Defenders living and working in remote and rural areas are particularly at risk because of their isolation. They lack access to key actors in protection such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, National Human Rights Commissions, major national human rights organisations, national authorities or embassies. Moreover, they often have little or no access to communication means, transport and information. Thus, defenders in remote areas must solely rely on themselves for their security and protection.

Nevertheless, they often confront very powerful interests – whether corporations, when they oppose a project of natural resources exploitation on their land, or state interests, when the government considers communities in remote areas as political opponents. Some states wage low-intensity wars against communities, accusing them of subversion. In regions where the state is fighting against non-regular armed groups, defenders are victims of extra-judicial killings, disappearances and torture. Because this violence occurs in isolated places, perpetrators are ensured that they will benefit from impunity.

Our action:

  • We build capacities of defenders working in rural and remote settings and offer them tailored support adapted to their working environment
  • Human rights defenders in remote areas have put in place strategies to protect themselves. As these experiences can be very helpful for other defenders working in similar conditions, we study, systematize and analyse these protection mechanisms in order to develop innovative protection tools
  • In Guatemala and Colombia, we support the creation of protection networks among rural communities through capacity building, advice and counselling
  • We contribute to improve the access of defenders living in remote areas to key protection actors by advocating that key stakeholders meet and consult them