Security Grants Programme

In 2001, Front Line Defenders launched its highly successful Security Grants programme to provide timely and efficient financial assistance to human rights defenders at risk.

Front Line Defenders Security Grants can pay for organisational and personal provisions to improve the security and protection of human rights defenders and their organisations. Grants can pay to improve physical security of an organisation, digital security, communication security, and legal fees for HRDs who are being judicially harassed. They can pay for medical fees for HRDs who have been attacked or who have suffered a medical condition as a result of their peaceful human rights activities. We can also provide family assistance for imprisoned HRDs. Grants are for amounts up to a maximum of €7,500. We fund emergency and general security grants.


Guidelines to Apply for Front Line Defenders Security Grant

Front Line Defenders does not provide funding for
  • Retrospective funding;
  • International organisations;
  • Organisations that have applied or are already receiving funding for the same purpose elsewhere;
  • Projects which focus on broader human rights issues rather than the specific situation of human rights defenders.
  • Costs for human rights defenders who are already in exile
  • Ongoing office running costs such as salaries and rent
  • Armed security guards
  • Purchase of vehicles

Security and Protection Grants will not normally be made for 100% of the cost of a project. Applications may be made in Arabic, Russian, English, French or Spanish. Applications are considered by Front Line Defenders Board of Trustees on a quarterly basis. After submitting an application, an organisation is likely to be contacted by a member of Front Line Defenders staff with questions to clarify the application. Lobbying in support of applications is not encouraged. All applicants will receive a written response whether or not their application is successful.

Groups of individual human rights defenders receiving grants are required to submit a short written report of no more than 500 words, and include copies of all the original receipts, on completion of their project. If for any reason a project does not go ahead, or gets alternative funding, the grant must be returned to Front Line and cannot be reallocated for other work. Front Line Defenders may check that the same grant has not already been funded by other international funders. If a report including all original receipts is not received on completion of the grant the applicant will no longer be eligible for any further grants and will be asked to return the funding.

Examples of grants provided in 2013

In 2013, the Security Grants Programme awarded 297 grants, totalling €831,792 to individuals and organisations at risk. 102 grants were awarded for temporary relocations of individual human rights defenders and family members. Below are some examples.


Human rights defenders Lydia Mukami and Paul Muchira and their families to relocate temporarily and to receive counselling. Lydia Mukami had been abducted by unidentified men, physically assaulted for several hours and abandoned in the bush. Lydia gave feedback, “We can now enjoy a sense of security away from a hostile environment... Victory belongs to those who take the pains. Thank you for sharing our pain.”


A grant was given to Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association (MBOSCUDA) in Cameroon for legal consultation and defence of six human rights defenders who were facing judicial harassment due to their work on land rights. “Without the security grant we would have had insufficient legal representation in cases financed and instituted by a very powerful multi-millionaire human rights abuser.”


Due to the high risk of attacks from armed groups, a grant was given to Corporación Acción Humanitaria por la Convivencia y la Paz del Nordeste Antioqueño (CAHUCOPANA) in Colombia, for safe transport for three community leaders and members of the organisation to travel to Medellín to take part in meetings on HRD security. “We managed to show the National Unit for Protection the risks faced by leaders of CAHUCOPANA after many incidents over a long period were reported to the Ministry of Interior. We persuaded them to carry out an evaluation of the risks faced by our staff.”


A grant to the Asociación para el Avance de las Ciencias Sociales (AVANCSO) paid for improved security of the windows, a reinforced steel door, CCTV security cameras and a motion detector, following a break-in and a brutal attack on the caretaker of the organisation at its offices in Guatemala City. “We have been able to return to our work with a certain amount of normality. Our researchers are now able to restart their work with the communities and hold meetings in our office.”


A grant was sent to HRD Fernando Perisse who founded an informal social movement called Via Sertaneja in Brazil, has received threats and anonymous phone calls and is facing 21 criminal charges due to his work against corruption in public policy and spending. A grant for office security was provided (photos below). “The feeling of greater security gave us more courage to face the struggle in which we are involved. We know that our safety is not perfect, but we now have greater peace to develop our activities.”


When members of Housing Rights Task Force in Cambodia feared reprisals after the elections in July, Front Line Defenders provided a grant for their temporary relocation. Sia Phearum reported, “When my work has come under threats, Front Line Defenders helped, protected and motivated me to continue to help grassroots victims. I am not alone. I feel safe and strong to continue my work as human rights defender in Cambodia.”


Three members of a rural women’s rights organisation based in a tribal area in Pakistan, who had faced threats and violence, including a bomb attack on their office, were supported to temporarily relocate in May. “Now we are proceeding to shift our office to another safe area and to restart our work with new spirit and courage.”


