2016 Annual Report
DefendDefenders provided direct emergency support to 357 HRDs and 15 human rights organisations in a year where the organisation felt the strong impact of the continuing conflict in South Sudan, and the grave and worsening crisis in Burundi. The 2016 annual report highlights DefendDefenders’ activities throughout the year to support and protect HRDs and provides an overview of the state of civil society in the sub-region.
“Stand Up!” is a security management and digital safety manual for human rights defenders (HRDs). Based on our ten years of experience, the manual contains practical tools and essential strategies that HRDs can use to better understand the opposing and supporting factors in their environment, identify their vulnerabilities, and create new capacities to stand up to adversity.
Updates from the East and Horn of Africa (November 2016 – April 2017)
DefendDefenders provides the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights with a six-month update on the severe human rights crises that have engulfed parts of the sub-region, and governments’ sustained and targeted attacks on human rights defenders and civil society more broadly.
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Safeguarding Civil Society
“Safeguarding Civil Society” sets out to assess internet freedom and establish the digital resilience of civil society organizations in the East and Horn of Africa, specifically in Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. The report contains a policy analysis of current freedom of expression and internet-related legislation, 39 CSO interviews and a series of network measurements.
Exiled and in Limbo: Support mechanisms for Human Rights Defenders in exile in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda
In the East and Horn of Africa, the valuable work of human rights defenders (HRDs) regularly triggers grave and serious threats to their security. As governments in the East and Horn sub-region increasingly restrict civic space, a growing number of HRDs have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries. Today, there are at least 350 HRDs living in exile in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. This report examines the situation of HRDs living and working in exile, and provides a resource guide of the various support mechanisms available to them.
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Between a rock and a hard place: Somali human rights defenders and media workers caught in the crossfire
Somali human right defenders, including journalists, face worsening patterns of attacks on their rights to life, security of person, and freedom from arbitrary arrests and detention. Meanwhile, non-state actors such as Al Shabaab have threatened activists and carried out a number of killings targeting those exposing human rights violations taking place across the country.This report sets out a number of other recommendations to the Somali authorities to improve the situation for human rights defenders in its report. It also offers recommendations to regional and international stakeholders to ensure the protection and promotion of the rights of human rights defenders in both Somalia and Somaliland.
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2015 Annual Report
DefendDefenders provided protection grants to 114 human rights defenders in 2015, a stark reminder that, a decade after the organisation was founded, HRDs and civil society remain extremely vulnerable in the East in Horn of Africa. Our annual report highlights DefendDefenders’ activities throughout the year to support and protect HRDs and provides an overview of the state of civil society in the sub-region.
10 Years Defending Defenders: The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
On October 27, 2015, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) celebrated its ten-year anniversary of defending human right activists throughout the East and Horn of Africa sub-region. To address these challenges faced by human rights defenders, EHAHRDP has trained nearly 1,000 defenders in physical and digital security and worked to elevate the voices of HRDs through advocacy at national, regional and international level. Over the past decade, EHAHRDP played an integral role as a leader of the movement to defend, protect and support human rights defenders in the East and Horn of Africa.
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Caught Up in Bitter Contests: Human Rights Defenders Working in the Context of Elections in Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi and Uganda
Human rights defenders face increasing and worsening restrictions when working during electoral periods. This report documents alarming cross-regional trends prior to, during, and after elections. It details the tactics used by the four states in the region to limit the operating environment for civil society in advance of elections. By implementing legal mechanisms to restrict the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, and expression, Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi and Uganda have sought to criminalize the activities of HRDs and prevent them from engaging on human rights issues.
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2015: Burundi at a Turning Point
The report details extensively how the relationship between civil society and Burundian state authorities has dramatically deteriorated during the course of 2014. State authorities increasingly portray human rights defenders, journalists, and other members of civil society as being ‘enemies of the state’, and routinely claim that legitimate criticism of the government’s practices stems from an affiliation to the political opposition. Numerous attempts have been made by the government to discredit independent civil society voices, as well as to stifle the activities of human rights defenders through overt harassment and intimidation.
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For Us, Silence is Not an Option: Human Rights Defenders and the South Sudan Civil War
This addendum to the December EHAHRDP 2013 publication, “Change will not come until we talk about reality: The Closing Space for Human Rights Defenders in South Sudan,” documents a worsening pattern of harassment, intimidation, threats, and legislative reforms targeting South Sudanese human rights defenders, including additional research conducted since the outbrak of the South Sudan Civil War
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Human Rights Defenders: A Key to Fighting Sexual Violence in African Conflicts?
