Protect Human Rights Defenders

Human Rights House Foundation works alongside several Human Rights Houses to protect and empower human rights defenders at risk in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Established over a decade ago to support primarily network members, the Network Protection Programme (NPP) has since expanded in reach and scope and provides important protection infrastructure for human rights defenders at risk.



Alongside Human Rights House Foundation, five Human Rights Houses – Belarusian HRH, Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv, Human Rights House Crimea, Human Rights House Tbilisi and Human Rights House Yerevan – are part of the Network Protection Programme (NPP). We share a common vision on the protection of human rights defenders, have jointly developed guidelines for our work, exchange best practices and lessons learned and coordinate our activities. 

In response to the rapidly deteriorating situation for human rights defenders in many countries of the region, the five Human Rights Houses manage their own protection programmes adapted to the local needs. Member organisations of the Houses play an indispensable role in these programmes, by providing services, participating in verification and selection committees and coordinating protection work on the ground. 

The infrastructure of Human Rights Houses and a closely connected community of people working together across country borders to address the needs of human rights defenders at risk allows HRHF, Houses and their member organisations to help hundreds of defenders every year. Together, we aim to provide rapid, flexible and sustainable support with a focus on the well-being and sustainability of HRDs at risk. We also work to further strengthen national and regional protection infrastructure for threatened civil society actors in Eastern Europe.


How we help

Although protection programmes differ from country to country, they all focus on  three key areas: 

  • Preventive support
  • Emergency response / short-term support to HRDs and their family members
  • Long term support to HRDs and organisations 

Due to the sensitive, demanding and often-times emotionally taxing nature of protection work, there is also a focus on the well-being of staff providing protection support to others.


Report: Protecting Defenders

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.

“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

Find out more about the report here. Download and read the report in English and in Russian.


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