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Top 10 Non-Profit Human Rights Organizations
Human rights are universal moral values that should protect individuals and allow them to live free and safe lives. Certain human rights include the right to life, freedom from torture, right to education, etc. These rights, however, are not always protected by regulations and laws, which can lead to ethical concerns. Non-profit human rights organizations focus on getting individuals the rights they deserve. Here are 10 non-profit human rights organizations.

10 Non-Profit Human Rights Organization

  1. Human Rights Watch
    The Human Rights Watch was created in 1987 in order to shine a light on the human rights violations that were happening in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The non-partisan, non-governmental organization has gained recognition from citizen movements and other humanitarian causes. It now has 400 staff members working around the globe. Human Rights Watch investigates abuse and effectively spreads this information, increasing public awareness and working with government officials and corporations to make a change.
  2. Human Rights First: Based in America, Human Rights First puts pressure on those in power, whether government or private companies, to combat social injustice. Like the Borgen Project, Human Rights First creates campaigns that not only inform the public on issues but also encourage them to email and call Congress in favor or against certain legislative laws. Examples of their campaigns include ending modern-day slavery, stopping Trump’s Refugee Ban, and closing Guantameno Bay.
  3. Human Rights Foundation: Unlike other non-profit organizations, the Human Rights Foundation focuses on closed societies. Closed societies are authoritative regimes and dictatorships that restrict individual freedom and expression. Established in 2005, the Human Rights Foundation promotes freedom and democracy by supporting activists and exposing political and social corruption in totalitarian governments.
  4. Ella Baker Center for Human Rights: Ella Baker was an activist and a leading figure during the Civil Rights Movement. The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights works with people of color to attack racial injustice in the U.S, specifically the prison system. People of color are disproportionately targeted by the police, so it isn’t surprising that they make up more than ½ of prisoners in correctional facilities. The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights breaks the cycle of incarceration by organizing campaigns around the country to protest in support of their freedom. Their recent victories include closing five out of the eight youth prisons in California, creating Books Not Bars, starting community safety plans and more.
  5. Refugees International: Refugee International was created in 1979 to protect Indochinese refugees. Since then, this independently funded, non-profit human rights organization has provided hands-on assistance to displaced refugee families. Advocates travel to areas in need to assess the situation and compile crucial resources for refugees.
  6. FINCA International: By giving small loans to the poor, entire communities can grow. FINCA International addresses poverty through microfinancing and social enterprise. There are 20 community-based microfinance banks placed across low-income neighborhoods throughout the world. These services help build small businesses that, in turn, improve economic development and sustainability.
  7. Mending Kids: Mending Kids is a life-saving, non-profit human rights organization that sends surgical teams to over 60 countries to mend children in need of surgical procedures. The surgical staff trains local doctors in developing countries to effectively provide more complex surgical procedures. For children who are facing serious, life-threatening problems, host-families are set up around the U.S. to care for them while they undergo medical procedures
  8. War Child: War Child is comprised of three major offices in the U.K, Holland and Canada. The organization protects children who have been and who are still being affected by armed conflict. War Child’s approach includes improving access to education, helping children understand their legal rights through training and programs and offering support to children who endured mental trauma during acts of armed conflict. In fact, many of the staff have also been survivors of armed conflict.
  9. Habitat for Humanity: Families around the world are struggling to find affordable, decent housing. Habitat for Humanity works in the U.S. and 70 other countries helping low-income families apply for homeownership. In the case of natural disasters, Habitat for Humanity works with local communities to supply resources for those whose homes were damaged.
  10. Polaris: Polaris is named after the North Star, which was used during slavery as a guide to freedom. Today, Polaris serves as an assistance hotline to victims and survivors of human trafficking. As one of many non-profit human rights organizations focused on human trafficking victims, Polaris builds public data sets to better understand human trafficking. With this information, Polaris designs strategies to target the system and engages law officials to enforce plans that will stop trafficking both nationwide and internationally.

This list is only a fraction of the organizations in the world trying to make a difference. There are many groups fighting for important causes like ending world hunger and poverty, providing clean drinking water and providing medical aid. If you are looking to donate or volunteer, one of these top 10 non-profit human rights organizations would definitely be a good place to start.

– Lilly Hershey-Webb
Photo: Flickr

Democratic Republic of CongoDuring the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), from 1998 to 2003, more than 5.2 million children did not receive an education. Although the situation has improved since then, the legacy of the war remains, especially its effect on the female population.

