DefendDefenders: Newsletter May 2019

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Tuesday June 11, 2019 - 21:31:29 in Wararka by Mogadishu Times
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    DefendDefenders: Newsletter May 2019

    Dear friends and colleagues, According to the annualPress Freedom Index2019, three of our mandate countries are among the ten most restricted countries worldwide concerning free press, namely Djibouti, Sudan, and Eritrea. In addition to Tanzania&#

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Dear friends and colleagues, According to the annualPress Freedom Index2019, three of our mandate countries are among the ten most restricted countries worldwide concerning free press, namely Djibouti, Sudan, and Eritrea. In addition to Tanzania's extreme drop in ranking, these numbers illustrates the dangerous trend roaming the East and Horn of Africa sub-region.
Though the month of May started with a spark of optimism in Sudan, with the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir, the political instability and violence is still at an extreme high as the Sudanese security forces continues to attack and kill protesters.A transition to civilian rule must be a pre-condition for international cooperation with Sudan.Wecallon the international actors to act urgently in order to prevent further violence, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to set up a fact-finding mission tomonitor, verify, and report on the human rights situation. The lack of action from regional and international actors, including the UN Security Council’s failure to condemn the violence,makesit seem as silence is an option.


Tanzania, ranking 25 spots lower than last years’ Press Freedom Index, continues toassault civic space, leaving minimal room for press freedom and freedom of expression. The trend should be tackled by relevant mechanisms before the warning signs deteriorate further into ahuman rights crisis.

As an uplifting addition, Ethiopia ranked 40 spots higher than last year, illustrating that the efforts by the Abiy administration has fostered swift and progressive results. Yet, as the country prepares for the scheduled 2020 elections, further efforts need to be made to strengthen and structure civil society, mirroring the findings from our latest reportTurning the Page: Rebuilding Civil Society in Ethiopia.

Yours sincerely,
Hassan Shire
Executive Director, DefendDefenders
Human Rights Defender of the Month: Abdul Aziz Muhamat
TheSudanese refugee activist and aspiring lawyer,Abdul Aziz Muhamat, wasdetained by the Australian authorities at Manus Island (Papua New Guinea), under inhumane and unsafe conditions, for six years. While trapped in limbo, Aziz continuedto fight for the rights of the about 600 men trapped at the island. His human rights commitment led him to win this years’Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.

As a student activist in Sudan, Aziz was forced to flee as his personal safety was at risk. He fled to Indonesia, then boarded a boat to Australia to seek safety, before being forcibly transferred to Manus Island in October 2013 – Australia’s much contested "offshore immigration center”.

