Outreach and Training Program to Strengthen Human Rights Monitoring in Africa
Benetech®, the leading Silicon Valley technology development nonprofit, announced today that it has received a $450,000 grant from the United States Department of State to support the Martus™ Project, an innovative open source technology tool and support network that assists grassroots NGO workers worldwide to collect, safeguard and disseminate information on social justice violations. This grant will enable Benetech to introduce the Martus technology to NGOs throughout Africa.
The grant is intended to fund outreach and training initiatives to extend the Martus technology to work for individuals and groups operating in Algeria, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria in social justice fields such as human rights. Benetech will be working in partnership with regional, national and local NGOs to help identify and train NGO workers that monitor human rights in these countries. This project represents the first grant awarded to Benetech by the Department of State.
“The State Department represents a funder that recognizes the importance of monitoring human rights abuses and that once this information is collected by NGOs, it can be used to bring insight, clarity and justice around the world,” stated Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman. “Through this program, NGOs will be able to monitor human rights abuses with a level of security never before available.”
Martus – Greek for witness – enables grassroots NGOs to securely document social justice violations and store their records on off-site servers with easy-to-use software, preserving crucial evidence for research, investigation and prosecutions. Since its launch in early 2003, Martus has garnered overwhelmingly positive reactions worldwide. In its first year of operations, Martus has been downloaded by users from more than 50 countries, and it has been deployed, adopted and used regularly by NGOs in more than ten countries, including Afghanistan, Guatemala, Peru, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and the United States.
The Benetech Initiative is a Silicon Valley nonprofit that develops sustainable, technology-based solutions to address pressing social challenges in areas such as disability, human rights, education and literacy. Many beneficial technologies have compelling social applications that are not developed because such efforts do not meet for-profit investors’ financial expectations. Benetech specifically pursues endeavors with a strong social, rather than financial, rate of return on investment, bringing commercial technology and private sector management techniques to bear in creating innovative, non-traditional solutions to challenging social issues. More information on Benetech and its projects can be found atbenetech.org or by calling (650) 475-5440.
About the United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
For over twenty-five years, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) has served as the pre-eminent government entity responsible for the coordination and development of democracy and human rights policy abroad. Created by Congress in 1977 and later mandated by the Foreign Assistance Act, the Bureau has been recognized for its hard-hitting human rights reporting, cutting edge programming and effective multilateral diplomacy. Through its reporting, programming and diplomacy, DRL seeks to advance universal acceptance of human rights and strengthen democratic institutions around the world. DRL’s Human Rights and Democracy Fund (HRDF) supports innovative programming designed to uphold democratic principles, support democratic institutions, promote human rights, and build civil society in countries of strategic importance to the U.S.
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