Oslo to host human rights defenders

News | Posted on Monday 24 October 2022

Next year Oslo will be welcoming the first human rights defenders to the city.

The city council of Oslo, Norway, announced in October 2022 that they will allocate funding for the project in 2023. With this funding, the pilot project “Breathing Space City” can finally be made a reality. Providing human right defenders (HRDs) with some much needed breathing space for three months.

Amnesty International Norway is the largest financial contributor to the project, and one of five organizations behind the initiative, together with Oslo municipality.

During the pilot project period of two years, Oslo will be the host city for a total of eight human rights defenders. The aim is to provide human rights defenders from challenging areas with much-needed breathing space for a few months in Oslo.

"Everyone is now seeing what is happening in Putin's Russia, and we see similar authoritarian tendencies all over the world. Basic human rights are under increasing pressure and protecting people who defend these rights is more important than ever. This is the reason why Amnesty has contributed funds, and we would like to commend the city council for making this initiative possible." - John Peder Egenæs, Secretary General of Amnesty Norway.

One of those who works with Breathing Space City in Amnesty is Ida M Hansen, a former student at CAHR:

“Meeting the Human Rights defenders in York and listening to their stories and struggles made such an impact on me. When I started working at Amnesty, I wanted to take part in this project because I knew what it could mean for the defenders involved.”

Amnesty Norway has used experiences from the Protective Fellowships for HRDs in York when designing their own project.

“Being able to talk to those responsible at CAHR to learn from their experiences has been of great value to us.”

Ida M Hansen is now Head of the Individuals at Risk Programme at Amnesty Norway. Welcoming HRDs to Oslo is, the way she sees it, an important part of local human rights work. Activists are very keen to take part in the project:

“I know what it means in terms of bringing human rights to the local level. In the same way as I got to know human rights defenders when studying in York, activists in Amnesty Norway will now be able to meet and engage with human rights defenders who come to Norway. In my opinion, such meetings are crucial. The activists will get a broader understanding of why fighting for human rights is so important.”