Human Rights Defenders

Overbrook supports varying approaches to defending human rights defenders in Latin America. These strategies for defending human rights activists on the ground range from physically extracting activists who find themselves in dangerous situations, to organizing campaigns calling international attention to activists under attack, to providing them with training on how to operate safely on the internet and maintain secure and private communications with their fellow activists.

Below is a list of 2014 grantees defending human rights defenders in Latin America.

American Jewish World Service
Promoting Human Rights for Marginalized Communities in Latin America - $50,000 (second payment of a two-year grant)

Inspired by the Jewish commitment to justice, American Jewish World Service works to realize human rights and end poverty in the global south. Through this project, American Jewish World Service will promote natural resource rights, sexual health and rights, and civil and political participation for marginalized communities in Latin America, particularly for human rights defender, women and indigenous populations. To achieve this, AJWS provides grants and capacity building programs to community based groups. Overbrook’s support will enable AJWS’ human rights defender grantees to improve their own security and protection against threats, have greater access to safety mechanisms, and experience increased visibility around their protection needs.

CEJIL
General Operating Support - $25,000 

The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that aims to protect and promote human rights in the Americas through the effective use of the mechanisms of protection of the Inter-American Human Rights System (IAS) and international human rights law.CEJIL seeks to contribute to reducing the inequality and exclusion that prevails in the region, in order to guarantee the right to equality and respect for human dignity. It also commits to the strengthening of democracies, in particular of the rule of law and of democratic oversight bodies, justice systems, civil society, human rights defenders, and other key social actors. CEJIL responds to grave human rights violations related to the violation of the right to life, integrity, and security, committed or tolerated by different actors, and assists in obtaining justice. Finally, by increasing the effectiveness of the Inter-American System, CEJIL furthers equal access for all persons to its protection mechanisms, contributes to improvements in its operation, and advocates for the full implementation of its decisions.

Committee to Protect Journalists
General Operating Support – $20,000

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) promotes press freedom worldwide and defends the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. CPJ ensures the free flow of news and commentary by taking action wherever journalists are censored, attacked, imprisoned, or killed for their work. CPJ was founded in 1981 by a group of U.S. journalists seeking to help foreign colleagues who faced violence and repression. Today, CPJ is widely recognized as a leader in the global movement for media freedom.  Overbrook’s grant will particularly support CPJ’s advocacy around freedom of expression and security support for journalists in the Americas.

Environmental Defender Law Center
General Operating Support – $25,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)

The Environmental Defender Law Center (EDLC) works to protect the human rights of individuals and communities in developing countries who are fighting against harm to their environment. EDLC’s primary role is brokering: identifying cases of people who are suffering human rights abuses while protecting the environment and their way of life, and enlisting lawyers from premier firms to work on their behalf. EDLC and the law firms defend these environmental defenders from unfounded criminal charges and civil suits; argue for the enforcement of international human rights norms to local courts and human rights bodies; bring precedent-setting claims against multinational corporations; and help communities stop unwanted resource development projects.

Indian Law Resource Center
Protecting Maya Q’eqchi’ Land and Resource Rights in Guatemala - $35,000

The Indian Law Resource Center is a legal advocacy organization working to promote and defend the human rights of indigenous peoples in the Americas. The Center provides assistance without charge to Indian nations and other indigenous communities that are working to protect their lands, environments, cultures and ways of life; combat racism and oppression; achieve sustainable economic development and genuine self-government; and, realize their human rights. The Center is serving as legal counsel to a Maya Q’eqchi’ community and assisting other Q’eqchi’ communities in El Estor, Guatemala, that are fighting to secure legal title to their lands and resources, and stop a nickel mine from expanding onto their ancestral lands. The Center has taken this case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The task at hand is to deliver sound and compelling legal arguments to convince the Commission that the human rights violations against the Center’s clients merit strong and immediate corrective actions by the Guatemalan government.

International Service for Human Rights
Promoting a Safe and Enabling Environment for Human Rights Defenders in Meso- and Latin America: Consultation on a Model Law for Human Rights Defenders – $25,000

The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) promotes and protects human rights by supporting human rights defenders and strengthening the United Nations and other human rights systems. Between 2014 and 2016, ISHR will work with civil society partners to develop a model national law for human rights defenders. Once developed, this law could be adapted and adopted to fit particular needs in any country around the world. A model law is expected to assist civil society organizations and countries to develop laws, policies and institutions to support the work of defenders and implement the ‘Declaration on Human Rights Defenders’ at the national level. Through a consultation with defenders from the region, ISHR will document gaps in and needs for protection in Latin America. The participation of Latin American civil society in developing this model law will help ensure that the law is useful for them as an advocacy tool.

Just Associates (JASS)
Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative – $25,000

The Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative (IMD) was launched in 2010 in response to growing violence against women who defend rights in the Mesoamerican countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico. By bringing a gender analysis to the violent contexts they confront, and developing the political and empowering nature of self-care, the IMD —managed by a coordinating team of Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad-Oaxaca, AWID, UDEFEGUA, La Colectiva Feminista, Central American Women’s Fund, the National Women Defenders Network in Honduras, and JASS (Just Associates)—seeks to strengthen and protect women and their movements, and underline how human rights and gender equality are fundamental to any movement for peace and social justice. The IMD generates data and analysis to raise awareness about the risks and gendered violence faced by women human rights defenders and has developed a range of strategies to reduce risks to promote holistic protection. This holistic protection includes building national networks and regional linkages for self-defense and rapid response, and training and self-care programs.

Urgent Action Fund of Latin America for Women’s Human Rights
General Operating Support - $40,000

The Urgent Action Fund of Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean (FAU-AL) is a feminist, non-profit organization that promotes and defends the Human Rights of the diversity of women. It mobilizes resources in support of women’s organizations and human rights activists through Rapid Response Grants (RRG) when they require time-urgent access to small grants to take advantage of unanticipated opportunities or confront unexpected threats. The organization also involves grantees in evaluating its Rapid Response Grant Making and engages them in conversations related to the Sustainability of Women’s Human Rights Activism. FAU-AL and participating grantees will continue to investigate and implement best practices for defending women’s human rights in the context of threats from “shadow powers” (i.e. non-state actors) and the defense of women’s rights to territory, land, and food sovereignty in areas of intensive resource extraction.

WITNESS
Promoting Human Rights in the Americas Through Video-for-Change - $45,000 (second payment of a two-year grant)

WITNESS is a global nonprofit organization based in New York that promotes the use of video in support of human rights.For two decades, WITNESS has demonstrated that with the proper skills, tools, networks and platforms, human rights defenders throughout the world can harness the power of communications technologies to address violations and support their rights. Today, as ever-increasing numbers of activists and ordinary citizens throughout the world are turning to video-for-change, WITNESS seeks to ensure that those closest to home – in North America and Latin America – do so safely, ethically and effectively. WITNESS is well positioned to lead this effort given its two decades of expertise at the intersection of human rights, media and technology and its deep commitment to furthering human rights in the Americas.

Grantees by Year:  2014 / 20132012 / 2011