UN HRC29: Statement During Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Expression & the Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Peaceful Assembly & of Association


Human Rights Council: 29th Session

Item 3: Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of expression & the Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly & of association

Oral Intervention

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP)

Delivered by Clementine de Montjoye

Thank you Mr. President,

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project welcomes this interactive dialogue, and the report of Mr. Kaye on the use of encryption and anonymity in digital communications. Similarly, we welcome Mr. Kiai’s report on the right to peaceful assembly and association, focusing on the context of natural resource exploitation.

Mr. President, our organisation is extremely concerned with the developing trend in our sub-region, whereby States increasingly focus the discussion about encryption and online anonymity on their potential use for terrorist or criminal activities. In Ethiopia, nine journalists and bloggers have been detained since April 2014 for exercising their right to freedom of expression, including the use of entirely lawful digital encryption technologies.

We echo Mr. Kaye’s words in reminding States that ‘so-called’ emergency situations do not relieve them of the obligation to ensure respect for international human rights law.

We also welcome the report of Mr. Kiai, focusing on legislation and practices concerning natural resource exploitation. Mr. Kiai, in your report you refer to our own organisation’s research, documenting the numerous human rights defenders in Uganda and Tanzania who have been subject to attacks, stigmatisation, intimidation, surveillance, and travel bans. Many organisations risk the suspension of their activities when they speak out against natural resource exploitation.

Finally Mr. President, we echo Mr. Kiai’s words, in calling upon States to take measures to ensure that all individuals, including human rights defenders working in the context of natural resource exploitation are able to effectively exercise their rights, including the rights to freedom of assembly and association.

I thank you.


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.