The Slaight Family Foundation announces $15M Global Initiative for Women and Girls

TORONTO (MARCH 3, 2020) – To mark International Women’s Day, The Slaight Family Foundation is donating $15 million to 15 international organizations working to improve human rights and opportunities for women and girls.

The recipient organizations – working mainly in impoverished, fragile or conflict-affected areas – each focus on different issues facing women and girls, including human rights abuses, child marriages, sex trafficking, legal support, HIV and AIDS and education.

“The aim of this gift is to improve conditions for women and girls living in difficult circumstances, who represent some of the world’s most vulnerable populations,” said Gary Slaight of The Slaight Family Foundation. “The projects we are funding will leverage the expertise of these vital organizations to protect women and girls in the most fragile countries from direct harm, rebuild the lives of those who have been unjustly affected by conflict, deprivation and disease and give them the tools and support they need to survive and thrive.”

“This investment in international NGOs is unprecedented and the projects being supported will directly assist more than one million women and girls in some of the world’s most fragile regions,” said Dr. Samantha Nutt, President of War Child Canada. “It’s such an important time to be highlighting this issue. For The Slaight Family Foundation to recognize the threats faced by women and girls, and acknowledge that their concerns matter with such an historic gift, is a profound message to send. On behalf of the entire group we extend our sincerest gratitude to The Slaight Family Foundation for their incredible support of our collective work.”

Since 2013, The Slaight Family Foundation has funded several strategic initiatives to multiple organizations. These initiatives started with gifts to five Toronto hospitals to support priority healthcare issues, followed by programs to address global humanitarianism, healthy development of children and youth across Canada, support for Indigenous issues and, last year, a seniors’ initiative to help keep seniors in their homes and communities, including the Allan Slaight Seniors’ Fund at the United Way Greater Toronto.

Project Information

AIDS-Free World

Sub-Saharan African countries with UN peacekeeping missions and high rates of HIV in women

Develop and roll out a smartphone app to tap young women’s unique knowledge of and solutions to living under the threat of sexual violence. Women in remote areas who answer open-ended, recorded questions orally, in private, as easily as leaving a voicemail message, will be transformed from victims with lived experiences to experts helping to end sexual violence against women.

Canadian Feed the Children


Creation of a new ‘Livelihood & Gender Equality Fund’ championing the human rights of girls and women in Ethiopia. We will focus on reducing the forced migration of girls and women by helping them finish their education and improve future prospects including starting new, sustainable businesses through an agribusiness hub to develop female entrepreneurship. The initiative includes a sexual and reproductive health and rights campaign, strengthening community police, legal and healthcare systems, and a new research study on child migration.

Canadian Red Cross

South Sudan/Central Africa Republic

The Canadian Red Cross is launching an innovative program that brings health solutions directly into crisis and conflict areas, reaching women and girls who are cut off from health facilities due to violence. Essential health care and supplies delivered by local Red Cross responders will increase safe pregnancies, improve nutrition, and provide access to clean water and lifesaving treatments for disease.

CARE Canada


Innovate and improve menstrual hygiene management for school-age girls with female genital mutilation – develop and test new solutions with established women and girls’ groups, train women to produce hygiene products locally, improve school sanitation facilities and increase community awareness.

Crossroads International


The program will increase access to gender-responsive heath services and launch a youth-led awareness campaign for sexual and reproductive health rights among adolescent girls and boys at risk of child trafficking, forced prostitution, child labour and sexual violence in Kedougou, Senegal.

Human Rights Watch

Middle East/N Africa

End discrimination of women and girls by documenting the abuses of male guardianship system in the Middle East and North Africa. Year 1 will focus on documenting male guardianship in Qatar; how lack of domestic violence legislation and discriminatory laws leaves women exposed to domestic violence in Kuwait; and the start of mapping how and where male guardianship exists in the region.

Partners In Health Canada

Malawi & Sierra Leone

Improved access to sexual and reproductive health services especially for adolescents, strengthened care for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and increased availability of high-quality obstetric care. Activities include health worker training, resourcing and delivery of clinical care, educational initiatives for young people, and community-based work to raise awareness about women’s and girls’ rights and promote health seeking behaviour.

