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Yemen: End Child Marriage

Yemen should protect its girls from the devastating effects of early marriage by setting 18 as the minimum age for marriage by law. The current political transition and drafting process for a new constitution offers a unique opportunity for the Yemeni government to enact laws protecting the rights of girls.

Human Rights Watch

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Five Years & Five Months

Five Years & Five Months

This film is a coproduction between Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and the VOX POPULI studio for documentary theatre. Supported by Mono Collective, The Red House Center for Culture and Debate, Dream Team Productions, Concept Studio. The film is based on an interview with a woman who served her sentence at the Sliven prison.

Learn more about the conditions at the only women’s prison in Bulgaria at 
http://womenprisoners.bghelsinki.org.

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee a nongovernmental organization for the protection of human rights, founded in 1992 in Sofia, Bulgaria. For more than 20 years BHC has been carrying out independent and regular monitoring of prisons, juvenile homes, homes for children deprived of parental care and other closed institutions. Support our work by making a donation at http://www.bghelsinki.org/donate.

A Visit with Migrants at Hungary’s Southern Border

A Visit with Migrants at Hungary’s Southern Border

Hungary's Parliament passed a series of laws on September 7 to control the flow of refugees into Hungary, giving police more authority and setting out strict punishments, including prison terms for illegal border crossing. The law also declares Serbia a “safe country,” in theory making it impossible for refugees who arrive from Serbia to get asylum in Hungary.

Committing a criminal offense (for example, crossing the border illegally) also will be a reason to refuse any asylum claims. Potential effects of these changes are currently unclear.

According to the new laws, those who enter the country illegally from September 15 will be held in pretrial detention and quickly expelled. Government representatives stated recently that they are preparing for mass riot scenes in the coming weeks, hoping for "relative tranquility by Christmas."

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán repeatedly said that a "new time" will come in the handling of the migrant crisis , though potential effects of the changes are currently unclear.

Watch our video from the southern border of Hungary to find out what happens on the ground for the tens of thousands fleeing their homeland for a better life.

Video by Noemi Hatala


At Rock Bottom

At Rock Bottom

"Our neighbourhood is absolutely identical to all other Roma neighbourhoods in Bulgaria. It's got nice houses, families that live on a higher standard, and there's what we call "the ghetto" where the living conditions are at rock bottom.", says Kosyo Kosev, mayor of Nikolaevo municipality. "If we build a shell around ourselves and say "These are Roma, or Gypsies, or whatever", they will become capsulated as an ethnos and that won't lead to anything good for this country."

A Bulgarian Helsinki Committee production
Music - Vlasko (Rosza) - CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Guilty

Guilty

Being a person with mental health disabilities is hard, especially so in Bulgaria. In Bulgaria people with mental health problems have no other choice but to be treated in miserable clinics.

The hospital in Kourilo takes in 1300 patients per year. Every fifth patient fits the category of the “socially indigent loners”.

Emil Traev is one of them. During the past 17 years, he has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals 60 times. Emil receives a pension of 110 leva (55 Euro). Because of the destitution he has lost all of his friends. He has lost both his parents. He has no one left. Only poetry soothes his “afflicted soul”. The needs of Emil, in his own words, amount to a few cups of coffee, a couple of cigarettes packs, one or two beers. He likes being in the outdoors, among “the normal people”, when his illness is not in an acute phase. However, for Emil life beyond the fence is harder. For him the isolation in the psychiatric clinic has lasted too long. This is why life behind the fence is easier, never mind the feeling of having hit the bottom. 

