What are human rights?
They are rights and freedoms to which all people are entitled, simply because they are human beings. They safeguard everyone’s life and dignity, while also limiting the powers of agents of the State over citizens. They are recognized by international instruments signed by States, as well as domestic laws and regulations, the most prominent of which are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966).
How does Conectas choose what issues and countries to work on?
By cross-referencing two variables: the need of the context and the capacity of the organization to intervene positively in this context, whether directly or in collaboration with local partners.
Why does Conectas focus on the Global South? Aren’t there any violations in countries of the North?
Because Conectas is an organization founded and based in the Global South (Africa, Asia and Latin America) and equipped to work on the synergy between organizations from the region, where 80% of the world’s population is found and where extremely serious human rights violations occur. Violations in the North are addressed by Conectas whenever they involve countries of the South. For example, the illegal imprisonment of citizens from various Middle Eastern countries at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, in Cuba, by the United States authorities, a topic the organization has already tackled in one of the editions of the International Human Rights Colloquium.
Why does Conectas work on international issues and foreign policy when there are so many problems here in Brazil?
Because Brazil is part of a world that is increasingly more interconnected and interdependent. Violations against Haitian immigrants in the northern Brazilian state of Acre, for example, can only be combatted effectively by actions that draw on bodies such as the Organization of American States (OAS), in Washington, United States, and the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva, Switzerland, in addition, of course, to collaboration with partner organizations in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and actions that involve bordering countries, such as Peru and Bolivia. Since its foundation, Conectas has been strengthening connections between human rights organizations from the Global South by staging a major international colloquium and publishing an international journal called SUR, which is distributed in more than 100 countries. Since every international problem is, to begin with, a local problem for some community, this kind of coordinated action beyond our borders is essential. As such, the actions taken on the domestic level by the Justice Program are developed in tandem with the work conducted by the Foreign Policy and Human Rights program, and they function as integrated and complementary - never exclusionary - areas.
Where does Conectas get the information on which it bases its work?
From a team of more than 30 people who work at the organization’s head office, in São Paulo, and also in Brasília (Brazil) and Geneva (Switzerland). The team is formed by people of different nationalities, from different working fields and with different academic and professional backgrounds. In addition, the organization relies on regional ‘connectors’ who work at the organization’s head office in partnership with a large number of our partners in social movements and other NGOs, and with academics, journalists and human rights defenders.
Where does Conectas get its funding from?
Conectas is funded by private Brazilian and international foundations and by development agencies. A complete list of our donors is available here. Conectas does not accept donations from the Brazilian government. All the financial transactions of Conectas are independently audited. For 2013/2014, the audit is being performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The organization’s financial statements and annual reports are available here.
How does Conectas balance the interests of its donors with the strategic priorities of its programs?
Conectas guides its actions based on strategic and operational planning - developed with the broad participation of the entire team. The goal, strategies and activities contained in the planning are defined completely independently and are submitted to the organization’s Board of Trustees, which has 12 members serving two-year terms and an Executive Committee formed by 5 of the members. The organization’s donors do not participate in the planning or approval process.
Is Conectas associated with any political party?
No. The organization is non-partisan, has no affiliation and receives no funding from political parties.
Does the organization offer any services to companies or government?
What communication channels does Conectas have?
Conectas believes that the engagement of the largest number of people with the cause of human rights is essential. As such, in addition to its website, the organization uses social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. It has also sought to broaden the critical debate on human rights in Brazil and in the countries where it operates through its growing exposure in the Brazilian and international media (newspapers, magazines, websites).
I have a personal case. Can Conectas help me?
Unfortunately, we do not provide services to individuals. We suggest you contact the Public Defender’s Office in your city or state. In São Paulo, the contact details for the Office are Avenida da Liberdade, 32 – Liberdade Tel. (11) 3105-5799 - more information at http://www.defensoria.sp.gov.br/dpesp/. For other states, go to http://www.anadep.org.br/wtk/pagina/inicial.
How can I get a job at Conectas?
Conectas is always interested in working with the best professionals in their respective fields. The organization regularly publishes the selection processes for available positions on the website and the social networks (Facebook and Twitter). Applications from Brazilian and foreign volunteers are always welcome.
Why, when there are so many problems, does Conectas choose to work with the criminal justice system, notably prisons in Brazil?
The prison system is responsible for some of the most serious, extensive and persistent human rights violations in Brazil. More than 700,000 people are currently held in the custody of the State. Torture, mistreatment, executions, overcrowding and a lack of access to health care, education and legal counsel are problems that are aggravated by a policy of mass incarceration and by selective enforcement that criminalizes the poorest in society. ?This situation is unacceptable in a democratic country built on the principle of the dignity of the human person, and we consider it necessary to engage in the public debate to denounce, prevent and pursue accountability for these violations.
Are criminals protected by human rights?
All citizens are protected by human rights. The right to protection and to dignity does not cease when someone commits a crime. And the enforcement of these rights does not stand in the way of justice being served. However, we make an effort to illustrate that crime is a social phenomenon and inherent to all societies throughout history. The need to analyze this phenomenon in more depth is essential for the development of public policies that focus on crime prevention, without disrespecting human dignity. We need to understand that the punitive discourse only addresses the legal (penal) aspect of the problem, while ignoring the sociological, psychological, criminological and political perspectives that are fundamental to understanding such complex phenomena.