Right To Play


Transform the lives of more than 50,000 girls across Mozambique through a gender-responsive education program that removes barriers to access, builds teacher capacity, and positively impacts national programs and policies. The result will be higher literacy rates, lower drop-out rates, and a generation of girls who are better supported to succeed.

Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative
Helping reduce child soldier recruitment and conflict-based sexual violence through capacity building of national military and police forces, with a focus on female force members; enhance the Dallaire Initiative’s cadre of female international trainers and global champions; raise awareness amongst the global community on the critical role of women in preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

Save the Children

Sierra Leone

Improve knowledge and skills of adolescent girls and boys to be aware of and exercise their rights around sexual and reproductive health and gender equality, to be able to make their own informed decisions related to marriage and pregnancy. This action will transform harmful practices and attitudes that reinforce gender inequalities and gender-based violence and strengthen the institutional and policy environment to prevent child early and forced marriage.

Stephen Lewis Foundation

Sub-Saharan Africa

Expand holistic programmes that address gender inequalities to improve access to HIV prevention services, and support treatment adherence for women and girls living with HIV. Expand the global grandmothers movement through Grandmother Gatherings. Empower grandmothers caring for children orphaned by AIDS to claim their human rights and lead their communities, through peer support, healthcare, skills training, economic empowerment and advocacy.



In Somalia, only 30 per cent of children attend primary school with girls accounting for less than half of the total enrollment. This project will focus on girls and children with disabilities to improve their access to early childhood education (ECE) services. Community based and alternative ECE programs will be established in rural areas and provide appropriate curriculum that caters to the children’s different needs. It will also include education for parents and communities so that they can better support their children’s education.

War Child


Empower women and girls to seek justice and tackle impunity within their communities by providing critical legal support for those affected by or at risk of gender-based violence; through targeted educational programming, ensure that girls can uphold their rights, have greater self-determination, and move out of poverty over the long-term.

WE Charity

Sierra Leone (Kono District)

Focus on advancing the rights of vulnerable women and girls by empowering them with the tools, support and skills to bring an end to inter-generational cycles of poverty and injustice. The three-part program will implement training to address human rights abuses and threats affecting them. Part one will deliver community-wide training to create greater awareness about women’s rights and human rights abuses. Part two will provide vulnerable women and girls education on their rights, referral support and life skills to increase their opportunities. Part three will offer the highest-risk women and girls vocational training and accelerated learning opportunities.

World Vision


Implement the DREAM program – Dedicated to Reducing Early Marriage in Mali – to address the root cause of child marriage; will include sexual and reproductive health services, education and economic livelihood training; upgrading schools with girls washrooms, training parents, teachers, and faith leaders on the consequences of child marriage; train mothers and girls in financial literacy, life skills and income generating activities to increase household income.

For more information:

Jeri Brown, Media Profile

[email protected]

Office: 416-342-1834 Mobile: 416-455-7188

The Dallaire Initiative Marks The Day Against The Use Of Child Soldiers – An Open Public Dialogue

HALIFAX, NS – On February 10th, The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative (Dallaire Initiative), in partnership with Dalhousie University’s Open Dialogue Series, is hosting a public discourse to mark the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers.  

The discussion will be moderated by award-winning CBC journalist, Nahlah Ayed, and feature two speakers who experienced and understand the impacts of war on children, Omar Khadr and celebrated author and human rights activist Ishmael Beah. The event will also feature the organization’s Founder, LGen the Hon. Roméo Dallaire (ret’d) and Executive Director, Dr. Shelly Whitman.  

The event aims to nurture improved understanding of how children around the world are recruited and used by adults into conflict and violence. By examining the issue from multiple perspectives, the Dallaire Initiative hopes to provide deep and meaningful insights into how children are vulnerable to being recruited and used in violence, that takes many different forms, but ultimately have the same long-term and psycho-social impacts on the children and their communities.  

“As the global organization at the forefront of preventing children from being recruited and used in conflict, we have an obligation to foster public dialogue on this issue, with the aim to  break cycles of endemic violence around the world, and even here in Canada,” says Dr. Whitman.  “We understand this is a highly complex issue, but one that deserves serious attention if we are to achieve peace and security. The Dallaire Initiative is proud to be able to continue to convene timely and critical discussions that bring together diverse groups here at our institutional home in Halifax – Dalhousie University.”

