East Africa

Impunity is one of the many human rights abuses that the region struggles with. Freedom of expression and access to information is limited, with few exceptions. The criminalisation, punishment, killing and stigmatisation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people is an ongoing concern. We continue to strengthen our presence in the region and explore many different ways to empower human rights defenders and marginalised groups. You can read about the current human rights situation in the following countries by clicking on the following Country Reports: Human Rights in Kenya |

Select archive for specific country: Ethiopia | Erithrea | Kenya | South Sudan | Uganda

Seminar on Ethiopia – The State of Human Rights and the Impending Political Crisis

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Civil Rights Defenders and Blank Spot Project will jointly organise a breakfast seminar on the human rights situation in Ethiopia. We are delighted to welcome prominent Ethiopian journalist, Tesfalem Waldeyer, who was recently released from the infamous Kilinto prison in Ethiopia. Tesfalem, who was imprisoned with the Zone 9 Bloggers, will discuss the state of human rights and the ongoing political crisis in Ethiopia.

Addressing the Escalating Human Rights Crisis in Ethiopia

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Civil Rights Defenders together with 14 other prominent civil society organisations have issued a joint statement to the Permanent Representatives of Members and Observer States of the UN Human Rights Council to draw their attention to serious human rights violations in Ethiopia. These include violent crackdowns on peaceful protests in the provinces of Oromio and Amhara. All 15 civil society organisations urge the delegations to make serious recommendations to Ethiopia including a thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into all deaths resulting from alleged excessive use of force by the security force.

Ethiopia: End use of counter-terrorism law to persecute dissenters and opposition members

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Today, Civil Rights Defenders and eight other civil society organisations issue a joint statement calling on the Ethiopian government to end the use of counter-terrorism law to persecute dissenters and opposition members. We urge the Ethiopian Government to end its escalating crackdown on human rights defenders, independent media, peaceful protestors as well as members and leaders of the political opposition.

Uganda: Weak Cyber Laws Fail to Protect Internet Freedoms and Privacy


In a new report, Civil Rights Defenders and the Ugandan NGO Unwanted Witness provide a joint analysis on cyber laws in Uganda and their failure to protect online freedoms and the right to privacy. The analysis is an assessment of Ugandan cyber laws from a human rights perspective that reflects on the compatibility of the provisions with Uganda’s own 1995 Constitution and International Human Rights Standards.

Stop Violations Against Kenyan Human Rights Defenders


Today Civil Rights Defenders forwarded a joint Letter of Concern to the Kenyan government regarding the arrest of Joel Ogada on March 14. Joel is a prominent Kenyan environmental Human Rights Defender and Natalia Project participant. We urge the Kenyan authorities to act accordingly and guarantee in all circumstances that Kenyan human rights defenders are able to carry out their work without fear of reprisals.

Grave Restrictions on Fundamental Human Rights

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In a letter to the Permanent Representatives of Members and Observer States of the UN Human Rights Council, Civil Rights Defenders together with eight undersigned civil society organisations expressed their serious concerns about the Ethiopian Government’s grave restrictions on fundamental human rights. This has been exemplified by the recent crackdown on largely peaceful protests in the Oromia region.

(Svenska) Museveni blir kvar – och förtrycket ökar

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(Svenska) Under lördagen stod det klart att sittande president Museveni behåller greppet om presidentposten i Uganda för en femte mandatperiod. Valdagen kantades av sammandrabbningar och nedsläckta sociala mediekanaler vilket, enligt kritiker och oppositionella i landet, skedde på order av den sittande regeringen. Civil Rights Defenders programchef för Östafrika och Afrikas horn, Mesfin Negash, analyserar valutgången i tidningen OmVärlden.

Uganda Elections 2016 – A Situation Analysis by Civil Rights Defenders

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Uganda will hold its fifth presidential and parliamentary election on February 18, 2016. Around half of the population are registered to cast their votes, according to the Electoral Commission. The atmosphere is a mixture of fear of election-related violence coupled with the fear that civil and political rights will be further eroded. Reports of irregularities and election-related violence continue to surface. This has prompted local and international stakeholders to call for immediate reconciliatory measures to ease the situation.

Ethiopian Authorities Release Two Zone 9 Bloggers and Four Journalists


Civil Rights Defenders welcomes the release of two Zone 9 Bloggers who were arrested along with four other bloggers and three journalists in April 2014 on incitement and terrorism charges. In what is seen as an unprecedented move by the Ethiopian authorities the three journalists were also released with all charges against the journalists and bloggers dropped. Another journalist who had spent more than four years in prison has also been released.

