There was an 80% rise in the number of human rights activists killed around the world last year.
Amnesty International said 281 people were killed in 2016 while working to defend human rights.
The organisation said it is part of a growing trend of intimidation and persecution of activists.
Amnesty also pointed out that oppressive measures are not just happening far afield - with abuses reported in countries like Hungary and Turkey.
Executive Director of Amnesty International, Ireland Colm O'Gorman described it as part of a pattern of attack on human rights work.
“We're seeing an unparallelled global assault on the work of human rights defenders, so laws that are brought in to inhibit human rights work, whether it be the foreign agent laws we’ve seen in Russia, bans of foreign funding for NGOs in Hungary and other countries or indeed mass surveillance techniques being used against human rights defenders.”