General Assembly Approves New Network Members

31st March 2011

Kampala: General Assembly Approves New Network Members

The second General Assembly Meeting of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network closed yesterday after two full days of discussion and strategizing on the Network’s work in the next five years. EHAHRD-Net is pleased to welcome 11 new member organizations whose applications were endorsed at the meeting.  The Network also voiced its support for fellow human rights defenders facing specific challenges and passed resolutions calling for government action.

Delegates approved a new five-year plan of action for the Network, with strategies to enhance the capacity, advocacy work and protection of human rights defenders, as well as to improve the networking capacity of EHAHRD-Net and its members. The meeting also amended and accepted a new Memorandum of Understanding for the Network.

Mr. Hassan Shire Sheikh was reelected as chairperson of the Network, for a second and final term.

He committed to build on the achievements of the past five years and guide the Network towards the fulfillment of the key objectives laid out in the plan of action, with a view to handing on the leadership role in five years time. The Network also applauded the recent election of another of its founding members, Mr.

Maina Kiai, to the newly created mandate of UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

Three solidarity resolutions were unanimously adopted in relation to human rights defenders facing state-sanctioned recrimination and persecution in Uganda, Burundi, and  Ethiopia, and in support of those defending the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. The meeting delegates called for the immediate release of the Kenyan human rights activist Al-Amin Kimathi and Jean-Claude Kavumbagu, in Uganda and Burundi respectively, and for the Ethiopian government to release the impounded funds of EHRCO and EWLA, two prominent human rights organizations in that country. EHAHRD-Net also resolved to support the rights of LGBTI human rights defenders and fight discrimination against them in all areas, reaffirming the Network’s commitment to full equal rights for all its members.

Finally, delegates received good news from Djibouti on the final day of the meeting, that Mr. Jean-Paul Noel Abdi’s release from prison without conditions had been confirmed by the court on appeal. EHAHRD-Net calls on the Djibouti authorities, and all governments in the sub-region, to accord space to human rights defenders to carry out their legitimate activities without hindrance.


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.