Our Team

Stockholm (Head Office) | Belgrade | Pristina | Sarajevo | Tirana | Chisinau | Board


Head Office, Stockholm (Sweden)


Press photo of Robert Hårdh, chef Civil Rights DefendersRobert Hårdh, Executive Director.
Robert is the Executive Director of Civil Rights Defenders and was instrumental in developing the organisation from its beginnings as the Swedish Helsinki Committee to the global human rights organisation we see today. He holds a Master of Laws from Uppsala University, specialising in human rights. Robert started working for Civil Rights Defenders as a Human Rights Lawyer back in 1999 and in 2000 was appointed Executive Director. Robert is a board member of the Expo foundation, which is a privately-owned research foundation founded in 1995 with the aim of studying and mapping anti-democratic, right-wing extremist and racist tendencies in society. He is also on the advisory board of the Committee on Human Rights in North Korea.

John Stauffer, Legal Director and Deputy Executive Director.
John is a human rights lawyer with a Master of Laws from Stockholm University. He has previously worked for the Ombudsman Against Ethnic Discrimination and the Equality Ombudsman where he was responsible for investigating cases of discrimination. John also spent time in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the conflict working with human rights. During his four years working with the OSCE mission John initially focused on creating conditions for the return of displaced persons. Later on, as the Director of the Human Rights Department, he was responsible for the organisation’s work on issues such as war crimes, rule of law, minority rights, economic and social rights. He joined Civil Rights Defenders in March 2013.

Päivi Hemming, Chief Operating Officer.
Päivi holds a bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences with specialisation in personnel and organisation from Stockholm University. She has more than fifteen years of experience as a Human Resources Manager/Director in various fields, including two years as self-employed. Päivi joined Civil Rights Defenders in the autumn of 2016.


Legal Department

John Stauffer, Legal Director and Deputy Executive DirectorJohn is a human rights lawyer with a Master of Laws from Stockholm University. He has previously worked for the Ombudsman Against Ethnic Discrimination and the Equality Ombudsman, where he was responsible for investigating cases of discrimination and developing strategies to address structural discrimination. His specific focus centred on the situation for national minorities. As head of the Legal Department he has also been involved in international cooperation with numerous equality bodies. John also spent time in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the conflict working with human rights. During his four years working with the OSCE mission John initially focused on creating conditions for the return of displaced persons. Later on, as the Director of the Human Rights Department, he was responsible for the organisation’s work on issues such as war crimes, rule of law, minority rights, economic and social rights. He joined Civil Rights Defenders as Legal Director in March 2013.

Annika Jyrwall Åkerberg, Legal Adviser focusing on Compulsory Treatment and Detention.
Annika holds a law degree from Stockholm University and has worked with children’s rights and disability issues at the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. She has also participated in several government commissions on human rights. In 2015, the United Nations Association of Sweden awarded her a prize for her work on human rights and discrimination. Annika joined Civil Rights Defenders as a Legal Adviser in September 2015.

Nazli Pirayehgar, Junior Legal Advisor.
Nazli has a Bachelor’s degree in Law from University of Southampton and a Master’s degree in European Law from Stockholm University. She started working at Civil Rights Defenders as an intern at the Legal Department in January 2016 and became a Junior Legal Advisor in August the same year. She has previously interned at Olof Palme International Centre’s field office in Pristina, Kosovo. Nazli is the first lawyer who was awarded the Gerald Nagler Human Rights Traineeship – a programme funded by Gerald Nagler, the founder of Civil Rights Defenders.


Communications Department

 

Gabrielle Gunneberg, Communications and International Relations Director
Gabrielle holds a MA in Political Science and Economics from Lund University and the University of California, Berkeley and has studied journalism at Stockholm University. Prior to joining Civil Rights Defenders in January 2016, she worked as Communications Coordinator at CONCORD Sweden. Gabrielle has also worked as a Social Development Specialist at the World Bank in Washington DC, where she focused on rights issues in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. She has also worked with civil society in South and East Asia, and reported on human rights and international development as a newspaper correspondent based in South Asia.

