Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

CIVICUS 2020 report “People Power Under Attack” – Africa

December 14, 2020

Africa: Civic Rights Were Eroded Across Africa in 2020

The most common violations of civic space registered by the CIVICUS Monitor were the detention of journalists, followed by disruption of protests, censorship, intimidation and the detention of protestors. Almost half of CIVICUS Monitor updates in 28 different countries mentioned the detention of journalists. 14 December 2020. Fundamental civic rights, including freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression, deteriorated across Africa in 2020. [See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/10/24/today-civicus-launches-its-worldwide-monitor-to-track-civil-space/]

In an allAfrica.com guest column Sylvia Mbataru and Ine Van Severen – CIVICUS researchers who contributed to People Power Under Attack 2020 – unpack what the report says about Sub-Saharan Africa. They conclude that civic space has been reduced in four West African nations (Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Niger and Togo) and has improved in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.

Over the past year the CIVICUS Monitor has documented several drivers of civic space violations in Africa including mass protests that were met with violent repression, and electoral processes, mostly presidential elections. Violations in the context of elections often involve the arrest of opposition members and pro-democracy activists, internet shutdowns, detention of journalists and crackdowns on protesters.

In three of the four West African countries that were downgraded – Côte d’Ivoire , Guinea and Togo – constitutional changes were adopted in recent years, leaving incumbent presidents Alassane Ouattara, Alpha Condé and Fauré Gnassingbé all claiming that new constitutions allowed them to run for further terms. The process of changing constitutions or bypassing term limits led to mass protests that were met with excessive force, the adoption and use of restrictive legislation, and punishment for dissenters criticising those in power, in particular pro-democracy activists.

Niger has also been downgraded by the CIVICUS Monitor. Even though a peaceful political change of power seems likely in the elections later this month, serious questions remain about Niger’s democratic prospects as human rights violations continue and civil society is subjected to restrictions.

These countries in West Africa have not been alone in efforts to muzzle dissent, exclude opposition and crack down on protests in the context of elections.  This bleak picture is further seen in Eastern and Southern Africa.

In Burundi, ahead of the May 2020 elections, state security forces and members of the youth league of the ruling party threatened, intimidated and killed opposition party members, and stifled the media and civil society organisations.

In Tanzania, as the country prepared for its August 2020 vote, the government embarked on a major crackdown to suppress dissent, including by enacting new laws and regulations to stop opposition members from actively campaigning, prevent civil society organisations and independent observers from observing the electoral process, weaken civil society and the media, and limit the use of online platforms by journalists and voters.

Despite this difficult picture, the year also proved the resilience of people and civil society in exercising their civic freedoms, leading to fundamental democratic changes. In Malawi, although the period surrounding the disputed May 2019 election was characterised by violations including internet shutdowns and repression of protests, civil society successfully contested the results, leading to a new election and a change of government in June 2020 .

However, many other African countries are moving away from holding free and fair elections. With several countries gearing up to hold elections in the coming months, civic rights violations are being reported in countries across the continent.

In Uganda, opposition members and their supporters are being violently prevented from holding rallies and journalists are being arrested and violently attacked while covering events held by opposition candidates and civil society; human rights defenders are being threatened by state authorities, including by having their bank accounts frozen and their operational licences withheld.

In Ethiopia, civil society groups have expressed concern at the crackdown on dissenting political views ahead of the general elections slated for 2021. Similarly, in Zambia, civil society has denounced an escalating trend of judicial harassment, repression and attacks on human rights defenders ahead of the August 2021 general elections. In Benin, electoral laws have been adopted that make it difficult for opposition candidates to stand in the 2021 presidential  election, which might lead to President Patrice Talon running almost unopposed.

The situation is so bleak that for the first time in a decade, according to the 2020 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance, overall governance in Africa has declined. The Index highlighted that, “in terms of rights, civil society space and participation, the continent had long before embarked on a deteriorating path and the pandemic simply aggravated this existing negative trajectory.”

