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.

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Human Rights Defender of the month: Kasale Maleton Mwaana

Kasale’s human rights activism precedes his years. The son of pastoralist parents from Ngorongoro district in northern Tanzania, he grew up seeing his parents and entire community having to defend their land and way of life against authorities who thought their lands could be put to better use. Now, at 25, Kasale is already one of the most recognizable advocates of his people’s cause, much to the ire of Tanzanian authorities.
“Our people’s struggle goes back many generations. It started with the pushing out of our forefathers from Serengeti to gazette Serengeti National Park in 1959, and then further evictions from the Ngorongoro crater to gazette the Ngorongoro conservation area in 1975. Since then, every generation has had to resist further evictions. It’s now my generation’s turn,” he says.

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