For this year's HRW London Film Festival, a special thanks must go to our amazing partners, MUBI and People's Postcode Lottery, whose support enables us to champion these stories, to bring these human rights issues to life and to reach broader audiences than ever. We are ever grateful for their partnership.
Join us for this year's London Human Rights Watch Film Festival!
We are proud to present the 25th edition of the London Human Rights Watch Film Festival, running from March 18-26, 2021.
For the first time ever, in partnership with Barbican Cinema, we are presenting a full digital edition of 10 emboldening new films from around the world, available across the UK, featuring in-depth online discussions with filmmakers, film participants, and Human Rights Watch researchers.
This year’s programme shines a spotlight on identities, viewpoints, and stories all too often unheard, empowering courageous individuals on both sides of the lens to raise their voices and push for change.
Will you help us to champion these stories, to bring these human rights issues to life and to reach broader audiences than ever? Click here to become a Film Festival Champion today.
By becoming a HRW Film Festival Champion, you can join us in celebration of film, the human story and the power of our shared mission toward justice and dignity for all. You’ll join Human Rights Watch as we delve deeper into some of today’s most pressing issues, from the rights of women over their bodies, to the crackdown on truth and free speech by illiberal governments, to the power of fear in stoking prejudice, hate and discrimination – and you’ll be supporting the causes that speak most to your heart.
Don't miss it - buy your tickets here.
Remembering our dear friend Tony Elliott
With deep sadness, we share the news that our dear friend Tony Elliott has passed away.
Tony is most well known for being the founder of Time Out. A touching obituary of Tony’s life and legacy was published in the Guardian earlier this week, and another in the New York Times, which speaks to the huge impact he had upon the publishing industry and beyond.
But beyond these immense successes, Tony was also a part of the fabric of Human Rights Watch, and in particular our London community. Tony became a London Committee member during our seminal years in London in the late 1990’s, served as the chair of the London Committee for a number of years and was a member of HRW Board of Directors from 2006 through to 2015.
At HRW, we were so fortunate to work so closely with Tony. In the formative years of the London Committee, our HRW Film Festival and our outreach activities in London, Tony made sure that he supported us in every way he could - ensuring that the HRW Film Festival film listings were published in Time Out, publishing our job postings in the magazine, lending us marketing and public relations expertise and regularly arranging editorials on human rights issues. And when Time Out went global, Tony made sure that HRW was also able to benefit from this globalization, connecting us to the new Time Out franchises in New York, Chicago, Istanbul and beyond. Tony was the driving force behind so many of our London initiatives bridging art, culture and human rights – including our Cries from the Heart series, which brought the powerful combination of famous actors, playwrights and human rights issues to our audiences. None of this would have been possible without Tony’s introductions, generosity and creative spirit and energy.
Tony invested in HRW just as if it was his own business - he brought the same energy, vision, thought and strategy that he brought to Time Out to propel our London presence into a vibrant community of like-minded individuals holding the shared belief that protecting and defending human rights would make the world a better place. Tony, his wife Janey and his 3 children were very much part of the HRW family, and hosted us at their home on many occasions.
In many ways it was the initiatives that Tony pioneered that have shaped us as an organisation – advocating for a HRW that is diverse and inclusive, an organisation that speaks to the younger generation, that has links across a spectrum of fields especially with culture, music, theatre and the arts. He always wanted us to be brave and ambitious.
It is a true testament to Tony’s legacy that we have just held our first big public engagement event – The Future We Build Together - reaching out to thousands of new human rights activists across the globe. This is exactly the direction he was pushing us for more than 20 years, and we only wish that he was still with us to have seen it together. We are so grateful to have had the chance to call Tony a dear friend, and for the tremendous impact that he had upon our work at Human Rights Watch. We will miss him dearly.
HRW Virtual Book Club
Our new Human Rights Watch Virtual Book Club series offers the chance to explore human rights issues through the lens of award-winning books sent right to your door.
Pairing leading authors with Human Rights Watch researchers, we’ll explore today’s pressing calls for social change around the world, touching on issues of race, democracy, misinformation and more, and featuring best-selling authors such as Afua Hirsch, Elif Shafak and Hisham Matar. If you haven’t already, do sign up here to join us today.
The first event, featuring best-selling author, barrister and journalist Afua Hirsch and Human Rights Watch's US Program Director Nicole Austin-Hillery, will focus on Afua’s Sunday Times bestseller, Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging – a powerful book that reveals the uncomfortable truth about race and identity in Britain today. The discussion will explore the denial that surrounds Britain’s imperial past and the racism that plagues its present, and offer an urgent call for change.
For more information on what’s to come, and to sign up for the series, do make sure to visit hrw.org/londonbookclub.
Human Rights Watch Film Benefit 2019
Last 13 March 2019, an inspiring evening took place at the Royal Institute of British Architects with the screening of THE CLEANERS by Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck as part of the Human Rights Watch Film Benefit.
