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[HRC49 Side Event] Defenders in Asia: Holding the line amid mounting challenges

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Date: Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Time: 13:00 – 14:30 (CET, Geneva) / 19:00 – 20:30 (ICT, Bangkok)


Live via: Zoom, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube

Human rights defenders (HRDs) play a key role in upholding and advancing human rights. In response to their bold and tireless work, HRDs become targets of harassment and attacks by both State and non-State actors on a daily basis around the globe. In Asia, in 2021 alone, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) documented 820 cases of violations against HRDs across 18 Asian countries. The most common violations included judicial harassment (416 cases recorded), often coupled with arbitrary arrest and detention (378 cases); physical violence (221 cases); and intimidation and threats (145 cases). At least 83 cases of killing of HRDs were recorded.

As we commemorate International Women’s Day today, it is important to note that FORUM-ASIA recorded a total of 224 cases of violations against Women Human Rights Defender, making them the second most affected group.

Defenders are holding the line and enduring the struggle for the promotion of human rights, despite increasingly hostile and repressive environments across the region. Join us as we reflect on the situation of defenders and discuss concrete recommendations to relevant stakeholders including civil society organisations, UN member states, UN agencies, and businesses on what can be done to support HRDs and protect them from violations and abuses.


  • Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders
  • Vrinda Grover, Advocate, Supreme Court of India
  • Haris Azhar, Co-founder of Lokataru Foundation, Indonesia
  • Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman, Programme Coordinator, Asian Legal Resource Centre and Asian Human Rights Commission, Bangladesh
  • Sopheap Chak, Executive Director, Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), Cambodia

Moderated by Benny Agus Prima, FORUM-ASIA

This is a UN side event at HRC49 organised by FORUM-ASIA, CIVICUS, ISHR, and OMCT.

Media contact: For more information or to set up an interview with any of the speakers, please contact FORUM-ASIA Communication and Media Programme at [email protected]

About the organisations: 

  • The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is a network of 85 member organisations across 23 countries, mainly in Asia. Founded in 1991, FORUM-ASIA works to strengthen movements for human rights and sustainable development through research, advocacy, capacity development and solidarity actions in Asia and beyond. It has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and a consultative relationship with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. The FORUM-ASIA Secretariat is based in Bangkok, with offices in Jakarta, Geneva and Kathmandu.
  • CIVICUS is a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world.
  • The International Service for Human Rights is an independent, non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights.
  • The OMCT works with 200 member organisations to end torture and ill-treatment, assist victims, and protect human rights defenders at risk wherever they are.