The Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SouthernDefenders) calls for nomination/s for the 2023 SouthernDefenders Award for outstanding Human Rights Defender/s.
The annual SouthernDefenders Award was established in 2018 to celebrate the courage and resilience of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in Southern Africa who have made significant contributions to the promotion and protection of the human rights of others, in very difficult situations and often at significant personal risk. The Award seeks to increase the visibility of HRDs because despite the important work they do, very often they are not well known in Africa.
The situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) across causes and countries in Southern Africa remains precarious as they continue to face harassment, intimidation, physical violence, extra-judicial killings cyberbullying, and legal restrictions on their legitimate work. Several countries in the region have been criticized for restricting freedoms of expression, association and assembly, which can make it difficult for HRDs to exercise their right to defend human rights (RDHR) and hold those in power to account. According to the 2022 Economic Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index Ranking and the 2023 Freedom House’s Freedom in the World, the democratic quality and respect for political rights in most countries in the region have consistently declined.
The 2023 CIVICUS Monitor report noted that in Southern Africa, the authorities in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have proposed or enacted restrictive laws on civil society organizations (CSOs), raising fears of increasing restrictions on freedom of association. In Angola, the Law on State Security is a repressive legal instrument that has been used to criminalize dissent and criticism of the government. In Eswatini, the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 is another repressive law that has been used to restrict freedom of expression, association, and assembly. The most recent case is that of the two pro-democracy Members of Parliament who have been in a protracted pre-trial detention since July 2021.
In South Africa, the killing of activists working on land rights and the rights of informal settlement dwellers, and the vilification of CSOs by government officials and non-state actors are cases of great concern. On August 20, 2022, Lindokuhle Nguni, one of the leaders of Abahlali baseMjondolo was gunned down, becoming the third activist to be killed in the same year. This is a worrying trend globally. According to the latest Business and Human Rights Resources Centre report, in 2022 alone, 555 attacks on HRDs were recorded, revealing that on average more than 10 defenders were attacked every single week for raising legitimate concerns about irresponsible business activity. In South Africa, increasing xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiment are being mobilized as a political platform.
To nominate, please click here. Alternatively, you can download the Word document in your preferred language, English
For more information please contact:
SouthernDefenders: +27 (0)78 125 1061 or firstname.lastname@example.org