NEWSLETTER JANUARY 2020{DefendDefenders' Newsletter - January 2020. Check it out!}

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Saturday February 08, 2020 - 07:17:35 in Wararka by Mogadishu Times
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    NEWSLETTER JANUARY 2020{DefendDefenders' Newsletter - January 2020. Check it out!}

    2020 is an auspicious year for women's and girls' rights, as we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration – recognised as one of the most progressive roadmaps for women's and girl's rights. DefendDefenders

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2020 is an auspicious year for women's and girls' rights, as we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration – recognised as one of the most progressive roadmaps for women's and girl's rights. DefendDefenders will honour this anniversary by continuing to boost women human rights defenders (HRDs) in the East and Horn of Africa sub-region.
We are pleased to announce that Sudan will be our 2020 focus country, with an emphasis on Sudanese women HRDs – the frontline activists during the 2019 revolution. DefendDefenders’ 2019mission to Sudanrenewed my optimism for a Sudan where human rights are respected and upheld, and we will, together with Sudanese HRDs, work towards this goal in 2020 and beyond. To commemorate the International Women’s Day 2020, under the United Nations (UN) themeI am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights, we will shine light on the outstanding work of women HRDs in the region through a two-weeks campaign.


We continue to support national HRD coalitions in the East and Horn of Africa, as they are the cornerstone of HRDs’ protection and promotion. As a proud member of the Kenyan Defenders Coalitions’ board, I attended their board meeting in January 2020, which reassured my confidence in their progressive work at the national level. Additionally, this month, we were honored to welcome communication staff from national HRD coalitions and sub-regional HRD networks to a communications workshop, to equip them with the necessary communications tools to enhance their work in their respective regions.

Daily, we combat issues related to shrinking space in the sub-region. The worrying trends in Tanzania continue, with HRDs caught between a rock and a hard place as they speak truth to power. In January 2020 we called for the release of Tanzanian HRDTito Elia Magoti.

This year, a few countries in the sub region will be going to the polls, including Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia and Tanzania. During electoral periods, we witness increased targeted attacks on HRDs monitoring and reporting on elections. We will continue to monitor the developments in the respective countries, and endeavor to meet the needs of defenders at risk to allow them continue their crucial work.

Yours sincerely,

Hassan Shire
Executive Director, DefendDefenders
Human Rights Defender of the Month: Faiza Abdi Mohamed
The Somali activist Faiza Abdi Mohamed has promoted human rights in her home country for a decade, which has made her a target of verbal abuse, threats, and arbitrary arrest, forcing her to flee Somalia and seek exile in Uganda. Yet, she remains extremely vocal about human rights violations in her country. "I’ve lost so many of my friends due to cruelties, so I can’t keep quiet,” she says.

Did you know?

