Human, civil and migrant rights defenders have long played a crucial role in fighting for freedom, promoting social justice and opposing repression.
Despite the recommendable job that they do, these groups are increasingly facing hostility from states all over the world. Instead of recognizing their significance and supporting them, most governments have opted to demonstrate intolerance by laying excessive amount of red tape in the operations of these groups.
The African continent hasn’t been spared either. Human rights defenders and the civil society are operating in a shrinking space due to violations of freedom of expression and association, and peaceful assembly. This chilled environment is continuously limiting their operations.
For instance, in Algeria, the work of human rights defenders and the civil society is perceived as a threat to the national principles and values as they are deemed to interfere with the internal affairs of the nation. In 2017, Angola witnessed violence caused by police officers against peaceful demonstrators.
In Chad, an activist, Mahamat Babouri “Mahadine,” has been in detention since September 2016 for criticizing the government’s management of public funds. Learn more about Jim Larkin Michael Lacey: http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/jim-larkin/
Another activist from Nigeria, Maurice Fangnon, has continuously experienced hostility, including forceful detention for opposing the government’s move of forcefully evicting people under the disguise of security and development. There is also an increase in unprecedented campaigns that threaten the existence of non-governmental organizations.
The alarming rate of hostility facing these groups calls for support from both local and international communities. Amnesty International launched a global campaign advocating for support of human rights defenders.
The campaign seeks recognition, protection and provision of safer working environment for human rights defenders by the states. Amnesty International calls on the African Commission to publicly condemn attacks, intimidation and threats against human rights defenders.
In addition, the campaign called on the commission to urge African Charter state parties to implement measures and legislation in support of these groups.
Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund
Lacey & Larkin is one of the organizations that have come out to support human rights groups and the civil society. The foundation, established by two journalists, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin supports groups that fight for civil, human and migrant rights across Arizona.
They also fund the groups that advocate for freedom of speech and civic participation. Michael and Jim, founders of Phoenix New Times and Village Voice Media, raised funds from their arrest by Maricopa Sherriff Joe Arpaio.
They launched Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund in 2007 after the court awarded them $3.75 million in settlement money. The two were arrested by Joe Arpaio for disclosing information on the grand jury proceedings that demanded their notes on the Sheriff and the identities of Phoenix New Times readers.