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Burundi
12.05.17
Statements

Intervention to the 60th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES'RIGHTS

60th Ordinary Session

Niamey, Niger

May 8 - 22,2017

Contribution of the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT)

and FIDH (the International Federation forHuman Rights)

In the framework of their partnership,

The Observatory for the Protection ofHuman Rights Defenders

Madam Chairperson, DistinguishedCommissioners and State Delegates,

The World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT) and FIDH, under the framework of the Observatory for the Protection ofHuman Rights Defenders, thank the African Commission onHuman and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) for this opportunity to raise some of the keyissues with respect to the situation of human rights defenders in Africa.

While States have the duty to protect human rightsdefenders and to ensure that they operate in a safe and enabling environment,attacks, threats, judicial harassment, restrictive laws, smear campaignsagainst them continue to perpetuate an environment of hostility towards theiractivities.

1. Pursuit of criminalisation, threats andviolence to silence human rights defenders

In severalcountries, we are concerned that human rights defenders are criminalised inrelation to legitimate human rights activities recognised and protected underregional and international human rights instruments. A significant number ofthe harassment and attacks occurred in electoral contexts or against defenderspromoting democracy or electoral rights.

InBurundi, since April 2015, following PresidentPierre Nkurunziza’s third term bid, human rights defenders continue to faceincreased intimidation, harassment, physical attacks and in the most worrying cases,enforced disappearance. Many had to flee the country and were facingintimidation in their country of relocation.

The Observatory remains particularly concerned by thefate of Ms. Marie-Claudette Kwizera,Treasurer of the Ligue Burundaisedes Droits de l’Homme « ITEKA », who was forciblydisappeared on December 10, 2015. To date, Burundian authorities have refusedto provide any information about her fate or whereabouts.

Moreover,human rights defenders and organisations who cooperate with the internationalhuman rights system to denounce rampant violations in Burundi face specificacts of reprisals. For instance, in the aftermath of the review by the UnitedNations (UN) Committee Against Torture (CAT) of the country’s human rightscrisis, the Government requested to disbar four human rights lawyers who hadparticipated in the CAT session, at the end of July 2016. On January 17, 2017,the Court of Appeal of Bujumbura eventually disbarred Messrs. ArmelNiyongere, President of Actionchrétienne pour l'abolition de la torture (ACAT) - Burundi andDirector of SOS-Torture/Burundi, Vital Nshimirimana, GeneralDelegate of the Forum pour leReinforcement de la Société Civile (FORSC), and Dieudonné Bashirahishize,Vice President of the Bar Association of the East African Community.Furthermore, the Court decided to suspend temporarily the fourth lawyer,Mr. Lambert Nigarura, President of the Coalition Burundaise pour la CPI (CB-CPI).

In Chad, on April 6, 2017, Mr. Nadjo Kaina Palmer, Coordinator of the youth movement “Iyina” (“Weare tired” in local Arabic), affiliated with the coalition “Ca suffit” (“It’senough”) and Coordinator for “Tournons La Page - Tchad” was summoned andarrested by members of the National Agency of Security. He had organised a pressconference three days before to call for a protest against impunity and badgovernance on the one-year anniversary of the presidential elections. On May 4,2017, a high court in N’Djamena sentenced Messrs. Nadjo Kaina Palmer andBertrand Solo, also a leader of Iyina to a six-month suspended sentence for“attempting to manipulate a mob”. The two were released after the verdict.

In the DemocraticRepublic of Congo (DRC), Mr. Jean-Marie Kabengele Ilunga, ahuman rights lawyer who has beenparticularly active in the case of the killing of Floribert Chebeya and FidèleBazana from Voix des sans Voix (VSV),has been facing threatsand intimidations. On the nightbetween October 11 and 12, 2016, he was informed by his colleagues that agentsof the ANR (National Intelligence Agency), the SNS (National Security Service)and military were present around the Catholic University of Congo in Kinshasa,where he was assisting to the election of the new Chairman of the BarAssociation, for which he presented his candidacy, in a clear act ofintimidation. He had also received in the past months several threatening textmessages from a telephone belonging to an ANR agent.