ThatDr. Stella Nyanzi, aUgandan academic, writer, and feminist activist,is the winner of the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International Award for Freedom of Expression? Read morehere.
Recommended reading:
Updates from DefendDefenders:
  • On 31 January 2020, DefendDefenders in collaboration with Goldsmiths University launched apolicy brief and a three-episode podcastabout lawyers as HRDs in the East and Horn of Africa;
  • On 21-22 January 2020, DefendDefenders welcomed communications staff from national HRD coalitions and sub-regional networks to atwo-day communications workshopin Kampala, Uganda. The workshop, organised together with Civil Rights Defenders, aimed to raise their capacity and identify ways to increase our collaboration;
  • In January 2020, DefendDefenders’ Representative to the UN discussed human rights achievements and challenges of the UN as the organisation prepares to turn 75. Readhis interviewwith DefendDefenders’ partner CIVICUS;
DefendDefenders launched the policy brief and podcast'On the Legal Frontline: Lawyers and Paralegals as Human Rights Defenders in the East and Horn of Africa' on 31 January 2020.
  • On 28-30 January 2020, 12 HRDs received training in human rights monitoring, documenting, and reporting (MDR). The participants represented five organisations: Advocacy for Child Relief (ACR), Center for Citizens Communication and Justice (CECICOJU), Strategic Response International (SRI), West Nile Web, and Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET);
  • On 28 January 2020, two verification missions were conducted at Ugandan human rights organisations, assessing the reported security incidents and needs to address future incidents, threats, and risks;
  • On 24 January 2020, DefendDefenders engaged with partners to discuss the current situation of HRDs in Sudan, and to identify ways to ensure protection of Sudanese HRDs;
  • In January 2020, DefendDefenders launched the new Ttaala project in Uganda with a cohort of six human rights organisations, who se setsought to gain digital skills for enhanced human rights advocacy;
  • DefendDefenders carried out digital security assessments and support for two Ugandan human rights organisations;
  • On 29 January 2020, DefendDefenders met with Chapter Four Uganda to discuss ways to enhance security adherence at the office, especially among staff members;
  • On 9-15 January 2020, DefendDefenders conducted case assessments in three Ugandan human rights organisations in Mbale, Abim, and Bulisa; and
  • In January 2020, DefendDefenders received 27 protection requests from HRDs: 12 were approved and supported, seven cases did not meet the requirements, and eight cases are still pending.
DefendDefenders organised a communications workshop for communications staff from national HRD coalitions and sub-regional HRD networks from across Africa in Kampala, Uganda on 21-22 January 2020.
Updates from AfricanDefenders:
  • In January 2020, AfricanDefenders prepared for their upcoming workshop on fostering collaboration between National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and CSOs in Africa, which will take place on 30-31 March 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and
  • AfricanDefenders prepared for their upcoming workshop on the collaboration of universities and CSOs in the protection and promotion of HRDs, scheduled to take place on 1-2 April 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Updates from the East and Horn of Africa sub-region:
Burundi:
  • More than4,000 graveshave been uncovered following an investigation by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) into conflicts since their independence in 1962. TRC, set up in 2018 to shed light on ethnic tensions, confirmed that 142,505 victims were foundin the grave.
  • A courtin Burundisentenced fourIwacujournaliststo two years and six months in prison, in addition to giving them a fine of $530 each, for attempting to undermine state security. The European parliament had earlier on urged Burundian authorities to release the four journalists who have been jailed since October 2019, and appealed to drop the charges against them.
  • Following the announcement that President Pierre Nkurunziza willnot seek re-election,Burundi’s ruling party, the National Council for the Defence of Democracy–Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), has nominatedGen. Evarist Ndayishimiyeas its presidential flagbearer in the election, slated for May 2020. Ndayishimiye is a retired army general who also heads the Military Affairs Department, and has previously served as Burundi’s Interior and Security Minister.
  • Ahead of the May 2020 election, Burundi isdrawing up legislationto give President Nkurunziza the title of "Supreme Guide of Patriotism," state television reported. This is despite widespread human rights abuses and an economic meltdown under his leadership. Burundi's parliament hasvotedto pay USD 530,000 to President Nkurunziza, as well as to provide him with a luxury villa when he leaves office.
Ethiopia:
  • The whereabouts of thekidnapped students,taken captives by gunmen in Oromia regional state in western Ethiopia, remain unknown.On 11 January, the Prime Minister's Press Secretary, Nigussu Tilahun, disclosed that 21 students were released while six remained captives.
  • Ethiopia proposed to hold itsnational electionson 16August2020, according to the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia.
  • Ethiopian Parliament passed agun-control lawto tackle a rise in sectarian violence. The legislation is aimed at curbing gun ownership, after a surge in regional ethnic violence blamed on a proliferation of small arms in private hands.
  • The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia has formally recognisedBalderas for Genuine Democracy, the recently established political party led by the former human rights activist and multiple global journalism award winner Eskinder Nega.
Eritrea:
  • Women in the Eritrean National Service (ENS) allege thatsexual violenceagainst women is prevalent in the military, as attested to by former soldiers who have fled to Europe. The women narrated their experiences to theAfrican Studies Review.
Kenya:
  • The attacks againstLGBT+ personsin Kakuma Reception Center escalates as45 LGBT+refugeeswere beaten and injured in a mob attack inside the center run by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). UNHCR officials claimed that the LGBT+ refugees only suffered petty vandalism and theft, and offered minimal support. Human rights organisationscallon immediate action to end the violence against LGBT+ persons in the camp.
  • Human rights organisationsaccusedthe Kenyan government of repeatedly failing to honor its promise to address human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Activists have threatened tosuethe Kenyan government for the increased cases of human rights violations in the coastal regions.Kenya's Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) issued areportdocumenting over 3,000 cases of abuse by Kenyan police, mostly in economically disenfranchised areas.
  • The Kenya Editors’ Guild raised concern over theincreased attackson journalists in 2020. In a letter to the Inspector General Hillary Mutyambai, the Guild is concerned that the growing spate of assaults are perpetrated by officers of the National Police Service. Four journalists have been attacked since the year began.
  • Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI)droppedplans to sue the government over post-election violence due to lack of evidence. In April 2019, MUHURI said it would seek justice for the more than 200 victims of police brutality in Kisumu and Nyamira counties.
  • The UN hasexpressed concernover rising terror attacks in Kenya, especially in schools. Interior Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiangi,warnedKenyans harboring criminal and terrorist gangs, saying security agencies will not spare them either. Al-Shabaab has warned of more attacks in Kenya as the country strengthens itsborders.
  • Police conduct came under scrutiny as human rights organisations questioned the arrest of onlineactivistMildred Atieno Owino. The protests came after she was taken into custody at Industrial Police Station in Nairobi, and is to be charged with "incitement to violence.”
Rwanda:
  • Selfworth Initiative, a Ugandan human rights organisation, has protested the release ofnine Rwandansheld in detention in Uganda,to ease tension between the two countries. The Executive Director of Selfworth Initiative,Prossy Boonabana, said in astatementthat they preferred the trial of the nine to continue for the Rwandan refugees who were kidnapped to get justice.
  • Rwanda’s Court of Appeal upheld theconvictionof two former high-rankingarmy officers, who are said to be in failing health, who have been charged with 21 years and 20 years in prison, respectively. Their conviction is based on insurrection and tarnishing of the government’s image. Human rights organisations say the decision fits a pattern of government repression of critics.
  • Rwandan political opponent,Augistin Niyitegeka,was reported missing. According to his wife, Emiline Nishimwe, Niyitegeka, who last year formed the National Democratic Party, disappeared on 2 January 2020 while returning fromBurundi.
  • Six Rwandan opposition figures have been jailed forseven to 12 yearsafter being convicted of forming an illegal armed group and conspiring against the government, state radio reported. The six belonged to the FDU-Inkingi party, formerly led by Victoire Ingabire, an outspoken critic of President Paul Kagame.
  • Rwandan authorities are seeking to formalise their abusive arrests and detention of vulnerable street children under the pretense of rehabilitating them. In areport,Human Rights Watch called for the immediate closure of Gikondo Transit Center, where children are arbitrarily detained and abused.
Somalia/Somaliland:
  • Somalia's police detainedAhmed Abdi Adawe,a senior TV journalist, in Mogadishu, while seven other journalists had their equipment confiscated. It is reported that the police deleted footage from the journalists' cameras following a deadly car bomb near the country's parliament.
Sudan:
  • Sudan’s Ex-President,Omar al-Bashir, has been sent to a reform center after he was found guilty of corruption. Thousands of supporters of the Sudan Liberation Movement, under the leadership of Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW), took part indemonstrationsdemanding the handover of al-Bashir and other indicted war criminals to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
  • Sudan’s Prime MinisterAbdalla Hamdok, alongsideUN officials,embarkedon a peace mission to territory within a rebel stronghold, in an aim to end the country’s long-running civil conflicts.
  • Sudan’s Anti-Corruption Authority has deniedlimiting press freedom, despite their decision to suspendAshorooq and Teiba TV satellite channels, and El Sudani and El Ray El Aam newspapers.
  • Victims of human rights abuse in Sudan can nowfile their complaintsto the Committee for Investigations of Extrajudicial Killings, Violations of Human Rights and Acts that Constitute Crimes under the Criminal Code of 1991.
  • The Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) hascondemnedthe decision by the Sudanese government todissolveof the Sudan Bar Association(SBA), and call for the reversal of a new law that purports to limit the jurisdiction of the Sudanese Court on Appeal.
  • The United States (US) has urged Sudan topay financial compensationsto family members of people killed or injured in terrorist attacks before it is removed from the US list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. Sudanese Foreign Minister Asma Abdallah discussed the request with US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, David Hale, during his visit to Washington.
South Sudan:
  • Arek Ayii Deng, a female senior government official, has raised concern over the lack of respect for women in the country. "We, the women in Aweil, are not having evenone percent of our rightsbeing respected,” says Arek Ayii Deng.
  • The US has sanctionedTaban Deng Gai’sinvolvement in serious human rights abuse, including the disappearance and murder of Samuel Dong Luak and Aggrey Ezboni Idri. He hasdeniedthe charges, terming them as "regrettable and baseless.” Following the sanction, journalistIjjo Bosco Modi,working for a state-owned radio station in Torit, was detained after airing a story about Taban Deng Gai’s alleged role in the serious human rights abuse. However, Eye Radioreportedthat he was arrested forallegedly disobeying orders to cover a news story.
Tanzania:
  • Kwanza TV, a privately-owned Tanzanian Internet broadcaster,filed an appealafter an initial petition challenging their six-month ban, was dismissed by the state broadcasting authority. In the suspension, dated 27 September 2019, theTanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA)also imposed a Tsh5 million (2,250 USD) fine on two other online stations, Watetezi TV and Ayo TV.
  • Tanzanian activists have urged the World Bank todelay a $500 million loanfor education projects due to the new restriction on pregnant girls from attending school, imposed by President John Magufuli. Human rights organisaitons have raised concern over the World Banks’disregardfor the pregnant schoolgirls ban.
  • President Magufuli’s pledge that the2020 elections,scheduled to take place in November 2020, will befree and fairhas been met with great skepticism from civil society.
Uganda:
  • Ugandan policearrestedMember of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly knownown as Bobi Wine, and fired teargas at his supporters as he held a rally for his 2021 presidential bid. Human rights organisationswarnthis spells trouble for the 2021 election. During one of Kyagulanyi’s rallies’, Willy Tamale and three other journalists werearrestedwhile covering the planned event. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)calledonthe Ugandan police to drop all charges against the journalists.
  • Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have beenbarredfrom discussing or making public statements on the relationship between Uganda and Rwanda to avoid derailing the ongoing process to patch the strained relations between the two countries.
  • The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRD-U) hasaccusedthe police of misapplying the Public Order Management Act to unfairly restrict legitimate assemblies of HRDs. Robert Kirenga, the NCHRD-U Executive Director, called for an end to brutality, arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detention, and attacks against HRDs.
For more information, please contact:
Hassan Shire
Executive Director, DefendDefenders
executive@defenddefenders.orgor +256 772 753 753
(English and Somali)
Estella Kabachwezi
Senior Advocacy and Research Officer, DefendDefenders
advocacy@defenddefenders.orgor +256 782 360 460
(English)
About DefendDefenders

DefendDefenders (Eastand Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)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/Somaliland, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.


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