Revolutionary kidnap alarm for human rights defenders at risk

DDPress release 5 April 2013

Civil Rights Defenders today announces a potentially life-saving personal alarm, the Natalia Project, that uses GPS and social media to inform of a kidnapping within seconds. The first five bracelets were distributed this week, but funding is needed, if more lives are to be saved. The Natalia Project is an important addition to Civil Rights Defenders’ program in support of human rights defenders at risk.

Natalia ProjLike no other personal alarm available, the Natalia Project bracelet has the capability to inform of an attack to potentially millions of people, within seconds, by using Facebook and Twitter. The bracelet uses a mobile signal to notify of an attack and issues a real-time GPS location of the victim directly to Civil Rights Defenders’ headquarters. Nearby contacts will also be alerted, so that they can instantly act, and the alarm is also forwarded to social media followers.

The project is named after Natalia Estemirova, a leading, human rights defender in the North Caucasus, who was brutally kidnapped and murdered within 24 hours of being abducted. This devastating loss of life could have been prevented had the correct authorities been made aware as soon as she had been kidnapped.

With the capability to alert the world in an instant, the Natalia Project will apply pressure on the attackers. The fact that the whole world will immediately be aware of an attack forms a virtual, defensive perimeter around human rights defenders, who are at risk, as these regimes want to avoid international attention and criticism.

The first personal alarms were distributed at Civil Rights Defenders’ conference, Defenders’ Days, in Stockholm on April 2-5. The first stage of the project will include equipping 55 civil rights defenders over the next 18 months, contingent upon receiving enough economic support from sponsors and the general public.

“Most of us, given the chance, would like to help others in danger. These human rights defenders are risking their lives for others to have the right to vote, or to practice religion or free speech. These are rights that people in some parts of the world take for granted every day. The Natalia Project makes it easy for anyone to contribute to the safety of human rights defenders to allow them to carry on their crucial work, either showing strength in numbers, by ‘liking’ or following on social media, or by donating directly to support the ongoing work,” says Robert Hårdh, Executive Director of Civil Rights Defenders.

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