Database of attacks on HRDs:

Current situation:

Civic freedoms continue to shrink in many countries around the world, and attacks on human rights defenders ("HRDs") continue unabated. The role of businesses in contributing to this situation is significant. We have recorded over 400 instances of attacks on defenders working on corporate accountability issues, in 2015 and 2016. We continue to add new cases to the database on an on-going basis. Business can also play a positive role in protecting civic freedoms and human rights defenders and several businesses are starting to do so. Click here to find out more about how businesses affect defenders, and why businesses are increasingly taking action to protect defenders and civic freedoms. Also visit our dedicated pages "For business" and "For Human Rights Defenders" using the tabs above to explore further.

Finalists announced for Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk: two nominees work on business and human rights

Finalists have been announced for the 2017 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. The winner will be announced on the 26 May 2017. Two of the nominees focus on business and human rights:

Nonhle Mbuthuma is an environmental rights defender in South Africa's Eastern Cape. She is a founder and member of the Executive Committee of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, opposing destructive mining projects. In July 2016, Nonhle and other activists successfully forced the biggest shareholder in a titanium mining project to withdraw.

Francisca Ramírez Torres is advocating against the inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua. She educates communities on their rights, and campaigns for the repeal of laws allowing land-grabbing. The proposed canal would displace thousands of small farmers and indigenous peoples.


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3.2 billion people live in constrained civic space and civic freedoms

Tracking of diminishing freedoms: CIVICUS Monitor shows that 3.2 billion people live in countries where civic space is either repressed or closed. 16 countries are rated closed, 32 repressed, 21 obstructed, 26 narrowed and nine open. Of the closed countries, seven are in Africa, five in the Middle East, three in Asia and one in the Americas.


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Situation of defenders is particularly vulnerable

BHRRC findings: Over 400 cases of attack on defenders focusing on corporate accountability took place in 2015 & 2016. Companies that they worked on were most commonly from China, USA and Canada.


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Database of attacks

This downloadable database compiles cases of HRDs working on corporate accountability issues who were attacked, harassed and killed in 2015 and 2016. We are progressively adding cases from 2017. Find out more about the design and the methodology of the database here.

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Explore incidents by country

The size of the circles indicate the number incidents. Zoom in for more detail and click the circles for information

Latest developments

Featured interview: 2 sides of the story - Andy Hall and S Group

We interviewed British human rights defender Andy Hall, and Finnish retail company S Group, on Andy’s court case in Thailand. When Andy faced defamation charges after exposing allegations of abuse in food company Natural Fruit, S Group – a former buyer of Natural Fruit - testified on behalf of Andy.


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Spotlight: Guatemala: Communities present report of attacks against human rights defenders opposing hydroelectric projects before IACHR

On March 20 2017, coalition of communities and organizations denounced human rights violations against traditional and indigenous communities in Guatemala, at a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Because of their opposition to large hydroelectric projects, these human rights defenders have been threatened, assaulted, treated as criminals, and assassinated. A report filed before the Commission features 10 different cases. At least 19 companies are linked to hydroelectric projects in Guatemala, of which 55 % are national, 40 % are transnational, and 5% are State-owned. Full report available.


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Positive action by companies

A modest but increasing number of companies are coming to realize the value of going the extra mile, and are using their leverage to keep the ‘enabling environment’ open – not just for business, but for rights defense. These companies understand that they can have a powerful voice in the protection of civic freedoms, especially where abuses are taking place linked to their industry and/or operations. Click here for a selection of articles, reports, blogs, commentaries and corporate policies highlighting some of these recent examples of emerging good practices and drivers of such actions.

Internet Freedom: Pakistan

Action: Companies refrained from an action that would adversely impact the ability of defenders to do their work by abstaining from submitting bids to develop a URL filtering system. Find out about enablers and drivers of this action.


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Rafael Marques: Angola

Action: Tiffany & Co., Brilliant Earth and Leber Jeweler spoke out publicly on the trial of HRD Rafael Marques, charged for exposing serious abuses in the diamond mining industry. Their statement contributed to a significantly milder sentence. Find out enablers and drivers of this action.


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Andy Hall: Thailand

Action: Thai Tuna Industry Association (TTIA) and Thai Frozen Food Association (TFFA) paid for HRD Andy Hall’s bail after he was charged for documenting abuses of workers in fruit and tuna companies. Finnish company S Group, a buyer of the fruit company, testified on Andy’s behalf at his trial and advocated for him in EU Institutions. Learn about enablers and drivers of this action directly from Lea Rankinen of S Group.


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Do you want to know more?

Find key resources below:

Civic freedoms continue to shrink:

All major reports on civic freedoms and civic space indicate that civic freedoms continue to shrink. Find the latest analysis and reports on this topic.


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HRDs working on business are increasingly under threat:

Private sector plays a key role, both in obstructing civic freedoms and HRDs and in protecting them. Find the latest analysis and reports on this topic.


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HRDs in danger? Here is what you can do:

Human rights activists asking questions about or confronting business interests are often the most harshly silenced and in the firing line, and require additional protection. Find more information on protection.


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Database of attacks on HRDs: