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TURKEY: JHR partner Radio Nasaem unpacks GBV laws for Syrian diaspora in #16days webinar

Thu, 12/02/2021 - 12:11


In honour of the 16 days of activism for the elimination of gender-based violence, JHR partner Radio Nasaem conducted a live webinar focused on the laws governing the prosecution of GBV crimes in Turkey and Syria. The discussion began with an explanation of the judicial process from the filing of a complaint to the final decision of the judge. Featuring insights from lawyers Serkan Orgun and Afaf Al-Rasheed, the webinar went on to elaborate on the role of human rights clinics in Gaziantep, the legal services available to Syrian refugees, and a comparison between Turkish and Syrian law. The webinar concluded with a proposal to create a group of Syrian and Turkish lawyers to educate Syrian diaspora in Turkey about laws to protect the vulnerable groups of women and children.

The episode can be streamed here.



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DRC: Four national deputies endorse proposed law exempting SGBV survivors from legal fees

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 05:09

Four national deputies in the DRC have endorsed a proposed law to exempt survivors of sexual and gender-based violence from legal fees.

Deputies Christelle Vuanga, Jean Claude Draza, Jean Marc Kabund and Juvenal Munubo signed a statement reflecting their support at a JHR/JDH roundtable discussion held at the Interdiocesan Center in Kinshasa on November 30.

The national deputies believe that the proposed law would serve as an invaluable intervention in the fight against the impunity of gender-based violence in the DRC. 11 CSOs and media were also present at the event, where they expressed their commitment to support the deputies in introducing and defending the proposed law at the parliamentary level. The event roundtable was also attended by the representative of the Minister of Justice in the DRC.

This proposed law is the outcome of a JHR/JDH workshop, held in June 2021, where participants discussed obstacles in the access to justice for survivors of sexual violence in the DRC organized by in June 2021. High court fees was identified as a major challenge that discouraged SGBV survivors from pursuing a case against their attackers. JDH partnered with local civil society organizations to initiate a draft bill of a law that exempts survivors from court fees and the protection of witnesses and whistleblowers.

The commitment of national deputies to support this law is an important step in facilitating the adoption of a more just law for survivors of gender-based violence.

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Evacuee profile: Meet investigative journalist Shakor Kamran

Tue, 11/30/2021 - 02:52

Investigative journalist Shakor Kamran is currently sheltering in a temporary location while he awaits passage to his permanent new home. A resident of Gardez city in the southeastern Paktia province of Afghanistan, Shakor has been a journalist for over 10 years. His career as a journalist began early in life. When he was still in 11th grade, he started work as a reporter for the local radio station. Later, he became newsroom manager at Awoshtoon Radio. He studied literature at university.

Over his decade-long career, Shakor reported on socioeconomic issues across his province for various TV, radio and online media organizations, including Pajhwok and TOLO News. He was no stranger to threats from the Taliban. He published report after report of Taliban’s destruction of Paktia – mine explosions that killed mothers and babies, demolitions of newly built roads and hospitals. He was on the move a lot but never once wished to stop his work.

“I never wanted to stop journalism because I knew my work was important and influential. I spent a lot of time relocating, but I never let fear overwhelm me,” he said.

After his article on Taliban’s extortion of millions from development projects was published in January this year, the threats became more virulent. He was called for ‘questioning’ at their remotely located ‘centre’. Fearing the worst, he didn’t go – but went on reporting. When the Taliban took over Kabul’s administration on August 15, however, he knew it was now time to leave. One of his final reports for Pajhwok led to $115,000 donation from UNICEF to the provincial health department.

Shakor hopes that this next chapter of his life allows him to continue serving his homeland. “I want to be the servant and savior of my people and country.”

Shakor Kamran interviews Paktia Province Deputy Governor Zahra Mutahar. 


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JORDAN: JHR partners with North-South Centre to push for better implementation of GBV protection programs

Fri, 11/26/2021 - 12:08

Since May 2021, JHR has been working to improve the implementation of the national GBV protection and support mechanisms in Jordan. The project, for which JHR is funded by and partnered with the North-South Centre, involves training civil society organizations to improve their media relations and public outreach skills of civil society organizations. Moreover, JHR is also training journalists to produce gender-sensitive reporting, and produce stories about GBV in the local context to support public dialogue on GBV.

Read the latest stories from the program (in Arabic) below:

Bullying and violence towards women athletes in Jordan

Inequalities in salaries in the health sector

Economic violence against working women

Suffering emotional abuse


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DRC: JHR organizes on-air forum to discuss strategies to eliminate GBV

Thu, 11/25/2021 - 12:28

On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25), JHR-DRC kicked off activities for the #16daysofactivism for the prevention of gender based violence (GBV) with an on-air forum at the Radio de la Femme studio. At the forum, United Nations Joint Human Rights Office representative Charlotte Songue and Pascaline Zamuda of the Recovery and Supervision Framework for Youth Empowerment talked about policies that normalize SGBV and strategies for dismantling patriarchal norms.

The UN Women estimates that roughly 51% of Congolese women have experienced sexual and/or physical Intimate Partner Violence  During the discussion, Songue stressed, “The government needs to take more concrete actions to address factors that contribute to SGBV.”

Guest speakers also discussed the significance of the Positive Masculinity conference taking place in Kinshasa, which was attended by six African heads of state. The conference seeks to adopt an African Union endorsed declaration to end violence against women and girls. Zamunda said this was a positive step: “The conference sends a strong message on the need to end GBV. I invite the youth to follow in the footsteps of the leaders and embrace positive masculinity.”

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KENYA: JHR supports new Nairobi law to increase funding for SGBV survivors

Thu, 11/25/2021 - 04:47

The Honourable Kabirou Mbugua, a member of the Nairobi County Assembly, said JHR played an integral role in enhancing the SGBV Bill that was passed into law on November 1, 2021. 

Kenya capital Nairobi achieved a milestone in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) on November 1 when  Nairobi County Governor Her Excellency Anne Kananu signed the SGBV Bill into law.

The newly passed bill sought to establish an interconnected reporting and referral system that will guide SGBV survivors on where to seek help. Its overall role is to accelerate efforts towards the elimination of all forms of GBV in Nairobi County and ensure perpetrators are severely punished. The law also requires the county government to budget and fund safe houses for SGBV survivors and witness protection programs. This legislation is the first of its kind in Kenya, which saw a marked increase in SGBV incidents after lockdown measures were introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a roundtable organized by JHR on October 22, the Honourable Kabirou Mbugua, a member of the Nairobi County Assembly, addressed an audience comprising media, CSOs and decision-makers, and said that the county government seeks to holistically address SGBV by “promoting public awareness about its causes, impact, consequences and means of prevention.”

JHR has significantly supported the Nairobi government in this goal. Earlier in October, JHR organized a forum to discuss the SGBV Bill, formally known as Nairobi City County Sexual and Gender-Based Management and Control Bill, 2019. The forum brought together members of the Nairobi City County Assembly, officers from the Nairobi City County Department of Gender, Ministry of Gender officials, the media and various CSO representatives. Many valuable suggestions to enhance the SGBV Bill emerged from that meeting. JHR has also held numerous on-air forums and published articles on the need for improved services for SGBV survivors.

