Gambia: PAHRDN Congratulates Winners of the First African Human Rights Defenders Awards

Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network (PAHRDN) congratulates Ms. Yara Salam (North Africa), Mr. Livingstone Sewanyana (East and horn of Africa), Mr. Imam Baba Leigh (West Africa), Ms. Paulette Oyane-ondo (Central Africa) and Ms. Lucia Da Silveira (Southern Africa) winners of the first ever Africa Human Rights Defenders Awards that were held on 22nd October 2013 at Kairaba Beach Hotel, The Gambia. The award ceremony recognized the work of human rights defenders towards the advancement of human rights in Africa.

PAHRDN established the award to raise awareness on the work of human rights defenders (HRDs) across the continent.The award recognizes and honors the achievements of an individual human rights defender. Nominations were received from each of the five sub regions: East and Horn of Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa and Central Africa and jury comprising Hon. Commissioner Reine Alapini-Gansou, Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders in Africa, Ms. Margaret Sekaggya UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and Mr. Hassan Shire, Chairperson of PAHRDN selected the eventual winners:

It is an unfortunate but indisputable fact that all across Africa, human rights defenders still face attacks and reprisals by state and non-state actors. This award recognizes the effort of HRDs in promoting human rights despite the various challenges.” said Mr. Hassan Shire.

An overall African human rights defenders winner was also presented to Imam Baba Leigh from The Gambia recognizing his work towards protecting and promoting human rights in West Africa.

PAHRDN applauds the work of the winners who despite the challenges faced have continued to be committed to the promotion of human rights. PAHRDN continues to extend support to human rights defenders across the sub-region to strengthen their work by reducing their vulnerability to the risk of persecution and by enhancing their capacity to effectively defend human rights

The event was attended by State delegates; Commissioners of the ACHPR, representative of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders; ACHPR Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders; Members of Diplomatic Missions; project sponsors, EU and Akiba Uhaki Foundation representatives; and civil society representatives from across the continent.


For further information, please contact:

Hassan Shire, Executive Director, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project: [email protected]

Joseph Bikanda, Coordinator, Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network: [email protected]

Estelle Nkounkou, Advocacy and Networking officer. Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network : [email protected]



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.