ACHPR: Oral intervention on the report of Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa

54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Banjul, The Gambia

Honorable Chairperson, commissioners, distinguished delegates,

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project would like to thank the honorable commissioner, Mme Reine Alapini-Gansou, for her valuable work on the situation of human rights defenders in Africa.

Sadly, human rights work continues to be a dangerous occupation throughout the East and Horn of Africa sub-region. The last sixth months have been marked by a number of killings and other attacks on human rights defenders.

In Kenya, Hassan Ali Guyo, a human rights defender who worked as the Programme Director for Strategies for Northern Development (SND), was shot dead by an army officer on 7th August 2013as he documented the use of excessive force and other human rights violations against demonstrators in a joint operation of the Kenyan Defence Force and the National Police Service in Moyale, Marsabit County. Between May and August 2013, human rights groups recorded over 100 extra-judicial killings by Kenyan security services.

In Rwanda, GustaveSharangaboMakonene, coordinator of the Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre in Rubavu for Transparency International Rwanda, was found murdered on 17th July 2013. Police are carrying out investigations into the circumstances surrounding his death, but as yet no arrests have been announced.

Human rights defenders and journalists in Somalia continue to be targeted for their work.On 13th July 2013 Abdi Farah Dhere, a prominent human rights defender and deputy chair of the Peace and Human Rights Network was killed in the semi-autonomous Puntland region. He was gunned down by two unidentified men as he left a mosque in the northern part of Galkayo town. The week before, on 7th July 2013, journalist LibaanAbdullahi Farah was shot by two unknown assailants in Gassorneighbourhood, in northern Galkayo on his way home from work.

On Sunday 21st April 2013, journalist Mohamed Ibrahim Rageh was shot dead by unknown assailants outside his home in Mogadishu. A reporter for the state-run Radio Mogadishu and Somali National Television, he had returned to Mogadishu to continue his work as a journalist, having fled Mogadishu after a spate of killings in 2009.On 17th August 2013, radio technician Ahmed Sharif Hussein was killed by three assailants outside his home in Mogadishu.

This level of danger for human rights defenders is unacceptable. We call on all responsible national authorities to ensure that prompt, thorough and impartial investigations are carried out to establish the facts in these cases. The perpetrators should be held to account in prosecutions that meet international fair trial standards. Sanctions imposed should also be in line with international human rights standards.

We would further encourage States to work with the honorable commissioner to build a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders to carry out their work and to ensure that the perpetrators of any attacks are held accountable.

I thank you.

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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.

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