The discussion is part of Dalhousie University’s Open Dialogue series which brings the community together for thought-provoking conversations focused on timely and relevant topics. The series also supports the university’s vital role in sparking dialogue around important issues.  

The event will also mark the Dallaire Initiative’s 10th anniversary at Dalhousie University. It will be hosted at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium and recorded for possible use in an episode of CBC Ideas.

Event Details

What: The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative in partnership with Dalhousie University’s Open Dialogue Series, public discourse with Omar Khadr, Ishmael Beah, and LGen the Hon. Roméo Dallaire 

When: Monday, February 10, 2020. Registration starts at 5:30, doors open at 6, event 7-9 

Where: Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, Dalhousie Arts Centre6101 University Ave, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2 

Note: For security reasons, all coats will need to be checked and no large bags will be allowed into the auditorium.

Media Advisory 

We anticipate a high level of media interest in this event. There will be limited space for media. 

All media-related inquiries in advance of this event will be solely handled by the Executive Director of the Dallaire Initiative, Dr. Shelly Whitman. Omar Khadr will not be speaking to the media.  

  • Media organizations wishing to attend the event must apply for accreditation by emailing: [email protected] with their name and media outlet.  
  • If accepted, media must present media and personal identification upon arrival to the media reception desk. 
  • There will be an area for media reserved in the Rebecca Cohn and media must remain in this area during the event. 
  • Photography, video and audio recordings of the event are not permitted.  

Media contact 

Aimee White, Chief of Staff

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative


[email protected]

About the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

Founded by retired Lieutenant-General and celebrated humanitarian Roméo Dallaire, The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative is a global partnership committed to ending the recruitment and use of child soldiers worldwide, through ground-breaking research, advocacy, and security-sector training.


Statement to Commemorate Red Hand Day

Dr. Shelly Whitman

Letter from Dr. Shelly Whitman

Executive Director of The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

Some 250 million children are affected  armed conflict around the globe. Today, in every conflict that exists, children are vulnerable to being recruited and used by adults. Their tactical and strategic use sustains and increases the severity of conflict while tearing at the fabric of societies affected by war.

This February 12th, the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers (Red Hand Day), offers us an opportunity to reflect on this sober reality and discuss how we can ultimately work towards ending the use of children as soldiers.

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative continues to be at the forefront of this fight, developing innovative tools and training for the security sector – military, police, prison personnel and peacekeepers—while creating ground-breaking research and high-level advocacy to create new solutions.

To mark Red Hand Day we are launching the third edition of our landmark publication, Child Soldiers: A Handbook for Security Sector Actors and the first edition of our maritime handbook, Children Used in Maritime Piracy: A Handbook for Maritime Security Sector Actors. These two handbooks aim to proactively and positively engage the security sector actors to prioritize the prevention of the use of child soldiers as a critical element to the protection of children and conflict prevention measures.

Canada has now taken the lead to ensure this ethos and approach is undertaken by the Canadian Armed Forces through the development of a Doctrine on Child Soldiers. The significance of this doctrine cannot be understated. Within its lines, not only is a baseline set for how Canada understands and actively assists in preventing the use of child soldiers, but how we will better prepare the men and women who face this reality in the field. Read our full statement on this important step forward here.

In a world of competing priorities, it is important we elevate the need to protect children from violence and abuse. A Children’s Rights Upfront approach will build points of collaboration and create momentum on the international peace and security agenda.  The concerted efforts of many are required to create a world where children are no longer used as weapons of war.

All forward together,

Dr. Shelly Whitman





Grant Paid Job Opportunity: Program Administration Officer Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

POSTING NUMBER: GPD-(we will assign)

POSTING DATE: November 2, 2016

CLOSING DATE: November 20, 2016


The Programme Administration Officer will be an integral part of all the programmatic pillars (training, research, and advocacy) and will work with senior leadership and all staff to achieve quality outputs and ensure outcomes of two key programs. Under the direction of the Executive Director and Director of Training, this position will be responsible for the overall administration of two key programs; VTECS and Building Connections: Police-Youth-Community Partnerships for Extreme Violence Prevention. The Programme Administration Officer will be responsible for facilitating workshops with youth, community members and police officers, planning a large scale conference and being the key contact person between police and community partners in Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto and Halifax. For both program, this position is responsible for preparing all program materials including agendas, PowerPoints, joining instructions, letters, briefs, activity reports, work plans, and all internal and external coordination correspondence.


