The Fund to Protect Civic Space and Freedoms

Across the globe, RFK Human Rights protects civic space by defending fundamental freedoms—to express dissent, hold leaders accountable, and speak truth to power—on behalf of journalists, opposition groups, and human rights defenders in fragile democracies—including right here in the United States

The right to dissent—the protection of civic space—is the basic right upon which all others are based. Yet governments around the world are curtailing people’s rights to freedom of assembly, association, and expression, as well as their right to criticize government without fear of reprisal. It is estimated that today, only 4 percent of the world’s population lives in a place where peaceful civic activism is protected.

At a time when journalists in particular face unprecedented hostility and violence, we recognize and celebrate their critical role in upholding democracies worldwide through the RFK Journalism Awards. In our strategic litigation and advocacy work, we have taken on cases of unjustly jailed journalists and crackdowns on free speech.

We won the first case in the history of Latin America to hold a government internationally responsible for the killing of a journalist. Together with the Inter-American Press Association, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights sued Colombia in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on behalf of the family of Nelson Carvajal, a journalist who was murdered for publishing stories on local corruption and collusion.

To avert the further closing of civic space and to restore rights, in November 2019 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and the Vuka! Coalition for Civic Action launched a task force of advocacy groups to pursue strategic litigation aimed at protecting crucial civic freedoms around the world. Member organizations will use emblematic cases to bring about broad, far-reaching structural change.

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