Human Rights Defenders, put simply, are anyone who is involved with or who actively promotes the tenets of human rights. They can be front-line defenders, to humanitarian workers and activists and even to people who write blogs or light a candle in solidarity. In recent years, there has been an increasing trend of persecution and threats towards these people, leading to a tangible decline in the human rights of many countries. They are suppressed, oppressed, silenced, abused and targeted for the work that they do. Many governments see human rights as antithetical to the work of running a State, or as a defiance of their authority. Such treatment of the defenders leads to a vicious cycle of engrained oppression, rendering them mute and discouraging other voices.
CHRI has consistently advocated for building support for the very important work that human rights defenders carry out. It calls for the protection of these individuals and bodies when threatened or attacked. In 2009, CHRI put out a CHOGM report looking at the plight of human rights defenders in several of the Commonwealth countries.