According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the situation has recently become even more serious. Those affected cannot count on protection by the police.
Ginebra, Paris, Oaxaca, 8 de febrero de 2017 – Damián Gallardo Martínez, Enrique Guerrero Aviña y Librado Baños Rodríguez siguen siendo desde hace tres años y medio víctimas de detención arbitraria, criminalización, tortura y malos tratos, a pesar de las recomendaciones emitidas por la ONU. Su único delito es su trabajo como defensores de los derechos humanos, según denunciaron hoy el Observatorio para la Protección de Defensores de Derechos Humanos (OMCT-FIDH) y el Consorcio Oaxaca. Además de abordar el patrón de detención arbitraria de personas defensoras en México, la misión conjunta -apoyada por el mecanismo de la UE para los defensores de Derechos Humanos, ProtectDefenders.eu- pudo constatar la falta de garantías para la labor de defensa de derechos humanos en el Estado de Oaxaca.
Como seguimiento al informe conjunto “Detenciones arbitrarias e ilegales – Criminalización: Una política de Estado para inhibir la defensa de los derechos humanos en México" publicado en diciembre de 2016, el Observatorio y Consorcio Oaxaca han realizado una misión conjunta a México de solidaridad con los defensores detenidos y de incidencia ante las autoridades para alertarlas sobre esta grave situación. La misión ha prestado una particular atención a la situación de las personas defensoras de derechos humanos en el Estado de Oaxaca.
La misión visitó a tres defensores arbitrariamente detenidos, los Sres. Damián Gallardo Martínez y Enrique Guerrero Aviña, ambos encarcelados en el CEFERESO nº 2 de El Salto, Estado de Jalisco, en lo que constituyó la primera visita por parte de organizaciones de la sociedad civil desde hace más de dos años, así como al Sr. Librado Baños Rodríguez, encarcelado en el Penal de Ixcotel, Estado de Oaxaca.
“Durante la visita pudimos constatar que los problemas médicos de los tres defensores son evidentes pero resulta reconfortante comprobar que lejos de afectar a su compromiso con la defensa de derechos humanos los tres se mantienen fuertes y convencidos de que su liberación tiene que producirse antes o después”, declaró Miguel Martín Zumalacárregui, Director de la Oficina de la OMCT en Bruselas y miembro de la misión a México. “Resulta alarmante que, tres años y medio después de su detención y más de dos años después de que la opinión de la ONU reclamase su liberación, los tres procesos sigan en fase de instrucción en medio de un cúmulo de irregularidades y violaciones al debido proceso”, añadió.
Tanto Damián Gallardo como Enrique Guerrero han dado positivo en la aplicación del Protocolo de Estambul para documentación de la tortura que les ha sido realizado. La misión pudo verificar que ambos mantienen problemas de salud en conexión con la tortura que han experimentado, en un contexto de inacción por parte de las autoridades carcelarias y judiciales, así como de la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDH) que tres años y medio después aún no ha emitido ninguna recomendación. El Sr. Enrique Guerrero sufre de un tic nervioso y de daños debido a la dislocación de su dedo pulgar durante el interrogatorio mientras que el Sr. Damián Gallardo sufre de una lesión en un pie y ambos mantienen daños psicológicos como víctimas de tortura y/o malos tratos. En conexión con las condiciones de detención y la denegación de un tratamiento médico adecuado el Sr. Librado Baños ha perdido la vista de uno de sus ojos y mantiene menos del 50% de visibilidad en el otro.
En el caso del Sr. Damián Gallardo, hace más de cinco meses solicitó al juez la autorización para poder recibir rehabilitación psicológica como víctima de tortura así como tratamiento oftalmológico para tratar una carnosidad en su ojo derecho. Pese a la urgencia, la solicitud aún no ha sido procesada, en un claro ejemplo de los constantes retardos y demoras en el proceso judicial al que regularmente se enfrentan los tres defensores de derechos humanos.
Damián Gallardo, Enrique Guerrero y Librado Baños se cuentan entre los beneficiarios de recientes opiniones del Grupo de Trabajo de Naciones Unidas que declaran arbitrarias las detenciones de cinco personas defensoras de derechos humanos. Ninguna de las cinco opiniones ha sido implementada tal y como resaltó recientemente en el informe preliminar de su visita a México el Relator de la ONU sobre la situación de las personas defensoras de derechos Humanos, el Sr. Michel Forst. En los cinco casos se puede verificar un mismo patrón de detención, no existieron ordenes de aprehensión, fueron sometidos a actos de tortura y/o malos tratos , así como a diversas violaciones al debido proceso.
En cuanto a la situación en el Estado de Oaxaca, según datos de la Defensoría Especializada en la Protección de Personas Defensoras y Periodistas de la Defensoría de los Derechos Humanos del Pueblo de Oaxaca, en 2016 se produjeron 197 agravios contra 95 personas defensoras (39 mujeres y 56 hombres) y contra 10 grupos. En al menos 72 de estos agravios se contó con la participación de integrantes de corporaciones policiacas federales, estatales o municipales. Además, según datos de la Red de Mujeres Activistas y Defensoras de Derechos Humanos de Oaxaca, el Estado lidera desde 2010 el ranking de ataques contra defensoras de derechos humanos a nivel nacional con un aumento constante de las cifras.
“La situación para las personas defensoras en Oaxaca se cuenta entre las más difíciles en todo el territorio mexicano. Sin embargo, el Estado de Oaxaca sigue sin contar con una política pública integral de protección a personas defensoras con un enfoque particular para las mujeres defensoras y con medidas que hagan frente tanto a la impunidad como a la falta de efectividad de las medidas de protección”, declaró Yésica Sánchez, miembro de la Junta Directiva del Consorcio Para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad Oaxaca A.C.
Contexto de la misión:
La misión tuvo lugar entre el 31 de enero y el 8 de febrero y estuvo conformada por Miguel Martín Zumalacárregui, director de la oficina de la OMCT en Bruselas y Yésica Sánchez, integrante del Equipo Directivo del Consorcio Oaxaca.
En el Estado de Oaxaca la misión sostuvo reuniones con numerosas personas defensoras y organizaciones de la sociedad civil oaxaqueña así como con la Defensoría Especializada en la Protección de Personas Defensoras y Periodistas de la Defensoría de los Derechos Humanos del Pueblo de Oaxaca (DDHPO). Lamentablemente, la solicitud de reunión con el gobernador de Oaxaca, Alejandro Murat, no fue atendida.
En la Ciudad de México la misión pudo reunirse con la Delegación de la Unión Europea en México, la Oficina en México del Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDH) y la Subsecretaría para Asuntos Multilaterales y Derechos Humanos de la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE). Lamentablemente, la solicitud de reunión con la Subsecretaría de Derechos Humanos de la Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB) no fue atendida.
Contactos de prensa:
· OMCT: Miguel Martín Zumalacárregui / Delphine Reculeau: +41 22 809 49 39
· FIDH: Audrey Couprie : + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / José Carlos Thissen : + 51 95 41 31 650
· Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad Oaxaca A.C.: Yésica Sánchez: Tel: +52 951 132 8996 / Cel: +52 951 17 00 432
El Observatorio para la Protección de los Defensores de Derechos Humanos (el Observatorio) es un programa creado en 1997 por la Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT) y la FIDH y tiene por objetivo intervenir para prevenir o remediar situaciones concretas de represión contra los defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos. OMCT y FIDH son miembros de ProtectDefenders.eu, el Mecanismo de la Unión Europea para Defensores de Derechos Humanos implementado por sociedad civil internacional.
With the support of ProtectDefenders.eu, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published a report in Spanish, French and English about the plight of journalists in Mexico’s eastern state of Veracruz, one of Latin America’s most dangerous places for the media.
Entitled “Veracruz: journalists and the state of fear,” the report is the fruit of a visit carried out by RSF to Mexico in June 2016 -within the framework of the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism- during which it met with local journalists, representatives of NGOs and representatives of federal and state-level institutions involved in protecting media freedom in Mexico.
The report examines the appalling environment for journalists in Veracruz. Caught between ultra-violent criminal cartels and corrupt politicians, journalists who take too close an interest in sensitive stories or in organized crime are liable to be admonished, threatened and even gunned down in cold blood.
