MAKING A CHANGE
The shifting of human rights practices and attitudes can seem like an uphill struggle. Change is often glacial, but human rights defenders always get results.
"I was also victim of a crime, and if I can do something so that they can obtain the justice that I didn’t have I’m going to do it." Mayela Hernandez
Mayela Hernandez is the legal support coordinator of the migrant shelter, Casa del Migrante de Saltillo, Mexico. Since 2002, the Casahas been fighting for the human rights of migrants transiting through Mexico. The humanitarian support that the Casa provides to migrants includes medical and psychological care for those who need it, as well as legal assistance with the migratory process and deportation cases.
"The satisfaction of this work is to see that a bit of what you do has some benefit for them, and that has more weight that the risk we face." Mayela Hernandez
"In the past bringing those responsable to justice was not part of the discussion at all, but with the arrest of the Nepali officer in UK a sense of fear was injected. That was a huge achievement." Mandira Sharma
On 3 January 2013, UK authorities arrested Colonel Kumar Lama of the Nepal Army and charged him with two counts of torture under Universal Jurisdiction law. Due to their work on the case, Mandira and her colleagues were called traitors in the Nepalese media, elements of which incited violence against them. The District Administration Office also informed Advocacy Forum that there would be an investigation into its activities.
Lawyer and human rights defender Mandira Sharma co-founded Advocacy Forum in 2001, Nepal’s trail blazing organisation of human rights lawyers.
"This case helped address the deep rooted problem of impunity and empowered human rights defenders and victims to explore new opportunities." Mandira Sharma
"whatever opportunity I have to make even the smallest change, will keep me working as a defender" Sandra Alarcón
"The people we work for are my hope, my motivation. The work of a human rights defender is hard and without their example I wouldn’t continue. Their example and the possibility of supporting them is what makes me continue here." Sandra Alarcón
Sandra Alarcon is a 25 year old human rights lawyer, working for the Human Rights Centre of Montaña de Tlachinolan, in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. Early in her career, she realised that there are groups of people, like indigenous communities, that are particularly vulnerable and had nobody to defend them. She was drawn to human rights and stayed in Guerrero, one of the most dangerous and complex states in Mexico, precisely because of that, because of the possibility to make a difference.
"I lost so many friends to extrajudicial killings. Most of them were innocent, and for those who were not you just need to let the courts do their work." Faith Kasina
Faith Kasina is a co-ordinator of the Kayole Social Justice Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. For years, the urban settlement of Mathare has suffered various forms of structural violence, including: land grabbing, forced evictions, police abuse and extrajudicial killings, political impunity and other economic, social and psychological violations. This violence has been allowed to continue without retribution for the community, especially as most continue to live in fear of the consequences of standing up for their rights.
The social justice movement's mission is to promote social justice in the informal settlements by means of community engagement and the use of social movement platforms. Since 2015, the movement has undertaken a number of organizing activities with all cross-sections of the community and have focused on the documentation of extrajuridical killings.
"I realised that lamenting at home wasn't enough, we needed to get organised and do something about it." Faith Kasino
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