REPORT: Defending their rights, risking their lives

Report - 2018-06-14
New report from Forum Syd shows that threats and violence against human rights defenders and attacks on civic freedoms have escalated in many parts of the world. In 2017, over 300 human rights defenders were killed in 27 different countries.
Construction workers in Cambodia protesting.
Photo: LICADHO

Forum Syd's new report Defending their rights, risking their lives, shows that  threats and violence against human rights defenders and attacks on civic freedoms escalated in many parts of the world.

In 2017, over 300 human rights defenders were killed in 27 different countries. In many cases, there are direct links to business operations. Sectors that are particularly dangerous for those who defend their rights are mining, agribusiness, oil or gas and dam building. Local and indigenous people who defend their rights to land, environment and natural resources are particularly vulnerable.

Why is it so dangerous for human rights and environmental defenders to defend their rights in relation to extraction of natural resources? What responsibility do companies have for their operations, suppliers and customers? What is the responsibility of the state for companies’ behaviour abroad?

This report examines the links between extractive industries and shrinking civic space. It discusses measures used to silence human rights defenders and the responsibility and role of states as well as companies. Cases from different countries around the world illustrate the hostile environment, risks and challenges faced by human rights and environmental defenders.

There are, however, examples of businesses that play a positive role towards supporting human rights defenders. The report discusses what kind of measures companies can undertake to support civic freedoms.

States and companies have a responsibility to ensure that extraction of natural resources is carried out with respect for human rights. Urgent measures need to be undertaken to stop the escalating trend of shrinking civic space.

Read the full report here or download it to print

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