Shelter City welcomes 11 human rights defenders to the Netherlands

The Shelter City initiative, coordinated by Justice and Peace Netherlands in collaboration with 11 municipalities and local organisations, will welcome a new group of human rights defenders (HRDs) from all around the world in September 2018. The HRDs participating in the programme will travel to the Netherlands from Macedonia, Nepal, Venezuela, Mexico, Nigeria, Colombia, Senegal, Egypt, Kenya and Palestine and the DRC for a stay of up to three months.

The participants focus on a wide spectrum of human rights issues including ending the use of enforced disappearances, protecting LGBTI rights in countries where homosexual acts are criminalised or discriminated against, preventing child marriage and female genital mutilation in regions where it is deeply rooted in culture, reducing the stigma around women’s participation in politics, coping as a HRD in the aftermath of a civil society crackdown, issues of citizenship, democracy, and protecting freedom of the press where it is being stifled.

Shelter City Deventer

In addition, the Shelter City network proudly welcomes the city of Deventer as a new member of the initiative. The municipality of our 11th Dutch Shelter City will assist with the financial support and local organisations will assist the municipality in the practical arrangements of hosting one HRD from September 2018. This is made possible also through the kind support of Humanitas and the Saxion University of Applied Sciences.

Three-month relocation

In terms of what our prospective HRDs hope to gain from their stay in the Netherlands, it truly varies and is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Personal experiences they might have had in their native country and also the unique qualities offered by each Dutch Shelter city were considerations when allocating the HRDs to their city. 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, conducting legal research, and learning new strategies for advocacy and fundraising.

Justice and Peace looks forward to welcoming these brave individuals very soon.

Learn more about the Shelter City initiative here.