Protecting Those At Risk

Involving survivors of human rights abuse in the identification and rescue of potential victims

Maiti Nepal works to stop trafficking of women and girls across the Nepal-India border by interviewing those who appear vulnerable. The Maiti interviewers are more likely to recognize others in dangerous situations because many of them, too, are survivors of trafficking.

Increasing demand for sex workers in Indian brothels and other markets is increasing trafficking in Nepal. One way to combat the problem is to prevent traffickers from crossing the border, but border police often fail to identify potential victims or simply look the other way.

Informing potential victims of their rights when there is a time limit on protecting their rights

The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) in Ontario, Canada, contacts tenants at risk of eviction and gives them the information they need to avoid eviction. Canadian law limits to five days the time tenants have to dispute evictions, and many people do not have the information or resources to react quickly enough to prevent eviction.

Defying laws in order to pressure for their change

In June 2000, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) began importing generic HIV/AIDS drugs in defiance of pat­ent laws, trying to pressure drug companies to reduce drug costs and to compel the South African government to allow the importation of generic versions of patented drugs. The goal of the tactic was to increase access to afford­able HIV/AIDS prescription drugs for all South Africans. Over four million people are infected with HIV in South Africa and high prices for patented drugs have made treatment inaccessible to most people.

Citizen monitoring of courts as a means of creating system change

WATCH has developed a highly effective court monitoring method involving citizen volunteers as a means of creating legal and policy system change and improving the administration of justice for victims of abuse. WATCH volunteers first entered a courtroom in Hennepin County, Minnesota (USA) in March 1993. Since that time WATCH trains 50 volunteers each year who, along with staff, monitor more than 4,500 court hearings regarding sexual assault, child abuse, and domestic violence cases. They are immediately recognized by the red clipboards they carry.

Building allies with government institutions and port communities to prevent human trafficking and protect victims

Visayan Forum, Inc. (VF), in co-operation with the Philippine Ports Authority, runs eight unique halfway house facilities in strategic ports throughout the country’s archipelago. In addition to providing center-based services to vulnerable migrants, this partnership helps to combat human trafficking in these seaports by preventing and intercepting potential victims of trafficking and apprehending suspected traffickers.

Adapting traditional human rights fact-finding methodology to emerging human rights issues

The Advocates for Human Rights (The Advocates), formerly known as the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, uses traditional human rights monitoring methods to document human rights abuses, but has made a practice of adapting this methodology to address emerging human rights issues. The Advocates has developed practical and sustainable strategies for adapting human rights monitoring methods to address domestic violence in Eastern Europe, and has used this tactic to develop a positive legal and social culture on behalf of women’s human rights in Bulgaria.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

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