Regional Situation

Election periods in the East and Horn of Africa are times of heightened tension and often result in the temporary, or sometimes permanent, closing of civic space. Many political parties in the sub-region lack a strong platform to express view on social and political issues and civil society has often filled this gap. By monitoring the electoral process and demanding accountability and transparency, human rights defenders place themselves in the crosshairs of those trying to consolidate their power. In the past, this has lead to increased harassment, surveillance, arrests, and torture of human rights defenders, with their vocal criticism is often mistaken for opposition activities.

Latest News

Eritrea: election to UN rights council is not a shield from scrutiny

“The gov­ernment should know that be­cause of its election, its behaviour will be more, not less, scru­ti­nised.”

15 October 2018
Defender of the month: Eulalie Nibizi

Eulalie Nibizi is a Burundian human rights defender (HRD) living in exile in Uganda, and since 2017 has been the Coordinator of the Coalition Burundaise des Défenseurs des Droits de l’Homme (CBDDH). The CBDDH was founded in 2009 to promote civic and democratic space in...

3 October 2018
HRC39: Interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia

DefendDefenders commends efforts to foster human rights in Somalia and expresses concerns over freedom of expression, and women and children's rights.

26 September 2018


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Caught up in Bitter Contests: report on human rights defenders working in the context of elections

The report details the tactics used by the Sudanese, Ethiopian, Burundian and Ugandan governments to limit the operating environment for civil society in advance of elections.

30 September 2015
2015: Burundi at a turning point

DefendDefenders details extensively how the relationship between civil society and Burundian state authorities dramatically deteriorated ahead of the April 2015 Presidential elections.

2 February 2015