From 2000 to 2016 in Mexico, 99 journalists were the victims of murders that were clearly or probably linked to their work, and 20% of these murders took place in Veracruz alone. Cases of physical attacks and disappearances are also legion, and the shocking level of impunity shows the ineffectiveness of the many mechanisms created for protecting journalists.
The report includes the accounts that RSF received from Veracruz journalists about their problems, the need to censor themselves and the decision that some have had to take to flee the region. The families of victims also describe their mostly unsuccessful battles for justice.
The report concludes with a series of recommendations for Mexico’s federal authorities and for Veracruz’s new governor, Miguel Ángel Yunes, the heir of the appalling record of his predecessor, Javier Duarte, who disappeared into thin air late last year after the federal authorities accused him of illicit enrichment.
The recommendations, to be presented in detail at RSF’s press conference on 2 February, aim to end the vicious circle of violence, improve the existing mechanisms for protecting journalists and effectively combat the chronic impunity that constrains media freedom in Veracruz and the rest of Mexico.
ProtectDefenders.eu partners are concerned about recent killings, attempted murders and enforced disappearances in Colombia, the killing of land rights defenders in Myanmar and the ongoing repression against human rights defenders and lawyers in Turkey.
In January 2017, OMCT, within the framework of ProtectDefenders.eu, allocated a grant to the NGO “Avenir Jeunes de l’Ouest”, an NGO defending and protecting human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual (LGBTI) people in Cameroon, a country where homosexuality is criminalised.
The grant enabled the NGO to rent a new office after it was expelled without notice from the previous premises it was renting, when the owner discovered that the NGO was defending LGBTI rights.
The grant also covered the employment during six months of a guard for the office. Thanks to OMCT support, “Avenir Jeunes de l’Ouest” has improved the security of its office and staff, which has helped the NGO to continue its critical human rights work.
ProtectDefenders.eu has allocated more than 550 emergency to human rights defenders and organisations. More information is available here.
In December 2016, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an OMCT-FIDH partnership supported by the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism) jointly with several Cambodian organisations, welcomed the recent Opinion No. 45/2016 adopted by the UNWGAD that recognise the arbitrary nature of the ongoing detention of human rights defenders Ny Chakrya, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Lim Mony in Cambodia.
The decision of the WGAD followed a submission made by OMCT, FIDH, CCHR and LICADHO in June 2016. In a landmark move, the WGAD also referred for the first time ever to human rights defenders as a protected group that is entitled to equal legal protection under Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The five human rights defenders have been in pre-trial detention on charges of bribery since April 2016.
In December 2016, ProtectDefenders.eu supported a three-days training for 25 human rights defenders from the Midlands Province in Zimbabwe conducted by the OMCT, jointly with the Zimbabwe Organisation for the Youth in Politics (ZOYP). The main objectives were to strengthen the advocacy work of the participants as well as to sensitize them on security issues in their work, especially ahead of the 2018 elections.
The training has enabled the participants to exchange experience and expertise to comprehensively address the repression and criminalisation of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, as well as to reinforce their digital, physical, and psychological security measures. The training also addressed the local, regional and international legal and policy frameworks that are relevant to the protection of human rights defenders and their work. Finally, participants were also formed on how to conduct trainings and share further to fellow activists the knowledge they acquired during the workshop.
ProtectDefenders.eu partners are concerned about recent killings and overall degradation of the situation of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala, and arbitrary detentions and judicial harassment against defenders in Kenya and Malaysia.
Protection International, partner in the implementation of ProtectDefenders.eu, launches a call for proposals for local human rights organisations.
The call prioritises proposals for consolidating operational capacities of local human rights organisations which are important to the medium to long term prospects for Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), such as:
- Supporting local initiatives, especially the ones in isolated areas or strengthening HRDs’ protection structures, such as networks, response mechanisms or focal points;
- Allowing HRDs to manage risks inherent to their own work and/or work of other HRDs, and thus support continued human rights activism;
- Building capacities of local organisations, by allowing them to obtain and/or conduct specific trainings in areas that would assist in protecting them, such as physical and digital security, legal defence, litigation, etc.;
- Providing a lifeline to local organisations that are endangered by unexpected and/or grave security, financial, legal or administrative situations.
This call for proposal will NOT support individual or emergency grants, nor any relocation request as these needs are covered by other call for proposals under Protectdefenders.eu (see in particular “Emergency grants” and “Relocation grant”).
Applications can be received anytime during the opening of the call (see dates above).
Proposals will be dealt upon as they arrive. The call will be closed as soon as the available amount has been fully allocated and at the latest on March 15th 2017.
The overall indicative amount made available to Protection International under Component 2 (C2) for this Call for Proposals is EUR 130 000. Only one contract will be awarded per applicant under this call. Protection International reserves the right not to award all available funds.
Africa: Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, DRC, Chad, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan;
Americas: Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, USA;
Asia: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand.
ELIGIBILITY & CRITERIA
Any grant requested under this Call for Proposals must fall between the minimum amount of EUR 5000 and the maximum amount of EUR 20 000.
Only activities taking place from October 1st 2016 until September 30th 2017 will be considered eligible.
To avoid creating a misbalance and/or dependency towards the Fund, the grant requested cannot be more than 30% of the organisation’s previous annual financial statement (to be provided along the application).
The call is only open to non-profit organisations and networks that:
- are formally registered;
- are working with the following priority groups:
a) HRD or communities who are particularly vulnerable due to gender, sexual orientation, the issue they work on (e.g. land rights; anti-corruption), or their geographical location (e.g. remote or rural areas, conflict area);
b)HRD or communities with little means to access the required financial resources through other channels.
Fixed list of eligible activities:
- Setting up and maintaining protection systems (including but not limited to office physical and digital security measures);
- Preventive protective accompaniment by third party;
- Organisational capacity building and systems
- Running a protection network or collective protection mechanism;
- Activities related with team supervision, psychosocial support, rest and respite or other well-being measures;
- One-off financial support to ensure the organisation’s operational functioning or a bridge to cover a funding gap.
Other criteria for selection:
PI prioritises projects that aim for sustainable results in order to achieve lasting impact. In particular, applicants are highly encouraged to include in their proposal specific activities aimed at increasing financial, management and organizational capacities to ensure the continuation of their work in the long term (financial, legal, physical, psychological, digital and reputational resilience);
Applicants are not receiving funds already for organisational development from any of the EU ProtectDefenders.eu component;
PI aims for a geographically balanced distribution;
PI expects a gendered approach to protection and security;
Equal treatment and non-discrimination: PI will not discriminate against any applicant because of race, colour, religion, gender, or national origin.
PAYMENT AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
Payments shall be made in accordance with the terms described hereafter:
An initial pre-financing payment of 80% of the granted amount will be disbursed upon reception of the signed contract;
The balance of the final amount of the grant will be disbursed after reception and approval of the financial report by PI in the limits of:
– maximum 20% of the amount originally granted;
– AND maximum of the total amount duly reported and accounted for in the financial report. Should that final amount be inferior to the total amount granted, only expenses accounted for will be reimbursed.
The final reports (financial and narrative) must be sent as soon as the whole funds have been spent and no later than October 31st 2017 (one month after the end of the implementation period).
Correspondence related to the call and possible grant-making process is encrypted if opportune or required;
The proposals are presented using the application form provided;
Applications will be examined and evaluated by PI head office and their protection desks with the possible assistance of external assessors. All submitted proposals will be assessed;
If the examination of the application reveals that the proposed action does not meet the eligibility criteria stated above, the application will be rejected on this sole basis;
The applicants will be informed in writing of Protection International’s decision concerning their application and, if rejected, the reasons for the negative decision;
An applicant believing that it has been harmed by an error or irregularity during the award process may lodge a complaint;
Following the decision to award a grant, the Beneficiary(ies) will be requested to sign a Grant Agreement based on the application. By submitting the application form, the applicant agrees, if awarded a grant, to accept the contractual conditions of the Grant Agreement. The Grant Agreement describes the main terms of the grant, identifies the contact person, details the reporting requirements and provides a complaint procedure.
