HRC31: DefendDefenders hosts side-event on elections in East and Horn of Africa

DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) will host the side event “Electoral crises in the East and Horn of Africa: what can the Human Rights Council do about shrinking civil space?” at the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council.

▶︎ Date: 10 March 2016 ▶︎ Time: 14:00 – 15:00 ▶︎ Place: Room XVIII, Palais des Nations.


  • Pierre Claver Mbonimpa (Burundi), Association pour la Protection des Droits Humains et des Personnes Détenues (APRHOD)
  • Sheila Nabachwa (Uganda), Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) and Fédération Internationale des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH)
  • Zakaria Abdillahi Ali (Djibouti), Ligue Djiboutienne des Droits de l’Homme
  • Laurent Munyandilikirwa (Rwanda), Former Ligue Rwandaise pour la Promotion et la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (LIPRODHOR)


  • Clementine de Montjoye, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project

In the East and Horn of Africa, recent election periods have often resulted in the tightening of civic and political space, because of which human rights defenders (HRDs) struggle to engage safely and effectively on civil and political rights.

However, while election-related targeting of HRDs occurs cyclically during nearly every election in the region, there is a noticeable gap in regional and international alert and response mechanisms leaving HRDs at heightened risk during these sensitive periods.

Elections in Burundi and Uganda have demonstrated the range of methods used by governments to silence voices from civil society and independent media during these politically charged periods. As the region gears up for elections Djibouti in April 2016, and Rwanda in 2017, it is imperative for the Human Rights Council to address to heightened risk electoral periods pose to HRDs.

The side-event will highlight the challenges faced by civil society during election periods, with a focus on the early warning signs of crackdowns and election-related crises that have taken place so far. The panellists will also address the potential role of the Human Rights Council and its Special Procedures in reacting preventatively to these crises in the making.

This side-event is sponsored by:

  • East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
  • International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)



Human Rights Defender of the month: Alex Njenga John

Alex Njenga has always believed in egalitarianism both as a principle and as a tool for justice. As a result, he has always been suspicious of, and at times hostile to social prejudices that treat some people as “more equal than others,” – to use a line from George Orwell’s famed political fable, Animal Farm.

Some of the experiences that have shaped his social and political outlook have been personal. As an adolescent in Kenya’s Uasin Gishu County, Alex was stigmatised and denied healthcare after he identified himself as belonging to Kenya’s sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) community.