Security training for Shelter City candidates

“What makes you feel secure? What makes you feel uncomfortable? What scares you and what gives you courage?” Sitting in a room with 6 Human Rights Defenders at risk, the answers to such questions are chilling to hear. “Facebook makes me feel secure because if I get arrested my friends and colleagues will be able to spread the word and seek for help”, one of the candidate says. The whole discussion takes place in the Justice and Peace office during a two-day training course on physical, ‎psychological and digital ‎security part of the Shelter City programme.

“Facebook makes me feel secure because if I get arrested my friends and colleagues will be able to spread the word and seek for help”

When it comes to the notion of insecurity, Svitlana, the participant from Ukraine, tells about her fear of woods and parks. Having spent almost two years collecting evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity in her country, she explains that forests represent danger in her mind because of potential mines in those areas. Due to that almost subconscious fear, forests and parks are places she avoids entering, while roads represent safety.

In many parts of the world authorities attempt to silence defenders’ voices. As they often become the target of repression, restriction, detainment, abuse, torture or death threat, they have no option left than leave their country for some period. “Your job is valuable to the people of your country. If you want to keep doing it, sometimes you might need to play this “game”, you might need to take a break and reduce your visibility in order to be able to continue your work” says one of the participants.

How do you deal with psychological trauma? How do you mitigate the feeling of guilt?

During the first day of the training, physical and psychological threats, risks and practices on how to deal with them are brought to the table. The second day digital security is in focus. Coming from six different countries the group of journalists, human rights activists and NGO staff digs into personal experiences and reveals to each other techniques on how to act on imminent risks, ways to deal with emotional pressure and stress relief actions.

In some cases though, the questions are not easy to answer. How do you deal with psychological trauma? How do you mitigate the feeling of guilt? Having no intention to halt or reduce their individual struggle against injustice, at the end of the day a common pool of “tools” is in place and a clear sense of understanding with each other.

Foto: Daniella van Bergen

I Would like to contribute

Do you have a good idea? or a good initiative that you want to let us know ? Fill in the form and we will get in touch with you .