"We are not afraid". Land Rights Defenders: attacked for confronting unbridled development

“I commend this year’s Annual Report, which addresses a burning and growing issue in many countries around the globe, where land rights defenders have been subjected to a variety of obstacles and abuses because of their commitment to defend and protect human rights, from judicial harassment to arbitrary detention, from defamation to illegal surveillance, from threats to killings”.

“I will more generally continue to focus on the protection of land rights defenders, insisting on the need to increase accountability, both in my communications to States and during
my country visits. In doing so, I will certainly rely upon findings of this Annual Report, which provides the keys to understanding the patterns of violations against land rights defenders, and contains tailored recommendations to states and other stakeholders about ways to better
ensure their protection”.

Michel Forst, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

The Annual Report 2014 of the Observatory provides a global analysis on the particular vulnerability of land rights defenders in a complex economic and legal environment. This
picture is illustrated with 74 case studies in 29 countries. The report highlights that we are facing an extremely violent human drama and recalls that human rights must be placed at the centre of trade, investment and development policies to prevent the multiplication of deadly land conflicts. The scale of attacks against land rights defenders is particularly preoccupying and should attract the utmost reaction and urgent mobilisation of the international community and lead to the establishment of a clear and strong agenda that guarantees greater protection and empowerment for land rights defenders.

In 2011-2014, the Observatory documented more than 106 cases of harassment targeting 282 land rights defenders and 19 NGOs.

Created in 1997 jointly by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), the Observatory for the Protection of Human
Rights Defenders is the leading global programme on the protection of human rights defenders. It bases its action on the conviction that solidarity with and among human rights
defenders and their organisations ensures that their voice is being heard and their isolation and marginalisation broken. It responds to threats and acts of reprisal suffered by human
rights defenders through urgent interventions, vital emergency assistance for those in need, international missions and advocacy for their effective domestic and international protection.

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