In December 2016, Adan Guillermo López Lone, a member of the Association of Judges for Democracy (AJD, Asociación de Jueces para la Democracia), visited the UK, France, Switzerland and Belgium to meet international actors. The tour was sponsored by PBI Honduras within ProtectDefenders.eu.
The main purpose of the tour was to raise awareness about the Honduras’ government failure to implement the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) sentence on the López Lone and others vs. Honduras case.
During the tour, López Lone met with representatives from the British Foreign Office, The Law Society, the UN OHCHR, the Geneva Bar Association, the offices of three UN Special Rapporteurs (on the situation of human rights defenders, on the independence of judges and lawyers, and on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association), the French Magistrates Union, the French Foreign Ministry, Cáritas and other civil society actors.
In the UK, Guillermo was a key speaker at a meeting organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group, the Law Society and PBI UK about challenges facing the rule of law in Central America.
The tour was very successful and gathering international support for AJD’s struggle to see the sentence implemented. The British Minister for Human Rights, Baroness Anelay, visited Honduras after Guillermo’s tour and raised the issue with the Honduran government. The three UN rapporteurs’ offices with which Guillermo had met issued a joint public statement about the case.
In addition, the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales sent an amicus curiae to the IACHR ahead of a February 2017 audience on the government’s compliance with the sentence. The French Magistrates Union sent a public letter to the Honduran government calling for full compliance with the sentence. A French MP committed to ask a parliamentary question about the case and send a letter to the Honduran authorities.
According to Guillermo, PBI’s accompaniment has been instrumental in raising international awareness about the case and advocating for judicial independence in Honduras. PBI’s advocacy and outreach has helped give visibility to the situation facing justice operators in the country. The European tour was very important in strengthening AJD’s international support network and the legitimacy of its work in Honduras.
For five days, advocates from all over the world met to network and engage in dialogue on issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex communities both at the local and at the international level, to take stock of the many groundbreaking moments celebrated in the past few years and to strategize about the future of these movements.
With nine Pre-Conferences, 20 Rainbow Talks and 25 workshops on topics ranging from integrated security for activists to the economic cost of social exclusion for LGBTI communities, from fundraising to strategic litigation, the conference offered an important occasion for LGBTI human rights defenders to strengthen their capacities, network and discuss on ways to shape a world in which everyone can live safely, equally and free.
Picture: Jacuzzi News
Ciudad de Panamá-Ginebra-Paris-Tegucigalpa, 1 de diciembre de 2016 - "Asesinatos, amenazas y criminalización es la realidad cotidiana para las personas defensoras de derechos humanos en Honduras. Las autoridades hondureñas deben mostrar una real voluntad política para hacer frente a esta crisis", según denunciaron hoy el Observatorio para la Protección de los Defensores de Derechos Humanos (OMCT-FIDH), CEHPRODEC, CIPRODEH, COFADEH y la Plataforma Internacional contra la Impunidad en el informe de la misión de investigación realizada por el Observatorio en el marco de ProtectDefenders.eu. El lanzamiento de este informe se realizó durante la audiencia ante la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos sobre la situación de los defensores de derechos humanos en Honduras, celebrada en la Ciudad de Panamá.
On the occasion of the 1st Beneficiaries' Meeting, the twelve partner organisations of ProtectDefenders.eu have issued a public statement urging all national authorities to "publicly recognise the crucial role played by human rights defenders and protect them in all circumstances from any form of judicial harassment". As stressed by Antoine Madelin, FIDH Director for International Advocacy and Chair of the Board of ProtectDefenders.eu, "Human Rights Defenders are the pillars of democracy and of the rule of law but are too often subjected to unfair criminal prosecution, in an effort to undermine their work in the defence of human rights."
(READ HERE THE FULL VERSION OF THE JOINT STATEMENT)
"Everyday in Honduras, human rights defenders face killings, threats and criminalisation. The Honduran authorities must show genuine political willingness to confront this crisis" urged the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an OMCT - FIDH partnership), on the occasion of the publication of the report on the international fact-finding mission carried out in the country within ProtectDefenders.eu, launched on December 1st in Panama City, before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
The predicament of human rights defenders in Honduras has received a great deal of international attention in 2016, following the murder of Berta Cáceres, an emblematic Lenca indigenous defender. This crime is just the tip of the iceberg; the high levels of violence directed against defenders in Honduras have made it one of the most dangerous countries in the world for human rights defence.
Since 2001, 17 defenders have been murdered, although they were beneficiaries of IACHR precautionary measures - an average of one per year. Since May 2015, the Observatory has documented 16 killings of human rights defenders - almost one per month. These figures clearly demonstrate that the situation is becoming more acute.
Attacks against defenders tend to go unpunished, largely due to inefficiencies in the administration of justice as well as a number of other structural factors. Meanwhile, there have been a great many incidences of defenders being criminalised, and the judicial system has shown remarkable diligence in pursuing these cases. According to IACHR, since 2010 there have been 3,064 cases in Honduras where human rights defenders have been criminalised as a means of intimidation.
The report concludes that Honduras needs a clearer and more protective national framework, one which fully recognises the human rights of the rural population, indigenous peoples and the LGBTI community. This would improve the working environment of defenders of these rights, and would allow them to enjoy a greater degree of legitimacy and visibility, especially in situations of conflict over natural resources and hetero-patriarchal stereotypes respectively.
Brussels, November 29, 2016.- ProtectDefenders.eu, the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism implemented by International Civil Society, has just concluded its first annual meeting of beneficiaries: human rights defenders at risk from all regions of the world who have benefited from the project gathered today in Brussels. The meeting aimed at reflecting on this first year of coordinated work to support defenders worldwide and at highlighting the worrying global phenomenon of criminalisation of human rights defenders.
To conclude the meeting, the twelve partner organisations of ProtectDefenders.eu have issued a public statement urging all national authorities to "publicly recognise the crucial role played by human rights defenders and protect them in all circumstances from any form of judicial harassment". As stressed by Antoine Madelin, FIDH Director for International Advocacy and Chair of the Board of ProtectDefenders.eu, "Human Rights Defenders are the pillars of democracy and of the rule of law but are too often subjected to unfair criminal prosecution, in an effort to undermine their work in the defence of human rights."
Since the launch of the project in October 2015, ProtectDefenders.eu has witnessed an increased criminalisation of defenders worldwide in reprisal to the conduct of legitimate human rights activities.
ProtectDefenders.eu held its meeting in Brussels under the motto "Defenders are not criminals" and brought together dozens of human rights defenders at risk supported by the EU mechanism during its first year of implementation, together with prominent representatives of NGOs, European institutions and Representatives of International and Regional Protection Mechanisms, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst. Participating defenders, coming from more than 20 countries such as Burundi, Honduras, Egypt, Bangladesh or the Russian Federation, shared their experiences of resilience in often dangerous and challenging situations and debated on the most effective strategies to counter criminalisation and pursue their work.
This meeting has also emphasised the main achievements and highlights of the first year of ProtectDefenders.eu. In the first twelve months, the EU Mechanism has provided more than 330 emergency grants to defenders at high risk, facilitating a rapid response to their legal, medical, security or emergency relocation needs in pressing circumstances. At the same time, ProtectDefenders.eu has successfully started and run a temporary relocation programme, disbursing more than 700,000 € in support of 74 temporary relocations in favour of 150 individuals, with the collaboration of host institutions worldwide and in the framework of the EU Temporary Relocation Platform.
The Project has also provided institutional and operational support to grassroots organisations, allocating more than 300,000 € through 32 grants. 1,300 defenders worldwide were trained to improve their security and protection in difficult contexts.
Finally, ProtectDefenders.eu has expanded its advocacy and outreach dimension, by conducting fact-finding missions and monitoring trials against defenders particularly in difficult countries, as well as carrying out initiatives to assist and connect isolated and vulnerable defenders throughout the world. ProtectDefenders.eu has coordinated more than 430 urgent alerts aimed at mobilizing the attention of concerned authorities, public and media on behalf of defenders at risk.
