About DefendDefenders

About Us

DefendDefenders was established in 2005 as the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and registered as a foreign Non-Governmental Organisation(NGO) in Uganda. DefendDefenders exists to strengthen the work of human rights defenders(HRDs) in the Sub region by reducing their vulnerability to the risk of persecution and by enhancing their capacity to effectively defend human rights.

The core mandate of DefendDefenders is to promote the safety, security and wellbeing of HRDs. To achieve this, DefendDefenders’ work has to date focused on protection and security management, capacity building, technology development, as well as advocacy, research, and communications. DefendDefenders establishes and supports national coalitions of HRDs in various countries through which HRDs can come together and claim their rights at the national level.

DefendDefenders serves as the Secretariat of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network(EHAHRD-Net) representing thousands of HRDs and their organisations. DefendDefenders draws its membership from Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia(together with Somaliland),South Sudan,Sudan,Tanzania, and Uganda.

The Network also serves as the secretariat for AfricanDefenders(Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network) Further, DefendDefenders holds a consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council(ECOSOC) as well as observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Our Vision
A region in which the human rights of every citizen as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is respected and upheld.

Our Mission
To enhance the safety and capacities of HRDs in the region for greater resilience and effective fulfilment of their mandates.

 

Before DefendDefenders, there were no regional organisations promoting and coordinating the work of human rights defenders in the East and Horn of Africa. In addition to filling this gap, we are also an Africa-based organisation, run by people from the sub-region. In DefendDefenders, many are exiled HRDs themselves. This enables us to fill the gap using the relevant tools, methods, and strategies.

Hassan Shire, Executive Director

How do we protect and promote human rights defenders?

We protect HRDs 
through emergency support, protection grants, relocation programs, and legal support.

We advocate for HRDs
and their work at the UN Human Rights Council and African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. 

We build HRDs’ capacity 
in, among other areas, physical and digital security, advocacy, monitoring and reporting, and mental health.

We connect HRDs
and human rights organisations through the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net).

We raise awareness about HRDs in the East and Horn of Africa by conducting in-depth analysis and research, and carry out strategic communications. 

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Our Story

DefendDefenders was established as a regional non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Uganda in 2005, as a result of an extensive field research in the sub-region. The research identified the vulnerability and complex challenges faced by HRDs, and the need for strong structures to promote and protect their work and well-being.

DefendDefenders serves as the secretariat of East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net) representing hundreds of HRDs and human rights organisations. We are also a member of AfricanDefenders (the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network).

DefendDefenders was established based on the following prerequisites:

  • Enhance the collaboration and coordination between human rights organisations in the sub-region;
  • Reduce Resource constraints (notably material), which greatly undermine the effectiveness of the work carried out by HRDs;
  • Enhance knowledge gaps, in particular regarding international human rights instruments and mechanisms, as well as crisis management; and
  • Supplement the efforts of local and national HRDs by the wider international community, especially when attacks on intra-national HRDs are involved, hence the need for systematic protocols for such support.


Observer Status

DefendDefenders holds consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), as well as observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Legal Status
DefendDefenders is registered under Registration No. S.5914/5983 as a NGO under the Non-Governmental Organisations Registration Statute, 1989 of the Republic of Uganda.

DefendDefenders serves as the secretariat of East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net) representing hundreds of HRDs and human rights organisations. We are also a member of AfricanDefenders (the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network).

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net)

DefendDefenders serves as the Secretariat of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net) representing more than 100 HRDs, both individuals and organisations. Together, the network members aim to protect and support HRDs, and to ensure structured coordination and cooperation between human rights actors across the East and Horn of Africa sub-region.

Do you want to become a member of EHAHRD-Net?

AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network)

AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network) is the African HRD network dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights defenders (HRDs) across the African continent. AfricanDefenders consist of five African sub-regional organisations, where DefendDefenders in one of them. DefendDefenders also hosts AfricanDefenders at our office in Kampala, Uganda.

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