Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in Uganda face a number of threats and risks including arrests, detention, physical assaults, harassment, intimidation, threats of closure in the case of NGOs, destruction of property in the case of NGOs and journalists among others. Lawyers and journalists who bring these cases to the fore often face harassment from the state and its agents.
NCHRDU works to provide rapid and emergency response support to HRDs within its membership. We also enable embattled HRDs to access legal, medical and psychosocial services. The overall objective of the program is to improve the protection, safety and security of HRDs at an Individual and organizational level.
The Program has the following components:
- Protection and Emergency Response Mechanism
NCHRD-U under this component is building a strong referral network for HRDs to streamline coordination and improve service provision to HRDs at risk. In partnership with other key stakeholders we will work towards strengthening referral systems in the country for improved services and response to HRD cases. NCHRD-U through this referral network will foster collaboration and establish a strong referral network between service providers in various areas including; legal aid, physcho-social, financial and healthcare providers, with in Uganda.
Under the Protection and Emergency Response Mechanism there are sub-components which include; Case Handling and management, 24hour Toll free Help Line, Urgent Protection fund and fact finding missions.
- Capacity Building Initiatives
This component is largely inter-linked with the Capacity Building Program and the advocacy program. The Advocacy and Networking program raises the profile on mostly the attending situation of HRDs within the country. Under this component, NCHRD-U builds the capacity of coalition members (Individual HRDs and organisations and HRD regional focal persons) to manage on personal, organizational and digital security and safety)
Activities done under this program
- Support to HRDs through solidarity visits, field visits and referral services. Through its protection objective, NCHRDU conducted 12 solidarity visits to HRDs who were faced with various challenges. This was evidenced where by NCHRDU carried out solidarity visits to organizations that were affected by office break-ins such as Uganda Land Alliance, Human Rights Network for Journalists, Safe for Health Uganda, and Huyslink community organization in Entebbe. Similarly, the Coalition Secretariat conducted a field visit to Fort portal from 4th to 7th February 2015 to make an assessment of the alleged assault on the HRD of TLC who had been assaulted by the DPC on 23rd January 2015.
- 24 hr help lines. NCHRDU established three 24 hr help lines for emergence response to facilitate direct support to HRD in dire need. The help lines contacts are (1) 0778576853 (2) 077857682 (3) 0778 576 865.The help lines were widely distribute to approximately 200 stakeholders including individual & members, development partners and CSOs.
- Rapid response taskforce. In 2015, NCHRDU established an interim rapid response task force to respond to HRDs at risk that needed immediate help in the election period. One of the outcomes of the meeting was the development of rapid response directory that contacts and emergency hotlines of organizations that had readily available services for HRDs. Besides helping to bring support and ensure rapid response to HRDs at risk. The directory was distributed to over 200 stakeholders provided contacts and 24 hr help lines
- NCHRD-U solidarity visit to Human Rights Network for Journalists.
- Panic Button Engagement with Amnesty International
- National Referral Network Meeting held on the 23rd October 2015