Tactics

Training local leaders as mediators and resources on human rights

In Uganda, the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) trains local leaders to help community members with legal complaints in a way that avoids the problems and frustrations of using the formal judicial system. FHRI teaches these leaders how to educate their communities about their constitutional and human rights. It also gives them paralegal skills, enabling them to provide mediation, counseling and advice so that citizens can obtain re­dress for abuses and exercise their full human rights.

Tracking the work of government officials online to fight corruption

The city government in Seoul, South Korea, has created an online database to increase government transparency. Online Procedures Enhancement for Civil Applications (OPEN) allows city residents to monitor details of civil applications related to 70 municipal government tasks that have been identified as the most prone to corruption, including housing and construction projects, environmental regulation and urban planning.

Teaching police officers about their role in defending human rights

The Centro de Assessoramento a Programas de Educação para a Cidadania (CAPEC, or the Center for Advising Citizenship Education Programs) provides training to police officers in Brazil to help them understand the vital role they can play as defenders of human rights. The training, which includes a wide variety of courses, empha­sizes the human rights of all citizens, including the police officers themselves. The role of police is transformed through this process, leading to improved relationships with the community and greater civic engagement.

Teaching people in rural areas about their rights and connecting them to lawyers to defend those rights

The Thongbai Thongpao Foundation (TTF) in Thailand brings free legal assistance to rural residents, along with training on basic human rights and laws affecting their daily lives. While Thailand enjoyed rapid economic growth in the 1990s, much of the improved standard of living was concentrated in metropolitan areas. Rural populations lag behind economically and have little awareness of the rights guaranteed by modern Thai law. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation by corrupt officials and moneylenders.

Settling landless people on unfarmed land to pressure the government to carry out land reforms

Since its creation in 1984, the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (Movimento Dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, or MST) has addressed the issue of land reform by organizing large groups of landless farmers to settle and farm unused land belonging to wealthy landowners. After occupying an area MST attempts to gain the land legally through petitioning and legislation, using an article in the Brazilian constitution stating that unproductive land is available for agrarian reform.

Raising public awareness of impunity through a referendum or petition drive

Using a constitutional provision that had never been invoked, Comisión Nacional Pro-Referéndum (CNR) orga­nized a referendum in Uruguay, so that the public could vote on the congressional decision to grant impunity to human rights abusers employed by the military. In order to petition the government to hold a popular referendum, CNR needed, within one year of the impunity law’s passage, to collect the signatures of 25 percent of citizens who were qualified to vote.

Publicly exposing abusers through targeted demonstrations

Hijos por la Identidad y la Justicia contra el Olvido y el Silencio (Children for Identity and Justice Against Forget­fulness and Silence, or H.I.J.O.S) organizes targeted demonstrations in front of the homes of people who have been identified as perpetrators of human rights abuses. These demonstrations, called escraches (“unmaskings”), publicly expose the abusers and allow communities to express their moral condemnation.

Providing parents with funds that allow them to send their children to school rather than to work

The Bolsa Escola program in Brazil provides families with a monthly stipend so that children can attend school rather than working in the streets. The program, which began in the city of Brasilia, was created with the realiza­tion that the working children of today are the poor adults of tomorrow. Bolsa Escola was expanded to a federal program in 2001.

Protecting cultural and economic rights of indigenous people by recording traditional ecological knowledge

The Science and Human Rights Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has created an online searchable database of traditional ecological knowledge to prevent private companies from patenting that knowledge. The Traditional Ecological Knowledge Prior Art Database (T.E.K.*P.A.D.) is located at ip.aaas.org/tekpad.

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