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 500 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.

Subscribe to our bulletin   June 2017 Bulletin

Global Witness report documents 200 killings of people defending their land, forests and rivers against destructive industries

The new Global Witness report tells the stories of countless people as they stand up to multinationals, paramilitaries and their own governments in the most dangerous countries on earth to be a defender. 

New Global Witness report

NSO Group's sophisticated anti-terrorist software used to spy on HRDs: co. doesn't respond

Journalists, anti-corruption activists and defenders denouncing forced disappearances and sexual abuses were spied on - allegedly by the Russian, United Arab Emirates and Mexican governments using cyberwarfare from NSO Group. Resource Center invited NSO Group to respond; the company did not. Includes recent interview with Citizen Lab's Director who discusses role of co.s in enabling these attacks.

Articles & co.'s non-response

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.

Access CIVICUS Monitor

Situation of defenders is particularly vulnerable

BHRRC findings: Over 450 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.

Access key findings

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

We continuously highlight the most important developments, actions and ideas at the intersection of business, civic freedoms and the work of human rights defenders. Archive of highlighted items available here.

Thailand: EU's Foreign Trade Association sends open letter to govt. regarding Thammakaset case, emphasising importance of freedom of expression for workers & defenders

The Foreign Trade Association (FTA), Europe’s premier association of retailers, importers and brand-names, sent an open letter to the Thai Government, sent via the Thailand Mission to the European Union (EU), calling for an 'Out of Court Settlement' in the Betagro Poultry Supply Chain 'Thammakaset Farm' case. 


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.


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 from Tiffany & Co.'s Anisa Kamadoli Costa.


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.


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.

Reports on shrinking civic freedoms

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.

Analysis of business role

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.

Emergency mechanisms


Database of attacks on HRDs: