DIRECTOR'S BLOG

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

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A LEADER?

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.