Important information would have been left out of the newly passed SGBV Bill had it not been for JHR’s efforts to convene major stakeholders, says Hon. Kabirou Mbugua

Speaking about JHR’s contribution to the newly passed SGBV Bill, Hon. Mbugua said, “The meeting organized by JHR provided a platform for popularizing the bill among members of the media and that made reporting of the bill by the media houses very clear.”

He added, “Some of the recommendations that were raised in the meeting were incorporated in the final bill that was enacted and signed by H.E Anne Kananu. This means that such information would have been left out of the bill had it not been for JHR’s effort to convene these stakeholders.

Hon. Kabiro emphasized that the JHR forum provided a very rare opportunity for media reporters to interact with members of the county assembly. He said, “That process was very timely and very informative about the enactment of the bill. Such initiatives should be encouraged.”

JHR is committed to collaborating with the county government to support the implementation of the SGBV Bill by using the media to facilitate public education on the processes of the law and its implementation.

JHR’s Canada World: Voice for Women and Girls Rights program in Kenya works to build synergy and enhance cooperation between the media, CSOs and the government on policies that empower women in all aspects of life.

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Urgency in Afghanistan demands leadership and solutions

Tue, 11/16/2021 - 06:36



November 14th, 2021



Urgency in Afghanistan


TV presenter Hamid Saighani was killed in an explosion in Kabul on November 13, 2021.


Yesterday, Ariana News TV journalist Hamid Saighani was killed in an explosion in Kabul. This brings the total number of reported killings of journalists in Afghanistan in 2021 to 9. Seven of those killings took place after the fall of Kabul, proving the point that the risk profile for journalists in Afghanistan under Taliban rule has significantly increased. More will follow.

The Taliban on Friday meanwhile announced the appointment of Qari Baryal as Governor of Kabul. Baryal is a Taliban commander with links to al-Qaeda. He’s known for targeting and detaining foreign journalists while deploying suicide squads to achieve his aims. Baryal is taking over the governorship of a city in which bank assets continue to be frozen, in a country where the World Food Programme lead David Beasley estimates 95% of Afghan households will be below the poverty line through winter.

The situation is boiling into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Action taken now to evacuate those most at risk of reprisal in such extreme circumstances would help avoid further deaths.

JHR is continuing to see progress evacuating journalists and their family members from Afghanistan. The same week the father of one of the journalists we are working with died in Kabul of wounds sustained in detention at the hands of the Taliban, we were able to get his son and three other colleagues to relative safety. A total of 275 is now out, of JHR’s original list of 450 journalists and family members. Of those, 30 have been cleared to travel on to Canada, and 70 have safely arrived on our shores. That leaves 175 who are stuck in third countries with an unclear onward path, and of course another 175 who are still stuck in Afghanistan.

(Pour une explication de la situation et des défis en français, écoutez cette Radio Canada entrevue avec Rachel Pulfer, diffusée vendredi 12 novembre).

There are many schools of thought currently as to how Canada and Canadians can best address this wicked problem. Below are some of JHR’s.

1) Expand the cap on the number of Afghans who can come to Canada. There are moral reasons to do this (Canadians saw active duty in Afghanistan that engaged Afghans and put many of them at risk) and public opinion is in favour (every poll from Focus Canada to Maru indicates public support for the successful evacuation and resettlement of large numbers of Afghan evacuees). Given the overwhelming volume, and conclusive public support, expanding the cap is the right thing to do.

2) Support the NGOs that are doing the work to evacuate eligible Afghans safely and legally. Do this with funding for international air travel and related life support, alongside emergency stipend support for Afghans within Afghanistan. JHR and the veterans groups have received some government support to help facilitate safe, legal evacuations through Global Affairs Canada, for which we are very grateful. But given the numerous restrictions on how those funds can be used, we also need to find additional funding at scale, whether private or public, to help evacuate those who qualify for Canada as quickly as possible while mitigating the pain for those still stuck. Right now, the vets group is issuing blankets to the Afghans they served alongside, people they raised millions of dollars to help but then had to evict from safe housing November 5. Too many of those Afghans’ winter options are now a tent in a park in Kabul. Let the implications of that situation sink in, and Canadians, let’s do something about it.

3) Deploy a version of the Syrian solution for declaring Afghans refugees once outside the country and referring them on at scale onwards to Canada, but do it somewhat differently, grounded in learning from the Syrian experience. JHR is proposing an innovation: empowering the NGOs doing this evacuation work to act as a referral network, vetting and triaging those Afghans they can vouch for and who make it safely outside of Afghanistan. This would create a clear pathway onwards for those who fall into what the government was in August calling the PP3 Humanitarian stream, prioritizing the resettlement of women leaders, LGBTQ+, journalists, human rights defenders, persecuted minorities and other vulnerable groups provided they could get out of Afghanistan first.

4) Work with Sponsorship Agreement Holders, resettlement agencies, and, if the option becomes available, form Groups of Five private citizens to facilitate private sponsorship of Afghan families at the needed scale.

JHR and the veterans’ groups have developed safe, legal, proven means of getting Canada-eligible evacuees out of Afghanistan at scale. The above ideas help make best use of that capacity and address how best to meet the moment.

Despite the ongoing challenges, this moment, ironically, represents an opportunity for Canada to lead on refugee resettlement on the global stage. We’ve done this before, with the Syrian effort, and we can do it again. The rationale for action for Afghan evacuees is even clearer than that for Syria; Canada saw active duty in Afghanistan over 13 years, the longest war in Canadian history. That engagement, and the intense relationships and connections formed through it, represent a moral obligation to those left behind, and a basis for action.

The above aside, what’s abundantly clear, from the tragic news at the top of this note, is that we need to act quickly and decisively. People, in particular journalists, are dying, the situation is unspooling rapidly, and we are running out of time. We need all hands on deck to get those likely to be targeted in such an extreme situation to safety.


To support JHR’s work in this regard, please consider a donation to our Evacuate Journalists from Kabul fund.





Land Acknowledgement

We wish to acknowledge the land on which the Journalists for Human Rights’ head office operates and recognize the longstanding relationships Indigenous nations have with these territories. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Tkaronto (Toronto) is in the Dish with One Spoon Territory and is home to Indigenous peoples from many nations across Turtle Island who continue to care for this land today.

To read more on JHR’s land acknowledgement, click here.


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Tunisian government officials react positively to story of JHR trained journalist

Thu, 11/11/2021 - 10:47

The Ministry of Social Affairs, after being touched by the story NOUR, a piece featured in Kashfmedia about a disabled 11 year old girl, with serious health and socio-economic issues (strained even more by the COVID-19 pandemic) in Sidi Bouzi, Tunisia, government officials have came through,  providing financial and supportive assistance for the girl’s family. NOUR produced by Kawther CHEBBI, a JHR trained journalist, originally published the story on October 22 and was shortly thereafter contacted by the Governor of the Sidi Bouzid Region, and an official close to the President of Tunisia for a contact to the girl’s family. Chebbi obliged and the Governor passed along this information to the Ministry of Social Affairs which helped turn the wheels in motion. In no time later, the girl’s family were visited by an employee of the Ministry of Social Affairs and were informed by the service that they will provide the young girl and her whole family with free medical insurance cards.

