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Uganda: Human Rights Defenders Claiming their Space

Human rights defenders in Uganda were encouraged to build networks and create synergies to protect their shrinking working space at the opening of the forum “Claiming Spaces: Tactical Tools for Human Rights Defenders” today. The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) with support from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany is celebrating Human Rights Day on 10th December with a week-long workshop to promote the recognition and respect of the rights of human rights defenders in Uganda and share new tactical tools to strengthen their work.

During the opening day’s debate, participants engaged the invited speakers Margaret Sekaggya, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders; Med Kaggwa, chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission; Roselyn Karugonjo Seggawa, director of monitoring and investigations at the UHRC; Stefan Messerer, deputy German ambassador; Livingstone Sewanyana, chairperson of the EHAHRDP board; Hassan Shire, executive director of EHAHRDP; and Joseph Bikanda, coordinator of the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network in a lively debate about the human rights situation in Uganda. They also highlighted the many challenges facing human rights defenders both in terms of restrictive laws and policies and limits to their own capacities. To this end, the forum aims to provide an opportunity to Ugandan human rights defenders to build their capacity to use and interact with the regional and international human rights mechanisms, create networks and share experiences and information on good practices.

In looking at innovative techniques in human rights, the workshop picks up on the international theme for Human Rights Day 2011, with a focus on the use of social media for human rights. During the week over 50 participants from across Uganda will take part in four full-day workshops of their choice from seven possible subjects: Social Media for Human Rights Work; Monitoring and Documentation of Human Rights Violations; Advocacy in Regional and International Mechanisms; Digital Security; Risk Assessment and Security Training; Resource Mobilization; and Stress Reduction Strategies. It is hoped that the introduction to these subjects will spark new interest and equip Ugandan HRDs in their struggle to defend the liberties of their fellow citizens.

For more information, please contact:

Rachel Nicholson, Advocacy Officer at [email protected] or +256 778 921 274

Hassan Shire, Executive Director at [email protected] or +256 772 753 753