Human Rights defenders who attended the meeting positively assessed the first year of implementation of ProtectDefenders.eu. The twelve partners praised the EU strong support through the EIDHR of a project as ambitious and comprehensive as ProtectDefenders.eu. As pointed out by Andrew Anderson, Executive Director of Front Line Defenders and member of the Board of ProtectDefenders.eu, in the closing speech, "human rights defenders in danger around the world do benefit from this strong coordination between international civil society organizations and the institutions of the European Union."
On the 29th of November, ProtectDefenders.eu held its first annual meeting of beneficiaries under the motto "Defenders are not criminals". More than 30 human rights defenders at risk from all regions of the world who have benefited from the project gathered in Brussels with representatives of NGOs, European institutions and International and Regional Protection Mechanisms, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst. The meeting reflected on this first year of coordinated work to support defenders worldwide and highlighted the worrying global phenomenon of criminalisation of human rights defenders.
Participating defenders, coming from more than 20 countries such as Burundi, Honduras, Egypt, Bangladesh or the Russian Federation, shared their experiences of resilience in often dangerous and challenging situations and debated on the most effective strategies to counter criminalisation and pursue their work.
This meeting also emphasised the main achievements of ProtectDefenders.eu for this first year of support: More than 330 emergency grants have been allocated to defenders at high risk, facilitating a rapid response to their legal, medical, security or emergency relocation needs in pressing circumstances. At the same time, ProtectDefenders.eu has successfully started and run a temporary relocation programme, disbursing more than 700,000 € in support of 73 temporary relocations in favour of 150 individuals, with the collaboration of host institutions worldwide and in the framework of the EU Temporary Relocation Platform. The Project has also provided institutional and operational support to grassroots organisations, allocating more than 300,000 € through 37 grants. 1,600 defenders worldwide were trained to improve their security and protection in difficult contexts. Finally, ProtectDefenders.eu has expanded its advocacy and outreach dimension, by conducting fact-finding missions and monitoring trials against defenders particularly in difficult countries, as well as carrying out initiatives to assist and connect isolated and vulnerable defenders throughout the world. ProtectDefenders.eu has coordinated more than 430 urgent alerts aimed at mobilizing the attention of concerned authorities, public and media on behalf of defenders at risk.
See the gallery of pictures of the 1st Beneficiaries' Meeting here.
بروكسل، 29 تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر 2016
يتعرض المدافعون عن حقوق الإنسان في أنحاء العالم بانتظام إلى المضايقات وتوجّه إليهم التهّم الجنائية، وذلك بهدف ترهيبهم وشلّ أنشطتهم في مجال حقوق الإنسان ونزع الشرعية عنها. إذ يواجه المدافعون صعوبات شتى أثناء عملهم في بيئات تشريعية وإدارية تزداد قيودها وتنكر الحق في حرية تكوين الجمعيات وحرية التعبير والتجمّع السلمي. فتُلغى التراخيص الممنوحة للمنظمات غير الحكومية المعنية بحقوق الإنسان، وتُجمّد حساباتها المصرفية، ويُنتهك حقها في الحصول على المال من الخارج. كذلك طوّر عدد متزايد من الدول نمطًا منهجّيًا من العقبات التي تعترض حرية المدافعين عن حقوق الإنسان في التنقل (لا سيما اللجوء إلى تدبير المنع من السفر) في محاولة واضحة لعزلهم.
في خلال السنة الأولى للمشروع، رأى ائتلاف حماية المدافعين، الذي يضم منظمات المجتمع المدني الدولية التي تطبق آلية حماية المدافعين عن حقوق الإنسان في الاتحاد الأوروبي، في هذه الظاهرة نزعة عالمية متنامية تقوّض وجود بيئة مؤاتية للمدافعين عن حقوق الإنسان. ففي عام 2016 فقط، ووفقا للنتائج التي توصل إليها ائتلاف حماية المدافعين، واجه ما يزيد على 425 مدافعًا مضايقات قضائية، ولُفقت التهم ضد 193 مدافعًا أو حُكم عليهم بالسجن.
إن لإساءة استخدام نظم العدالة الجنائية المحلية، ووضع التشريعات والأحكام التنظيمية التي تقيّد المدافعين عن حقوق الإنسان تأثيرًا ثلاثي الجوانب في عملهم. أولًا، يتعارض ذلك عمليًا مع أنشطتهم اليومية في مجال حقوق الإنسان. إذ يُجبرون مثلًا على تلبية الاستدعاءات والحضور دوريًا، وقضاء فترات احتجاز طويلة رهن المحاكمة، أو تنفيذ أحكام تمنعهم من ممارسة أنشطتهم في حال إدانتهم. ثانيًا، يُسهم ذلك في وصم المدافعين عن حقوق الإنسان والمنظمات ووصفهم بالمجرمين، ومن ثمّ نزع الشرعية عن دورهم الإيجابي في المجتمع. ثالثًا، إن تجريم المدافعين وتعرّضهم للمضايقة القضائية يولّدان تأثيرًا سلبيًا في المجتمع المدني عمومًا، لا سيما داخل المجتمعات أو الجماعات التي ينتمي إليها المدافعون، وقد يؤدي ذلك في حالات عدة إلى التفكك الاجتماعي وعزل المدافعين أنفسهم.
لقد استهدفت الجهات الفاعلة من الدول وغير الدول مجموعات بعينها من المدافعين أكثر من غيرها و جرّمتها بسبب القضايا التي تهتم بها. وغالبا ما تُلفق التهم الجنائية بحق هؤلاء المدافعين، ولا سيما المدافعون عن حقوق الأرض والبيئة، والمدافعون عن الحقوق الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والثقافية، وحقوق المرأة (من بينها الحقوق الجنسية والإنجابية)، وحقوق المثليين والمثليات ومزدوجي الميل الجنسي والمتحولين جنسيا والمترددين في ميلهم الجنسي، وحرية التعبير، والقضايا المتعلقة بسيادة القانون والمساءلة.
عمومًا، ترافق التجريم انتهاكات جسيمة للحق في محاكمة عادلة. إذ غالبا ما تتسم الاجراءات الجنائية بعدم استقلالية القضاء، والاجراءات المستعجلة، والفشل في إطلاع المتهمين على التهم المنسوبة إليهم، والعراقيل التي تعترض حقهم في الدفاع والحصول على محامٍ، والافتقار إلى الترجمة وعدم الامتثال لمبدأ علنية جلسات الاستماع، فضلا عن جملة من الانتهاكات الأخرى.
لقد هيأت أعداد متزايدة من الدول حول العالم بيئات قانونية قمعية تقوّض ممارسة الحق في حرية تكوين الجمعيات (ويشمل ذلك الحق في الحصول على التمويل)، والحق في التعبير والتجمّع السلمي. إن هذه القيود لا تنتهك معايير حقوق الإنسان المُعترف بعا عالميًا وحسب، إنما تؤثر بشدة في مساعي المجتمع المدني الرامية إلى تعزيز حقوق الإنسان وحمايتها، وضمان الاستماع إلى صوت ضحايا الانتهاكات. إن هذه القوانين والأحكام التنظيمية، بالإضافة إلى الممارسات والاجراءات الرسمية المقيِّدة تُلحق بالغ الضرر في عمل المنظمات غير الحكومية، وتؤدي إلى تقييد أنشطتها وتجريم موظفيها، و/أو حتى ربما إغلاق المنظمة وحلّها. وفي كثير من البلدان، تُهدد هذه السياسات والقوانين الجديدة كينونة المجتمع المدني لحقوق الإنسان.
إن ائتلاف حماية المدافعين يهيب بشدة بالسلطات المحلية كافة القيام بما يلي:
يُدعو ائتلاف حماية المدافعين أيضًا الاتحاد الأوروبي والدول الأعضاء فيه إلى:
# المدافعون عن حقوق الإنسان ليسوا مجرمين
إنّ ائتلاف حماية المدافعين هو آلية للمدافعين عن حقوق الإنسان أنشأها الاتحاد الأوروبي لحماية المدافعين الذين يتعرضون لمخاطر جسيمة ويواجهون أصعب الأوضاع في أنحاء العالم.
ويُطبق هذه الآلية اتحاد من 12 منظمة دولية ذات سجل حافل في مجال حماية المدافعين عن حقوق الإنسان وتنظيم الحملات ومناصرتهم.