Front Line Defenders supported Shahed Kayes and his organisation, Subornogram Foundation, with a grant for legal fees to deal with a number of lawsuits filed against Shahed for his work promoting environmental awareness and the rights of women and children. “My team and I are working to save the livelihood of 12,000 islanders and the environment of Mayadip and Nunertek islands, from the illegal sand grabbers for the past four years. It was almost impossible for me and my team to run the cases against us by the Government. Without Front Line Defenders’ help we could not continue our work.”


A grant was provided for the temporary relocation of journalist Yafez Hazanov who works with Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty in Azerbaijan. He had received threats and was blackmailed due to his work reporting on human rights violations and had to relocate during the politically fraught period of the presidential election.


A grant was given to Society Without Violence, an organisation working on gender equality in Armenia, for a reinforced steel door, three security cameras and external storage for the security videos. The organisation had been receiving threats and hate messages from groups opposed to a new gender equality law introduced in May. “We were receiving threats and messages about destroying our office. With the help of this urgent grant we enhanced our security system and increased the safety of our staff members and volunteers. After having installed the cameras and door, we started to go to work with less fear.”


Front Line Defenders provided a security grant to the Coalition of Free Lawyers in Syria, whose office was attacked by a militant group. The grant paid for a metal door, windows and security CCTV cameras for their office, the cost of medical treatment for an injured human rights defender and temporary relocation for the families of two others.

Western Sahara

Vice president of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA), Ali Salem Tamek, has been imprisoned on more than seven occasions due to his human rights work. He was mistreated while in detention and went on hunger strike a number of times to protest against his detention and the prison conditions. Since his release in 2011, he has suffered from a number of medical conditions and required surgery. Front Line Defenders grant contributed toward his treatment.

Grants for living costs for a short period were provided to LGBTI rights defenders in the Gulf region who had lost their employment and had been ostracised from their communities due to their association with an LGBTI organisation.

Security and Protection Grant Application Form

You can submit an application for a Front Line Defenders Security Grant by answering the following questions and sending in your application form to the address below.

  1. Contact details of the applicant, and must include full name, organisation, address of organisation, phone number and email, and the name of the person accountable to Front Line for the organisation.
  2. What security risks are you facing and why?
  3. What do you want to do and how would the proposed grant make a difference to your security and reduce the risks you face?
  4. What results do you expect? Is there a way to measure whether it has made a difference? (this will be what we expect to be covered in your narrative report on the grant in addition to original receipts for purchases)
  5. Give a breakdown of costs and an explanation of how costs have been arrived at. (Where items are to be purchased Front Line Defenders may ask to see several pro forma quotes and/or may propose making the purchase elsewhere and sending the items)
  6. Give a concise outline of your group/organisation to include its aims, previous activities, membership, organisational structure, financial structure, work with other groups or networks.
  7. If you are in contact with Front Line Defenders for the first time please give contact details (name, organisation, phone, email) for at least two referees who are well known within the human rights community in your country or internationally and who know your human rights work and the risks and threats that you face as a result of your activities.

Applications can be sent by post, email or fax to:
Security Grants Programme,
Front Line Defenders,
Second Floor,
Grattan House,
Temple Road,

Email: grants@frontlinе
Tel: + 353 1 212 3750
Fax: +353 1 212 1001

Alternative Sources of Funding

Grants for Journalists & Writers

The Rory Peck Trust

Human Rights Watch / Hellman-Hammett Grants

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression / Journalists in Distress Fund

International Federation of Journalists / Safety Fund

International Press Institute / Press Freedom Fund

PEN Emergency Fund

Reporters sans Frontieres / Solidarity Fund

Media Institute for Southern Africa / SADC Journalists Under Fire Fund

World Press Freedom Committee / Fund against Censorship


Grants for Women

Urgent Action Fund

Global Fund for Women

Open Society Institute - Women’s Program

Mama Cash

UN Trust Fund to eliminate violence against women

The African Women’s Development Fund


Grants for Sexual Minorities



David Bohnett Foundation

Ford Foundation

Freedom House Dignity for All: LGBTI Assistance Program

Other LGBT Funders


Grants for Children's Rights work

The Global Fund for Children


Grants for prisoners of conscience

Prisoner of Conscience Appeal Fund


Grants per Country/Region

East & Horn of Africa – East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP)

Euro-Med – Euro Meditteranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders (EMHRF)

The Phoenix Fund for Workers & Communities (USA/Mexico)

Media Legal Defence Initiative defence fund for bloggers and online media in South and Southeast Asia


Grants from Governments/Regional Institutions

Irish Aid (Ireland)