With even more elections on the cards in 2021 – in Djbouti, Chad and Somalia among others – governments should prioritise the respect of fundamental freedoms, including the right of people to express themselves without intimidation and to assemble peacefully to express their dissent. Africa’s leaders should adhere to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Government, ensuring that free and fair elections take place. 2021 must be the year in which Africa’s dismal trends are reversed.

https://findings2020.monitor.civicus.org/africa.html

https://findings2020.monitor.civicus.org/africa.html

Article 19 seeks Programme Officer – Media and Protection

November 16, 2020

For its office in Nairobi, Kenya, Article 19  seeks a Senior Programme Officer for Media and Protection. The Senior Programme will work to enhance the safety and security of individuals and organizations working to protect and promote freedom of expression and information, as reflected in our strategy, bringing strong project management skills, serving as the primary focal point on our “Media and Protection” thematic areas across the organization. 

In collaboration with relevant teams, this Senior Programme Officer will identify new strategic areas for ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa’s consolidation and growth as a leading advocate organization for free expression, effective protection of activists and organizations, particularly journalists, bloggers, whistleblowers, social communicators and human rights defenders. 

Leading in advancing media and protection standards at global and regional fora, in collaboration with relevant teams, the Senior Programme Officer will be a primary force in ensuring effective coordination externally with key INGOs working on media and protection of FoE/I and internally within the organization. This Senior Programme Officer will facilitate programmatic work in the Eastern Africa regional office and programmes, with a particular focus on supporting the monitoring of attacks on communicators and human rights defenders.

Requirements:

  • Masters Degree level or equivalent with post-graduate qualification in human rights, law, African studies, international relations, political science, media, communication, or other relevant field being an added advantage.
  • At least 7 years experience in policy work, monitoring, advocacy and/or campaigning work in the human rights sector;
  • At least 2 years experience of managing budgets and projects;
  • Experience of working with partner organisations;
  • Experience of working in a cross-cultural environment.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/23/are-you-with-me-the-life-of-kevin-boyle/ and

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/06/17/social-media-councils-an-answer-to-problems-of-content-moderation-and-distribution/

  • Application deadline is 29th November 2020. 

https://article.peoplehr.net/Pages/JobBoard/Opening.aspx?v=49d9a552-cea6-4fab-a961-b204504c1b3f

DefendDefenders seeks TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMME MANAGER for Kampala office

October 29, 2020

DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) seeks to strengthen the work of human rights defenders (HRDs) in the East and Horn of Africa sub-region by reducing their vulnerability to the risk of persecution and by enhancing their capacity to effectively defend human rights. DefendDefenders focuses its work on Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia (and Somaliland), South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

DefendDefenders is recruiting a Technology Programme Manager for its work in supporting HRDs. Under the overall supervision of the Director of Programmes and Administration, the Executive Director, and in direct partnership with other staff members, the Technology Programme Manager shall be responsible, but not limited to the following duties:

Key Responsibilities

  • Manage and give direction to the Technology Programme and projects;
  • Empower and mentor the team to take responsibility of their tasks and encourage a spirit of teamwork within the team;
  • Manage overall operational and financial responsibilities of the team against project plans and manage the team’s day-to-day activities;
  • Participate in management meetings and contribute grants, proposal design and implementation for the Technology Programme;
  • Ensure proper adoption and usage of internal IT tools and organisation systems by designing training programmes for staff and streamlining /recommending systems that can improve operational efficiency;
  • Communicate regularly with other managers, Director of Programmes & Administration and the Executive Director within the organisation. Ensure that the team works closely with other departments;
  • Plan budgets and work plans from inception to completion;
  • Work with partners, consultants, and service providers to ensure delivery of project goals;
  • Design and implement the IT policy, security protocols and best practice guides for the organisation and partner organisations; and
  • Represent DefendDefenders and the Technology Programme externally, develop partnerships, and attract funding and resources

Working conditions

  • Full-time position based in Kampala, Uganda;
  • The selected applicant must be able to relocate to Kampala immediately, or within a short timeframe; and
  • Health insurance (in Uganda) and travel insurance are provided.

Requirements

  • Previous experience in managing a team;
  • Strong communication and presentation skills;
  • Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships in a culturally diverse environment;
  • Willingness to travel;
  • Self-motivated, organised, and the ability to meet deadlines with minimal supervision;
  • Resourcefulness and problem-solving aptitude; and
  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Technology or related discipline, plus professional certifications.

Languages

Fluency in English is a must (spoken and written). Fluency in French is a strong asset, and in Arabic an asset.

Location

The position will be based in Kampala, Uganda, with frequent travels within and out of the country. Applicants should be eligible to work in Uganda without restriction.