Mostrecently, on February 24, 2017, Mr. PaulNsapu, FIDH Deputy Secretary General and President of the Ligue des électeurs (LE),received two text messages containing death threats against him and his family,which are allegedly related to Mr. Nsapu’s human rights activities denouncingkillings and other gross human rights violations, as well as for his opensupport to peaceful youth citizens’ movements such as LUCHA, Filimbi and Compte à rebours, who are victims ofharassment, intimidations, arrests and arbitrary detentions.

Indeed,dozens of members of youth citizens’ movements have suffered episodes ofarbitrary arrest and detention, as well as, for some of them, trumped-upcharges and ill-treatment in the DRC. Between October 24 and December 21, 2016,at least 37 members of such pro-democracy groups were arrested including whilepeacefully protesting or during press conferences to launch the media campaign‘Bye bye Kabila’. Accused of “inciting rebellion against authorities”, all havebeen released since then. Amongst them, Mr. Fabrice Kubuya, member of the LUCHA movement was detained fromDecember 19, 2016 to March 19, 2017. Again in April 2017, nearly 70 members ofcitizens’ movement were arrested, detained and further released. Policeviolence was reported upon release of the human rights defenders.

In Kenya, ananti-corruption demonstrationco-organised on November 3, 2016, by theKenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), PAWA 254, the Inter-Religious Council,Transparency International Kenya, Civil Society Reference Group, Sauti yaWanjiku, Katiba Institute among others wasviolently repressed. The police fired tear gas and used water canons.Moreover, some police officers beat up unarmed protesters and journalists. Atleast 10 activists and journalists were injured, and 24 peaceful protesterswere arbitrarily arrested, briefly held at the Central and Parliament policestations and released a few hours later without charges. Unfortunately, noinvestigation was conducted into these allegations of police violence.

In Zimbabwe,on February 1, 2017, Pastor EvanMawarire was charged by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) with “subvertinga constitutional government”. The ZRP claims that the cleric has been “incitingZimbabweans from all walks of life either locally or internationally torevolt and overthrow a constitutionally elected Government”. That includesallegations that Pastor Evan Mawarire has incited some Zimbabweans living inthe USA and “all over the world” through social media to converge in New Yorkon September 22, 2016 to “confront” President Mugabe, who was attending theUnited Nations General Assembly and order him to “immediately” resign from hisposition accusing him of destroying the country. President Mugabe himselfpublicly attacked Pastor Evan Mawarire accusing him of being a “great shame”and a “disgrace” for “allowing himself to demonstrate against the country”. OnFebruary 8, 2017, the Harare High Court granted a USD 300 (280 euros) bail toPastor Mawarire, after finding the State’s case “weak”, with “no compellingreasons” to maintain him in pre-trial detention. The bail was accompanied bythe obligation to report twice a week to the Arondale police station. Inaddition, Pastor Mawarire had to surrender his passport to the Clerk of theHarare Magistrates Court and was urged not to interfere with State witnesses.His judicial harassment continues, after several postponements the next hearingin his case is scheduled on June 15, 2017.

Moreover,human rights defenders working on sensitive issues have also been particularlytargeted.

In Egypt,Mr. Negad El-Borai, Director of the “United Group – Attorneys-at-law,Legal Advisors” (United Group) and judges Assem Abel Gabbar, former Deputy ChiefJustice of the Court of Cassation, and Hesham Raouf, who sits at Cairo’sAppeal Court and former Justice Minister’s assistant, have been facing chargesfor drafting and promoting an anti-torture bill. On March 30, 2017, the SupremeJudicial Council referred the two judges to appear on April 24 - and thenpostponed the hearing to June 19 - before the ‎Disciplinary Council toconsider their dismissal for “engaging in political activities”, while Mr.El-Borai is facing criminal charges of “establishing an unlicensed entity withthe intent of inciting resistance wards to the authorities”, “implementing humanrights activities without license”, “deliberately spreading false informationwith the purpose of harming public order or public interest” and “receivingfunds from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC)” in anotherinvestigation regarding the same anti-torture activity. Their judicial anddisciplinary harassment is ongoing.

