9 - 11 October 2013
The Seventh Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders at Risk took place in Dublin Castle between the 09 - 11 October 2013, and brought together 135 human rights defenders from 90 different countries making it the largest Platform that Front Line Defenders has hosted to date.
On day one, the Chairman of Front Line Defenders, Denis O’Brien, welcomed the participants to Dublin and introduced the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, Eamon Gilmore TD, who gave an empowering keynote address, and Director of Front Line Defenders, Mary Lawlor whose opening presentation paid tribute to the extraordinary work of the human rights defenders both in the room and abroad. Human rights defender Yolanda Oquelí of Guatemala also presented her powerful personal testimony in this opening session.
Later that day Maina Kiai discussed his work as UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, and Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights, described the human rights commitments of the EU.
On day two, Deborah Benchoam and Snjezana Bokulic presented the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and human rights defender Mata Coulibaly (Cote D'Ivoire), standing in for Reine Alapini-Gansou, Commissioner and Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), commented on the work of the ACHPR.
Hassan Shire of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project chaired a panel discussion on the challenges faced by HRDs working in areas of armed conflict which drew on the experiences of Martha Diaz (Colombia), Jean de Dieu Mulikuza (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Razan Ghazzawi (Syria) and Wazhma Frogh (Afghanistan).
Another panel discussion on the specific risks facing women human rights defenders, chaired by Noeline Blackwell of the Board of Front Line Defenders, drew on expert presentations from Raisa Borshigova (Russian Federation - Chechnya), Zainab Azmat (Pakistan), Morena Herrera (El Salvador) and Ghada Shahbandar (Egypt).
A panel on protecting and expanding an enabling environment for HRDs, chaired by Andrew Anderson, Front Line Defenders Deputy Director, included contributions from Yevgeniy Zhovtis (Kazakhstan), Érina Batista Gomes (Brazil) and Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala (Uganda).
The informal discussions and the working group contributions throughout the 3 days were also extremely rich with participants building lasting bonds across linguistic and cultural divides.
The participants enjoyed some cultural presentations throughout the proceedings including Liam Ó’Maonlai at the opening ceremony, the Moran Family at the welcome reception and Keith Donald at the closing ceremony. At this closing ceremony, two of the participants also performed: Wang Jianfen (China) played the long Chinese flute, and Karla Lara (Honduras) sang three songs from her albums. The Platform ended as usual on a high note, with a celebratory dinner held at the Old Jameson Distillery.
SIDE EVENTS AND TRAININGS
The Dublin Platform is an ideal opportunity for human rights defenders at risk to share skills, knowledge and expertise in areas such as the increased danger for all human rights defenders in the form of threats to their digital security. As human rights defenders are becoming increasingly dependent on electronic communications systems and social media knowledge of digital security is vital to enable human rights defenders to communicate quickly, effectively and safely.
Throughout the Platform there was a digital security hub operating in Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish, and some 60 HRDs took part in a 1 day pre-Platform digital security awareness session in 5 languages workshops to provide a focus on key aspects of digital security and to provide information on security measures which could be easily implemented by HRDs on their return home to their respective organisations.
On Wednesday night, Front Line Defenders also convened two public panels at the Gresham Hotel. The first, co-hosted with the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI), discussed women’s human rights and the second, co-hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), discussed Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsex and Intersex (LGBTI) rights.
Participants divided into six working groups divided by language, and in the case of English, by region over two afternoon sessions. Each working group followed the same agenda and the following questions were considered:
a) What are the main threats to human rights defenders?
b) What are the most effective practical measures for their protection?
THE SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM BOOK OF TESTIMONIES
The Dublin Platform Report seeks to identify the main themes and highlight the issues which emerged in the discussions at the Dublin Platform. To complement the report, the Book of Testimonies contains personal testimonies from 69 of the 135 human rights defenders who attended the Dublin Platform.