Security Plans, Part One: At the Physical Level

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Security Plans, Part One: At the Physical Level

I went to Brussels to assist in a workshop on security for human rights defenders who face risks in their countries. As a Meem member, I always thought that we are a vulnerable group working on sexuality in a Lebanese context.

During the introductory session, participants were sharing experiences about activism in their countries and as I heard them I thought, living in Lebanon must be a bed of roses, compared to the stories of activists from risky countries such as Pakistan, Mexico, India and Zimbabwe who face grave threats on a daily basis. Activists deal with kidnapping, robbery, murders, phone threats, and online tracing and hacking by militia and their governments. But that doesn’t mean that we as Meem members should ignore the importance of security in our daily activism.

Security in practice works like an umbrella covering everything and like one front line slogan said “protect one empower thousands.”

The security of every member in Meem is as important as the security of the whole group. And the tips below concern all activists in Lebanon working in a threatening environment.

First, what is a risk formula?

Risk= threat *vulnerabilities/capacities

The less capacities you have, the more you are vulnerable and the higher the risk levels.

To establish a security plan you don’t need money for it so no need to apply for a grant and let the funder discover all you security tips and measures.

Now the security plan is divided into 2 levels: the physical level includes location, documents and staff; and the online level including your mailing list, blogs, website and your social media networks.

On the physical level, here are some tips:

Always have a safe in your office.  In this safe you put your entire organization’s documents: bills, proposal papers, members list, emergency cases list… and keep the key also in a safe space not in your key holder for example.

If it is possible, don’t let your office be next to the entry door where visitors come in and can check your screen.

Do not chat about organization issue on the balcony because neighbors can hear you!!! Also the balcony is not a workspace, so don’t take your laptop or document and sit on the balcony and smoke a cigarette, because that is also risky.

If you are a staff or a member visiting the space on a daily basis try, to change your routine, like for example don’t take the same road every day, make sure that no one is following you, and don’t let anyone– even your friends and folks, drop you to your organization’s location.

For a better physical security an interphone is very important and reduces possibilities of having unwelcomed visitors. Cameras are also good security tools, but if you don’t have the money you can pass without them.

Always have the number of a legal counselor on your speed dial.

Oh I forgot to mention. You need to have a legal counselor, and try to memorize the number because once you are arrested (that is too negative I know but we are trying to visualize the risks so let’s talk about them seriously), they will take you i-phone (yes because all the activists in Lebanon have i-phones or android) and let you make one phone call from the station.

That was the last tip for this issue. I will be writing about online security in the next issue with links to all the programs and software.

Till then, have a safe week. And remember, always look behind you, bad people are watching you.

- Contributed by Hathor

Guest Contributor

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