Open Society Foundations Announce 2023 Soros Justice Fellows

New York, Nov. 03, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Open Society Foundations is pleased to announce the 2023 cohort of Soros Justice Fellows, which includes a mix of emerging and established leaders in the field of criminal justice reform, including public educators, artists, lawyers, activists, non-profit innovators, journalists, and filmmakers from across the United States.

“Over the more than a decade that I have worked with the Soros Justice Fellowships, I’ve seen a great number of fellows go on and continue to serve as changemakers in their local communities, and nationally,” said Adam Culbreath, Senior Team Manager at Open Society–U.S. “This is an incredibly unique program to advance justice in the U.S., which supports the notion that change often happens from the ground up.

“Mass incarceration has an enormous and disastrous toll on our communities and represents one of the most glaring injustices of our nation. Today, nearly 10 million Americans—including millions of children—have an immediate family member in jail or prison,” said Christina Voight, program manager at Open Society–U.S. “Each Soros Justice Fellow can play a role in changing this broken system.”

Each fellow will receive stipends ranging from $100,000 to $140,000 for projects lasting between 12 and 18 months to ensure accountability in the U.S. criminal justice system by developing new ways to combat mass incarceration, youth criminalization, surveillance, immigration policies, racial disparities, and police violence. The Soros Justice Fellowships were founded in 1997 and have funded over 400 individuals working to curb mass incarceration and ensure a fair and equitable system of justice.

2023 Soros Justice Fellows

Ashley Rojas will educate movement leaders and cultivate power between the movement for #PoliceFreeSchools and the broader culture of abolitionist organizing efforts to end harm and punishment.

Avalon Betts-Gaston and Lloyd Gaston will research the scope and impact of Illinois Worker Rights amendment on incarcerated workers.

Betty Washingtonwill create OASIS (Our Aging Seniors Incarcerated Society), a project focusing on advocating for the needs of justice-impacted seniors.

Bridgette Simpson will educate the public and create The Protected Class Network, seeking to make justice-impacted people a protected class.

Cheryl Fairbanks will educate native Indigenous people and strengthen concepts of justice through an Indigenous peacemaking lens.

Dominique Branson will educate, document, and destabilize anti-Black ideologies that legitimize pretrial dangerousness predictions and harm Black communities.

Jenani Srijeyanthan will educate and establish a counter-narrative to carceral child sexual abuse prevention approaches through the amplification, technical resourcing, and proliferation of a nationwide prevention movement that does not prioritize policing, criminalization, or surveillance.

Jordan Martinez-Mazurek will educate the public and start local and regional dialogues around fighting the expansion of mass incarceration in the South and in Appalachia.

Mary Baxter will, through an art piece entitled Reimagining Dignity: A Love Letter to Ourselves, educate the public to reimagine racially-charged and gender-oppressive historical events. The piece will reckon with the fallacies of first- and second-wave feminism.

Omisade Burney-Scott will curate a multidisciplinary initiative and educate the public on reproductive justice, radical Black feminism, gender liberation, and pathways to normalizing menopause and aging for the marginalized Black population.

Rachel Gilmer will educate the public and build a united front of survivors and healthcare providers with the goal of creating non-carceral solutions that address the root causes of violence in our communities.

Talila Lewis will educate and create media and art that highlights how ableism informs and drives racism, anti-Blackness, capitalism, and other forms of oppression, violence, and inequity.

Toshio Meronek will educate the public and justice advocates about the expansion of involuntary medical conservatorship in Arkansas, with a focus on its potential human and financial consequences.

Wendi Cooper and Matt Nadel will organize a statewide screening tour of the documentary film CANS Can’t Stand to educate the public about the archaic 1805 Crimes Against Nature by Solicitation statute and the harsh punishments it imposed.

Open Society Foundations
(212) 548-0378

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Benadir Region to Elect District Commissioners in June 2024

Mogadishu – The Federal Government of Somalia’s Minister of Interior, Federal Affairs and Reconciliation, HE Ahmed Moalim Fiqi, announced that elections for District Commissioners in the Banadir Administration will commence on June 30, 2024. The public in the Benadir region will have the opportunity to elect their leaders across all 18 districts.

According to Somlai National News Agency, the move towards public elections for District Commissioners represents a significant step for the people of Banadir. The government aims to enable residents to move past land conflicts and elect leaders who will be directly accountable to them. “We expect the people of Banadir region to elect their district Commissioner who will be accountable for them and their council members, ensuring they are represented,” Fiqi stated. He also urged the public to prepare for these elections and to work towards ending land-related conflicts that have disrupted local peace.