In Djibouti, Mr. Omar Ali Ewado, co-founder of the Djiboutian League for HumanRights (LDDH), was arrested on March 19, 2017 by agents of the Services ofDocumentation and Security, and subsequently released without charges on March29, 2017. He had already been arrested and released several times before and hehad also been victim of other forms of harassment, such as being fired from hisjob as a professor and having his salary suspended by the National Ministry ofEducation.

In Sudan, while welcoming the fact thatthe charges against three human rights defenders working at the Centre forTraining and Human Development in Sudan (TRACKs), namely Mr. Al HassanKheiry, a computer technician, Ms. Arwa Elrabie, the AdministrationManager, Ms. Imani-Leyla Raye, a student volunteer, were eventuallydropped in January 2017, the Observatory expresses its concern about thesentencing, on March 5, 2017, of Mr. Khalafalla Al-Afif Mukhtar, TRACKsDirector, and Mr. Midhat A Hamdan, a trainer,for “dissemination of false information” and “possession of immoralmaterial”, as well as of Mr. Mustafa Adam, who had delivered training for TRACKs, for “espionage”. The three were sentenced tothe same punishment: one-year imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 SDG (approx.7,376 Euros) each. Detained since May 2016, the three men were released thefollowing day from Al-Huda prison in Omdurman after their fines were fullypaid, as they had already served their sentence. It has to be notedthat the trial proceedings were marred by serious violations of standards offair trial.

Furthermore, human rights defender Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam has beenarbitrarily detained since December 7, 2016, by the National Intelligence andSecurity Services (NISS), without charges nor access to legal representationand despite a decision on March 26, 2017, by the Attorney General to releasehim on bail. This prolonged detention without access tocounsel constitutes a clear violation of international humanrights norms, which prohibit arbitrary or unlawful detention. Allegedly, Dr.Mudawi has also been prevented from receiving essential medication for a pre-existingheart condition, he is extremely fragile with decreasing blood pressure. Inaddition, from February 2 to 14, 2017, Dr. Mudawi went on a hunger strike toprotest his illegal detention. As a consequence his health is increasingly andworryingly deteriorating.

2. Economic, land and environmental rights defenders particularly atrisk

Throughoutthe African continent, our organisations remain concerned by the gravity ofattacks against land and environmental rights defenders.

In Cameroon, detained since May 2016,Messrs. Abue Philip Kpwe, Divine Biame, Cyprian Azong and BernardFuh, members of the Esu Youth Development Association (EYDA), were finallyreleased on May 4, 2017, nearly five months after they had been granted bail bythe North-West Court. Arrested on spurious grounds of “depredation by band”, inrelation to their opposition to land-grabbing, charges have not been droppedand proceedings are ongoing before Bamenda’s Appeal Court. The four leaders are being prosecuted alongside fiveother Esu leaders, namely Messrs. Redemption Godlove, Ephraim KaghaMbong, Emmanuel Wung, Ivo Meh and Williams Meh, and ifconvicted, the nine face 10 to 20 years in prison. Furthermore, Mr. RobertFon, lawyer of the nine Esu leaders was detained from March 16 to 27, 2017,on charges of “acts of terrorism” and “insurrection”. He was eventuallyreleased, as there was no evidence of his wrongdoing.