  • Supports senior leadership with the effective coordination and delivery of 2 key Dallaire Initiative programs – milestones, deliverables, and activities
  • Supports senior leadership on tasks related to training, research, and advocacy deliverables for the Dallaire Initiative within the scope of the programs
  • Provides high level coordination for project implementation and acts as the centralized project leader for internal activities and external relations
  • Manages the day to day project activities and executes project actions
  • Provides substantive information and guidance and ongoing support and advice through planned and regular updates, progress reports, and final reports that contribute to a deeper understating of project frameworks


  • Master’s degree in Social Sciences, Adult Education and or other related fields preferred, or comparable work experience required
  • 3-5 years of experience in program management in the focus area of human rights or protection of civilians, education and/or peace and security required, or security sector or military background
  • Broad knowledge of relevant international contexts and current research themes
  • Project management skills including report writing and budget development and management.

Status: Full time (5 days) nights and weekends for events and deadlines 10% domestic travel

Pay Scale: $60,000

Start Date: January 15th, 2017

Deadline for application: November 20th, 2016

Interested parties should forward a cover letter, current CV and contact information of 2-3 references to: [email protected]

 Applications will be reviewed as they are received. We thank all applicants, however, only candidates selected for an interview will be be contacted.

Dalhousie University is committed to fostering a collegial culture grounded in diversity and inclusiveness. The university encourages applications from qualified Aboriginal people, persons with a disability, racially visible persons, women, persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities, and all qualified candidates who would contribute to the diversity of our community. For more information, please visit


Media Advisory: Veteran Trainers to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers

For Immediate Release

Media advisory


Canadian Veterans Join the Fight Against Child Soldiers

Toronto, Ontario, February, 8th – On February 10th, Wounded Warriors Canada will present LGen Roméo Dallaire and the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative with a $175 000 investment towards the pilot year of the Veteran Trainers to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers (VTECS) program. Held at the Royal Military Institute, remarks will be made by LGen Roméo Dallaire, Founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and Scott Maxwell, Executive Director of Wounded Warriors Canada. Following the 11:00am cheque presentation, a joint press conference will be held.

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative (Dallaire Initiative), is enlisting Canadian veterans in its global fight against child soldiers with the launch of the Veteran Trainers to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers (VTECS) program on February 10th. Delivered with the support of Wounded Warriors Canada, the programs, will build on the valuable knowledge, experience and insight Canadian veterans possess to deliver specialized training to prevent the use of child soldiers.

Based out of the Dallaire Initiative’s home, Dalhousie University, the VTECS program will equip Canadian veterans with specialized skills and knowledge to help deliver the Dallaire Initiative’s ground breaking work to prevent the use of child soldiers. Graduates of the VTECS program will help prepare their security sector peers for encounters with child soldiers and strengthen their ability to recognize and interrupt recruitment.

Location: The Royal Military Institute, 426 University Ave., Toronto, ON.

Date: February­­ 10th, 2015

Time: 11:00 am


For more information, please contact:


Media contacts:

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

Josh Boyter

[email protected]

1 902 494 2392 (office)

1 902 489. 6767 (cell)

Wounded Warriors Canada

Scott Maxwell

[email protected]



About the organizations

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

The Dallaire Initiative, based at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, is recognized as the only organization in the world that is taking a prevention-oriented, security sector focused approach to the crime against humanity that is child soldiery. Founded by retired lieutenant-general and celebrated humanitarian Roméo Dallaire, The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative is a global partnership committed to ending the use and recruitment of child soldiers worldwide, through ground-breaking research, advocacy, and security-sector training.