Mombasa Welcomes Cruise Liner SH Diana, Signaling Tourism Sector’s Revival

Mombasa– The Port of Mombasa marked a significant milestone in its tourism revival efforts with the arrival of the cruise liner SH Diana, carrying 57 passengers and 109 crew members. As the festive season approaches its peak, this development has brought optimism to the tourism industry, which has been recovering from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and global economic challenges.

According to Kenya News Agency, Kenya Ports Authority’s Head of Corporate Communication, the increasing attraction of cruise liners to Kenya signifies a resurgence in the tourism sector. Osero stated that the country is regaining its status as a major tourist destination and a regional leader in tourism. He expressed confidence that the Port of Mombasa would host more cruise vessels in the coming two months, reflecting the global liners’ trust in the port as a top destination in the region and continent.

Osero further revealed plans to transform the Port of Mombasa into a world-class facility, including making it a home port for some cruise vessels. He highlighted that the port boasts state-of-the-art cruise reception facilities, which meet global standards. Collaborations are underway with key stakeholders like the Kenya Tourism Board and Cruise Africa Association to enhance the port’s capacity as a modern home port for cruise ships.

Additionally, Osero noted the significance of the SH Diana’s call at the Port of Lamu, marking a major step in utilizing and expanding the port’s commercial viability. This event underscores the efforts to diversify the ports’ operations and leverage their potential in boosting the country’s tourism and maritime sectors.

Echoing Osero’s sentiments, Capt. Ali Abdile, Head of Pilotage at KPA, emphasized the strategic importance of the Lamu anchorage. He mentioned that the vessel’s visit to Lamu was well received by the local county leadership and the hospitality experienced by the crew and passengers highlighted the port’s potential for beneficial use.

This series of events at Mombasa and Lamu ports represent key developments in Kenya’s tourism industry, signaling a promising path towards full recovery and growth.

Somalia’s Interior Minister Launches Conflict Mapping Enumerator in Banadir

Mogadishu – The Minister of Interior, Federal Affairs and Reconciliation of the Federal Government of Somalia, HE Ahmed Moalim Fiqi, inaugurated a workshop for the Enumerator of Conflict Mapping in the Banadir region. The workshop was organized by the Banadir Regional Administration to address conflict triggers in the region.

According to Somlai National News Agency, Dr. Fiqi emphasized the significance of conflict mapping, noting that each region in Somalia faces unique conflict triggers that require tailored solutions for peacebuilding and reconciliation. The Acting Governor of the Banadir Regional Administration, Hon. Isse Mohamud Gure, who also attended the workshop, highlighted that land disputes are a primary source of conflict in Banadir. He mentioned that the training provided in the workshop is a crucial step towards finding enduring solutions to these recurrent conflicts in the region.

Public Urged to Report Abuse of Elderly During Hearings on Older Persons Amendment Bill

Kroonstad – The Portfolio Committee on Social Development emphasized society’s role in reporting maltreatment and abuse of older persons at the first of three public hearings on the Older Persons Amendment Bill [11-2022]. The hearing, which took place at the Allan Rautenbach Hall in Kroonstad, is part of a national initiative to gather public opinion on the Bill, as mandated by Section 59 (1) of the Constitution.

According to Parliament of South Africa, there was a general consensus that older persons often suffer abuse in silence, and the Bill should introduce mechanisms to improve reporting. The elderly participants overwhelmingly supported the Bill, seeing it as essential for ensuring their protection, respect, and the promotion of their rights.

Despite the support, some concerns were raised regarding the feasibility of clause 25A of the Bill, which proposes a process for the temporary safe care removal of older persons. The clause was questioned in light of current funding pressures and the ability of care homes to provide adequate care, even temporarily.

Caregivers also expressed support for the Bill, particularly clause 9, which mandates prescribed training to ensure high-quality care. However, concerns were raised about the prevalent issue of loan sharks confiscating South African Social Security Agency cards and identity documents from the elderly. This practice reportedly creates difficulties for families in preparing for funerals when an elderly person passes away. The committee advised against approaching loan sharks for loans due to the severe consequences.

Additionally, the elderly of the Fezile Dabi District Municipality requested the local government to allocate land for establishing care homes and recreation facilities for senior citizens.

The committee valued the input received and assured that these perspectives would be considered during the Bill’s deliberation. The Older Persons Amendment Bill aims to enhance the protection and care of South Africa’s senior citizens, addressing issues such as abuse, harmful traditional practices, including witchcraft accusations, and the transfer of inter-generational knowledge. It also includes provisions for the removal of older individuals to temporary safe care without requiring a court order.

The second leg of the hearings is scheduled to take place in Welkom, with the committee inviting individuals and organizations to participate and share their views.