Activists defending human rights under pressure: How government restrictions impact on civil society work

We're running an event with the Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR). You can find out all thee details and where to register below! 

Three human rights defenders from Niger, Pakistan and a country in East Asia discuss the different kinds of pressure and challenges they face from their respective governments when trying to conduct human rights work. They face silencing, surveillance, intimidation and detention - and yet they and their colleagues fight to be heard both in their own countries and internationally. What are their strategies under increasing pressure? How do they make sure to stay safe?


  • Ali Idrissa is the director of ROTAB, a civil society organisation in Niger that works on transparency in the extractive industry sector. He has worked in human rights since the 1990s, and currently focuses on the impact of corruption and pollution in the country's gold and uranium mining sectors.
  • Urooj Fatima is a Pakistani journalist. She has reported on human rights issues particularly focusing on children's rights, such as sexual abuse and children in armed conflict.
  • Jessie is an East Asian human rights researcher with six years of experience working in an increasingly restrictive human rights environment.

Protective Fellowship Scheme

All speakers are currently participating in the Protective Fellowship Scheme for human rights defenders at risk at the Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR), University of York. The Protective Fellowship Scheme has operated since 2008 and aims at creating medium- to long-term social change in the countries and communities the Fellows come from. During their time at York, the Fellows receive human rights skills training, work on a research project and get opportunities to network with government and civil society organisations in the UK.


Lucy and Rosh, combined songwriting forces in 2019 to make acoustic music that takes from the folk tradition, but tell modern tales of political anger and personal hope. Expect harmonies, crunchy chords and songs for these times.


  • 5.30pm - 6.15pm: Arrival with music and pay as you feel food from South Street Kitchen 
  • 6.15pm - 6.30pm: Intro to the fellowship scheme and what they do
  • 6.30pm - 7.00pm: Brief intro from each HRD
  • 7.00pm - 7.45pm: Panel discussion with the three HRD’s
  • 7.45pm - 8.00pm: Q&A from audience
  • 8.00pm - 9.00pm: Music and Cash bar

Register Here