Netherlands Ambassador Karin Boven wins Pan African Woman of Courage award

Over the years, the relationship fostered between DefendDefenders and the Netherlands government has seen the three core areas of protection, advocacy, and capacity building strengthened.

Her Excellency Karin Boven the Ambassador of the Netherlands has been awarded the Pan African Woman of Courage award, for her remarkable efforts in safeguarding Human Rights Defenders throughout Africa.

The award was handed over to Boven by the DefendDefenders organization, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project.

The organization seeks to strengthen the work of human rights defenders (HRDs) throughout the region, by reducing their vulnerability to the risk of persecution and by enhancing their capacity to effectively defend human rights. 

Ambassador Broven had passed by the organization to pay a farewell visit to DefendDefenders, as she winds up her diplomatic tour of duty as the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Uganda.

Hassan Shire the executive director of DefendDefenders extended his sincere appreciation to the ambassador noting that, “The longstanding partnership has profoundly impacted human rights defenders in the sub-region”

On her side, Ambassador Boven appreciated the organization for doing great work, saying”It’s unfortunate to say that it’s necessary work and will be more necessary in the years to come. However, it’s good that DefendDefenders is here to help human rights defenders in need.”

Over the years, the relationship fostered between DefendDefenders and the Netherlands government has seen the three core areas of protection, advocacy, and capacity building strengthened.

According to the European Union, Human Rights defenders (HRDs) are those individuals, groups, and organs of society, that promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms.

These include civil and political rights as well as economic, social, and cultural rights.

Information from DefendDefenders reveals that the organization has established and continues to support national coalitions of human rights defenders (HRDs) in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda.

The coalition forms part of a network across the East and Horn of Africa, through which HRDs can come together and claim their rights at the national level.

As national mechanisms, DefendDefenders says they are in a unique position to reach HRDs working in remote areas, who often lack access to support systems and are most vulnerable.

The national coalitions play a vital role in implementing capacity-building activities and providing protection for HRDs across the sub-region.

Human Rights Defenders in Uganda

Human rights defenders in Uganda play a crucial role in advocating for the protection and promotion of fundamental freedoms and rights amidst challenging conditions. These brave individuals and organizations work tirelessly to address issues such as gender equality, freedom of expression, and the rights of marginalized communities.

Despite facing threats, harassment, and even violence, they continue to speak out against injustices, support victims of human rights abuses, and hold authorities accountable.

Their efforts have been instrumental in bringing attention to human rights violations and pushing for legislative and policy changes that foster a more just and equitable society.

However, the environment for human rights defenders in Uganda remains fraught with risks. Government crackdowns, restrictive laws, and limited access to resources create significant obstacles to their work.

Many defenders operate under constant surveillance and fear of retribution, which hampers their ability to advocate effectively. International support and solidarity are vital in bolstering their efforts and ensuring their safety.

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