Mikael Ehrlington, Development Officer (on parental leave).
Mikael holds a BA in Marketing and Management from Stockholm University. After finishing his studies he worked as a consultant at Prime PR before moving on to Rippler Communications where he worked as planner and project manager within communications and corporate social responsibility. Mikael joined Civil Rights Defenders as a Development Officer in May 2015.

Nawras Naji, Fundraising Officer.
Nawras studied Political Science with minors in Middle East Studies and Intelligence Analysis at Lund University and before that Energy and Environmental engineering at Malmö Högskola. He started working at Civil Rights Defenders in September 2016. Prior to that he worked at SOS Children’s villages Sweden as a fundraiser with a broad area of responsibilities focusing on private individuals and small/mid-size companies.

Keith Begg, Communications and Advocacy Officer.
Keith has a BA in Risk Management and European Studies and holds an MA in International Relations from the University of Limerick in Ireland. He spent several years in Palestine working with communications and advocacy for the NGO sector while also writing extensively about the human rights issues afflicting the region. Prior to this Keith spent many years working with various international insurance companies in Risk Management, Liability Litigation and Consultancy. Keith started at Civil Rights Defenders as an intern in September 2013.

Isabel Gustafsson, Communications Coordinator.
Isabel holds a BA in Politics focusing on Human Rights from Stockholm University, including International Relations studies at London Metropolitan University. Isabel has also studied journalism at Uppsala University and before joining Civil Rights Defenders she worked at the main local newspaper in Västerås (VLT), reporting for the web. She has previous experience interning with Amnesty International and Omvärlden magazine.

Louise Myrseth, Communications Coordinator.
Louise holds a B.A. in Global Studies, specialising in International Relations, from the University of Gothenburg. She is currently enrolled in a Master’s programme in Communication for Development. Louise has previous experience from Civil Rights Defenders through an internship and a position as Communications Assistant. Prior to re-joining Civil Rights Defenders in November 2016, she interned at the National Committee for UN Women in Sweden.


Finance Department


Karin Fritz, Chief Financial Officer.
Karin holds a Bachelor of Finance and Administration from Uppsala University, specialising in Accounting and Financials. She began her career as an auditor and subsequently held various positions as Head of Accounts and Financial Manager for several organisations. She joined Civil Rights Defenders as Chief Financial Officer in 2014.

Lena Fredriksson, Business Controller.
Lena holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, specialising in Accounting and Financial Management, from Stockholm University. She previously ran her own business as a Consultant and worked as a Business Controller at the Red Cross. She also worked for several years at the Heart and Lung Foundation, where she focused on budgeting. Lena has worked as a Controller within the business sector and has years of experience in accounting. Lena joined Civil Rights Defenders Financial Department at the beginning of 2015.

Patrik Krzywiec, Business Controller.
Patrik Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Logistics and Economics, specialising in finance, from Södertörn University, Stockholm. Prior to joining Civil Rights Defenders he worked as a Business Controller at Aleris Care AB, where worked with financial management and budgeting. Patrik joined Civil Rights Defenders as Business Controller in December 2016.

Therese Larsson Vainikainen, Accountant.
Therese holds a Master’s Degree in Business and Administration, and is specialised in finance and accounting. She has previously worked as a Finance Officer at the Canadian Embassy in Stockholm, where she was responsible for the financial work in the three Baltic countries and Sweden. Recently, she worked as an Accountant for Doctors Without Borders in Stockholm. Therese joined Civil Rights Defenders as Accountant in November 2015.

Pia Dreborg, Office Assistant.
Prior to joining Civil Rights Defenders in January 2016, Pia worked with customer support as a Marketing Assistant at Martin Olsson Cashar AB. She has many years of experience in administration and customer service and has held the position as Assistant for various companies.

