Front Line News Archive

Russian Federation – The burning of the office of the Joint Mobile Group in Grozny after threats and an attempted attack on human rights defenders working in Chechnyaposted on: 2014/12/13

Today, on 14 December 2014, at around 1 p.m. several armed men entered the apartment of the Joint Mobile Group located next to their burned office. They refused to identify themselves but later said they were from Leninsky district police department of Grozny. They forcibly searched the premises and two members of the JMG, Sergey Babinets and Dmitry Dimitriev. They had no warrant and provided no explanations except pointing out that Babinets is suspicious "because he has a beard." The policemen seized the mobile phones of the human rights defenders leaving them out of connection and without legal representation for around one hour and a half. Two computers of the JMG and CCTV cameras have been also seized. The human rights defenders were released at approximatively 2.30 pm.

On 13 December 2014, three unidentified armed men tried to enter the office of the Joint Mobile Group in Grozny. This followed a demonstration against the Joint Mobile Group and its head Igor Kalyapin which took place in Grozny that morning.

European Court of Human Rights Commissioner Issues Statement on Rasul Jafarov and Anar Mammadliposted on: 2015/04/01

On Wednesday, 1 April 2015, Commissioner Muižnieks issued two public written contributions sent to the European Court of Human Rights concerning the cases of human rights defenders Rasul Jafarov and Anar Mammadli.

Update – Zimbabwe: Three weeks after abduction, HRD Itai Dzamara still missingposted on: 2015/04/01

Three weeks after his abduction, human rights defender Mr Itai Dzamara is still missing. The police have failed to fully comply with orders from the High Court in the search for the human rights defender, and the authorities deny any involvement in his disappearance. The human rights defender's legal representatives have issued a Missing Persons Appeal, which has appeared in several local newspapers.

Hungarian Civil Liberties Union wins lawsuit over government investigation of NGOsposted on: 2015/03/31

As reported on, the Hungarian government body is now "obliged to reveal" who ordered investigations against the NGOs.

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) has won a lawsuit against the Governmental Supervisory Office (KEHI).

The local civil liberties group sued KEHI last year, claiming that the government body carried out targeted investigations and interventions against organizations supported by the Norwegian Civil Funds.

In it's 2015 annual report, Front Line Defenders reported that "attacks on human rights NGOs in Hungary were also of serious concern." The government reportedly accused NGOs of funding irregularities in an attempt to discredit legitimate human rights work:

Update – Kuwait : Charges and travel ban issued against human rights defender Mr Nawaf Al Hendalposted on: 2015/03/30

On 25 March 2015, the Kuwaiti Public Prosecutor imposed a travel ban on human rights defender Mr Nawaf Al Hendal and brought charges against him of “participating in an illegal protest”. The human rights defender was released on the same day after having been held in detention for two days.

Update - Honduras: 18 Months in Prison for Women's Rights Defenderposted on: 2015/03/30

"It is one thing to maintain the desire for justice. But many times, justice doesn't include equality in the treatment of women."

On 26 March 2015, Honduras' Tribunal of Tegucigalpa sentenced human rights defender Ms Gladys Lanza Ochoa to 18 months' imprisonment. The sentence comes two months after her conviction on 28 January 2015 on charges of defamation and slander against the Executive Director of the Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Vivienda Social, Urbana y Rural - FUNDEVI (Foundation for Development of Urban and Rural Social Housing).

Dr. Sigrid Rausing to Present the 3rd Annual Front Line Defenders Lectureposted on: 2015/03/29

On Monday, 30 March, Dr. Sigrid Rausing will give the 3rd Annual Front Line Defenders lecture in association with University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin in the Royal Irish Academy on Dawson Street, Dublin 2 at 6.30pm.

Update: Morocco – Sentence upheld against human rights defender Mr Abdelkhalik Elmarkhiposted on: 2015/03/25

On 23 March 2014, the Second Instance Criminal Chamber at the Court of Appeal in Agadir upheld the sentence of human rights defender Mr Abdelkhalik Elmarkhi.

On 27 November 2014 he had been sentenced to four years' imprisonment on charges relating to “obstructing traffic”, “incitement to commit violence and disobedience”, “participating in an armed mob at night” and “deliberately beating and wounding public servants while they carried out their work duties”. During the trial, the defence was reportedly not given the opportunity to plea.

Algeria – Assault against human rights defender Ms Cherifa Kheddarposted on: 2015/03/25

On 8 March 2015, human rights defender Ms Cherifa Kheddar was arrested and beaten by members of the police in Algiers while demonstrating in front of the Central Post Office on International Women's Day.

Cherifa Kheddar is the head of Djazairouna (Our Algeria) Association, an organisation that raises awareness of the impact of terrorism in Algeria and provides support to victims of terrorism, including in their attempts to seek compensation for human rights violations. In 1996, in the middle of Algeria’s civil war the human rights defender witnessed the torture and murder of her brother and sister. Cherifa Kheddar's husband was also killed during the war, and she narrowly escaped an attempt on her own life.

Cherifa Kheddar and three other members of Djazairouna Association were arrested for refusing to put away banners that they had displayed bearing the names of women killed by fundamentalist armed groups in Algeria in the 1990s, including the human rights defender's sister.

Sri Lanka – Travel restrictions and gag order against human rights defender Mr Ruki Fernando remain in place after one yearposted on: 2015/03/24

21 March 2015 marked one year since restrictions were imposed on the freedom of expression and movement of human rights defender Mr Ruki Fernando, an adviser to INFORM, a human rights documentation centre in Colombo. At the request of the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID), the human rights defender and his colleague, Fr Paveen Mahesa, were restricted from speaking to international media and ordered to give sim cards and computers to police.

SYRIA - Trial of human rights defender Mazen Darwishposted on: 2015/03/24

Tomorrow, a Syrian court will hear the case of human rights defender Mazen Darwish, arrested over three years ago on charges of “promoting terrorist activities.”

Angola: Rafael Marques de Morais Facing Jail for Writing a Bookposted on: 2015/03/24

Journalist and human rights defender Rafael Marques de Morais wrote a book, and for that, he could go to jail. His book, published in Portugal in 2011, alleges serious human rights violations committed by army generals and companies in diamond fields in Angola. Those army generals and companies are taking him to court March 24th in Angola for criminal defamation, punishable under current Angolan law by both a prison term and a monetary penalty.

Angola – Update: Upcoming trial of human rights defender Mr Rafael Marques de Moraisposted on: 2015/03/20

On 24 March 2015, the trial against human rights defender Mr Rafael Marques de Morais will begin. The human rights defender is accused of defamation, following the publication of his book “Diamantes de Sangue: Tortura e Corrupção em Angola” (Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola) in 2011.

Azerbaijan – Update: Release of human rights defender Mr Bashir Suleymanli on presidential pardon while other human rights defenders remain in detentionposted on: 2015/03/20

On 18 March 2015, the President of Azerbaijan signed a pardon to 101 persons, including human rights defender Mr Bashir Suleymanli, the Executive Director of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDS) in Baku.

Kenya – Update: Reduced sentence against human rights defender Mr Joel Ogadaposted on: 2015/03/18

On 13 March 2015, the conviction of human rights defender Mr Joel Ogada was upheld on appeal, but the sentence was reduced to two years' imprisonment, one year of which has already been served.