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23 February 2022

Global Analysis 2021

Front Line Defenders today launched its Global Analysis on the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) at risk around the world. The report details the variety of risks, threats and attacks faced by HRDs around the world, and examples of HRDs continuing to defend and advance the rights of their communities and societies despite threats to their lives.

Download Global Analysis 2021

The Global Analysis includes data on the killings of HRDs produced by the HRD Memorial1, which documented 358 HRDs killed in 35 countries in 2021. The HRD Memorial is a collective initiative of human rights organisations working to collect and verify data on the killings of human rights defenders each year. The HRD Memorial Report profiles some of the HRDs who were killed and analyses key trends in lethal attacks last year.

Download HRD Memorial Report

Olive Moore, FLD Deputy Director, noted:

Each day, Front Line Defenders documents threats, attacks and persecution of human rights defenders around the world. This report takes a step back and makes sense of what HRDs are experiencing by identifying key trends, spotlighting which HRDs are most at risk and what kinds of tactics of repression are used against HRDs working in different sectors.

The Global Analysis documents the widespread use of terrorism and national security charges against HRDs to criminalize their legitimate human rights work and cut them off from funding and other support. It also documents the impact of digital surveillance on civil society; the backlash against feminist and LGBTIQ+ movements under the guise of preventing “gender ideology”; sweeping anti-trans legislation around the world in 2021; and the strong correlation between attacks on HRDs, economic injustice, and levels of corruption in a country.

FLD Protection Manager, Ivi Oliveira, noted that:

HRDs are constantly under threat, but reporting those threats proves futile. In most cases, the state itself is the perpetrator, despite obligations covered under various UN processes and even, in some cases, national laws or procedures. And in other countries where the state has lost control of territory or spaces, voids are often filled by criminal and armed groups, posing significant threats to HRDs. While the data and cases presented in this report should not be surprising, they must shock key stakeholders into action.

Front Line Defenders research found that the five most targeted sectors of human rights defence, in terms of number of violations (excluding killings) were: Environmental/Land/Megaprojects/Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (14.5%), Freedom of Expression (9.4%), Human Rights Movement (9.3%), Women’s Rights (8.3%), and LGBTIQ+ (7.6%).


Front Line Defenders works with HRDs to promote their security with a range of protection programming, including risk management and digital protection trainings, advocacy at national, international and EU levels, and visibility and campaigning support. Front Line Defenders provided over 1,000 protection grants to HRDs at risk in 2021, including an unprecedented response to HRD security needs in the aftermath of the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in August 2021.



1Front Line Defenders manages the collection of partner-verified data-sets under the HRD Memorial umbrella. The partners in the HRD Memorial are: ACI-Participa (Honduras); ASAS-e-Fekr Social & Legal Research Service Consultancy (Afghanistan), Amnesty International; Comité Cerezo (Mexico); FIDH; Front Line Defenders; Global Witness; Human Rights Defenders’ Alert – India; Karapatan (the Philippines); OMCT; El Programa Somos Defensores (Colombia); Red TDT (Mexico); Social Association of Afghan Justice Seekers (SAAJS) (Afghanistan); and UDEFEGUA (Guatemala).