Human Rights 75 Initiative: Why we pledge

14 December 2023 |

By Jennifer Gaspar, Araminta Founding Partner and Managing Director


Every day is a struggle. You work as a human rights lawyer tirelessly defending citizens who have been arrested for exercising their fundamental rights.


Based on trumped up charges you are thrown into prison where you languished for more than a year.

You became gravely ill in prison and were refused medical care. When you were finally released from prison – punished, broken, and sick – you continued to work.

You accepted an invitation to speak at an international conference for human rights lawyers in Europe. While attending the conference, you received more credible threats from law enforcement in your home town related to your defense of citizens against their attackers in cases of alleged police abuse. You knew that if you returned, you would face physical danger and likely arrest – again. Because of your previous prison record, the EU country where the conference was held only granted you a 3-day visa. There is no time to make a security plan, an no option to extend that visa while in Europe.


You can claim asylum immediately, stay in Europe and violate the terms of your visa, or return home in the face of threats and wait for a new visa. You chose to return and apply again. The process took weeks, during which you had to live underground in safe houses to avoid putting your family in danger.

The threats continue. You know that you cannot stay in your home country, but you are determined to continue your human rights work as soon as it is safe to return. What do you do? Where can you live? You are fortunate to receive a visa and a fellowship in Europe for a 3-month  program. The threats haven’t subsided. You have run out of options, and you unwillingly apply for asylum, separating you indefinitely from your family, your community, your livelihood, your work.


Would you claim asylum and risk indefinite separation from your loved ones? Would you face danger and return? Would you violate the terms of your visa and stay illegally in Europe? This is one of countless stories of human rights defenders whose hope to remain safely in Europe until danger subsides is riddled with bureaucratic challenges, and dead ends.


Today is Human Rights Day and the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration and yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the signing of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. We live and work by the words in these documents. To bring them alive and support those around the world putting their lives and livelihoods on the line for all of us, Araminta has partnered with FairPlanet to carry out a promise:

Using real stories and illustrative cases of human rights defenders – we pledge to educate policymakers and decision-makers on the role that the EU and member states must play in protecting human rights defenders through providing swift facilitation of travel in cases of emergency, for temporary respite, and professional networking purposes. We will work through networks of human rights NGOs in Europe to promote existing recommendations for policy and procedural changes and highlight best practices that will lead to changes in the EU visa handbook to recognize HRDs as a special category by December 2024.

Watch a video based on the story above:


Read more:

Araminta’s pledge for the Human Rights 75 Initiative

Human Rights 75: Araminta and Fair Planet launch joint campaign to support HRDs