A Bulgarian Helsinki Committee production

Roma: We ask for justice

Roma: We ask for justice

European states are failing to curb and in some cases even fuelling discrimination, intimidation and violence against Roma. There has been a marked rise in the frequency of anti-Roma violence in Europe in the last few years. The response to this alarming phenomenon has been inadequate. It is unacceptable that in modern-day Europe some Roma communities live under the constant threat of violence and pogrom-like attacks. All too often European leaders have pandered to the prejudices fuelling anti-Roma violence by branding Roma as anti-social and unwelcome. While generally condemning the most blatant examples of anti-Roma violence, authorities have been reluctant to acknowledge its extent and slow to combat it. For its part, the European Union has been reluctant to challenge member states on the systemic discrimination of Roma that is all too evident.
Amnesty International's report, We ask for justice": Europe's failure to protect Roma from racist violenc, examines hate motivated violence and harassment perpetrated against Roma by officials and ordinary citizens in the Czech Republic, France and Greece, illustrating the organization's concerns across the continent.

Demonstration material from the Czech Republic has been given to Amnesty International courtesy Tomas Rafa, RafaVideoArt (www.newnationalism.eu)

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes - March, 8, 2014

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes - March, 8, 2014

"Walk mile in her shoes": Men demonstrate against violence against women, rape and sexual harassment

There's an old saying: "You can't really understand a person unless you walked a mile in his shoes."

"Walk a mile in her shoes" (
http://www.walkamileinhershoes.org/) is an international initiative that began in 2001 as a demonstrations of men wearing female shoes in order to attract media and public attention to the issue of violence against women, rape and sexual harassment.

On 8 March 2014, the International Women's Day, "Walk a mile in her shoes" took place in Bulgaria for the second time.

The organizers: 

• Bulgarian Fund for Women 
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bulgar...
• The Bulgarian Red Cross
www.redcross.bg and
• Bilitis Resource Foundation
http://www.bilitis.org/english
• The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
http://www.bghelsinki.org/en/
• European Parliament Information Office
http://www.europarl.bg/
• One Billion Rising Bulgaria
https://www.facebook.com/OBRbulgaria

Recalling that every fourth women in this country is a victim of domestic violence and a quarter of a million Bulgarians have become subject of sexual harassment - together, we want to inform as to the real situation in Bulgaria and about support for victims.

Humans of the Year

Humans of the Year

The refugees and "Friends of the Refugees" were awarded with the distinction “Human of the year” 2013 in the annual Bulgarian Helsinki Committee awards for the contribution to and protection of human rights. “Give” them their award by signing the petition here: http://www.bghelsinki.org/en/dejstvaj/ne-narushavaite-pravata-na-bezhancite/

On November 14, 2013 the Bulgarian Council of Ministers adopted the draft amendments to the Law on Asylum and Refugees (LAR). The amendments introduce the detention of asylum seekers in closed-type facilities, bail measures and denial of prompt access to their registration card.

The proposed amendments violate the rights of the most vulnerable group – children seeking asylum. Between January and December 2013 the children seeking asylum in Bulgaria are 2135. Some are unaccompanied by relatives or family. 

Why is the detention of children in closed-type centers dangerous?

The deprivation of liberty damages a child’s normal development. It is unconditionally prohibited by the Bulgarian Child Protection Act.

Bail is a measure of deterrence and is only applied against persons accused of having committed a crime. Detention in closed-type centers is a compulsory administrative measure for irregular migrants, who are to be deported from the country. Thus, under the proposed LAR amendments, children seeking asylum will be treated as criminals and irregular migrants to be deported. A child seeking asylum cannot be deemed irregular migrant before a procedure of granting or refusing of international asylum has taken place.

The children seeking asylum in Bulgaria are not criminals. They are not irregular migrants either. The children seeking asylum are vulnerable. Let us protect them, not prosecute them.

Watch the video to learn how you can help the children seeking asylum.

A Bulgarian Helsinki Committee production. 

CHILD MARRIAGE

CHILD MARRIAGE

The government of Malawi should increase efforts to end widespread child and forced marriage, or risk worsening poverty, illiteracy, and preventable maternal deaths in the country.

According to government statistics, half of the girls in Malawi will be married by their 18th birthday, with some as young as age 9 or 10 being forced to marry.

Malawi faces many economic challenges, but the rights of the country's girls and women should not be sacrificed as a result.

Human Rights Watch

Write for Rights 2013

Write for Rights 2013

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world came together to call for justice in Amnesty International’s most successful ever letter-writing campaign.

In December 2013, more than 2.3 million letters, emails, SMS messages, faxes and tweets were sent in the “Write for Rights” campaign, beating last year’s record of 1.9 million actions.

Messages pressuring authorities led to the release of two prisoners of conscience: the Cambodian housing rights activist Yorm Bopha and the Russian peaceful protester Vladimir Akimenkov.

“It shows that when ordinary people stand together and send a clear message demanding governments fulfill their duty to protect and uphold people’s human rights we can achieve fantastic results,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“It was a truly global moment as hundreds of thousands of our members and supporters came together with one voice to take action against oppression and injustice.”

The Write for Rights campaign focused on the cases of prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia, Myanmar, Russia, Bahrain and Tunisia; individuals victimised by the state in Cambodia, Mexico, Turkey and Belarus; and harassed communities in Nigeria, Palestine and Honduras.

More info at http://www.amnesty.org/en/

Nelson Mandela, A Human Rights Legend

Nelson Mandela, A Human Rights Legend

It's impossible to imagine a world without Mandela. His death will leave a massive hole, not just in South Africa but around the world.

He was a truly global leader who repeatedly rejected every injustice in the cause of human rights. He simply refused to accept injustice -- and his courage helped change our entire world.

Mandela's life of political struggle and self-sacrifice became and remains an example to millions around the globe.

In November 2006, Amnesty International declared Nelson Mandela an 'Ambassador of Conscience' in recognition of his work over many years of speaking out against human rights abuses not just in South Africa but around the world.
Accepting the award Mandela said: "Like Amnesty International, I have been struggling for justice and human rights, for long years. I have retired from public life now. But as long as injustice and inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest. We must become stronger still.

What does Nelson Mandela mean to you? Post your thoughts and read other people's here: http://www.mandelamemorial.com/

Opening the Courtroom Doors for People with Disabilities

Opening the Courtroom Doors for People with Disabilities

Across Europe, thousands of people with intellectual disabilities are placed in institutions, where they are mistreated without repercussions.  N-Map produced this video to support the case of Valentin Cåmpeanu, a young man who died in such a facility in Romania.  Mr. Cåmpeanu was a Roma man with HIV and a severe intellectual disability.  He was also an orphan.  When he turned 18 he was transferred from a youth facility to an adult facility.  The new facility was not informed of his HIV, so he never received his medication.  He died alone in a cold room. Because Cåmpeanu has no next of kin, there is no one to sue on is behalf. 

Several European human rights NGOs, including INTERIGHTS, Center for Legal Resources and Bulgarian Helsinki Committee are arguing before the European Court of Human Rights that they should have the right to sue on Mr. Cåmpeanu – or there will be no one to hold the Romanian government accountable for his death.  N-Map produced this video to support the case, and to humanize what is essentially a technical procedural issue. 

The ruling of the Grand Chamber on Campeanu vs. Romania, especially on the issue of admissibility, ie the right of human rights NGOs such as the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee to file applications with the ECHR in similar cases will set an extremely important precedent for European law. If Campeanu were to succeed, so would three Bulgarian cases of inhuman treatment and deprivation of life of defenseless institutionalised children – cases to which society turns a blind eye. The court will open the doors of the Convention rights for those crushed by society – for those insulated from everyone and everything , so that no one can protect them. The dead Kampeanu can change that.

See more here: http://www.interights.org/campeanu/index.html

Evict Them in Five Easy Steps

Evict Them in Five Easy Steps

In every part of the world people are forced out of their homes without warning or consultation, without access to justice and without compensation. These forced evictions often involve violence. They destroy livelihoods and social networks, and drive people deeper into poverty often resulting in many becoming homeless and destitute. This is why Amnesty International and WITNESS, along with the design firm Pentagram, got together to produce this short animation showing how governments and corporations forcibly evict people.

A Syrian child's wish as the number of refugees tops the million mark

A Syrian child's wish as the number of refugees tops the million mark

The number of children who have fled the conflict in Syria has now topped the one million mark.

