Defending Defenders? An Assessment of EU Action on HRDs

Around the world, people are speaking up and working to defend human rights, frequently at risk to their safety, freedom or life. They are harassed and intimidated, unjustly prosecuted and imprisoned. Some are tortured, killed or forcibly disappeared.

Many states have introduced restrictive laws to silence and repress HRDs and attack the civic space in which they work. In this changing world, the European Union (EU) and its member states are increasingly called on to exercise leadership on human rights and HRDs.

This report focuses on EU and member state action for HRDs in line with their human rights commitments, above all the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (EU Guidelines on HRDs). It provides background on the EU and HRDs, including key commitments and challenges in implementing the EU Guidelines on HRDs in BurundiChinaHondurasRussia and Saudi Arabia.

With this report, Amnesty International aims to provide constructive analysis and practical ways forward to support the EU and its member states to adopt a more strategic, visible, innovative and impact-oriented approach to protect HRDs and promote their crucial work.