Democracy and the rule of law are coming under growing strain , while those who stand up to abuses of power and human rights violations face intimidations and physical attacks. Governments shamelessly mobilise institutions, state-controlled media, as well as organised right-wing groups, to silence and suppress their struggle for freedom.
Against the odds, Human Rights Defenders continue their fight and this podcast series aims to relay their voices to the wider world. From activists to academics, independent journalists and human rights lawyers, we’ll hear about their experiences of defending our fundamental rights from the frontlines.
Why they committed their lives to their cause; what have been the main obstacles in their journey; what support should be provided to victims; how to effectively monitor and communicate violations, as well as a general outlook on the human rights situation in their region, are some of the many topics we will cover with guests.
Albania's LGBTI+ Community Facing Attacks
Over the past few months, Albania's LGBTI+ community has been subject of a hateful smear campaign, with calls for violence against members spread by national television hosts and other influential figures. We sat with Xheni Karaj, from Aleanca LGBT who has been personally targetted and is leading the fightback through the courts.
#RomaSummit: MEP Evin Incir (S&D)
In the second episode of the #RomaSummit special, we speak with MEP Evin Incir (S&D), who has been a tireless advocate for Roma inclusion from her seat in the European Parliament. Serving as Co-President of the EP's Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI), she offers us an important insight into the shortcomings of previous EU-level initiatives, how the new EU-Roma Framework might address these, as well as the challenges that remain to bringing about real institutional change - both in Brussels, and more pressingly, at national level.
#RomaSummit: Gabriela Habranova, ERGO network
In anticipation of the upcoming Western Balkans Roma Summit (17-18 November), we're hosting a mini-series on this podcast, focusing on the the rights and issues of the Roma community. Over the next few episodes, we’ll be speaking with EU policymakers, representatives of civil society organisations and grassroots activists tackling anti-gypsyism and promoting the community’s rights across the continent. First up, Gabriela Hrabanova of the Brussels-based ERGO network, which represents 30 Roma and pro-Roma organisation working tirelessly on advocating these issues before EU bodies.
Defender of the Year 2021: OVD-Info
On 23 September, Civil Rights Defenders named Russian independent human rights and media project OVD-Info, the Defender of the Year for 2021. Just days later, Russian authorities put OVD-Info on a growing list of civil society organisations labelled as "foreign agents". We caught up with co-founder Daniil Beilinson to hear about the general human rights situation in the country, the project's vital contribution to monitoring police brutality and arrests of peaceful protestors, as well as how the newfound label will impact their work going forward.
The Pegasus Project
It's being hailed as "the story of the year" to impact the privacy and safety of HRDs. Over the past few months, 80 journalists from 17 media organisations have been sifting through a leak of 50,000 phone numbers which may have been compromised by a sophisticated Israeli spyware product. The clients: autocratic regimes snooping on their citizens. The victims: activists and journalists holding power to account. Ilya Lozovsky from the OCCRP offers his insights on this breathtaking investigation.
Turkey's Assault on Press Freedoms
In early February 2021, Erol Önderoglu was the subject of an international civil society solidarity campaign, facing a 14-year sentence on charges of "terrorism". His crime: supporting independent media which was targetted by Turkey's crackdown on press freedoms. Marking World Press Freedom Day (May 3rd), the Reporters Without Borders representative tells us more about his pending case, the repressive tactics used to since critical outlets, as well as Turkey's cooling interest to achieve justice in the case of Jamal Khashoggi.