Actions of the Brazilian Committee of Defenders

The CBDDH articulates in several fronts of actions to reach the objectives that guide the network. The causes of violence against human rights defenders are diverse, as are perpetrators of such violence. Therefore, the challenges posed to face this reality must be articulated in different collective strategies, that are constructed within the network or by the social movements and organizations of the civil society.

Monitoring public policy

Historically, the CBDDH has followed the implementation of the public policy of protection to defenders of human rights defenders, annually sending letters to the Brazilian governments with recommendations for the improvement of the protection policy. Some of the organizations that made up the committee included coordination of the program to protect human rights defenders since its inception – Global Justice, National Human Rights Movement, Commission Pastoral Land, Indigenous Missionary Council and Land Rights.

The Committee is currently working to pressure governments to ensure the continuity and improvement of public policy. In addition, it carries out denunciations and national and international reports denouncing the situation of violence against human rights defenders in Brazil, as well as the dismantling of public protection policy.

It is important to emphasize that public protection policy was never within reach of the challenges posed by the serious violence against human rights in the country.  After 12 years of its implementation, basic issues such as the adoption of a legal framework for the policy have not yet been created in the country. However, this historic fragility of politics has taken on worrying trajectories in the last few years, whether due to the lack of governments or the escalation of violence against human rights in the country.

The CBDDH understands that it is the State’s duty to guarantee protection to human rights defenders and, therefore, public policy must occupy a priority agenda. The incidence and monitoring of public policy occurs directly through the presence of the committee in two spaces of the National Council of Human Rights:

  1. a) Permanent Commission of Human Rights Defenders and Confronting the Criminalization of Social Movements;
  2. b) Permanent Subcommittee on Protection Programs for Human Rights Defenders, PROVITA and PPCAM, which was created within the framework of the Permanent Commission Defenders of Human Rights and Confronting the Criminalization of Social Movements of this Council and established with the objective of constructing a proposal for improvement And reorganization of PPCAM (Protection Program for Children and Adolescents Threatened of Death), PPDDH (Program for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders) and PROVITA (Program for the Protection of Victims and Endangered Witnesses).

Survey and systematization of data on violations of human rights defenders in Brazil

There is a huge underreporting of data on violations and violence against human rights defenders in Brazil. Since 1985, the Commission Pastoral Land has been reporting on conflicts in the countryside and has made a significant contribution to making violence against the peoples of the water, the countryside and the forest visible through their struggles in defense of human rights. The Indian Missionary Council, in turn, produces annual reports on violence against indigenous peoples in the country. ARTIGO 19 already monitors and produces data on the situation of violence faced by communicators and communicators.

However, in addition to the specific work carried out by these three social organizations, there is no systematization and data collection that points to the reality of violence and violations suffered by human rights defenders in Brazil in general. Violence against LGBT human rights defenders, women’s rights, the rights of black people, the right to housing, etc. Still happening in invisibility.

Invisibility about what happens in Brazil against DDHs creates a false image about the country. Those who defend human rights know how states, companies, landowners, agribusiness, the media and all kinds of private agents are violent against those who defend human rights. This violence is of various kinds: threats, torture, persecution, stigmatization, judicial, administrative and even murder.

Ensuring visibility on this topic, the committee proposes to be a space for systematizing and producing data on DDHs in Brazil. The map of violations of human rights defenders and the dossier produced are the result of a first effort to produce, systematize and disseminate these data in the years 2016 and 2017.

Policy Incidence

The Committee also carries out political advocacy on the basis of information on violations against human rights defenders. This incidence occurs both nationally and internationally and aims to charge governments and the Brazilian State, or international organizations, to intervene in a way to stop the violence against human rights defenders, or even to open investigations to hold violators accountable. This incidence occurs in several ways, such as:  Sending of denunciations, reports, realization of representations, holding of meetings with organs of the State, etc.