Annika Melbing, Financial Assistant.
Prior to joining Civil Rights Defenders, Annika worked as an financial assistant in the NCA Facility Services AB, where she started in 2010. In addition to accounts payable and accounts receivable she worked with the ISO audits of the company. Annika also has a ten years experience as a Facility Coordinator in CA Software, an US based IT company.


Human Rights Defenders at Risk Department


Marie Månson, Programme Director for Support to Human Rights Defenders at Risk.
Marie holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations. Prior to this she worked for the Swedish Institute of International Affairs. Marie began her career at Civil Rights Defenders in 1997, first as a Programme Officer for the Western Balkans and then as Office Manager. She was also Programme Director for the Western Balkans for a number of years. Currently she is heading a department within the organisation that develops and provides targeted support to human rights defenders at risk.

Zinaida Muradova, Programme Assistant at Human Rights Defenders at Risk.
Zinaida holds a BA in Law, specialising in Human Rights from Moscow University and a Masters Degree in EU Law from Stockholm University. She has previously worked as a journalist in Armenia, covering legal and political issues. She has also worked with the EU Advisory Group under the pillar of Democracy and Human Rights, where she advised the Armenian Parliament on improving democratic structures in the country. Zinaida started at Civil Rights Defenders as an intern during the autumn 2013.

Peter Öholm, Protection Officer.
Peter worked as a journalist during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina where he was stationed in Makarska and Tuzla. He has also worked as a reporter at Arbetaren, Aftonbladet, TV4, Ekot SR and Stockholm News. Peter began working for Civil Rights Defenders in 2004, first as a Programme Officer for the Western Balkans and then for Eastern Europe and Central Asia ( now the Eurasia Dept). Today he works with Marie Månson on our initiative to develop and provide targeted support to human rights defenders at risk.

Martin L. Fällman, Protection Officer.
Martin is an experienced Internet activist with a degree in Rhetoric from Södertörn University College in Stockholm County. Prior to this Martin worked with the Telecomix activist network during the Arab Spring to reinstate Internet connectivity in Egypt and reveal the surveillance equipment used in Tunisia and Syria. As a freelance trainer, he has taught Digital Security to journalists and activists from many parts of the world. Until recently he coordinated an anti-censorship project for the Swedish NGO Juliagruppen. Martin joined Civil Rights Defenders in June 2014.


East and Horn of Africa Department


Mesfin Negash, Programme Director East and Horn of Africa.
Mesfin is a journalist by profession and graduated in Political Science and International Relations. He was a Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of a popular newspaper in Ethiopia. Later the government accused and sentenced him in a politically motivated trial for “supporting terrorism”. Human Rights Watch and the Swedish chapter of Reporters Without Borders awarded him prizes for his contribution to freedom of speech. Mesfin has also worked as a Communication and Program officer for local and international NGOs in Ethiopia. Continuing his journalism and human rights activism in exile, he joined Civil Rights Defenders first as a volunteer and then as a Programme Director in 2014.


Southeast Asia Department

 

Shaivalini Parmar, Myanmar Program Officer.
Shaivalini Parmar has previously worked at Human Rights Watch where she was involved in the documentation and reporting of human rights issues in Asia, including the situation in locked detention centers in Thailand. Previously, she worked at the International Crisis Group and Grameen Bank. She holds a BA in Human Rights from Bard College, New York, and a MA in Human Rights Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.


Eurasia Department


Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director for Eurasia.
Joanna has worked with human rights and journalism in the former Soviet Union since 2000. She has led the Eurasia department at Civil Rights Defenders since 2010. Both as Programme Director and in her previous role as Programme Officer at Civil Rights Defenders (2007-2010), Joanna focuses on supporting human rights defenders in repressive countries. Before joining the organisation she was a journalist serving as the Moscow correspondent for Sweden’s main news agency TT (Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå) (2003-2006). She holds a Master of Arts degree in History of Economics from Uppsala University, and has studied Journalism at Stockholm University.

