Report: Promoting the Rights of Human Rights Defenders in the East and Horn of Africa

Human rights defenders in this region are faced with a range of challenges that affect and thwart their work, from more blatant and traditional forms of repression to more recent legislative efforts by the authorities to restrict their space and criminalise their legitimate activities. Advocacy aimed at protecting and promoting the rights of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) is perceived as an effective means of helping to overcome some of these challenges.

It is questionable however whether defenders in the region have the means, the capacity and the support necessary for them to advocate for their rights as defenders in an effective and sustainable manner. EHAHRDP sought to investigate this issue further in the hope of identifying the challenges which affect defenders’ abilities to advocate for and promote their own rights, but more importantly to pinpoint good and replicable practices of such advocacy efforts.

This report, which is the outcome of research carried out in five countries in the region (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda) during which over 100 interviews were conducted, identified a range of challenges facing defenders which currently undermine efforts to promote the rights of defenders. It provides a thorough analysis of the current situation facing HRDs and, drawing on key findings, makes specific recommendations to HRDs, the diplomatic community and regional governments on how to best protect and promote the work of HRDs in the East and Horn of Africa.


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.