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: 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.