One of the most commonly used strategies to silence and intimidate human rights defenders is the use of the judicial system. Judicial harassment can include criminal charges, civil lawsuits or administrative proceedings. Accusations often used against HRDs range from violations of protest laws, NGO laws or public order to entirely fabricated charges of terrorism, subversion or crimes against the security of the state. Many HRDs are convicted to very long prison terms, which are often also aimed at intimidating the broader human rights community. Even in cases where HRDs are eventually acquitted, judicial harassment diverts time, energy and resources away from their human rights work.
The work of human rights defenders becomes uncomfortable and frustrating, as those in power use all the tools at their disposal to injure, kill, detain, delegitimise and criminalise the work of those of us who dedicate ourselves to defending hope.