Natalia Project – Protecting Those Who Fight for Our Rights
Human rights defenders who work to promote and protect human rights in their communities across the world are often threatened and attacked to stay silent. To meet the growing need of protection for human rights defenders, Civil Rights Defenders launched the Natalia Project in 2013 – the world’s first security alarm system for human rights defenders at risk.
The Natalia Project is unique as it is a simple tool with the ability to raise an alarm instantly, in order to help mitigate the harm and disappearance of human rights defenders around the world. Once activated, a distress signal including GPS location is sent to Civil Rights Defenders’ headquarters in Stockholm. Once the signal has been verified by people on the ground, the alarm is sent out through global social media platforms to let the world know. The ability to act quickly can be the difference between life and death for individuals targeted because of their work defending human rights.
Each participant in the Natalia Project undergoes extensive security training when becoming part of the global security system. Through Civil Rights Defenders’ Mobile Training Center, we provide qualified security education and assistance to human rights defenders globally, including training those who become part of the Natalia Project network. Through tailored security training, each individual is assisted with developing a comprehensive security plan in case of an attack.
The Natalia Project is named in honour of Natalia Estemirova, a human rights defender who was abducted and murdered in Chechnya in 2009. While Natalia’s story motivated the establishment of the Natalia Project as a tool to prevent future attacks against human rights defenders, the support and protection that is provided through the project continues to be increasingly relevant in today’s global landscape where civic space is shrinking and attacks against those who defend civil and political rights in their communities more and more common.
Since the launch of the Natalia Project in 2013, the network has grown to include more than 170 human rights defenders from Russia, Central Asia, the East and Horn of Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Western Balkans.