The film was followed by a captivating panel and Q&A moderated by Jim Yardley, editor for The New York Times involving:
- Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck, THE CLEANERS
- Sarah St. Vincent, HRW Researcher/Advocate, US Program
- Carl Miller, co-founder of the first The Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos
- Jennifer Robinson, Australian human rights lawyer and barrister
Though the internet has in many ways been an asset to the human rights movement, much has changed since the heady days of the “Twitter and Facebook revolution” during the 2011 Arab uprising. Mistrust of Silicon Valley is widespread. We rely on companies like Facebook to keep our data private and safe, but a lack of strong regulation has led to it being exploited. We also view social media as a source of information and a place to voice ideas, much like a public square. However, differences in regulation on free speech mean that not everyone has access to the same information or the same freedom of expression.
New technologies can threaten fundamental freedoms and economic rights. Mass surveillance enables abuses. Algorithm-based decisions in police stations, courthouses, and workplaces reproduce old forms of discrimination in new ways. Weapons could soon operate without human control. Meanwhile, digitised misinformation spreads from Washington, Beijing, and Moscow, stoking fear and demonising minorities.
Human Rights Watch will confront new threats in the digital age. To support this important work, donate here.
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 1948-2018
As the world prepares to celebrate Human Rights Day — and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — this Monday 10 December, we are happy to share some fun ways to celebrate.
We are excited to announce that 30 landmarks across the globe will shine blue in honor of Human Rights Day. The London Eye and Somerset House will go #Blue4HumanRights. We invite you to visit our HRW.org/HumanRightsDay webpage, which has been translated into French, Spanish, Arabic, German, and Japanese.
In addition, here are ways you can help Human Rights Watch commemorate the day. Please share widely.
Actions for today:
- Wear blue on Monday and post selfies and group photos with staff, friends, and networks on social media, or in front of a building that is going blue. Tag your photo #Blue4HumanRights. Meet us at 7pm at Radio Rooftop Bar to join in!
- Share our Human Rights Day landing page HRW.org/blue that provides ways for the general public to engage with us on Human Rights Day.
- Update your profile photo on Facebook for Human Rights Day. The frame is available in 8 languages.
- Use the Human Rights Day social media toolkit to easily post your own messages all day.
- Take a recording of yourself reading your favorite article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You can post the recordings on your own social media feeds, and tag HRW (@humanrightswatch on Facebook and Instagram, @hrw on Twitter) and the following hashtags: #HumanRightsDay #StandUp4HumanRights
A flag (picture) to represent human rights has been designed by Ai Wei Wei and the unveiling of the flag today will kickstart a year of celebration around human rights in the UK. In June 2019 schools, organisations and individuals from across the country will be invited to ‘fly the flag’ to show their support for human rights. Human Rights Watch is a founding member of a coalition of organisations, including theatres and other human rights organisations, leading this effort. David Mepham played a key role in shaping this campaign and Steph Hancock and Ben Ward are continuing his legacy by representing Human Rights Watch within the coalition. More details to follow!
Thank you and Happy Human Rights Day from all at Human Rights Watch!
Remembering David Mepham: Charity leader who stayed ahead of the curve at the helm of Human Rights Watch
His track record of applying sharp wits to pressure for change, along with his OBE for services to human rights, boiled down to a fact: Mepham was one who cared.
“I do not believe that human rights are a magic bullet that can solve all the world’s problems.” These were some of the final words written by David Mepham before his death from cancer, aged 50, this week. They are perhaps unexpected from someone awarded an OBE for services to human rights. But they reflect an honesty and pragmatism for which Mepham was well known, and which became a hallmark of his work in the human rights movement.
Mepham was no purist. He knew there is no such thing as a perfect world, and rather than preach lofty ideals, he challenged himself to work out how terrible crises could be made a little less awful. Coupled with his shrewd political savvy, it proved an incredibly effective tool for pressure – squeezing the UK government on everything from the plight of the Rohingya to arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and for change – such as persuading the Foreign Office to endorse a global treaty protecting schools from military use and attack.
And Mepham was a man in a hurry for change. He did everything at lightning speed. Walking to meetings, colleagues would struggle to match his pace. In phone calls, he’d talk so fast people would struggle to keep up. He’d read entire books in a single day, and complex briefing papers in minutes. Computers were a constant frustration, because his mind always worked faster than he could type.
Human Rights Watch Mourns Loss of David Mepham
With profound sadness we share the news that David Mepham OBE, UK director at Human Rights Watch, has died of cancer at the age of 50, after two years of illness. His wife, Charlotte, was at his side. It is a testament to David’s courage and dedication that he insisted on continuing to work as much as he was physically able between difficult treatments and his gradually diminishing health.
“David was a superb advocate, combining a piercing intellect, an extraordinary eloquence, and a deep personal commitment to the human rights cause,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Our hearts go out to David’s family – Charlotte and their two children, Hannah and Ben. We stand with them at this difficult time.”
David, who came to Human Rights Watch after years working on foreign policy and development issues, did not see human rights as a magic bullet. But he believed they were critical to achieving his aim to make the world a fairer and kinder place. He worked with relentless drive, honesty, and pragmatism to advance the cause of rights for all.
