“Sharing our experience gives us energy, it keeps us up and running!”

In 2022, EuroMed Rights celebrates its 25th anniversary! To mark this milestone, we asked members to tell us what EuroMed Rights meant to them and their organisation.

Eva Abu Halaweh is a lawyer. She is a co-founding member and the Executive Director of Mizan Law Group for Human Rights. She has been campaigning against honour killings and focuses her work on protecting women at risk and the vulnerable, and on eliminating torture and abuse in the Jordanian prison system and police stations. She won the Franco-German award for Human Rights and the International Women of Courage Award presented by the US Department of State.  

“Mizan has been a member of EuroMed Rights for a long time and what drove us to be part of the network was its strong support to the rights of Palestinians as well as its solidarity with human rights activists. It’s so important to be able to take position with EuroMed Rights for others and for us! 

What are the benefits of being a member? 

I think the greatest benefit of being a member is the exchange of experience with other human rights activists, including from the North, as I was very eager in the beginning to learn from best practices. We also learned a lot by interacting with colleagues from other countries on similar issues. Being a human rights defender is tough and we may find solace in sharing our experience and our highs and lows, it gives us energy, it keeps us up and running! 

Solidarity and support are sometimes very much needed when we struggle to get funding or when the space for civil society keeps shrinking, and EuroMed Rights has been helpful in giving us access to institutional interlocutors in Brussels for example.  

Do you see the European Union as a partner? 

As a reliable and trusted partner when it comes to human rights and democracy? Yes and no. Human rights activism is facing more challenges, human rights are no longer on the top agenda for so many countries and the EU is not using its power to stand against violations. We expect more pressure to end the occupation of Palestine in the first place. The fact that there is no more pressure from international partners is the most negative evolution, and it’s embarrassing for us too actually because when we meet people in the field, they ask us about the position of European states who promote human rights and practice double standards when it comes to the rights of Palestinians. 

And today we’re facing the same questions with the consequences of the war in Ukraine and the refugees that are welcome in the EU… What kind of message do you send when you don’t respect the rights that you’re promoting? 

What should be EuroMed  Rights’ top priority? 

I think EuroMed Rights’ priority should remain freedom of association and freedom of expression because without these two, there’s nothing we can do. Today, the greatest attention must be paid to the shrinking space for civil society and the increasing number of GONGO [Government-Organised Non-Governmental Organisation] all around!  

I also think that EuroMed Rights took a very good decision to focus on economic and social rights and climate change. These are collective rights which require a lot of collective efforts. They also require capacity building among our members because most of them are used to working on political and civil rights, mainly. We need a new regional assessment research on economic and social rights based on what the members have collected.” 

Eva Abu Halaweh (Jordan), Executive Director of Mizan Law Group for Human Rights, a member of EuroMed Rights