“Closing Space for Civil Society and Media in East Africa: Forging a Collaborative Response”
23 February 2018 (Nairobi, Kenya)
We, more than 60 civil society organisation and media representatives from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda working on human rights, democratic development, transparency, digital media, women and youth empowerment, legal aid, litigation and other issues of public interest are gathered in Nairobi to express our firm resolve to stand together in solidarity as civil society and media.
We will remain vigilant against threats to civic space. We commit to collaborate and provide support to each other through individual and joint efforts at the national and regional levels to combat shrinking space.
We note with concern a trend of closing civic space in the three East African countries characterized by increasing impunity. This has been evidenced by repressive tactics perpetrated by state and non-state actors, including among others:
We are cognizant that shrinking civic space is not unique to the region but is contextualised by the decline in democratic ideals globally. Governments seem to adopt repressive tactics from each other and use similar justifications to shrink civic space including national security prerogatives and promotion of accountability within the media and civil society sectors.
Further, as civic space advocates, we note that a repressed civic environment adversely affects not only civil society organisations, the media and ultimately other sectors, but also the ordinary citizen, and leads to cultural, economic, political and social decline of a society.
As a coalition, we have identified areas in which joint interventions are necessary and have developed regional strategies and interventions to maintain and claim civic space. We resolve:
At the national level, we identified several initiatives to enhance civil society organisations and media cooperation including establishing ongoing dialogue platforms, developing joint capacity building initiatives, building trust, addressing mutual security concerns online and offline, and mitigating risks.
We will engage with other actors including academia, professional associations, young people, and state institutions, to cultivate a broader understanding and appreciation of the role of civil society and media in a democratic society.
We pledge to continue collaborating towards ensuring a safe and enabling space for civil society and media in East Africa.
[The civil society and media leaders were convened for a two- day strategic workshop hosted by the Civil Society Reference Group, a Kenyan coalition whose role is to protect and enhance an independent and effective civil society voice and agency for public benefit, and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), a US-based organisation that has provided technical expertise on laws that govern civil society in over 100 countries worldwide and more than 20 in Africa.]
See an Interview for DR Kizzie Shako by the People Daily here: http://www.mediamaxnetwork.co.ke/people-daily/408672/forensic-doctor-solves-puzzling-sexual-crimes/
NCHRD-K is honoured to have hosted the Second HRD Awards Ceremony in partnership with Working Group on Human Rights Defenders. The Awards are meant to give visibility to the grassroots Human Rights Defenders and also to Lifetime Human Rights Crusaders
2017 ANNUAL JURISTS CONFERENCE COMMUNIQUE
A. To African Heads of States
The Jurists note with great concern the rampant and systemic non-compliance with state reporting obligations and compliance with recommendations and decisions of the African Commission and the African Court. The jurists are also concerned that few African States have deposited Article 34(6) declarations allowing NGOs and individuals to present communications before the African Court and acknowledging the need to strengthen the follow up mechanisms of these bodies and the pivotal complementary role that the regional mechanism plays in securing human rights in Africa. It was further noted that the culture of non-conformity is a practice also reflected in the decisions of the sub-regional and national judicial and non-judicial mechanisms. In this regard:
B. To the African Union/African Commission
i. We call upon the African Union/African Commission to streamline state reporting procedures given the heavy burden on States to write reports on compliance with African Charter, Maputo Protocol and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child every two/three years.
ii. We call on the African Union to explore avenues for collaboration with different institutions to facilitate complimentary enforcement of human rights and promote institutional synergy among various bodies within the continent. This can be achieved by upholding court orders, respecting judicial independence, developing guidelines to make State reporting effective and according political support to the national and regional courts
C. Regional and National Courts
We recognize the fundamental importance of judicial independence in safeguarding rights and sustaining democracy and rule of law in the continent. As such we are alarmed at the persistent executive interference/or attempted undermining of such independence in some judiciaries.
We therefore call on the regional and national courts to:
enhance the promotion of human rights;
enforcement of human rights.
D. As Jurists and Civil Society
As jurists and Civil Society Organisations, we are deeply concerned about the growing trends of police brutality, torture and extrajudicial killing and regime policing. State machinery (police) has increasingly been used to intimidate and harass citizens and to silencing dissident voices, resulting into grave human rights violations. We also note the centrality of free and fair elections in securing good governance of the African people, we are concerned about the electoral violence and malpractices across the region. In this regard:
E. To Africa’s Citizens
As jurists, we recognize the centrality of a vibrant citizenry and public participation in ensuring accountability and bolstering good governance across nations; we implore on the citizenry to:
Developed at the Serena Beach Hotel in Mombasa, Kenya on November 24, 2017