Declaration of the 3rd Focal Point Meeting of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network

Having considered reports on the situation for human rights defenders in each country of the sub-region, namely Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia (and Somaliland), South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda;

Concerned about the escalating threats and challenges that human rights defenders operating in the sub-region continue to face, including the use of legislative measures to restrict the work of human rights defenders, and their freedom of assembly, association and expression;

Further concerned about threats of deregistration used as a form of harassment against numerous human rights organisations in the sub-region, including a number of EHAHRD-Net members;

Noting particular challenges facing human rights defenders working on politically sensitive issues such as governance, corruption, counter-terrorism, natural resources, and sexual minority rights;

Recognising the specific challenges facing the most-at-risk groups of human rights defenders, such as women human rights defenders, LGBTI rights defenders, journalists working to end impunity and corruption, and HRDs working in conflict zones;

Expressing solidarity with all individuals and groups of human rights defenders who have been subject to attacks, threats and harassment;

Welcoming the resolutions passed at the 51st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Human Rights Situation in the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (ACHPR/Res.218 (LI) 2012), on the Situation Between Sudan and South Sudan (ACHPR/Res.
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219 (LI) 2012), and on the Attacks against Journalists and Media Practitioners in Somalia (ACHPR/Res.221 (LI) 2012); and the resolution on the situation of human rights in Eritrea (A/HRC/RES/20/20), establishing the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea at the 20th Session of the Human Rights Council;

Reaffirming the importance of working in synergy and promoting the sharing of good practice across the Network;

The focal points representatives of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network meeting on 28th and 29th August 2012 at the Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala, Uganda:

Calls on national and regional authorities to amend legislation and policies that restrict the work of human rights defenders to be in line with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular the Charities and Societies Proclamation (2009) in Ethiopia;

Urges national and regional authorities to ensure that human rights defenders are fully consulted in the preparation of draft legislation affecting their operating environment;

Calls on national and regional authorities to promote legislation, policies and practices that ensure the full respect of the rights of freedom of assembly, association and expression, among other rights contained in the international and regional human rights instruments, in particular the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.


Human Rights Defender of the month: Kasale Maleton Mwaana

Kasale’s human rights activism precedes his years. The son of pastoralist parents from Ngorongoro district in northern Tanzania, he grew up seeing his parents and entire community having to defend their land and way of life against authorities who thought their lands could be put to better use. Now, at 25, Kasale is already one of the most recognizable advocates of his people’s cause, much to the ire of Tanzanian authorities.
“Our people’s struggle goes back many generations. It started with the pushing out of our forefathers from Serengeti to gazette Serengeti National Park in 1959, and then further evictions from the Ngorongoro crater to gazette the Ngorongoro conservation area in 1975. Since then, every generation has had to resist further evictions. It’s now my generation’s turn,” he says.