Supporting Defenders for Democratic Change
Freedom House supports and assists frontline activists, human rights defenders, political prisoners, journalists, and others who are working to protect and defend the fundamental rights that are the lifeblood of democracy.
Freedom of speech and expression. A free and independent press. Freedom to practice, or not practice, the religion of your choice. Freedom to peaceably assemble and protest. Freedom to petition the government. These fundamental freedoms and human rights are inherent to and protected by strong democracies.
Freedom House is a leading provider of emergency assistance to human rights defenders globally. Since 2007, we have supported tens of thousands of activists and victims of human rights abuses (and their families) across 150 countries. Freedom House and our partners provide resources for relocation, legal representation, trial monitoring, technical equipment, medical and living expenses, and other essential services. We strengthen these brave individuals’ ability to fight corruption, monitor and document human rights abuses, and demand equal rights—especially for at-risk communities. Often this work is being done in very challenging environments, including within countries run by autocratic leaders.
Freedom House conducts targeted campaigns for the release of activists from prison so they can continue their work—including in exile—to bring democratic change to their countries. In 2022, Freedom House unveiled Free Them All, a project focused on securing releases for political prisoners as well as tracking and researching cases of political imprisonment worldwide. Since 2020, Freedom House has contributed to the release of hundreds of political prisoners, particularly in Latin America.
Free Them All: A Political Prisoners Initiative is a Freedom House project intended to help free political prisoners worldwide and push back against the jailing of activists as a tool of repression. Each of these brave individuals has a story that illustrates the significant pressures and harms that human rights defenders and prodemocracy activists face because of their work.
The project focuses on human rights defenders and democracy activists who governments seek to silence or intimidate through harassment and imprisonment. Included in this category are political and community activists, artists, journalists, bloggers, and other media workers—all advocating for democratic change.
Learn More About Our Political Prisoners Initiative
Explore Free Them All: A Political Prisoners Initiative, which examines restrictions on the liberty of human rights defenders and prodemocracy activists, and includes profiles of emblematic cases worldwide.
Democracy depends on everyone having equal rights under the law and being free from discrimination. If the rights and freedoms of one group are violated or denied without consequence, then the rights of all are in danger as well.
Freedom House supports frontline activists in their efforts to defend and expand fundamental rights. These activists play an instrumental role in protecting human rights defenders, documenting the abuses they endure, and holding abusers to account. We provide emergency assistance to activists who come under threat and work with them to broaden public support for upholding human rights and expanding equality.
Spotlight: Freedom House Programs
Afghanistan Human Rights Coordination Mechanism
The AHRCM is a coalition that assesses and addresses the needs of Afghan human rights defenders and brings partners together to advocate for full respect for the human rights of all in Afghanistan.
Emergency Assistance Programs
Freedom House provides critical, often lifesaving, support to human rights defenders, civil society organizations, and survivors of severe religious persecution in some of the world’s most repressive and conflict-ridden environments. Learn more about our emergency assistance programs.
Human Rights Support Mechanism
Freedom House worked with USAID and the PROGRESS consortium to provide technical assistance and support to partners in developing countries around the world in order to protect and promote human rights.
Freedom House partners with civil society and human rights defenders throughout Africa to advance respect for human rights, strengthen democratic governance, and fortify just rule of law.
Featured Media Freedom Resources
Reviving News Media in an Embattled Europe
In the face of economic hardship, legal attacks, smear campaigns, and harassment, a dynamic group of news organizations across the European Union are finding new ways to push back against the forces that are undermining them.
The China Media Bulletin
The China Media Bulletin is a monthly email newsletter that provides unique insight on censorship, media freedom, and internet freedom issues related to the People's Republic of China.
Moldova MEDIA-M Project
Freedom House has partnered with Internews in implementing the multiyear MEDIA-M project, funded by USAID and UK Aid Direct.
More on Religious Freedom
Learn more about how Freedom House supports religious freedom defenders, civil society organizations, and survivors of religious persecution worldwide.
Featured Freedom of Expression Resources
Defending Latin American Human Rights
Read our 2022 report on the nature of the defense and protection of human rights defenders and prodemocracy civil society organizations in Latin America.
Advancing Fundamental Freedoms in Turkey
Freedom House seeks to empower civil society to contribute to the improvement of fundamental freedoms in Turkey and to advocate with national and international decision-makers to uphold the country’s human rights commitments.
The Internationalization of Universities and the Repression of Academic Freedom
Academic persecution is increasing around the world, and financial pressures on universities are presenting opportunities for authoritarian states to assert their influence across borders.
Featured Freedom of Assembly Resources
China Dissent Monitor
The China Dissent Monitor features interactive research on collective action in public spaces and cases of online dissent, filling a critical information gap in a country with severe media restrictions and risks associated with exposing dissent.
How Civic Mobilizations Grow in Authoritarian Contexts
This 2022 report examines what helps and hurts civic mobilizations in authoritarian countries and provides insight on how these mobilizations grow.
The Iranian Struggle for Freedom: A Call for Global Solidarity
The end of the Islamic Republic’s system of misogyny would constitute a global landmark in the long march toward a world in which women are treated equally.
Protecting the Rights of Religious Minorities is Crucial to Protecting Democracy Itself
December 7, 2023
Collective Action and Local Leadership: Lessons from Human Rights Advocacy in East Africa
November 9, 2023
We Must Do More to Address the Online Harassment of Women Journalists
November 2, 2023