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Shelter City - Support Centres

Shelter City is a nationwide initiative of Justice and Peace Netherlands to protect human rights defenders, in cooperation with a growing number of Dutch cities and local organizations.

Human rights defenders defend the rights of themselves and of others. Through their work they play an important role in the promotion of democratic values, political freedoms, and civil rights. This is a challenging and dangerous fight: they are often silenced, threatened, arrested, tortured and sometimes they disappear.

Justice and Peace established Shelter City in 2012 on the request of their network of international human rights defenders. After the first Shelter City in The Hague, Middelburg joined in 2014, followed by Nijmegen, Maastricht, Utrecht, and Amsterdam in 2015, Tilburg and Groningen in 2016 and Zwolle and Haarlem in 2017. In 2018 Deventer also joined the Shelter City network. Rotterdam followed in 2020. Tbilisi & Batumi (Georgia), Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania), Cotonou (Benin) and San José (Costa Rica) have joined the network as International Shelter City Hubs. The expectation is that other cities (in or outside the Netherlands) will join in the future as well. The growing number of applications from Human Rights Defenders under threat shows that new Shelter Cities are strongly needed.

In every Shelter City the municipality, local organizations, universities, and Justice and Peace provide the shelter and take care of the program for the human rights defender. Together with the human rights defenders they organize meetings and workshops that contribute to the raising of awareness about human rights issues among the inhabitants of the Shelter Cities.

Shelter City is affiliated with the EU Human Rights Defenders Relocation Platform

ProtectDefenders.eu - Support Centres

Launched in 2015, ProtectDefenders.eu is the European Union Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) mechanism which supports individuals and local actors who strive to promote and defend human rights worldwide. The mechanism is implemented by a Consortium of twelve international organisations active in the field of Human Rights.

Its services comprise:

  • Emergency support for HRDs at risk 
  • Support to local HRD organisations
  • Temporary relocation of HRDs at risk
  • Training and information to HRDs at risk
  • Monitoring and advocacy

HOTLINE: +353 (0) 1 21 00 489

Front Line Defenders - Support Centres

Front Line Defenders provides rapid and practical support to human rights defenders at risk through:

  • international advocacy on behalf of human rights defenders at risk, including emergency support for those in immediate danger (see here );
  • grants to pay for the practical security needs of human rights defenders (see here ); 
  • trainings and resource materials on security and protection, including digital security (see here );
  • rest, respite and other opportunities for human rights defenders dealing with extreme stress (see here );
  • opportunities for networking and exchange between human rights defenders, including at the biennial Dublin Platform (see here );
  • the annual Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk;
  • an emergency 24-hour phone line for human rights defenders operating in Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

In emergency situations Front Line Defenders can facilitate temporary relocation of human rights defenders.

Front Line Defenders is a member of the Journalists in Distress (JID) Network.

Contact information (here ): Emergency Hotline +353 121 00489 - SKYPE: front-line-emergency

European Center for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) - Support Centres

ECPMF offers several support programmes for journalists at risk.

- Journalists-in-Residence programme: The ECPMF’s Journalists-in-Residence (JiR) programme offers temporary shelter for journalists facing harassment and intimidation as a direct result of their work. Journalists get the chance to rest and recuperate in a safe and discreet place, and also to continue their investigative work at their own pace and use their time in Leipzig for networking and finding solidarity. The JiR programme lasts for either three or up to six months, and includes a rent-free furnished apartment in Leipzig, as well as a monthly stipend to cover basic living costs. It also covers travel and visa expenses, health insurance, psychological counselling, and journalism-related training sessions on topics like digital security, mobile reporting and social media management. More info here .

- Legal support: ECPMF offers and coordinates legal support on matters related to free speech for individuals and organisations working in countries located geographically in Europe. More info here .

- Helpdesk: he Helpdesk is ECPMF central tool for responding to the individual needs of journalists at risk and under threat. ECPMF supports media professionals across Europe in order to find a place of safety in emergency cases and we assist exiled journalists in Germany, irrespective of their origin. More info here .

Women’s Reporting Point: it aims to deepen a gender-specific aspect of the safety of journalists and encourages female media workers to report it if they are subjected to harassment or they witness it in their journalistic work. Reports received are given priority, treated confidentially and are only handled by women staff. More info here .