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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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, in partnership with the local organisation CAHUCOPAN, has received a grant from the EU Human Rights Defenders Mechanism in order to strengthen dialogue between institutions and defenders and promote the development of comprehensive and tailored protection plans within local organisations, in a context where human rights defenders are frequently targeted by threats and attacks. Only between January and July 2016, at least 35 human rights defenders were murdered in Colombia, as reported by Somos Defensores.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.
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.
As of July 2016, ProtectDefenders.eu website is available in the five working languages of the EU Human Rights Defenders Mechanism. All the information and resources, including secure contact and application forms are accessible in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic.