Seeking Justice

Using the budgetary process to work for equity and social justice

The Centre for Budget Advocacy (CBA) is a program operated by the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) in Ghana. ISODEC works in a variety of advocacy areas to improve the lives and livelihoods of Ghanaians.  As part of ISODEC’s Social Justice and Rights Programme, the Centre for Budget Advocacy examines how national and local budgets impact the human rights of Ghanaians, particularly the poor and vulnerable, and seeks to influence these budgets and the general allocation of public resources for the benefit of disadvantaged groups in the country.

Engaging victims to develop a community education user friendly guide “know your rights” titled “Detainees Guide”

The Treatment and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture (TRC) developed a user friendly guide to raise awareness about the rights of detainees in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The process engaged people whose rights had been violated in order to understand what the broader community actually needed to know about their rights in order to claim them and prevent future abuse. The process combined community focus groups, field experience and legal expertise.

Engaging local level monitors to document cases of slavery to be used as legal documentation in courts

The National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedom (HOOD) trained local monitoring teams in communities to document cases of slavery in Yemen in order to be used by the victims as a legal document in the courts. Utilizing a documentation form that is signed by the interviewer and three additional witnesses who expressed their willingness to testify in the court at a later stage, HOOD was able to document more than 100 cases of slavery in three Yemeni governorates.

Engaging key stakeholders for resolving land disputes

This tactic of targeting absentee landowners as key stakeholders was non-confrontational and proved effective to target. The community created specific alliances with influential absentee landowners who were initially, and often unknowingly, part of the violation process. Recognition of the importance of the cooperation of this target group led to the success of the movement

Using the foundations of religious and cultural values to promote human rights

Sisters in Islam, as one of the founding members of a joint action group called Malaysians Against Moral Policing (MAMP), has been organizing in response to the growing zeal of the state in policing the morality of citizens. MAMP seeks to highlight Malaysia's Shari'ah Criminal Offences Act, which is often used as a means to invade privacy, scapegoat women and sexual minorities, and violate freedom of religion under the pretext of upholding Islam. In addition, there are several secular laws that the state uses for the purposes of moral policing and restriction of freedom of expression.

Developing electronic advocacy groups to influence government on issues of peace and social justice

MoveOn creates electronic advocacy groups to influence government on issues of peace and social justice.  It is a grassroots organization aimed at involving ordinary people in politics in order to narrow the gap between public opinion and legislative action.  With a network of over 600,000 “online activists,” MoveOn helps busy but concerned citizens find their political voice by organizing “electronic advocacy groups” around issues such as campaign finance, environmental and energy issues, impeachment, gun safety, and nuclear disarmament.  

Creating an ombudsman institution to provide recourse to victims of discrimination

In Sweden, the Discrimination Ombudsman (DO) is a political institutional body that was created to allow citizens to assert their right to be protected against discrimination and to provide both advice and litigation power. The DO is one of four Ombudsman offices that are used to strengthen political and social protections for those victimized by discrimination.

Creating a database tool that protects human rights information from confiscation

Human rights groups can now use internet technology in order to help collect, organise, safeguard and disseminate information about human rights violations. The Martus Human Rights Bulletin System is a database tool that addresses the specific technological needs of the human rights community by dramatically improving their ability to manage information, document abuses and prevent the information from being confiscated or destroyed.

Using national laws to bring to justice those who perpetrate crimes against humanity in other countries

The International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) uses the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) to bring legal cases against multinational corporations complicit in human rights abuses. Dating to 1789 and created to address and prevent piracy, the ATCA is a United States federal statute allowing foreign nationals to bring civil actions against U.S. citizens and corporations for violations of international law.

Using an expropriation law to ensure economic rights are protected

Workers in Argentina have tried to prevent job losses by refusing to stop working when their employers’ business­es go bankrupt. Jobs at nearly 200 fabricas recuperadas, or recuperated factories, have been saved by workers who use a little-known expropriation law to prevent removal of equipment by creditors and to seek receivership of the factories. The businesses range from ice cream factories and metal works to four-star hotels and shipyards.

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