Being a human rights worker or member of the media in a volatile area can be a dangerous job. You are attempting to expose some form of misconduct against the people of that country by their government or military, but the government or military certainly doesn’t want you there. The free speech enjoyed here in the US is not something enjoyed worldwide. Activists and media are threatened by abduction and violent attacks each and every day.
Just this April, Mahmoud Al-Farjani, a Libyan journalist for Al-Arabiya, was kidnapped by armed militiamen from the network’s office after numerous threats were directed towards him in the days leading up to the kidnapping. He was held for seven hours and beaten, and even received death threats.
Enter The Natalia Project
If Al-Farjani were wearing a GPS tracking device from the group Civil Rights Defenders, the outcome might have been much different. The Civil Rights Defenders was formed in Sweden in 1982, and deploys aid workers worldwide to combat civil rights violations, keep an eye on elections to keep them fair, and more.
The GPS tracking bracelet was named after Natalia Estemirova, human rights worker uncovering abuses of human rights in the Caucaus region of Chechnya. In 2009, she was kidnapped and brutally murdered.
What It Does
If the person wearing the GPS tracking bracelet is in trouble, all they need to do is trigger the device. At that point, GPS location data with their last known location is sent to nearby workers as well as the Civil Rights Defenders office in Sweden. The same occurs if the bracelet is forcibly removed from the wearer.
What’s unique about the bracelet: it is capable of sending out an update to their Facebook friends and Twitter followers regarding the alert via cellular signal. Those who designed the GPS tracking bracelet feel this level of awareness will make kidnappers nervous, possibly leading to the release of the victim.
“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 in a press release.
Only The Beginning
The bracelets were showcased at the Civil Rights Defenders’ annual conference, Defenders’ Days, in Stockholm. 55 human rights workers will be equipped with the bracelets over the next 18 months, but only if they receive enough financial backing from sponsors.
To donate to this cause, visit Natalia Project’s website: http://natalia.civilrightsdefenders.org/