On 15 June 2022, the National Assembly of Niger passed a law on the rights and duties of human rights defenders. This makes Niger the fourth African country to adopt such a law. However, for the law to produce the desired effects, it must be widely known and understood by all stakeholders. The establishment of an independent and inclusive protection mechanism will ensure the full implementation of the law.
On 6 May 2023, under item 6 on the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and focal point on reprisals, ISHR statement noted that despite the adoption of laws and the establishment of specific mechanisms to protect human rights defenders, the rise of unconstitutional changes of government in Africa and increasing insecurity in several countries continue to have a considerable impact on the security of defenders who face numerous challenges in promoting and protecting their rights.
ISHR seized the opportunity to share its concern about the cases of Thulani Rudolf Maseko, a human rights lawyer and member of Lawyers for Human Rights Swaziland who was shot at close range by unidentified gunmen in Luhleko, Mbabane on 21 January 2023, and of Daouda Diallo from Burkina Faso, recipient of the Martin Ennals Award and Secretary-General of the Collective against Impunity and Stigmatisation of Communities (CISC), who escaped several kidnapping attempts on 6 January 2023.
“ISHR encourages the Special Rapporteur to continue to draw the States’ attention to the respect of defenders’ rights in all circumstances and to closely monitor the situation of defenders in these contexts,” said Stéphanie Wamba, Africa Programme Advocate.
In addition to the threats faced by human rights defenders, civic and democratic space is increasingly restricted. During the presentation of his report, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in Africa and focal point on reprisals stated that “freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration are essential rights for collective expression and the defense of all human rights.” Indeed, the right to peaceful assembly includes the right to organise meetings, sit-ins, strikes, rallies, demonstrations and other events, both online and offline.
“States should adopt laws on the protection of human rights and their activities. Above all, they should refrain from adopting freedom-suppressing laws that tend to restrict civic space and the legitimate activities of defenders to promote and defend human rights,” added Commissioner Rémy Ngoy Lumbu.Download as PDF
The adoption of the draft law approving the status of Non-Governmental Organisation in Angola by the National Assembly considerably limits in its provisions the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms and shrinks civic and democratic space. We are calling the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders to help address this situation.
On 10 May 2023, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) held a panel aiming to discuss ways to realise States’ obligations regarding the production of ESCR data and its use in policy-making, as well as how the Commission could work with States in realising them.