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31 Jan 2020

Human Rights Defenders & Business: January 2020 Snapshot

Human rights defenders (HRDs) provide a vital safeguard for human rights when states fall short in holding power to account. Yet despite their importance, they increasingly face an unacceptable risk of attack.

From 2015 to 2019, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has documented more than 2,000 attacks on HRDs raising concerns about business-related human rights abuses - from frivolous lawsuits, arbitrary arrests and detentions to death threats, beatings and even killings.

The snapshot provides an assessment of our data from 2019. The findings show that:

  • There were 572 attacks in 2019 alone, up from 492 in 2018 - most of these attacks took place in Latin America, followed by Asia and the Pacific region, and Eastern Europe and Russia
  • The sectors that saw the most attacks in 2019 were mining (including illegal mining) (143 attacks), agribusiness (85), waste disposal (51), renewable energy (47), construction (42), oil, gas and coal (38), and logging and lumber (38)
  • Attacks on women human rights defenders related to business have increased every year for the past five years, with 137 attacks recorded in 2019 – almost half of which were against indigenous women and affected community leaders
  • Almost half of all attacks in 2019 were related to judicial harassment of HRDs, including through SLAPPs brought by businesses