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ACHPR 73: States must ensure inclusion of civil society and stop repression of human rights defenders

On 24 October, ISHR delivered a statement on the situation of human rights in Africa, with a particular focus on the worsening human rights situation in Egypt ahead of the COP27, the shrinking civic space in Zimbabwe and the brutal murder of members of the Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) mouvement in South Africa.

The statement delivered by ISHR highlighted the progress made by African States to strengthen their legislative framework to better protect human rights defenders and the importance to include civil society at every step of the process, including within the protection mechanism once established. It also refers to the dangerous amendments of the Private Voluntary Organizations Bill in Zimbabwe which could lead to the repression and criminalisation of civil society in the country. 

“The effective protection of defenders cannot be achieved without the relevant actors. We encourage States to continue to ensure the inclusion of civil society at all stages of the process leading to the adoption of the law in order to achieve an effective and comprehensive tool to protect their work” said Stéphanie Wamba, ISHR Africa Programme Advocate. 

As the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) is due to take place in November in Egypt, the statement emphasised that the new human rights strategy adopted by Egypt in 2021 doesn’t address the systematic human rights violations or the regime of impunity that prevails in the country.

“The repression of human rights defenders remains unchanged and includes dozens of arbitrary detentions, restrictions on freedom of movement, torture, ill-treatment, enforced disappearances and the criminalisation of the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly or public participation” added Stéphanie Wamba.

Finally, ISHR shares its concern about the situation of defenders in South Africa as the latest murder of a member of the Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) movement brings to four the number of members of the movement assassinated this year alone. 

“We call on the government of South Africa to undertake a prompt and impartial investigation and to ensure justice for Mnguni and all AbM activists who have been targeted. We also call on the government to refrain from human rights violations and abuses and to ensure respect for the human rights of all, including human rights defenders,” concluded Stephanie Wamba.

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