Having considered reports on the situation for human rights defenders in each country of the sub-region, namely Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia (and Somaliland), South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda;

Concerned about the escalating threats and challenges that human rights defenders operating in the sub-region continue to face,including in particular the use of legislative measures to restrict the work of human rights defenders, and their freedom of assembly, association and expression;

Deeply concerned about judicial and other forms of harassment against numerous human rights organisations in the sub-region, including a number of EHAHRD-Net members;

Further concerned about reports of reprisals against human rights defenders globally for their engagement with regional and international human rights mechanisms including the United Nations Human Rights Council and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

Noting particular challenges facing human rights defenders working on politically sensitive issues such as governance, impunity, corruption, counter-terrorism, natural resources, and sexual minority rights and gender identity;

Deeply concerned by the ongoing armed conflicts in Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan; the recent arrest and detention of nine human rights defenders in Ethiopia for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association; escalating political tensions and political violence in Burundi; ongoing egregious human rights violations in Eritrea including the continued incommunicado detention of many journalists; and attempts by states across the sub-region to limit the space for civil society through legislative means and misuse of technology to unlawfully intercept private communications;

Further Concerned by ongoing attempts by states across the sub-region to place unwarranted limitations on fundamental rights protected under the African Charter, including in particular freedoms of expression, assembly, and association, in the context of forthcoming planned elections in Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda;

The focal point representatives of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network:

  • Expresses solidarity with all individuals and groups of human rights defenders who have been subject to attacks, threats and harassment;

  • Welcomes the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea at the 23rdSession of the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2013; and the resolution on the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, adopted by consensus at the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council in March 2014;

  • Reaffirms the importance of working in synergy and promoting the sharing of good practice across the Network;

  • Urges national, regional, and international human rights mechanisms including the United Nations Human Rights Council and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to investigate all reports of reprisals against human rights defenders and take all necessary action to hold perpetrators accountable;

  • Calls on national and regional authorities to promote and adopt legislation, policies and practices that ensure the full respect of the rights of freedom of assembly, association and expression, among other rights contained in the international and regional human rights instruments, in particular the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;

  • Adopts a two year plan of action for the protection of human rights defenders in the region.

6th May 2014, Kampala, Uganda

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