Various stakeholders have recognised the unique effort that a civil society organization DefendDefenders is applying in the protection and promotion of human rights. During the opening of its new office premises at Lotis Towers on Mackinnon Road, Nakasero – Kampala, several Diplomats and human rights defenders, including the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) lauded them for specializing in defending people and organizations that face risks in defending human rights.
In his speech delivered on behalf of the UHRC Chairperson Mariam Wangadya, member of the Commission Hon. Crispin Kaheru particularly recognised DefendDefenders and its Executive Director Mr. Hassan Shire for entering into partnership with the National Human Rights Institution to strengthen its human rights defenders’ desk.
“We are proud that under the leadership of ED. Hassan Shire, DefendDefenders has made an indelible mark on the national, regional and international scene as the go-to-entity for protection and support of human rights defenders, for championing advocacy, engagement and strengthening collective effort in defending human rights,” he noted last Friday (September 8th, 2023).
Hon. Kaheru revealed that the UHRC’s Defenders’ desk is a free space through which any controversies and suspicions that may arise between human rights defenders and government can be settled.
He noted that there is a need for more human rights defenders to serve as advocates, watchdogs and voices for those who may not have the means or opportunity to speak out in the ongoing and emerging challenges like global health crises, migration issues, environmental concerns, and increasing social injustices.
DefendDefenders was established in 2005 as the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and registered as a foreign Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Uganda. It exists to strengthen the work of human rights defenders (HRDs) in the Sub-region by reducing their vulnerability to the risk of persecution and by enhancing their capacity to effectively defend human rights. The core mandate of DefendDefenders is to promote the safety, security and well-being of HRDs. It thus supports national coalitions of HRDs in various countries and serves as the Secretariat of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net) representing thousands of HRDs and their organisations.