First human rights TV channel vows to "give a voice to voiceless"

LONDON, Jan 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The world’s first television channel dedicated to human rights was launched in London on Tuesday with a promise to deliver hidden stories ignored by mainstream media into people’s living rooms.

The International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR) said its web-based channel would bring human rights issues to audiences in over 20 countries across Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

“There are so many people in the world who cannot speak up, and it seems to be getting worse and worse,” IOHR director Valerie Peay told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the official launch at London’s Frontline Club, a gathering place for media.

“You have got a lot of niche channels out there, but so far not one dedicated to human rights. We want to bring this into people’s homes.”

Topics will include refugees, press freedom and the incarceration of journalists, extremism, women’s rights, LGBT+ issues and the plight of the world’s stateless people.

“We live in a world of 24-hour news cycles and often stories get lost and we see human rights being sidelined,” Peay said.

“(This) is about joining up the dots so people hopefully engage with human rights and make a difference.”

Programmes in the pipeline will look at China 30 years after the crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, the positive and negative impacts of technology on women, and the human rights implications of Brexit, Britain’s departure from the European Union in March.

Yalda Hakim, a presenter and journalist with the BBC, told the launch event that the channel aimed “to give a voice to the voiceless” and “to make human rights sexy” in a world where attention spans were shrinking and soundbites ruled.

Broadcasts can be viewed via the interactive platform and will shortly be available via a mobile app.

Programming is in English, but IOHR eventually hopes to broadcast in other languages including Farsi, Turkish, Arabic and Russian. (Reporting by Emma Batha @emmabatha; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit