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The Impact of Internet Shutdowns on Human Rights Defenders in India

This report and video series examine the relationship between internet shutdowns and challenges to the work of human rights defenders in India. Their findings are stark: internet shutdowns have turned into an often-used tool that the government relies upon in order to silence dissent and limit the rights to freedom of press and expression under the guise of “maintaining law and order.”

Read - The Report

Reports, Articles & Publications

View the Program's materials relating to threats against human rights defenders, rule of law, and governmental accountability around the world.

Where We Work

The Justice Defenders Program works with at-risk human rights defenders in over 65 countries.

View - Where We Work

What We Do

Freedom of Expression, Association and Assembly

In many countries, individuals are arrested or assaulted for exercising their legitimate right to participate in a peaceful gathering or protest, form associations, or exercise their right to speech. The Justice Defenders Program supports human rights defenders - including journalists, pro-democracy advocates, and labor activists - that face retaliation for exposing human rights abuses.

View Examples - Fundamental Freedoms

Fair Trial Rights

Human rights advocates are increasingly facing frivolous legal proceedings as a way to discredit their work and impede their activities. The Program observes trials and other proceedings to discourage the misuse of legal processes against defenders and provides technical assistance to local counsel representing defenders.

View Examples - Fair Trial Rights

Business & Human Rights

Many individuals working to protect the environment, expose corrupt business practices or ensure protections for workers or indigenous communities face different forms of retaliation. These include violent threats, restrictions on their ability to form associations and frivolous criminal charges. The Program works with local partners facing such threats to develop innovative strategies to document abuses, form cross-sectoral coalitions, build public support, and engage key stakeholders to increase respect for human rights in business operations. Additionally, the Program helps activists to obtain protection when facing violent threats.

View Examples - Business & Human Rights

Misuse of Terrorism Charges Against Defenders

Many states have begun using counterterrorism laws to crack down on legitimate human rights defenders. The Program has analyzed various national counterterrorism laws, outlining the problematic provisions of these laws that open them up to abuse.

View Examples - Misuse of Terrorism Charges

Independence of Lawyers and Judges

The Program has supported threatened attorneys, prosecutors, and judges in over twelve different countries. Our efforts and support resulted in the activists' releases from prison, dropped charges, improved conditions of confinement, increased protective measures, reinstatement to the bench, decreased restrictions on the independence of the bar, and increased investigations into violent attacks against lawyers.

View Examples - Independence of Lawyers and Judges

Protecting Defenders Against Violence

Individuals working to defend fundamental rights, including journalists, lawyers, union organizers, and indigenous leaders, are facing increasing acts of intimidation and persecution for the legitimate work that they do. The Program supports these defenders by petitioning international bodies to obtain protective measures (such as court-ordered bodyguards), referring them to organizations that provide funds for physical security and psychosocial support, raising their public profile where appropriate, engaging local authorities to investigate threats, and holding officials accountable when they fail to investigate credible threats or are complicit in such threats.

View Examples - Protecting Defenders

Contact Us

Please get in touch to learn more about our programs.