Fellow Since 1996
Ford Foundation - Chile
This profile was prepared when Martín Abregú was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
As the leader of a human rights organization that plays a pace-setting role in Argentina and all of Latin America, Martín Abregú is developing new strategies that will successfully address a range of issues quite different from those traditionally pursued by rights groups in the region and, in so doing, enlist the support of sympathetic government officials in advancing human rights causes.Martín is convinced that, in the current political climate, human rights groups will command the respect and support of large segments of the population only if they are effectively engaged in combating abuses extending well beyond political killings, torture and similar violations by the state. Accordingly, he is tackling a growing range of "new" issues, including discriminatory practices of public institutions and non-state agencies that adversely affect women, homosexuals, persons with disabilities, adherents of other than mainstream religions and other groups; inhumane and abusive treatment of detainees in police facilities; and denial of access to basic socioeconomic rights, such as adequate medical care in the event of serious illness.In his search for remedies for rights abuses, Martín is employing a flexible and expanding array of tools. He continues, of course, to make good use of the traditional and time-tested techniques of human rights organizations-painstaking monitoring and denunciation of violations, and related media campaigns. But he is also working directly with legislatures and other governmental bodies to stimulate new, rights-supportive legislation, public policies and state agency practices. And he is building new informal alliances with other rights-concerned groups, including universities, environmental groups and other citizen based and non-governmental organizations.