Shelter City Netherlands welcomes 9 human rights defenders

The Dutch Shelter City initiative, coordinated by Justice and Peace Netherlands in collaboration with 12 municipalities and local organizations, will welcome a new group of human rights defenders in September 2019. The 9 human rights defenders participating in the program will travel to the Netherlands from Cambodia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Uganda and South Sudan for a stay of up to three months.

The participants focus on a wide spectrum of human rights issues including defending the rights of LGBTI communities, environmental protection, access to justice, enforced disappearances, women’s rights, the protection of minority rights.

Three-month relocation and training

Shelter City offers human rights defenders (HRDs) at risk a chance to catch their breath, escape a potentially threatening situation, re-energise, and gain the skills they need to continue their work safely and effectively.

 “I think the Shelter City programme has been impactful in my life and I’m sure it’s going to be one of the best capacity building activities I’ve ever done because I was able to grow as a person and as a leader” – Shelter City guest from Zambia, 2019

As a holistic programme, what the HRDs hope to gain from their stay in the Netherlands varies and has been assessed on a case-by-case basis. A few goals expressed by our incoming HRDs include raising awareness about the gravity of human rights violations they experience in their native country, building a strong network of contacts with NGOs and individuals engaged in their field of work, taking the time to rest and clear their mind, gaining new skills in security, and learning new strategies for advocacy and fundraising.

Another important aspect of Shelter City is the security training the programme offers. During their stay, the human rights defenders will receive training in digital security, organisational security, and physical security by expert security trainers. The program also strongly supports the importance of psychological and well-being support.

Justice and Peace looks forward to welcoming these human rights defenders very soon.

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