Countering the Stigmatization of Human Rights Defenders - new policy brief

The ways in which human rights defenders are perceived affect their space for work and their security. Stigmatisation is a common method of deterring them, and occurs in different ways – from name-calling, shaming, insinuations, accusations, the spreading of false rumours and lies, to smear campaigns, judicial harassment and criminalization. The negative impacts of stigmatisation can be invisible, subtle, and long-lasting; they can result in more threats and attacks against defenders and the fragmentation of communities and movements. Countering the stigmatisation of human rights defenders is critical to their security and protection, as is the promotion of the legitimacy of their human rights practice.