East & Horn of Africa Shield Award 2019

Donald Deya

East & Horn of Africa

Donald Deya is the Chief Executive Officer of the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), a continental umbrella association of and for lawyers in Africa. He also chairs the board of the Pan-African Citizens Association Network (PACIN), and of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP), a global coalition of human rights activists.   

Over the last 20 years, he has led public interest advocacy and litigation to set norm on issues of constitutionalism, democracy, good governance, rule of law, promotion and protection of human rights, transitional justice, regional integration, continental unity, and international cooperation. He has also worked to strengthen inter-governmental organisations and civil society organisations at national, regional, and international levels. He has been the most avid litigator at both the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) and the East African Court of Justice (EACJ).

His human rights work has led government officials, security services, and even militia to want to silence him and his team. In this context, Donald stresses the importance of taking measures to ensure  physical and mental well-being, and digital security to mitigate the risks that emerge from one’s human rights activism.

“When you can look into the eyes of a village woman, girl, boy, old man, whose rights have been violated and you are able to tell them, ‘I have provided you some relief’, that keeps me going even in the darkest, most difficult days,”  he explains.

“Every once in a while we actually save a life, or save someone from losing their dignity, or property. When that happens, it gives me motivation.”