Human rights defenders

Deepening inequality; racial, ethnic and gender discrimination; increasing violence; and the expansion of land concessions and extractive projects is seen in many places across Mexico and Central America. However, a vibrant civil society is pushing back against human rights abuses and working to hold governments, organized crime and corporations accountable. In response to their human rights advocacy, many human rights defenders and their families face retaliation from powerful state and non-state actors. This can take the form of harassment, criminalization, defamation, detention, torture, sexual or gender-based violence, and even death. Overbrook, therefore, looks to support organizations that seek to expand the space for activists to continue engaging in their important work safely and effectively.

Overbrook funds a variety of approaches to supporting human rights defenders at risk in Central America and Mexico, as the Foundation recognizes that responses must be holistic and layered to be effective. Providing both emergency and preventative responses, grantees have employed strategies that include: policy and legal advocacy efforts; peer-to-peer network building; physical accompaniment; trainings on risk analyses and security planning; self-care and wellbeing; digital and physical security measures; and emergency grants for threatened activists.  Given the heightened threats facing these defenders because of their identities and their activism, Overbrook is committed to those groups engaging and supporting rural, women, LGBT and indigenous human rights defenders, environmentalists and journalists at risk in the region.

Below are the Foundation's 2018 grantees supporting human rights defenders at risk in Mesoamerica.

ARTICLE 19 Mexico and Central America

 #RompeElMiedo Network - Elections 2018 - $25,000

ARTICLE 19 Mexico and Central America promotes and defends the progressive advancement of the rights of freedom of expression and access to information for all people. ARTICLE 19, together with allied organizations, has created the #RompeElMiedo Network, an innovative alliance to monitor and protect journalists, human rights defenders and other social communicators, who cover important events such as street demonstrations and elections. With presidential and local elections scheduled to take place in Mexico in July, ARTICLE 19 will develop a national #RompeElMiedo Network to protect the flow of information during the general election period 2018, avoiding or mitigating the effects of aggressions against journalists, human rights defenders and election observers, as well as, countering disinformation campaigns to inhibit the right to exercise freedom of expression and the right to vote.

Committee to Protect Journalists

Press Freedom in the Americas - $25,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. It defends the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. When press freedom violations occur, CPJ mobilizes a network of correspondents who report and act on behalf of those targeted. CPJ ensures the free flow of news and commentary by taking action wherever journalists are attacked, imprisoned, killed, kidnapped, threatened, censored, or harassed. 

Environmental Defender Law Center

General Operating Support - $40,000 (third payment of a three-year grant)

The Environmental Defender Law Center (EDLC) works to protect the human rights of people 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 their 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 domestic and multinational corporations for past and threatened harms; and help communities stop unwanted resource development projects.   

Indian Law Resource Center

Protecting Maya Q’eqchi’ Land and Resource Rights - $35,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)

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; to combat racism and oppression; to achieve sustainable economic development and genuine self-government; and to realize their other human rights. The Center is providing legal counsel and assistance to Maya Q’eqchi’ communities in Guatemala that are fighting to secure legal recognition of their land and resource rights.

Grantees by Year:  2018  |  2017  |  2016  |  2015