Posts Tagged ‘african region’

Mo Ibrahim Prize for Excellence in African leadership 2017 awarded to former Cape Verde President

November 21, 2017

Mauritius the best governed country in Africa-Mo Ibrahim

Mauritius for the fifth year in a row, finished top of the Ibrahim index of African Governance. The Index, by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, supports good governance and leadership in Africa. The four categories of governance as assessed by the Index are: Safety & Rule of Law, Participation & Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development. Somalia was at the bottom of the table.

This year’s Ibrahim Prize for Excellence in African leadership (2017) was awarded to former Cape Verde President Pedro Verona Pires. The prize is awarded to a democratically elected former African head of state that has served their term in office within the limits set by the country’s constitution, has left office in the last three years, and has demonstrated excellence in office. The winner of the award receives US$5 million over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life thereafter. For more the award see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/ibrahim-prize-for-achievement-in-african-leadership

http://www.africanews.com/2017/11/20/mauritius-the-best-governed-country-in-africa-mo-ibrahim/

African human rights defenders were trained in Banjul on effective monitoring

November 10, 2017

 

Human rights defenders from across Africa were in The Gambia undergoing a three-day training to consolidate their knowledge and skills on relevant human rights instruments for effective monitoring at the continental and international levels. The training on international and regional human rights mechanisms, was held from 25 – 29 October 2017, was organised by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, CIVICUS, ISHR, ACHPR and the United Nations Human Rights Council. The training was held on the margins of the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 61st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and 36th African Human Rights Book Fair.

The training was designed to sharpen the knowledge and skills on the procedures for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. It was divided into three main parts: the international and the regional systems and mechanisms for the two days, and freedom of association and assembly, the SDGs, and human rights monitoring. Hannah Forster of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS – http://www.acdhrs.org) said: “This, we believe, will enable us to better understand opportunities available as we engage governments in the fulfillment of their mandates to promote and protect human rights and it will equip us with the knowledge and skills to lobby our governments to domesticate and implement their commitments while assisting participants to frame a strategy as they seek redress for violations of human rights”.

 

Source: African human rights defenders train on effective monitoring – The Point Newspaper, Banjul, The Gambia

Don’t Shoot the Messenger – also valid in Africa

November 6, 2017

In a new report launched at the 61st session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) finds that amid growing restrictions on civic space in the sub-region, journalists play a critical role in exposing human rights violations and providing vital information and analysis of current events. Simply documenting and sharing information can simultaneously place them at risk and at the forefront of human rights defence.
In “Don’t Shoot the Messenger! Journalists as Human Rights Defenders in the East and Horn of Africa”, DefendDefenders examines the challenges journalists face, and provides an overview of the various strategies they have used to circumvent and continue their work amid these restrictions. Overall trends, legal frameworks, and case studies from 11 countries in the East and Horn of Africa provide an understanding of the capacity, risks, and needs of journalists reporting on human rights issues. Over 60 journalists, bloggers, and media professionals from the sub-region were interviewed, in addition to significant input from civil society organisations dedicated to free expression and the protection of journalists.
Central to the report is the question of whether journalists, by nature of their work, should be considered HRDs. Nearly all journalists interviewed for this report considered themselves to be HRDs, but many had doubts over whether this also applied to all their colleagues. Some interviewees claimed to actively seek out human rights stories, especially in conflict situations, while others also advocated for freedom of expression, often from exile.
Journalists are increasingly faced with new threats to their work and security, including harassment, arbitrary detentions, and imprisonments and prosecutions under spurious laws, both online and offline. These threats intensify amid violent conflicts and political crises, and often force journalists into exile, where they face new challenges. The report offers concrete solutions to online and offline challenges and makes key recommendations to governments and civil society to ensure that a free media environment in the region is protected and promoted.
Download “Don’t Shoot the Messenger!” here.

Africa’s DefendDefenders new website

August 30, 2017

In 2015, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (then still abbreviated EHAHRDP) celebrated its ten-year anniversary and decided it was time to give the organisation a new, fresh face under its new name: DefendDefenders. In February, after a year of consultations, it presented its new logo and rebranded image during the third general assembly of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network. Today, it launched its new website at https://www.defenddefenders.org as the final step. 

On DefendDefenders’ new website, it is easier to find information and stay up to date on its work. HRDs will be able to contact them more quickly in case of emergencies and to access essential resources they can use to improve their safety. The website itself was developed with the specific requirements of the East and Horn of Africa in mind, and is designed to work with low bandwidth Internet or on mobile devices.

