MacArthur has announced four grants totaling $460,000 to help develop a regional network of human rights organizations in Russia. Grants from the Foundation will support both Moscow-based human rights organizations that can serve as hubs to the network and regional human rights ombudsmen or commissions in 13 regions across Russia.
The Foundation's support is designed to help to increase the capacity of the network to monitor human rights abuses, seek appropriate resolution of specific cases, disseminate information about human rights issues to a national and international audience, and help work toward systematic improvement in the implementation of human rights laws.
In its human rights grantmaking, the Foundation supports U.S.-based human rights anchor institutions that provide a framework for the field as well as networks of human rights organizations in three countries where MacArthur has offices - Russia, Nigeria, and Mexico. Complementing this work, the Foundation also seeks to help improve the international judicial system, particularly through support for efforts such as the International Criminal Court.
"Creating a regional human rights network is a key factor in helping the Russian government live up to its domestic and international commitments, build trust in its legal system, and strengthen its democratic institutions," said Jonathan F. Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation. "It is crucial for ensuring a smooth transition to democracy in an area of the world that has undergone fundamental changes across all facets of society in the past decade. Freedom of the press, diminishing abuse by the police, and improving Russia's compliance with international treaties it has signed are all part of building a modern society based on the rule of law."
The four grants were awarded to both Moscow-based organizations and those in the regions.
- The Committee for Civil Rights received $140,000 over two years for a project to help reduce the incidence of police torture in Moscow Oblast, one of the 13 regions included in the Russia-wide network supported by the Foundation.
- Index on Censorship, a Moscow-based, Russian-language human rights journal, received $70,000 over two years to fund issues covering themes that include refugees, legal reform, crime and social rehabilitation, censorship, and democratization of the army in contemporary Russia. The journal provides a forum for many of Russia's leading human rights activists to openly discuss human rights issues. The journal's corresponding website serves as a networking node for select human rights campaigns.
- All-Russian Public Movement "For Human Rights" received $100,000 over one year to fund follow-up activities of working groups established by the All-Russian Emergency Human Rights Congress, which brought together representatives from more than 400 human rights organizations in Moscow and nearly every region in Russia in January 2001. These high-level working groups will focus on such issues as judicial reform, the rights of prisoners and detainees, and the rights of migrants and refugees, among others.
- Charitable Foundation for Support of Civil Society Initiatives "Fulcrum Foundation" received $150,000 over two years in support of a grants competition for small human rights organizations in MacArthur's 13 focus regions. The competition is designed to identify and support emerging human rights organizations across Russia, as well as to encourage the participation of young people in human rights work across the regions where MacArthur will focus its support.
The grants were made through the Foundation's Initiative in the Russian Federation and Post-Soviet States, which is part of MacArthur's Program on Global Security and Sustainability. The initiative supports efforts to strengthen universities in Russia and scholarship in the region, and it gives special grants for work in the area of human rights and the environment.