Between 1989 and 2017, a total of 324 human rights advocates from 90 countries attended HRAP. In recent years, advocates have ranged from early career advocates who have cut their teeth in very urgent human rights situations to mid-career advocates who have founded organizations.
Below are the biographies of current Advocates and descriptions by select alumni as to why they became human rights advocates.
To see a list of additional past Advocates click here.
To read about more about the work of our Advocates click here .
Executive Director, Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants-Nigeria
Sylvester Uhaa is the founder of Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE-Nigeria), which he initiated as a chapter of International CURE in 2008. CURE-Nigeria advocates for the provision of opportunities for those in prison, alternative sentencing, especially for juveniles and women, respect for the rights and dignity of those in prison, the minimum use of pre-trial detention, a moratorium on the construction of new prisons in Nigeria, and the abolition of the death penalty and other cruel and inhuman treatment of suspects. CURE-Nigeria also provides legal aid for detainees who cannot afford to pay for the services of a lawyer and establishes educational programs in the prisons. Under Uhaa’s leadership CURE-Nigeria has developed from a state to a national organization.
CURE-Nigeria has coordinated the release of over 180 detainees from prisons through legal aid. The organization also publishes a newsletter “The Advocate.” Uhaa has also completed research on female detainees and prisoners and on individuals incarcerated on debt-related issues. Other on-going projects include the establishment of libraries in prisons and public primary schools, legal aid for indigent detainees, campaigns against the use of torture, the construction of an information and technology center in the Kaduna Juvenile Borstal Institution, and a campaign for the domestication of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015.
Uhaa writes: “HRAP presented me with the biggest stage or platform to spring up since I began CURE-Nigeria in 2007 in terms of exposure to new funding opportunities, networks, and people. It added to my confidence, gave me additional skills and sharpened already acquired skills.” As a member of HRAP, Uhaa was able to collaborate with Jaclyn Sawyer, a graduate of the Columbia School of Social Work, who was awarded the Davis Project for Peace grant to travel to Nigeria to contribute to his “Books Behind Bars” Project.
Uhaa earned a master's degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford in 2015, and has been offered admission for the PhD in Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading, UK.
—Updated by Gabrielle Isabelle Hernaiz-De Jesus in 2016
—Updated by Claire Kozik, Program Assistant, Summer 2018
Secretary General, Youth Action Nepal
Upreti is a passionate advocate for sexual and reproductive rights for the youth of Nepal and for gender equality overall. Of her work, Upreti says “Since I was a child I have seen that in my country there is not the same level of respect for women as there is for men. I observed consistently that women were not at the same level and are put on a different track from early on in their lives. Seeing this gender inequality coupled with the caste system made me want to fight injustice in my country and to fight for equal rights and opportunities for all.”Seeing how deeply embedded stereotypes were being used to justify gender-based violence in her country, Upreti became interested in working with youth to combat these attitudes. As a core team member and the Secretary General of Youth-Action Nepal, Upreti focuses on coordinating coalition activists and facilitating training workshops focused on sexual reproductive rights and health. Upreti is currently also a youth representative on the Adolescent Reproductive Health Subcommittee organized by the government of Nepal. A lawyer by training, Upreti is also a member of the National Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders.In terms of her motivation, Upreti says, “I really believe that we all are the same, we are all human beings and we should all be treated equally. Yet each day we hear of murder and rape cases. Even if I am struggling or thinking about a different type of work, seeing these types of injustices continue is what inspires me to keep going. I feel inside me that as a youth, I have a duty to my country to use my voice for the thousands who cannot. I need to speak up for them also.” Upreti says she greatly enjoyed the course on Gender Justice, in addition to the workshop on human rights research, writing and documentation with Human Rights Watch.