The mayor of the city of Jelma also promised to Kashfmedia that he would visit the girl’s family in order to help offer additional ways to improve their socio-economic and health status. As of October 26th 2021 the mayor of the city of Jelma visited the girl’s family for support and granted the young girl’s father’s request of securing a job as a stock raiser (cattle fattening) in the city.


The story NOUR can be found attached below:


Since July 2020, the JHR has been working in Tunisia with the support of Global Affairs Canada to implement the Project “Mobilizing media to fight Covid-19”. In this country, JHR’s support and mentoring to journalists and media with the goal of helping improve people’s access to credible information and guaranteeing their basic rights, has reached more than 21 million people.





En Tunisie, l’Etat et un maire réagissent positivement au reportage d’une journaliste formée par JHR

Le Ministère des Affaires Sociales, après avoir appris le reportage « NOUR est une enfant handicapée, une situation sanitaire et sociale grave à Sidi Bouzid » de la journaliste formée par JHR, Kawther CHEBBI, publié le 22 Octobre, a contacté le site d’information en ligne partenaire media de JHR, pour annoncer qu’il interviendra d’urgence en faveur de NOUR, une élève de 11 ans vivant avec plusieurs handicaps dont la famille est gravement affectée par l’impact de la Covid-19 dans la ville de Jelma, Gouvernorat de Sidi-Bouzid en Tunisie.

Le Maire de la ville de Jelma a également annoncé à Kashfmedia qu’il se rendra à la famille de la jeune fille pour mieux écouter les parents en vue de contribuer à l’amélioration de leurs situations socio-sanitaires.


Le lien du reportage :


Depuis juillet 2020, JHR intervient en Tunisie grâce au soutien d’Affaires mondiales Canada pour mettre en œuvre le Projet « Mobiliser les médias pour lutter contre la Covid-19 ». Dans ce pays, le soutien et l’accompagnement de JHR aux journalistes et médias pour améliorer l’accès des personnes à l’information crédible et à leurs droits fondamentaux, ont touché plus de 21 millions de personnes.

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Statement on Remembrance Day: Honouring the fallen by keeping our promise to Afghans

Thu, 11/11/2021 - 04:51

Toronto, November 11, 2021 — On November 11 each year, Canadians pause to remember our country’s brave soldiers who gave their lives to protect Canada’s freedoms and bring about peace and stability all over the world. We owe our veterans an incredible debt of gratitude for their sacrifice and also salute the thousands of men and women who continue this selfless endeavour for Canada and its allies today.

On this Remembrance Day, we honour our military’s achievements by recognizing their work. This Remembrance Day, we also wish to call attention to the situation in Afghanistan as the country backslides into a period of terror in the hands of the Taliban. During Canada’s 12-year involvement in Afghanistan – which marked the longest combat action in Canadian history and second largest deployment since World War II – 158 members of the Canadian Armed Forces sacrificed their lives to push back against the Taliban and restore peace to the troubled country. It is now Canada’s duty to do its utmost to safeguard the Afghan lives that the CAF sought to protect.

Journalists for Human Rights, the Veterans Transition Network, Aman Lara, Building Markets and Afghan-Canadian Interpreters are working together with Global Affairs Canada to help facilitate the safe evacuation of vulnerable Afghans who are eligible for resettlement in Canada. Yet steep barriers remain. Recent research published by Angus Reid tells us that Canadians support efforts to evacuate Afghans from Afghanistan. Many Canadian individuals and organizations, ours included, have risen to the moment and are working around the clock to bring at-risk Afghans to Canada. Today, we ask the Canadian public and the Canadian government to lend every support to those extraction and resettlement initiatives.

On the occasion of Remembrance Day 2021, Major-General (Ret.) David Fraser said, “There is not a day that I do not think about the sacrifices of our men and women who served in Afghanistan. Canada has always been there when needed. This year, on the 20th anniversary of the World Trade Center attack, we will remember them and commit ourselves to the ongoing struggle to get those Afghans who served alongside with us out of this war-torn country.”

After the 9/11 attacks in the US in 2001, more than 40,000 Canadians served in Afghanistan. Even after their combat role ended, Canadian Armed Forces stayed in Afghanistan to help the government become independent and bolster security and human rights in the country. Canada’s large-scale humanitarian efforts helped improve the lives of the Afghan people.

All of this progress is now threatened by the Taliban’s takeover in Kabul on August 15, 2021. Every day, we receive reports of attacks on those who served with the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as human rights activists and journalists, many of whom have been forced into hiding and are desperate to flee the country. Restrictions have also been re-imposed on women, on the media, and on civil society.

“In 11 years of working in war zones I have never seen a human disaster on an equivalent scale,” said Rachel Pulfer, Executive Director of Journalists for Human Rights. “It is on Canadians, it is on all of us, to make this situation right by supporting Afghans who served Canada in some way and are seeking a new life in their hour of desperate need. To do otherwise is to dishonour the memory of those who paid the ultimate price for human rights and democratic freedoms in Afghanistan.”

On this Remembrance Day, we ask the Canadian public to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our commonly held values. And we do this by calling on the Canadian government to honour Canada’s promise to the Afghans who served with us and worked with us, those who have been left behind in Afghanistan and are in grave danger.

If we recognize our responsibility to engage in Afghanistan and support the evacuation of these vulnerable groups, we can ensure that the Canadian soldiers that served in Afghanistan did not risk – and sacrifice – their lives in vain.

      Journalists for Human Rights                                                        Veteran Transitions Network




                   Aman Lara                                                                                        Building Markets



Afghan-Canadian Interpreters

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NEWSLETTER: November 7 – 18 more vulnerable Afghans evacuated amidst mounting dangers in Afghanistan

Sun, 11/07/2021 - 06:37


November 7, 2021

This week’s highlights

  • 18 more vulnerable Afghans evacuated amidst mounting dangers in Afghanistan
  • NIGHT FOR RIGHTS: Hear from Afghan-Canadian human rights advocate Roya Shams
  • Genders officers in Kenya get essential media literacy training
  • JHR speaks up on International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists
18 more vulnerable Afghans evacuated amidst mounting dangers in Afghanistan


Meeting the new Immigration Minister Sean Fraser with journalist Mellissa Fung, the Canadian Association of Journalists, UNIFOR and the veterans’ groups – JHR


It’s been a week of considerable challenges on the ground in Afghanistan. News reports of the discovery of four bodies of women’s rights activists in the northern city of Mazar-E-Sharif clarifies just how dangerous the situation remains, in particular for women and women’s rights advocates. Meanwhile Afghans have had to leave the safe house network that JHR’s partners Veterans Transition Network and Aman Lara had been maintaining since July due to lack of funding. Team JHR focused on the ongoing evacuation of those on our lists and was able to get 18 more journalists, women’s rights advocates and their family members out of Kabul. This brings the total out to 222 journalists and family members, of a total list of 450. Of these, 70 have made it on to Canada.