In 2012, it was reported that approximately 62.92 percent of female youth aged 15 years and older were literate compared to an 87.91 percent literacy rate for young males.

Factors Impacting Girls Education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The overarching traditional outlook about the role of females in society: Many families believe that girls have a responsibility at home, while boys should work outside as the main breadwinners. This thinking leads people to discredit education as an important part of girls’ lives, whereas boys are encouraged to attend schools.

Poverty: According to the World Bank, although the poverty rate in the DRC declined from 71 percent to 64 percent between 2005 and 2012, the country still remains one the poorest countries in the world with a ranking of at176 out of 187 countries per the United Nation’s 2015 Human Development Index. As a result of high levels of poverty, many girls take up jobs to support their families.

Opportunities in armed groups: About 30 to 40 percent of children in the armed groups are girls. Girls are often lured into joining local militias because of enticing factors like wages. However, the NGO Child Soldiers International interviewed over 200 female former child soldiers, who reported that instead of finding opportunities within these groups, they were drugged, raped or forced to commit crimes.

For those who are able to escape, they attempt to matriculate into school but are unable to because of the stigma associated with the former sexual relationships between the girls and male soldiers. The same girls who were interviewed cited how they were called “prostitutes” and “HIV carriers” by schools and were not allowed to enroll.  

Solutions

To resolve the issue of lack of girls’ education in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the nation is reforming its system so that more children are able to pursue an education. For example, the DRC has increased its education budget from 7.9 percent in 2012 to 14.7 percent in 2015. In addition, the government has received a $100 million grant from the Global Partnership for Education to continue its efforts. 

Moreover, USAID and the United Kingdom Department for International Development have funded a five-year education program that focuses on reading outcomes in the DRC. It is the largest implemented education program in the DRC and plans to improve the reading outcomes of 1.5 million grades 1-4 students.

Furthermore, USAID has worked to create safe school environments, especially for girls, by training teachers and administrators on how to assess safety and security at the school. Through this, girls will not have to fear for their safety, the lack of which also caused them to join militias.

The results of these actions are clear in the numbers. In 2016, UNESCO reported that approximately 66.5 percent of females aged 15 years and older were literate. Although a small increase, this is still an improvement from 2012. 

Girls’ education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has faced many obstacles. However, the country is combating this crisis and ensuring that all children are provided with this opportunity, an action that other underdeveloped countries should follow.

Sheharbano Jafry
Photo: Flickr

Zimbabwe's Tobacco Secret: Confronting Child Labor in Zimbabwe
The nation of Zimbabwe is working towards more economic stability with its multiple industries, but has recently made headlines for its harmful farming practices, such as child labor.

Zimbabwe has been in the news for its tobacco farming practices, as farm workers have complained about health complications from working on tobacco farms, as well as the poor regulations on farms that fail to ensure that workers’ rights are being respected. What has been more alarming is the discovery of child workers, who have prompted humanitarian organizations to investigate child labor in Zimbabwe as practiced on the nation’s tobacco farms.

Zimbabwe’s Economy

Zimbabwe had a GDP of $17.11 billion and a per capita income of $2,300 as of 2017. The nation’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture and relies heavily on tobacco production for economic sustainability.

The nation is the sixth-largest producer of tobacco in the world, and the tobacco plant is the nation’s most valuable export commodity. The industry alone brought the nation an estimated $933 million in 2016.

Health Risks of Tobacco Farming

As the world’s demand for tobacco persists, growing concerns over child labor in Zimbabwe have surfaced as child workers have come forward to report the poor conditions they have faced while working on tobacco plantations.

According to UNICEF, one in four children in developing countries are engaged in child labor. Furthermore, in an extensive report published by Human Rights Watch, it was discovered that child laborers who harvested tobacco were exposed to nicotine and pesticides. This led to many experiencing symptoms consistent with nicotine poisoning, including nausea, headaches and dizziness. Heath researchers have also suspected that exposure to nicotine can affect brain development in children.

It was also discovered that farm workers who worked on larger farms worked long hours and did not receive any compensation for working overtime.

Human Rights Watch also noted that labor laws in Zimbabwe state that no child under the age of 16 is permitted to work and that children under the age of 18 are not permitted to work in a hazardous environment. However, several children under the age of 16 have reported working on Zimbabwe’s tobacco farms.

