Looking back at 2019 – A year full of challenges for the human rights defenders and activists throughout the world. Whereas the human rights defenders make a stand to defend the rights of other people, democratic values, or peace, very often they become the victims of persecution and harassment from the state. This is the continued tendency in many countries of the world nowadays including Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. The situation repeatedly forces human rights defenders together with their family members to leave homelands, places of residence, and move to other countries in order to find secure shelter. On our behalf, we offer commitment and safe shelter in Georgia to human rights defenders or activists from the above countries requiring rehabilitation. We hope that Georgia will preserve the status of the country offering the safe shelter in the region, and we will have a further possibility to serve the human rights defenders from other countries frequently needing complex support. Regretfully, apart from this, in 2019 we saw the increased need to support Georgian human rights defenders as well, and considering the problem, promoted our activity to this extent. We faced misleading accusation campaigns against Georgian human rights defenders, smear campaigns against activities of human rights organizations from the representatives of state institutions and high-ranking officials, cases of violence from the side of ultranationalists, and homophobic groups, including cases of physical assaults on human rights defenders. It is worth to mention that LGBT activists and defenders of their rights appeared under concentrated pressure. We are grateful for the chance to help 23 human rights defenders and their families from Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Russia, to advocate and offer legal and anti-burnout assistance to 34 Georgian human rights defenders in 2019. Together with our member organizations, we managed to provide legal and psychological assistance on time and to offer financial support and shelter for human rights defenders who overcame existing problems and most importantly managed to continue the defense of human rights.

We believe that alongside supporting human rights defenders, it is important to raise awareness on human rights issues and activities of human rights defenders, as well as identification of the young activist and offering them trainings and educational activities. We implemented the prioritized work in this direction with young women human rights defenders in 2019. In our opinion, women human rights defenders need special support and they often are the victims of double discrimination first of all as women in the conditions of gender inequality and second, as the human rights defenders. In 2019 we offered capacity building trainings up to 60 young women activists from Georgia and Azerbaijan about creative campaigning, social marketing, project development, and project implementation. 7 small grants were offered and assigned after completion of the training which gave the possibility to the young activists to make first steps in their project-planning and campaigning skills development.

We are glad that the mentioned activity developed and established new initiations. Successful participants of our trainings founded their own organizations and continue the human rights defending activities. We also provided 8 travel grants to young women human rights defenders that gave them the possibility to attend international conferences, scholarships, gain new contacts and international partners and use acquired knowledge for their activity in Georgia. Together with this, we met and discovered women who fight for changes and social problems arrangements in their communities and whose activities were not well known for the wide society. We worked with women from the regions of Georgia, representatives of ethnic minorities and women with disabilities and offered capacity building trainings together with small grants and helped them to be heard by the society through the
media campaign.

We will continue to support and strengthen the human rights defenders in 2020. Despite the crisis in the whole world from Covid-19, human rights defenders continue their activities and protect other’s rights even in emergency situations.

In 2020 we will work more actively to give an opportunity to human rights defenders to continue their activities. We have the aim to live in the state where the importance and role of human rights defenders and human rights defending organizations in the protection of human rights, democracy building, and development of the civil society are recognized and where human rights defenders are provided with effective protection mechanisms.

Review of the Year 2019 Activities