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Ngao Yetu: Digital Security with Usable Tools

We are incredibly excited to invite you to apply to Ngao Yetu: Digital Security with Usable Tools, a unique masterclass for current and upcoming digital security trainers working with human rights defenders in East Africa. Ngao Yetu combines two back-to-back workshops: a User Experience (UX) training facilitated by a UX expert followed by an advanced digital security training of trainers facilitated by DefendersTech. Read on below for more information on both parts of the program.

Ngao Yetu is open to tech-savvy human rights defenders, digital security trainers, and technologists working with human rights defenders in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, Sudan, South Sudan, and Ethiopia.

The program takes place in Nairobi and runs from September 27th to October 5th 2017 so make sure you can block off all of those 9 days and are able travel to Kenya for this intense knowledge-packed session. Be prepared to complete some pre-workshop assignments as well over the coming weeks. Ready to apply? APPLY NOW! Application closes September 10th.

DefendersTech is a project of DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project). It aims to empower human rights defenders to unlock the potentials of technology while staying secure, effective, and innovation. The UX Workshop is a collaboration with Internews as part of their USABLE project.

What is in Ngao Yetu: Digital Security with Usable Tools?

Digital Safety Training of Trainers

There is an increased barrage of digital risks, threats and attacks against human rights defenders and independent media practitioners. Risk assessment and defense against threats in this area is not always intuitive even for otherwise technologically proficient human rights defenders. Therefore, there is need to create a pool of digital safety trainers and practitioner within the East and Horn of Africa region to raise awareness, impart skills and respond to threats when they emerge.

The digital safety training of trainers will explore digital risk assessment, protection of data, devices security, account lock-down, and communications privacy. In addition, there will be a session on training skills, elaborating how to share digital safety information effectively with communities who need your skills.

UX Workshop

Attendees will participate in a 4-day User Experience Workshop tailored to digital security trainers under Internews’ human-centered security project, USABLE ( The goal of the workshop is to empower and enhance digital security trainers’ understanding of the specific usability roadblocks tool developers face in the design and deployment of their products, while also equipping trainers to better collect and gather important feedback from high-risk communities they work with. The project aims to improve the usability of critical open source security and privacy tools used by high-risk groups around the world, in order to scale adoption of good information security practices.

The 4-day workshop will be co-facilitated with a regional digital security trainer and User Experience expert, who will walk us through the biggest challenges open source developers face in creating usable and useful products for vulnerable communities, and will facilitate discussion on how we can improve feedback on changing threats and constraints when it comes to learning new technologies for different groups.

After the workshop, we will be opening up a regional pool of funding for trainers to apply the new skills they’ve learned and jump-start this critical feedback mechanism. Feedback will be collected in a number of areas like user-interface or work flow hurdles which are causing low adoption to changing threats or operating environments.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for tech-capable human rights defenders and journalists who have attended a digital security training before, have conducted digital security trainings themselves, or who work within the ICT/IT department within their organizations. Applicants must have strong computer and/or digital security skills.

Participant must be willing to carry out digital safety training and UX Workshops after attending the training-workshop

 How do I apply?

Ngao Yetu will take place in Nairobi from September 27th to October 5th. Make sure you can be available for those days including a travel days. Program activities will be held in English.

Ready? Apply online HERE before September 10th 2017. In case of any questions please write to us at



Elections make a fundamental contribution to democratic governance by enabling the participation of voters to select leaders to represent them within the government and ensures the responsiveness of democratic governments to the will of the people. Elections also reinforce the stability and legitimacy of the political community thus facilitating social and political integration. Participation in an election serves to underpin the rights of citizens to have their voices heard. However, this is not always attained as restrictions may be initiated to limit fundamental rights that deny citizens a free, fair, credible and peaceful election.

Election monitors and observers play an important role in enhancing the transparency and credibility of elections and democratic governance. Human Rights Defenders (that include election monitors, observers, journalists and other civil society actors) continue to be at the forefront in advancing the civil and political rights of citizens by safeguarding the right of citizens to participate in the conduct of public affairs, to vote and to be elected and access public services.

Get more information in the booklet: NCHRD-K Elections Monitoring Interim Report

Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Africa – ACHPR/Res. 376 (LX) 2017



Inside Communications Surveillance and Counterterrorism in Kenya

Executive Summary

This investigation focuses on the techniques, tools and culture of Kenyan police and intelligence agencies’ communications surveillance practices. It focuses primarily on the use of surveillance for counterterrorism operations. It contrasts the ction and reality of how communications content and data is intercepted and how communications data is fed into the cycle of arrests, torture and disappearances.

Communications surveillance is being carried out by Kenyan state actors, essentially without oversight, outside of the procedures required by Kenyan laws. Intercepted communications content and data are used to facilitate gross human rights abuses, to spy on, pro le, locate, track – and ultimately arrest, torture, kill or disappear suspects, as this report documents. The Kenyan constitution guarantees freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and the right to a fair trial as fundamental rights.

These abuses have marred Kenya’s counterterrorism operations and further eroded Kenyans’ already weak trust in the agencies responsible for protecting them. This investigation also explores the potential impact of unaccountable communications surveillance on the upcoming 2017 election cycle.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) regularly shares information with police agencies, some of whom have been engaged in gross human rights abuses, according to multiple independent media, civil society and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHCR) investigations. The NIS appears to have direct access to communication networks across Kenya. This direct access means that the network operator itself has little to no knowledge of the interception of communications occurring on its network, and therefore no real ability to check these powers or report potentially abusive use of communications surveillance powers. The role of the Communications Authority in facilitating direct access in Kenya requires more scrutiny. All responses to Privacy International’s requests for comment are included in the text.

Particularly in an election year, there is a pressing need to begin to reform the practice of communications surveillance, preventing a future threat of greater abuse.

Read the whole report here:





Group photo of Harvard Law School Students with NCHRD-K staff

On 16 th March 2017 the Black Law Student Association from Harvard University had their annual Africa Summit. The purpose of Africa Summit is to learn about the culture and government in various African countries.  They attempt to meet with members of the non-profit sector in order to learn more about some of the challenges the country faces and see how civil society is responding to them. They met with the NCHRD-K to discuss issues related to shrinking space, HRD and CSO challenges in an election year.

See the Visit in pictures here:

Double Edged Sword:A case Digest for HRDs in Kenya (2013-2015)

Double Edged Sword B5 Final

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