2014 Victories

The Fund identifies organizations that are leading the charge for protection and enforcement of human rights, building on-the-ground demand for change, and feeding into global efforts to press for equality, justice and accountability.

Here are some of our grantees’ accomplishments in 2014 broken down by issue:

Ending Impunity

Years of advocacy and litigation by Fund grantees led Mexico to abolish military jurisdiction over human rights abuses committed by soldiers against civilians. Previously, the military had enjoyed near total impunity: despite thousands of reported cases, only 46 soldiers were sentenced for human rights violations by military courts between 2006 and 2013.

A Guatemalan judge ordered the trial of two ex-military officers on charges of murder, forced disappearances, and crimes against humanity, including holding 15 women as sexual slaves at a military base for six months. Grantees ECAP and MTM provided legal representation and other support to the victims.

Children’s Rights

Grantee SAGUIPED secured the repatriation of twenty-two children trafficked into Senegal from Guinea. SAGUIPED also pursued legal action to bring the perpetrators to justice, which resulted in the conviction of three traffickers–a rare occurrence in Guinea

Women’s Rights

Thanks to sustained activism by Fund grantees and others, Tunisia’s new constitution guarantees equal rights for women and protection from gender-based violence.

Grantees PAJHRA and Nazdeek secured a landmark World Bank investigation into the slavery-like conditions of tea pickers, 60% of whom are women, on plantations owned by multinational company Tetley. Pregnant workers are regularly forced to engage in strenuous manual labor and granted little access to healthcare.

Following a multi-faceted campaign by Moroccan grantees, the Moroccan Parliament voted unanimously to delete a clause in the country’s penal code that allowed convicted rapists to escape prison time by marrying their victims.

Migrants’ Rights

Mexican grantee FJEDD obtained a hard-fought agreement from the Attorney General to create a Forensic Commission to analyze the remains of migrants massacred in Mexico. Thus far, 11 cases have been solved, bringing families one step closer to truth and justice.

Thai grantee HRDF won $143,220 on behalf of the child migrant nicknamed Air, who was abused by a Thai couple who kept her as a slave for five years. The high-profile case shed a spotlight on the rights violations so many migrant workers endure.

Labor Rights

Using a strategic process of negotiation and mediation, Pakistani grantee GRDO secured the release of 580 bonded brick kiln laborers in Sindh province.

Years of advocacy by NASVI led Indian lawmakers to pass a bill protecting the rights of 3.2 million street vendors, long vulnerable to harassment and violence by government authorities. The law establishes a licensing system, designated vending zones, and an oversight committee.

Prisoners’ Rights

In Sierra Leone, CARL successfully advocated for the passage of a Correctional Service Act, which prohibits corporal punishment for detainees and makes provisions for inmates with special needs.

Resource Rights and Corporate Accountability

In Guatemala—where 70 percent of people practice small-scale farming—grantees, along with Mayan communities and other organizations, convinced the Congress to repeal a law thatwould have had devastating consequences for indigenous farming communities. The law would have introduced genetically modified seeds and given tremendous power to transnational companies, including Monsanto, over the country’s agriculture.

In Taunsa Sharif, Pakistan, MAUJ organized communities whose lands have been flooded due to poorly designed water development projects. Their collective action persuaded the provincial government to improve flood controls and recognize the water-use rights of more than 10,000 farmers.

Tlachinollan won the first-ever national ruling against a mining concession in Mexico, when a judge suspended a concession granted without the consent of the indigenous Me’phaa community of San Miguel. Tlachinollan continues to accompany the case through appeals and plans to use it challenge the constitutionality of Mexico’s exploitative mining law.

LGBTI Rights

In July, Uganda’s Constitutional Court annulled the repressive Anti-Homosexuality Act. Fund grantees led the coalition of organizations that fought for its repeal and filed legal challenges; they continue to oppose efforts to reintroduce the legislation.

Pressure by Fund grantees saw the Philippines vote in favor of a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity resolution at the UN for the first time, helping to ensure its passage.

Following outreach by grantee Dignity, the conservative Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leonebegan to integrate LGBTI issues into its work, including covering LGBTI rights in its annual report for the first time.

Activism Under Threat

Thanks to Equality Myanmar, the final draft of Burma’s Association Bill makes NGO registration with the government voluntary, and does not restrict access to foreign funding—two provisions critical to enabling civil society to operate openly and effectively.