That according to the United Nations is half the total of those fleeing Syria while about three-quarters of those children are under the age of 11. The country is in danger of losing a generation believes Antonio Guterres the UN HIgh Commissioner for Refugees.

One nine-year-old refugee voiced the desperate hopes of many when he said: "I want to return to Syria to live in peace and to go back to school. I want to be able to play with my old friends again, just like before. I want our country to be safe, safe enough to live in and for it to be prosperous again." 

Euronews

Greece: Abusive Crackdown on Migrants

Greece: Abusive Crackdown on Migrants

Athens police are conducting abusive stops and searches and have detained tens of thousands of people in a crackdown on irregular migration, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 51-page report, "Unwelcome Guests: Greek Police Abuses of Migrants in Athens," documents frequent stops of people who appear to be foreigners, unjustified searches of their belongings, insults, and, in some cases, physical abuse. Many are detained for hours in police stations pending verification of their legal status.

For more information: 
http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/06/12/gr...

The Riddle

The Riddle

76 countries still criminalize consensual same-sex relationships and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people everywhere continue to suffer violent attacks and discriminatory treatment. In this simple, high-impact video from the UN human rights office, individuals from diverse backgrounds pose questions directly to the viewer designed to expose the nature of human rights violations suffered by LGBT people around the world. The video includes cameo appearances by UN Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. The UN's message: LGBT rights are human rights. Together we will build a world that is free and equal.

Putting Women and Girls at the Heart of International Development

Putting Women and Girls at the Heart of International Development

This year the world has a unique opportunity to secure gender equality and rights for women and girls.
Ahead of the Commission on the Status of Women and International Women's Day, Amnesty International, the Gender And Development Network and Christian Aid host the Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening. 
Watch to see how DFID intends to ensure equality is at the centre of international development, and questions to the Secretary of State and other panelists on DFID's plans.

(Amnesty International's Human TV) 

Escape to Freedom

Escape to Freedom

There are more than 15 million refugees all around the world. They flee  from war, violence and oppression. Pregnant women, children and sick people are many among them.  

Annually Bulgaria is addressed with less than 1000 refugee applications. Notwithstanding, conditions for registration, admission and accommodation of asylum seekers in Bulgaria are completely inadequate. Instead of being accommodated in reception centers, refugees are confined in detention centers for illegal immigrants with Ministry of Interior.  

Bulgarian law does not provide any deadline when they have to be released.

A Bulgarian Helsinki Committee production

When A Letter Is All That Is Needed

When A Letter Is All That Is Needed

Amnesty International's global letter writing marathon brings together individuals from every corner of the world to show solidarity and raise their voices for governments to take action to ensure justice for 12 individuals who had suffered human rights violations. 

The event, which began in 2001 with a small group of activists in Poland who wrote letters for a period of 10 days (in some cases in 24-hour events) for the release of 12 individuals, grew into a world-wide campaign. 

In 2012, over 1.5 million letters, SMS messages, and signatures were collected in over 80 countries during the "Write for Rights" week. 

Take action for individuals here:http://www.amnesty.org/individuals

Italy Sends Kids Back to Bad Conditions in Greece

Italy Sends Kids Back to Bad Conditions in Greece

taly is summarily returning unaccompanied migrant children and adult asylum seekers to Greece, where they face a dysfunctional asylum system and abusive detention conditions, Human Rights Watch said in a report published on Jan 21, 2013. Stowaways on ferries from Greece, including children as young as 13, are sent back by Italian authorities within hours without adequate consideration of their particular needs as children or their desire to apply for asylum.

The State of the LGBT Movement: A Panel Discussion

The State of the LGBT Movement: A Panel Discussion

At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Human Rights Campaign and Google hosted a panel discussion of the current landscape of the LGBT movement from the perspective of technology, media, politics, and polling.

Hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart, panelists include:
Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign
Campbell Brown, MSNBC News anchor
Ben Jealous, President/CEO of NAACP
Aisha Tyler, Actress/Comedian
and Anna Greenberg, Pollster at Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research

For more on the LGBT movement, please visit:
http://www.HRC.org

War Crimes in Mali

War Crimes in Mali

United Nations human rights chief has condemned the ongoing human rights violations in northern Mali, including cruel punishments such as amputations, and called on the Government and the international community to urgently address the crisis.

"According to credible reports that my office has received, the various armed groups currently occupying northern Mali have been committing serious human rights violations and possibly war crimes," High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the UN Human Rights Council.
Mali's Justice minister Malick Coulibaly addressing the Council appealed to the International Community to support Mali in its efforts to promote peace in the country.

"Olympic Dreams" - Zimbabwean Human Rights Defender - Magogonga Mahlangu

"Olympic Dreams" - Zimbabwean Human Rights Defender - Magogonga Mahlangu

Animation of Zimbabwean human rights defender Magodonga Mahlangu for the Front Line Defenders Olympics 2012 Campaign - www.sportshrd.org. Magodongo Mahlunga is a leading woman human rights defender in Zimbabwe and in Africa. Despite countless nights spent in jail and non-stop efforts to silence her, she continues to act to secure political, social and economic rights for the people of Zimbabwe. To learn more, go to www.frontlinedefenders.org/MagodongaMahlangu

Changing Laws, Changing Minds

Changing Laws, Changing Minds

"Changing laws, changing minds: Challenging homophobic and transphobic hate crimes in Bulgaria" focuses on the failure of the police and prosecutors to address effectively crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. To coincide with the Sofia Pride March on 30 June 2012, Amnesty International is calling on the Bulgarian authorities to amend its legislation to define attacks against people on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity as hate crimes.

Working to Make Child Labour a Thing of the Past

Working to Make Child Labour a Thing of the Past

Tuesday 12th June marks World Day Against Child Labour. Despite efforts by the International Labour Organisation to ban the worst practices, it is still a common sight in many countries - even those where there are laws against it. In India, education has been made compulsory to age 14 in a bid to crack down on child labour, but crippling poverty means many families have no choice but to send their offspring out to do what is often difficult and dangerous work. (France 24International News)

Syrian First Lady Silent on Syria's Human Rights Record

Syrian First Lady Silent on Syria's Human Rights Record

Syrian First Lady Asma al-Assad has portrayed herself as a defender of women and children's rights in her country. But she has been silent through much of the escalating violence, and has appeared publicly in support of her husband, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Call on Syria's First Lady to use her influence to defend the rights of women activists, and release those who are in detention. (http://www.amnestyusa.org/syriawomen)

Freedom Dictionary

Freedom Dictionary

To mark a Global Day of Action on Revolutions in Middle East and North Africa, Amnesty International Portugal is giving protesters a voice, setting their words free and amplifying their message through social media networks. Amnesty is launching the Freedom Dictionary project, a collective dictionary that holds 155 thousand words. These words will be set free by people, through the internet. To take part in this project, just go to www.freedomdictionary.org, choose a word and share using social media networks. The chosen word will bear the name of the person who released it, crediting those who choose to participate.

Bulgarians Awarded for Human Rights Contributions

Bulgarians Awarded for Human Rights Contributions

“The myths that Bulgarians live in a tolerant country create political comfort, but also - destroy the basics of society.”

 

That’s what prominent activists said, while being recognized by human rights advocates and journalists for their fight against governmental abuse of power, court malpractices, corporate corruption, mistreatment of ethnic and religious minorities and torture of disabled children in state-care institutions. 

PRESS TV

Human Right № 1 - We Are All Born Free & Equal

Human Right № 1 - We Are All Born Free & Equal

Do you know what Human Rights are? Every person is entitled to certain fundamental rights - simply by the fact of being human. These are called “human rights” rather than a privilege (which can be taken away at someone’s whim). They are "rights" because they are things you are allowed to be, to do or to have. These rights are there for your protection against people who might want to harm or hurt you. They are also there to help us get along with each other and live in peace.