Proposed Bill will Restrict the Activities of NGO’s in Uganda

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Civil Rights Defenders is concerned over the trajectory of a bill that aims to regulate Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) in Uganda. The NGO bill introduced in April 2015 is due to be debated by Ugandan legislators and contains several provisions aimed at curtailing Freedom of Association. It seeks to repeal and replace the current Non-Governmental Organisation Registration Act Cap 113 regulating NGO activities in Uganda.

Human Rights in Somalia

The formation of the Federal Government in September 2012 brought in a renewed hope of political stability and transition to Somalia. While the Federal Government is internationally recognised, the self-declared Republic of Somaliland and the autonomous regions of Puntland continue to function separately. Attributed to the long running internal conflict the human rights situation is dismal by all standards. Though the relative stability witnessed in the last few years created somewhat of a breathing space, rampant violations and abuses best characterise the state of human rights in Somalia.

The Misuse of Anti-Terrorism Laws in Africa with Civil Rights Defenders at the UN Human Rights Council

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During the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council which will be held in Geneva on June 16th, 2015 Civil Rights Defenders will co-sponsor an event entitled “The Misuse of Anti-Terrorism Laws in Africa”.This event will discuss and analyse anti-terrorist legislation trends across the African continent and how they are often used as a smokescreen to stifle dissenting voices instead of addressing genuine national security concerns.

UN Report Highlights Gross Human Rights Violations in Eritrea

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On June 08th The UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea issued a damning report and subsequent statement finding the Government of Eritrea “responsible for systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations that have created a climate of fear in which dissent is stifled, a large proportion of the population is subjected to forced labour and imprisonment, and hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the country”

Human Rights in Kenya

On 27 August 2010, a new Constitution was adopted in Kenya. The Constitution, considered to be progressive, is seen as the primary instrument required to make social and political reforms in the country, so badly needed, after the violent events of the 2007 elections. Kenya adheres to the monist legal system and as such ratified international treaties are automatically incorporated into national law. Kenya is party to the majority of the core international human rights treaties as well as regional instruments such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

We are seeking an intern for the East and Horn of Africa Department

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We are seeking an intern for the East and Horn of Africa Department for the autumn semester. The internship consists of assisting the Program Director in his daily work. The tasks are varied and include writing articles, conducting research and monitoring of regional developments, drafting reports, some administrative work and assisting with the preparation of various activities and events in Sweden and abroad. Please send your application no later than the 30th of June.

Two Organisations at Risk of being Labeled as ‘Terrorist Entities’ in Kenya


Human Rights Agenda (HURIA), The National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders-Kenya (NCHRD-K), the Eastern Horn of Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) and Civil Rights Defenders has learned of the intention of the Inspector General of Police of Kenya to freeze the bank accounts of two highly respected Kenyan human rights organisations following the recent terrorist attack at the University in Garissa.

Anti-gay law in Uganda violates international conventions

H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda. Photo: Foreign and Commonwealth Office

February 25, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill strengthening the punishment against homosexuals, who can now be sentenced to fourteen years up to life in prison for sexual relations with the same sex. Civil Rights Defenders, along with many other human rights organisations, have called for Uganda’s government to reverse the decision and urged them to guarantee Ugandan citizens their human rights

Journalist in exile receives human rights award

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As recognition for his work promoting free expression in Ethiopia, Mesfin Negash, together with 40 other journalists and writers, has received the Hellman/Hammett award for 2012. The award is administrated by Human Rights Watch and given to writers who are subject to political persecution and human rights abuses. After being threatened by the authorities, Mesfin Negash fled Ethiopia in 2009 and today he continues his work for human rights in exile from Sweden.

Human Rights Defenders in focus – Brian Nkoyooyo

Fit in, instead of standing out, is a general security advice for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people in Uganda. “It is a matter of survival”, says Brian Nkoyooyo, Director of the grass root organisation Icebreakers that works with LGBT youth. Since he is a well-known gay activist in a country that is considered to be one of the worst countries for LGBT people, he is always on guard: “I live every day as it was my last”.

Mesfin Negash

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Being one of Ethiopia’s very few independent journalists, Mesfin Negash was harrassed by the government to the limit that he had to go into exile. Today he lives in Sweden but continues to spread news about human rights and politics in Ethiopia, trying to make the international community alert on the situation in the country: “If you took a balance sheet you would see that we are equal to Burma”, says Mesfin Negash.