COMING SOON: Royal Parks Half Marathon 2018
The Human Rights Watch team is once again involved in one of the most scenic city runs in the world for the Royal Park's Half Marathon on Sunday 14 October 2018. The stunning 13.1 mile route meanders through four of the eight iconic Royal Parks: Hyde Park - The Green Park - St. James’s Park - Kensington Gardens
The team is running to push for global recognition of the right to a healthy environment and to fundraise for the Environment and Human Rights Division.
- Volunteer to be part of our cheering squad on the day by contacting Lauriane Wolfe at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Donate to support the work of our Environment and Human Rights Division
- Read our latest reports, dispatches and news releases on environment and human rights issues
- Join our runner team next year by reaching out to Lauriane Wolfe at email@example.com
Join us and become part of the global community dedicated to protecting and defending human rights and the right to a healthy environment!
12 DAYS Film Screening
The film was followed by an entertaining panel Q&A and hosted at Norton Rose Fulbright on Thursday 24 May 2018.
12 Days, by renowned filmmaker and photographer Raymond Depardon, explores the legal mental health system in France.
Every year in France, 92,000 people are placed under psychiatric care without their consent. By law, the hospital has 12 days to bring each patient before a judge. Based on medical records and a doctor’s recommendations, a crucial decision has to be made – will the patient stay or leave? 12 days after which lives can change forever. Granted access to these hearings for the first time, celebrated filmmaker/photographer Raymond Depardon captures these extraordinary encounters between justice and psychiatry. Astonishing, enlightening – a film that gives a voice to those who have previously been voiceless.
We were joined by our Senior Legal Advisor, Clive Baldwin, as well as two external mental health experts, Dr. Jed Boardman, Psychiatrist and Senior Lecturer and Aswini Weereratne QC, Barrister, Expert in human rights, mental health and capacity law. The film was screened during our 2018 Human Rights Watch London Film Festival and was being shown in support of the Mental Health Awareness week (14-20 May 2018).
THE WORKER'S CUP Film Screening
Human Rights Watch launched two editions of The Worker's Cup film screening in the United Kingdom: hosted at HOME Cinema in Manchester on Wednesday 20 June 2018 and at Norton Rose Fulbright in London on Thursday 12 July 2018.
Previously screened at our 2018 Human Rights Watch London Film Festival, this film follows one group of men from among the 1.6 million migrant workers preparing for the world's largest sporting event, the World Cup. With unprecedented access to FIFA's 2022 World Cup stadium controversial construction sites and labour camps in Qatar, the men enthusiastically train to compete in a football tournament of their own: The Workers Cup. Exposing long work hours for scant salaries, limited freedom of movement, and harsh living conditions in isolated labour camps, this documentary explores universal themes of ambition, aspiration, sport, and masculinity, as the protagonists wrangle hope, meaning, and opportunity out of their extremely precarious circumstances. Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival 2017
Our panels consisted of Rosie Garthwaite, Producer of The Workers Cup, Nooruddean Choudry, Creative Director and Senior Writer at Joe.co.uk, Mark Lobel, Freelance Political and News Correspondent, BBC News and Stephanie Hancock, Senior Media Officer at Human Rights Watch.
London Board Reception
ON THE MOVE: CAN HUMAN RIGHTS ADDRESS THE GLOBAL REFUGEE AND DISPLACEMENT CRISIS?
The London Board Reception gathered our closest Committee and Board members to discuss about the global refugee and displacement crisis at the Ham Yard Hotel on Monday 12th of February.
The mass movement of people in the world today is one of the biggest human rights crises of our time. The scale of this global refugee crisis is unprecedented, but too often, the world’s response has been shamefully inadequate.
Human Rights Watch is playing a critical and unique role in responding to the global refugee crisis. We are working to expose and overturn the human rights abuses that force people to flee. We are pressuring and persuading host countries to fulfil their legal and moral obligations to treat the desperate and vulnerable arrivals with dignity, to assess their refugee claims fairly, and not to return them to countries where they would suffer further abuse or persecution.
We weere pleased to be joined that evening by Executive Director Kenneth Roth, Women's Rights Researcher Skye Wheeler, Western Europe Researcher Eva Cossé and Emergencies Researcher Jonathan Pedneault for a captivating panel that lead to a Q&A.
Film Festival Benefit 2018
The London Premiere of THIS IS CONGO took place at our Film Festival Benefit on Wednesday 7 March 2018 at the Royal Institute of British Architects to celebrate the power of film to raise awareness of human rights issues and the power of personal stories to galvanise action around the world.
In THIS IS CONGO, a whiste-blower, a patriotic military commander, a mineral dealer and a displaced tailor offer their perspectives on the problems that plague the Democratic Republic of Congo today. THIS IS CONGO provides a beautifully immersive and unfiltered look into the lives of four characters who exemplify a unique resilience while living through Africa’s longest continuing conflict.
The Film Festival Benefit marked the start of the 2018 Human Rights Watch London Film Festival which ran from 7-16 March in several venues throughout London.
Stay tuned for our 2019 Film Festival Benefit.