In October last year, I had the privilege of meeting Damian Gallardo for the first time. It is a name I heard many times since 2013, when he was arrested in the middle of the night in his home in Oaxaca; since then Front Line Defenders – with many others – supported him and his family and campaigned for his release. I met him in what had been his home for five years, a high security prison outside Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco.
There is growing concern over how democracy and the rule of law have deteriorated in Nicaragua, bearing important consequences for human rights defenders and society at large. As the presidential family has solidified its grip on Parliament, the Army, the Police and the media, civil society space has steadily narrowed.
My friend Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam is in detention again in Khartoum. He was taken by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) from the University of Khartoum on 7th December and is being held without access to his lawyer or his family. He has previously been detained on several occasions, for over a month in 2010 and earlier for a total of 18 months in several spells during 2003-2005.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe's battle for their land has become an international phenomenon. Native Americans and environmental defenders from all over the world have converged on the Dakotas to peacefully protest a massive pipeline project that threatens the lives of indigenous peoples.
“I keep asking: why would they do this?” human rights defender Ladonna Bravebull Allard told Front Line Defenders. She quickly added that the answer is clear:
After leading Front Line Defenders for 15 years, on 6 October 2016 Mary Lawlor announced she was stepping down as Executive Director. In this letter, Mary pays tribute to human rights defenders around the world.
While the current nature of EU foreign policy means it has to be built on a delicate compromise between 28 member states, most observers have felt that it has been excessively – perhaps needlessly? - timid in communicating on issues related to human rights. Human rights, after all, are both a founding value of the EU, so important that they appear in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, and one of the most important objectives of its foreign policy (again, enshrined in the Treaty as the second objective after the eradication of poverty).
Today is a national holiday in the United States. Schools, banks, and government buildings are all closed to commemorate the arrival of Christopher Columbus to a land he thought was India. In fact, 1492 marked the year Columbus "discovered" a land already home to almost 20 million indigenous peoples.
Since that day, indigenous communities of the continent have suffered centuries of persecution, massacre, disease, and systemic violations of their rights to land.