Journalist Mellissa Fung, the Canadian Association of Journalists, UNIFOR, the veterans’ groups and team JHR were also able to meet with the newly minted Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Sean Fraser. We discussed the challenges the coalition has faced in getting journalists and their family members processed onwards to Canada. The Minister took the meeting within a week of assuming the responsibility, and told us he plans to make Afghanistan a major priority. We continue to work with networks of concerned journalists, CWA The Media Union, Unifor, and a network of Canadian media in order to support those on our lists to safely get out. Please donate to support our effort.

Night For Rights 2021:
Roya Shams



At this year’s Night For Rights gala, held online and in Toronto on October 20, our guests got to hear from Afghan-Canadian human rights advocate Roya Shams.

Roya recently appeared in a Toronto Star article and a CTV W5 documentary to talk about her brave journey from Kabul to Ottawa as a teenager and the incredible miracle of reuniting with her family in Canada a decade later after their own escape from the Taliban in September. Journalists for Human Rights helped facilitate the family’s escape, in partnership with Aman Lara and the Veterans Transition Network.

At the gala, we heard her speak from the heart about why we need to keep fighting for the rights and dreams of Afghan women like her. She said, “You guys created a miracle. And that was possible through fast action, through a community, through the contribution of each and every one of you, opening your hearts [and] emails [and] texts…”

Watch her full remarks here.


Genders officers in Kenya get
essential media literacy training

Gender officers in Kenya at the media literacy workshop organized by JHR in late September – JHR

In September, JHR organized a media literacy workshop for officers of Kenya’s National State Department for Gender that trained them in fostering strong professional ties with the local media.

Gender officials are posted to counties with a high rate of gender-based violence (GBV) and harmful cultural practices that impede women’s empowerment. From those counties, they work to improve women’s empowerment through gender policy management, initiation of special programs, community mobilization and development of policies and programs on gender-based violence (GBV). Despite this important role, there is not much media visibility for their work. According to one participant Vincent Kayago Okeya from Kakamega County, this is due to distrust between the media and the government.

The workshop and subsequent networking event aimed to help dissolve that distrust. Read more about it here.



JHR speaks up on International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists

On November 2, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, JHR Kenya Team Lead Mustapha Dumbaya was interviewed by Capital News on the need to protect journalists against violence, intimidation, harassment and other forms of persecution they face for doing their job.

“While everyone is affected by the violence perpetrated against journalists, women become double victims by loss of jobs and sexual and gender-based violence,” he said and called on the state to prosecute the perpetrators of such crimes.

JHR Kenya Gender Lead Winnie Syombua joined him in calling on the government to assume its responsibility to protect journalists from harm.

“The government remains a culprit in the violations because we have often see the police and other state organs used to intimidate journalists in the course of their work, particularly investigative journalists,” she said. “There is a lot of suppression and the Constitution that guarantees these freedoms is never adhered to. The government need to do a lot to protect journalists.”

Read the full article here.

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KENYA: Gender officials benefit from JHR’s media literacy training 

Fri, 11/05/2021 - 09:08

Officials from the National State Department for Gender attended JHR’s media literacy training held in SeptemberIn late September, JHR conducted training on effective media relations for 16 officials from the National State Department for Gender government. The training introduced the officials to the Kenya local media landscape and provided tips on how to build a lasting professional relationship with the media.

The National State Department for Gender officials are posted to various county offices. They are assigned to counties struggling with perennial issues of gender-based violence and other harmful cultural practices impeding women’s empowerment. The State Department for Gender plays a very vital role in gender mainstreaming in the national development processes and championing the socio-economic empowerment of women. It does this through gender policy management, initiation of special programs for women empowerment, community mobilization and development of policies and programs on gender-based violence (GBV). In essence, the gender officers coordinate all the local government departmental programs and activities relating to women’s empowerment in their counties.

Despite these important roles they play, there is not much media visibility for their work. According to Vincent Kayago Okeya from Kakamega County, this is due to distrust between the media and the government.

Speaking about the impact of the workshop, William Otago, Gender Officer from Homabay County, said he has learned about the important role the media play to educate the community to change attitudes and behaviours on gender-based violence. He said that with the knowledge acquired he will build a lasting relationship with the media that is anchored on the values of mutual respect and professionalism.

“I have learned paying journalists allowance always may be detrimental when you one time fail to provide the same. An important issue may not be reported because of failure to pay allowances,” said Otago.

Betty Chesi from Nairobi County echoes these views. She emphasized that she learned about the media landscape and how to use media to advance gender issues: “Building relationships with journalists, updating them, familiarizing them with what you do and networking with the journalists.  Also, I learned the need for responsible use of media especially social media.”

JHR’s Canada World: Voice for Women and Girls Rights in Kenya works to address these gaps through training and networking with journalists, chief strategy officers (CSOs) and the government to encourage data sharing and enhance cooperation between media, CSOs and the government to help amplify women’s voices across all walks of life.

The training with the government county gender officials was followed by a networking event with members of Nairobi City County Assembly, officers from Nairobi City County Department of Gender, Ministry of Gender officials, media and CSOs representatives. The networking event created a platform for the media and CSOs to discuss the ongoing development of the Nairobi City County Sexual and Gender-Based Management and Control Bill, 2019. Participants provided valuable suggestions that will go a long way in enhancing the bill.

The bill requires the county government to budget and fund the provision of safe houses for survivors and protect witnesses of gender-based violence. It also provides for an elaborate stakeholder collaboration in management of SGBV as well as a clear guidance on referral pathways.

This legislation is the first of its kind in Kenya, which has seen a rise in GBV cases since lockdown measures were introduced to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.


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Open Letter: Urgent Call to Action in Response to the Crisis in Afghanistan

Thu, 11/04/2021 - 10:47

November 1, 2021

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

 Prime Minister of Canada

The Honourable Sean Fraser

Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada

The Honourable Mélanie Joly

 Minister of Foreign Affairs


Urgent Call to Action in Response to the Crisis in Afghanistan


Canadians have broadly applauded the announcements that Canada is admitting and resettling Afghans who assisted the Canadian mission as well as vulnerable Afghans. This positive response reflects the best of Canadians; it is also the right thing to do. We stand with those who now lack protection in Afghanistan under the Taliban – women judges, journalists, female leaders, LGBTI individuals, religious minorities, and human rights advocates. This is who Canadians are and should strive to be.

There is no denying the complexity of the challenges that confront Canada after the fall of Kabul. There is also no escaping the human tragedy that unfolded around the airport and continues to this day.

We write to you now as individuals and organizations deeply engaged in Canada’s response to the Afghan crisis, including those involved in efforts to help evacuate vulnerable persons from Afghanistan in an effort to bring them to Canada. These are the individuals most at risk of violence and reprisals following the Taliban takeover in mid-August 2021.

However, despite the collective efforts of the signatories, and despite their identification within Canada’s Special Immigration Program and Special Humanitarian Program, few of the “at risk” Afghans identified have been evacuated to Canada, and a very large number remain in grave danger.

