EAST AND HORN OF AFRICA: Human Rights Defenders Train In New App To Defend Themselves Against Attack

Human rights defenders in the East and Horn of Africa will soon have improved access to assistance when facing the risk of attack thanks to a new mobile phone app being developed by Amnesty International.

A three day training course is kicking off in Kampala today to provide training on how to use the app, ‘Panic Button’.

In partnership with the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network (PAHRD-Net) and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP), Amnesty International is providing the training to human rights defenders from eleven countries across the East and Horn of Africa on how the mobile app can enhance their safety in the context of their work.

Panic Button transforms a user’s Android smart phone into a secret alarm which can be activated in the event of an emergency, alerting human rights defenders in their network and enabling them to respond faster.

Panic Button will eventually provide thousands of activists around the world at daily risk of persecution a new tool in their fight for justice. It is currently being tested by activists and members of the public around the world who are helping to improve the tool by downloading and testing it in their country as part of the testing phase.

“As the risks facing human rights defenders grow more acute in many parts of the world, it is vital that innovative new protection mechanisms are developed that are responsive to the realities facing activists on the ground,” said Danna Ingleton, Research and Policy Advisor for Amnesty.

“The panic button mobile app represents an exciting new opportunity for activists to strengthen their security protocols and to enhance their safety in the context of their vital work.”

Human rights defenders from networks and civil society organisations in the Philippines and Central America have previously tested the app, and been trained in its use.

Today’s training marks the first time the tool has been tested in the East and Horn of Africa region, where the physical and digital security risks facing human rights defenders are often extremely acute.

“Human rights defenders from across the East and Horn of Africa often operate in highly dangerous environments, where they routinely run the risk of kidnap and enforced disappearance,” said Hassan Shire, Executive Director of EHAHRDP. “The panic button mobile app represents a vital tool in the new frontier of digital protection mechanisms for human rights defenders.”

The training course will also qualify human rights defenders to become certified app trainers so they can enable other human rights defenders in their countries to use the app.

For more information, please contact:

For Amnesty International:

Danna Ingleton, Research and Policy Advisor, Individuals at Risk, Amnesty International on: [email protected]
Tanya O’Carroll, Technology and Human Rights Project Officer, Amnesty International on: [email protected]

For East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project/ Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network:

Hassan Shire, Executive Director, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project/ Chairperson, Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network on: [email protected] or +256 772 753 753

John Foley, Advocacy & Research Officer, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project/ Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network on: [email protected] or +256 789 650 996

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