Posts Tagged ‘Hassan Shire Sheikh’

Attacks on HRDs and Journalists in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and South Sudan

January 26, 2016

At the end of 2015, a violent series of attacks against HRDs took place in the sub-region. In Djibouti, Ethiopia, and South Sudan, state authorities have repeatedly attempted to silence journalists, human rights activists, and NGOs through detentions, physical attacks, and office raids. “2015 was an extremely difficult year for HRDs across the East and Horn of Africa, who are facing increasing challenges and worsening attacks in the sub-region,” said Hassan Shire, Executive Director of DefendDefenders. “DefendDefenders reiterates its commitment to support the work of HRDs and journalists in their struggle to promote human rights and civil liberties.”

In Djibouti, civic space is heavily restricted and on 21 December 2015, during a public gathering in Bouljougo, 27 people were killed and over 150 wounded by government forces, according to the Djiboutian human rights NGO Ligue Djiboutienne des Droits Humains (LDDH). The government responded to the NGO’s advocacy on the massacre with further attacks, and later on 21 December, the organisation’s General Secretary, Said Houssein Robleh, was shot by police forces in the throat and collarbone. [This was the second attack in December on Robleh. On 10 December 2015, Robleh was seriously beaten by the Djiboutian Chief of Police.] Upon leaving the hospital, Said Hossein Robleh and Omar Ali Ewado, one of the leaders of LDDH who had come to collect him, were arrested by Djiboutian authorities. Robleh was released shortly after, however Ewado was taken by the National Gendarmerie and held incommunicado for several days. After his appearance in court on 3 January, he was transferred to Gabode Central Prison without access to his family. He is being charged with public defamation for inciting hatred and spreading false news related to the 21 December massacre and the prosecution is seeking a 12-month sentence. On Sunday 17 January 2016, he was condemned to 3 months imprisonment. Additionally, police raided the offices of LDDH on 29 December, and the organisation archives and computer equipment was confiscated.

In Ethiopia, numerous HRDs and journalists have been targeted in the wake of the Oromo protests, which have resulted in the deaths of at least 140 protestors exercising their right to freedom to assembly. Getachew Shiferaw, Editor-in-Chief of Negere Ethiopia, was arrested on 25 December 2015 and is currently being held in the notorious Maekelawi Prison. The following day he appeared in court and a judge gave police permission to hold him for an additional “28 days for interrogation”. Fikadu Mirkana, news anchor at Oromia Radio and TV, was arrested on 19 December 2015 and is still being held. It has been reported to DefendDefenders that these arrests were the result of their coverage of the protests. In addition, two field investigators working for the Human Rights Council (HRCO), a leading Ethiopian human rights NGO, were arrested and questioned by police. At least one of the investigators was researching the Oromo protests and subsequent crackdown. They have both since been released.

In South Sudan, Joseph Afendy, Editor of El Tabeer, was arrested on 30 December 2015 for writing an article critical of the SPLM a week before. He was reportedly detained at National Security Service in Juba but has not had access to a lawyer or his family. It remains unclear if he is facing any charges. South Sudan is one of the most dangerous countries in the sub-region for journalists attempting to cover the brutal civil war.

https://www.defenddefenders.org/2016/01/djibouti-ethiopia-and-south-sudan-defenddefenders-condemns-attacks-and-arrests-of-hrds-and-journalists/

http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20160117-djibouti-prison-ligue-droits-humains-omar-ali-ewado-balbala-fidh

 

Horn of Africa specialist Martin Hill passes away: great loss to human rights community

January 13, 2015

Martin Hill, for 32 years a senior researcher at AI on the Horn of Africa, has died. He wrote “No redress: Somalia’s forgotten minorities” for the Minority Rights Group and was a founding member of East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network in 2005 in Uganda. Hassan Shire Sheikh, who knew him well personally, published the In Memoriam below:
dr-Hill(Martin Hill on the left, his wife Dawn and the author Hassan Shire Sheikh)

We have lost a figure-father, mentor, a dear friend, and an admired advocate who consistently shed light on human wrongs in the Horn of Africa and sided with those whose rights were violated. Dr. Martin Hill passed away on Friday 9 January 2015. Dr. Hill worked at the Amnesty Secretariat office in London, as a researcher and a campaigner on the Horn of Africa in the human rights field for over 32 years. I first met Dr. Hill in 1989 when he led the first Amnesty International delegation to Somalia during the period of military dictatorship. At sub-regional level where many human rights violations and suffering for the past three decades and lack of attention globally, Dr. Hill brought human rights issues and concerns in the limelight and earned the admiration and love of many people particularly Ethiopians, Eritreans and Somalis. Dr. Hill was a friend to me and to my late uncle, Dr. Ismail Jumale Ossoble, (the only human rights lawyer who consistently defended prisoners of conscience in the dreaded national security court). Dr. Ossoble was a prisoner of conscience himself and was Amnesty International’s principle research contact in Somalia during the 80s and 90s. We subsequently established Dr. Ismail Jumale Human Rights Centre in 1996 and I co-directed the centre for 6 years starting in 1996 before I went into exile. During this period, I was the principle Somali contact for Amnesty International and I worked very closely with Dr. Hill. Dr. Hill worked with us on the protection and promotion of human rights for Somalis including a sign up campaign during the 50th UDHR anniversary celebrations where Dr. Ismail Jumale Centre was able to garner over 1.5 million signatures including first signature by the founding first President, the late Aden Abdulle Osman at his farm in Shalambood District of lower Shabale region, former Prime Ministers, faction leaders, and civil society groups among others. I particularly remember the first human rights defenders training for Somalis that Dr. Hill organized in 1997 in Kenya and I was part of that training. He was instrumental in organizing sub-regional networks consultation meetings to the run up of the All Africa Human Rights Defenders Conference I 1998 and subsequently the global human rights summit in Paris in December 1998. He also supported our research initiative during our initial mission, Africa Human Rights Defenders Project in the East and Horn of Africa while I was at York University. Dr. Hill was present as founding member of East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network in 2005 in Entebbe, Uganda. Dr. Hill will be remembered for his ardent support to human rights in the Horn of Africa. He inspired and mentored so many human rights activists who are now working with prominent human rights organizations around the world. He contributed to the fight against human rights violations and ending the culture of impunity in the sub-region. Our thoughts, and those of the wider human rights community, are with his family and many friends around the world. The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project staff, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network and the Pan Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, extend our sincerest condolences to his wife, Dawn Hill and children.”

