FAQ Defenders’ Database

Who is a human rights defender?

In accordance with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Civil Rights Defenders defines defenders on the basis of what they do rather than who they are or which organisation they belong to. Human rights defenders are not only activists of NGOs or community leaders, but also lawyers, judges, police-officers and even politicians can be human rights defenders. The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights describes it like this:

“Human rights defenders can be any person or group of persons working to promote human rights, ranging from intergovernmental organisations based in the world’s largest cities to individuals working within their local communities. Defenders can be of any gender, of varying ages, from any part of the world and from all sorts of professional or other backgrounds. In particular, it is important to note that human rights defenders are not only found within NGOs and intergovernmental organisations but might also, in some instances, be government officials, civil servants or members of the private sector.

Human rights defenders must however recognise the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of the human rights, as well as the principles of accountability and the rule of law, equality and non-discrimination, participation and inclusion, and they must not employ violent means to pursue their objectives.”

What can DiDi do for you?

Defenders often find it difficult to get information about the violations out to the public. Governments strictly control the means of communication or defenders lack the knowledge and the tools to present the information.

DiDi can be used online and offline to record events that led to the violation of rights. This is done through the use of a state-of-the-art format and through the creation of a parsing module for organisations that already have reports in either PDF, Excel or Word.

DiDi allows you to systematise the information you have on human rights violations in a safe way. The data can then be filtered and analysed and downloaded to be presented in maps or charts. The database is adapted for reporting violations against individual human rights defenders, but can of course be used s to record information about violations against any individual.

What is the role of Civil Rights Defenders in the work with DiDi?

Civil Rights Defenders ensures the ongoing maintenance of the system, defines the rules that the users need to observe not to abuse the system or otherwise damage the project, is in charge of troubleshooting bugs and errors, leads further developments and maintains an open line of contact with users.

Civil Rights Defenders does not quality check the data in the database and are not responsible for how it is used. What we do check, are the routines and capacities of certified users in order for us to feel safe when publishing their data on our website.

Do I need training to use the database?

No special human rights or IT skills are needed: anyone can easily download the database and learn to correctly record human rights violations by using its simple step-by-step approach. The manual and the list of definitions will help when problems occur.

Nevertheless, preparation is useful to safely collect human rights information and to use it effectively. Civil Rights Defenders has provided such trainings for the past 35 years and is specialised in supporting all aspects of human defenders’ work in the areas of human rights law, security management, strategic litigation etc. Contact us if you believe we can help.

What methods can I use to record data?

The upload feature

In order to help our certified users to upload old reports we can build a parsing module that read their data and integrate it onto the database. This tool is essential for certified users that have years of data records but no secure place to store it, regardless if it is on paper or on a hard drive.

The step-by-step feature

Users can use the step-by-step feature to make a report on human rights violations and abuses. As it consists mainly of drop-downs, few mandatory fields and a user friendly outlook, our partners will be able to write a report within only a few minutes but with all the necessary information to make the report valid and significant in a larger context. Besides filling in the required data, users will also be able to describe events in their own words, upload photos, videos, documents, as well as attach links that are relevant to the case. The step-by-step feature is also downloadable as an app, so that you can work off-line. Read more about it here.

The Excel template

The Excel template is another option for certified users who have limited access to Internet and feel more comfortable using programmes that they are used to. Civil Rights Defenders has therefore developed an Excel template that consists of the same questionnaire as the step-by-step feature. The Excel template can soon be downloaded, just as the offline application, from the dashboard on the web page.

Can I learn from other defenders using the database?

Every second year, Civil Rights Defenders brings together human defenders to Defenders’ Days – a conference in Stockholm focused on capacity building, awareness-raising and advocacy. An event as such provides users with the possibility to meet both each other and third parties, in order to establish networks of support that can be sustained by the regular flow of information that the system provides. In the future, Civil Rights Defenders also plans to create a forum, or a similar platform, where both partners and third party users (media, politicians, civilians) can discuss different topics in the human rights world.

How much does it cost to be a part of this?

If you are a human rights defender and are interested in partnering with us or learning more, feel free to send us an email at database@crd.org and we will tell you more.

Can I just use the database?

Anyone will soon be able to download the database for free from www.defendersdatabase.civilrightsdefenders.org and use it as an offline tool for internal purposes. The database will be installed on your computer, and allow you to register events that led to human rights violations or abuses. You will also be able to systematise the information and produce a number of basic reports with the help of the information uploaded. The information will be stored uniquely on your selected drives (hard-drive, USB keys, CDs, etc.).

There are currently two user types available on the database: registered users and certified users. By simply downloading the system and using the tool, you become a registered user. If you are active in a human rights organisation and interested in certifying your usage, Civil Rights Defenders offers a partnership and a training package for free. By becoming a partner of Civil Rights Defenders, you will be eligible for:

  • If necessary, a customised parser that reads old reports on human rights violations
  • In-depth training on how to use the database
  • Advocacy and capacity training focused on human rights
  • Increasing your network to include human rights defenders in other countries
  • Participation in workshops and training in other countries
  • Taking part in Defenders’ Days every second year in Stockholm, Sweden
  • Having your data published for global viewing

The training sessions are available in Spanish and English. Interested? Get in touch with us.

How do I become a member?

Human rights defenders and organisations can apply to join DiDi by sending an email to database@crd.org. Once your application is processed, a contract will be signed between Civil Rights Defenders and the partner organisation. You will then receive a username and a link to computer-generated passwords that will allow access the online version of the database as well as to download the offline version on your computer.

Civil Rights Defenders are looking to make DiDi as user-friendly as possible. Once a member, there are three ways to upload information. The first option is to use the online format where the information can be filled in step-by-step. The second option is to upload a file using the Excel template that Civil Rights Defenders has provided. Option three (only works if we have built a parser for you needs) is to simply attach your report and upload it to the database.

Is my data safe?

Please have a look at our Data quality and security-section here.