Solutions to Child Labor in Zimbabwe

The persistence of child labor in Zimbabwe is mainly attributed to the weak economy. With a national per capita income of roughly $2,300, families have resorted to using their children as laborers to help them survive.

Human Rights Watch child rights researcher Margaret Wurth stated that one solution to ending child labor in Zimbabwe is to make sure that companies who source tobacco from Zimbabwe do not purchase a crop produced by child workers, many of whom are forced to sacrifice their education and health to support their families.

The nation has about 120 labor inspectors, which is insufficient to monitor labor practices in every business, and it would be in the government’s best interest to recruit more inspectors to better monitor how business owners treat their employees.

The nation has shown signs of improvement; Human Rights Watch stated that the government has been working with trade unions and other groups “to develop occupational safety and health regulations for agriculture”.

Although child labor in Zimbabwe has become a crisis for the nation, it is likely that the nation’s government, under the authority of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, will be able to reverse its human rights abuses and further grow the economy, ensuring that children do not have to risk their health and education in order to help support their families.

– Lois Charm
Photo: Flickr

How US Sanctions Can Effect Accountability for Human Rights Violations Abroad
Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer who was imprisoned in Moscow. He was convicted of aiding tax evasion in 2008 and died in custody in 2009. Surprisingly, though, his legal troubles did not end there. In a trial in 2013, a Russian court further convicted Magnitsky of tax fraud–four years after his death.

Magnitsky’s death was more than just an untimely demise of a 39-year-old lawyer. While he is said to have died of acute heart failure and toxic shock caused by untreated pancreatitis, Magnitsky had been severely beaten while imprisoned. In fact, his colleagues even insisted that the convictions against him were falsified in order to obstruct Magnitsky’s own accusations of massive tax fraud by Russian officials.

An investigation into the lawyer’s death was opened in November 2009, only to be dropped in March 2013 with the conclusion that Magnitsky had been legally arrested and detained, as well as denying claims that he had been tortured and had been denied access to medical attention.

The United States passed a law in 2012 in Magnitsky’s name that imposed sanctions against Russian officials who were thought to be responsible for serious human rights violations. The law froze any U.S. assets held by these officials and went so far as to ban them from entering the United States.

In 2016, Congress took an important step in addressing global accountability for human rights violations by expanding the earlier Magnitsky law to the Global Magnitsky Act. The new act allows the executive branch of United States government to impose visa bans and targeted sanctions on individuals responsible for human rights violations or corruption, as well as those officials who abetted or were complacent with such violations.

The Global Magnitsky Act acts as a deterrent, warning foreign officials that unlawful violence could result in serious repercussions from the United States government. Additionally, the act offers incentives to foreign governments for improving mechanisms to increase accountability for human rights violations. By working with the U.S. on human rights violation and corruption investigations, leaders from other countries can voice their contempt for human rights abusers in their own countries.

The effectiveness of these sanctions can be seen in Russia’s response to their imposition. As a result of the global embarrassment inflicted on the country following the enactment of the law, the act has become a fixation for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The act continues to endorse accountability for human rights violations in various cases around the world on the recommendations of senators as well as a group of human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch.

Richa Biplane

Photo: Flickr

Concerns for Human Rights in CanadaWhile Canada has a relatively impressive human rights record, there are still a few concerns. The country has recently seen disproportionate mistreatment of indigenous populations, and its mining industry is also responsible for human rights violations. Finally, its policy on foreign aid deserves a second look. Here are some of issues with human rights in Canada nd what the nation (and the world) is doing to resolve these problems.

Indigenous Rights

One of the most prominent issues of human rights in Canada is the prevalence of violence against indigenous women and girls. Human Rights Watch found that while they make up only 4.3 percent of the female population, they account for 16 percent of all female homicides.

In 2015, the issue gained international attention after a declaration by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. The declaration stated that Canada had violated the human rights of its indigenous population by failing to swiftly and thoroughly investigate the disproportionate violence they have experienced. Canada responded by launching a national public inquiry into the murders of indigenous women and girls throughout the state in August 2016.

The human rights of Canada’s indigenous communities are further affected by a persistent lack of clean water. In 2016, 92 First Nation communities had received a total of 132 drinking water advisories over the course of seven months. Contaminated water can have severe health consequences, ultimately causing gastrointestinal disorders and increasing the risk of cancer.