 In many cases, the Taliban are actively searching for these individuals: their time is running out. Evacuating them safely and relocating them to Canada has proven difficult for several reasons. A number of those factors are, however, within Canada’s control.

First, there is lack of clarity regarding which individuals qualify for Canada’s Special Immigration Program and resettlement to Canada as refugees. Second, there is a shortage of processing capacity to match both the magnitude and urgency which the current situation requires. Third, Canada ought to waive the requirement of UNHCR recognition and recognize the Afghan crisis as a prima facie refugee situation. Finally, in working with allies, Canada can exercise the leverage it collectively holds, in order to pressure the Taliban to allow at-risk individuals to safely exit Afghanistan.

At the outset, the signatories wish to make clear that we hold Canadian officials with whom the signatories have worked in this process in the highest regard. Without fail, those officials, and the political staffers engaged in this work, have shown deep commitment at all hours to achieving a humane and expedient response, and have done everything possible to assist. But officials can only do so much. There comes a point when political leadership is required, and when only Ministerial direction can provide the authority needed to move matters forward.

Now that the new cabinet has been appointed, the time has come for that leadership. The signatories therefore call upon Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada Sean Fraser and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly to urgently address the following four major issues that must be resolved if Canada is to achieve its purpose in securing the safe and timely evacuation of the at-risk individuals from Afghanistan targeted through Canada’s special programs.

  1. Clarify Canada’s policy by defining its

“Assistance to Canada”: In July 2021, Canada announced the establishment of a program for Afghans who assisted Canada and pledged to protect individuals who exhibited a “significant and enduring relationship with Canada”. Canada set out simple procedures for applying to the program, through which Canada would facilitate their safe passage out of Afghanistan.

Canada announced that it would interpret the concept of “assistance to Canada” broadly, but it remains difficult to understand who might qualify.

Canada must clarify the policy as between Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada and Global Affairs Canada. It must also continue to interpret the terms broadly in order to meet the spirit of the program announced in July 2021.

Accepted Categories: In August 2021, Canada introduced a second program for vulnerable Afghans including women leaders, human rights advocates, persecuted religious or ethnic minorities, LGBTI individuals, and journalists who helped Canadian journalists.

In the absence of UNHCR in Afghanistan, Canada wisely identified alternate organizations with a presence in Afghanistan – Frontline Defenders and Protect Defenders – to assist evacuees. The signatories understand that the intention with these referral partners is to create a fair, transparent, and equal system for processing on the ground in Afghanistan. However, these organizations have their own mandates – namely they are largely focused on human rights defenders – and this has drastically narrowed the otherwise broad mandate of Canada’s programs.

Once again, a lack of clarity has proven frustrating and has impeded progress for many who are trying to navigate the system. Canada must clarify who specifically can apply through its programs and through the referral partners.

Further, Canada must seek partnerships with other organizations on the ground in Afghanistan to ensure that individuals who otherwise meet the eligibility criteria for the special programs can be identified and processed.

  1. Devote Significant Resources Needed to Get the Job Done, and Permit Discretion for Decision Makers as

The work in Afghanistan is urgent and time-consuming. Receiving files, reviewing them, making decisions, and communicating with applicants, affected parties and their representatives cannot be treated as “business as usual”. Significant additional human resources must be committed immediately to enable Canadian officials to process and receive the large numbers of persons who cannot wait until their cases are considered “in the usual course”. While the signatories understand that some additional resources have already been allocated to this portfolio, the situation in Afghanistan urgently requires more. This includes additional processing staff. Further, where appropriate, Canada must permit discretionary decisions by case officers in order to proceed in an expeditious manner.

  1. Waive the Requirement of UNHCR Recognition, and Recognize the Afghan Crisis as a Prima Facie Refugee Situation.

We ask the government to waive the requirement of UNHCR recognition for Afghan nationals being resettled via private sponsorship. We further call on the Ministers to recognize the Afghan crisis as a prima facie refugee situation.

  1. Working with Allies, Demand Assurances from the

Canada and its allies should bring every possible pressure to bear in seeking assurances from the Taliban. The signatories call on Canada to exercise its international leverage with like-minded countries to pressure the Taliban to allow at-risk individuals to safely exit Afghanistan. Canada must continue to seek assurances that all individuals who qualify for its programs will be permitted to travel safely out of Afghanistan. Rather than act alone in this effort, Canada should join with its allies and like-minded entities to secure these assurances. This is a key tool Canada has at its disposal to assist the desperate individuals who are reaching out to Canadians on a daily basis and who fall within the mandate that Canada has accepted within both its Special Immigration Program and its Special Humanitarian Program.


Prime Minister and Ministers: this urgent situation requires an immediate, multi-faceted, and focused response. Afghans at risk, such as female judges, are in hiding and are being actively pursued by released prisoners, Taliban officials, and ISIS-Khorasan. Afghanistan continues to fall into a deepening crisis where individuals are left at the mercy of the Taliban, often without the essentials needed to meet basic sustenance needs.

The signatories further call upon Canada to clarify and fulfill its pledge to adopt an expansive interpretation of who has “assisted” Canada and its allies in Afghanistan and support – meaningfully, practically, immediately – those who supported us. The signatories also call upon Canada to clarify and fulfil its pledge to adopt an expansive interpretation of the accepted categories through the Special Humanitarian Program including women leaders, human rights advocates, persecuted religious or ethnic minorities, LGBTI individuals, and journalists who helped Canadian journalists.

Just days into the mandate of the new Cabinet, its members are called upon to deal with this crisis. Yet moments of crisis can offer extraordinary opportunity. They invite us to reveal who Canadians are. The effective and safe evacuation of vulnerable individuals from Afghanistan will help illustrate the values and priorities of the newly-elected government. It will also demonstrate the compassion and humanity of Canadians while invoking a collective sense of purpose.

As the new Cabinet begins its important work, the signatories eagerly await a meaningful response to this letter, and the signatories undertake to do everything they can to assist the government in the achievement of these vital goals.


Lloyd Axworthy, Fen Osler Hampson, Senator Ratna Omidvar, Allan Rock, World Refugee & Migration Council

Asma Fairzi, Adeena Niazi, Afghan Women’s Organization Refugee and Immigrant Services

Ketty Nivyabandi, Amnesty International Canada

Stephanie Valois, Association québécoise des avocats et avocates en droit de l’immigration

Aviva Bassman, Canadian Association for Refugee Lawyers

Ibrahim Mohebi, Canadian Hazara Humanitarian Services

Farida Deif, Human Rights Watch

Sally Armstrong, Wendy Cukier, Hila Taraky, Lifeline Afghanistan

Rachel Pulfer, Journalist for Human Rights

Warda Shazadi Meighen, Erin Simpson, Jacqueline Swaisland, Landings LLP

Grace Westcott, Peter Showler, PEN Canada

Kimahli Powell, L.L.D (Hons) Rainbow Railroad


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MALI: JHR supports amendment of outdated press laws

Sat, 10/30/2021 - 05:57

Participants of the national workshop on Mali’s press laws, held from October 11 to 14 – JHR Mali


Since the introduction of democracy in Mali in 1991, the country’s media sector has seen rapid growth. At the same time, the media landscape is marred with violations against freedom of the press and serious breaches of ethics and professional conduct. In 2000, the government passed a law criminalizing press offenses. This law has been used to stifle freedom of expression and dissenting voices. The amendment of current press laws is long overdue.

Earlier this month, JHR and its partners La Maison de la Presse du Mali and the High Authority of Audiovisual Communication organized a four-day national workshop focused on the analysis of Mali’s media laws. Held from October 11 to October 14 as part of JHR’s Strengthening Media to Promote Inclusive Democracy in Mali project, the workshop brought together nearly 100 participants from media, civil society, academia, the public sector (public servants, judges and former ministers) and the private sector (communication agencies). The Minister of Communication, Digital Economy and the Modernization of the Administration and the Minister of State Rebuilding presided over the event.

The main goal of the workshop was to review existing laws and recommend a legal and regulatory framework aligned with the fast evolving local media sector and international standards. The ultimate goal is to create a legal environment that is conducive to press freedom and democracy.  Over the course of the workshop, participants were divided into groups to discuss three themes: press laws and  press offenses; legislation related to access to information; and laws related to the establishment of  advertising and communication agencies in Mali. Such issues as gender and rights of disabled people were included in all three discussions. The discussions resulted in recommendations for amendments to press laws. JHR will continue to support its local partners on the proposed amendments and to ensure that they are tabled in the upcoming parliamentary session.

La Maison de la Presse has been a partner of JHR since 2019, along with the Union des Radios et Télévisions Libres and the Bamako School of Journalism and Communication Sciences.

 En Francais:


La Maison de la Presse du Mali, en partenariat étroit avec la Haute Autorité de la Communication et JHR, a organisé du 11 au 14 octobre, un atelier national de relecture des textes régissant l’information, la communication et les médias au Mali sous la présidence du Ministre de la Communication, de l’Economie numérique et de la Modernisation de l’Administration accompagné du Ministre de la Refondation de l’Etat, Chargé des relations avec les institutions.

L’atelier a regroupé près d’une centaine d’acteurs composés des représentants des organisations professionnelles des média, des responsables d’établissements d’enseignement supérieur en journalisme, des représentants des services publics et privés concernés par les médias, du groupement professionnel des agences de communication, des organisations de la société civile, d’anciens ministres et de magistrats.

L’objectif de l’atelier est de doter le Mali d’un cadre juridique et réglementaire adapté aux exigences et à l’environnement national et international. Depuis l’avènement de la démocratie en 1991, cet environnement a évolué. Il a favorisé le pluralisme des médias et l’explosion de nouveaux métiers de l’information et de la communication. Par ailleurs, il est aussi caractérisé par des violations graves des libertés et des droits humains, des manquements graves à l’éthique et à la déontologie, l’instabilité politique et institutionnelle, les crises sécuritaire, sanitaire et socio-économique.

La relecture du cadre juridique et réglementaire des médias traduit la volonté des autorités faitières des médias et de leurs partenaires à doter le pays d’un environnement juridique propice au développement harmonieux des médias et à la consolidation de la démocratie.

Durant 4 jours, les participants repartis en 3 groupes ont travaillé sur 3 thématiques : la loi portant régime de la presse et délits de presse, la loi relative à l’accès à l’information, la loi fixant le régime de la publicité et des agences de communication au Mali. Le Genre et les droits des personnes handicapées sont restés des thématiques transversales.

Tous les textes soumis aux participants ont été relus ; des amendements et recommandations ont été proposés. Les participants ont remercié la Maison de la presse et ses partenaires, en l’occurrence le Ministère de la communication, de l’économie numérique et de la modernisation de l’administration, la Haute Autorité de la Communication et l’organisation JHR pour cette initiative d’amélioration de l’environnement structurel et opérationnel du secteur des médias au Mali.

Au Mali, la Maison de la Presse est partenaire à JHR depuis 2019 avec l’Union des Radios et Télévisions Libres et l’Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme et des Sciences de la Communication de Bamako.

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August 14 2021: Iraqi government promises to build three mental health centers

Sun, 10/10/2021 - 07:28

This week’s highlights

  • School for teen mothers in Kenya gets support
  • Iraqi government promises to build three mental health centers
  • Have you reserved your seats at Night For Rights? 
  • Webinar: COVID-19 & the triple threat of poverty, inequality and unemployment in South Africa

 School for teen mothers in Kenya gets support

 Greenland Girls’ staff and students pose with visitors at the school – Photo courtesy GGS’s Facebook page

A school for teen mothers in Kenya’s Kajiado County, Greenland Girls School, has received a boost in publicity and numerous pledges of support after journalist and JHR trainee Moraa Obiria interviewed its founder and CEO Purity Gikunda whom she met at a roundtable organized for civil society organizations by JHR’s Canada World: Voice for Women and Girls’ Rights (VWGR) program. 

In an article published in Nation Africa on July 23, Obiria and her co-author Charles Wanyoro describe the culture of discrimination against teenage mothers in mainstream Kenyan schools despite the enactment of national policies supporting their education, and highlight Greenland Girls as a rare, special school that “offers hope to teenage mothers”.  

Speaking about her school’s feature in the article, Gikunda said, “Seeing an article published in a leading newspaper [like] the Daily Nation was a joy. There was even more joy when I started receiving calls from organizations and individuals who pledged to support my school because we depend on donations to educate the girls and [care] for their babies. I have already received a call that soon we will get sanitary pads donated to us. All of this is happening because of the Nation story.” 

Gikunda says the school’s intake has also increased: “Many parents have started bringing their girls who are pregnant or gave birth to our school. I am happy they got to know there is a school that could give them a chance to continue with their education after early motherhood.” Read Gikunda’s full statement here


Iraq Ministry of Health announces
plan to build three mental health centres

Iraqi citizens have lived through four decades of wartime – and now a pandemic – with scant resources for mental health. As an article in Ayn Al-Iraq News by JHR-trained journalist Ja’afar Ali revealed,  Al-Rashad Psychiatric Hospital in Baghdad is the only mental health facility in Iraq and has received little to no support from the government after it was built 60 years ago. 

In the article, a member of the parliamentary committee on health admitted that mental health has not been a priority for the Iraqi government; however, he promised to push the government to allocate a portion of the federal budget to mental health care. 

In response to the JHR-supported story, the Iraqi Ministry of Health has announced a plan to build three centers for mental health in Iraq, adding that the ministry has also communicated directly with the cabinet to increase funding for the capacity-building of specialized medical staff and the overall development of the mental health care sector.

Help us continue this essential awareness-building work through JHR’s Mobilizing Media to Fight COVID-19 (MMFC) program. When journalists shine the light on human rights abuses and injustices, it leads to actual, life-changing impact. 

The above stories are part of the Mobilizing Media to Fight COVID-19 project funded by 

Have you reserved your seats
at Night For Rights 2021?

