Blogs from the Front Line

Uzbekistan – the Diplomatic Game and the Art of Betrayal

As President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan looks all set to begin his fourth and unconstitutional, term of office a lot of the media attention has focused on the fate of his daughter Gulnara. Is she or isn't she under house arrest? Did she or didn't she pocket $1 billion in bribes from telecommunications companies? But the question we should be asking is, what does the future hold for the people of Uzbekistan?

Jailed, threatened with jail or in hiding - that's the reality for the 5 finalists for this year's Front Line Defenders Award

I noticed with interest the launch of the new #idefend campaign in Geneva, “an initiative of the Delegation of the European Union to the UN in Geneva in partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Permanent Missions of Brazil, the Republic of Korea and Tunisia to the UN in Geneva”. The project aims to support and protect the independence of civil society. Since then we have seen a steady procession of the great and the good having their photos taken while holding up statements declaring their support for the work of human rights defenders.

Stopping slavery in Mauritania starts with ending the persecution of those who fight it

There are some practices which however hard people try can never be justified on any basis whatsoever - and slavery is one. The act of one human being selling another for profit cannot be anything other than totally abhorrent. There is a common perception that slavery has been confined to the pages of history, however the sad reality is that today more than 30 million people are affected by slavery, more than at any time in history. After the international drug trade, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world.

Blaming the Victims in Guatemala

Following the publication of my recent Opinion Piece in The Irish Times regarding the humanitarian crisis of undocumented children arriving in the United States from Central America, a reader wrote to me questioning some of the basic facts.

Seeking Justice at the BRICS – Can Brazil Lead?

On 15 July, the 6th BRICS Summit will open in Brazil. The timing, in many ways, could not be more important for each of the 5 countries involved.

Lies and Obfuscation - the legal system in Saudi Arabia

In the space of three days last week two prominent human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia received harsh prison sentences. To any reasonable person it seems incredible that the mere fact of demanding political reform and democratic change or simply monitoring the human rights situation in your country could be construed as taking part in a plot to overthrow the state.

Tiananmen 25: More than a Symbolic Legacy

(Visit the China campaign site for more interviews with Tiananmen student leaders)

Twenty five years ago today, the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) demonstrated the extent to which it would go in order to face down any challenges to its power or legitimacy.

Failure at Launch – Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe

Just when we needed the Council of Europe to stand strong for human rights, Azerbaijan is due to bring its hackneyed brand of authoritarian repression to the role of Chairman.

Argentina and the issue of impunity

As Front Line Defenders launches a new documentary, Memory, Truth & Justice, on the struggle for justice by HRDs and families of the disappeared in Argentina, Mary Lawlor looks at just why these cases are so important to the current struggle for human rights.

As Afghanistan goes to the polls on Saturday what prospect for women's rights

As Afghanistan prepares to go to the polls on Saturday for Presidential and provincial elections, many women are concerned that the progress they have struggled to make over the past number of years may be traded away in the name of reconciliation in the political negotiations prior to the withdrawal of international forces at the end of this year.

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Today was a 5am start as we flew up to Flores in the Petén region of Guatemala to visit the national park and see exactly why the protection of the environment is such a vital issue here and why it has inspired such total dedication from Yuri ( - Read more ...
It was good to have the opportunity to make a presentation at the OSCE Dublin Conference on Internet Freedom last week as it enabled me to raise the cases of human rights defenders Roza Tuletaeva (Kazakhstan), Maxim Efimov (Russia) and Ali - Read more ...
After meeting the community in Peronia, we received a message that there were some people in the village of San Rafael who had been receiving threats because they were challenging the policy of a mining company who they felt were trampling over - Read more ...
Yesterday we went to Peronia, one of the new shanty towns that have sprung up around Guatemala City to accomodate the more than 1 million people who travel into the city everyday to work. Slums where a family can pay 30 Euro for one room with - Read more ...
Dear Reader, You will be astonished by the positive effects of jetlag - most unusually for me, I was up at 5am this morning writing this blog which then festered for sometime in my draft email folder due to the dodgy internet connection. I suspect - Read more ...
We arrived at 21.30 last night after 18 hours on the road. I have a feeling that our intrepid photographer Kieran has a stash of compromising photos of me asleep during the 7 hour stop-over in Atlanta, book in one hand, coffee in the other, sound - Read more ...
It was obvious 12 months ago that sentencing human rights defender Abdulhadi Alkhawaja to life in prison after torturing him and subjecting him to a show trial before a military court was a sign of weakness and desperation from the side of Bahrain's - Read more ...
Tomorrow morning Mary Lawlor founder and Executive Director of Front Line Defenders and I are heading off to Guatemala to make a documentary about the situation of human rights defenders told through the eyes of one man - environmentalist Yuri - Read more ...
It is difficult to imagine what could be a greater insult to the Thai monarchy than the current operation by over-zealous officials of the country's Lese-Majeste law (article 112 of Thailand's criminal code). The law which is intended to protect the - Read more ...
Sitting in on the Front Line Defenders training of trainers workshop in Bangkok I am struck by the great diversity of political, cultural and security contexts faced by human rights defenders across this very varied region. From China to Sri Lanka, - Read more ...
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