April 21, 2014
  • Promoting nonviolence and protecting human rights defenders since 1981
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Our impact during 2012

In 2012 our work included:

  • 101 field volunteers from 22 countries, backed up by the work of staff and volunteers in 16 countries, provided protection and support to over 300 human rights defenders in Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Nepal
  • 1,365 days of accompaniment
  • 1,343 visits and meetings with human rights defenders
  • 433 meetings with governments, local and regional authorities
  • 775 meetings with the diplomatic corps, international agencies, NGOs and coalitions
  • Investigating possibilities for PBI work in Kenya, Honduras and Indonesia

PBI provided protection and support to 130 women and 183 men human rights defenders from 54 organisations in 2012. Between them, these organisations supported thousands of women, men and children who had been denied their basic rights – from being forcibly evicted from their land, to seeing family members “disappeared”, to suffering torture and rape at the hands of the armed forces.

PBI provided 1,365 days of accompaniment to human rights defenders in 2012.

We visited accompanied organisations and individuals 1,343 times during 2012. These visits and meetings provide moral support and practical advice and range from checking on defenders’ wellbeing to providing help with responses to specific security incidents.

We also made hundreds of phone calls to defenders to check on their whereabouts and safety.

We monitored 52 demonstrations providing a peaceful international presence at these events and aiming to help participants feel more confident about carrying out peaceful protests and reducing the potential for violence.

On request from human rights organisations, we ran or hosted 48 workshops attended by 388 women and 309 men human rights defenders, providing security training and enabling them to cope with constant stress and psychological pressure.

We expressed our concern for human rights defenders in 433 meetings with government, local and regional authorities, urging officials to uphold their commitments to protect human rights in Colombia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico and Nepal.

We released more than 35 information bulletins and videos featuring interviews, news updates and background information on the defenders we work with and the issues they are tackling. We also sent detailed information on the human rights situation to members of our support network each month. Our unique access to information, our rigorous analysis and our objectivity are key elements in the effectiveness of the protection we provide.

We activated our emergency support networks 15 times in response to the most pressing and serious issues being faced by the defenders we accompany.

We attended 775 meetings with the diplomatic corps, UN and other international agencies and local, national and international organisations and coalitions to raise concerns about the safety of human rights defenders, provide information on the effectiveness of protection and prevention measures and propose ways in which policy and practice could be improved.

We organised speaker tours for 13 women and 13 men human rights defenders, enabling them to travel to Europe and North America to raise international awareness about and support for their important work. These tours empowered defenders to develop and build relationships with key allies from parliamentarians to grassroots activists, and gain much needed political, moral and financial support.

In 2012 we also researched the situation for human rights defenders on the ground in Honduras, Indonesia and Kenya to find out whether and how PBI could best support defenders at risk in these countries.

Examples of our work


Berenice Celeyta, President of the Association for Social Investigation and Research (NOMADESC), Colombia

PBI has accompanied Berenice Celeyta since 1999. NOMADESC provides advice and support to indigenous and Afro-Colombian groups, small-scale farmers organisations, and trade unions in south west Colombia. Investigating powerful multinational corporations and supporting vulnerable communities in their struggles to defend their rights is extremely dangerous. Carrying out this work leaves Berenice Celeyta and her colleagues very vulnerable – they have received death threats, sensitive material has been stolen and their phones have been illegally tapped.

In 2011, PBI provided 63 days of physical accompaniment to Berenice and two of her colleagues. PBI volunteers accompanied these inspirational women during their visits to rural areas providing protection while they carried out their most vital and dangerous work, including human rights training for indigenous communities. PBI volunteers visited NOMADESC’s office in Cali twice a week and took part in 18 meetings with the organisation, helping them develop a strategy for prevention and long term protection.

“PBI’s international accompaniment is the most effective form of protection NOMADESC could hope for.” Berenice Celeyta


Training for women human rights defenders, Nepal

We trained 118 women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in Nepal in 2011. Through participatory workshops we shared our risk analysis tools and provided practical help and advice on protection mechanisms. The majority of workshop participants were from marginalised communities. Our workshops provided a forum for them to share experiences and ask members of the international community for support.

Speaker Tours

Each year we organise speaker tours for women and men human rights defenders, enabling them to travel to Europe and North America to raise international awareness about, and support for, their important work. These tours empower defenders to develop and build relationships with key allies ranging from parliamentarians to grassroots activists, and gain much needed political, moral and financial support.


Association for the Protection of Montaña de las Granadillas (APMG)

Local people in the rural community of Zacapa, Guatemala, formed APMG to protect their mountain from logging, monoculture, and large-scale cattle farming. In 2010 eight APMG members faced trumped up criminal charges designed to hamper the organisation’s work. These were dismissed by a judge, but threats and attempts to intimidate and silence members continued unabated. The risks facing APMG and four other accompanied organisations increased dramatically, leading us to activate our support network. We provided detailed information to key audiences including diplomatic staff, parliamentarians, activists and authorities and suggested actions they could take to try to defuse the situation. As a result, representatives of various embassies attended an AMPG press conference and visited the region to show their support for members of AMPG. The Human Rights Ombudsman in Guatemala also expressed concern in a formal letter to the Police Commissioner following pressure from European parliamentarians.

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News from PBI

What they say

"PBI is quite different from most other international NGOs I have come across...PBI safeguards rights on the front line by risking their own most basic rights: right to life, dignity and liberty of person."
Wimal Fernando, Sri Lanka

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PBI resources

We invite you to watch the documentary film "30 years accompanying hope" (in Spanish) made by the PBI Guatemala Project as part of the activities carried out to celebrate 30 years since PBI arrived in the country. A "Photo Exhibition" complements the film.

Mexican Human Rights Defenders explain what PBI accompaniment has meant to them.

Starting all over again, PBI accompanies farming families returning to their lands, Cesar, Colombia


International Office, Development House, 56-64 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4LT, U.K. Tel: +44 20 7065 0775
To find your nearest PBI office visit the international contact page