Mitigating the risks that community advocates face

"Where security threats are tied to the defense of land and resource rights, security protocols need to be collective and include community strategies…

As funders, we must move away from security and protection models that do not take into account the complexity of the contexts we now face. This involves flexible funding that organizations, movements, and communities can use as they see necessary to ensure effective protection of and security for environmental human rights defenders. Never before has there been so much information on and attention to the threats they face. The challenge now is to translate this into concrete strategies to effectively ensure their safety."

  • OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS (3 February 2017)
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Thanks for sharing, Chinga! How to mitigate security risks certainly is one of the most important and existential challenges facing activists, and I appreciate you sharing this great post about experiences across Latin America. What lessons or comparisons can you draw from this in your own work in Africa?

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@tobiaseigen the risks are the same worldwide I guess. For our (Zimbabwean) community advocates who are child rights activists, the risk is also great as at times they get threats after causing an arrest of a prominent person in the community. I can give an example of one of our remarkable Community Focal Persons, Vaida, who after causing a local teacher to be convicted of rape and being sentenced to 50 years imprisonment for raping and infecting (with HIV) an 11 year old girl under his charge, she was threatened by the defense lawyer and some community members. Vaida is so passionate that the threats seem to fuel her desire to see perpetrators of abuse go to prison. She has recently been in the forefront of causing the prosecution of a traditional leader whose father is a prominent lawyer in her community. The traditional leader, with the aid of his son, had tried to interfere with the victim, to the extent of hiding the minor child’s birth certificate (a birth certificate is an important piece of evidence in sexual abuse matters.) I will try to share link to the documentary soon.

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This will definitely become a problem when Papua New Guinea relocate defense personnel from Taurama Barracks to Manumanu where over 2,000 hectares of customary land has been encroached by the Government and the Economic Zone under Konebada Petroleum Park Authority.

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