Every element of DefendDefenders’ new brand represents the changes over the years, without losing sight where it came from: from prominent features in the logo, such as the shield which remains the core of its identity, to a font inspired by anti-apartheid activist Stephen Biko.
For earlier posts on DefendDefenders: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/defenddefenders/

Source: DefendDefenders | East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project

DefendDefenders seeks Project Coordinator for the Great Lakes region

January 17, 2017

DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) is the secretariat to a network of more than 75 member organisations drawn from eleven countries in the sub-region. Additionally, DefendDefenders acts as the secretariat for the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network, which brings together five sub-regional networks from North, Central, West, Southern and the East and Horn of Africa. Further information can be found on the website.
DefendDefenders is in the process of recruiting a Project Coordinator for its work in supporting human rights defenders in the Great Lakes region.
Key responsibilities:
  • Coordinate the implementation of our Great Lakes region project, including project design and planning, implementation, coordination of activities, budget management, evaluation and reporting to ensure that the project is effectively and efficiently managed in accordance with the strategy of DefendDefenders and the parameters of its partner regulations and procedures;
  • Ensuring high quality, integrity, transparency and accountability of key processes in the project, including: project design, development, and budgeting; project approval process; financial management; and reporting;
  • Ensure swift communication and collaboration with the Great Lakes region project partners for the effective implementation of the project;
  • Establish or reinforce partnerships with other organizations in the field, to create synergies for raising awareness on human rights compliance and protection in the Great Lakes region ;
  • Undertake regular visits to countries of the Great Lakes;
  • Monitoring the human rights legislations, issues and development in the Great Lakes region;
  • Support network of human rights defenders and organization in the Great Lakes region;
  • Engage in strategic advocacy activities, including press releases and statements in conjunction with the advocacy team.
Competencies include:
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills (spoken/written), including the ability to listen to and incorporate the views of stakeholders;
  • Ability to engage with project partners, donors and state authorities clearly and effectively, both orally and in writing;
  • Proven ability to operate effectively across organizational boundaries;
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.
  • Ensure all personnel related issues for the staff are carried out in accordance with DefendDefenders guidelines;
  • Strong time management and coordination skills.
  • Ability to foresee risks and allow for contingencies when planning;
  • Ability to identify beneficiaries’ needs and suggest appropriate solutions;
  • Strong comfort with usage of information and internet technologies;
  • Ability to follow digital security protocols.
Education and experience
  • A master’s degree in human rights, law, social sciences, political science or a related field from an accredited academic institution with a minimum of three years of relevant professional experience on project management;
  • A solid understanding of human rights and protection mechanisms;
  • Familiarity with the Great Lakes region and previous experience working in the region ;
  • Good conceptual and analytical capacity;
  • Very good budgeting, project management and report writing skills;
  • Ability and willingness to travel.
Languages
  • Fluency in English and French (both spoken and written) is a must, and fluency in Kirundi and/or Kinyarwanda a strong asset. As part of the recruitment process, short-listed candidates will be tested on their knowledge of both English and French.
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 25 January 2017.  The subject line of the email should read “Application for Project Coordinator Great Lakes Region position”

Source: – East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project

2016 FIDH Congress concludes in Johannesburg: FIGHTING BACK FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

August 25, 2016

On Wednesday 24 August the 39th Congress of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) closed after two days in Johannesburg. More than 400 delegates from more than 120 countries participated and in the closing session some of the action points taken were recognized by regional bodies such as the European Union (EU) and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR).

EU special representative on Human Rights Stavros Lambrinidis said: “We need to have the EU itself judged, criticized and advised every day. Because the fact of the matter is, no one is perfect in Human Rights and that includes the European Union”.

ACHPR Chairperson Pansy Tlakula said her organization will continue to support FIDH in their efforts. “The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights values the collaborative and mutual beneficial relationship with FIDH. And on our part we will continue to collaborate with you, we will continue to support you and we also count on your support. Because even if we have to say so ourselves, our commission remains one of the most welcoming inter-governmental organizations to civil society organizations.”

The video below contains excerpts from these statements:

The forum discussed the following topics:

• Restricting freedom of association and human rights in the name of security

• Defending Human Rights principles within heterogeneous societies

• Invoking morals, religious or traditional values to build a new world order: States opposing Human Rights principles

• An unbalanced and unfair globalisation: the consequences of an economy disregarding Human Rights and civil society groups

• Redesigning Human Rights funding

• Civil society influencing global economic projects

• Whistle-blowers: Exposing violence violations and corruption, seeking transparency and the right to freedom of information

• How can the Human Rights movement further engage with the rest of society?