“I have been in Nairobi for 26 months..."
“I have been in Nairobi for 26 months; I changed four places in Nairobi including UNHCR safe house. My life was at risk and full of fears. I was targeted by the government security agents and I was locked for two years. I had nothing to survive. However, ProtectDefenders.eu and its partner organizations was a lot of impact for being safe in US Florida. They provide me financial, emotional and counselling support, without the help of ProtectDefenders.eu and its partners I wouldn’t be in US. The financial assistance helps me to pay my house rent and basic expenses. Currently, I am struggling to begin life from nothing; but thanks to the support I do all my effort to keep on my journalistic activities, I have confidence that the EU and its partners will remain defend the defenders. I express heartfelt thanks for all you did. and for all the support you’ve shown" .
ProtectDefenders.eu partners are concerned about recent killings and overall degradation of the situation of Human Rights Defenders in Honduras, and severe threats and judicial abuses against defenders in Kazakhstan and DRC.
On November 19, ESCR-Net’s System of Solidarity Advisory Group, through Front Line Defenders and Just Associates and with the support of ProtectDefenders.eu, facilitated a security training for 35 human rights defenders, half of whom were women, during the ESCR-Net Global Strategy Meeting in Buenos Aires (Argentina).
During the meeting, more than 140 social movements, civil society organisations and advocates from over 40 countries came together to confront global systems that perpetuate inequality, impoverishment and dispossession and to explore alternatives to these global common conditions. The participants ranged from representatives of social movements and grassroots organisations working in difficult countries as well as representatives from larger NGOs based in the Global North who collaborate with human rights defenders under threat.
Following a dynamic methodology, participants were asked to draw an average day in their lives. They subsequently discussed their drawings in pairs. Then, in plenary, participants explained their drawings and shared observations about their daily routines and what those mean for the security risks and vulnerabilities that they face, as well as general observations about well-being for human rights defenders.
Participants expressed appreciation for the training and informational session, which was made possible thanks to ProtectDefenders.eu, and highlighted interest in further capacity-building opportunities for the coming period.
ProtectDefenders.eu is holding its first beneficiaries' meeting next Tuesday, 29th November 2016, in Brussels, under the theme “Defenders are not criminals - Countering Criminalisation of Human Rights Defenders”.
In addition to highlighting the main achievements and challenges of the first year of implementation of ProtectDefenders.eu, this first beneficiaries' meeting will aim at giving enhanced visibility to the human rights defenders agenda. It will address the issue of criminalisation as a worrying trend, foster sharing of experiences on successful strategies to counter criminalisation and draw relevant conclusions on the support needed by human rights defenders both within and outside ProtectDefenders.eu.
ProtectDefenders.eu chose to highlight the issue of criminalisation of human rights defenders as a topic of concern throughout this event. Indeed, in recent years, state and non-state actors have made numerous attempts to criminalise the work of human rights defenders worldwide in order to silence their voices and undermine the credibility of their actions. Countering criminalisation of the work of human rights defenders is therefore imperative to ensure a safe environment for individuals to defend and exercise their rights.
This event will bring together Human Rights Defenders, Human Rights NGOs, Representatives of international and regional Protection Mechanisms, Members of the EU Temporary Relocation Platform, as well as other Representatives of EU Institutions, providing therefore valuable networking opportunities for all participants.
If you are interested in joining us, please contact Javier Roura at email@example.com
ProtectDefenders.eu has supported the advocacy tour of Nkosilathi Emmanuel Moyo, a Zimbabwean human rights defender and democracy activist, carried out from 7-10 of November, in Brussels. During his stay, Nkosilathi met with MEPs, human rights NGOs, scholars and EU representatives to raise awareness about the hazardous situation of civil society and human rights defenders in Zimbabwe. Nkosilathi Emmanuel Moyo has been particularly threatened after accusing President Robert Mugabe for crimes against humanity, and has been forced to flee to South Africa.
Nkosilathi had previously participated in the Shelter City relocation program in the Netherlands after receiving several threats and being under constant surveillance due to the publication of his book 'Robert Mugabe from freedom fighter to the people’s enemy'.
Nkosilathi is the co-founder of Zimbabwe Organisation for the Youth in Politics (Z.O.Y.P), a community-based organisation working with human rights defenders and youth based in the small mining town of Kwekwe, in Zimbabwe. He has also established the ‘Community Human Rights Defenders Academy’ where he is educating and training human rights defenders based in remote and grassroots areas to help them perform their human rights work.
On 10 and 11 November 2016, Reporters Without Borders organised a training in physical security for 19 Afghan journalists in Kabul with the support of ProtectDefenders.eu. The training gathered journalists, majority of them working as war reporters for local and national media and among them 4 women, from 13 provinces of Afghanistan.
The training focused on four different topics, based on RSF’s guide to security for journalist, translated and edited for this occasion in Pashtun and Dura:- Physical security; How to prepare a report and assure that all security measures are being respected; How to react to a kidnapping, or extreme situation and protection measures: How to deal with post-trauma and psychological impact.
Each session was divided between a theoretical part and workshops with practical exercises. The methodology of the training was based on the ‘training of the trainer’ approach, as the objective was that the trainees could then form their colleagues. So far, two additional trainings have been organised. At the end of the two-days, one journalist confided “you think you already know all the security rules to protect yourself as a journalist, but you don’t, this training was eye-opening and very useful”.
In November 14-16 2016, ProtectDefenders.eu participated in the 7th Asian Regional Human Rights Defenders Forum, held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, presenting the EU Human Rights Defenders. The forum was organised by FORUM-ASIA together with their members in Sri Lanka: Inform Human Rights Documentation Centre (INFORM) and Law and Society Trust (LST).
ProtectDefenders.eu, through the European Union Temporary Relocation Platform (EUTRP), has supported the set-up of a new relocation programme 'Tbilisi Shelter City' in Tbilisi, Georgia, together with two local NGOs (Truth Hounds and Analytical Center for Interethnic Cooperation). This new shelter initiative is expected to host up to 20 human rights defenders. The first group of defenders in need of relocation will arrive in December 2016.
This new shelter programme is open to human rights defenders under threat coming from Central Asia, Russia and Turkey. Thanks to the advantageous conditions of the visa free regime in Georgia, the programme will be able to swiftly relocate human rights defenders at risk. Local organisations Truth Hounds and the Analytical Center for Interethnic Cooperation, who are running the Tbilisi Shelter City programme, have developed a comprehensive program to make out the most of the stay of defenders, providing meaningful opportunities for professional development. The relocation programme includes courses in human rights offered by the University, English and driving lessons, as well as trainings in communication, project writing and advocacy.
ProtectDefenders.eu is supporting the monitoring of the trial against human rights defenders Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan in Atyrau (Kazakhstan), carried out by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (OMCT-FIDH partnership) and several local and national and international human rights organisations.
According to the Observatory, “the criminal cases against Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan appear to be aimed at punishing them because of their criticism of the Land Code reform and at sending a chilling message to civil society in the country" Therefore, the Observatory urged the Kazakhstani authorities "to ensure that the proceedings are carried out in full compliance with the right to a fair trial, as guaranteed by international law and to acquit the two defenders”.
From October 24, the Observatory for the Protection of HRDs, a partnership of OMCT and FIDH, conducted a four-days fact-finding mission on the situation of HRDs in Kenya within the framework of ProtectDefenders.eu.
The Observatory, particularly concerned by the high levels of police violence against HRDs and the attempts of restricting their space of work, decided to carry out an International Fact-Finding Mission in Kenya with the objective of verifying in situ the situation of human rights defenders in the country, raising international attention on their situation and contributing to their protection and the improvement of an enabling environment for civil society in Kenya. More particularly, the mission focused on the analysis of the high levels of police violence against defenders working on accountability and the rule of law, as well as against peaceful demonstrators, especially during election periods such as the one Kenya is living at the moment. Another important focus was the legal path of the 2013 Public Benefit Organisations Act a new NGO law which, once enacted, will repeal the 1990 NGO Coordination Act, the NGO legislation currently regulating the civil society sector that is clearly out-dated. The Mission touched also upon the recent attempts to shrink the space of civil society through administrative sanctions as well as through criminalization within the anti-terrorism legal framework.
