“Protecting Defenders” could not have been more timely. The study adds to the ever-expanding documentation of the rapidly deteriorating situation for human rights defenders, and documents the urgency to act, especially in emerging democracies.

Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders


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The “Protecting Defenders” report by Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) is a tool for organisations providing protection for human rights defenders at risk and States and donors wishing to align their protection support with local needs. It “maps” protection infrastructure for human rights defenders (HRDs) at risk in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Ukraine. It uncovers trends concerning the protection needs of human rights defenders; identifies and suggests potential actors and partners for future protection work; and, identifies communities of human rights defenders at risk that have protection needs.

This report is based upon interviews conducted with over 200 HRDs across Eastern Europe, South Caucasus, and Central Asia during 2019-2020. Yet, its finding and recommendations are relevant and useful for protection providers, donors, and other partners supporting human rights defenders at risk in other countries as well. We urge those working to protect human rights defenders at risk to consider our findings and implement this report’s recommendations into existing protection programmes.