• A shield and a sword: Enforcing rights through the judiciary

• Deploying innovate advocacy

•Using the web and social networks – securely reaching out, accessing new audiences and generating engagement

http://www.sabc.co.za/news/a/e417a1004dfc68499faebf0ede96a075/Human-Rights-congress-concludes-on-a-high-20160824

for earlier posts on the FIDH, see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/fidh/

African human rights defenders defend the ICC against attacks by their governments

July 6, 2016

Human rights defenders from across Africa clarify misconceptions about the International Criminal Court (ICC) and highlight the need for African governments to support the court in a video released on 6 July 2016 by 21 African and international nongovernmental organizations. [see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/the-fight-against-impunity-for-international-crimes-in-africa-no-free-pass-for-leaders-say-human-rights-defenders/]

In January 2016, the African Union (AU) gave its Open-Ended Committee of African Ministers on the ICC a mandate to develop a “comprehensive strategy” on the ICC, including considering the withdrawal of African member countries from the court. The committee met in April and agreed on three conditions that needed to be met by the ICC in order for the AU to agree not to call on African countries to withdraw from the court. These include a demand for immunity from ICC prosecution for sitting heads of state and other senior government officials – which is contrary to a fundamental principle of the court.

Human rights defenders from across Africa highlight the need for African governments to support the International Criminal Court in a video by 21 African and international nongovernmental organizations. The video features 12 African activists who raise concerns about AU actions toward the ICC.

It is not clear if the AU will consider any of the open-ended committee’s assessments and recommendations at its upcoming summit in Kigali, Rwanda, from 10 – 18 July.

The reasons why we supported the establishment of a permanent court as Africa have not changed,” says Stella Ndirangu of the International Commission of Jurists-Kenya. “The only thing that has changed is that now leaders are being held to account.”

To say that the ICC is targeting Africa, I think, is a misrepresentation of the situation,” says Angela Mudukuti of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre. “It’s more Africans making use of the court they helped to create.”

Six out of the nine African situations under ICC investigation came about as a result of requests or grants of jurisdictions by African governments – Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Uganda, and the Central African Republic twice. Two other investigations in Africa, the Darfur region of Sudan and Libya, were referred to the court by the United Nations Security Council. In Kenya, the ICC prosecutor received the authorization of an ICC pretrial chamber to open investigations after Kenya repeatedly failed to investigate the 2007-08 post-election violence domestically. In January, the ICC prosecutor opened the court’s first investigation outside Africa, into Georgia, and is conducting several preliminary examinations of situations outside Africa – including in Afghanistan, Colombia, Palestine, and alleged crimes attributed to the armed forces of the United Kingdom deployed in Iraq.

The recommendations from the open-ended committee are the latest development in a backlash against the ICC from some African leaders, which has focused on claims that the ICC is “unfairly targeting Africa.” The backlash first intensified following the ICC’s 2009 arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan for serious crimes committed in Darfur. While blanket immunity for sitting heads of state is available in some domestic jurisdictions, it has never been available before international criminal courts dealing with grave crimes. The AU, in 2015, adopted a protocol to give its continental court authority to prosecute grave crimes, but also, in a controversial provision, grants immunity for sitting heads of states and other senior government officials. That protocol will need 15 ratifications before coming into force, but has yet to be ratified by any country.

The video is endorsed by the following organizations that are part of an informal group that works to promote support for justice for grave crimes in Africa and beyond:

Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (Ghana)
African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (Uganda)
Africa Legal Aid
Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (Sierra Leone)
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (Malawi)
Children Education Society (Tanzania)
Club des Amis du Droit du Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Coalition for the International Criminal Court (Burundi)
Coalition for the International Criminal Court (Global)
DefendDefenders – East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (Uganda)
Human Rights Watch
International Commission of Jurists (Kenya)
Kenya Human Rights Commission
Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice
Legal Defense and Assistance Project (Nigeria)
Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court
Réseau Justice Et Développement (Togo)
Southern Africa Litigation Centre
Southern Africa Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (Zambia)

 

Source: AU: Activists Challenge Attacks on ICC | Human Rights Watch

10 years supporting Human Rights Defenders in Africa

October 27, 2015

Hassan Shire established the organization in 2005, after being forced into exile for his human rights work in Somalia. “I realized that many others shared the pain that I felt at having been forced away from my country and the sub-region,” says the Executive Director of EHAHRDP. “I began developing a project that would allow endangered human right defenders to continue their valuable work while safely staying in the region.” A decade later EHAHRDP has grown into an organization with 25 full-time staff dedicated to protecting human rights defenders throughout the region. Through capacity building and advocacy, EHAHRDP continues to empower defenders and strengthen their work, while ensuring their safety through its protection team and its network of national coalitions it established in the region.

