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Geneva: UN should follow up on reprisals against individuals cooperating with its human rights system

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network called on the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday to follow up allegations on reprisals against individuals cooperating with mechanisms.
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EHAHRDP thanked the Secretary-General for his report [AVAILABLE HERE] on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights, which highlights the pressing issue of acts of intimidation and reprisals against individuals – especially but not exclusively human rights defenders – who engage with the UN human rights system.

In her statement to the council, Rachel Nicholson, EHAHRDP’s Advocacy Officer, regretted to note that by the time of publication, many States had yet to reply to communications regarding allegations contained in this current report or to provide any information on investigations or prosecutions for such acts. While the public statement by the Prime Minister of Kenya calling for investigations into the 2009 killings of Oscar Kamau Kingara and John Paul Oulu is a positive step forward, the network urges the government to follow through with concrete actions to investigate and bring those responsible to justice.

She also pointed out that in addition to reprisals related to cooperation with Special Procedures, over the past year individuals have once again faced threats linked to their participation in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.
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In Rwanda, the NGO network that coordinated the civil society stakeholders’ joint submission faced a concerted smear campaign and, following threats and harassment, its executive secretary eventually fled the country.
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Human Rights Defender of the month: Joseph Oleshangay

As a human rights lawyer and advocate with the High Court of the United Republic of Tanzania, Joseph Moses Oleshangay spends most of his time crossing from one court to another, litigating human rights cases, some with life-altering implications for ordinary people. It is a monumental responsibility, one he never envisaged growing up.

As a young boy born into a Maasai household in northern Tanzania, his entire childhood revolved around cattle: “Our entire livelihood revolved around cattle. As a child, the main preoccupation was to tend to cows, and my formative years were spent grazing cattle around Endulen. It a simple lifestyle,” he says.