Wounded Warriors Canada

Wounded Warriors Canada is a non-profit organization that supports Canada’s ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans, First Responders and their families. Through a wide range of national programs and services, Wounded Warriors is dedicated to providing programs focused on mental health and, particularly, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Human Right At Sea (HRAS) becomes a registered charity

Original Article Link

Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) is very pleased to be able to announce that it has become a Registered Charity in England and Wales after only 13 months since its launch on 3 April 2014.

The charity’s aim is to explicitly raise awareness, implementation and accountability of human rights provisions throughout the maritime environment, especially where they are currently absent, ignored or being abused. It has been lawfully established and constituted with strong governance and national regulatory oversight.

Founder and now CEO of HRAS, David Hammond, said: “The development of Human Rights at Sea has been remarkably quick, first as an initiative and now as a charity. This reflects what we see as a clear gap in the international space for such a charitable body and its investigatory and advocacy work. We aim to ask the tough questions on difficult matters while delivering objective solutions where able. This approach has already highlighted the strong moral fibre of those who will work with us.”

“This is clearly a fantastic achievement for the HRAS team who have put in significant effort and many long hours in this first year in order to establish the organisation on very limited funding and support. Nevertheless, we have demonstrated significant value for money to date, and we have delivered on our promise to provide an objective international maritime human rights platform. Our investigative case studies, maritime-based projects and programmes are all clearly relevant to today’s maritime environment.”

“HRAS will go from strength-to-strength as an independent platform supporting the maritime human element, promoting corporate social responsibility and as an organisation we are here to stay.”

A joint trustees statement led by Jens Dieckmann, Attorney-at-Law said: “What distinguishes Human Rights at Sea is the overarching approach. Human rights on the high seas applies to everyone; fishermen, refugees and seafarers, while the modern maritime and fishing industries need to apply the highest human rights standards throughout the entire supply chain. Such a holistic international approach is both unique and beyond compare at this time. The current refugee crisis in the Mediterranean and in South East Asia shows that an isolated consideration and approach falls short. HRAS is able to make a decisive contribution to fill this gap. We, the HRAS Trustees, will ensure that this ambitious mission will be successfully accomplished.”

Commenting on the achievement, members of the Advisory Board and other HRAS supporters have added their congratulations:

Martin Foley, National Director, Apostleship of the Sea & HRAS Board of Advisors
“In a very short space of time HRAS has become a powerful advocate for seafarers’ rights. Registration as a charity will enhance its ability to speak up on behalf of seafarers who are denied their basic rights.”

Philip Wake, Chief Executive, The Nautical Institute
“The Nautical Institute is delighted to hear that Human Rights at Sea has achieved charitable status in the UK. We are sure that this not only confirms that a sound governance structure has been put in place to underpin their work on behalf of seafarers but that it will also assist the industry in supporting their important work financially. It is a sad but undeniable fact that seafarers continue to be unjustly criminalised for bona fide accidents in the course of their essential work for society and the world economy and to be denied shore leave in some countries, so the support HRAS provides to them is essential and The Nautical Institute looks forward to working with them to address these issues.”

Holman Fenwick Willan LLP
“HFW is delighted that the work of Human Rights at Sea has been recognised through the achievement of registered charity status. Having worked with HRAS from its inception, we fully support its aims and believe that recognition by the Charity Commission is a true reflection of the hard work and dedication of those involved in progressing this important cause. We look forward to supporting HRAS through the next stage of their development.”

Andrew Varney, Managing Director Port2Port Limited
“Charity Status for the Human Rights at Sea is a fantastic achievement for David Hammond and his team. This reinforces the most basic of rights for seafarers across the globe, including maritime security operatives working on board. I fully support the promotion and awareness of human rights for all seafarers; only recently one of Port2Port’s contractors was involved in the rescue of fishermen off Ghana, following the sinking of their vessel. All maritime security operatives embark with a thorough understanding of their moral and contractual responsibilities to their fellow seafarers, underpinned by the principles defined and upheld by HRAS.”

