ACHPR: Strengthen Efforts to End Reprisals against Human Rights Defenders in Africa

As the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights continues its deliberations at the 52nd ordinary session in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire, it should prioritise efforts to tackle the issue of reprisals against those who cooperate with the Commission and its mechanisms. In an oral intervention delivered to the Commission on Saturday 12th October 2012, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network recommended that the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa establish, as part of her mandate’s ongoing monitoring activities, a reporting mechanism to gather information on cases of reprisals against human rights defenders.

In its intervention and report submitted to the Commission, EHAHRD-Net also reiterated its ongoing concerns about challenges facing human rights defenders throughout the region, but especially in Ethiopia and Sudan. In 2009 the Ethiopian Charities and Societies Agency ordered the freezing of the bank accounts of the Human Rights Council (HRCO) and Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA). EHAHRD-Net is deeply concerned to learn that EWLA and HRCO’s final appeals against the freeze were rejected by the Supreme Court this morning. In May 2012, the Commission passed a resolution condemning “the excessive restrictions placed on human rights work by the Charities and Societies Proclamation, denying human rights organizations access to essential funding, endowing the Charities and Societies Agency with excessive powers of interference in human rights organizations, further endangering victims of human rights violations by contravening principles of confidentiality”. EHAHRD-Net encourages the Commission to reiterate its calls on the Government of Ethiopia to amend the Proclamation in line with the UN Declaration on HRDs.

EHAHRD-Net also condemns the Sudanese authorities’ suppression of the popular demonstrations that began in June 2012. Hundreds, if not thousands, of demonstrators, students, youth leaders, human rights defenders, civil society and political activists, and opposition leaders were arrested and detained, many for weeks or months without being charged with any criminal offense. There were reports of torture and ill-treatment in detention and that the Sudanese police and security forces often beat and harassed protesters.

In order to assess the situation of human rights defenders in Ethiopia and Sudan, EHAHRD-Net calls on the governments of these two countries to allow the Special Rapporteur to carry out country visits.

To read EHAHRD-Net’s overview of the human rights situation in the region for May-October 2012, please see: www.defenddefenders.org/2012/10/human-rights-situation-in-the-east-and-horn-of-africa-may-october-2012

To read EHAHRD-Net’s intervention to the Commission on the situation of HRDs, please see:
www.defenddefenders.org/2012/10/oral-intervention-on-the-report-of-special-rapporteur-on-human-rights-defenders-in-africa

For more information, please contact:

Hassan Shire, Chairperson, EHAHRD-Net: [email protected] or +256 772 753 753
Rachel Nicholson, Advocacy Officer, EHAHRDP: [email protected] or +256 778 921 274

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