News from AfricanDefenders: May & June 2019


AfricanDefenders Convention (Johannesburg 20+)
Twenty years after the All African Human Rights Defenders Conference held in Johannesburg in 1998, AfricanDefenders’ convention (Johannesburg+20) was held from 12 to 14 June in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The convention brought together human rights defenders (HRDs) from all the regions of Africa, representatives from the sub-regional HRD networks and  national HRD coalitions, steering committee members, and other relevant stakeholders. The convention was also attended by high level representatives of the African Human Rights System: the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission), the President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African court, and the Special Rapporteur on HRDs in Africa. The convention was concluded by the presentation of the 3rd edition of the Shield awards.

Read the communique.

At  Johannesburg+20:
– The  first day of the convention focused on improving HRDs’ engagement  with the African Human Rights System, including the African Commission  and the African Court;
– On the second and third day, network members analysed the gaps and challenges in the protection of HRDs in Africa, including the Ubuntu Hub Cities initiative, discussed the Marrakesh Declaration and the role of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI), and collectively reviewed the Kampala Plan of Action (KAPA). KAPA +10 was adopted with consensus;
– The  HRDs at the convention expressed a gesture of solidarity  with the people of Sudan. See this video;
– The third edition of the Shield Awards acknowledged  distinguished HRDs on the African continent for their contribution to the advancement of human rights. The award highlights the positive impact of their outstanding work and their unwelding motivation. The recipients of the awards were: Beatrice Mtetwa, Felix Agbor Aniyor, Donald Deya, Fatou Jagne Senghor, and the Sudan Women Protest.

Read more about the Shield Awards

Other Updates:
– Through a joint letter with 38 NGOs, we called on the international community to express concern over the Human Rights Situation in Tanzania;
– AfricanDefenders’ Chairperson, Hassan Shire, called for accountability on the enforced disappearance of Samuel Dong and Aggrey Idri in South Sudan;
-In a joint letter with 33 Non-Governmental Organisations, we urged  the UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC) to ensure continued scrutiny of the human rights situation in Eritrea;
– On the international day for support of victims of torture, we joined Southern Africa civil society organisations in calling for reform in Zimbabwe, where HRDs are increasingly subject to arbitrary arrest;
– Hassan Shire, Chairperson of AfricanDefenders reflected on the  mission of DefendDefenders and AfricanDefenders to the 64th Ordinary Session of the African Commissionon Human and Peoples’ Rights held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt;
– At the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council, in collaboration with DefenDefenders, we issued a statement on  the human rights situation in Cameroon and Sudan under Item 2;
– In May and June 2019 we received 13 applications under the Ubuntu Hub Cities initiative, and we were able to  extend support to 8 HRDs and referred 4 cases. 

> From our members

North Africa:
– The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) issued a joint letter to the UN Security council appealing for intervention to stop further bloodshed in sudan;
– CIHRS highlighted the reprisal by Egypt against HRD Mohamed Soltan for his advocacy work

East and Horn Of Africa:
– In a statement published on 6 June 2019,DefendDefenders condemned the deliberate attack on protesters in Khartoum;
– On press freedom day, DefendDefenders highlighted the state of Press freedom in the East and Horn of Africa;
– DefendDefenders is actively participating in the 41st session of the UN HRC – make sure you follow     them on Twitter and Facebook for live updates!

Central Africa:
The Central African Human Rights Defenders Network (REDHAC) extended support to more than 20 HRDs through urgent alerts and press releases, including HRDs from Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Southern Africa:
The SAHRDN co-hosted a convening with CIVICUS, CSVR and HURISA to inform grassroots HRDs from the SADC region of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and exchange on challenges to freedom of association.
– The SAHRDN also released a statement in commemoration of the International Day in Support for Victims of Torture.

> Recommended reading
– In a  new report No Advice without Knowledge, DefendDefenders analyses the content and evolution of resolutions adopted by the UNHRC in the framework of its agenda item 10, which is dedicated to technical assistance and capacity building;
– A report by Freedom House highlights the state of political and civil liberties in various countries.
– Amnesty International  Eastern Africa’s brief reports the intimidation and harassment of Eritrean HRDs abroad by Eritrean government officials and supporters.

> Do not miss
– Are you a democracy activist, a lawyer, or a civil society leader? Check out NED’s Reagan-Fascell Democracy fellowship programme.
Internship placement opportunity  at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to Support its Special mechanism on HRDs in Africa