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Pro-Democracy and Good Governance Advocates

The Justice Defenders Program supports pro-democracy and good governance advocates that expose corruption, police brutality, and other forms of government misconduct. 

Please see below for examples of our public work involving pro- democracy and good governance advocates.


Invisible Threats: Online Hate Speech against Human Rights Defenders

The Justice Defenders Program asked the International Human Rights and International Law Clinic at the University of Connecticut School of Law to examine whether the content moderation policies of SMCs are sufficient to mitigate the risk of violence from online hate speech against human rights defenders in Guatemala. This study focused on the situation in Guatemala to illustrate the need for more targeted content moderation policies and practices.


Saudi Arabia: Counterterror Court Targets Activists

The Justice Defenders Program drafted a report on the misuse of Saudi Arabia's Specialized Criminal Court, a body originally created to prosecute terrorism suspects, to target activists. The Program interviewed individuals familiar with proceedings in the SCC and reviewed judgments, public reports, press statements, and other materials concerning the court.  The report concluded that the SCC routinely convicts individuals of terrorism charges without any meaningful evidence.  


In Defense of José Marcos Mavungo

The Justice Defenders Program asked pro bono lawyers to prepare a petition to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of Swazi human rights activist José Marcos Mavungo. Mr. Mavungo was convicted in 2015 and sentenced to six years in prison for organizing a demonstration on human rights violations and bad governance in Cabinda Angola. The UNWGAD’s opinion ruled that José Marcos Mavungo’s arrest and detention were arbitrary and in violation of international human rights standards. The UNWGAD called on the government of Angola to immediately release José Marcos Mavungo and grant him compensation. Mr. Mavungo was subsequently released.


Zimbabwe: Open for Business or Business as Usual?

The Justice Defenders Program drafted a report on the unlawful criminalization of Zimbabwean democracy activist Pastor Mvan Mawarire. As recently as 2017, Pastor Mawarire was arrested and charged with subverting a constitutional government in terms and, in the alternative, the lesser charge of incitement to public violence for exercising his constitutional right to protest matters of bad governance, corruption and human rights abuses. The Program highlighted that Zimbabwe’s president Emerson Dambudzo has repeatedly stated that the country is “open for business” as an attempt at rebranding a system of repression and corruption that appears to remain in full force.