The Observatory is also concerned about the ongoing judicial harassmentand acts of intimidations targeting several members of the Organic Farming forGorillas (OFFGO), a group of farmers created in September 2015 to promoteorganic farming, environmental protection, opposing land grabbing and workingfor the protection of the cross-river gorilla in Mbengwi. The hearing of OFFGOboard members Matthias Awazi and Humfred Manjo, who are facingtrumped-up charges leading to up to three years in prison, has not yet takenplace. In addition, the village of Tudig, in Mbengwi, where OFFGO has itsheadquarters, and several of its members have been the target of severalsecurity incidents since mid-2016 until February 2017. On March 13, 2017, thevillage Regent of Tudig, Mr. Prince Vincent Awazi, aboard member of OFFGO, received a message on his phone from one of the attackers,warning the villagers to be vigilant and that they “will suffer”. Furthersecurity incidents were reported in the village of Tudig on April 7 and 8,2017, when three unknown men warned the village regent “to prepare for his ownfuneral” and that “others will follow soon”.

Moreover, in Kenya, onOctober 31, 2016, eight members of the network organisation “BuildingAfrica” were arrested together with two witnesses to a beneficiary of theorganisation’s services while attending a public meeting about land grabbingand corruption within the Phase 1 and 2 of the Taita Taveta Settlement Projectin the city of Taveta. They were charged by the Taveta Court the day after with“participation in an unlawful assembly”, in breach of Section 79 of the PenalCode. The Court set bond at 300,000 KSH (approximately 2,700 EUR) for each ofthe accused, but the defendants filed an application to the High Court askingfor the review of the excessive bond imposed on them. The hearing took place onNovember 23, 2016 and on December 21, the defenders were released on a personalsurety, after the court indicated that they had erred in their ruling, andreduced the bail to 50,000 KSH (approximately 450 EUR) each.

Finally, in Liberia, Mr. Alfred Lahai Brownell, Lead Advocate of Green Advocates and hisstaff faced judicial harassment and threats. Starting from October 28, 2016,police officers issued numerous arrest warrants against Mr. Alfred Brownell,his staff and even his family for allegedly failing to respond to a subpoena enquiryto provide testimony in connection with a war crimes case involving Gus vanKouwenhoven, a Dutch citizen. The series of arrest warrants seems to be linkedto the community-based advocacy work carried out by Green Advocate,specifically in the province of Sinoe, where the organisation helped thecommunities to file complaints against human rights violations committed by theenterprise Golden Veroleum, a branch of the Singapore company Golden Agri Ressources, forthe exploitation of palm oil. Green advocates’ premises and Alfred Brownell’shouse were stormed by the police. Although the arrest warrants and contemptproceedings against Mr. Alfred Brownell and Green advocates’ staff wereofficially dropped on November 21, 2016, it is worrisome that high rankingofficials in the Liberian government, among whom the President herself,publicly condemned Green Advocates for weakening the national sovereignty.

3. Restrictions to freedom ofassociation and assembly, and reprisals against freedom of expression defenders

The worldwide trend undertaken by someStates to restrict freedom of association and hinder the work of human rightsdefenders by enacting an arsenal of restrictive laws has been particularlyspreading across Africa, where authorities increasingly aim to control,paralyse or even eradicate independent civil society, in blatantbreach of basic human rights standards.

The most recentillustration of this trend of repression occurred in Kenya, where on January 6, 2017 theInterior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho wrote to all the 47 countycommissioners directing them to shut down NGOs that are not properly licensedor are implementing projects that they have not been registered to undertake.The directive also requires all foreign employees working for NGOs in thecountry to produce on demand a valid work permit issued by the Directorate ofImmigration Services and they must also have a recommendation letter from theNGO Coordination Board. This happens under the same administration that has been undermining,for more than four years since its signing into law on January 14, 2013, thecommencement of the Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) Act 2013, a law seekingto provide an enabling environment for NGOs.

