the work we are doing to assist such exiled HRDs to remain #SafeButNotSilent under our Ubuntu Hub Cities Initiative.
Earlier, ahead of the ACHPR71, we published our bi-annual report on the status of human rights and rule of law in Africa, covering the period between November 2021 and April 2022. The report particularly highlighted the worrying increase in human rights violations in the lead-up to, during and immediately after elections, a trend that was observed in almost all the countries covered.
The situation of human rights defenders with disabilities and persons with disabilities in the region generally remains of particular concern. Last year, our research team spent several months studying the situation of persons with disabilities in conflict countries covering Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan. The resultant report, launched on 29 April shows that there remains a wide range of environmental, institutional and attitudinal barriers that continue to stand in the way of their full enjoyment of human rights.
At the national level, we continued to train HRDs working in different human rights areas to strengthen their digital and physical security capabilities as they continue to navigate the numerous challenges in their line of work. For example, in Uganda, we trained lawyers who are handling delicate human rights cases like torture on how to safeguard their case material online.
I invite you to look at what more we have been up to this month.
Executive Director, DefendDefenders
Human Rights Defender of the Month: Alex Njenga John
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.
Opportunities and Recommended Readings:
Updates from DefendDefenders
- In total, between 1-30 April 2022, DefendDefenders received 59 requests for support from HRDs. Of these, 29 were approved (15 male, eight female, and one trans gender), 16 were referred to other partner organizations, 12 were rejected, and seven are still pending verification.
- DefendDefenders carried out a total of eight digital and physical security trainings in April, benefiting 117 HRDs. Of these, 56 were male, while 61 were female.
- On 1 April, DefendDefenders concluded its participation at the 49thsession of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC49), where it lobbied for a resolution on South Sudan and facilitated the participation of Tanzania’s civil society in the country’s Universal Peer Review mechanism.
- The next session will be the Council’s 50th– a milestone. For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out two years ago, we will resume full in-person advocacy. Our priorities will be Eritrea and Sudan (we will advocate for resolutions on both countries), and we will support partners’ efforts to extend the mandate of the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
- DefendDefenders participated in the 71st session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR71) that started on 21 April 2022. Together with AfricanDefenders, DefendDefenders made a total of seven statements at the session covering a wide range of issues, including; the state of human rights and rule of law, the safety and protection of human rights defenders, the status of the rights of persons with disabilities, the status of the freedom of speech and expression on the continent, among others.
- Alongside DefendDefenders, AfricanDefenders also participated in the ACHPR71 and delivered a statement on the human rights situation in Africa. We jointly called for accountability and justice on behalf of State actors to end the cycle of impunity witnessed during election periods. We also highlighted the worrying trend of unconstitutional changes of government through coups that have been occurring across the continent.
- In the same session, ACHPR in partnership with DefendDefenders and AfricanDefenders co-organised a joint panel discussion on judicial harassment of human rights defenders and attacks on civic space in Africa.