News from AfricanDefenders | September & October 2019


In October, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) held its 65th ordinary session in Banjul, The Gambia. We supported the participation of human rights defenders in the NGO forum, ordinary session and also conducted bilateral meetings and strategic advocacy. Six human rights defenders (HRDs) from Cameroon (3), Egypt (1), Algeria (1) and Tunisia (1) participated as part of AfricanDefenders’ delegation, in addition to Hassan Shire, AfricanDefenders’ Chairperson, Joseph Bikanda, Coordinator, and Cristina Orsini, Human Rights Officer.


More from the Secretariat


At the NGO forum preceding the 65th Ordinary Session of the African Commission:

  • We organised a panel on the situation of displaced HRDs in Africa with the participation of Hon. Comm. Remy Ngoy, Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and focal point on reprisals in Africa, Ahmed Mefreh, Executive Director of the Committee for Justice, Imam baba Leigh, Commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission of the Gambia Shield Awards recipient in 2013, and Cristina Orsini, Human Rights Officer at AfricanDefenders. Moderated by Carine Kaneza Nantulya, Africa Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch, the panel discussed the challenges and resilience strategies of HRDs in exile, with a focus on elaborating solutions to ensure their protection, including the Ubuntu Hub Cities initiative.

At the 65th Session of the African Commission:


  • We organised a side event on the human rights situation in Cameroon, featuring Un Monde Avenir and Cameroon Women’s Peace Movement (CAWOPEM), with the moderation by Hon. Remy Ngoy, Country Special Rapporteur on Cameroon. The panellists provided updates on the human rights situation in Cameroon in the context of the ongoing crisis;
  • Our Chairperson, Hassan Shire, participated on a high-level panel on the use of national legislation for the protection of HRDs to discuss common challenges and best practices in domestic law to protect HRDs;
  • We participated in a strategic meeting of the ACHPR support group for the implementation of the guidelines on freedom of association and assembly in Africa;

  • AfricanDefenders’ coordinator, Joseph Bikanda, chaired a high-level meeting co-organised by AfricanDefenders and the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) to shed light on the Special Rapporteur’s mandate on reprisals in Africa. The panel also saw contributions from the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly, Clement Voule;




  • Throughout the session, AfricanDefenders’ delegation had meeting with relevant state delegates to the ACHPR session;
  • Together with more than82 other organisations we co-signed an open letter to H.E Solomon Dresso, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, in relation to the ongoing human rights violations in Cameroon;
  • During the session, we issued the following statements:
                 – The rights of women in Africa; and
                 – The human rights situation in Africa
Other Updates
  • On 21 October, AfricanDefenders participated in the annual meeting of the European Union Temporary Relocation Platform (EUTRP) to exchange with other stakeholders involved in temporary relocation of HRDs at risk. The meeting had a focus on wellbeing of HRDs during relocation;
  • On 25 September , AfricanDefenders presented the Ubuntu Hub City Initiative at the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica 2019), held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia;
  • AfricanDefenders and DefendDefenders conducted a mission to Sudan to show solidarity with its people and civil society following the formation of a transitional government;

  • On 12 September, AfricanDefenders and DefendDefenders co-organised an interactive dialogue between protection stakeholders and HRDs in exile in Uganda;
  • Together with SAHRDN, we issued a statement condemning xenophobic attacks in South Africa;
  • Between September and October, we received eight applications for relocation to the Ubuntu Hub Cities initiative. We extended support to two HRDs, two were referred to partners, two applications are under review.
From our members
North Africa:
  • The Cairo Institute for Human Rights (CIHRS)’ statement on the ongoing crackdown of protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
West Africa:
  • The Ivorian Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (CIDDH)’s oral statement on behalf of ISHR during the Universal Periodic Review of Côte d’Ivoire at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council;
  • Joint Oral Statement of the Ivorian Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (CIDDH) and International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) on the elimination of discrimination against women.
East and Horn of Africa:
  •  Call to action by Uganda’s LGBTQI+ community;
  • DefendDefenders’ Human Rights Defender of the Month for September 2019: Moses Kabaseke;
  • DefendDefenders’ bi-annual report on the Human Rights Situation in the East and Horn of Africa (April – October 2019)

Southern Africa:

  • International Commission of Jurists statement on violent police action against asylum seekers and protestors in South Africa.

Do not miss

  • The Cornell Centre on the Death Penalty Worldwide calls for applications  for an intensive training for criminal lawyers who defend people at risk. Deadline is on 25 November 2019;
    Find more details here and the application form here;
  • The International Service for Human Rights is now calling for applications for the Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme 2020. Deadline is on 1 December 2019 before midnight Geneva time. Find out more about how to apply here;
  • Applications are now open for Equitas’ 41st International Human Rights Training Program (IHRTP) which will be held in June in Montreal, Canada;
  • Justice and Peace Netherlands launched a new call for human rights defenders at risk to participate in the Shelter City initiative around March 2020. The deadline to apply is 29 November 2019.

Recommended reading

  • Meet the women activists changing Sudan!
  • A comprehensive review of the current state and performance of the African regional human rights system in the period between 1 January 2018 and 30 June 2019 by Amnesty International.
    [Read More]