Front Line Defenders is the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, founded with the specific aim of protecting human rights defenders at risk, people who work, non-violently, for any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Front Line Defenders aims to address the protection needs identified by defenders themselves and to provide rapid and practical support to these defenders.
Areas of Work
Protection of defenders at risk.
Urgent Responses Offered
Front Line has established a defenders alert mechanism, which includes urgent appeals for WHRDs at risk. It provides sample letters with actions that need to be taken by national authorities and addresses for individuals or organizations to take action. See the section of the website.
Advocacy with regional and international mechanisms
Front Line regularly submits urgent appeals to the UN Special Rapporteur and other Rapporteurs depending on the nature of the violation. Front Line also works with:
- EU embassies and other institutions;
- The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa.
- The Annual Front Line Award: this award honors the work of a human rights defender who, through non-violent work, is courageously making an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights of others, often at great personal risk to themselves.
- Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders
- Front Line also runs a Fellowship program that offers defenders and WHRDs at risk the possibility to take some time out from their normal work to undertake a project to further develop their capacities and contribute to their protection.
- Three to four general fellowships are offered every year in Dublin, Brussels, Geneva or another location if there is a strong reason for it.
- A digital security fellowship is offered for defenders to come to Dublin and work with their Information Systems Coordinator. Participation on Fellowships is on an invitation basis.
- For more information see the Grants and Fellowships section on the Front Line website.
Front Line provides financial assistance to defenders to cover lawyer fees, bail, prison visits, and clothes in prison through the security grants program.
Front Line carries out trial observation missions, lobbies for international observers when defenders face court proceedings, and in select cases, may send independent trial observers on its behalf.
Front Line provides financial support to defenders and WHRDs in need of medical assistance and counseling through the security grants program.
FL is also currently developing a stress management program to offer this type of support to defenders well known to the organization.
- Assistance under the program is decided on a case-by-case basis
- In some cases, measures have included supporting the staff of an NGO to go on a few days retreat to receive counseling or relaxation techniques, individual counseling, supporting a WHRD to get medical treatment or take a short break;
- The program supports families as well as individuals.
Front Line has established an emergency telephone hotline to support defenders at immediate risk and mobilize rapid international support and action.
- +353 1 21 00 489; service provided in several languages: Arabic, English, French, Russian, and Spanish;
Front Line also facilitates a procedure to allow defenders and WHRDs to travel to Ireland and obtain a short-stay visa of three months:
- This procedure is available in two main situations: emergency situations in which defenders face significant immediate risks; and situations in which defenders have been working in the face of significant risks for an extended period of time but would benefit from a period of respite.
- The program does not cover family members.
FL provides financial support for relocation in-country or to third countries under its grant program:
- Defenders or NGOs coordinate the logistics of the relocation on their own.
- Support provided for maximum of 3 months.
- Grants can cover transport, medical fees, and living expenses for WHRDs.
Front Line provides grants for the specific purpose of strengthening the security and protection of defenders at risk:
- Grants are for amounts up to a maximum of EUR 6,000;
- The Board of Trustees considers non-urgent applications on a quarterly basis;
- In cases of imminent risk, grants can be approved at the discretion of the Director in a matter of hours or days; and
- Front Line accepts applications in Arabic, Russian, English, French, or Spanish.
Front Line Defenders conducts hands-on training workshops in digital security for human rights defenders from many countries among others: Belarus, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Russia, Syria, Tibet, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zimbabwe.
- Digital security training for trainers from many countries for more effective follow-up on digital security issues.
- Consults HR organisations in addressing digital security challenges and is helping implementing security strategies through the Security Grants Program.
- In collaboration with the Tactical Technology Collective, Front Line Defenders has developed a package of tools and guides called Securityinabox.org.
Front Line Defenders programme of training on security and protection, which includes:
- Workshops, courses, seminars and training resources,
- Aims to facilitate a sharing of skills, knowledge and expertise to provide HRDs with additional information and tools that may assist in addressing personal and organisational security and protection issues.
- Workshops for human rights defenders at risk cover risk assessment, threat analysis, reaction to security incidents, digital security (basic level), dealing with stress, the production of practical security plans geared towards each HRD’s unique situation, and how to produce organisational security plans.
- The workshops are highly participatory and include brainstorms, small group work sessions, case studies, role plays and discussions.
The website is available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Russian.