natalia projectAn army of human rights defenders are risking their lives to protect the freedoms of others, but who is defending them?

Today, Civil Rights Defenders distributed the first set of “Natalia Project” bracelets, which use GPS technology and social media to send out a distress signal if the wearer is attacked. Activists wear the gadget out in high-risk zones. If they are assaulted, they can manually trigger the alarm. The devices are equipped with a ‘tamper-safe lock,’ and forceable removal will automatically activate them.

Once triggered, the bracelet immediately notifies the Civil Rights Defenders headquarters with the real-time GPS location of the victim, alerts nearby contacts (like other people in the field), and rescue teams. Once the threat is confirmed, the bracelets send out messages on Facebook and Twitter to rally global support and apply pressure on the 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 the blog post.

The project was inspired by Natalia Esterniorva, a human rights defender in the North Caucasus who was murdered within 24 hours of being abducted. CRD said that if the correct authorities had known of the incident faster, the tragedy could have been prevented.

The system makes the process of notification more efficient and accurate, but also leverages the Internet’s powers of communication to make sure the people defending freedom remain free themselves. The CRD has distributed five alarms so far, and the first stage of the project will equip 55 civil rights defenders over the next 18 months, if the organization receives enough financial support.

Civil Rights Defenders is an independent organization based in Stockholm Sweden. Its mission is to empower and protect human rights defenders who puts themselves at great risk.

Check out the video about the project below:

Photo Credit: Natalia Project