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.
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)
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 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.
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.
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.
Protection International, partner in the implementation of ProtectDefenders.eu, has just launched 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.
From November 28 to December 2, almost 700 LGBTI human rights defenders and allies from 101 different countries gathered in Bangkok, Thailand to take part in the 28th ILGA World Conference. Thanks to the support of ProtectDefenders.eu, ILGA could meet one of the first LGBTI human rights defenders to receive support from European Union Human Rights Defenders mechanism: a video interview will be released in the upcoming weeks.
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
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.
"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.
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”.
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.
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”.
“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" .
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).
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.