ProtectDefenders.eu partners are concerned about reported judicial abuses, harassment and attacks against Human Rights Defenders in Russia, Colombia and Vietnam.
ProtectDefenders.eu - The EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism is looking for a 'Programmes and Communication' intern.
INFORMATION ABOUT PROTECTDEFENDERS.EU
ProtectDefenders.eu is the European Union Human Rights Defenders mechanism, established to protect defenders at high risk and facing the most difficult situations worldwide.
The implementation of ProtectDefenders.eu is led by a Consortium of 12 NGOs active in the field of Human Rights, namely Front Line Defenders, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Network (ESCR-Net), International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA), Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights (UAF), Protection International (PI), Peace Brigades International (PBI), Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders (EMHRF), Forum Asia and East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP).
ProtectDefenders.eu is coordinated by an independent Secretariat based in Brussels.
TASKS TO BE PERFORMED BY THE INTERN DURING THE INTERNSHIP
Based at the Secretariat's office in Brussels, the intern will work in support to the different file-holders and under the overall supervision of the Head of Secretariat.
He/She will carry out a variety of tasks related to the purposes of the EU HRD Mechanism coordination and implementation, what will provide an opportunity for learning and achieving relevant work experience in the field of human rights at global and EU levels.
Tasks & General Responsibilities:
Allocation of grants
Temporary Relocation of Human Rights Defenders
Communication and Advocacy
STARTING DATE & CONDITIONS
Please note that our internships are unpaid. Schedule can be flexible and would be agreed between the supervisor and the intern. Local transportation costs and meals expenses shall be reimbursed.
HOW TO APPLY?
Con el apoyo del Mecanismo de la UE para los Defensores y Defensoras de los Derechos Humanos - ProtectDefenders.eu, Protection International en Guatemala y Colombia ha estado impulsando en America Latina procesos de protección y fortalecimiento de la labor de las mujeres defensoras de los derechos humanos, particularmente los derechos territoriales y ambientales.
Como parte de este trabajo, del 2 al 8 de octubre se celebró el primer intercambio de mujeres defensoras de derechos humanos, en el cual participaron mujeres de las organizaciones sociales y comunidades acompanadas por los equipos de PDGuatemala, ADES-organización socia de PI en El Salvador, y PDColombia en alianza con Pensamiento y Acción Social – PAS.
La actividad tuvo como objetivo generar un espacio de intercambio de experiencias deprotección desarrolladas por las organizaciones y comunidades acompañadas. La metodología desarrollada permitió generar un espacio para profundizar a cerca de los riesgos a los que están expuestas las defensoras, en especial en contextos de explotación minera por parte de empresas extranjeras y conflictos de tierras. Entre los mayores riesgos se destacan los asesinatos de lideresas, la difamación y estigmatización de las mujeres y sus organizaciones, judicializaciones, ataque contra sus medios de vida como cultivos, y alteraciones en el medios ambiente y el uso de la tierra, como la contaminación de fuentes de agua, que terminan desplazando a las comunidades de sus territorios y limitando su espacio de actuación como defensoras.
Frente a las distintas amenazas, las mujeres identifican que los ataques en contra de sus familiares, principalmente los hijos e hijas, así como la difamación, son los hechos que han generado un mayor impacto, con consecuencia psicológicas grabes. Evidentemente todo lo anterior se presenta en un contexto de clara complicidad con las autoridades de los países.
En este intercambio se percibieron los logros, debilidades y fortalezas de las acciones de protección colectiva y autoprotección que se están llevando a cabo en sus comunidades y organizaciones, entre la que resaltan: el trabajo y desplazamientos en grupo, el uso de mecanismo de información comunitarios para la difusión de información y alertas, la denuncia como una práctica permanente y el desarrollo de acciones de incidencia nacional e internacional. Acciones que han permitido salvar vidas, dado que las respuestas institucionales en todos los países continúan siendo muy limitadas.
Al final las mujeres valoran la experiencia como un momento de aprendizaje y a su vez ratifican la importancia de la protección colectiva y de la autoprotección como un ejercicio de solidaridad y cuidado con la vida de cada defensora, apropian que estos factores, deben ser fortalecidos en cada uno de los procesos acompañados, aunque reconocen que es un gran reto, pues la estrategia del opositor en todos los casos es romper los procesos organizativos y acabar con la solidaridad.
Organizaciones y comunidades participantes:
Fuente: Protection International
ProtectDefenders.eu is supporting the monitoring of the trial against human rights defenders Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan in Atyrau (Kazakhstan), carried out by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (OMCT-FIDH partnership) and several local and national and international human rights organisations.
According to the Observatory, “the criminal cases against Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan appear to be aimed at punishing them because of their criticism of the Land Code reform and at sending a chilling message to civil society in the country" Therefore, the Observatory urged the Kazakhstani authorities "to ensure that the proceedings are carried out in full compliance with the right to a fair trial, as guaranteed by international law and to acquit the two defenders”.
The Observatory denounced the judicial harassment and the arbitrary detention of Max Bokayev, a prominent civil society activist who heads the NGO “Arlan”, and Talgat Ayan, a lawyer and activist, have been ongoing since 17 May 2016. On that day, they were both arrested in Atyrau in retaliation for their crucial role in the peaceful protests against controversial amendments to Kazakhstan’s Land Code that took place in Kazakhstan in April and May, as well as their critical statements on this issue on social media platforms. In response to the peaceful land reform protests, the Kazakhstani authorities adopted a predominantly repressive approach including by detaining well-known civic activists and civil society leaders, as well as by refusing to grant authorisation for peaceful rallies.
From October 2 to 8, Protection International, with the support of ProtectDefenders.eu, organised a sharing experience for women human rights defenders and land rights defenders in Guatemala, the first of a set of initiatives and processes promoted to protect and strengthen the work of women human rights defenders, particularly working in land and environmental rights, through mutual learning.
On 26-27 September 2016, the EMHRF Maghreb team conducted a field visit to Tunisia’ most impoverished and remote areas, as an outreach initiative towards less connected human rights defenders and organisations carried out within ProtectDefenders.eu.
During this mission, the team visited the North-West of the country, (El Kef and Jendouba governorates), and met with four civil society organisations, in order to assess local civil society dynamics and needs as well as means to support their work in the future. As a result of this outreach mission, a new local HRDs’ organisation, whose aims are to promote citizenship and defend youth rights as well as developing civil society synergies around youth issues in the Ain Draham delegation and in the North-West of Tunisia, may receive core support from ProtectDefenders.eu to leverage and reinforce its activities.
Chakeri has been increasingly critical towards his country's government, also calling for freedom and democracy as an activist. During the last years he has been regularly attacked, arrested and threatened. He decided to leave his country and he is currently relocated in Brussels with the accompaniment of Passaporta - International house of Literature as host organisation, with the financial support of ProtectDefenders.eu.
Arash Chakeri joins at least 39 other defenders that have accessed the Temporary Relocation Programme of the EU Human Rights Defenders Mechanism during the last three months.These threatened defenders, coming from multiple countries (Bangladesh, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan or Uganda, among others) and working on fields such as freedom of expression, land and environmental rights or women's rights are now protected and accompanied by host organisations throughout the world. Since the launch of the Temporary Relocation Programme in February 2016, 68 human rights defenders at risk and their families when needed have been awarded with a temporary relocation grant by ProtectDefenders.eu.
Human Rights Defenders facing threats are eligible to the Temporary Relocation Programme of ProtectDefenders.eu. All information and secure application forms are available at https://www.protectdefenders.eu/supporting-defenders.
ProtectDefenders.eu has supported the publication of a briefing on the situation of repression against human rights defenders in Cuba, drafted by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of implementing partners FIDH and OMCT, and released on August 29. In a context of diplomatic and economic opening in the island, legitimate activities in defence of human rights carried out by civil society are still subject to prohibitions and prosecution.
In this briefing, the Observatory warns about the escalation of acts of repression against defenders and members of Cuban civil society, in particular against the movement of 'Las Damas de Blanco' and defenders related to the "#TodosMarchamos" campaign, documenting arbitrary detentions, judicial harassment, attacks, ill-treatment and death threat reported since April 2016.