Great Loss to the Human Rights Community as Legendary Dr. Martin Hill Passes On | Mareeg Media.

Swaziland should immediately release two Human Rights Defenders arrested on 17 March

March 19, 2014

Swaziland should immediately release Mr. Thulani Maseko and Mr. Bheki Makhubu, the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network said today. The human rights defenders (the first a lawyer and the second a journalist) were arrested on Monday 17 March 2014, reportedly in response to articles published in a national magazine. Maseko is a prominent human rights lawyer working at the national and regional levels, a senior member of Lawyers for Human Rights Swaziland and the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, which is part of the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network. Makhubu is the Editor-in-Chief of the Nation. The two men were arrested under the same warrant, issued by Chief Justice Ramodibedi, on charges of “scandalizing the judiciary” and contempt of court. Their lawyer was not permitted to represent the pair when they were jointly charged on 18 March 2014. They have been remanded pending a bail hearing on 24 March 2014. The charges are apparently in relation to articles published in the Nation Magazine questioning the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Chief Government Vehicle Inspector, Bhantshana Gwebu. Mr. Gwebu had been arrested and charged with contempt of court after he arrested the driver of a High Court judge. As an absolute monarchy, the King of Swaziland has the discretionary power to suspend constitutional rights such as freedom of expression and in practice these rights are frequently curtailed. Mr. Maseko has previously been charged with sedition for public statements made.“Human rights defenders must be able to speak out on issues of public interest,” said Hassan Shire, Chairperson of the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network. “We call on the Swaziland authorities to drop the charges against Mr Maseko and Mr Makhubu and allow them to continue with their important work.

via Swaziland: Release Human Rights Defender and Journalist – East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project.

 

Important Human Rights Council side event on 11 March (to be followed on internet)

February 14, 2014

The Geneva-based International Service for Human Rights organises an important side event during the upcoming UN Human Rights Council. Under the title “Creating a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders” the event will take place on 11 March 2014, from 12h00 – 14h00 in the Palais des Nations, Geneva (exact room to be determined later). Those who cannot attend in person, can follow the event through a live webcast and ask questions or share comments via Twitter using #HRDs before and during the event. Photos and further details will also be available on Facebook following the event, Read the rest of this entry »

Pan-African protection of Human Rights Defenders boosted with EU grant

February 5, 2013

Having just today reported on the new human rights defenders network created in the Arab world, I would be amiss not to draw attention to the developments of an already existing network in Africa. On 4 February 2013 the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network (PAHRD-Net) officially launched from Kampala, Uganda, a 3-year programme totalling 1.8 million Euros to promote a safe legal and working environment for human rights defenders (HRDs) across Africa.

The tireless and innovative work done at the sub-regional level to protect human rights defenders will now have a dedicated venue at the Pan-African level for mutual support and reinforcement,” said Hassan Shire Sheikh, Chairperson of PAHRD-Net and Executive Director of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP). Today’s launch is the result of a process started in 1998 in Johannesburg (All-Africa Human Rights Defenders Conference) and renewed in 2009 at the follow-up meeting in Kampala.humanrightslogo_Goodies_14_LogoVorlagen

PAHRD-Net brings together the five sub-regional human rights defenders networks in Africa (the Central African HRD Network, the East and Horn of Africa HRD Network, the North Africa HRD Network represented through the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Southern Africa HRD Network hosted by the International Commission for Jurists, and the West African HRD Network) to meet the protection needs of human rights defenders and especially to address the needs of the five groups of most-at-risk: journalists fighting to end impunity and corruption, women human rights defenders, defenders working on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, HRDs working under oppressive regimes or in armed/post-conflict areas, and HRDs engaging with the resource extraction industries.

Human rights defenders are individuals working alone or through organizations under the goal of promoting respect for universal human rights norms. Frequently HRDs come into conflict with the entrenched local power structures of state and non-state actors through their activism. This conflict can put in jeopardy the security of the HRD and their work and family networks. HRDs are often the victims of harassment, threats, assault, injury, and death across Africa, and many are forced into exile, a move which may effectively end their advocacy for human rights. The consolidation and growth of protection mechanisms within the sub-regions will improve the responses available to mitigate these threats and develop HRDs’ ability to manage their own security effectively.

The European Commission supports the new programme under its global fund for Democracy and Human Rights, which is to underpin the implementation of the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders

For further information please contact:

Hassan Shire Sheikh – Chairperson, Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network executive@defenddefenders.org

Joseph Bikanda – Coordinator, Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network: Tel +256-312-202133, +256-312-265825, or panafrica@defenddefenders.org

Rachel Nicholson – Advocacy Officer, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project: Tel +256-312-265-824, +256-778-921274, or advocacy@defenddefenders.org