Protective actions

Protective actions should be designed in an integrated and articulated manner with the human rights defender at risk or threat. When talking about protective measures for human rights defenders, it is important to take into account that priority is to guarantee the continuity of their actions on the ground, that is, to create means to face threats, criminalization and violence without Defenders or defender of human rights cease their activity, or have to withdraw from the territory.

It is important to emphasize that the Committee understands that it is the State’s responsibility to guarantee the protection and safety of the human rights defender. For this reason, the actions of the committee do not substitute for the State’s performance and responsibility.


  1. Emergency support for DDHs at risk

Conflict situations that require the adoption of direct protection measures are difficult to predict and require a rapid response in order to avoid further escalation or even criminalization. The experience of the CBDDH shows that it is essential to guarantee immediate responses in situations of conflict through emergency support to the DDHs involved. Considering the deficiencies of the PPDDH, the Committee manages an emergency fund that makes it possible to provide assistance to DDHs.

Emergency support is designed to deal with cases where the severity of vulnerability requires the adoption of direct and temporary protection measures. In this sense, the emergency support aims to guarantee the execution of actions such as the temporary withdrawal of DDH from its places of operation; the purchase or leasing of equipment to improve the communication and mobility conditions, such as telephones, cameras, vehicles, etc., the cost of travel for carrying out advocacy activities and interlocution with public agencies; the costing of the necessary expenses for the immediate presence of lawyers or other professionals in the places of conflict, police stations, forums; articulation and costing of emergency health care, etc .; among others.

All emergency support is based on a protocol defined by the Committee.


  1. Self-protection workshops


The Committee has sought to develop self-protection strategies workshops for human rights defenders and social movements. The techniques applied in these workshops are the result of training that members of these organizations have taken in courses offered by the program Somos Defensores de Colombia, Front Line Defenders, International Protection and Global Witness. Global Justice, with the support of a number of organizations, has developed a guideline for the protection of human rights defenders based on shared experience in the 12 years we have been following the Human Rights Defenders Protection Program (PPDDH) and the workshops offered.

These self-protection workshops have taken place in various regions of the country and brought together social movements and civil society organizations with the purpose of ensuring a collective understanding of strategies that allow the self-protection of human rights, as a basis for local and regional perspectives of action in the defense of rights humans.


  1. Missions on site


On-site missions, although they have an incidental character, also have a protective bias and are intended to intervene in a serious scenario of violence and human rights violations. The missions are coordinated by the Brazilian Committee of Human Rights Defenders, Human Rights Platform -Dhesca Brasil and Justice and Human Rights – JusDh, in order to provide support to human rights and social movements in areas of conflict.

The experiences of organizations working in the field of human rights show that on-site missions have proven to be an effective means of protecting human rights defenders in situations of risk and their activities, such as: persecution, threats, assassination attempts and criminalization of defenders, movements and organizations. One of the offspring of on-site missions is the production of reports on documented situations that are forwarded to both public authorities in Brazil and to international human rights mechanisms.

Communication actions/Visibility actions (campaigns, videos, interviews, social networks, etc.)

One of the major problems related to the fight against human rights is the invisibility of the violations of human rights defenders. In addition, the DDH theme is still little disseminated in Brazilian society. It is therefore essential to ensure the construction of innovative strategies, new ways of communicating agendas, and translating into society the real meaning of promoting human rights for the lives of all.

However, the 19th article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes that “every individual has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, which implies the right not to be disturbed by his opinions and to seek, receive and impart borders, information and ideas by any means of expression, “the right to communicate is still a major worldwide challenge.

Understanding the human right to communication as a tool that influences the guarantee or denial of other rights, the Committee develops strategies that aim to promote the debate about human rights in Brazil, develop actions that guide the mass media and produce counter- Hegemonic through its communication policy, which aims to strengthen the institutional mission of the Committee and the themes of human rights defenders.

In partnership with civil society organizations, the Committee has already produced campaigns, informative materials and graphics, videos and interviews on the subject from a horizontal information flow, which privileges the dialogue with various actors and social actors, as well as supports communication of social movements and networks.