Inaddition, on January 6, 2017, the NGO Coordination Board approached KHRCthrough email, threatening them to commence an inquiry into allegations of anumber of acts of mismanagement and offences allegedly perpetrated by KHRC,which were included in an “internal memorandum” issued by the NGO Board onNovember 4, 2016. The document which had not been notified to the organisationaddressed several government agencies with a number of recommendations againstKHRC. Amongst other, it advised the Central Bank of Kenya to take steps tofreeze KHRC’s bank accounts. Other institutions were requested to take steps tocommence criminal and financial investigations against KHRC. It is not the first time that the NGO Board ispublicly discrediting KHRC and other human rights organisations in Kenya. TheKHRC requested and obtained a meeting with the NGO Board to clarify thesituation.

Moreover,in Burundi, on January 3, 2017 the Burundian authorities announced that the ItekaLeague had been permanently removed from the list of organisations allowedto work in the country since December 21, 2016, for having allegedly “damagedthe image of the country and divided the Burundian community”. This occurredafter the Ministry of Interior and Patriotic Training published a directiveon October 24, 2016, to suspend provisionally a number of non-profitassociations, namely SOS-Torture/Burundi, the Iteka League, the Coalition dela Société Civile pour le Monitoring Electorale (COSOME), the CoalitionBurundaise pour la CPI (CB-CPI) et the Union Burundaise desJournalistes (UBJ). A week earlier, on October 19, 2016, the sameMinistry had passed a similar directive to permanently remove 5 other NGOs fromthe Ministry's List of Associations operating in Burundi, i.e. the Forumpour le reinforcement de la société civile (FORSC) the Forum pour la conscience et le développement(FOCODE), the Action chrétienne pour l'abolition de la torture(ACAT), l'Association burundaise pour la protection des droits humains etdes personnes détenues (APRODH) and the Réseau des citoyensprobes (RCP).

Furthermore, respectivelyon December 28 and 23, 2016, the National Assembly adopted in final reading twobills, which aim to closely monitor and control the actions of local andinternational NGOs in Burundi. The first bill requires local NGOs to obtain theauthorization of the Minister of Interior before carrying out any activity andit also obliges NGOs to channel any foreign funding that they might receivethrough the Burundian Central Bank. The second bill requires foreign NGOs tocarry out activities that conform with the priorities defined by the BurundianGovernment.

Civilsociety in Egypt also continues to face an unprecedented wave of attacksby the authorities as part of the case known as the “foreign funding case No. 173”, afive-year-old investigation into the funding and registration of independenthuman rights groups. On December14, 2016, the assets of Ms. Azza Soliman,founder of the Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Aid (CEWLA), and the ones of herlaw firm were frozen, one week after she had been arrested and released on bailon December 7. This was the first arrest warrant to be issued against an NGOworker within the foreign funding case. Furthermore, on January 11, 2017, the assets of Ms. Mozn Hassan,Founder and Executive Director of Nazra for Feminist Studies (Nazra), Mr. Mohamed Zarea, Director of the ArabPenal Reform Organization (APRO), Mr. AtefHafez, legal researcher at APRO, as well as those held by the two aforementionedorganisations were frozen.

The Observatory furthermore denounces the systematic use of travel bans againsthuman rights defenders by the Egyptian government as a tool to crackdownall independent civil society in the country. For instance, on November 17,2016, Ms. Azza Soliman was prevented from boarding a plane, and the samehappened to Ms. Aida Seif El-Dawla, Director and one of thefounders of El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture andViolence (El Nadeem Center) on November 23, as well as on January 26, 2017 toMr. Negad El-Borai.

Moreover, after two closureattempts in 2016, on February 9, 2017,the three flats occupied by El NadeemCenter were sealed in application of an “administrative closing order”issued on February 17, 2016 by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to shut down theclinic for allegedly “breaching license conditions”. However, the closure oftwo of the three flats occupied by El Nadeem Center has been consideredillegal, since they were not included in the MoH closing order, and thereforethey have been reopened on April 11, 2017. However, the clinic remains closedas of today, while the administrative proceedings against the MoH closing orderare ongoing. El Nadeem Center has been licensed as a medical clinic since 1993and has provided hundreds of torture victims with vital services, includingcounselling and legal assistance.

Alongsidethe judicial harassment of Egyptian human rights defenders, in the last quarterof year 2016, authorities attempted twice to amend the NGO regulatoryframework. The two versions of draft NGO laws introduce very restrictiveprovisions which could lead to the eradication of existing human rights groupsand prevent the setting-up of new ones. After the approval by the Cabinet onSeptember 8, 2016 of a draft NGO law, on November 15, 2016, theEgyptian Parliament adopted another draft NGO law, drafted by its chairmanAbdel Hadi el Qasabi. This latter contained even more draconian provisions thanthe previous one and, should it comeinto force, it would close any remaining space for conducting humanrights work in Egypt. Of particular concern is the attempt of the EgyptianParliament to redefine authorised field of action for civil societyorganisations as being necessarily determined by the State’s agenda. Inparticular, under this new legal framework, NGOs would not be allowed toconduct work that may cause harm to “national security”, “law and order”,“public morals”, or “public health”, terms that are subject to the discretionaryinterpretation of government agencies. Allegedly, the NGO law was sent inDecember 2016 to the President for signature, but after strong internationalpressure from both civil society and the international community, as of today,there is no further information on the status of such law.

In Morocco, on September 30, 2016, twoSaharawi young activists belonging to thel’Equipe Média, Messrs. Amidan Said and Brahim Laajail,were arbitrary arrested andtortured by the Moroccan Security forces at Guelmim. They were interrogatedseveral times and respectively charged with “insulting the police” and“possession and use of drugs”, as well as “non-presentation of identitydocuments”. The two activists were subsequently released awaiting trial. OnNovember 29, 2016, the two were sentenced to three and two months in jailrespectively, without having to spend actual time in jail, for "attackinga public employee”. They both deny the charges and are appealing the courtdecision.

Finally, theObservatory is concerned about the ongoing judicial harassment under charges of“threat to State security” of Messrs.Maâti Monjib, historian, journalist and President of the association“Freedom Now” for freedom of expression in Morocco,Hisham Almiraat, President of the Associationdes droits numériques (ADN), Hicham Mansouri, Project Officer at theAssociation marocaine pour le journalismed’investigation (AMJI), Mohamed Essabr, President of the Association marocaine d’éducation de lajeunesse (AMEJ), Abdessamad Ait Aicha, former training projectCoordinator of the Centre Ibn Rochd,journalist and member of the AMJI. Furthermore, Mr. Rachid Tarik and Ms.Maria Moukrim, respectively President and former President of the AMJIare accused of receiving foreign funding without notifying the authorities. OnJanuary 25, 2017, the court decided to postpone their hearing for the sixthtime, rescheduling it on May 24, 2017.

4. Human right defenders in Kenya at riskahead of the general elections

Concerned bythe high levels of police violence against defenders and attempts to restricttheir working environment, the Observatory carried out an internationalfact-finding mission in Kenya in October 2016. The report, presented in Niameyduring the NGO Forum, raised three main concerns.

First, humanrights defenders are often confronted to high levels of police violence,especially when trying to hold public officials accountable for human rightsviolations, and this happens in widespread impunity, despite the State andpolice reforms in place. The violence includes harassment, torture, enforceddisappearances and extrajudicial killings, including under the guise ofsecurity and counter-terrorism operations. Moreover, the disproportionate useof force in managing public protests calls into question the prevailingstandards in public order management and their actual use by the police.

Second, theincreasing pattern of criminalisation and intimidation of human rightsdefenders, through trumped-up charges, episodes of frequent arrests, detentionsin police stations and long trials, represent a serious concern, since they areused as a means to harass, traumatise and exhaust defenders, and, in fine,prevent them from defending human rights.