Issues in the Mining Industry

Issues of health and human rights are also present in Canada’s mining industry. Given the size of the industry, its impact on global human rights is enormous. In recent years, Human Rights Watch has uncovered pervasive patterns of poor working conditions and gang rape among Canadian employees in Papua New Guinea and the use of forced labor in mines in Eritrea. Many incidents go unreported and therefore cannot be remedied. The Canadian government has typically elected not to impose new oversight or regulations on the industry, and the Trudeau government has followed this pattern.

Foreign Policy Concerns

Also of concern are certain aspects of Canada’s foreign policy and how they impact the human rights of foreign citizens. Canadian law stipulates that the exporting of military technology to is only legal if “there is no reasonable risk” that the arms will be used against civilians and places limits on what can be sold to countries with poor human rights records. However, Canada has previously exported military vehicles and other goods to Saudi Arabia. These were used in 2011 and 2012 to violently suppress peaceful protests.

Solving these Problems

As in most of the world, there are issues with the protection of human rights in Canada as well as Canada’s protection of human rights around the world. Despite this, it is clear that the state has the structures necessary to address these issues. Laws regarding human rights in Canada stem from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, created by the international community after World War II.

The first two articles of the declaration, which concern equality and freedom from discrimination, are the foundation of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Passed in 1977, this act protects Canadians from identity-based discrimination and harassment. While the protections afforded through this legislation have not been explicitly integrated into the constitution, the Supreme Court has decided that Canadian laws must be interpreted in ways that are consistent with them.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission is a federal agency that works to promote the principle of equal opportunity and prevent discrimination through educating the public on human rights cultures; conducting and publishing relevant research; managing citizen complaints and representing the public interest.

Many complaints brought before the commission are referred to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, a separate, independent entity which operates much like a court. The tribunal hears the cases and has the authority to order remedies or award damages.

With these mechanisms in place, Canada has the means necessary to respond to human rights crises within its borders. While further international pressure may be needed to pursue the state to pursue justice and reforms both at home and within its foreign policy. However, given the strong record of protection of human rights in Canada, it is likely that the state will continue to work to adhere to its policies and uphold international norms.

Alena Zafonte
Photo: Flickr

Cycle of RefugeesThe Rohingya are the most persecuted people in the world. The population has lived in Myanmar for centuries, but the government continues to view the people as illegal immigrants. Across the border, Bangladesh believes the group is Burmese. Thus, the population is stateless.

Since August of 2017, the Rohingya people have been forced to flee Myanmar to Bangladesh due to intense persecution and attempted ethnic cleansing. Human Rights Watch recently released new satellite imagery showing 62 villages in northern Rakhine suffering from arson attacks. The U.N. Human Rights Chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, describes the violence as “crimes against humanity, systematic attacks and forcible deportation of civilians.”

What is the reason for so much anger and violence? According to MSN, the answer is “nationalism-fuelled racism.”

The majority of the Rohingya refugees arrive in Bangladesh on foot, crossing a border lined with landmines by the Myanmar army. The government denies reports of landmines despite numerous claims from NGOs, such as Amnesty International. Other refugees have used small boats to flee. However, some of the passengers have drowned or the boats have sunk. Accounts have been devastating for many of the refugees at sea.

These allegations made by the international community are horrific, and they paint a picture bordering on genocide. Myanmar’s government responded to these claims, stating its military was fighting a terrorist insurgency.

In July of 2017, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army claimed responsibility for attacks with machetes and rifles in Myanmar. This single attack is believed to have triggered the mass violence and cleansing of the Rohingya population within Myanmar. The government of Myanmar has chosen to view the whole population as a terrorist organization, instead of locating the terrorists within the population.

The situation has become so extreme, the U.N. Security Council publicly rebuked the violence. The council acknowledged attacks on Myanmar security forces, but condemned the violence in response, urging for steps to end the violence.

The stateless people simply want a home, a land of their own. “We want to live peacefully in our native land. We don’t want to be on the strain of other countries,” Tun, a U.K. based activist, told MSN.

The international community wants to see urgent action to protect the welfare of the Rohingya refugees, as well as plan for the future. Formal recognition of the Rohingya as a minority in Myanmar is vital to prevent this cycle of violence. Provision of humanitarian aid and dispatch of U.N. peacekeepers are vital to the health and safety of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Danielle Preskitt

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Azerbaijan Continue to StruggleA relatively small nation of 10 million people which borders on Turkey, Azerbaijan faces many challenges regarding its human rights. Much like its larger neighbour, Azerbaijan deals wtih ongoing struggles with censorship and the suppression of free speech.

