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, minority 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.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: Veronica Almedom

Veronica Almedom is a poster child of successful immigration. A duo Eritrean and Swiss citizen, she was born in Italy, and grew up in Switzerland where she permanently resides. Her parents are some of the earliest victims of Eritrea’s cycles of violence. When Eritrea’s war of independence peaked in the early 1980s, they escaped the country as unaccompanied minors, wandering through Sudan, Saudi Arabia, before making the hazard journey across the Mediterranean into Europe. There, they crossed first to Italy, and finally, to Switzerland, where they settled first as refugees, and later, as permanent residents.