Read the full briefing here.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, within the framework of ProtectDefenders.eu, has just issued its report on judicial observation mission of the Bajo Aguán case. Four years later, 25 defenders and peasants acquitted but the murder of lawyer Trejo go unpunished.
You can read the full report here.
The World Organisation against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of ProtectDefenders.eu, has allocated an emergency grant to Damián Gallardo Martínez, defender of indigenous people and education rights from the Mixe region in the state of Oaxaca (Mexico).
Mr. Gallardo has been arbitrarily detained since May 2013, as stated by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (Opinion 23/2014), as a consequence of his work for the release of political prisoners or indigenous rights in the Mixe and Zapotec regions. Mr. Gallardo is accused of criminal charges and has been subjected to repeated cruel and inhuman treatment and denied adequate medical care. The material support provided by ProtectDefenders.eu will allow Mr. Gallardo to cover expenses for adequate medical, psychological and legal attention to alleviate his situation.
In the last three months, ProtectDefenders.eu has allocated 46 emergency support grants to human rights defenders at risk, mostly to individuals working in the field of freedom of expression, indigenous people rights and good governance topics. China, Syria, Mexico, Ecuador, Burundi, Sri Lanka and Uganda rank among the countries of origin for a significant number of grantees, who requested support from ProtectDefenders.eu partners mainly to cover emergency relocation expenses, individual security measures and legal and medical assistance. Since the start of the project, the EU Human Rights Defenders Mechanism has provided 278 emergency grants.
Threatened defenders facing pressing needs can apply to an urgent support grant at www.protectdefenders.eu. Secured and encrypted application forms are available for defenders and requests for immediate assistance, including to cover legal or medical support, material assistance or relocation measures, can be quickly processed by ProtectDefenders.eu partners.
In June 2016, Reporters Without Borders carried out a 7 days observatory mission in Mexico, in the framework of ProtectDefenders.eu. The objective of this mission was to gather comprehensive information on the insecure situation, constant threats and attacks against the journalists in the region, in order to raise awareness and alert international community and propose recommendations.
The mission visited first the federal district of Mexico and met with institutional actors and journalists from Veracruz who fled into exile in the capital. Then, they travelled to the state of Veracruz (in the capital Xalapa and Puerto de Veracruz), to meet with local journalists, NGOs and representatives from the local mechanism for journalists’ protection. A report with all the conclusions and recommendations after this mission will be published in November.
On August 10, ProtectDefenders.eu partner ESCR-Net sent a letter to the Government of Nepal to express concern regarding the reported and threatened human rights violations in connection with the World Bank-funded Khimti-Dhalkebar 220 kV Transmission Line Project (Project), in the Sindhuli District, which is operating on the lands of indigenous peoples.
The letter follows concerns expressed for over a decade by Project-affected peoples regarding the Project’s human rights and environmental impacts, including: appropriation of lands without adequate compensation or resettlement; impacts detrimental to local livelihoods including land devaluation, loss of economic opportunity and interference with agricultural activities; environmental impacts; health impacts; and impacts on historical, cultural, religious and sacred sites.
On August 12, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, within the framework of ProtectDefenders.eu, welcomed the release of Mexican defender Ildefonso Zamora, after the intense work done to raise awareness about his case both nationally and internationally. Mr. Ildefonso Zamora was released after 9 months of arbitrary detention in reprisal for his work in defence of the environment, natural resources and the territory of the tlahuica community.
On 29 and 30 June 2016, PBI Guatemala, in collaboration with various local organisations and with the support of ProtectDefenders.eu, conducted a workshop on "Preventing and reacting to practices of defamation and criminalisation of social protest", held in Guatemala City.
46 people (37 women and 9 men) belonging to 24 organizations and social movements from 11 departments of Guatemala participated in this workshop, organised with the aim of increasing organizational and individual capacities of defenders to implement strategies and protective measures to minimize the impacts caused by the criminalization. This training addressed legal strategies for defenders to prevent and counteract criminalization processes. Moreover, the different manifestations of sexism within organizations and social movements and their psychological impacts, especially on women, were also addressed in the workshop.
Together with four other organisations and with the support of ProtectDefenders.eu, PBI Mexico convened and facilitated a Training for Trainers on Digital Security for 10 human rights defenders from four different Mexican states, held from 29 June to 1 july in Mexico City.
Participants were asked after training to replicate tools learned and deliver their own digital security workshops in the regions where they work. The opportunity was also used to create an informal network of organisations that can respond to the growing demands for tools on self protection from cyber threats. This initiative is the second of a series of four workshops where the focus lies precisely on sharing tools to facilitate workshops on security and protection.
In September 2016, Urgent Action Fund participated in the Association for Women's Rights in Development AWID Forum in Bahia (Brazil), meeting with WHRDs from around the world and sharing information about support available for them from ProtectDefenders.eu.
ProtectDefenders.eu partners are concerned about the plight of harassment and criminalisation against Human Rights Defenders in China, Cambodia and Bahrain.
ESCR-Net, within the framework of ProtectDefenders.eu, sent a petition to the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, to express grave concern regarding the recent abduction and killing of human rights defender and lawyer, Willie Kimani, his client, Josphat Mwenda, and driver, Joseph Muiruri and calling for a prompt and effective investigation into and accountability for these acts.
The three individuals were abducted and found dead on June 30. Their bodies were discovered in a river in Machakos County and were reported to show signs of having been tortured. Kimani had dedicated his career to defending human rights, protecting the rights of victims of torture, and transforming the criminal justice system.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, within the framework of ProtectDefenders.eu, carried out in July a mission of judicial observation of the process against human rights defenders Juan Francisco Pedro, Adalberto Villatoro, Arturo Juan Pablo, Hermit Lopez, Mynor Lopez, Domingo Baltazar and Rigoberto Juarezm held in Guatemala City.
The defenders were arrested due to their role in the defence of the territory and natural resources of their communities in North Huehuetenango. They were accused of crimes as attack, coercion, threats, incitement to crime, obstruction of criminal action and kidnapping or abduction, among others. In a case regarded as emblematic of the pattern of criminalisation of human rights defenders in Guatemala and after 13 days of trial, the authorities unanimously acquitted of all charges five defenders, while two others were found guilty for some charges yet released immediately for having been in custody for over a year.
The Colombian Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CPDH), with the funding and support provided by FIDH and ProtectDefenders.eu, is advocating before the Colombian and international institutions for the effective implementation of protection measures for human rights defenders and organisations in the country.
CPDH is one the 12 human rights organisations that have received funding from ProtectDefenders.eu in the last three months. Among the other groups and organisations supported in the last trimester, a feminist organisation working in the MENA region has received a grant to set up a campaign to address sexual violence and harassment in their community, potentially benefiting 300 women. Thanks to the support of the Project, a youth organisation from Caucasus is working to bring attention to environmental impacts on the health of women employees at a contaminating plant. In Burundi, an other local organisation has been supported to receive a training on how to better secure themselves and their communications, to conduct advocacy activities and to increase their capacity to raise funds for their human rights activities
In the last year, 44 grants have been allocated by the EU Mechanism to groups of defenders and organisations working on human rights topics at a local level. Local human rights organisations and groups of defenders can apply for financial support, including core funding, in order to sustain or expand their activities. Information and one-step application forms are easily accessible and available at www.protectdefenders.eu/strengthening-organisations.
The Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders (EMHRF), one of the twelve partners of ProtectDefenders.eu, is supporting a set of innovative initiatives launched by the Prometheus Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (IPDDH), a local organisation consisting of young defenders working to achieve human rights education and to spread a democratic culture in Morocco.
With the financial collaboration of ProtectDefenders.eu, this NGO - established in June 2013 by a group of young people belonging to the movement of 20 February 2011 -, has been able to rent an office space and to employ a coordinator to develop new programmes aimed at channelling the voices of youths in the drafting of public policies in Morocco.
As a result of this contribution, the Prometheus Institute has set up, among other initiatives, a monitoring programme on respect for human rights in the country to address non-conventional mechanisms of the United Nations and it has published a memorandum on the cultural public policies in Morocco in April 2016, in partnership with a specialised UN agency and an international foundation.
