Human Rights Defenders & Civic Freedoms Programme
Explore the Database
Search our database of attacks below, find out about the design and the methodology here or share your case!
Human rights defenders are at the forefront of protecting our rights and shared planet. Many defenders, including labour union leaders, land and environmental defenders, affected community members, anti-corruption activists, journalists, and others, raise the alarm about irresponsible business practices and work to ensure that companies and investors fulfill their responsibility to respect human rights. Collecting data on attacks against these defenders is important to understand the scope of this problem, identify higher risk business sectors and areas, advocate for accountability and remedy for harm as well as more rights-respecting practices, and strengthen support for defenders subjected to attacks. The Resource Centre has been tracking attacks against defenders focused on business activities since 2015; all of this data is available in the database. These attacks are also only one part of the story. This page highlights powerful victories and strategies of defenders courageously working for human rights through interviews and videos below.
If you are going to do business in any country, ask where their human rights defenders are. If you find that they are all in prison, that is going to be an economy that you don’t want to be part of.Maryam Al-Khawaja, Bahraini-Danish human rights defender, Special Advisor on Advocacy for Gulf Centre for Human Rights & Board member for International Service for Human Rights
Findings from the database
The findings from the database on HRDs show that many companies are contributing to cases of abuse. These are meant as examples and not as an exhaustive list.
of all attacks
Took place in Honduras, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Guatemala & the Philippines
most dangerous sector
Renewable energy is related to almost 10% of attacks
of all attacks
Related to the extractive sectors, including mining, oil, gas, and coal projects
2 in 5
Live in a country with repressed civic freedoms (CIVICUS Monitor)
How do businesses affect Human Rights Defenders - and how can they support HRDs and civic freedoms?
BHRRC talks to Human Rights Defenders from Singapore, Turkey, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe - visiting defenders at The Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York - about their views on how businesses affect their work and how they can be supportive of it.
HRDs Interview series
Collecting data is important, but it is only one part of the story. This interview series highlights powerful victories and stories of defenders, defending rights and their communities against abuses by business and other actors.
Sarah Bireete - Center for Constitutional Governance (CCG)
Sarah Bireete is an energetic human rights defender from Uganda, who is currently busy setting up a working group on civic space research in the country, while also running the Center for Constitutional Governance (CCG), a constitutional watchdog. She shared with us her views on trust between business and civil society, and how multinational companies should respond to a growingly heavy-handed response to protests in the country.
William Leslie Amanzuru - Friends of ZOKA
William Leslie Amanzuru is an environmental human rights defender and the team leader at Friends of ZOKA in Uganda. Friends of ZOKA is a group of environmentalist activists named for its members' love for Zoka Central Forest Reserve, located in Adjumani District in the West Nile region of Uganda. They are fighting to protect the forest reserve from illegal logging, timber and charcoal dealing. We sat down with William who shared about his groups' recent successes, and the threats and attacks they face aimed at stopping their environmental work.
Wanda Culp and Osprey Orielle Lake - WECAN
Wanda “Kashudoha” Loescher Culp is a Tlingit activist and the Tongass Regional Coordinator for the Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International. Osprey Orielle Lake is the Founder and Executive Director of WECAN. They share how indigenous Women are on the front lines of all battles to protect the wildlands and life that we all depend upon, and are demanding to be heard.
Explore our collection of latest news, trackers and research on the positive and negative impacts of business on civic freedoms and the work of human rights defenders. All our briefings are available here.
Infographics & analysis of our data
Our infographics and briefings show patterns of violence, identify at-risk business sectors and geographic areas and provide in-depth analysis of some specific types of attacks, such as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs).
HRDs & Civic Freedoms Issue Portal
Find out more about what you can do to defend the defenders and civic freedoms, read the latest news, find out about key campaigns and coalitions, and learn about company and investor action.
BHRRC COVID-19 tracker focuses on apparel cos. responses & changing operating environment
Human rights defenders face increased risk during COVID-19, and civic freedoms are restricted for many. Check out our tracker for info by country on attacks on HRDs & current status of civic freedoms from CIVICUS, CCPR Centre & Top10 VPN.