ANNUAL REPORT Our work in Sweden and globally

ANNUAL REPORT Our work in Sweden and globally 11 1 CONTENTS We are Civil Rights Defenders 3 Increased support to human rights defenders 4 After the cameras after turned off 6 Find us online 6 PHOTO:
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ANNUAL REPORT Our work in Sweden and globally 11 1 CONTENTS We are Civil Rights Defenders 3 Increased support to human rights defenders 4 After the cameras after turned off 6 Find us online 6 PHOTO: We are Civil Rights Defenders Civil Rights Defenders is an independent expert organisation that defends people s civil and political rights. Our organisation was founded in Stockholm 1982 and works in regions all over the world. One of our main tasks is to empower our partners brave human rights defenders, who often put themselves at great risk through their engagement in other people s rights. THROUGH LONG TERM WORK WE REACH OUR AIMS WHAT WE DO EXAMPLE OF RESULTS OUR AIMS LGBT activists making contacts at Pride 7 We are suing Sweden for fatal shooting 7 Belarus in focus 8-9 Urgent help for human rights defenders 10 Ales Bialiatski behind bars. Read about how the Belarusian regime tries to silence critical voices, on pages 8 and 9. We scrutinize the state authorities and demand accountability We have gotten Russia convicted of human rights violations in more than one hundred cases, in the European Court (p.14) States take responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil human rights Unique conference for networking 10 Celebrity UN visit to discuss impunity 11 Painful history dealt with in memory book 11 Training of judges strengthens rights 11 Annual report Management report 16 Statement of financial activities 19 We inform and educate people about their rights We have contributed to enlighten parents to children with disabilities about their rights and given them access to free legal aid (p.14) People are empowered to claim their human rights Strong protests against Cambodian NGO law 12 Balance sheet hours of human rights - 61 seminars 12 5,000 take a stand for our rights 13 Our work in Sweden and the world Notes 21 Audit report 25 Board and staff 26 We contribute with expertise and resources to our partners, local human rights defenders We have gathered human rights defenders from the North Caucasus to develop joint strategies for handling their urgent security situation (p.10) Local human rights defenders are empowered Civil Rights Defenders have Swedish 90-accounts and we are a member of Swedish Fundraising Council, FRII. Our accounting is supervised by the Swedish Fundraising Control. A guarantee that your donation is handled correctly. PHOTO: ELISABETH OHLSON WALLIN Printed at AMO-tryck, Stockholm, Sweden 2012 Copyright 2012 Civil Rights Defenders ISBN Increased support to human rights defenders Brave people s longing for human rights was the source of the Arab spring. But when these hopeful messages of change spread to other parts of the world, the response of repressive regimes was to put greater pressure on human rights defenders in their own countries. This has led us to increase the efforts to empower these individuals. The events of 2011 show that our work is as important now as when we were founded, three decades ago. Meeting with the oppositional Presidental candidate Vladimir Neklaev in December During election night he was badly beaten. Neklaev s car was trashed. PHOTOS: CIVIL RIGHTS DEFENDERS People gathering on October square during election night. We are following with concern developments after the Belarusian presidential elections on 19 December I was there in Minsk at the time and witnessed the regime s violence. Over 600 people were arrested in the days around the election and many people were injured. Among those detained were a number of opposition candidates, two of them are still behind bars at the time of writing. The Belarusian regime s persecution of the country s human rights defenders continued unabated throughout In autumn, one of the nation s leading human rights defender Ales Bialiatiski, Chairman of the human rights organisation Viasna, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for tax evasion in a politically motivated and controlled trial. We are working hard to obtain his release. During a recent visit to Sweden, Viasna s Vice Chairman Valiantsin Stefanovitj stressed the importance of international support. Knowing that people around the world support their struggle makes the constant harassment, threats and prison sentences a little easier to bear (read more on page 9). A big thank you to everyone who has participated in our campaign for Ales. When the threat knocks on the door During autumn, we started an emergency fund to provide quick help for human rights defenders in the North Caucasus who are in need of protection or temporary evacuation. But that s not all. Human rights defenders in many other parts of the world need to learn more about what they can do to protect themselves against threats to their safety. The fund, which was launched with the help of a time-limited grant, will initially concentrate on the North Caucasus. The idea is to eventually make it worldwide and this is where you can make a difference. A donation to the emergency fund will help us do even more for human rights defenders at risk all over the world. Your donation saves lives. Step by step towards new challenges Three years ago, Civil Rights Defenders geographical mandate was extended to a global mandate. With thirty years experience working with human rights, building up organisations and strengthening human rights defenders in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans, we are keen to use our knowledge in many of the countries where human rights are violated the most. In 2010, we established ourselves in Southeast Asia, and we are now turning to East Africa. Starting operations in a region like East Africa is sometimes complicated. During the year, we made important contacts and adopted a strategy for our work in the region. Many actors operate in the region but urgent humanitarian crises are prioritised at the expense of large structural problems. People who are denied their civil and political rights have to take a back seat. One example is the widespread hatred of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Homosexuality is criminalised in 38 out of 53 African nations. Sentences in East Africa vary from three months imprisonment to death. The need for us to be present there, strengthening the region s brave LGBT activists and helping in other ways, cannot be stressed enough. The systematic stigmatisation, discrimination and persecution of people who happen to belong to a particular group in society is reminiscent of some of the darkest passages in human history. It is important for us to stay vigilant and react when minorities, our neighbours, are attacked regardless of whether the attack is prompted by the colour of their skin, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. Doing the Locomotion Two years ago, the Serbian authorities proved they were able to protect their citizens during the country s first ever Pride Parade. I walked in the parade on that occasion. We passed through the centre of Belgrade literally enclosed by several rows of police officers as large parts of the city centre were vandalised by counter-demonstrators. Sadly, several policemen were injured, but none of the Pride participants was hurt. In the following year, 2011, we were denied permission to demonstrate again. According to the authorities, this was because of the serious threats made against Pride participants. So it seems our work is like the Locomotion dance a jump forward one day, followed by a setback the next day, but then we jump forward again. Belgrade Pride 2011 is a reminder that our work is long term and that human rights must constantly be won back. You can watch and listen to a conversation about the consequences of the cancelled Pride Parade on our YouTube channel: Rights are not granted - even in democracies Some of our work in Sweden is about pursuing cases of principle. This was exactly what we did for Mohammed Alzery and Ahmed Agiza, who were subjected to a brutal expulsion from Sweden in the aftermath of 11 September We are now representing Daniel Franklert Murne s family in a case against Sweden in the European Court. Daniel was shot dead in 2005 by police in Lindesberg. No one was held accountable for the mistakes that led to his death. Swedish police are carrying more and more weapons, and expanding bullets (which have been banned for use in war since 1899!) are now standard ammunition. Legislation has not kept pace with developments. Only a few police officers have been charged with committing violence during service (read more on page 7). Human rights for all It is many people s belief that human rights should be a foregone conclusion, not something that people have to sacrifice their lives for. In 2012, we are marking our 30-year-long work by highlighting a courageous human rights defender each month on our newly designed website. Read about Ales Bialiatski, Svetlana Lukic, Nguyen Van Hai and others who have all devoted their lives to protecting the rights of their fellow human beings. At present, over 5,000 people make regular contributions to our activities. Your moral and financial support is extremely valuable in helping us to carry out our work and develop as an organisation. You are also helping to strengthen our role as independent monitors of human rights issues both in Sweden and other parts of the world. My sincere thanks to you all! Stockholm, April 10, 2012 Robert Hårdh Executive Director PHOTO: NINKE LIEBERT PHOTOGRAPHY 4 5 PHOTO: CIVIL RIGHTS DEFENDERS After the cameras are turned off By constantly monitoring the human rights situation and disseminating information through our networks to policy makers and to the public, we are able to highlight issues that often fall into obscurity. One way to strenghten human rights defenders and their protection is to tell their stories, to spread information about their vulnerability. The international media companies are often seen covering large events, but when they turn their spotlight onto other news, we are still there. And that is when our presence is most important. In 2011, we strengthened our social media presence and developed our reporting. Our ambition is to inform you as soon as possible and allow for an easy spread in your communities. Our news, announcements, events and reports all spread knowledge. The daily press and other established media channels use us as a source of information and turn to us for background information and valuable contacts. We are not able to report the exact figures of this spread, but we can say that in 2011 we had eight op-eds published in other media, and we have appeared or been cited 33 times, including 11 television and radio spots. We have mainly appeared in articles or features about Ahmed Agiza s release and the situation in Russia and Belarus. We have also arranged, co-arranged or participated in more than 20 events during the year. LGBT ACTIVISTS MAKING CONTACTS AT PRIDE During Stockholm Pride, we gathered ten activists from eight different countries to strengthen them and their organisations in their work for lesbian, gay, bisxual and transgender (LGBT) people s rights. It was an intensive week, filled with study visits that included the equality ombudsman and other associations, as well as seminars and workshops. The opportunity to make contact with activists in other parts of the world is vital for someone who stands virtually alone as a gay in a conservative society. Lilya Ten was one of our international guests. She represents the organisation Labrys in Kyrgyzstan. In Central Asia, LGBT people are severely discriminated against and stigmatised. They are subjected to daily harassment by the police and those around them and they cannot count on support from their family. In Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, sexual relations between men are considered a criminal offence. Consequently, few people dare to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity, and even fewer dare to become involved in LGBT organisations. Through Lilya Ten from Labrys cites the organisation s vision: A Central Asian and Kyrgyzstan society in which no one is discriminated against or attacked on the grounds of age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, social or other status its cooperation with us in 2011, Labrys has been able to take the step from working on a purely national level to representing a resource centre for the entire region. PHOTO: NINKE LIEBERT PHOTOGRAPHY Strenghten our work - share our posts WE ARE SUING SWEDEN FOR FATAL SHOOTING By spreading our news you strenghten the protection of human rights defenders at risk. Share our posts in your communities on Facebook and Twitter! PHOTO: PRIVATE Find us online Visit our website: Read our blogs: Discuss on Facebook: Hear the latest Watch our videos on Youtube: View our seminars on Bambuser: As user of our channels your opinion is very valuable to us. us your thoughts and comments to: On Sunday 20 March 2005, 22-year-old Daniel Franklert Murne was shot dead by police at his parents home in Lindesberg, Sweden. The subsequent investigation was flawed and on the grounds of self-defence, no-one was held responsible. With our help, the family are now suing Sweden in the European Court. We believe that the failures and flaws that led to Daniel s death are completely unacceptable Daniel Franklert Murne (right picture), his sister and parents (to your left). at every level. In addition to the shortcomings there are significant structural defects within the police that contributed to Daniel s death. For instance the rules for intervention toward mentally disabled people and the use of expandable bullets. We will work with these questions during the coming years. Read more and follow the development of our work: 6 7 PHOTO: CIVIL RIGHTS DEFENDERS Thanks for support! BELARUS IN FOCUS Human rights work brought long prison term After the Belarusian presidential election in December 2010, pressure on human rights defenders in the country increased. The regime hit a new low in harassment on 4 August 2011 with the arrest of Ales Bialiatski, chairman of the human rights organisation Viasna. Ales is now serving a prison sentence of four and a half years. It was almost 5 pm on 4 August in the centre of Minsk when Ales Bialiatski phoned a colleague to say that a group of men, introducing themselves as financial police, had arrested him. Ales was charged with serious tax fraud (section 2, article 243 of the Belarusian Criminal Code) after the EU countries Lithuania and Poland released confidential banking details within the framework of cooperation against terrorism and criminality. None of the authorities of the two countries took into account the fact that Ales is a prominent human rights defender when they decided to release the information about his bank accounts. Ales is chairman of the Belarusian human rights organisation Viasna. As Viasna has been denied registration, the organisation has been unable to work legally since 2003 and has been forced to open bank accounts in other countries. Belarus abused our trust Prior to the first day of the trial on 2 November 2011 our visa application was rejected. We were unable to observe the trial, as were several other organisations. The Polish ambassador, Leszek Szerepka, was present and stated that his country is partly responsible for the charges against Ales Bialiatski: Belarus abused our trust when it used the law that aims to combat serious crime in order to arrest a human rights activist. We believe it is unacceptable to imprison a human rights defender. Regime wants to intimidate critics into silence Imprisonment of critics is no new tactic for President Alexander Lukashenko. During his 17 years in power, he has gradually worsened the human rights situation. In periods when he has a poor relationship with the West, he imprisons dissidents and introduces legislation that violates human rights. When he needs better relations, he backtracks a little and makes it appear like a step towards democratisation, says Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Four and a half years imprisonment Ales was sentenced on 24 January At the time of writing, he is serving four and a half years in prison. Ales was just doing his job, and that s exactly what happens to human rights activists in Belarus today who are just doing their job; they end up behind bars, says Joanna Kurosz. Viasna s Vice Chair Valiantsin Stefanovitj, on a visit to Sweden, thanks everyone for the support on behalf of Ales. Europe s last dictatorship Belarus became independent in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. For the first few years, the country was ruled by Stanislav Shushkevich. In the first democratic presidential elections 1994 Alexander Lukashenko was elected, following a successful populist campaign in which he promised to tackle corruption in the country. During Lukashenko s reign, Belarus has evolved from a constitutional democracy into an authoritarian regime. Shortly after his accession, Lukashenko reintroduced the former Soviet symbols as the country s state symbols. A referendum held in 1996 amended the constitution in order to broaden the president s powers. In another referendum in 2004, a constitutional amendment lifted the restriction on the number of terms for president, opening the way for Lukashenko to stay in power for life. Throughout his term in office, Lukashenko has thwarted political opponents and civil society and silenced independent media in order to quash the democratic forces in the country. During a visit to Stockholm, Valiantsin Stefanovitj, Viasna s Vice Chairman, confirmed that the situation of Belarusian human rights defenders is becoming increasingly alarming: The situation in Belarus has gone from bad to worse was the worst year so far. Never before has the country had so many political prisoners. Valiantsin stresses the importance of international support for Belarusian human rights defenders. He is deeply grateful that so many people are showing their support for the Belarusian people and his organisation, and are getting involved in Ales Bialiatski s case SWEDEN POLAND FINLAND BELARUS RUSSIA Belarus is the only European country that still carries out the death penalty. Hundreds of people have been sentenced to death since Relatives are not informed about when the execution will take place and are not told the place of burial. MAP: THOMAS MOLÉN Send a greeting to Ales Help Ales endure his imprisonment. Send him a postcard. You find the address on: We update the information there continously. We will not let Belarus be forgotten! We have highlighted the critical situation of Belarusian s human rights defenders in more than 30 news articles, campaigns, several demonstrations and seminars, thorughout the year. 8 9 PHOTO: TINA AXELSSON Urgent help for human rights defenders The situation in the North Caucasus is grave. Since the first Chechen war in the mid-1990s, torture, disappearances and unlawful executions have become everyday occurrences in the region. Violence and repression are increasing in several areas, without coming to the notice of the outside world. People who dare to stand up for human rights in the North Caucasus are extremely vulnerable to threats and other pressures, and we have long realised that the need for urgent assistance is growing: Human rights defenders in the North Caucasus, and also in some other parts of the world, need to become safety and security experts in order to carry out their activities, says Marie Månson, Programme Director for our special programme Support to Human Rights Defenders at Risk. During autumn, we established an emergency fund for the North Caucasus during autumn. The fund s resources will be used to raise awareness of the vulnerability of human rights defenders, and to implement preventive security initiatives, rehabilitative measures and, as a last cas
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