This briefing paper prepared for the June 2014 Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict explores the unique challenges facing human rights defenders working on issues of sexual violence in conflict environments. In particular, the paper explores the work of women human rights defenders and human rights defenders working in zones of armed conflict in the East and Horn of Africa region, and highlights the role which these defenders often play in establishing transnational advocacy networks, and in connecting victims with necessary medical, legal and psychosocial services. The paper includes case studies on the UN Declaration on Women Human Rights Defenders as well as stories from Sudan and Somalia. Read More | English PDF
‘Change will not come until we talk about reality’: The Closing Space for Human Rights Defenders in South Sudan
This report provides an overview of the worsening risks facing journalists, civil society organisations, lawyers, and other actors involved in the promotion and protection of human rights in South Sudan. The report is based on three years of research and fact-finding by EHAHRDP. Read More | English PDF
‘Only the Brave Talk About Oil’: Human Rights Defenders and the Resource Extraction Sectors in Uganda and Tanzania (2012)
This report examines the situation of human rights defenders engaging with the mining sector of Tanzania and the oil and gas sectors of Uganda. It has been produced with the objective of improving understanding of the capacity, risks faced, and needs of human rights defenders engaging on this important sector, and to subsequently promote an improved working environment for those HRDs. Read More | English PDF
Ernest Manirumva: A Lost Light, a Derailed Trial, and an Embattled Civil Society (2011)
Ernest Manirumva was a Burundian human rights defender working as vice-president of a civil society organization, the Anti-Corruption and Economic Malpractice Observatory (OLUCOME), who was kidnapped from his home the night of 8th April 2009 and murdered in the early hours of the morning. This report provides background to the case as well as an account of the Tribunal hearing of 15th June 2011, and information on the current climate for human rights defenders working in Burundi. English (PDF) | French: Read More
Johannesburg +10 All-Africa Human Rights Defenders Conference – Conference Report (2009)
The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net) in collaboration with a Steering Committee made up of the other African regional networks, under the auspices of the office of the Special Rapporteur on HRDs of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) Ms Alapini-Gansou, and regional and international actors committed to the protection and promotion of the rights of Human Rights Defenders convened the Jo’burg +10 All African HRDs Conference in Kampala, Uganda between the 20th & 23rd April, 2009. This gathering brought together 85 defenders from 45 African countries and 33 partners from across the world to review the achievements made since the 1998 conference in Johannesburg and lay strategies that will ensure the full implementation of the Johannesburg Declaration of 1998, while assessing new needs and devising strategies. English PDF | French PDF
Promoting the Rights of Human Rights Defenders in the East and Horn of Africa (2009)
This report, which is the outcome of research carried out in five countries in the region (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda) during which over 100 interviews were conducted, identified a range of challenges facing defenders which currently undermine efforts to promote the rights of defenders. It provides a thorough analysis of the current situation facing HRDs and, drawing on key findings, makes specific recommendations to HRDs, the diplomatic community and regional governments on how to best protect and promote the work of HRDs in the East and Horn of Africa. Read More | English PDF
Report of the Regional Workshop on Women and Minority Human Rights Defenders (2009)
Over 40 persons, from across the region (East and Horn of Africa) attended the three day regional workshop convened by EHAHRDP to discuss the experiences and challenges facing women and minority human rights defenders. The purpose of the workshop was to allow women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) and minority rights defenders (MRDs) to identify the challenges facing them and develop strategies to address these. English PDF
Workshop for Kenyan Human Rights Defenders (2007)
This workshop was organized November 2007 to equip human rights defenders with skills in various fields that shall enable them to enhance the efficiency of their work and ensure better individual protection through improved personal capacities and familiarity of handling situations of crisis and threat; to create a viable national coalition of HRDs in Kenya that will strengthen the voice of individual HRDs, provide protection in situations of immediate threat; and to explore the potential of enhanced networking and collaboration between defenders, their national coalition and the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights for better protection of human rights defenders and higher efficiency in human rights work. English PDF
Working in Areas of Conflict: A Workshop for Human Rights Defenders (2007)
It is under its capacity building programme that the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project organized a workshop for human rights defenders working in areas of conflict taking place from the 25th to 27th of June 2007 at Sunset Hotel Gulu. The workshop attracted a total of 19 participants working in human rights organisations from conflict affected districts in Northern and Eastern Uganda, namely: Gulu, Lira, Moroto, Soroti, Katakwi, Kaabong, Kitgum, Pader and Amuria. The main objectives of the workshop were to train HRDs on existing instruments of HRDs’ protection and thereby enhance their knowledge on procedures in case of violations; train HRDs in security tactics appropriate under adverse working conditions; and to collect views on HRDs’ needs for better protection and support within those frameworks communicate these recommendations to relevant stakeholders for evaluation of existing regulations and opportunities for improvement. English PDF
Journalists on the Frontline of Human Rights Defence (2007)
The Journalists’ Conference for the East and Horn of was one of the capacity building activities carried out by EHAHRDP targeting journalists and media workers in their capacity as human rights defenders (HRDs). Thirty four journalists including other HRDs working outside the media attended the three-day conference. It aimed at providing an opportunity to discuss and sensitise journalists about issues of human rights work and opportunities of intensified synergetic linkages between the media and other human rights defenders. Background to this was the understanding that journalists, many of them being HRDs in their own regard, are a vital link in the efficiency of human rights defenders’ work. English PDF
East Africa and the Horn of Africa – “Defending the Defenders”: a Human Rights Defenders Conference (2006)
This is a report of a Human Rights Defenders Conference held in Entebbe, Uganda, from 30 October to 4 November 2005. It provided a unique opportunity for human rights defenders from East Africa and the Horn of Africa to share their experiences, exchange ideas and build networks to support each other.
The conference was jointly organized by Amnesty International and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defender Project (EHAHRDP), based in Kampala. It brought together 43 human rights defenders, including 19 women defenders, from Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Somaliland, Sudan (including South Sudan), Tanzania (including Zanzibar), and Uganda.
The conference culminated in the launching of a new Human Rights Defenders Network linking organizations working for human rights in East Africa and the Horn, and the adoption of a Plan of Action. Read More | English PDF
Human rights defenders in need of defense: A field report on the protection and effectiveness of Human-rights defenders in West and East Africa and the Horn (2005)
The African Human Rights Defenders Project is designed to strengthen the work of human rights defenders in Africa by reducing their vulnerability to the risk of persecution and by enhancing their capacity for effectiveness in defending human rights. It focuses on West Africa, East Africa and the Horn. The current report covers the first, exploratory stage of the project. This stage of the project was carried out through field trips in March and April 2004 to the two regions. They involved extensive consultations with a wide range of human-rights defenders as well as several public officials. Download PDF