Human Rights Council side event

Jo is a consultant in the human rights and development fields, with a focus on gender equality, discrimination, violence against women, torture and detention contexts. She has a decade of experience working with national, regional and IGOs, following a career as a journalist and has worked and/or lived in more than ten countries, mostly in Asia, but also the Middle East and Africa. She holds an MA (Distinction) in Intl. Human Rights Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies, Univ. of London. Jo has been published widely in journals and the press, from the Oxford Human Rights Hub to Time Magazine. [Read more at LinkedIn]

Her core skills are designing and leading research; informing policy; strategic communications and advocacy; M&E; working with vulnerable persons; benchmarking practice against national and international standards; the UN human rights machinery and international law; delivering trainings; and writing and editing. She has presented at 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 – and is trained in reciprocal research methodologies for use among vulnerable groups.

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 coordinator of the Urgent Appeals Programme (more on this here).  She has since worked 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), Penal Reform International, DFID, the IPPF, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), The Women’s Foundation (Hong Kong), Dui Hua, the British Council and London’s Helen Bamber Foundation for victims of torture and trafficking, among others.  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.

Among recent projects, Jo led and produced a 100+ page multi-country 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. Four individual country studies are to follow in 2015.

Other 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); research on gender equality, VAWG and reproductive rights for the IPPF; a policy paper with the International Service for Human Rights (read here)  on the protection of human rights defenders from reprisal, and a global preparatory consultation report for UN Women and the Commission on the Status of Women in 2013 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.

Lusaka Central women's prison, Zambia

As a commentator on human rights and gender equality, Jo has written regularly for international media, such as the South China Morning Post and the Asia Sentinel, as well as industry journals and portals, among them the Oxford Human Rights Hub, Historical Memory and Justice Network, the Law and Society Trust Review, and Open Democracy.

As a journalist Jo specialized in design, culture and social justice and development, and wrote regularly for mainstream publications, including Time Magazine and the Guardian. 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. features the selected works of Baker’s, published during the last few years.  Click here for a full list of publications.