The Civil Rights Defenders have issued their first batch of GPS bracelets that will alert the CRDs’ headquarters, other nearby activists, and the entirety of the CRDs’ social media following if the bracelet’s owner is ever kidnapped. The first 5 bracelets were issued from April 2nd through April 5th during the Civil Rights Defenders’ conference, Defenders’ Days. The CRD plans on issuing 55 of these bracelets over the next year and a half.
The bracelets are described as a personal alarm, and the product is called the “Natalia Project”. It was named after Natalia Estemirova, a human rights defender who, in 2009, was murdered within 24 hours of being kidnapped. The CRD believed that if the authorities were alerted sooner of Natalia’s kidnapping, the tragedy could have been prevented. Robert Hårdh, the Executive Director of Civil Rights Defenders, stated that these bracelets “gives us an opportunity to react faster and extend our hands-on protection further.”
The GPS bracelet can be activated manually, or if an attacker forcefully removes it from the activist’s wrist. A signal with the activist’s GPS location will be sent to the CRD headquarters in Stockholm. Alerts will also be sent out to other CRD activists within the vicinity, and an automatic notification will be sent out throughout the Natalia Project’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The Civil Rights Defenders state that these bracelets could potentially alert hundreds of thousands of people instantly. It would also put pressure on the attacker, because having the entire world become aware of the attack “creates virtual protection around civil rights defenders at risk.” Unfortunately, the CRD requires additional money to get these bracelets to more activists. Its asking anyone who can help to support the Natalia Project with any donation amount they can afford. You can find out more about the Natalia Project here.