“Today, more than ever, it is important to stand up for human rights as these universal principles and those defending them are coming increasingly under attack across the globe. It is the responsibility of each one of us to push back against this negative trend as we face the most persistent human rights crisis since the fall of the Berlin Wall”, said Brigitte Dufour, director of International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR).
The report Together for Human Rights: 2016 – A Year in Review provides a colourful and easily-accessible overview of IPHR’s activities last year. It demonstrates that partnership and cooperation with human rights groups and networks working to counter threats to human rights protection in the countries of the former Soviet Union, a region of primary focus for IPHR, are crucial in the face of the drastically reduced space for NGOs operating there.
In 2016, IPHR and its partners carried out fact-finding missions, published reports and briefing papers, engaged in international advocacy and provided emergency assistance to human rights activists and their families. Highlights of our work include:
- In September 2016 IPHR and the NGOs Crimea SOS and Truth Hounds published a landmark report presenting evidence of international crimes such as extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal detentions, torture and forced displacement in occupied Crimea. The findings were submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
- On the basis of a fact-finding mission to Armenia, IPHR and partners issued a comprehensive report documenting the use of excessive force against predominantly peaceful protesters in this country. The findings of the report were shared and discussed with Armenian officials and international policy makers.
- IPHR conducted trial monitoring, international advocacy and campaigns to draw attention to the continuing crackdown on human rights defenders, bloggers and political activists in Azerbaijan. Several political prisoners were released during the year thanks to international pressure, but many dissidents remain behind bars and new arrests have been carried out in recent months.
- IPHR and its Central Asian partners worked on ensuring that key civil society concerns were reflected during UN human rights reviews. It also worked with its partners on keeping human rights issues in this region high on the agenda of EU institutions and arranged EU advocacy visits for 24 Central Asian human rights defenders.
- IPHR and SOVA Centre for Information and Analysis worked to combat discrimination on the grounds of religion and belief in Russia through monitoring, advocacy and public outreach.
- IPHR played a leading role in the advocacy work of the Civic Solidarity Platform (CSP), a network of over 80 human rights NGOs from Europe, the former Soviet Union and North America and worked with other CSP members on coordinating the seventh Parallel Civil Society Conference held prior to the annual OSCE Ministerial Council Meeting in Hamburg in December 2016. The outcome documents of this conference, in particular the “Hamburg Declaration on Protecting and Expanding Civil Society Space” attracted a lot of attention and support from OSCE institutions and OSCE participating States.
IPHR will continue to develop and strengthen its relationships with human rights defenders in the former Soviet Union and other countries and amplify their voices at the international level.
The report Together for Human Rights: 2016 – A Year in Review can be downloaded here