By Julius Odeke
The Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network (PAHRD-Net) will officially launch its 3-year programme aiming at safe legal and working environment for human right defenders (HRDs) across Africa on Monday Feb 4.
Joseph Bikanda a coordinator of Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network says the programme is supported by the European Commission under the global fund of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.
The ultimate objective of the protection programme, coordinated by the PAHRD-Net secretariat hosted by EHAHRDP is to improve the quality, capacity and consistency of protection support available to the most-at-risk HRDs across the continent.
Human rights defenders are individuals working alone or through organizations under the goal of promoting respect for universal human rights norms. 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.
Bikanda says 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 Human Rights Defenders (HRD).
He says journalists are 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 natural resources and extractive industries.
Participants at the launch will include representatives of the five sub-regional HRD member networks, members of the PAHRD-Net Steering Committee, the EU Ambassador to Uganda Dr Roberto Ridolfi, the EU Delegation to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, HRDs who have benefited from the EHAHRDP protection programme, and other diplomatic corps and NGO community in Uganda.