JHR is holding its annual Night for Rights gala dinner and party at the Brickworks Pavilion in Toronto on October 20, 2021, from 6pm to 8pm.  This year, mindful of potential public health concerns, we’re also offering our supporters the opportunity to join the party online with a fabulous virtual experience in the works!

Thank you to the Fisher family, Delaney family, Shelly Meadows, and our numerous other supporters for purchasing tables and tickets at the early bird rate. Tickets continue to sell fast and are available for purchase at at $1000 for a ticket and $8000 for a table of up to 8 seats.

We look forward to seeing you on October 20!

Webinar replay: COVID-19 & the triple
threat of inequality, poverty and
unemployment in South Africa

Last week, JHR’s MMFC program brought together a panel of economic experts to share their analysis of the South African government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and where course correction is needed.  

The panel was moderated by journalist and JHR media trainer Azola Dayile, and featured data-packed presentations by Nicholas Ngepah, Professor of Economics at the University of Johannesburg and Isobel Frye, Director of the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII).

Professor Ngepah said that the government-imposed lockdowns were not effective in controlling the spread of COVID-19 or preventing deaths due to the virus — and that better international border management was needed. He added that lockdowns led to greater suffering of poorer citizens due to rising food prices, malnutrition and higher infant mortality rates, and suggested that the government create work opportunities close to the homes of poor citizens in order to effectively restrict the movement of the population during the pandemic. 

Isobel Frye unpacked the government aid program (Social Relief of Aid (SRoD) grants) and made several recommendations for its improvement, notably that having short-term employment should not disqualify citizens from receiving social assistance. Watch the full webinar here.

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Meet Patrick Egwu, 2021-2022 JHR/Gordon N. Fisher Fellow at Massey College

Sat, 10/09/2021 - 08:32

The Gordon N. Fisher/JHR Journalism Fellowship at Massey College in the University of Toronto is an annual opportunity for a journalist from the Sub-Saharan Africa or the Middle East to participate in the William Southam Journalism Fellowship Program.

This year’s recipient of the Gordon N. Fisher/JHR Fellowship at Massey College is Patrick Egwu, a Nigerian freelance investigative journalist whose work on human rights, social justice, migration, and global health in sub-Saharan Africa has been published by Foreign Policy, NPR, Daily Maverick, Christian Century, America Magazine and elsewhere.

Patrick recently completed an Open Society Foundation fellowship on Investigative Reporting at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. He also has master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. In February, he won the 2021 International Center for Journalists’ Global Health Crisis Award for Covid-19 reporting.

We speak to Patrick to learn more about his goals for his fellowship.

What does receiving the JHR/Gordon N. Fisher fellowship at Massey College mean for you and your career?

I was really chuffed when I got the email back in June that I had been selected for this year’s fellowship. I’m quite aware how competitive the selection process is. So, I’m happy to be among the cohort for this year and the selection shows that my work, which highlights issues around human rights and social justice in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa, is recognized and appreciated by the esteemed judging committee. This is an honour that means a lot to me and will inspire my career and future projects. More than ever, with this fellowship, I am committed to continue reporting human rights and social justice issues not just in Nigeria, but elsewhere on the continent. 

What are you hoping to achieve during the fellowship and what are your future goals?

We are just a month into the fellowship and I feel like I’m currently having some of the best moments of my career. During this fellowship, I hope to do a deep-dive into social justice and human rights issues here in Canada, and their intersection with my work in my home country. I have already started this by taking some courses at the University of Toronto and the experience has been awesome. I have also been participating in events at Massey College and watching documentaries on Indigenous communities across the country. Last month, I attended the first annual National Truth and Reconciliation Day, which honours the children lost to residential schools in Canada. 

I have plans of doing some future projects on human rights and social justice because there is a litany of such issues in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. Some African leaders run repressive regimes and often clamp down on dissenting views and the civic space. For instance, protestors are shot and killed for demanding an end to police brutality, access to health care, clean water, better welfare, and good governance, among other issues. So, I want to continue reporting on issues like these. Specifically, I have plans of setting up a newsroom dedicated to reporting human rights and social justice among marginalized communities. I personally feel telling stories like these and seeing the impact they create is very important regardless of how dangerous they are and the threats we receive along the line. 

What do you wish people understood better about journalism in Nigeria?

Nigeria has a vibrant media landscape but is also a somewhat dangerous place to do journalism. There is media censorship. Newsrooms are raided by security forces, their websites and emails jammed and phones bugged while journalists are arbitrarily arrested and hunted for doing public interest stories that expose corruption and the officials involved. The civic space is currently under attack and about four months ago, the government banned the use of Twitter while citizens had to navigate the platform with VPNs. Three Nigerian journalists were killed between 2019 and 2020 while on assignments. 

However, despite this and the lack of funding and resources, Nigerian newsrooms are resiliently building a culture of journalism that can hold power to account. In addition, journalists in the country work under extremely poor welfare conditions and still produce some of the best quality journalism and projects that are recognized internationally and most importantly, shine a light on issues the ruling government wants hidden.



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MALI: JHR trainee Kouane Diarra wins big at 2021 Mali Media Awards for radio report on child marriage

Fri, 09/24/2021 - 11:06

JHR trainee Kouane Diarra is on an award-winning roll.

Diarra has won the special ‘Eve Award’ for his radio report on child marriage at the 2021 Mali Media Awards, held in Bamako on August 21, 2021. In his report, Diarra explores the consequences of early marriage for students at the Mafouné primary school. This latest honour follows his runner-up position in the radio category at JHR’s inaugural Human Rights Journalism Awards in June this year.

Diarra is a student at the Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme et des Sciences de la Communication de Bamako (ESJSC), one of JHR’s key implementing partners in Mali. He first participated in JHR training at a workshop on human rights journalism at ESJSC in March 2020. Following the training, he was awarded JHR’s story production grant and participated in several JHR-supported reporting field trips. During one such trip in the Fana region, Kouane was recognized by his school for his report on the difficult study conditions of children in the region.

About his latest win, Diarra said, “All these recognitions are because of JHR’s support thanks to whom I have learned how to involve all the parties in a report while using the P.A.N.E.L approach for good journalism.”

The 2021 Mali Media Awards, or MAMI 2021 for short, are organized by Tuwindi, a local not -for profit organization whose main mission is to strengthen good governance practices and democracy in Mali.

Since 2020, ESJSC has been teaching Human Rights Journalism using a curriculum developed by JHR as part of the “Strengthening the Media to Promote Inclusive Democracy in Mali” project supported by UNDEF.

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Wed, 09/01/2021 - 10:01


The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan set off a panicked exodus from Kabul and other cities. As the US and allied forces scrambled to pull out before the August 31 deadline, thousands upon thousands of Afghans confronted perilous odds in their attempts to flee the country.  

Canada has committed to resettling up to 20,000 Afghans. As of August 22, it has pulled 3,700 people out of Kabul. Many, fearing for their lives, remain behind and journalists and their families are especially visible and vulnerable to the current safety risks. Credible reports of threats and house-to-house hunts for journalists indicate the dangers of continuing to live in Afghanistan.




Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) is working with a coalition of journalists, human rights and media freedom organizations to safely evacuate journalists from Afghanistan. 

