Jo is a researcher and writer in the field of human rights and gender. She holds a Masters degree (Distinction) in Human Rights Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and has a background in policy, advocacy and journalism, particularly in Asia.
She most recently led and produced a comparative study for DIGNITY – The Danish Institute Against Torture on conditions for women in detention (read more about the project, or read the report), which has taken her into prisons and prison communities in Albania, Jordan, the Philippines, and Zambia. The report was launched at a side event at the Human Rights Council Summer session, with DIGNITY and Penal Reform International (above), on the human rights of women in custody. Jo is currently completing five individual country studies, for the second phase of the project. She has presented or taken part in various symposiums and workshops with a focus on women, justice and detention systems — as well as the rule of law, torture and other CPRs generally (more here) — and is trained in reciprocal research methodologies for use among vulnerable groups.
Recent projects include an international policy scoping study on violence against women and girls (VAWG), largely through expert interviews for the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID); a policy paper with the International Service for Human Rights (read here) on the protection of human rights defenders, and a global consultation report for UN Women, in preparation for the Commission on the Status of Women in 2013, also on VAWG (accessed here). Other topics of research have included trafficking and the Istanbul Protocol, community based policing best practice, and freedom of religion and blasphemy laws, among others.
Jo transitioned into the human rights field from full-time journalism via the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and Asian Legal Resources Centre (ALRC) in Hong Kong, as editor and coordinator of the Urgent Appeals Programme (more on this here). She has since worked as a researcher, editor, communications consultant and writer with: UN Women in New York and Bangkok, the International Crisis Group, the Law and Development Partnership, the REDRESS Trust, the Cairo Institute on Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), the International Service for Human Rights, and London’s Helen Bamber Foundation for victims of torture and trafficking. She has attended various UN Human Rights Council sessions to make formal submissions, present research and advocate, on behalf of the AHRC, CIHRS, and DIGNITY.
As a journalist Jo specialized in design, culture and social justice and development, and has written regularly for mainstream publications such as Time Magazine and the South China Morning Post, as well as human rights journals and online news portals, among them the Asia Sentinel and Open Democracy. Her interview subjects have included former Guantanamo Bay detainees and rights activists, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan, architect Tadao Ando and novelist and political commentator Frederick Forsyth; her assignments have spanned women’s empowerment in Myanmar, and anti-torture legislation in Asia, to land rights in Cambodia and Sri Lanka’s witness protection laws. She has lived and worked in the US, the UK, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Australia.
www.jobakeronline.com features the selected works of Baker’s, published during the last few years. Click here for a full list of publications.