Applicants should send a letter of motivation, CV, and contacts of three references to: jobs@defenddefenders.org by 15 November 2020. Do not send scanned copies of certificates. Interviews will be held in person (in Kampala, Uganda), or online late in November.

The subject line of the email should read “Application for Technology Programme Manager position.”

Questions about the position can be directed to jobs@defenddefenders.org

Hannah Foster decries Human Rights Violations amid COVID-19 in Africa

July 16, 2020

On 14 July 2020 the FOROYAA Newspaper carried a summary of remarks made by Hannah Foster, who is the spokesperson of the NGOs Forum at the opening ceremony of the 66th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) which started on Monday July 13th 2020 (via Zoom)

Gambian human rights defender, Mrs. Hannah Foster, has raised concern about human rights violations in Africa, in particular amid the spread of Covid-19

We all have seen that from all parts of the world human rights violations have remained a major concern in most countries. Since late December 2019, the Coronavirus which causes Covid-19 has held the world captive with uncertainties, fear and insecurity. In most countries, we’ve seen the freedom of association and assembly remains a major cause for concern in most of the countries reviewed,” she said

Madam Foster said it is also a cause for concern that with Covid-19, there has been an increase of gender based violence registered in most of the countries that have been reviewed by the Forum.

She added that it was reported at the Forum that systematic harassment and targeting of human rights defenders in many countries persist and or have intensified the closing of civic space due to the existence of restrictive legislations.

“It was ascertained that a lot more needs to be done as many African countries continue to face challenges of insecurity, violence, terror attacks and the volatile situation brought about by Covid-19,” she said.

Speaking further, Madam Foster said they had raised the issue of overcrowding in prisons especially during Covid-19. “The overcrowding of prisons due to non-observance of judicial guarantees in respect of remand detainees as well as standard minimum rules, also have created challenges. And the Forum calls on the African Commission to urge States to respect and implement all laws governing the treatment of prisoners especially in this time of Covid-19, which has brought about an extension of restricting laws that are being implemented,” Foster informed the participants.

Foster said the Forum urged more States and NGOs to use and popularize the African Commission processes and decisions and to encourage States to comply with decisions as well as consider signing the Protocol on the right to individul complaint

We have challenges of Benin and Cote d’Ivoire withdrawing their signatures of Article 346. And we will like to urge the Commission to enter into dialogue with them to ensure that they encourage them to review the decision,” she said.

Foster said the forum also observed that freedom of expressions, the criminalization of bloggers and internet restrictions continue to hinder the independent and freedom of journalists and like-minded groups.

Humanitarian access has also become very problematic. The Forum took this opportunity to call on the African Commission and all States that have not ratified pertinent treaties to speedily do so in order to enable their implementation as the enjoyment of those rights by all citizens,” she added.

Read the original article on Foroyaa.

https://allafrica.com/stories/202007150349.html

TRANET-Africa reports attacks increasing on youth human rights defenders

May 12, 2020

Again no winner for Mo Ibrahim Prize in Africa

April 22, 2020

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation on Thursday announced that there is no winner of the 2019 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. This decision was made following deliberations by the independent Prize Committee. Announcing the decision, Prize Committee Chair Festus Mogae commented: “The Ibrahim Prize recognises truly exceptional leadership in Africa, celebrating role models for the continent. It is awarded to individuals who have, through the outstanding governance of their country, brought peace, stability and prosperity to their people. Based on these rigorous criteria, the Prize Committee could not award the Prize in 2019.

Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was the last winner in 2017 [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/02/12/mo-ibrahim-prize-2017-to-ellen-johnson-sirleaf/]. In fact the award has not been given in most years since its cereation 2007.

Commenting on the decision, Mo Ibrahim, Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation said: “Africa is facing some of the toughest challenges in the world – ranging from those connected to population growth, and economic development, to environmental impact. We need leaders who can govern democratically and translate these challenges into opportunities. With two-thirds of our citizens now living in better-governed countries than ten years ago, we are making progress. I am optimistic that we will have the opportunity to award this Prize to a worthy candidate soon.”

The Ibrahim Prize aims to celebrate leaders who, during their time in office, have developed their countries, strengthened democracy and human rights for the shared benefit of their people, and advanced sustainable development.
The candidates for the Ibrahim Prize are former African executive Heads of State or Government who have left their office during the last three calendar years, having been democratically elected and served their constitutionally mandated term. For more on the Mo Ibrahim Prize, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/ibrahim-prize-for-achievement-in-african-leadership

While the Ibrahim Prize claims to be the largest annually awarded prize in the world (with US$5 million over ten years), this is mostly theoretical since some 75 million USD have not been disbursed since its inception.

https://thenewdawnliberia.com/mo-ibrahim-foundation-says-no-winner-for-2019/

80 Media and Human Rights groups urge African Heads of State to release jailed journalists amid pandemic

April 9, 2020

On 9 April 2020, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and 80 other media and human rights NGOs have urged ten African Heads of State to release journalists from detention in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To:

President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune
President of Benin Patrice Talon
President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza
President of Cameroon Paul Biya
President of Chad Idriss Deby
President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
President of Eritrea Isaias Afwerki
Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed Ali
Prime Minister of Morocco Saad-Eddine El Othmani
President of Rwanda Paul Kagame

Your Excellencies,

We the 81 undersigned media, press freedom, and human rights organizations are writing to call on your respective governments to release all jailed journalists amid the sweeping COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, the Committee to Protect Journalists published an open letter to world leaders urging the immediate release of all journalists imprisoned for their work. Given that a staggering number of these imprisoned journalists are held in jails across the African continent, we are reiterating that call to your respective countries at this time of grave public health concern.

According to CPJ’s most recent annual survey conducted on December 1, 2019, there were at least 73 journalists in prisons in Africa, including 26 in Egypt, 16 in Eritrea, seven in Cameroon, four each in RwandaBurundi, and Morocco, three in Algeria, and one each in BeninNigeriaChadTanzaniaEthiopiaSomaliaComorosDemocratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan.

As of March 31, at least 11 of these journalists have been released from jails in Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nigeria, DRC, Algeria, Comoros, South Sudan, and Egypt, according to CPJ research. However, at least six more journalists and media workers have been jailed since December 1, and remain in prison as of March 31, including four inEthiopia and one each in Cameroon and Algeria.

Article 16 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights states, “Every individual shall have the right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical and mental health.” These rights were extended to prisoners and detainees when the African Commission adopted the 1995 Resolution on Prisons in Africa. According to the World Health Organization, “People deprived of their liberty, and those living or working in enclosed environments in their close proximity, are likely to be more vulnerable to the COVID-19 disease than the general population.”

For journalists jailed in countries affected by the virus, freedom is now a matter of life and death. Imprisoned journalists have no control over their surroundings, cannot choose to isolate, and are often denied necessary medical care. Many of these journalists have been held in detention without trial for lengthy periods and are suffering from ill health exacerbated by underlying health conditions and overcrowded prisons, where they have contracted malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases.

We urge you to release every jailed journalist in your respective countries and to protect the free press and the free flow of information at this crucial time. Journalism must not carry a death sentence.

Sincerely,

(for names of signing organisations see link below)

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/03/20/corona-virus-threatens-human-rights-defenders-in-detention-egypt-and-turkey/

8 March 2020 International Women’s Day

March 9, 2020

This week, the International Women’s Day 2020 (8 March) celebrates the remarkable work carried out by women human rights defenders worldwide. However, the work of women human rights defenders is often accompanied by intimidation, violence, imprisonment, and threats. In the 2019 report on the situation of women human rights defenders by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, it is stated that “women defenders are often perceived as challenging traditional notions of family and gender roles in society, a perception that can generate hostility from State actors, and from the public, the media, and other non-State actors.”

Many organisations, especially NGOs, used the occasion of International Women’s Day 2020 to highlight work carried out by women human rights defenders. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/02/27/women-human-rights-defenders-in-focus-at-43rd-human-rights-council/. Here one example: Civil Rights Defenders and DefendDefedners:

Collage of five women human rights defenders
Women human rights defenders Diane Bakuraira, Maysaa Osama, Bernadette Ntumba, Maximilienne Ngo Mbe, and Mélanie Sonhaye Kombate. Photos: Civil Rights Defenders.

Civil Rights Defenders and DefendDefenders highlight individual women human rights defenders who, despite threats and challenges, continues their fight for human rights in Africa.