Inna Bukshtynovich, Programme Officer.
Inna joined Civil Rights Defenders in 2011 to work on the Stockholm Process, a long-term initiative to strengthen human rights defenders in the North Caucasus. Inna has studied Economics, IT and International Development and worked at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on projects to support and strengthen democratic institutions in Eastern Europe between 2001 and 2009.

Cecilia Rosing, Programme Officer.
Cecilia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Masters degree in Russian and Eastern European studies and has studied both in Russia and France. Cecilia has experience working with asylum seekers from Eastern Europe and Central Asia as well as at the Consulate General of Sweden in St Petersburg. She has also worked in the South Caucasus both for the EU-mission and the Swedish Foundation Kvinna till Kvinna. She started working for Civil Rights Defenders in April 2012 as Programme Officer for the Eurasia Department.

Ana Furtuna, Programme Officer.
Ana holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the State University of Moldova and a Master’s degree in Political Science from the Academy of Public Administration. Prior to this she held the position of Executive Director for the Non-Discrimination Coalition (CND), a non-governmental organisation dedicated to strengthening equality and protecting against discrimination within Moldovan society. In 2011, she was part of the CND team lobbying for the adoption of the Law on ensuring equality and creation of the Council for preventing and eliminating discrimination and ensuring equality.

Muzaffar Suleymanov, Programme Officer.
Muzaffar holds a Master’s degree in International Peace Studies from the UN-mandated University for Peace (Costa Rica) and a Bachelor’s degree in International and Comparative Politics from the American University – Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan). Muzaffar worked for almost 9 years as a Europe and Central Asia researcher with the Committee to Protect Journalists, the New York-based international press freedom group. At CPJ he was responsible for researching, documenting, and reporting on attacks against the press in Europe and Central Asia, including journalists’ arrests, beatings, and murders. He is also the author of numerous reports on press freedom conditions in the region and has advocated on behalf of individual journalists and new outlets before local and international government agencies.

Michael Runey, Programme Officer.
Michael holds an MA in International Development from the University of Denver and a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to joining Civil Rights Defenders, he managed the Caucasus regional office of Meydan TV, a Berlin-based Azerbaijani digital media outlet. He was also a Peace Corps volunteer at Transparency International Ukraine and supported US-Russia track-two diplomatic initiatives at the Eurasia Foundation in Washington, DC.

Karin Zilliacus, Programme Assistant.
Karin holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights from the Venice-based European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation. She has previously worked as an assistant at the Permanent Representation of Finland to the European Union in Brussels. Karin has also worked as an election observer and she has interned at the European Parliament as well as the United Nations Information Centre in Brussels.

Severin Filonov, Programme Assistant.
Severin is currently finishing his Master’s degree in Global Studies at Lund University in Sweden and holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Saint-Petersburg University in Russia. He has previously worked with the capacity building conference Defenders’ Days at Civil Rights Defenders. In 2015 he worked within an international advocacy project at RFSL Förbundet in Stockholm.


Latin America Department


Erik Jennische, Programme Director Latin America.
Erik holds a Master’s degree in Sociology specialising in democratisation processes. He has worked with democracy promotion in Latin America as well as the Balkans and Eastern Europe. From 2010-2013 he worked as a journalist in Brazil, and before joining Civil Rights Defenders in 2014 he was a researcher at Swedwatch.

María Pía Alvira, Programme Officer Latin America.
María Pía is an anthropologist with a master’s degree in Human Rights and Democratization. Previously she worked at the Office of the Presidential Commissioner for Human Rights in the Presidency of Colombia, as the coordinator of the Nation-Territory group, and responsible for the human rights and peace culture trainings. She also has experience working with indigenous groups, vulnerable populations and civil organizations in conflict armed contexts.