Third,delays in the commencement of the Public Benefit Organisations (PBO) Act 2013,which streamlines the regulation of the civil society sector, have left thedoor open for abuses and administrative harassment of civil societyorganisations (CSOs), whose sector is still regulated by the NGO CoordinationAct 1990. As a result, CSOs continue to operate in a hostile environment,characterized by the threat of arbitrary de-registration and asset freezes,continuous attacks and smearing campaigns. It is worrying that the past twoyears have witnessed various failed attempts to incorporate restrictiveamendments into the PBO Act 2013, including severe restrictions to access toforeign funding, aimed at undermining its significant improvements.

5. Recommendations:

1) In view of the above-mentioned elements,the Observatory reminds States Parties of their obligation to comply with allthe provisions of the African Charter, in particular those relating to theprotection of human rights defenders. In that regard, States should immediatelyand unconditionally:

- Implement all the provisions of the 1998United Nations (UN) Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, especially byguaranteeing in all circumstances their physical and psychological integrityand their capacity to operate in a safe and enabling environment;

- Release all defenders who arearbitrarily detained for their activities of promotion and protection of humanrights and fundamental freedoms, in particular freedoms of expression, peacefulassembly and association;

- Develop differentiated measures for theprotection of the most vulnerable groups of human rights defenders such as landand environmental rights defenders, defenders working in rural areas, womanhuman rights defenders or defenders working on LGBTI issues;

- Put an end to all acts of harassment -including at the judicial level - against human rights defenders;

- Order immediate, thorough, transparentinvestigations into allegations of violations of the rights of human rightsdefenders, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before anindependent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;

- Refrain from adopting any provisionsthat do not comply with international and African standards with respect to theexercise of the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly andassociation, and abrogate or revise any such provisions that may be in force;

- Send a standing invitation to the UN andACHPR’s Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders and facilitate theircountry visits.

2) In particular, on the situation ofhuman rights defenders in Kenya, the Observatory calls upon the ACHPR to:

- Address the critical situation ofhuman rights defenders in Kenya ahead of the August general elections duringthe 60th session of the ACHPR, including through a resolution calling for free,peaceful and democratic general elections and conforming to the principles ofthe African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights with respect to freedoms ofassociation, assembly and expression as well as to the African Charter onDemocracy, Elections and Governance;

- Deploy human rights monitors inKenya ahead of August 2017 general elections to document instances of violationand abrogation of freedoms of association, assembly and expression;

- Publicly denounce the vulnerabilityof human rights defenders in Kenya, in particular the legal and practicalinfringements to their freedoms of association, expression and assembly;

- Call upon the Kenyan authorities toguarantee the physical and psychological integrity of human rights defendersand ensure that those found responsible for human rights abuses are heldaccountable;

- Call upon the Kenyan authorities tofully conform its national legal and institutional framework with the humanrights guarantees provided by regional and international treaties, as well asby the Constitution of Kenya;

- Call upon Kenya to make adeclaration under Article 34.6 of the Protocol to the African Charter on theestablishment of the African Court, allowing direct access to the Court to NGOsand individuals.

3) Moregenerally, the Observatory also calls upon the ACHPR to:

- Highlightthe legitimate work carried out by human rights defenders, and the need fortheir protection from harassment and attacks;

- Systematically raise the question of the situation of human rightsdefenders as well as denounce and condemn all human rights violations they faceduring the examination of the periodic reports of States parties to the ACHPR,and on the occasion of all visits conducted in a State party;

- Denouncethe impunity that prevails with regard to these violations, and urge States tohold all those responsible to account;

- Increase its capacities to respond to urgent situations faced by humanrights defenders;

- Ensure the effective implementation of its resolutions, concludingobservations and decisions on communications in order that everyone, includinghuman rights defenders, be able to effectively enjoy all the rights andfreedoms recognised by the ACHPR, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights andthe UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;

- Continue to strengthen the collaboration with the UN Special Rapporteuron the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, as well as with the other regionalmechanisms dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders.

Thank you for your attention.

***

Niamey, May 2017

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) wascreated in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. Theobjective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repressionagainst human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights DefendersMechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory:

· Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22809 49 29

· Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 143 55 18 80

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