How does Freedom Now promote human rights?

In carrying out our mission to free prisoners of conscience, Freedom Now promotes the human rights of our clients and their communities. When we advocate on behalf of our clients, we not only stand up for their individual rights but also draw attention to larger patterns of repression. When our clients are released, they are free to resume their important work, which often includes efforts to improve the human rights situations in their countries. Working one prisoner at a time, Freedom Now endeavors to reduce a government’s propensity to detain its critics and violate its citizens’ human rights, strengthen adherence to the rule of law, and provide support to those working to improve their communities.

Why is it important to defend individual prisoners of conscience?

At the heart of the most fundamental freedoms enshrined in international law are the freedoms of expression, association, and belief. When the peaceful exercise of these rights prompts a government to imprison someone, this injustice not only harms the individual but also jeopardizes the freedom and security of the whole society. Indeed, it is the imprisonment, and thus the silencing, of individuals that most inhibits a free and open society. It is paramount that we support and defend those who are working to make the world a better place.

Human rights are individual rights. In order to improve respect for human rights, we must defend these rights on an individual basis. Broad issue advocacy is not sufficient to compel a government to release someone unjustly imprisoned. Focused individual attention is needed. We are able to secure the release of prisoners of conscience specifically because we mobilize dedicated and influential advocates who focus on an individual’s case.

In what kinds of cases does Freedom Now get involved?

Freedom Now only represents prisoners of conscience. These are individuals who, having never advocated or engaged in violent activity, are detained as a consequence of exercising their fundamental rights. International law prohibits arbitrary detention and protects individuals’ rights to expression, association, religion and belief, and the right to participate in government. Freedom Now’s clients are most often human rights defenders. They include activists, journalists, editors, doctors, lawyers, musicians and other civil society representatives. Some of our clients are well known, such as Liu Xiaobo who is imprisoned in China. Others are less prominent, but no less important, such as Akzam Turgunov, a political and human rights activist sentenced to 10 years of hard labor in Uzbekistan.

How does Freedom Now decide which cases to take?

Freedom Now works on behalf of individuals who are wrongly imprisoned all over the world. From Burma to Turkmenistan and Cameroon to Colombia, we combat the practice of arbitrary detention wherever it is used to silence people. Freedom Now is not able to take every case. We select the most compelling cases based on need, urgency, and impact. With each case, we seek to have a substantial effect, not only by freeing the individual, but also in improving the human rights of other citizens. With this goal in mind, we select cases of activists who upon release will continue their important work on behalf of others. We also work for individuals whose detention is representative of broader abuses in a country, thus enabling us to speak indirectly on behalf of others similarly persecuted. We spread our efforts out geographically to ensure that no region of the world is neglected and we maintain a diverse portfolio of cases, which includes prisoners detained for many different reasons.

Does Freedom Now collaborate with others?

Freedom Now regularly collaborates with the family members of our clients; lawyers; local, regional, and international organizations; and influential figures and institutions.

Who funds Freedom Now?

Freedom Now is an independent, U.S.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We are funded by contributions from individuals, such as yourselves, and private foundations. We are non-partisan and receive no government funding.

With a small staff, how does Freedom Now do so much?

Freedom Now is fortunate to receive tremendous volunteer assistance. Law firms often dedicate their time and expertise to our clients on a pro bono basis. The small full-time staff of Freedom Now is able to leverage thousands of hours of expert legal assistance contributed annually by a growing network of private sector lawyers. This contribution enables Freedom Now to work far beyond our office capacity and support many more clients. It also means your donation goes further.

How does Freedom Now differ from other organizations like Amnesty International?

In contrast to larger organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which address many kinds of human rights issues all over the world, Freedom Now focuses exclusively on individual cases regarding only one kind of abuse – arbitrary detention. Unlike these other groups, we only take up cases where we are retained by a member of the person’s family to represent the person detained. This approach gives Freedom Now the credibility to speak on the person’s behalf and an ethical duty to vigorously advocate for her or his release. In all cases, acting as counsel to our clients, we assess the range of legal, political, and public relations activities that might be undertaken and implement a plan to conduct these activities in a carefully sequenced manner designed to maximize pressure on the government detaining our clients so as to secure their release.

How can I help?

Freedom Now’s efforts are made possible by monetary donations and with the help of volunteers. Your generosity to Freedom Now, whether it be in the form of a donation or your time, directly supports individual victims of human rights violations and their families. Without you, many of our clients would have little or no assistance at all.

You can make a donation to Freedom Now today.

If you would like to volunteer, please read more about how you can get involved. Freedom Now works primarily with volunteer lawyers and law students who assist on our cases. We also welcome others who bring valuable and much needed skills to our team, such as administrative, accounting, marketing, and fundraising support.