Tele2 and Civil Rights Defenders Partner to Increase Security of Human Rights Defenders at Risk

Civil Rights Defenders has entered a partnership with Tele2. The telecommunications operator will provide IoT connectivity to our Natalia Project – a global security system protecting human rights defenders at risk all over the world. Together we aim to ensure secure reliable connectivity for defenders who, despite immense risks to their own safety and security, continue to promote and protect human rights in some of the world’s most repressive regions.

The Natalia Project was launched in 2013 and became the world’s first alarm and positioning system for human rights defenders at risk. A key aim of the project is to increase the security of human rights defenders in countries where threats, kidnappings, or other attacks might be used to silence them. Each participating human rights defender is provided with security training and a security device that can activate an alarm instantly in situations where the human rights defender faces an immediate threat. The alarm sends a distress signal with a GPS location to people within the defender’s network, as well as to Civil Rights Defenders’ headquarters in Stockholm, enabling instant local and global support.

“Sadly, there is a growing need to protect outspoken voices, be it from authoritarian states or other powerful offenders. The Natalia Project is a unique global security system that has proven to be absolutely crucial when human rights defenders face immediate danger. Partnering with a reliable supplier of worldwide connectivity for our alarms is therefore a very important step, not only for Civil Rights Defenders but also for all human rights defenders participating in the project,” says Anders L. Pettersson, Executive Director of Civil Rights Defenders.

The Natalia Project is named in honor of Natalia Estemirova, a human rights defender who was abducted and murdered in Chechnya in 2009. The project has grown rapidly since its launch in 2013 and today includes more than 170 human rights defenders from all over the world, including Russia, Central Asia, the East and Horn of Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Western Balkans.

Phyllis Omido from Kenya is a Natalia Project participant.

“No tangible change can be achieved when you constantly live in fear of retribution. The Natalia Project has freed me from that fear, so I can amplify the voice of my people knowing that someone is watching over me,” says Phyllis Omido, a Kenyan environmental human rights defender who participates in the Natalia Project.

Through partnering with Tele2, Civil Rights Defenders is looking to increase the security of the human rights defenders further. Tele2’s IoT connectivity will provide all units in the Natalia Project’s global security system with the best connectivity possible, including roaming in more than 450 networks all over the world.

“Tele2 has always been a firm protector of freedom of speech. We have enabled it by providing alternative connectivity, but also fought for it, in many countries over the years. It feels great to support Civil Rights Defenders and the Natalia Project with our high quality and reliable IoT connectivity, to make sure all units ceaselessly provide security and comfort for brave human rights defenders in challenging communities,” says Anders Nilsson, President and CEO of Tele2.

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