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Environmental Defenders, Land & Climate Activists, and Indigenous Leaders

Environmental defenders, land activists, climate activists, and indigenous leaders that expose environmental destruction and human rights abuses by corporations and their own governments are increasingly exposed to threats, harassment, and violence by state and non-state actors.

Please see below for examples our public work involving environmental defenders, land & climate activists, and indigenous leaders.


Communities Under Pressure: Findings from Valbonia, Albania

In January 2019, the Justice Defenders Program investigated reports that activists and community members who objected to the proliferation of hydropower plants (HPPs) in Valbona, Albania were facing consistent harassment from local state and company actors. Its report, “Communities under Pressure – Findings from Valbona, Albania,” describes instances of alleged harassment as reported by those who were interviewed by its investigator. As in the rest of the world, the forms of harassment reported included arrests or threats of arrests, apparently selective prosecutions of activists, threats to job security for activists or their family members, judicial harassment, anonymous threats, and smear campaigns that undermined familial and communal relationships.  


Using the Courts to Harass Human Rights Defenders: Cameroon's Musa Usman Ndamba to hear judgement after 60 court appearances

The Justice Defenders Program reiterated its call to Cameroon to dismiss the charges against Mr. Ndamba and ensure that all human and environmental rights defenders in Cameroon are free to carry out their legitimate human rights work.


Colombia: Preliminary Report on the Plan of Action for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders at Risk

The Program is conducting a study to examine the policies and practices of the Ministry of Interior to better ensure the protection of community leaders and other human rights defenders. This preliminary report addresses the initial findings of this study. In particular, it recommends publicly reporting on the progress of investigations, improving coordination between the Ministry and the Attorney General, and enhancing the independence of the Ministry of Interior's human rights directorate.


Madagascar: Environmental Activist Clovis Razafimalala

The Justice Defenders Program issued a report on the arrest, detention and prosecution of Malagasy Environmental Rights Defender Clovis Razafimalala. Mr. Razafimalala is a well-known environmental activist who has for many years advocated against illegal trafficking of timber in Madagascar. The Justice Defenders Program report expressed concern that the case against Mr. Razafimalala was brought as retaliation for this work, particularly his advocacy against illegal rosewood trafficking. 


Amicus Curiae Brief: Case of Baguazo

Professor Michael Newton, a Justice Defenders Program volunteer,  filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of Peru arguing that the prosecution of indigenous leaders for alleged misconduct during social protests should be handled in local courts, not arbitrarily moved to a special court in the capital, far from the location of the incident in question.