On the Legal Frontline: Lawyers and Paralegals as Human Rights Defenders in the East and Horn of Africa

Introduction Legal activists in the East and Horn of Africa sub-region navigate a complex legal terrain and are routinely subjected to intimidation and violence due to their human rights work. This policy brief is based on lessons learned from a vanguard of lawyers, paralegals, and activists who are “working towards the application of the law with a human rights approach” in the sub-region.[1] They are acutely aware that the law has often been used as a political instrument and a “shield for violations”[2] but they

Navigating Justice: Lawyers as Human Rights Defenders in Ethiopia and Somalia/Somaliland

In a new report launched today, Navigating Justice: Lawyers as Human Rights Defenders in Ethiopia and Somalia/Somaliland, DefendDefenders examines the work of lawyers to identify their best practices, vulnerabilities, and needs in these rapidly changing environments. This report outlines several avenues governments, donors, and non-governmental organisations can take to help effectively promote the work of lawyers, such as capacity-building activities, and areas of immediate focus like psychosocial support. “There can be no lasting peace without justice, and no fulfilment of basic human rights without peace,”

Annual Report 2018

Read our Annual Report 2018.  In 2018, DefendDefenders and its partners continued to monitor and document human rights violations across the East and Horn of Africa sub-region, with a focus on the contexts affecting the work of HRDs. The year was filled with human rights contrasts in the East and Horn of Africa sub-region, and worldwide, as vastly constructive and destructive human rights actions took place in parallel. The sub-region witnessed a rising trend of shrinking civic space, affecting the respect for human rights and rule of

No Advice without Knowledge: Scrutiny elements in the UN Human Rights Council’s item 10 resolutions

In a report published today, DefendDefenders analyses the content and evolution of resolutions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council (hereafter “Council”) in the framework of its agenda item 10, which is dedicated to technical assistance and capacity-building. No Advice without Knowledge focuses on the presence of scrutiny (understood as monitoring and public reporting) elements in the Council’s item 10 resolutions. As Hassan Shire, DefendDefenders’ Executive Director, highlights in his Foreword, the Council’s agenda item numbers reflect different possible approaches to human rights violations, from exposure

Turning the Page: Rebuilding Civil Society in Ethiopia

In a new report launched today, Turning the Page: Rebuilding Civil Society in Ethiopia, DefendDefenders examines the challenges faced by Ethiopian human rights defenders (HRDs) amid the ongoing reform process and makes concrete recommendations for rebuilding a robust and inclusive civil society ahead of elections planned for 2020. Despite some positive developments, serious gaps remain, and rights-based organisations in the country currently lack the capacity to keep pace with these developments. This report outlines several avenues donors and international organisations can use to help effectively

Uganda’s Social Media Tax through the lens of network measurements

Today, in collaboration with OONI (Open Observatory of Network Interference), DefendDefenders co-published a new research report: “Uganda’s Social Media Tax through the lens of network measurements”. Our research report is available here. As of 1st July 2018, Uganda has introduced a new OTT (Over The Top) tax –  commonly referred to as the Social Media Tax – which requires people in Uganda to pay taxes to the government in order to access several online social media platforms. Unless this tax is paid, access to these specific social media platforms is blocked.

Annual Report 2017

Download report Dear friends, colleagues, and fellow human rights defenders, Throughout 2017, the human rights situation in the East and Horn of Africa remained extremely precarious, with five (5) of the eleven (11) countries under our mandate currently subject to UN Special Procedures. Continued internal conflict threatens to destroy countries like South Sudan and Burundi, while more stable nations like Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia continue to feel civilian pressure for more representative democracy. The push and pull of progress remains twofold: whereas nations like Somalia

Safeguarding Civil Society

A joint report with contributions from DefendDefenders’ Technology team assesses Internet freedom and the digital resilience of civil society.

Annual Report 2016

Dear friends, colleagues, and fellow human rights defenders, As our battle for the promotion and protection of human rights increasingly shifts towards the digital world, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project decided it was time for our online and offline organisational image to get a makeover. In 2016, we adopted DefendDefenders as the organisation’s new name and worked on a new brand and website to reflect the progress the organisation has made in the last 12 years. Throughout 2016, DefendDefenders has

Strengthening the Human Rights Council at 10

This joint civil society paper has been prepared by 20 leading international, national and regional non-governmental organisations, on the occasion of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 10th Anniversary. The paper provides concrete recommendations for short- and medium-term steps that would enhance the Council’s ability to better fulfil its mandate. The impact and achievements of the HRC over the past decade should be measured against its mandate to promote and protect universal human rights, and address situation of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations. The