Human rights group releases activists’ alarm

The Stockholm-based organization Civil Rights Defenders has developed a high-tech plastic bracelet which uses GPS technology and social media to protect human rights activists around the world.

Human rights group releases activists' alarm

Named the Natalia Project after Natalia Estemirova, a human rights activist who was kidnapped and murdered near her home in Chechnya’s capital Grozny in 2009, the bracelet uses a mobile signal, a GPS receiver and social media to inform of a kidnapping within seconds, according to Civil Rights Defenders.

The bracelet works as an assault alarm which is activated when the wearer presses a button or when it is removed by force.

A mobile signal is then sent out to the activists’ nearby colleagues as well as to the Civil Rights Defenders’ Stockholm headquarters. Alerts are also instantly posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Civil Rights Defenders claimed that Estemirova’s murder could have been prevented “had the correct authorities been made aware as soon as she had been kidnapped”.

“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,” said Robert Hårdh, executive director of Civil Rights Defenders.

The organization also claimed that the project will help put pressure on 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 organization said in a statement.

The first five bracelets were distributed in April at the Defenders’ Days conference in Stockholm. Civil Rights Defenders hopes to hand out another 55 devices in the next 18 months.

Civil Rights Defenders was first founded in 1982 as the Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights.

TT/The Local/nr Follow The Local on Twitter

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