With Defenders

Human rights defenders are people who work towards the realisation of the rights and freedoms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, through peaceful means. Their work results in positive social change. They play a major role in preventing and resolving conflicts, in the fight against impunity and corruption and in the establishment of the Rule of Law. They stand up for people whose rights and fundamental freedoms are violated.

Human rights defenders are people who work towards the realisation of the rights and freedoms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, through peaceful means. Their work results in positive social change. They play a major role in preventing and resolving conflicts, in the fight against impunity and corruption and in the establishment of the Rule of Law. They stand up for people whose rights and fundamental freedoms are violated.

Protection International reaches out to the most vulnerable defenders: people defending the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in Kenya and Indonesia; community leaders in remote, isolated areas in Guatemala or Colombia; and organisations documenting human rights violations in lawless settings such as the conflict in Somalia.

While working globally in nearly 50 countries, we always ensure that our approach is local: focusing on the specific challenges and needs of human rights defenders in their own contexts. 

To be true to what we do on the ground, we should say that we advocate for specific protection needs of the different groups of human rights defenders (HRDs) that we work with: community-based HRDs, indigenous communities, LGBTIQ, grassroots CSOs, etc. And in all these target groups, we work closely with the women who are  at the forefront of the social and collective struggles of those groups; also in our interventions, we aim at promoting a more prominent role (and leadership) for women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in the security and protection of their communities and organisations, and that the men working with those WHRDs also recognise the role those women play and respect them.

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Remote Communities

  Defenders living and working in remote and rural areas are particularly at risk because of their isolation. They lack access to key actors in protection such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, National Human Rights Commissions, major national human rights organisations, national authorities or embassies. Moreover, they often have little or no access to communication means, transport and information. Thus, defenders in remote areas must solely rely on themselves for their security and protection. Nevertheless, they often confront very powerful interests – whether...

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Environmental Defenders

When communities start organising themselves to defend their rights, they find themselves opposing powerful private and public interests. Community leaders and members may become the targets of harassment, threats and even aggression. The involvement of national and transnational corporations adds a layer of complexity. As well as the fact that many of the projects take place in remote and rural areas. Isolation adds an important factor to the risk that human rights defenders face. They lack access to authorities that should offer protection. Protection International works with those human...

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Defenders for the Rights of LGBTI People

  LGBTI defenders are often marginalized and exposed to stigmatization, repression, discrimination and consequent human rights violations because of their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, and because they are defenders of the rights to equality and non-discrimination. Protection International’s Manual for LGBTI Defenders focuses on the specific issues and obstacles that prevailing societal values and legal systems present. Protection International has been supporting defenders in countries like Guatemala, Indonesia, and Kenya – offering concrete advice for improvement of...

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Journalists

  Journalists often reveals human rights violations that would otherwise remain undiscovered. This exposure makes them more vulnerable to end up in the firing line of perpetrators of those violations. Media also tends to be subject of regulation by the state. More often than not, this dependency turns the law into a source of risk rather than a source of protection. Protection International gives them the capacity to develop a security and protection plan tailored to their needs. In a healthy democracy, journalists play a central role in the balance of powers when they denounce human rights...

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Criminalized Defenders

  States increasingly push back on people defending rights and freedoms by wrongfully labelling and prosecuting them as criminals or terrorists. The risk dimension doubles when such criminalisation makes other potential aggressors sense that the political cost of attacking the so-called criminal is low. Stigmatisation of HRDs (often compared to terrorists or criminals) also aims at reducing the support they enjoy. Protection International researches the trend of criminalisation of human rights defenders in order to understand underlying patterns. This informs strategies to manage the multiple...

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Human Rights Defenders, Victims and Witnesses

  It fuels the impression that the use of violence is an affordable option. Human Rights Defenders stand up for victims and witnesses of Human Rights violations. They document the victim’s testimony, help to provide it  to authorities, courts or other forums, seeking to eradicate impunity and bring perpetrators to justice. The justice system often leans on Human Rights Defenders for gathering evidence and obtain access toto victims and witnesses. However, most judicial programmes for the protection of victims and witnesses do not support the woman/man in the middle, the Human Rights defender...

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Women Human Rights Defenders

Every man and woman who defends human rights should be able to do so without fear of being at risk. At Protection International, we build the capacities of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) to analyse the specificity of the risks they face and to develop their own security and protection strategies. We also participate in regional networks’ initiatives contributing to the protection of WHRDs, such as the Mesoamerican WHRD network. Women defenders face risks on a daily basis. These risks are common to men and women as well as gender-specific. As recognised by several international bodies,...

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How

Expert Services

Expert Services

Protection International (PI) offers tailored onsite and online capacity building support on securit...

Research

Research

Main thematic areas of research Protection International researches best practices in the protection...

Campaigns

Campaigns

Protection International (PI) advocates for legitimisation, respect and empowerment of human rights...

Advocacy

Advocacy

State authorities are primarily responsible for promoting and respecting human rights, and for prote...

Partners

Partners

At Protection International, we strive for collaboration and partnerships at all levels. As the huma...

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