In December 2020, IPHR launched a new initiative – the “Human Rights Impact Hub”. It focuses on three innovative areas of human rights litigation that are currently underexplored in the region: universal jurisdiction (UJ), targeted sanctions and climate justice. The Hub’s mission is to provide lawyers with the practical skills necessary for successful litigation in these areas.
IPHR responded to the post-election crisis in Belarus by deploying monitors to investigate and document allegations of the excessive use of force by law enforcement authorities and other human rights violations in the immediate aftermath of the elections.
We documented the widespread and systematic persecution of civil society leaders by gathering testimonies from Belarusian citizens who had been forced to flee to neighbouring countries.
This evidence will be used to support our request to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation in relation to the current situation in Belarus.
In August, we teamed up with Bellingcat to collect, verify and analyse open source evidence of right violations occurring in Belarus.
After months of collection and verification of material evidence by more than 50 volunteers and experts, we created an interactive online map, which offers visual access to our documentation of human rights violations in Belarus.
As new hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region in late September 2020, IPHR together with our Ukrainian partner Truth Hounds organised a monitoring and training mission to Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Our documentation efforts focused on grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions regardless of who committed them.
Truth Hounds’ team conducted practical trainings on documenting violations of international humanitarian law for Azeri and Armenian CSO representatives while visiting the respective capitals.
IPHR organised a series of webcasts to advocate our monitoring results and recommendations regarding state responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on human rights. All webcasts were conducted via Zoom and livestreamed via Facebook.
Outreach to Grassroot Organisations in Central Asia
A new strand of IPHR’s work in Central Asia in 2020 allowed us to undertake outreach and provide support to small, grassroots civil society groups in the region.
IPHR assisted several new partners with fundraising applications, and, with the approval of our board of Central Asian experts, we allocated some 25 small grants to local civil society groups providing assistance to vulnerable groups of the population, as well as for emergency assistance.
Based on systematic monitoring, IPHR and partners prepared a series of reports assessing the human rights impact of state responses to COVID-19.
We published country reports on the COVID-19 impact in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine (including Crimea).
In addition, we published a regional overview of key trends affecting the protection of fundamental rights in Central Asia during the pandemic, highlighting similarities and differences in the governments’ responses to the crisis in the five countries of this region.
In an effort to expand our outreach and tap into the possibilities offered by the growing popularity of podcasting as a medium of communication, we launched an IPHR podcast– Human Rights Survival Guide.
The podcast features experts, local activists and policy makers who speak about current human rights issues, challenges and opportunities for global civil society.
Based on an IPHR field trip to Tajikistan in 2019, during which we visited five local women’s support groups, we launched an information campaign called #НЕТЕРПИНАСИЛИЕ in support of victims of domestic violence and women’s self-help groups. The campaign features five videos sharing individual stories of women helping each other to cope with trauma and start a new life free from domestic violence.