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Authoritarian regimes lack judicial independence and mechanisms for accountability, allowing them to arbitrarily detain, disappear, and torture pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders. As individuals operating in authoritarian regimes cannot seek independent judicial review or obtain redress domestically, HRF will provide them with pro bono advocacy before international semi-judicial bodies at the United Nations (UN), coupled with public advocacy campaigns.

This grant will enable HRF to significantly increase its number of submissions to the UN Special Procedures, aid considerably more individuals from a wider range of authoritarian regimes, and draw greater attention to threats to individual freedoms globally. During this project, HRF will produce 7 major outputs:

(1) 25 individual complaints to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD);
(2) 5 reports to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID);
(3) 5 urgent appeals to the UN Special Procedures;
(4) Advocacy campaigns, including programming at conferences such as the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF); (a) 6 panel discussions or high-level stakeholders’ roundtable discussions; and (b) 3 Impact Litigation Expo booths;
(5) 6 in-person meetings with UNWGAD staffers;
(6) 3 in-person meetings with the arbitrary detention working group.

Through these outputs, HRF seeks to provide justice and redress to 35 prisoners of conscience in authoritarian regimes and hold the regimes accountable. Moreover, HRF will raise awareness of the violations of civil and political rights in authoritarian regimes and, through its submissions, aid in developing international soft law. Finally, the project will create incentives for authoritarian regimes to cease political persecution. HRF has the expertise and track record to build on its prior success and engage in more intensive advocacy for individual freedoms and rights.