A nation whose economy relies heavily on its production and exports of oil, Azerbaijan has been hit especially hard by the recession of oil prices in the past year. As a result, the Manat – Azerbaijan’s currency – has seen a drastic fall in its value. Protests held in response to the decline of the Manat have faced suppression – sometimes violent – by the state police and military forces.

Reports of abuse and torture at the hands of police have continued to surface, notably in the cases of youth activists who have been beaten and threatened with sexual degradation and rape in order to force them to confess to drug charges. Although the exact number cannot be verified, the U.S. State Department’s 2016 report notes that at least four cases of death can be linked to abusive and excessive force at the hands of police. In other cases, significant numbers of defendants have reported being beaten by authorities to drag confessions and testimonies against political opponents of the state out of them.

In an act doing little to encourage the populace, the 2016 constitutional referendum increased the duration of Presidential term limits while granting the office additional powers. Most worryingly it granted the ability to dissolve the Azerbaijani Parliament at will.

Reporting critical of the government often leads to the harassment and imprisonment of journalists who are responsible. At the close of 2016, at least 14 prisoners of conscience were still being detained, according to Amnesty International’s report. Human Rights Watch’s report puts the number of political prisoners at upwards of 25, while the State Department notes the number could reach as high as 160.

A bright patch amid the darkness, the president pardoned over 100 prisoners in March of 2016; among them were 14 individuals commonly believed to be imprisoned for their political beliefs. Recently, on September 15, a group of Azerbaijani human rights defenders issued a statement thanking the president and courts of Azerbaijan, saying, “We state that such steps serve defence of human rights and freedom in Azerbaijan, humanization of punishment policy and increase of effectiveness of judicial system.”

Human rights in Azerbaijan have a long way to go before the citizens of Azerbaijan have equal and protected rights. Not least among the challenges before the nation are the continued abuses of power by the government and police, allowed by the complicity of a corrupt judiciary. Efforts from outside the country, such as bills before the U.S. House of Representatives as well as EU-affiliated organizations, hope to pressure the nation’s government into reforming their violations of human rights in Azerbaijan.

Erik Halberg

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Estonia

Estonia, a European country located near the Baltic Sea, has been a member of the European Union for 13 years. It is a parliamentary republic, but the country still struggles with the consequences of being under Soviet rule until 1991. Estonia has come a long way since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but there are still barriers to full human rights in Estonia as a result of ethnic tensions.

Child statelessness has consistently been a major issue in Estonia. Statelessness is when a person does not possess citizenship in any country. Over six percent of the Estonian population remains stateless, and many of those affected are children. There are several international requirements for statelessness that Estonia has yet to comply with, and they have the tenth largest stateless population in the world even though their overall population is only 1.3 million.

In January 2016, the government made amendments to citizenship laws to make it easier for people to become citizens, but it is still difficult for children between 16 and 18 years old who were not born in Estonia to become Estonian citizens. While statelessness barely impacts the level of education or healthcare these children receive, it can often make them a target of discrimination, causing them to experience unequal human rights in Estonia.

The tension between citizens and the stateless is a result of several factors. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the government enforced citizenship requirements that made almost 40 percent of inhabitants stateless, the majority of whom were originally from Russia. The requirements included an Estonian language exam. Human Rights Watch labeled this extreme process as “discriminatory” and in direct opposition to international agreements. Most of those discriminated against were Russians.

This discrimination is a result of fear. Under the Soviet Union, Estonia suffered from oppression at the hands of Russians. Even today, Estonians still remember the pain caused by the USSR. The president of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, has openly expressed worry about Russia’s movements. While these fears are not baseless, Estonians end up projecting them onto their neighbors who are ethnically Russian, causing an environment that challenges the state of human rights in Estonia.

Because statelessness status in Estonia often results in discrimination against Russian-born individuals, the tension between the two ethnic groups is reinforced. With Estonia working towards reforming citizenship laws, Russian people living in Estonia will hopefully become Estonians and the country can fully heal the old scars left by the USSR.

Julia McCartney

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Finland

Finland has a population of about 5.5 million, and is seated next to Sweden and Norway. Human rights in Finland are ultimately made a priority by the country’s government, and this country is considered more progressive than most, although there are still a few areas that could be improved.

