The Fund is a non-profit, non-partisan entity created to support sustainable responses and promote innovative action for the protection of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs).
Using law and legal processes, the Fund aims to catalyse the efforts of ongoing initiatives and build an environment of respect for rights in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
Creating an environment in which it is safe to participate in democratic debates and to claim fundamental rights.
Protecting the rights and freedoms of Human Rights Defenders in the Great Lakes region of Africa through regional partnerships and local networks.
To realise the above goals and objectives, the fund will intervene by funding activities such as legal/judicial interventions, long-term capacity reinforcement, driving policy and legal advocacy aiming at strengthening national and regional protection frameworks, scaling up regional collaboration among established civil society organisations involved in the protection sector and exceptionally addressing logistics and physical protection needs. Funding will exclusively support individual HRDs and human rights organisations.
The Fund operates in the Great Lakes region of Africa consisting Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Although it is based in Kampala, the Fund will reach intervention countries through its national focal points. These focal points provide access to their existing local networks and act as a point-of-contact for HRDs at both the national and grass roots levels.
United Nations (UN) defines Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) as “people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights”.
The term “HRD” encompasses anyone, whether social worker, journalist, lawyer, community group, media worker, paralegals, organisation, or volunteer, who works to defend human rights. They are characterised by their passion for protecting and promoting human rights as well as their peaceful actions in achieving their objectives.
HRDs work on behalf of the most vulnerable people who are prevented from accessing and enjoying their basic human rights. The defenders work to strengthen accountability of public officials, provide the marginalised with information on how best to defend their rights, report on human rights violations, encourage public debates, investigate sensitive issues affecting rights realisation etc. to ensure the achievement of basic human rights for their communities.
The Fund has been established as a partnership between key organisations who share the belief that HRDs are fundamental to the development of democracy, and that their security is directly linked to the security of their communities.
The Fund is a non-profit, non-partisan entity created in 2015 to support sustainable responses and promote innovative actions for better protection of HRDs based on the use of law and legal processes.
The Fund is the result of hundreds of hours of work and discussion between partner organisations and several studies conducted between 2012 and 2015 on the situation of HRD protection in the region. The studies advised the need for increased legal support for HRDs and increased collaboration among organisations working in this context. As a result, with the support of the European Union (EU), the Fund was created and launched.
The Fund was launched in May 2015 by it’s Board of Directors, representing organisations demonstrating a long standing involvement in both the protection and legal sectors: Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF), East Africa Law Society (EALS), East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP), League of Human Rights in the Great Lakes region (LDGL), National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya, Tanzania-Human Rights Defenders Coalition, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Uganda and Protection International (PI).