For over a decade, Human Rights Now has made a difference through our tireless work in collaboration with local people. Nevertheless, our goal to help establish a just and fair world has yet to be accomplished. We endeavor to strengthen our capacity and influence in order to protect even more people at risk and to make concrete progress toward a better world.
China ~ Business and Human Rights
In 2014, HRN conducted an undercover investigation into the supplier factories of Fast Retailing (FR), a major Japanese apparel company renowned globally for its brand name UNIQLO. The investigation was part of a joint project with a Hong Kong-based labour NGO to examine whether the human rights of the factory workers were being protected. Together with partner NGOs, HRN published an investigative report describing the details of exploitative labour conditions in two supplier factories, as well as carried out campaigns for the protection of human rights in global supply chains and the improvement of working conditions in Asian garment factories, all of which attracted much attention. FR acknowledged several facts pointed out in our report and published an action plan to improve the situation. HRN is currently engaged in a process of dialogue with FR to help bring forth positive changes on the matter.
India ~ Child Labour
In Meghalaya State, located in the northeastern part of India, it was estimated that in recent years more than 70,000 children have worked in hazardous mines annually and lost their lives after being exploited in slave-like conditions. Many of the child labourers were brought from Bangladesh and Nepal by human trafficking. In 2009, HRN and local partners from the Impulse NGO Network investigated the extremely hazardous situation of child labour in Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya, and published a report on it. We held a press conference in Delhi which attracted considerable attention from both India and the UN, and it brought positive attention to the matter. In 2014, hazardous mines in Meghalaya State were shut down, and the use of child labour in mines was prohibited based on the decision of the ‘Green Court’ in India, a special court established in 2010 to deal with environmental cases.
The Philippines ~ Extrajudicial Killings
In the 2000s, it was estimated that nearly 800 human rights activists were attacked and killed in the Philippines. At the request of a local NGO in 2007, HRN conducted a field investigation in the Philippines and concluded that the military and the police were strongly suspected of involvement in the murders through extra-judicial killings of human rights activists. Based on the findings, HRN called on the Philippine government to take immediate measures to prevent further killings, and it called on the Japanese government, the Philippines’ largest donor country, to suspend its assistance to the Philippines until the killings stop. HRN held a press conference to address the issue, which received a great response from both domestic and international communities. In cooperation with UN experts and other NGOs, HRN conducted an extensive advocacy campaign. As a result of increased international pressure, the number of murders in the country has been dramatically reduced.
Myanmar (Burma) ~ Towards Freedom and Democratization
Since 2007, HRN has been working in cooperation with local people to improve the human rights situation in Myanmar. We contributed to the current democratization process in Myanmar through a series of advocacy campaigns, including an international awareness-raising campaign and UN-level advocacy for adopting resolutions in Myanmar, with a special focus on the UN Human Rights Council.
HRN also co-organized the International Tribunal on Crimes against Women in Burma, an event held in Tokyo in 2010 after the New York Tribunal shed light on grave human rights violations against women conducted by Myanmar’s military government. Through the project, HRN made a strong appeal to the international community regarding the severity of violence against women perpetrated by the military regime.
Cambodia ~ Introducing Victims’ Perspectives in the Special Tribunal for Cambodia
The Khmer Rouge, a political party under Pol Pot that seized power in Cambodia in the late 1970s, committed countless grave human rights violations, including the torture and massacres of many civilians and intellectuals. When the Special Tribunal for Cambodia was established in 2006 to deal with these human rights violations, HRN offered support to ensure that the tribunal would lead to a successful peace-building process within Cambodian society.
In particular, HRN contributed to the introduction of a system for victims’ participation in the tribunal process. HRN published an opinion paper, “Justice for Victims”, and visited Cambodia to have a dialogue with relevant actors and stakeholders. As a result, a tribunal rule clearly established a process to allow victim participation in the proceedings. Today, many victims participate in the tribunal as a party, and they have started to break their silence by discussing their experiences openly within their communities.
Since 2007, HRN has supported a law school called Peace Law Academy (PLA) in Mae Sot, Thailand, near the border of Myanmar, with the aim of providing grassroots support for Myanmar youth who are striving to change their society under the legacy of the military dictatorship.
We have been empowering these youth, who are bearers of the country’s future, by providing them with a series of lectures and courses to teach on a wide range of topics, including international human rights standards, the international human rights framework for protecting rights on the ground, and comparative studies of various legal systems.
The school has produced three generations of graduates since 2007, with over 75 students, including ethnic minorities and women. Today, many of the graduates have returned to Myanmar and are actively working to promote human rights and democracy in the country.
Since 2014, HRN has operated a human rights education program inside Myanmar in collaboration with the Yangon Bar Association to provide human rights education to local lawyers and citizens.
HRN has provided a number of capacity-building programs to human rights defenders in Northeast Asia. HRN actively participates in a series of trainings for human rights NGOs in the region and works to strengthen networking among human rights defenders there.