Tactics

Empowering NGOs to use video in human rights advocacy

WITNESS empowers human rights organizations around the world to incorporate video as an advocacy tool in their work. Rooted in the power of personal testimonies and in the principle that a picture is worth a thousand words, the videos of WITNESS and its partners have been used as evidence in legal proceedings; to corroborate allegations of human rights violations; to complement written reports to international and regional organizations that provide a counterweight to official versions of a country’s human rights performance; to stimulate grassroots education and mobilization; to provide information for news broadcasts; to promote human rights via the internet; and to produce documentaries for broadcast on television worldwide.

Documenting oral testimony to create a written history to help people in isolated communities understand the full extent of the war crimes suffered in their country

As part of the ongoing REMHI (Recovery of Historical Memory) Project, several dioceses of the Catholic Church in Guatemala mobilized their members to collect testimonies from victims of state violence. These testimonies were compiled in a report used to return that history to the affected communities and individuals.

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 importing 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.

Creating a venue on the Internet for former child soldiers to share their stories and develop new skills

Launched in 2000, the Child Soldier Project of the International Education and Resource Network in Sierra Leone (iEarn Sierra Leone) has created a web site on which former child soldiers can share their stories. The web site, www.childsoldiers.org, features the essays, poems, artwork and voices of former child soldiers and offers an on­line forum for discussion.

Creating a transnational body to advocate for and promote the rights of indigenous people

The Saami Council, established in 1956, emerged from the need to maintain strong connections across the politi­cal borders that divide the Saami people of northern Scandinavia, to promote cooperation and to preserve their rights as indigenous people. The Council advocates for rights in the area where the Saami have lived for more than 10,000 years, an area that currently spans four countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia’s Kola Peninsula.

Creating a market to support fairly produced products

The Rugmark label, now known as GoodWeave, has become a known trademark to identify and promote hand-knotted carpets made without child labor. GoodWeave awards licenses to carpet exporters who agree not to use child labor, and who voluntarily submit to a monitoring system that includes surprise inspections and cross-checking of export records and looms. Children who are found to be illegally working during inspections are rehabilitated and schooled by GoodWeave.

Creating a long-term public forum where the police and ordinary citizens can work together to resolve human rights grievances and other issues affecting police/community relations

The CLEEN Foundation, formally the Centre for Law Enforcement Education in Nigeria, hosts public forums where citizens and police can discuss concerns and grievances regarding crime and police conduct.

Communities and police forces can find themselves in an unproductive cycle of distrust. Community members are concerned about police misconduct, brutality, and corruption. The police, in turn, can see the community as hostile and uncooperative in their investigations.

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