Roy Paul, Programme Director, Maritime Humanitarian Piracy Response programme (MHPRP)
“MHPRP welcomes the news that charitable status has been achieved by Human Rights at Sea. HRAS will give a voice to seafarers who, at sea, are out of sight and out of mind and often live and work without protection of the law. The desperation to escape poverty forces seafarers into slavery and expose them to inhuman living conditions. The failure to provide adequate protection and recovery from violent maritime crime, deprive seafarers of their livelihood. Their lives are being threatened. The numerous faces on the HRAS Missing Seafarers Register and the high toll of unnamed maritime deaths per year underscores the need for human rights to be applied at sea with as much diligence as anywhere else. MPHRP has added many of those seafarers to the Register, brought to our attention by desperate families and loved ones of piracy victims and other maritime incidents. It brings some comfort knowing that their kin are not forgotten. While MLC2006 sets minimum standards, it falls short of enforcing human rights in the maritime domain. To this end MPHRP hopes for the success of Human Rights at Sea.”

Aleka Sheppard, Chairman (Founder), London Shipping Law Centre & HRAS Board of Advisors
“The perils at sea for mariners are as great as ever. Take piracy, which ranges from the Gulf of Guinea to the Indian Ocean and the Far East. Failed states such as Libya have dangerous waters for both professional mariners and now migrants trafficked at sea. Even in modern ships, seafarers are exposed to serious risks as they have been for thousands of years, a startling situation in a modern world. In addition, mariners may face criminalisation, even for defending themselves against these threats. Yet, it is paradoxical that the rise of globalisation through trade has not been accompanied by a concomitant rise in protecting the human rights of those at sea. Therefore the grant of charitable status to HRAS is a great achievement and very timely as the rights of seafarers everywhere require safeguarding.”

Ken Peters Director of Justice and Public Affairs The Mission to Seafarers
“I am delighted to recommend Human Rights at Sea for all the work they do to support seafarers in need and for their key activities in raising awareness, implementation and accountability of human rights provisions through the maritime environment. They work to research and publish important case studies based on international maritime law, which has helped countless seafarers where their human rights are absent, ignored or being abused. The Mission works across the shipping world in around 260 of the world’s ports and our vital work providing welfare services to seafarers includes pastoral care and friendship in these very complex circumstances, amongst others. I want to congratulate David Hammond CEO and Founder of HRAS for setting up a new maritime charity which is now registered in England and Wales.”

Associated Foreign Exchange (AFEX)
“AFEX is delighted that Human Rights at Sea has achieved charity status. The principles, objectives and cutting edge approach of HRAS towards the provision of human rights for all seafarers resonate entirely with AFEX’s Maritime Corporate Social Responsibility Policy and we congratulate all at HRAS for this deserved recognition of the importance of their mission.”

Joanna Ewart-James, Director, Walk Free Partner Network
“I welcome the formal establishment of Human Rights at Sea. The isolation which attracts many to a life at sea also allows rights violations to thrive hidden from view. Whilst life at sea is usually a positive experience, sadly some are victims of crimes such as modern slavery. The Walk Free movement remains poised to support organisations like HRAS secure change to end slavery at sea.”

Steven Kay QC, Head 9 Bedford Row International Group & HRAS Board of Advisors
“The HRAS initiative critically emphasises the responsibilities and duties owed to all persons on the high seas be they seafarers, fishermen or boat people. This neglected area of people’s rights now has a protective cover.”

David Wardrop, Chairman, United Nations Association Westminster Branch
“The United Nations Association Westminster Branch congratulates Human Rights at Sea on gaining charitable status. The speed with which organisations like ours as well as governments and individuals confirmed our ready support for its strong voice advocating human rights issues in the maritime environment reflects the urgency of its work and our confidence in its leadership.”

Rear-Admiral Nick Lambert Royal Navy, HRAS Board of Advisors
“I unhesitatingly commend the vision of HRAS and the recent award of its charitable status by The Charity Commission. Notwithstanding the sterling efforts of many agencies and institutions, the plight of countless seafarers, fishermen and migrants at sea has been largely ignored by the international community for far too long. Proper recognition of and attention to their human rights offers a clear course of action, the potential for effectively addressing their circumstances and, above all, hope for the many people we’re seeing all too often in news media coverage.”

