Safety First

In the modern day digitization of communication and data, keeping programs safe and secure is challenging. Storing sensitive data and content from hacking or cyber threats is a routine cycle which protects the organization and its beneficiaries. Evidently as AFE MENA operates on gender, sexual, bodily and health rights, specifically in a challenging and hostile environment, the need for a Security Program is crucial. The Security Program works on two levels of security: The Emergency Response and Preventative Set Up.

The Emergency Response helps LGBTQ activists under threat to escape danger by moving to safer cities, management of risk, securing funds for immediate services required such as assigning lawyers and checking into hospitals and in cases of extreme violent threats, LGBTQ rights’ activists would be guided to relocation until it is safe for them to return to their homes.

These efforts have been put into place through a global consortium of LGBTQ networks called “Dignity for All”. The Dignity for All program is an LGBTI Assistance Program which provides emergency assistance; security, opportunity, and advocacy rapid response grants and security assessment and training to human rights defenders, and civil society organizations under threat or attack due to their work for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex human rights. AFE MENA coordinates the Middle East and North Africa response alongside other consortium members: Freedom House (Global), Akahata (Latin America), CREA (South and Central Asia), Synergia (Global), ILGA Europe (Europe), OutRight International (Global) and UHAI (East Africa).

The second security component involves planning prevention processes and protocols to help secure the safety of activists and the work they do. This involves support in creating emergency, action and security plans by studying local laws and their impact on activism. Nine of the in-country law studies are available on the AFE MENA website. The security program is committed to building the capacity of activists by training them on physical and digital security, emergency plans, law analysis and by production of periodic articles on the most recent and up to date information on security from a number of experts. The security program prides itself in being a knowledge production hub for resources on security: a great example is the DAL – Activist Security Guide that allows readers to self-learn and evaluate security measures when working within Civil Society in difficult environments.