Flaminia Minelli, Programme Officer Latin America.
Flaminia holds a Master degree in International Sciences and Diplomacy from the University of Trieste. She has worked as a human rights officer for more than fifteen years in conflict, post-conflict and transitioning countries with international and regional, governmental and non-governmental organisations. In the last few years, she has specialised in result-based management and the development of IT-based systems for human rights. She joined Civil Rights Defenders in August 2016.


Field Office, Belgrade (Serbia)


Goran Miletic, Programme Director for the Western Balkans.
Goran has a Master of Laws from Belgrade University and an MA from the European Regional Master on Democracy and Human Rights in Sarajevo. He began working for Civil Rights Defenders in 2004 as a Programme Officer for the Western Balkans. Today he is the Programme Director for the Western Balkans. Goran is stationed in Belgrade, Serbia.

Ivana Randjelovic, Programme Officer.
Ivana holds a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from the University of Belgrade. She has more than ten years experience working with a number of international and local NGOs. She is now Programme Officer for Serbia and is also based at our Belgrade Office.

Filip Perunicic, Financial Assistant.
Filip has a Master’s degree in Business Administration and Finance from New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, US where he also worked as a Graduate Assistant. He previously worked as a Finance Intern for Pro Credit Bank in Belgrade, Serbia, and as marketing trainee for L’Oreal Balkans. In 2013 he joined Civil Rights Defenders’ Balkan team as Financial Assistant.

Milos Stankovic, Regional Programme Assistant.
Milos is currently attending his final year at the Bachelor’s programme ”Human and Social Resources Management” at University of Belgrade. He has previous experience from human rights trainings and work against discrimination. Milos joined Civil Rights Defenders in 2016.

Marko Mihailovic, Regional Programme Assistant.
Besides working with Civil Rights Defenders, Marko is a student at the Bachelor’s programme “Digital Arts and New Media” at the Faculty of Media and Communications, University of Belgrade. He has also studied one year at the Law School of the University. Marko joined Civil Rights Defenders in 2016.


Field Office, Pristina (Kosovo)


Sarah Maliqi, Programme Officer.
Sarah started working for Civil Rights Defenders in 2011. She is a Programme Officer, covering Kosovo and Macedonia. Sarah previously worked at the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Heartefact Fund and WUS Pristina. She studied law at Sarajevo and Pristina Universities.

Njomza Mala, Administrative and Project Assistant.
Njomza holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics Management and is currently completing a Masters in Banking, Finances and Accounting at the University of Pristina. Prior to that she worked for the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce and HandiKOS – The Association of Paraplegics and Paralyzed Children of Kosovo. She joined Civil Rights Defenders as an Administrative and Project Assistant in June 2014.


Field Office, Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina)


Ena Bavcic, Programme Officer.
Ena holds a Masters in Human Rights and Democracy, and a Bachelor’s in Social Work. As a human rights defender, she has worked and acted within numerous NGO’s both in Bosnia & Herzegovina and abroad. Ena is the author of several documentary films. She started working for Civil Rights Defenders in April 2014 as an Administrative Assistant. In August 2014 she was appointed to the position of Programme Officer.

Najra Isakovic, Project and Administrative Assistant.
Najra holds a MA in Psychology from University of Sarajevo. She has previous working experience from the field of human rights, administration and social research. Among other things, Najra has worked with marginalised groups, mainly related to the Roma community in Sarajevo as well as in Gazinatep, Turkey, where she worked with Syrian refugees. Prior to joining Civil Rights Defenders Najra was a research associate at the Center for Social Research in Sarajevo.


Field Office, Tirana (Albania)


Vasilika Laci, Programme Officer.
Vasilika holds a degree in Philosophy and Sociology from the University of Tirana and has a MA degree from the European Regional Master on Democracy and Human Rights in Sarajevo. Vasilika has previously worked with children’s rights for Terre des Hommes International Federation in Albania and for a woman’s rights organisation. In February 2012, Vasilika started at Civil Rights Defenders.

