Achievements

These are some of the success stories, milestones, and big and small steps forward in the enhancement of human rights that we and our partners have achieved.

Convicted for homophobic attack

On 22 January, Russian LGBT activists held "We are for Traditional Values" demonstrations in protest of the federal bill to ban "propaganda of homosexuality", as a response to the authors, who cited Russian traditional values as the basis for banning "propaganda of homosexuality to minors." Photo: Maria Kozlovskaya.

An attack on a participant of a peaceful action on LGBT-rights has been met with legal consequences for the first time in Russia. Civil Rights Defenders welcomes the ruling and hopes that the verdict is a step in the right direction. In the aftermath of the so called ”propaganda laws” there has been an increase of aggression and violence towards LGBT-people in Russia. Despite this the courts usually treat the cases as hooliganism instead of hate-crimes.

“Seven” on tour in the Balkans

Photo: Seven on tour

Starting on the 5th of November, the documentary play Seven will be on a tour in the Western Balkans, visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania. Seven is a documentary play about gender based violence based on interviews with seven activists from around the world. The tour is supported by the Swedish Institute and coordinated by Civil Rights Defenders in cooperation with local partners in each country.

Second Albanian LGBT activist included in the Natalia Project

Xheni Karaj. Photo: Civil Rights Defenders

“I was once spat at by a man on the street while at a demonstration. Albanian men get very threatened by lesbians so I challenged him. I grabbed his hand and told him I would not let go until the police arrived” said Xheni Karaj, LGBT activist from Albania who is now included in the Natalia Project security system. The Natalia bracelet represents an important physical, moral and psychological support to human rights activists.

House of representatives adopted proposed definition of hate crime

Sumeja Tulic, programme officer at Civil Rights Defenders in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On 24 July, the House of Representatives of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted the legal amendment proposed by civil society, including a definition on hate crime. “I am very pleased that our effort to foster a coalition of organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina has yielded such a positive outcome”, says Sumeja Tulic, programme officer at Civil Rights Defenders.

Burmese human rights lawyers inspired in Serbia

Human rights lawyers in Burma do not waste any time when trying to make use of emerging opportunities as their country is opening up. But rule of law is weak, civil society initiatives are nascent and threats against lawyers commonplace. To support them, Civil Rights Defenders has organised a two-week study tour to Serbia for ten activist lawyers, to meet with our partner organisations that work in the field of legal aid.

MFA’s reply on human rights defenders

In December, Civil Rights Defenders wrote a letter to the Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and urged him to demand stronger protection for human rights defenders in Kosovo. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has replied that “we are discussing these important issues on a political level. When Prime Minister Hachim Thaci visited Sweden in October, EU integration and the necessary reforms, including human rights, were major themes.”

Future professionals trained in freedom of speech

Photo: Press Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Theoretical and practical insight into national media legislation and European standards in the field make law students better prepared to handle human rights issues in their future work as legal professionals. That is why Civil Rights Defenders, together with one of its long-term partners, the Press Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is conducting trainings for law students in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

New report: Long road to press freedom ahead

Cover report Press Freedom Serbia

Only 4 of the European Council’s 27 principles for press freedom have been fully implemented in Serbia, the first comprehensive report on the media situation in the country: Serbian Media Scene VS European Standards, suggests. Free press is a cornerstone for democratic development; in this report the challenges lying ahead of the Serbian media scene become evident. This report is a result of a yearlong cooperation between Civil Rights Defenders and local partners.

We trained judges in freedom of speech

In December, Civil Rights Defenders organised a workshop on the new freedom of expression law for judges in Moldova. The aim was to improve understanding of how the new legislation should be interpreted and applied by magistrates who work with these types of cases. “Strengthening the legal system is central, because that’s where the rights are protected”, commented Percy Bratt, chairman of Civil Rights Defenders board and one of the trainers, afterwards.

Kosovo 2.0 – Vibrant news in three languages

Kosovo 2.0 is a web portal and a magazine available in English, Albanian and Serbian. Since the launch in July 2010, it has had around 257,760 unique visitors and more that 1,000 unique visits a day. Civil Rights Defenders collaboration with Kosovo Glocal aims at building up Kosovo 2.0, a comprehensive and vibrant media platform, offering interesting and current news, commentary and information that will contribute to an overall respect of freedom of expression in Kosovo.

Map of victims of the Yugoslav wars

Together with Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) in Serbia Civil Rights Defenders provide work to raise public awareness on the importance of confronting the past, by compiling and disseminating a comprehensive record of human losses in Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro in the wars of the 1990s. The “Interactive Online Map of Human Losses” provides user-friendly information and access to relevant documents on human losses in Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia.

Improving accountability of duty holders

Civil Rights Defenders have cooperated with the Macedonian Helsinki Committee for more than a decade, with the main focus to enhance awareness and respect for human rights and the rule of law in Macedonia. By providing free legal aid we not only improve people’s access to justice but also monitor the respect of human rights by authorities, and put pressure on authorities to comply with international and national human rights standards.

Empowering the most vulnerable with Tirana Legal Aid Society

Since 2006 Civil Rights Defenders has cooperated with Tirana Legal Aid Society, TLAS, in assisting Roma families to register their children, but also other members of the families, in order to help them get access to some of the most fundamental human rights; such as the right to education, health care, social allowances, as well as the possibility to get a legal employment and the right to vote in general elections. Hundreds of families have been assisted through our joint efforts so far.