Human Rights in Africa in 2019: rage

January 16, 2020

There was rage across the African continent last year, says Human Rights Watch in its annual report, with no sign of cooling down in 2020. In Sudan and Guinea, there were manifestations of frustration with entrenched leadership.  In Zimbabwe, protests mostly about economic conditions.  While in rural Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, they were about the rights of communities displaced by conflict. But the public outrage is good to see, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) at its Johannesburg report unveiling. Africa Advocacy director for HRW Carine Kaneza Nantulya says ordinary citizens took the spotlight this year.v”We’ve seen, I think, the average men and women of the African continent taking agency, being agents for their own for the changes they wanted to see, which we saw an increase of peaceful protest in different countries,” she said. “The second takeaway is that we’ve also seen a backsliding from government in terms of political and civic space.”

That has taken the form of outright police aggression and repression, as seen in Southern Africa, says the group’s Southern Africa researcher, Dewa Mavhinga. “We expected more from southern African leaders, including President Ramaphosa of South Africa, based on their commitment and promises to fulfill people’s rights across the region, “ he said.   “But we saw that there was a constriction of space for human rights defenders in countries like Zimbabwe,” Mavhinga told VOA.

But there was also a glimmer of hope, as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize for his reform agenda and for his reconciliatory moves with arch-enemy Eritrea, noted HRW’s Africa deputy advocacy director, Babatunde Olugboji. “He’s done quite a few great things in Ethiopia, he’s released political prisoners and is actually reforming some repressive laws,” he said. “He sort of made peace with Eritrea. So things are moving in the right direction, mostly,” said Olugboji.   “There’s still a lot to be done in Ethiopia,” he added.

He pointed to an event few people could have predicted at this time last year: the popular uprising that led to the ouster of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir after a 30-year rule marked by oppression,  human rights abuses, and  attempted genocide in the Darfur region.

Congo’s Hip-Hop artist Moses Kabaseke Defender of the Month for DefendDefenders

October 23, 2019
Human Rights Defender of the Month (September 2019): Moses Kabaseke 

Moses Kabaseke, a talented hip-hop artist and activist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was forced to flee to Uganda in 2013 only 16 years old. Kabaseke, known by his stage name Belidor, has produced music since he was a child. “I use music as a weapon – music has power. I use music to promote human rights.

Moses Kabaseke refers to DRC as the rich country with the poor people. “Back home a life means nothing. In Congo, life is something that can be taken from human beings easily – there’s no justice,” he states. “It’s difficult for people that have not experienced atrocities to understand how that feels like. With my music, I try to capture the trauma and injustices experienced by so many.” When he was only seven years old, his father was killed. “Every night when my mother was crying, I felt so bad. Since that age, I decided to fight for what was right.” In 2012, history repeated itself when his stepfather was killed before his eyes. At that point his mother had to make the difficult decision to leave home. In a quest to find safety, she brought her four children to Uganda.

“We don’t want to be here, but we are forced to be here,” he stresses, pointing out that life in exile is difficult. Being away from home, without external support and regular income, they face many challenges. “We need to look for ways to pay our bills. However, my siblings and I all have the blood of our father, so the thing we know how to do is music; so, we perform.”

In Uganda, Kabaseke continued his human rights promotion by composing music. After five years of hard work, often performing in Kampala’s bars, restaurants, and churches to finance his music, he recently finished his first autobiographical album. The album, ‘Les Mille Cris’ (Thousands of Cries), which contains ten songs written and produced by himself, conveys messages about human rights violations and injustices in DRC, and life as a refugee, among others. “Les Mille Cris is about breaking down the truth, sensitising Africans and victims of violations, and giving a voice to the voiceless.”

Through his music, he encourages people to tell their story, and moreover, urges the world to listen. Speaking the truth can come at a high cost. “As the number of my followers increase, my personal insecurity increase. Personal safety is essential as an artist talking about human rights,” he says. When asked what inspires him to continue despite the many challenges he is faced with, he states that “I promote human rights because I have been a victim of the system […] we are the main actors in the process of change. We have to stand for our rights.” Moses Kabaseke has partaken in several trainings organised by DefendDefenders, and performed at DefendDefenders’ events.

Check out Moses Kabaseke’s music:

Human Rights Defender of the Month (September 2019): Moses Kabaseke