The implementation of restrictive measures and other directives to slow down and stop the spread of COVID-19 have affected the way human rights defenders exercise their job. In addition to the challenges they face every day, the management of the pandemic by several States in Africa participated in the shrinkage of the civic and democratic space in a region where it is already structurally limited. In such contexts, and in times of crisis, it is essential to guarantee the access to their work and advocacy to human rights defenders.
The purpose of this study is to deliver an analysis of the impact of COVID-19 restrictive measures on the rights and liberties of human rights defenders in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger and in Sierra Leone. It reflects on strategies developed and established by organizations from civil society to continue working while coping with coercive measures but also the positive efforts and contribution of States and other actors enabling them to do so. This publication also provides a set of recommendations to improve the protection of human rights defenders and the preservation of civic space in times of crisis.
This research is a tool for advocacy to national, regional and international human rights mechanisms to fight against the abusive use of coercive measures in times of crisis and ensure the protection of human rights defenders at all time.