Amnesty International today launched a new global campaign 'Brave' to fight against what it said was a growing wave of attacks against those defending human rights. Community leaders, lawyers, journalists and other human rights defenders across the world are facing unprecedented levels of persecution, intimidation and violence, it warned. In India, the human rights group said that activists face repressive laws, surveillance, threats and physical violence while carrying out "legitimate" work. "Human rights defenders in India often work in extremely dangerous conditions and continue to face threats to their life and safety from state and non-state actors. Authorities have failed to protect their constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and association," said Aakar Patel, executive director at Amnesty International India. In a new briefing, 'Human rights defenders under threat - A shrinking space for civil society', published today to accompany the new campaign, Amnesty details the dangers those defending human rights face. Last year, 281 people were killed globally for defending human rights, up from 156 in 2015, according to evidence from the NGO Front Line Defenders. According to Front Line Defenders' estimates, six human rights defenders were killed in India in 2016 and activists using the RTI to expose human rights abuses, corruption and environmental issues have been routinely targeted. "Authorities routinely use anti-terror laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to target activists...," it said, adding that the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act - which restricts organisations from receiving foreign funding - has been arbitrarily used to harass dissenting NGOs. The new Brave campaign calls on states to recognise the legitimate work of those working to stand up for the inherent dignity and equal rights of all people, and to ensure their freedom and safety under the United Nations declaration adopted in 1998. The global campaign will spotlight the cases of individuals facing imminent danger because of their human rights work, and lobby governments and put pressure on decision-makers to strengthen legal frameworks. "That spirit of bravery is still alive today.
Whether it is the likes of Malala Yousafzai or Chelsea Manning, there are people here and now taking enormous risks for us. Without their courage, our world is less fair, less just and less equal," said Salil Shetty, the Secretary General of Amnesty International. Amnesty International said it will continue to investigate attacks against activists, and work hand-in-hand with local communities and campaigners to mobilise people to take action as part of the new campaign.
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