Nearly thirty human rights defenders representing organizations and in their own capacities formed the Somalia/Somaliland Human Rights Defenders Coalition in Hargeisa, Somaliland today.
The formation of the coalition is aimed at ensuring effective collective efforts to address the particular concerns and challenges that human rights defenders in Somalia and Somaliland face. The launch itself was preceded by a three-day workshop in order to identify particular challenges and the coalition’s plan of action to deal with them.
The coalition will encourage cooperation and collaboration between members with similar mandates and relevant stakeholders to better share and leverage resources; encourage regular documentation and sharing of information amongst human rights defenders and promote strategies and quick responses to situations in which human rights defenders are at risk.
For the last three years, EHAHRDP has implemented a European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) project with the overall objective of contributing to the protection and promotion of the right to defend human rights. The coalition will continue and build on this work.
The organizations present at the meeting signed a memorandum of understanding and considered a plan of action which will guide their activities going forward. Elections produced a steering committee with membership of fifteen organisations with an elected chairperson. The meeting concluded with the adoption of a communiqué in which the organizations pledged to work together to ensure recognition and promotion of the rights of human rights defenders.
EHAHRDP continues to work with human rights organizations to empower and support them to lead the efforts to address the concerns that they have at the national level. National coalitions and networks of human rights defenders have been formed in other parts of the East and Horn of Africa region namely Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda. EHAHRDP commits to support the national coalitions and networks in the areas of protection, advocacy and capacity building to ensure that they have the skills and tools to engage in their work.
“EHAHRDP is committed to supporting human rights defenders to play their vital role in responding to the challenges faced by human rights defenders in Somalia and Somaliland” said Hassan Shire, Executive Director of EHAHRDP. “This network is intended to enhance their capacity to conduct human rights work and to improve their protection and working environment.”