Human Rights Day: Tribute to civil society


Brussels, 10/12/2015 – On Human Rights Day this 10 December, Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) pays tribute to civil society organisations (CSOs) committed to the defence of human rights. These partners of ASF such as human rights associations and bar associations work to make justice accessible to everyone, including the most vulnerable groups of people. Whether in Burundi, Tunisia or Chad, where their working conditions are sometimes difficult, these CSOs are on the front line when it comes to promoting fundamental rights. 

ASF conceives and implements its projects for access to justice with civil society organisations (CSOs). The area of activity that is the advocacy and defence of human rights gives these partnerships a unique dimension.

“Our partners sometimes work in difficult conditions, such as in Burundi. Lawyers of the Bar of Bujumbura need to ensure that detainees’ rights of defence are respected under the applicable laws, which is not always easy at the moment,” explains Catherine Lalonde, ASF Strategic Coordinator for the African Great Lakes region.

Under these conditions, the work of CSOs as the bearer of positive change must be recognised and encouraged. In this respect, the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet is more than symbolic. “Two union and industry organisations and two of our partners – the Tunisian Order of Lawyers and the Tunisian Human Rights League – received this prize. In our view, this is recognition of the role that civil society played in the democratic governance following the Arab Spring,” says Antonio Manganella, ASF Head of Mission in Tunis. In total ASF has four partners in Tunisia.

The relationship with partners is enriching and provides an opportunity to share experiences, as well as being an expression of solidarity. “We are supportive of Belgium and its population,” stated Ali Mbodou, Vice-President of the Association pour la Promotion des Libertés Fondamentales in Chad (APLFT) when Brussels was at maximum alert. The population of Chad has suffered several attacks in recent months, including one on 5 December 2015, which resulted in around one hundred victims. The APLFT is one of the three CSOs supported by ASF in terms of legal advice and assistance in Chad.

ASF works together with 20 national partners in eight countries. In DR Congo, the ASF teams work with no fewer than seven Congolese bar associations. These collaborations make assistance for populations more effective and encourage the sustainability of changes in terms of justice.

Coverpicture: the Tunisian Order of Lawyers and the Tunisian Human Rights League (above),  the Association des Femmes Juristes, the Public Interest Law Centre and the Association pour la Promotion des Libertés Fondamentales in Chad (in the middle), and the Bar of Bujumbura (below), are some of ASF’s partners © ASF and F.Belaid/AFP