Human rights defenders can get funding for protection

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 June) – Human rights groups in Mindanao can avail of funding for their own protection through the Defending the Human Rights Defenders Program of the Alternative Law Groups (ALG).

A funding mechanism, the program will support local strategies for the protection of human rights defenders “who become vulnerable to violence, harassments, threats, and actual rights violations, because of their advocacy for economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR).”

Lawyer Marlon Manuel, ALG’s national coordinator, gave a presentation calling for proposals for the program last Monday in a forum here dubbed “Human Rights in Mindanao: Challenges and Ways Forward”.

The forum was organized by ALG, Karapatan sa Malikhaing Paraan (KaSaMa) and Dakila – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism and supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

The funding support will be up to P150,000 for every project, and up to P20,000 for emergency small grants to support urgent needs and actions.

The implementation of the proposed project shall not exceed five months, and a proponent organization shall not be given funding support for more than one project at any given project period, according to Manuel.

In his presentation, Manuel said the program will focus on preventive measures that protect human rights defenders against violence, harassments, threats, or actual abuses, instead of measures that seek to hold accountable the persons or groups responsible for violence, harassments, threats, or abuses that had been committed.

Requests for small grants for various activities that aim to protect human rights defenders whose lives and/or health is at risk because of their work will be received and processed by the ALG.

Eligible proponents are non-government organizations, people’s organizations, church-based organizations, academe-based organizations and media organizations.

Project proposals that focus on women human rights defenders and emergency response to urgent human rights threats are prioritized by the ALG’s program.

The promotion of human rights is a key component of Norway’s foreign and development policy, according to Chargés d’affaires of the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Knut-are SprautenOkstad. “All over the world, human rights defenders are being attacked on a daily basis, for defending the rights of others, and therefore in need of protection due to their work,” he said.

The program was initiated by the KaSaMa, an inter-embassy consortium on human rights which encourages innovation, risk-taking, and determination in addressing perennial human rights issues. In a press statement, KaSaMa said, “Human rights violations are not only an affront to citizens of countries but to humanity as a whole, hence providing support through funding local human rights civil society groups.”