Agustin Blanco-Bazan, HRAS Board of Advisors
“The preservation of human rights at sea should be understood as a paramount task conditioning all activities in the maritime field. As such, it should be addressed holistically, namely as a subject matter comprising the aspirations of all: seafarers, migrants, missing persons and their families, alleged offenders in connection with crimes at sea, etc. HRAS enables the development of this holistic approach. It does so by means of complementing the work of many institutions representing different sectors of the maritime industry. In this way HRAS provides the added value of a vision encompassing all situations where basic rights seem to be more vulnerable at sea than on land.”

Brig. Ret’d., Martin Xuereb, Director, Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS)
“The work HRAS has done in raising awareness on the need for protection of human rights at sea is admirable. I am very pleased to hear the organisation has achieved charitable status that will allow them to extend their action internationally. MOAS will keep collaborating with them to ensure that rights of vulnerable people at sea are respected.”

Shelly Whitman, Executive Director, Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative
“The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative is elated to hear that Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) has received registered charity status. The Dallaire Initiative has been a proud supporting entity of Human Rights at Sea since its founding and we look forward to working with HRAS to develop effective means of mitigating, and hopefully eliminating, human rights abuses at sea. HRAS has shown unwavering support of the Dallaire Initiative’s work on raising the rights of children on the maritime security sector agenda. The Dallaire Initiative is excited to build upon our partnership with HRAS to further our effort to strengthen the capacity of the security sector to address the issue of children used in maritime piracy.”

Jon Huggins, Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP)
“Human Rights at Sea has become an important voice advocating for the welfare of all seafarers, particularly in the fight to end the practice of slavery aboard fishing vessels and to bring attention to the plight of missing seafarers. Oceans Beyond Piracy congratulates Human Rights at Sea on achieving registered charity status which will provide a platform to continue the development of the organization and significantly contribute to achieving its mission.”

Anneley Pickles, Head of Business Development – Crewtoo
“Crewtoo is pleased to hear the very good news that Human Rights at Sea has achieved charitable status as part of the ongoing expansion of the organisation and the work that it does to highlight human rights abuses at sea. The speed at which HRAS has developed is testimony to the real need for its work in support of seafarers globally.”

Georgina Godden, Business Development Director of Psychological Health Consultancy March on Stress
“I am delighted that Human Rights at Sea has achieved recognised charitable status. This reflects their hard work and dedication and we look forward to continuing to work together to ensure psychological support for seafarers.”
Source: Human Rights At Sea

Statement on Omar Khadr

Omar Khadr is free at last on bail. The treatment of Omar Khadr as a terrorist and not as a child soldier was wrong. Despite the efforts of many concerned Canadians, human rights advocates and child protection experts, Omar continued to languish in prison cell after prison cell. Yesterday, the upholding of Omar’s bail decision is a reminder of the importance of the judicial branch of our government, which upheld the rule of law.

It is crucial to keep in mind that Omar Khadr is a victim in all of this. Recruited at 13 years old, then shot and taken prisoner two years later, the story of Omar Khadr has been nothing if not infuriating. As a child, Khadr was forced to move to Afghanistan and join al-Qaeda by his father. It is believed that during a raid on Khadr’s compound, the 15-year-old threw a grenade, killing Sergeant Christopher Speer, a Delta Force strategic forces soldier and medic. Eight years later, he pleaded guilty under duress.

But over the past decade, Khadr’s rights have been violated time and again. From the very beginning, he has been denied the right to due process and a fair trial, the right to protection from torture and — perhaps most appallingly — the rights stemming from the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

International law and norms, which Canada is signatory to, are put in place so as to protect those children who are unscrupulously used as weapons of war and to hold those who recruit and use them to account. It is not Omar who was the threat, but those who recruit young girls and boys to fight their wars for them who are the greatest threat. Omar deserves the chance to be educated, to be loved, and to be forgiven, just as hundreds of thousands of other child soldiers around the world who have received rehabilitation funded by the Canadian government.

Yesterday, despite the horrific treatment exacted upon Omar for the past 13 years, he walked out and declared, “there is nothing I can do about the past, but there is something I can do about the future.” Yes Omar, there is so much you can do to shape your future positively and let us hope that you are “free at last”.


LGen, the Hon. Roméo Dallaire (Ret’d), Founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

Dr. Shelly Whitman, Executive Director of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative