Attacks and criminalisation of indigenous human rights defenders: report

10 August 2018
Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples
To the HRC at its 39th session


The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples is gravely concerned at the drastic increase in attacks and acts of violence against, criminalisation of and threats aimed at indigenous peoples, particularly those arising in the context of large-scale projects involving extractive industries, agribusiness, infrastructure, hydroelectric dams and logging. The Special Rapporteur has therefore decided to prepare a thematic report to draw attention to the escalation of these concerns.

Building on numerous recent initiatives undertaken by indigenous peoples, civil society actors as well as by the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur focused this report on the specific experiences and challenges faced by indigenous peoples.


The focus of the present report is on the distinctive characteristics of attacks against and criminalization of indigenous peoples defending their rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and under human rights treaties, with emphasis on violations occurring in the context of development projects.

The Special Rapporteur considers the collective and individual impact on indigenous peoples and assesses the effectiveness of prevention and protective measures, identifying good practices and prevailing challenges with regard to protective measures for indigenous peoples. The Special Rapporteur notes that indigenous peoples are subjected to criminalization in a range of contexts including structural racism and discrimination, areas which may be the subjects of future analysis and reports.

She concludes with recommendations on how various stakeholders can prevent violations and improve protection.