The killings and crackdown of human rights defenders globally

On the show this month, international human rights lawyer, Doreen Chen on how the demise of the rule of law is affecting human rights defenders.

Doreen also talks about her human rights-centric input in the drawing up for various global authorities of counter-terrorism responses.

Doreen is the co-founder of a non-profit, Destination Justice, which she also runs. The organisation advances human rights and the rule of law. It works primarily with human rights defenders – people who work peacefully to promote and protect human rights. Doreen links the killing and crackdown of human rights defenders globally with a worldwide decline in the rule of law.

Most of the human rights defenders being killed are those working to protect the land, environment or indigenous people’s rights. Doreen discusses this in the context of Asia, where she has her focus, and she also discusses the precarious human rights conditions for people exercising their basic freedoms in Thailand.

As a lawyer and litigator, she believes that the right to a fair trial is a cornerstone to respecting the rule of law and democracy, and in that context works with various actors in centering human rights in counter-terrorism responses. She says there is a rich tapestry of different actors working to counter the threat of terrorism, especially since 9/11 and she works with various authorities globally. She says, “we need to be level-headed, especially in cases like terrorism, when the circumstances are triggering us to behave otherwise.” She says the underlying theme of the rule of law and democratic resilience is why she does this work.

Doreen says her invitation to participate in these different policy spaces, as an international human rights lawyer, is evidence of the approaches that are being taken now, twenty years after the terrorist attacks against New York City and Washington D.C. while mentioning widely publicised shortcomings in prior processes adhering to human rights law, namely extensive detention, extraordinary rendition and torture of suspects.

According to the latest statistics in the Global Terrorism Index, from ReliefWeb – a UN service - Afghanistan is the country most impacted by terrorism for the fourth consecutive year, but it’s the Sahel region in sub-Saharan Africa which is now the epicenter of terrorism. Doreen discusses the known drivers of terrorism, saying people who live within weak legal systems are at particular risk of terrorist activity. For Doreen, she believes human rights standards need to be lifted across the board to eliminate the potential for terrorists to exploit weaknesses.


Presented and produced by Evelyn McClafferty.
With thanks to our donors: Irish Aid.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this episode do not necessarily represent those of IRLI or Irish Aid.



Destination Justice

Rule of Law Index - World Justice Project

Global Terrorism Index - ReliefWeb


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