Mary Lawlor

Larger than Laws: In The Backlash Against HRDs, Killings Remain Paramount

Mary Lawlor is the Executive Director at Front Line Defenders.

As I read Harriet Sherwood's recent article on “the global crackdown on human rights groups not seen in a generation" I found myself nodding along with every point she made. Not only is there a global backlash against human rights, and in particular human rights defenders, but we are in effect at a turning point, as the culture of human rights, built up over the last 50 years, is the target of an increasingly virulent ideological challenge.

Joint Letter Re: Prosecution of Rafael Marques de Moraisposted on: 2015/05/28

Forty-nine human rights organizations, individuals, and academics issued a joint letter expressing strong concerns about the prosecution of Angolan journalist and human rights defender Rafael Marques de Morais.

The letter, signed by Front Line Defender's Executive Director Mary Lawlor, states:

Mr. Marques de Morais has been regularly and repeatedly harassed by state authorities because of his work. The 24 criminal defamation charges lodged against Marques, for example, are only the latest attempt by Angolan officials to silence his reporting. Marques has alleged a range of high-level corruption cases and human rights violations in his blog, and pursued sensitive investigations into human rights violations in Angola’s diamond areas. We are unaware of any serious effort by the Angolan attorney-general’s office to impartially and credibly investigate the allegations of the crimes for which he has been charged.

The Rohingya - “A group to be eliminated”

Mary Lawlor is founder and Executive Director of Front Line Defenders. This blog was originally published on Prachatai English.

FLD in Focusposted on: 2014/11/11

FLD in Focus is a feature which takes a look at some of the campaigns, activities, and appeals of Front Line Defenders.

Founder and Executive Director of Front Line Defenders, Mary Lawlor receives Légion d’Honneur from French Governmentposted on: 2014/07/04

On Thursday 03 July 2014 H E French Ambassador M Jean-Pierre Thébault presented the Order of Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur to Ms Mary Lawlor, Founder and Executive Director of Front Line Defenders.

Dublin: 7th Front Line Defenders Platform for Human Rights Defenders at Risk Begins posted on: 2013/10/08

Today the Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Eamon Gilmore TD, joined Front Line Defenders in Dublin Castle for the formal opening of the 7th Dublin Platform.

Belarus: Ales Bialiatski becomes Inaugural Recipient of the Václav Havel Human Rights Prizeposted on: 2013/10/01

Imprisoned Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski has been chosen as the inaugural winner of the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize. The prize was established this year by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and aims to 'encourage and place the spotlight on those who commit themselves to human rights' according to the President of the PACE Jean-Claude Mignon.

Front Line Defenders Board of Trustees Member Hina Jilani appointed to The Eldersposted on: 2013/07/19

Front Line Defenders welcomes the news that its Board of Trustees member Hina Jilani has joined The Elders a group of world leaders working together in the pursuit of peace, justice and human rights.

Western Sahara: Front Line Defenders Welcomes New Draft Resolution calling for the implementation of a Human Rights Monitoring and Reporting Mechanismposted on: 2013/04/16

The United States has announced a new draft resolution calling for the implementation of a human rights monitoring and reporting mechanism as part of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

Bahrain: National Day, 16 December, Free Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja – End the Violence against human rights defendersposted on: 2011/12/16

On the occasion of Bahrain's National Day Front Line Defenders renews its call for the release of human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-khawaja with the unveiling of a 2,500 square foot banner in St Stephen's Green in the centre of Dublin.

"It requires no commissions or lengthy deliberations to set free those who have been systematically tortured and denied a fair trial," said Front Line Defenders' Executive Director Mary Lawlor in Dublin today, as she called on King Hamad to free Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, the organisation's former Protection Coordinator for the Middle East who was sentenced to life imprisonment after a grossly unfair trial during which the judge refused to deal with the issue of his brutal torture while in custody.

"Front Line Defenders is also deeply concerned at reports received today of excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators during which Zainab Al-Khawaja, daughter of Abdulhad was arrested. We call for her immediate release", added Ms Lawlor.

This latest violent crackdown further underlines the urgent need for King Hamad and the Government of Bahrain to end the violent repression of human rights defenders and begin the process of reform.

King Hamad has made a commitment to implement significant political and social reforms in response to the findings of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Enquiry (BICI) report which confirmed the systematic torture of detainees and the denial of basic fair trial measures but there has been little progress on practical implementation until now.

“Front Line Defenders is calling on the King to release all human rights defenders currently in detention or facing charges on the basis of their peaceful activities,” said Ms Lawlor. "Sentences handed down against medical professionals following grossly unfair trials should also be quashed."

Front Line Defenders welcomed the publication of the BICI report and the Bahraini Government's proclaimed commitment to implement reforms to end torture. The Government has replaced the Head of National Security and instigated investigations into the behaviour of some low level officials. They have also sought to appoint a National Commission to implement the recommendations of the BICI report, however, until now they have not been able to get broad engagement with this process.

The brutal repression of regular protests has continued. “The credibility of King Hamad's commitment to reform is undermined by the continued detention of human rights defenders whose sentences were based on confessions extracted under torture and secret evidence which was not made available to the defence lawyers for rebuttal”, said Ms Lawlor.

A case in point is the 28 November hearing in the proceedings against the doctors (three of whom trained in the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin) who had been sentenced to prison terms of between 5 and fifteen years because of their work treating injured demonstrators. The hearing was adjourned as the prosecution attempted to introduce new evidence for the prosecution in breach of all accepted trial procedures.

“If King Hamad does not honour his commitment to reform his statements to date will be seen as mere public relations. The first step to establishing the credibility of his commitment is to order the release of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja”, concluded Ms Lawlor.

For further information please contact:

Jim Loughran, Head of Communications - Front Line Defenders

Tel +353 1 212 37 50 – Mob +353 (0)87 9377586