Where We Work

The Justice Defenders program provides public and private assistance to human rights defenders across the globe. To find out more about our work in each region see below. 

Regional Overview

Across the region, the space for civil society is rapidly closing. Increased nationalism and hostility against norms and principles viewed as Western have been invoked by States as they misapply national security and other laws to target minorities and government critics. Hand in hand with those trends, we have seen increased targeting of independent lawyers - lawyers who have zealously advocated for clients or documented and raised human rights issues have been denounced for attacking the State. Such lawyers have faced disbarment, criminal charges, even forced psychiatric detention.  In addition to securing pro bono counsel to assist on specific cases of retaliation, we have supported a regional network of human rights lawyers in issuing a report documenting the various threats to independence of the legal profession and to individual practitioners in the region.

See below for examples of the Justice Defenders Work.


The role of the legal profession in protecting human rights in the context of shrinking civic and democratic space in Africa


Human Rights Defender José Marcos Mavungo

Human Rights Defender Dr. Arão Bula Tempo

Trial Observation Report:The Case of Rafael Marques de Morais


Amicus Curiae Brief on Criminal Defamation Laws in Burkina Faso


Memorandum Re: Cameroon’s Obligation to Protect the Rights of Freedom of Expression, Association, and Assembly

Judicial Harassment of Musa Usman Ndamba


Trial Observation Report Re: The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association ("ADHOC 5")

Legal Analysis on Laws Against Incitement to Violence Infringing on the Right to Freedom of Expression

Trial Observation Report: Ny Chakrya


Letter to President Juan Manual Santos


Memorandum on Protections Under International Law for Statements Concerning Allegations of Corruption by Public Officials


Reporte Final Sobre el Proceso de Seleccion del Nuevo Fiscal General de Guatemala: Fallas en la Investigacion de Aspirantes que Podrian Comprometer los Esfuerzos de la Lucha Contra el Crimen Organizado

Report on the Proceedings to Select Prosecutor General of Guatemala: Failure to Investigate Serious Concerns About Candidates Jeopardizes Efforts to Combat Organized Crime

Tilted Scales: Social Conflict and Criminal Justice in Guatemala


Observation Report on Selection of Judges in Honduras


Freedom of Association And Assembly Rights In Access to Foreign Funding

Overview of Section 1983 and Bivens Actions in the United States as a Deterrent Against Law Enforcement Misconduct

Human Rights Defenders and Foreign Contributions


Letter to Kenyan Ambassador Re: Willie Kimani, Josphat Mwenda and Jose ph Muiruri


Comparative Analysis of Malaysia’s Peaceful Assembly Act

Letter to the Prime Minister of Malaysia on Threats to the Independence of the Legal Profession in Malaysia

Malaysia’s Sedition Act of 1948


Preliminary Concerns on the Arrest and Detention of Mozambican Journalist Amade Abubacar


Statement of ABA President Hilarie Bass Re: Myanmar human rights violations


President Silkenat expresses concern about violence against lawyers. “The American Bar Association is deeply concerned about violence against lawyers in Pakistan.  Any fair justice system relies on those accused of crimes having access to counsel and the opportunity to offer a full defense in an impartial court.  The rule of law is imperiled when lawyers are subject to intimidation and violence for representing their clients." James R. Silkenat, President of the American Bar Association.


Amicus Curiae Brief: Case of Baguazo

Memorandum on the Legality of Legislative Decree 1095


Statement of Bob Carlson, president, American Bar Association Re: Judicial reforms in Poland

Statement of ABA President Linda A. Klein Re: Judicial Independence in Poland


Advocating on Behalf of Swazi Lawyer Thulani Maseko


Statement of ABA President Linda Klein Re: The independence of lawyers in mainland Tanzania

Warning Shots: Threats to the Independence of the Legal Profession in Tanzania


Trial Observation Report: The Case of Maria Lourdes Afiuni


Letter to UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers on Yemen


The Unlawful Criminalization of Zimbabwean Democracy Activist Past Mawarire; A Case of Police and Prosecutorial Misconduct and the Need for Reform