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry

The Norwegian Human Rights Fund

SIDA (Sweden)

Official Development Assistance (Japan)

British Department for International Development (United Kingdom)

Agence Française de Développement (AFD) (France)

European Endowment for Democracy

European Instrument for Democracy & Human Rights (EIDHR)

EIDHR Small Grant for HRDs at Risk

Europe Aid (Click on blue button 'Calls for proposals', then under Advanced Search, select Thematic Programmes/Human Rights, select Region or country, and tick Grants)


United Nations Funds

United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture

United Nations Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery

United Nations Voluntary fund for Indigenous Populations


Grants from other organisations and foundations

Open Society Institute & Soros Foundations Network

Ignacio Martin Baro Fund for Mental Health and Human Rights

KIOS – The Finnish Foundation for Human Rights (Finland)

The Fund for Global Human Rights

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Funding Exchange

The Overbrook Foundation

The Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l'Homme

The Norwegian Human Rights Fund (NHRF)

For general information about foundation funding trends you may find The State of Global Foundation Grantmaking helpful



Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

Rory Peck Award

Rights & Democracy/ Humphrey Award

Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award

Reebok Human Rights Award Program

Ginnetta Sagan Award for Women

The Gleitsman Foundation International Activist Award


Fellowships, Scholarships, Rest and Respite

York Fellowship

Oak Fellowship

Scholar Rescue Fund Fellowships

Hamburg Foundation for the Politically Persecuted

Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program at the National Endowment for Democracy

International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN)

Defenred Respite House project

Scholars at Risk Network


Digital Security Funding

Digital Defenders Partnership Grants


Directories of Funders

One World Directory

The Foundation Center

International Human Rights Funders Group

Advocacy Grants

Lifeline CSO Assistance Fund: Advocacy Grants

Security Grants in Action

Below are some of the stories of how grants have improved the security of human rights defenders.

Guatemala: Security Grant to Comité de Desarrollo Campesino - CODECA. Front Line Defenders awarded a security grant to rights organisation CODECA in 2012. CODECA works on improving the situation of the rural poor in Guatemala, focusing on issues such as the wage conditions for farmers, land reform and nationalisation of electric energy in the country.
Philippines: Relocation of members of Linundigan. Front Line Defenders awarded a security grant to members of Linundigan in 2011. Linundigan works for the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands, self determination and their indigenous culture.
Bahrain: CCTV system for home of Nabeel Rajab. Front Line Defenders awarded a security grant to Nabeel Rajab in 2013. Nabeel Rajab is director of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and has played a leading role in campaigning for equality and human rights for all in Bahrain. The grant has allowed Nabeel Rajab to install a CCTV camera system to improve the security of his home.
Ukraine: Security equipment for the office of Insight. In June of 2013, Front Line Defenders awarded a security grant to Insight, a human rights organisation in Ukraine that works to improve the quality of life of LGBTI people. The organisation is engaged in advocacy, capacity-building for individuals and organisational development for regional initiatives.
Gabon: CCTV cameras for Brainforest. Brainforest, based in Libreville, Gabon is a human rights organisation working on campaigning on human rights issues, such as rainforest destruction. Members received death threats, and were victim of a defamation campaign. Their offices were broken into in 2008.

Example - Security Grant - Elisabeth Lukalu - DRC: In May 2011, Front Line Defenders awarded a grant to WHRD Elisabeth LUKALU for her and her 8 children to relocate temporarily to Burundi and for the Elisabeth to receive specialist medical care there. Elisabeth is a member of the human rights organisation AMCAV based Kagando, near Uvira in Eastern DRC. She is a widow and has 8 children. On 14 April 2011, two men armed with machetes broke into her home and attacked the WHRD. Elisabeth sustained serious injuries, the men cut three fingers from her right hand and two fingers from her left hand. Elisabeth and her children went into hiding in the bush until they were assisted by a friend who carried her to the nearest medical clinic. It is believed that Elisabeth was targeted as a result of her peaceful human rights work.

More video reports on the Front Line Defenders Security Grants Programme

'Security grants in an emergency situation: an application will be considered on an emergency basis where the applicant can show that the provision of the grant will contribute to addressing immediate threats to the lives or well-being of one or more human rights defenders. If the application falls within Front Line Defenders criteria for the provision of emergency funding for human rights defenders at imminent risk then small grants can be approved within 48 hours at the discretion of the Director. Please get in touch with our office directly.

Our 24-hour emergency phone no. for human rights defenders is +353 12100489 etc Click here to contact Front Line emergency line

The Lifeline Embattled CSO Assistance Fund provides support for some of the security grants made by Front Line Defenders.