Hivos International

Digital Security and Information Management: Essential tools in Human Rights work

On Wednesday 5 July two consultants, Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner, were arrested while they were facilitating a workshop for human rights defenders in Istanbul, Turkey. What kind of workshop was this, and in which context do these trainings take place?

The Hivos-funded training was aimed at helping Turkish civil society organisations build essential awareness and skills on the management of information, as well as how to deal with stress and trauma in the context of their work. The content of the trainings typically includes basic device maintenance, safe navigation of the internet, and mobile phone privacy. Moreover, many human rights defenders face threats to their well-being due to prolonged exposure to high workloads, among other things. With that in mind, this training also aimed to facilitate awareness and key tools for managing stress, trauma and crises. 

Such trainings are common practice among human rights organisations, which often deal with sensitive and personal information related to the individuals and communities they serve. Hivos supports such trainings on an ongoing basis throughout the world: they provide essential knowledge and capacities in order for human rights defenders to have the tools they need to carry out their work effectively.

Since 2014, Hivos has been working closely with both Ali and Peter. We co-designed a programme to support civil society organisations in improving their information management and overall organisational well-being. We have come to know them both as professional, reliable and trusted trainers. They are committed to nonviolence and human rights, and are always ready to help. 

Freedom of expression
Freedom of expression and independent media are basic requirements for citizens to stay informed and be critically engaged in society. It provides for the necessary checks and balances and increases stability and effective government in any country. Today, safeguarding this freedom necessarily involves consolidating internet freedom. Protection of online privacy and information freedom is more important than ever, as freedom of expression around the world continues to decline.

Indispensable tool
The Internet has become an indispensable tool for promoting social justice and political liberty, used by citizens worldwide to fight for their rights, demand accountability, and amplify marginalised voices. Moreover, Ali and Peter’s work is key in empowering civil society in the current global context.