The GDP Participates in the 22nd International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights

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    Global Detention Project

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Between 8-17 March, Geneva hosted its 22nd International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH). Hosted at the heart of the “international capital of human rights,” the festival is one of the world’s most important events dedicated to human rights and cinema. Every year, the festival exposes human rights violations through films and debates, in the presence of filmmakers, human rights defenders, politicians, and other experts.

As part of its participation in this year’s Impact Days, the GDP met with directors and producers of three films nearing completion. These meetings provided an opportunity to assist filmmakers in developing advocacy impact messages and strategies that can be employed when their films are released. Amongst the films that the GDP discussed this year were I Made a Mistake Coming Here, Son of the Streets, and The Pickers.

Geneva “Grand Prix

Also this year, the GDP’s Research Fellow Abdul Aziz Muhamat, the 2019 laureate of Geneva’s prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, was invited to join Alain Kassandra, Ella Glendining, Mariana Lorenzo (Maremoto), and Chadi Aoun as a member of the International Jury responsible for selecting the festival’s Creative Documentary award winner. After considerable deliberation, the jury was delighted to award the Geneva Grand Prix (worth CHF 10,000) to Name Me Lawland.

Portraying the journey of a deaf Kurdish teenager in exile who discovers the potency of communication, the jury noted that “Through immersive filmmaking and intricate sound design, we are drawn into the personal journey of a young boy navigating childhood trauma and displacement, all while endeavouring to find his footing in today’s challenging world. A tribute to all of the children out there confronting the extraordinary.”

Human Rights Defenders in Exile

Muhamat also spoke as a panellist at the festival’s sideline event: “Resisting in Exile: Voices of Human Rights Defenders.” This event sought to amplify the voices of exiled human rights defenders from around the world before the Council of States, UN experts, and international civil society colleagues, with an aim of raising awareness of the plight of persons in exile, strengthening support mechanisms for them, and inspiring action to ensure that exile does not become defenders’ sole option.

Amongst various recommendations made during the event, Muhamat argued that:

  1. Governments and international organisations must provide robust protection to human rights defenders in exile. This includes ensuring their safety and security, providing them with legal assistance and psychosocial support, and holding accountable those responsible for threats and attacks against them.
  2. The need to amplify the voices of human rights defenders in exile and raise awareness about their plight. By sharing their stories and highlighting the challenges they face, one can mobilise greater support for their cause and put pressure on governments to take action to protect them.
  3. The necessity of providing human rights defenders in exile with the resources and support they need to continue their activism. This includes funding for their activities, access to training and capacity-building programmes, and assistance with securing legal status and residency in their countries of refuge.
  4. The importance of standing in solidarity with human rights defenders in exile and supporting their efforts to promote justice and equality in their home countries. Whether it’s through letters of support, solidarity campaigns, or attending protests and rallies, we must show our unwavering support for those who continue to fight for human rights despite the challenges they face.

More information about the event is available here.