Press

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Launches Civic Space Case-Tracker

WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 29, 2023Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights today announced the public launch of the Civic Space Case-Tracker, an interactive tool mapping some of the most significant ongoing human rights cases around the world – particularly those related to freedom of expression, assembly, and association. The tracker is launched in partnership with CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organizations, and guided by strategic input from more than 90 organizations. It documents key civic space cases currently in courts in Africa and the Americas and serves as a needed resource for litigants, advocates, human rights defenders, and journalists.

“Over the last several years, the world has witnessed a concerning trend of democratic backsliding,” said Sofía Jaramillo, Senior Staff Attorney for Civic Space at RFK Human Rights. “Governments have clamped down on dissent, restricted the rights of assembly, speech, and association, and undermined the very essence of democracy. Opposition groups, human rights defenders, and journalists have found themselves marginalized and targeted as threats to the status quo.”

In response to this erosion of fundamental freedoms, RFK Human Rights designed the Case-Tracker to feature ongoing and emblematic civic space cases; highlight the local and national organizations litigating them; mobilize legal support and advocacy; foster collaboration; and serve as a reliable source on new cases, as well as worldwide civic space trends and risks. The tracker features case summaries, relevant resources, country contexts, and information about litigating organizations for over 65 ongoing cases.

“Our hope is that this resource empowers global actors, including civil society organizations, funders, and emergency response mechanisms, to gain inspiration from one another’s work and enhance their litigation strategies,” said Angelita Baeyens, VP of International Advocacy and Litigation at RKF Human Rights. “With stronger litigation strategies, there will be a greater chance to have positive outcomes on those cases and to strengthen civic space”.

RFK Human Rights began creating the Case-Tracker in 2020 through a multi-pronged process of collecting and reviewing publicly available data; conducting interviews with litigants, regional and international organizations, and experts; and building a complex case file to systematize information identified through the continuous involvement of more than 90 organizations representing over 65 emblematic cases already included in the platform.

The Case-Tracker has already enabled collaboration among organizations, including coordinating emergency funds for the protection of journalists and human rights defenders, the submission of more than 15 amicus briefs and advocacy letters in support of cases, and a variety of other technical legal support to strengthen case strategies. One remarkable example of the Civic Space Case-Tracker in action is the support mobilized for Milena Quiroz Jiménez, an Afro-Colombian women human rights defender facing criminalization and attacks for several years by the State authorities. The inclusion of her case in the Civic Space Case-Tracker has garnered international support from organizations that are now monitoring her case, attending public hearings, issuing press releases and letters, and participating in other advocacy activities on her behalf.

For more information, please visit https://civicspace-casetracker.rfkhumanrights.org or contact Amy Reid at [email protected].

###

About Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights:

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that has worked to realize Robert F. Kennedy’s dream of a more just and peaceful world since 1968. In partnership with local activists, we advocate for key human rights issues—championing change makers and pursuing strategic litigation at home and around the world. And to ensure change that lasts, we foster a social-good approach to business and investment and educate millions of students about human rights and social justice. Learn more at rfkhumanrights.org.