The American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights Justice Defenders Program coordinates pro bono legal support and engages in advocacy on behalf of human rights defenders facing retaliation and barriers to their work. In the Balkans, the Program has received numerous reports of online smear campaigns against human rights defenders who are critical of the current government. These campaigns appear to be somewhat coordinated and often follow a similar pattern: a media organization, often an obscure portal or a tabloid, publishes a reputation tarnishing story about an individual defender or organization and that story gets repeated and augmented by a string of local, and sometimes national media outlets, and shared on social media platforms. Serbia has a very low score on the most recent media literacy index and orchestrated smear campaigns may be exceptionally damaging to human rights defenders, including increasing their risk of violence and isolation.
The Center is seeking a paid, remote, part-time consultant to conduct research into current online smear and misinformation campaigns against human rights defenders (HRDs) in Serbia and the Balkans. This is a 5 month consultancy position. Consultant is expected to begin in mid-February 2021
· Conduct research into current online smear and misinformation campaigns against HRDs in the Balkans
· Conduct an investigation of available published and broadcasted materials shared on social media
· Map sources and common tactics used to attack HRDs
· Identify and investigate roles and key relationships among media outlets including the ownership structure
o An outline that includes proposed methodology, analysis of the outlets that are most often engaged in smear campaigns of (who is most at risk) the outlets that are most often engaged in smear campaigns based on public reports, and identifies at least 2, and no more than 4 proposed case studies, into apparent coordinated campaigns against human rights defenders in the region and the actions, legal and informal, that defenders are taking to mitigate the risk.
o A preliminary summary of findings that includes social media mapping results, identifies perpetrators, maps out relationships and interests among apparent targets and perpetrators, including through investigation into publicly available information on personal and business contacts
o A first draft that reflects edits and comments the ABA has provided on the outline and preliminary summary of findings, including an analysis of the legal framework within which the attacks occur
o A final draft that incorporates all edits and comments ABA provides into the first draft and includes recommendations for various stakeholders identified during the course of the research, including but not limited to human rights defenders at risk, lawyers representing human rights defenders and civil society organizations that are targeted with misinformation campaigns, law enforcement, and the platforms themselves.
The successful quote will demonstrate the researcher’s familiarity with media situation in Serbia, online threats against human rights defenders in at least one Balkan country and experience doing similar research, including through social media mapping, as well as an analysis of the legal framework within which the threats occur and the mechanisms by which they undermine human rights defenders’ ability to work. In addition, the candidate must have:
· Excellent oral and written communication skills in Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian languages, are required. Knowledge of additional languages is a plus.
- Experience in communicating with local partners, including using secure communication platforms.
- Experience in drafting reports that provide succinct and well-documented facts and analysis.
· Demonstrated commitment to public interest and knowledge of international law.
· Prior experience working on issues of human rights and/or human rights defenders in the region.
How to Apply:
· Application deadline: February 5 2020
· Consultant is expected to begin in January 2021. This is a 5-month consultancy.
· Please send the following documents in a single PDF to Lian Najjar at firstname.lastname@example.org
o Statement of interest detailing your experience working on related projects
o Resume or CV
o Quote that includes an hourly rate
o Social media handles (Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter)