Blogs from the Front Line

Argentina and the issue of impunity

As Front Line Defenders launches a new documentary, Memory, Truth & Justice, on the struggle for justice by HRDs and families of the disappeared in Argentina, Mary Lawlor looks at just why these cases are so important to the current struggle for human rights.

As Afghanistan goes to the polls on Saturday what prospect for women's rights

As Afghanistan prepares to go to the polls on Saturday for Presidential and provincial elections, many women are concerned that the progress they have struggled to make over the past number of years may be traded away in the name of reconciliation in the political negotiations prior to the withdrawal of international forces at the end of this year.

Uganda - Betrayal of Trust


Someone to lead, inspire and guide us. Someone whose focus is on the greater good of all, yet who will at the same time strive to protect the rights and the interests of even the poorest and most marginalised among us.

Slim victory for LGBT rights in Uganda

President Museveni may be congratulating himself on the basis that having refused to sign the Anti Homosexuality Bill into law he can somehow position himself as a champion of human rights in Uganda. At the same time we in the international human rights community may be feeling that we have scored some kind of victory.

“I believe we were put here to improve civilisation” Seamus Heaney RIP

I am so very sad to hear of the death of Seamus Heaney. This giant of a man had a profound understanding of how human rights were enmeshed in and inseparable from daily living.

Malala receives Tipperary Peace Award

The first thing that strikes you about Malala is her utter self composure and the sense of stillness she carries within herself. Malala was in Ireland to receive the Tipperary Peace award. This tiny young teenager with the glowing eyes held us all spellbound. I saw grown men take off their glasses and unashamedly weep - such was the effect of just seeing her standing there so solemnly.

In her speech she said she didn't want to be known as the girl who was shot by the Taliban but the girl who fought for the right of every boy and girl to be educated.

Malala said that parents must honour their daughters as their sons, and send them to school. Children too must motivate themselves - School wasn't just about learning physics or biology - you learn respect for each other, tolerance and patience she said.

Belarus: Free Ales Bialiatski Now!

Last Sunday, the 4th of August, marked 2 years behind bars for Ales Bialitiski. If you believe the narrative spun by the authorities in Belarus, he is a tax cheat and a common crook. However the reality is very different.

LGBTI Defenders Facing A Rising Campaign of Hate

The festival atmosphere around the recent Gay Pride in Dublin was a vibrant and colourful celebration of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. It brought together people of all ages, classes and sexual orientations to celebrate not what divides us but what joins us together – our common humanity.

Sadly in many parts of the globe as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) human rights defenders become more vocal and visible they also become more vulnerable - as those who feel uncomfortable with the whole notion of equality rally under the banners of tradition and family.

Noble sentiments have become a weapon with which to attack those with whom we disagree. There is also a perception that violent and dangerous homophobia is limited to a small number of countries like Uganda and the Russian Federation which have captured headlines in recent times.

Mining, Murder, and the Pursuit of Justice in Guatemala

On 22 July 2013 in a judgement which has huge implications for the human rights community in Guatemala, the Superior Court of Canada ruled that Canadian company Hudbay Minerals “can potentially be held legally responsible in Canada for rapes and murder at a mining project formerly owned by Hudbay’s subsidiary in Guatemala”.

Remembering Natalya Estemirova

Four years ago today, early on the 15th of July, Natalya Estemirova was abducted by unidentified men in Grozny where she lived and worked as a human rights defender.

A few hours later, her body was found in neighbouring Ingushetia, Her hands were bound, two bullets in her chest and one in her head.

Her crime: researching and reporting on kidnappings, torture and murders, the ‘disappeared’ in Chechnya, and about the young men who had been abducted by death squads connected to the security forces. Her work for the human rights organisation Memorial earned her the hatred of many powerful figures.

No one has ever been charged and brought to justice for her murder. Today on her anniversary, we renew our demand that those responsible for her murder be brought to justice.

Asked if she ever felt her life was in danger, she said: “Sometimes I just can’t even feel that, because I have such strong other feelings. I try to be very exact about how I go about things and I do have worries about my family and people close to me but I still have to do my work.

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In a recent article in the respected Middle East web publication Al Monitor, Sarah Bin Ashoor published an article on Bahrain which severely distorted the facts of the situation. Front Line Defenders Deputy Director Andrew Anderson challenges her - Read more ...
With presidential elections under way in Algeria, Salah Debouz, president of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights, writes about the challenges facing human rights defenders in his country. Not only is the human rights situation in - Read more ...
Abuja, Nigeria, a capital mostly built in the eighties on arid soil, looking unfinished. It's one of the most expensive places in Nigeria, and most inhabitants live in the outskirts. Compared to the former capital, the saturated Lagos, Abuja looks - Read more ...
Within hours of my arrival in Rio de Janeiro, the news broke that the police and military would be entering a local favela near the airport in order to ‘secure’ it. With two months to go until the World Cup, the authorities deemed it necessary to - Read more ...
While most of the recent media coverage of political developments in Egypt has focused on the elections and the prospects for the incoming government, one item in the new constitution largely escaped notice. Egypt's new constitution, which was - Read more ...
A day in a Commission of Verification of human rights violations in Colombia is a non-stop day. From 4.30am to 11.30pm it's car, road, coffee, scrambled eggs with arepa, car, meetings, sancocho, meetings, road, meetings. Finally, at the end of the - Read more ...
Being a human rights defender is a difficult road. Pick a country and you’ll find HRDs being routinely and aggressively repressed by their governments, outdated social norms, big-business, armed militias and communities who just want them to leave - Read more ...
Adam Shapiro is Head of Campaigns at Front Line Defenders I have never met Bassel Khartabil (Al-Safadi) in person. The many times I had been in Syria before February 2011, I was working on various film projects and working on assisting Palestinian - Read more ...
It's been an intense three days meeting human rights defenders in Cajamarca, Bambamarca, Tamba and Celendin, in the Cajamarca region of Peru. Mining concessions here cover 48% of the territory. Mining is presented as bringing development. However, - Read more ...
Two photographs of one man. One of a father, one of a prisoner. One of a content and energetic man, one of a man shrunken by hunger strike and bowing under the weight of a desperate injustice. Le Quoc Quan is a human rights defender from Vietnam who - Read more ...
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