Local organisations of human rights defenders, communities and informal groups working on human rights, also in remote and less connected areas, are eligible for funding and assistance within the ProtectDefenders.eu programme for strengthening organisations.
Through seven of its partners, ProtectDefenders.eu provides up to EUR 60000 for the implementation of projects aimed at advancing a human rights agenda and to counter violations (including emerging local initiatives, protection plans, lifeline funding, advocacy or public campaigns, capacity building and trainings, documentation and printing of materials or development of networks).
Peace Brigades International (PBI), with the support of ProtectDefenders.eu, has participated in the monitoring of the CREOMPAZ case, against 14 retired military accused of enforced disappearances and crimes against humanity as the result of their participation in several massacres committed against non-combatant civilians in Guatemala. This key trial shall elucidate the responsibilities for the disappearance of at least 535 people who were taken by the Guatemalan army between 1981 and 1988, then killed and buried in a clandestine cemetery.
PBI has also accompanied the Q'eqch'i Maya Community witnesses involved in this case, both during their journeys to Guatemala City and the trial audiences. In addition, PBI have lent support and accompaniment to the lawyers of the Bufete Jurídico de Derechos Humanos in the reopening of the trial for genocide on March 16.
During this process, as PBI reported, the judge ruled that there is evidence to believe that 8 soldiers, -including the brother of former President Lucas Garcia (1978-1982), who was head of the Presidential junta during that period- were involved in the crimes and sent them to trial.
Through its partners, ProtectDefenders.eu raise its voice to warn about the critical situation of Human Rights Defenders at risk worldwide, especially when affecting vulnerable groups and defenders working in crisis situations, difficult countries or under repressive regimes.
ProtectDefenders.eu dispatches urgent alerts and coordinates immediate responses, including early warnings, field missions to conduct urgent advocacy, documentation of human rights violations and mobilisation of public and media attention on severe situations. It also monitors the individual situation of defenders in critical situations, whether imprisoned or under trial, and advocates for the end of impunity of perpetrators.
Reporters without Borders (RSF), within the framework of ProtectDefenders.eu, has provided financial support and raised the voice to prevent the extradition of a young Russian opposition journalist arrested at Larnaca airport, Cyprus, at Russia’s behest. This journalist, whose identity remains confidential, was facing a possible 15-year jail sentence if extradited to his home country.
The journalist fled to escape imminent imprisonment for his activities as an independent journalist and an outspoken activist. He was known for his investigative coverage of local government corruption and his involvement in local grass-roots campaigns.
At time of his arrest, RSF denounced his imprisonment in a press release, calling for his liberation. Within sight of his trial, in addition to his Cypriot lawyer, he benefited from the support a Bulgarian lawyer, specialised in requests for extradition to Russia. The emergency grant allocated through ProtectDefenders.eu also covered his legal fees. Thanks to these joint initiatives, the court ruled his liberation and he then went to Lithuania, where he was granted asylum.
ProtectDefenders.eu has allocated 188 emergency grants for human rights defenders at risk, journalists and those fighting for the freedom of expression, since the start of the Project. Emergency grants for individuals can reach up to EUR 10000 and are channeled through the existent mechanism of eight ProtectDefenders.eu partners. Applications details, thematic and geographic criteria and contact forms, as well as a hotline working 24/7, are available at www.protectdefenders.eu.
Since the launch of the Temporary Relocation Programme last February 2016, ProtectDefenders.eu has approved and secured funding for 43 human rights defenders at risk -and their families' members when needed- to temporary relocate them away from danger. Thanks to this programme, more than 90 individuals at risk are now receiving shelter, support and permanent accompaniment .
Relocated defenders and their families -whose identities are preserved during the whole relocation process for security reasons-, faced risks, attacks or constant threats because of their work in defence of human rights, ranging from women's rights, civil rights or freedom of information and journalism to environmental rights and even artist and writers.
Defenders and their families, coming from countries as Thailand, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Libya, Morocco, Egypt, Yemen or Burundi benefit from funding and support granted by ProtectDefenders.eu and the collaboration and accompaniment provided by host organisations throughout the world. All those defenders at risk supported through this programme are safe now, currently or about to be relocated within host structures in The Netherlands, Nepal, Kenya, Guatemala, India, Spain, France, Ireland, Jordan or Uganda.
From April 11 to 15, OMCT, in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and with the support of ProtectDefenders.eu, carried out a fact-finding mission in Honduras, aimed at analysing the situation of human rights defenders in the Central American country, with a special emphasis on land rights defenders and defenders of the LGBTI community.
The mission held interviews with officials from a number of public institutions, including the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) in Honduras, embassies of the European Union (EU) and the Kingdom of Spain, as well as human rights defenders and civil society representatives in San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, the Zacate Grande peninsula and the department of Santa Bárbara. A press release was issued by the Observatory shortly after the end of the mission with preliminary conclusions and recommendations. In particular, it highlighted that the murder of Berta Caceres is emblematic of the high levels of violence faced by human rights defenders in Honduras. Moreover, other structural problems such as the misuse of criminal law against human rights defenders, the impunity for attacks against them, the absence of effective protective measures and the increasing militarisation make Honduras one of the most difficult countries in the region for the defence of human rights. The Observatory’s international mission concluded that the Honduran State should urgently take effective and comprehensive measures to tackle this climate of violence and attacks against those who defend human rights.
ProtectDefenders.eu and Urgent Action Fund are supporting a Woman Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) from Armenia, currently facing false charges created to hinder her work on an anti-corruption campaign. An emergency grant has guaranteed her access to legal aid, reinforced the security of her office and helped her prepare an application to the European Court of Human Rights.
ProtectDefenders.eu provides funding for legal aid and judicial assistance within its emergency support programme, channeled by eight partners of the Consortium. Up to 15 defenders worldwide have requested and received emergency support for this purpose in the first months of the project.
ProtectDefenders.eu and UAF have assisted a domestic violence shelter in Montenegro to secure its premises after staff members were violently attacked due to their work. With the funds provided, the shelter has increased its protection measures and installed surveillance cameras to reinforce the security at their facilities. To this day, up to 11 grants have been allocated to reinforce office security.
Office security measures, such as installation of alarms, fences or cameras can benefit from the emergency support programme delivered by ProtectDefenders.eu. Local NGOs, communities or informal groups working on human rights can also apply for a more comprehensive assistance and receive security trainings or assistance in the design of protection strategies under the grant-making programme available for organisations.
The International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net), within the framework of ProtectDefenders.eu, has denounced the recent smear campaign being waged by the Mexican media against organizations and individuals working to defend human rights in Mexico. In recent months, several Mexican media sources have launched an intense campaign to defame various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and human rights defenders active in Mexico – deriding and devaluing efforts to defend and promote social justice and human rights.
This campaign has also targeted international institutions and mechanisms, including various United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs, the UN Human Rights Council and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
ProtectDefenders.eu carries out extensive advocacy initiatives through its partners, by dispatching urgent and mobilising public and media attention on severe situations.
ProtectDefenders.eu, through several of its partners, as OMCT, FIDH, ESCR-Net, FLD and PBI, has supported a set of initiatives to facilitate the return of the human rights defender Gustavo Castro Soto, to his home country, Mexico.
Castro Soto was retained in Honduras, as the sole witness to the murder of Berta Cáceres, the leader and co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH) who worked to defend the rights of Lenca indigenous communities affected by the 'Agua Zarca' hydroelectric project. After an intense campaign, which included public statements and open letters, Castro Soto was allowed to return to his country.
The Head of Secretariat was invited to present ProtectDefenders.eu at a panel during the Defenders' Days organised by Civil Rights Defenders in Stockholm. The presentation was focused on opportunities for temporary relocation for human rights defenders at risk.
ProtectDefenders.eu was presented at the EU Delegation in Tunis, in a meeting with local human rights defenders, organisations and embassies held in the framework of the 25 th anniversary of EU presence in the country and the campaign #Eu4HumanRights.
At the end of May, ProtectDefenders.eu launched its social media accounts in Facebook and Twitter, aimed at contributing to the dissemination of resources for available for human rights defenders and organisations, as well as information about partners' activities within the Project.