Recommended reading:
Check out:
  • Call for input:Akina Mama wa Afrika call for papers and art for theUganda Feminist Forum 2019.Ugandan feminists are invited to reflect on what our silence as feminist activists represents, and sharecritical analyses and articles (2000-2500 words), case studies (around 2000 words), opinion pieces (1500-2000 words), poems, vlogs, video stories, photo essays, and cartoons.Read More.Deadline:16June 2019.
Updates from DefendDefenders:
  • DefendDefenders prepares for the HRC41, where we will focus our efforts on ensuring that a resolution on Eritrea is adopted —read our paper. We will also discuss developments in Sudan, together with partners as Physicians for Human Rights, FIDH, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, and reach out to a range of stakeholders and stress the need for continued UN engagement with, and scrutiny of, the country — read a recentopinion pieceby our Representative to the UN. Lastly, we will continue to raise attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in Tanzania — read ourjoint letter.
  • DefendDefenders launched thereportTurning the Page: Rebuilding Civil Society in Ethiopia. The report is based on findings from our recent research mission to the country, where we interviewed 54 civil society representatives, including journalists, women HRDs, LGBT+ activists, and government representatives. The report discusses the situation for Ethiopian HRDs, and identifies challenges and needs faced by civil society.
The launch of DefendDefenders reportTurning the Page: Rebuilding Civil Society in Ethiopia.
  • On 14 May 2019, Ethiopia underwent its 3rd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the HRC. We engaged ahead of and during the process, highlighting that the government and UN member states should "make sure the UPR has lasting impact by taking stock of the progress achieved so far, identifying outstanding issues, and outlining a road map for further reforms." Read ourpress releaseandjoint UPR report.
  • DefendDefenders, together with 37 Tanzanian, African, and internationalhuman rights organisations,publisheda lettercalling on states to use the nextsessionof the HRC to raise concern over Tanzania’s human rights situation in order to prevent a further deterioration.
  • DefendDefenders attended the11th ICT4D Conference,taking place in Kampala, Uganda on 30 April - 2 May. The event welcomed more than 1000 participants from all over the world to discuss strategic use of technology.
  • DefendDefenders'digital security programme for women HRDs,SafeSisters, tookplace from 29 April to 3 May, and ended in a powerful way as the women was taught basic Taekwondo by Uganda’s national Taekwondo coach.
  • DefendDefenders organised the Africa breakout session at theStockholm Internet Forum Pre-Forum(SIF) whichtook place inStockholm, Sweden, on 15-17 May. The event brought together500 IT enthusiasts, activists, and policy makers on the subject of Internet freedom (Rights and Access).
  • Data4Changetook place from 30 May to 3 June in Nairobi, Kenya. At the event, DefendDefenders and Policy co-created a campaign about the impact and technical details ofUganda's Social Media OTT tax.
Data4Change event in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • From 6-10 May, DefendDefenders organised a physical security training for 15 women HRDs from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Sudan.
  • DefendDefenders received 39 protection grant requests; 27 were approved, four were referred to partners, five are pending approval, and three were rejected.
  • DefendDefenders organised a security management and artistic therapy session for 21 HRDs in Mombasa, Kenya.
  • On 13-15 May, DefendDefenders facilitated a session on case management during a training organised by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Uganda (NCHRD-U).
Updates from AfricanDefenders:
  • This month, AfricanDefenders received five support requests under the Ubuntu Hub Cities initiative. Three HRDs were supported, and two requests are currently under review.
  • In June, AfricanDefenders will announce the winners of the third edition of the Shield Awards - recognising the courageous work of African HRDs. Stay tuned on Twitter (@panafricannet) for information about the winners.
  • For more information about the work of AfricanDefenders in May and June,click here.
Updates from the sub-region:
Burundi
Ethiopia
  • Lack of accountabilityfor past human rights violations haunts present-day Ethiopia, according to Amnesty International.
Eritrea
Kenya
Rwanda
  • On 24 May,two people were shot dead by the Rwandan armyatHamisavu trading centre, along the border between Uganda and Rwanda. Police say John Baptist Kyerenge, a Rwandan national, was killed together with Alex Nyesiga, a Ugandan, after Rwanda military personnel crossed into Uganda territory.
Somalia and Somaliland
  • On 1 May, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the civil societyresolved to work together to stabilise the country,which has been facing security challenges for the past two decades.
  • On World Press Freedom Day, Somali journalists called on the government toapprove the current media law.
  • In Somaliland,police arrested Abdirahman,a reporter with a privately owned broadcaster Bulsho TV, on 13 May. The arrest was allegedly based on interviews he had conducted with members of the public about the recent arrest of a member of parliament.
South Sudan
Sudan
Tanzania
Uganda
  • The latest annual crime report, released by the Ugandan police, shows that mob justice is on the rise. Analysts have concluded thatdelays by the police in responding to crime scenes lead to mob justice.
  • Diplomats from the European Union, United States, and another 14 countriesraised alarmon Press Freedom Day about Uganda's clampdown on press freedom, and the arrest of the popular rapper-turned-MP Bobi Wine. The statement came after the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC)called for13 radio and TV stations to suspend their news editors, producers, and heads of programming over their coverage of Wine's arrest on 29 April.
For more information, please contact
Hassan Shire
Executive Director, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
on executive@defenddefenders.org or +256 772 753 753
(English and Somali)
Estella Kabachwezi
Senior Advocacy and Research Officer, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
on advocacy@defenddefenders.org or +256 782 360 460
(English)
Eastand Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project

DefendDefenders seeks to strengthen the work of human rights defenders throughout the 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 (together with Somaliland), South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Visit us atwww.defenddefenders.org
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