Human Rights Defenders of the Month: Anastsia Nambo and Is’haq Abubakar

Anastsia Nambo and Is’haq Abubakar were awarded the Human Rights Defender (HRD) Award 2018, given out annually by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya (NCHRD-K) and the Working Group on Human Rights Defenders (WGHRD). This award recognises HRDs who have conducted extraordinary work to promote and protect human rights in Kenya.

Anastasia Nambo

Anastasia Nambo was selected as award winner due to her extraordinary human rights work as an environmental activist in her local community in Mombasa. Since 2009, she has become a well-known and strong human rights figure in her community. When a metal refinery was established in Uhuru Owino slums in Mombasa, without the consent of the community, she initiated active advocacy and lobbying to close the refinery. Her efforts, together with other community members, culminated in the metal refinery being shut down in 2014.

While fighting for the human rights of the people of Uhuru Owino slums, she faced verbal attacks and anonymous threats, in addition to people attempting to break into her home. Her home was later demolished due to her advocacy initiatives against the refinery. The human right attacks she faced forced her to flee to Uganda for a while, for her safety.

Despite the challenges and violations faced, Anastasia continues to stand up for her rights, and the rights of the people in her community. She is dedicated to continue her resilience and to advocate for human rights, while encouraging others to follow her path to ensure that human rights are upheld.

Is’haq Abubakar

Is’haq received the award due to his outstanding human rights work in the organisation, Save Lamu. The organisation, located at the island of Lamu, fights for the island community and environment, in the onset of the LAPSSET project – a regional project between Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan aimed at linking the three countries to each other, and to the rest of East Africa. Additionally, Is’haq is the founder of the organisation Lamu Coastal Indigenous People’s Rights for Development.

Through his work in Save Lamu, Is’haq sensitises the community on the environmental impact of the LAPSSET project, and protect the indigenous community during the process. He further represented the interests of the community by seeking legal redress through an environmental petition filed on human rights violations associated with the LAPSSET project. In addition to being an active HRD at local level, he engages closely with NCHRD-K and other Kenyan human rights platforms.

Is’haq has faced vast threats and harassment due to his human rights work, including from governmental officials. Yet, he continues to promote the rights of the people of Lamu, and push for justice and legal accountability for the environmental damages caused by LAPSSET. He is committed to protecting the environment and promoting the rights of indigenous peoples, in addition to encouraging and enhancing the efforts of HRDs in Lamu, and their ability to speak freely and stand up against violations by duty-bearers.

See more HRDs of the Month

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Karis Moses Oteba

Karis Moses Oteba is DefendDefenders’ Protection Officer and Well-being Lead, promoting self-care and effective stress management amongst human rights defenders. He started defending human rights at the early age of 11, as a member of the children’s parliament, convened to listen to the views of children concerning Uganda’s 1997 Children’s Act.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Vanessa Tsehaye

Vanessa Tsehaye started her work as a human rights defender at an early age: at 16, she founded a high school group in support of imprisoned Eritrean journalist Seyoum Tsehaye. Seven years later, the same diaspora organisation, One Day Seyoum, is one of Eritrea’s leading human rights organisations – spear-headed by the now 23-year old Vanessa.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Edmund Yakani

Edmund Yakani is one of South Sudan’s most prominent human rights defenders (HRDs). The Civil Rights Defender of the Year 2017 has worked on an array of topics – the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), transitional justice, and the protection of HRDs in cooperation with DefendDefenders – that are all connected by the common thread of human rights promotion and protection.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Onyango Owor

In March 2020, Uganda’s Constitutional Court nullified the Public Order Management Act, 2013, a law that made arbitrary restrictions on freedom of assembly possible. One of the people behind the successful petition of POMA is Onyango Owor, a Ugandan lawyer with 15 years of experience in representing human rights defenders.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Kadar Abdi Ibrahim

Kadar Abdi Ibrahim is an outspoken human rights activist and journalist from Djibouti – a country where journalists are frequently harassed, subjected to government-orchestrated intimidation and reprisals, and prevented from pursuing their work independently. Yet, Kadar continues to use his voice and pen as tools to promote justice.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Aluel Atem

Aluel Atem is an ambitious woman activist from South Sudan who plays a vital role in the promotion of women’s rights in the country. However, life as an outspoken feminist in a patriarchal country is not a walk in the park. “It’s not only about being a female, but a young female. You get undermined for being a woman in all-man spaces, and for being young in older spaces,” Aluel explains.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Faiza Abdi Mohamed

The Somali activist Faiza Abdi Mohamed has promoted human rights in her home country for a decade, which has made her a target of verbal abuse, threats, and arbitrary arrest, forcing her to flee Somalia and seek exile in Uganda. Yet, she remains extremely vocal about human rights violations in her country. “I’ve lost so many of my friends due to cruelties, so I can’t keep quiet,” she says.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Omot Agwa Okwoy

In Ethiopia, land grabbing and villagisation has resulted in severe human rights abuses, however, being vocal about these abuses can be extremely risky. Omot Agwa Okwoy, our human rights defender of the month for December 2019, has fought for land rights and the rights of indigenous people in the Gambella region in Ethiopia for almost 20 years – leaving him with visible and invisible scars.

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