Legal Environment

Regional Situation

Over the past decade, legislation limiting or restricting civic and political space has been adopted in several countries of the East and Horn of Africa. Some laws directly target civil society by imposing restrictions on access to funding, but also give authorities disproportionate powers to limit freedom of association, which effectively stifles the scope and work of human rights organisations. Other efforts have been more circumspect, with lawmakers purposefully employing vague language in national security and media legislation, allowing authorities to selectively target human rights defenders and criminalise their work.

Latest News

Civil society organisations call for Germain Rukuki’s acquittal in Burundi

Kampala, 28 November, 2018 – Yesterday, the appeal hearing of human rights defender Germain Rukuki took place in Ngozi before the Bujumbura Court of Appeal, with no security incidents reported. The Court took the case under advisement and the decision is expected to be announced...

28 November 2018
Burundi: Government attempts to obstruct UN work are futile

The Burundian government’s attempts to obs­truct the work of the UN Human Rights Council (the Council) are futile as they will not pre­vent accountability for grave human rights violations, DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) said after the Council adopt­ed a resolu­tion on Burundi’s human rights situation today. The resolution extends the mandate of the Com­mis­sion of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate Burundi’s human rights situation and regularly re­port to the Council.

28 September 2018
Djibouti: Implement UN recommendations on human rights

Press release by DefendDefenders and the Djiboutian Observatory for the Promotion of Demo­cracy and Human Rights

20 September 2018


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Between Despair and Resilience: Burundian human rights defenders in protracted exile in Uganda and Rwanda

Despite being forced into exile after April 2015, many Burundian HRDs continue their work. A new report examines the challenges they face.

14 September 2018
Spreading Fear, Asserting Control: Tanzania’s assault on civic space

DefendDefenders raises the alarm about a growing human rights crisis in Tanzania

26 June 2018
Exiled and in Limbo: Support mechanisms for human rights defenders in exile in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda

DefendDefenders examines the situation of HRDs living and working in exile, and provides a resource guide of the various support mechanisms available to them.

20 June 2016