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Toronto group works to bring human rights front and center

By KJ Mullins     Mar 22, 2010 in World
A voice in the darkness bringing light to the world. That is often the role of a journalist. In areas where that voice is often silenced others must work to spread awareness on rights issues. Journalists for Human Rights, based in Toronto does that.
JHR is working to promote rights media, in Africa and North America. In areas where human rights are trampled on like the Congo jhr uses local media reaching millions on the continent with human rights stories. In North America jhr works with high schools and universities to encourage students to spread rights awareness.
The group was founded by Ben Peterson in 2002. His goal was to make sure that everyone knew their rights. Using the media, Peterson set jhr up to empower communities to stand up, speak out and protect themselves.
Peterson worked in Ghana's Ministry of Justice and for Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lloyd Axworthy, and in the offices of David Bonior, the former Democratic Whip in the United States House of Representatives before tackling jhr.
There is a framework for the Rights Based Approach (RBA) to journalism.
Participation: All voices are offered in a story. Each story uses not only an event but the real life voices who are affected by these events.
Accountability: Ensuring that those who abuse or violate human rights are held accountable.
Non-Discrimination: Journalists do not place one right higher than another.
Empowerment: Media empowers the public.
Linkage to Human Rights: Rights media ensures that human right stories source human right doctrines relevant to the event and community.
This Friday the Night for Rights 2010 will take place in Toronto. Since its beginnings in 2003 this yearly event has been one of the biggest charitable events in the city.
Night for Rights is held by Canada's largest media development organization, Journalists for Human Rights(jhr). Over 2,000 journalists in Africa have been trained by jhr with programs in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Malawi and Zambia. Night for Rights has raised more than $255,000 for jhr's work in Africa.
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