Better protection in 2017

The protection programme for the network and its members was solidified in 2017, as HRHF and Human Rights Houses Chernihiv, Tbilisi, and the Belarusian Human Rights House, prepared guidelines for everyone within the network undertaking protection work

HRHF and the Houses have proven to be among the fastest in responding to urgent protection cases in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. This is due to the fact that we have the infrastructure – Human Rights Houses – and mechanisms in place to be able to react and provide help within hours.

However, our experience in protection revealed a need for standardising this work to ensure that there is a balance between the necessary background checks in each case, the time it takes to respond, and the clarity of conditions for both the protection provider and the beneficiary. As a result, HRHF and Human Rights Houses Chernihiv, Tbilisi, and the Belarusian Human Rights House decided to revise our protection guidelines in 2017. This focused on standardising our work and giving practical guidance and support to people working on protection cases in the Houses. These guidelines are made available to all Houses in the network, to ensure that expertise that has been built up over the years is shared.

Throughout 2017, HRHF and Houses both supported protection cases and worked on referring some cases further to other organisations working on protection. We organised 18 mobile group visits, mostly trial observations in Azerbaijan.

Nominating seven human right defenders and organisations for human rights prizes, three of our nominees were successful and were awarded. Significantly, we nominated for the Bob Hepple equality award for the first time, with the suggestion coming from one House for a human rights defender in another House. The nomination was successful, with Mamikon Hovsepyan, Pink Armenia and Human Rights House Yerevan, winning the award.

Following nominations from HRHF and partners, Azerbaijani independent media outlet Meydan TV and Russian journalist Anton Naumliuk won international human rights prizes by Fritt Ord and the Equal Rights Trust.