This video explores the roots of EHAHRDP: how the idea of one human rights activist who was forced to leave Somalia became a fully functional support structure for human rights defenders across the sub-region.

https://vimeo.com/142100987

UN’s NGO Committee seems not very fond of NGOs

June 7, 2015

I referred in an earlier post to the undervalued importance of the UN’s ‘NGO Committee‘ [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/jean-daniel-vigny-hopes-to-improve-ngo-participation-at-the-un/]. Now there is a new case that would seem to underscore the danger of letting human rights unfriendly Governments (such as China, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Iran, and Russia) decide the fate of NGO status.

The article cited below, by Ahmar Mustikhan in the Epoch Times of 6 June, centers on the case of two African NGOs. In the absence of any detail regarding their alleged ‘misconduct’, I cannot say anything about the substantive side but there are certainly important procedural misgivings (exceptionally speedy, no proper hearing of the NGOs) and this may have a chilling effect on NGOs and human rights defenders who want to engage with the UN.

Gilbert Sendugwa: African human rights defender and freedom of information campaigner

May 15, 2015

 

Interview with Gilbert Sendugwa, Coordinator of Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC), a pan-African network based in Kampala, Uganda, published by the International Service for Human Rights [ISHR] on 28 April 2015:

Before I started working with the Centre, I worked with issues of health and education. And it was always a big issue: information. I always asked: How do we get the information we need? How do people get the information they need from the Government in order to get on in life?’ In 2010 Gilbert went to work for AFIC, a network which has grown to 35 member organisations from 22 African countries, which are working on issues of access to information at the national level.

The main focus of the Centre so far has been to push for ratification of the many African instruments which enshrine the right of freedom of information, as well as ensure that these rights are reflected in national legislation and practice’. They do this through international advocacy campaigns and supporting national strategies. And with a good degree of success. In 2010 Angola, Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe were the only States with Freedom of Information Legislation. The number now totals 16, and with Tanzania likely to become number 17 next month….

Nonetheless, as Gilbert says ‘We have come to see that the passage of laws might be the easiest part’. Therefore AFIC is putting increasingly more energy into initiatives for implementation.

The objective of these laws is to empower the people. Implicitly, this means taking power away from those who have it and giving it to the population, so that they can help themselves advance in all of their rights. However, sometimes this provokes fear in the powerful and a reluctance to provide the information’.

Gilbert suggests that this fear can manifest itself in two ways: some Governments will not legislate on the issue, whilst others do, but ensure that the environment for civil society is not conducive to people having the confidence to use the law. He says that in many States fear of reprisals deters requests for information. A successful law on access to information, it seems, must go hand in hand with a safe and enabling environment for human rights defence in general. However he points out that a common mistake of advocates on this issue is to see the State as a monolith. Rather, he argues, when it comes to implementation it is necessary to look at the various agencies from which you are soliciting information. ‘It is them who can grant the information or not. If you look at Uganda –  as pointed out in their review by the ACHPR this week – some ministries have responded to all requests for information, whilst the response rate from the ministries for finance and education, for example, is zero’.

AFIC is pushing for implementation by training civil society on accessing information and producing a manual for them. They are also increasing their work with States, having seen results when these two approaches work in parallel. Developing a website with the Ugandan Government led Rwanda to follow, whilst they have also trained officials and are producing a separate manual for them.

As ISHR prepared to make a statement on the importance of an enabling environment for human rights defenders working on corporate accountability, Gilbert admitted that this was one of the most challenging areas for freedom of information activists across the continent. ‘It is very difficult and risky to request information, whether it be regarding concessions, payments or environmental impact. But at the end of the day we are simply talking about the ability for communities to evaluate the impact of a project upon their lives and check the level of compliance of a business or a State with human rights law’.

Gilbert Sendugwa can be contacted at gilbert@africainfocentre.org. Follow him on Twitter: @GilbertSendugwa

Gilbert Sendugwa: Human rights defender and freedom of information campaigner from Uganda | ISHR.