A new art project that’s larger than life!

‘Larger Than Life!’ celebrates the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by producing and exhibiting innovative, cutting-edge and dramatic human rights posters designed by some Maltese’s leading visual artists.

This is yet another project where we’re engaging with Malta’s artistic community in order to promote our human rights messages. We find this approach to be an enriching, exciting and fun way of reaching out to new audiences and ‘lightening up’ our often tough advocacy work! Past projects where we successfully engaged with the arts include 9 Parts of Desire (theatre, gender), You Are What You Eat (visual arts, migration) and Burning Bikinis (film, gender).

Through its Curatorial Team, which will include local artist and curator Alexandra Pace, the project will commission carefully-selected local artists to design large-scale Malta-relevant human rights posters, which are able to report/mediate fundamental messages as dignity, equality, respect, diversity.

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Our human rights mission calls upon us to always stand up for our beliefs: we will not falter.

“In summary, gathering and disseminating information, advocacy and the mobilization of public opinion are often the most common tools used by human rights defenders in their work.

They work at democratic transformation in order to increase the participation of people in the decision-making that shapes their lives and to strengthen good governance.

They also contribute to the improvement of social, political and economic conditions, the reduction of social and political tensions, the building of peace, domestically and internationally, and the nurturing of national and international awareness of human rights.”

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2004

In commemoration of International Human Rights Day, aditus foundation notes the precarious situation of Malta’s human rights defenders and calls for a broader respect for their central role in promoting and contributing towards Malta’s overall well-being.

Malta’s human rights defenders are those individuals and organisations that tirelessly seek to ensure that all persons are able to enjoy their fundamental human rights. They are active in a broad range of sectors, addressing various groups of persons and themes including: survivors of domestic violence, persons with disabilities, migrants and refugees, children, survivors of crime, the environment, LGBTIQ+ persons, inmates, women involved in prostitution, good governance and so many others.

They are present where State interventions are either absent or insufficient, where the risk of human rights violations is high.

Without human rights defenders, Malta would probably not be able to boast today’s levels of social wellbeing. As activists dedicated to ensuring human rights enjoyment for all persons, most of us push for stronger legal and policy standards, support the training of public officials, provide public information, support victims of violations and strive to hold the State accountable and responsible for its failures.

In return, many of us are bullied, harassed, insulted, threatened and stigmatised. Many of us are denied access to important dialogue with State entities, or exploited by the State as we provide those public services the State refuses or is unable to provide.

As the community of Malta’s human rights defenders is still mourning the brutal assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, we are uncertain of the security of our working environment and are concerned for the physical and psychological safety of our staff and volunteers.

We are not satisfied that our concerns are being taken seriously by the competent authorities, especially in view of the fact that we are often victims of hatred perpetuated by those entities responsible for our protection.

Understanding the importance of human rights defenders is fundamental for the fostering of a society that is geared towards respecting, protecting and fulfilling everyone’s human rights.

By tolerating this on-going abuse of its human rights defenders, Malta is not only offending the principles human rights embody – equality, non-discrimination, individual and social empowerment – but it is also further marginalising those communities and themes human rights defenders so vehemently stand up for.

On International Human Rights Day, we therefore urge Malta to rethink its relationship with human rights defenders. This means to not merely refrain from activities that instil fear and insecurity, but to take steps towards actively supporting human rights defenders.

‘The right to live in dignity is a basic human right for all’ – NGO press statement on International Human Rights Day

We are shocked and saddened by the news of the death of Haji, the Somali man who died last Thursday under the bridge in Marsa. The grim discovery of his dead body, under the bridge that he had made his home, brought to light the disturbing but all too often hidden reality of poverty and homelessness among migrants in Malta.

Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding Haji’s death are not unique – our work is a daily encounter with people who cannot meet their basic needs. People for whom finding food and, at times, shelter is a constant struggle.

Their problems are often exacerbated by mental illness or alcohol dependence, which not only make people more vulnerable to poverty and homelessness in the first place, but also make it virtually impossible for them to break out of the destructive cycle of poverty without extensive support.

Although it would be facile to place all of the blame at the door of the state, it is clear that there is much more that can be done to ensure that migrants are able to live with dignity and effectively enjoy their rights.

Migrants, even those such as Haji who were granted protection, are provided with very limited support to rebuild their lives in Malta. Often they must turn to NGOs for help to learn the language, further their education, or to find a job or housing. Those struggling with mental illness or alcohol dependence, who need intensive services and support, are often unable to find it. This, coupled with difficulties finding work that is not precarious, seasonal or under-paid, and soaring rent prices, makes it increasingly difficult for migrants to live with dignity.

Over and above, policies that are apparently legitimate, often act as a barrier to the enjoyment of rights, leaving people trapped in poverty and destitution.

The right to live in dignity is a basic human right.

Today, as the world marks International Human Rights Day, we urge Government to address the issue of poverty even among the migrant population and to take steps to ensure that individuals living in destitution receive the support that they need to live with dignity.

Statement made by: aditus foundation, African Media Association Malta, Integra Foundation, International Association for Refugees, JRS Malta, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Migrant Women Association Malta, Migrants’ Network for Equality, People for Change Foundation, Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta, SOS Malta.

International Human Rights Day Press Statement: “Talk to human rights defenders, they work for us all.”

The Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta (PHROM) stresses the crucial role played by its Member Organisations in ensuring Malta remains a safe, harmonious and inclusive place for all persons. The Platform’s 29 non-governmental organisations are active in several areas, striving to ensure that their beneficiaries do not face exclusion, violence, poverty, discrimination, harassment and other human rights violations. As believers and promoters of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, commemorated today, all our Member Organisations are at the forefront of standing up for the invisible, the ignored and the set-aside.

In commemoration of 2015 International Human Rights Day, the Platform invites Malta to remember those NGO staff members, administrators, volunteers who passionately and selflessly aim to restore dignity and humanity to so many lives. Through the provision of basic, yet fundamental services, our Member Organisations fill gaps where the State is unable or unwilling to reach out: medical, financial, psychological, social, legal, administrative, spiritual, artistic, as so many more services.

It is also thanks to many of our Member Organisations that Malta can boast its high level of legal and administrative protection for children, women, the LGBTI community, persons with disabilities, persons with mental health problems, access to arts and culture, etc.

Yet despite the extremely valid work performed by our Member Organisations, ultimately benefitting the entire nation, many of them face regular abuse, harassment, bullying, threats and false accusations. It is unacceptable that persons and their family members are put at risk or through unnecessary stress and anxiety for their legitimate defence of Malta’s vulnerable communities, for the valid questions they ask and for their expectation of a society based on rule of law and respect for core values and principles.

“Our Member Organisations work for the human rights of their direct beneficiaries, but also for ours. Let’s reach out and thank them for making Malta what it is today, and for urging a much better place for future generations.” Dr. Roberta Lepre, PHROM Chairperson.

The Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta stands in solidarity with its Member Organisations and invites Malta to offer maximum protection to its human rights defenders. This can be achieved through following and supporting their work, participating in their events, reading their publications and endorsing their statements and views, including through social media.

We also urge Malta to refrain from resorting to abusive language and threats, and instead to consider approaching its Member Organisations with valid queries about their work, their beneficiaries, the challenges they face and their views on how to improve Maltese society.

aditus foundation is a founder Member Organisation of the Platform, also acting as its Secretariat.