According to a report from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Nordic country strives to dedicate time and attention to minorities in the country, including the Roma, linguistic or religious minorities and other ethnic minorities. On the other hand, the report also states that residents who belong to multiple of these minority groups are typically “the most vulnerable to human rights violations.” Finland promotes openness in respect to human rights policy and works toward “effective empowerment of the civil society,” according to the same report.

Human rights in Finland are also supported by nongovernment organizations in the region. In addition, human rights defenders work with minority groups. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs states that, “the key message is to encourage and urge the Ministry’s entire staff to collaborate actively with human rights defenders.”

Finland prioritizes areas including women’s rights, the rights of persons with disabilities, the rights of sexual and gender minorities, the rights of indigenous peoples and economic, social and cultural rights, according to the report. Regarding the rights of sexual minorities, in March of this year, Finland became the 13th country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage, according to the Human Rights Watch.

While human rights in Finland are heavily prioritized, there are still areas in need of improvement.

The U.S. Department of the State reports that human rights problems in Finland include the failure of police to provide detainees with timely access to legal council, “questionable” donations and contributions to political campaigns and violence against women and members of the LGBT community.

The report also included information on issues surrounding the treatment of survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence. It stated that survivors seeking justice have encountered many obstacles with respect to their interactions with police and judicial officials. However, it also stated that police and government officials strongly encourage victims to report rapes through “various public awareness campaigns.”

While human rights in Finland have a few shortcomings, they are one of the more progressive nations in Europe, meaning that further progress is certainly possible.

Leah Potter

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in GuineaStill in the early stages of transitioning into a constitutional democracy after decades of authoritarian rule, Guinea still has significant room for improvement regarding its human rights. Guinea struggles with issues such as state-sponsored violence against dissidents, violence against women and restrictions on freedom of the press. Despite the implementation of the modified Criminal Code in 2016 – which criminalized torture and abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes – the defamation and insulting of public figures remain punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment. With a score of 41 out of 100 in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2017 report, Guinea continues to be classified as a Partly Free nation.

According to the United States Department of State’s 2016 Human Rights Report on Guinea, the country’s second democratic presidential campaign in 2015 was more peaceful than the previous one in 2010 or the 2013 legislative elections. Incumbent president Alpha Condé won re-election with 58 percent of the vote. The report does mention, however, that a few deaths still occurred during confrontations between demonstrators and state security forces.

Human Rights Watch has reported that the election was flawed, though Condé’s government took steps in 2016 to consolidate the rule of law and address the excessive use of force employed by security forces. Human rights violations by these security forces have reportedly decreased, but the Guinean judiciary appears to have done little to investigate past instances of state-sponsored violence – except the 2009 massacre of unarmed protesters. The massacre occurred under the military rule of Moussa Dadis Camara and resulted in the death of over 100 protesters. According to Human Rights Watch, while the investigation received political and financial support from the government, there was significant failure to suspend high-ranking government suspects from their positions.

In addition to the use of force against dissidents, the freedoms of speech, press and assembly are also restricted in order to decrease public criticism of the government. Since 2016, there have been multiple cases of citizens being imprisoned or fined for defamation or being in “contempt of the President.” In June 2016, journalist Malick Bouya Kébé of a private radio station was fined one million Guinean francs (approximately $112) for complicity in contempt of the President; he failed to interrupt a listener who criticized the president during a phone-in segment. His listener, another journalist, was sentenced to a year in prison and fined 1.5 million Guinean francs (approximately $168). To put this in perspective, the average annual income in Guinea is approximately $446. Both were tried without access to a lawyer.

Discrimination and violence against women and girls have also been human rights issues needing improvement in Guinea. In accordance with Guinean law, violence against women causing injury is punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of 30,000 Guinean francs (approximately $3.30). Though the law does not specifically address domestic violence, a charge of general assault carries a sentence of two to five years and a fine of up to 300,000 Guinean francs (approximately $33). Though grounds for divorce, the U.S. State Department has found that police rarely intervene in instances of domestic violence. It has also been reported that approximately 96 percent of Guinean women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation or cutting.

Key international actors such as the European Union, the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission and the International Criminal Court have undertaken efforts to strengthen judicial reforms, support security sector reform and engage national authorities on progress in investigations into state-sponsored violence. In its 2017 World Report, Human Rights Watch asserts that there must be more international pressure put on the Guinean government from these international actors in order for there to be lasting improvements made on human rights in Guinea.

Amanda Quinn

Photo: Flickr