We are lobbying the Canadian and regional governments to prioritize the visa processing of Afghan journalists to facilitate their safe passage to Canada. We are also working with our partners on the ground to create safe routes of evacuation out of Afghanistan. 

JHR needs your support to raise $1,000,000 for this life-saving initiative. (This target is informed by costs related to JHR’s prior experience of evacuating journalists and staff safely from South Sudan in 2016.)




If you’re a journalist and want to support fellow Afghan journalists, you can sponsor them at the rate of $3000/month. For more information, please email us.  



français / French:

La prise de contrôle de l’Afghanistan par les Talibans a déclenché un exode effréné de Kaboul et d’autres villes. Alors que les forces américaines et alliées se sont précipitées pour se retirer avant la date limite du 31 août, des milliers d’afghans ont été confrontés à des obstacles périlleux dans leurs tentatives de fuir le pays.

Le Canada s’est engagé à accueillir jusqu’à 20 000 afghans. Au 22 août, le gouvernement canadien avait retiré environ 3 700 personnes de Kaboul. Les journalistes et leurs familles sont particulièrement vulnérables aux attaques de Talibans dû à leur grande visibilité et craignent pour leur vie. Les rapports crédibles de menaces et des fouilles maison par maison démontrent les dangers extrêmes auxquels font face les journalistes laissés derrière.



Don maintenant

Journalistes pour les droits humains (JDH) travaille avec une coalition de journalistes, d’organisations de défense des droits humains et de la liberté de la presse pour évacuer en toute sécurité les journalistes d’Afghanistan.

Nous exerçons des pressions pour que le gouvernement canadien et les gouvernements régionaux accordent la priorité au traitement des visas des journalistes afghans afin de faciliter leur passage au Canada en toute sécurité. Nous travaillons également avec nos partenaires sur le terrain pour créer des voies d’évacuation sûres hors d’Afghanistan.

JDH a besoin de votre soutien pour amasser 1,000,000 $ pour cette initiative qui va permettre de sauver des vies. (Cet objectif a été fixé en se basant sur les dépenses que JDH a effectué lorsque l’organisation a évacué en toute sécurité des journalistes et les membres du personnel du Soudan du Sud en 2016.)

Don maintenant


Si vous êtes journaliste et que vous souhaitez soutenir d’autres journalistes afghans, vous pouvez les parrainer à 3000 $/mois. Pour plus d’informations, veuillez nous envoyer un courriel

The post HELP JHR EVACUATE JOURNALISTS FROM AFGHANISTAN appeared first on Journalists for Human Rights (JHR).

Statement by JHR on Urgent Need for Evacuation from Kabul of Journalists, Humanitarian Workers and Afghans Fearing for their Safety

Wed, 08/25/2021 - 08:55

Toronto, August 25, 2021 – Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) Executive Director Rachel Pulfer called on Canada and the international community today

  • to simplify and expedite visa processes for Afghans fearing for their safety and wishing to leave Afghanistan,
  • to clearly open up resettlement opportunities to journalists and staff of humanitarian organizations currently within Afghanistan,
  • to provide armed escort to the airport and onto planes whether via Canadian Armed Forces or other allied government support
  • to change the criteria for resettlement to include Afghan journalists and their families currently at risk within Afghanistan
  • to work with allies to ensure land borders remain open to Afghans wishing to leave.

The need is particularly urgent for Afghan journalists, women journalists and staff of humanitarian organizations, who are visible targets.

Journalists for Human Rights is working with UNIFOR, World Press Freedom Canada, PEN Canada, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Canadian Afghan Lawyers Association, the International Women’s Media Foundation, CAJ, a local network of Afghan journalists and a network of humanitarian organizations to get affiliated Afghan journalists, women journalists and writers, human rights defenders, humanitarians and staff evacuated.

In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of Afghans have fled to neighbouring countries. Some countries have already prepared to take in a set number of arrivals in temporary shelters, while others have announced their intention to keep their borders closed.

JHR acknowledges that Canada has evacuated 1,700 people from Afghanistan this month, and committed to resettle 20,000 more. However, the process of evacuation and resettlement remains riddled with documentation requirements that do not respect the urgency of evacuation needs. The situation on the ground at Kabul airport remains extremely volatile.

Said JHR Executive Director Rachel Pulfer: “All journalists and fixers who have worked in some visible way with Western organizations are targets in this environment. Female journalists who take on public roles are particularly likely to be attacked. Journalists’ family members are also targets. JHR is currently committed, in partnership with other media freedoms and human rights organizations and the Canadian government, to leverage its knowledge and expertise working in other high conflict zones, to help journalists, especially women journalists, in Afghanistan who have worked with Canadian media organizations or have some other clear connection to Canada, and their families. That is why I’m asking for your support of this effort today.”

Afghan journalists and their families who have left the country in recent weeks must be kept safe and their rights must be protected under international law. There should be an immediate moratorium on all forced returns of Afghan nationals. Countries have an obligation under international law to allow refugees to ask for asylum and for safe passage.

Rachel Pulfer’s full statement is below:

“It is essential that priority be given to Afghan journalists, in particular female journalists and humanitarian workers, who are highly visible targets. It is also essential that journalists who are currently still in Afghanistan be included in criteria to be considered for resettlement in Canada, as right now that criteria only includes journalists in third countries. It is critical for these journalists and humanitarian workers to get safe passage to the airport to be evacuated. And it is important that countries keep their borders open and ensure that those arriving in their country are safe and their rights are protected. Countries should continue to accept Afghan journalists, female journalists, humanitarian workers and their families based on the humanitarian need.

“Canadians are outraged at scenes of desperation in Afghanistan, where thousands of Afghans are trying to leave the country and are unable to do so. As one of the countries involved in the mission in Afghanistan, we have a moral obligation to these people and we cannot abandon them.

“Reliable reports are emerging of journalists and humanitarian workers being hunted in Kabul. Other reports indicate that even those who have obtained visas cannot break through the cordon of armed men at the airport on their own. Meanwhile, too many countries are closing their borders and thousands of visa applications sit unprocessed.

“I am asking the international community to fulfil its obligation to the Afghan people which, right now, means urgently guaranteeing safe passage out of the country for Afghans at risk. Action must be taken to simplify and expedite visa processes, ensure those, especially journalists and fixers who are currently in grave danger, are included in resettlement criteria, and get people to the airport and onto planes safely.”

Journalists for Human Rights is an independent, impartial and politically neutral organization that works across conflict and post-conflict zones in particular to strengthen journalists’ ability to center human rights in their work.

To support JHR’s efforts to evacuate journalists from Kabul, please go to:

jhr JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS | Help evacuate journalists from Kabul Campaign | Canadahelps

Should you wish to support evacuation efforts for journalists, but more habitually support Canadian Association of Journalists, please support the organization at; JHR is working in partnership with CAJ on this urgent effort.

To support resettlement efforts please see Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan at

We urge journalists in Afghanistan seeking assistance and support with their evacuation to contact the Canadian government at

For press inquiries, please contact Mehreen Hasan:

For all other inquiries, contact Rachel Pulfer:

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