Deni Sanxhaku, Administrative and Project Assistant.
Deni holds a Masters in Finance and Accounting from the University of Tirana. Her previous experience involved an internship at Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) in Albania. She has been actively involved in the civil society movement, volunteering at human rights and youth organisations in Albania and abroad. One of the projects she took part in was the European Volunteering Service, during which she worked for six months with a youth organisation in Sardinia, Italy.


Field Office, Chisinau (Moldova)


Alesia Vidruk, Programme Officer for Moldova.
Alesia holds a Master of Laws, specialising in Human Rights, from Nottingham University in the UK. She previously worked as a Consultant at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, where she assisted the Coordinator of the Indigenous and Minorities Fellowships. She has also worked at he UN Office in Belarus, where she advised the UN Country Team on human rights issues. Alesia started working at Civil Rights Defenders’ field office in Moldova at the end of 2014.

Diana Saghin, Accountant and Administrator.
Diana holds a degree in Business and Administration from the State University of Moldova, specialising in Enterprise Management. She has previously worked as a Financial Manager at the Non-Discrimination Coalition in Chisinau. She has over ten years of experience in accounting, management and administration in both NGOs and the commercial sector. Diana joined Civil Rights Defenders as Accountant and Administrator in October 2015.


Board


Gerald Nagler, Honorary Chair of the Board Gerald is one of the founders of the Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights. He was Secretary General of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) in Vienna from 1984 to 1992, and Chairman of the Swedish Helsinki Committee between 1992 and 2004.


Benedicte Berner, Chairperson of the Board.
As a Media Analyst, Benedicte teaches at Harvard University on Media and Democracy and is an Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard. She teaches on issues regarding freedom of expression at the Institut d’ Etudes Politiques de Paris. She also trains journalists in the Middle East and North Africa. Benedicte formerly worked for the International Red Cross and the International Organisation for Migration in Moscow, and was Director of International Issues at the European Institute for the Media in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Anna Jonsson Cornell, Professor
Anna is a Professor in comparative constitutional law and an Associate Professor in constitutional law at the Law Faculty at Uppsala University. Her main areas of expertise are constitutional law, state building processes, rule of law and human rights protection.

Elisabeth Tamm, Director
Elisabeth is a Foundation Expert and Director of the Bank of Åland’s Trust Department. She sits on a number of boards, including as Chair of Alba Langenskiöld Foundation, is a member of the Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital Foundation, H & M Conscious Foundation, Erling Persson Family Foundation, Bokförlaget Langenskiöld and others. She holds an LLB and an MBA from Uppsala University and has a minor in Art History.

Fredrik Andersson, Entrepreneur.
Fredrik has extensive experience in strategic communications consultancy and entrepreneurship, both in Sweden and overseas. Frederick founded the public relations agency Primes Public Affairsgrupp in 1998 and has a long track record in social issues, politics, international engagement and rights issues.

Carin Norberg, Chair of the Center for Economic and Social Rights and Chair of the Nordic Africa Research Network.
Carin holds a Masters from Uppsala University. She was formerly employed by Sida between 1971-2002. She has been an Advisor to the UN Namibia Commissioner Office in New York. Between 2002-2005 she worked for the International Secretariat of Transparency International in Berlin. For six years until 2012, Carin was the Director of the Nordic Africa Institute, where she was also a member of the board in 1991-1999. Carin has been a member of the board of the Swedish Institute of Alexandria through 2000-2003 and at present the board of Stiftelsen Folkoperan.

Christoffer Lindblad, Country Manager at Alumni.
Christoffer works as Country Manager for Alumni Sweden, a leading Nordic Leadership Services Firm with approximately 60 employees in Sweden. In addition, he also heads the Alumni Nordic’s Executive Search operations. Christoffer has widespread experience working with Board and C-suite assignments and large, international corporations and organisations as well as leading Nordic private equity and professional services firms. Christoffer has a Master of Law from the University of Lund and has previously worked for the Law Firm Mannheimer Swartling.

 


Election Committee


Kristna Scharp Anders Mellbourn