Prisoners of Conscience – Supporting People who Defend Human Rights

Since our inception in 1962, we’ve provided rapid financial and practical assistance to more than 10,000 prisoners of conscience and their dependents and distributed more than £4m. This has been achieved by exercising expertise built up over many years and by utilising our network of over 50 different distribution channels including human rights organisations, refugee groups, community organisations, universities and solicitors.

Support in 2022/23

Who is a prisoner of conscience?

A prisoner of conscience is a person who has been persecuted for the nonviolent act or expression of their conscientiously held beliefs. Oppressive regimes around the world are relying on intimidation, threats and violence to silence those who have been brave enough to stand up for what they believe. 

PoC’s recent research indicates that at any one time there are tens of thousands of human rights defenders who are persecuted and in need of our support.

How we help?

We provide financial and practical assistance to prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders through our Package of Support to help them rebuild their lives in dignity and safety, and continue standing up for what they believe in. Our support ranges from rapid financial assistance by way of grants to relieve the immediate hardship and family reunion needs, to bursaries and employability support to help people re-qualify and re-establish their careers, to practical support, including an alumni forum, volunteering opportunities and referrals to legal and mental health services, to help them reintegrate into society and achieve economic independence.

“Prisoners of Conscience gave me a new life and I
will forever be grateful. My life and achievement are a
testament to the amazing work you do to change lives, offer hope where there is hopelessness, and enable and empower people like me with knowledge and skills which they can use to impact the UK society and beyond.”

– Victoria*, teacher and human rights activist from Zimbabwe



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