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

HRC39: Address crackdown on civic space in Tanzania

To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland Tanzania: Open letter to States for joint action to address crackdown on civic space and prevent a further deterioration of the situation Excellency, Ahead of the 39th regular...

16 August 2018
Eritrea: DefendDefenders submits report ahead of January 2019 Universal Periodic Review

In a report submitted today to the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) calls on the Government of Eritrea to end its consistent refusal to cooperate with international human rights mechanisms, and to take concrete...

12 July 2018
The UN keeps a spotlight on Eritrea’s abysmal human rights record

The UN Human Rights Council (“the Council”) showed its resolve to address the crimes committed in Eritrea by extending the mandate of its top expert on the country today. A new Special Rapporteur on Eritrea will soon succeed Ms. Sheila Kee­tharuth, who has served for six years on the position and played a key role in shi­ning a light on the country’s human rights record, which remains one of the most abysmal in the world.

6 July 2018


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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
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.

16 February 2016