About DefendDefenders

DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) protect and strengthen human rights defenders (HRDs) in the East and Horn of Africa sub-region; Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia (together with Somaliland), South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Our Vision is a region in which the human rights of every citizen as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is respected and upheld.

In 2018, we supported 1581 human rights defenders in the East and Horn of Africa

How do we protect and promote human rights defenders?

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

We promote HRDs and their work at regional and international human rights platforms.

We build capacity of HRDs in security and protection, digital safety, advocacy and communication, monitoring and reporting, human rights education, and mental health and well-being.

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

We raise awareness about HRD and human rights situation in the East and Horn of Africa by conducting in-depth analysis and research, and

We advocate for the protection of HRDs at regional and international level.

Before DefendDefenders, there were no regional organisation 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 enable us to fill the gap using the relevant tools, methods, and strategies”

- Hassan Shire, Executive Director, DefendDefenders

Do you wish to receive monthly newsletters?

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;
  • 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.

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.

Want to become a member of EHAHRD-Net?

AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rigths Defenders Network)

AfricanDefenders (the 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.

Want to know more about AfricanDefenders?