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Where we were, and where we are

The nature of the work of a human rights defender

  • 21 April 2015
  • Author: Beryl Orao
  • Number of views: 1131
  • - Comments
Where we were, and where we are


A section of the HRDs who attended the meeting

The nature of the work of a human rights defender demands a lot of confidence and courage. For some, the confidence comes naturally. Yet for others it must be nurtured. One important way of nurturing confidence in the HRDs is by empowering them with knowledge on human rights issues and enhancing their advocacy skills. Another way is through securing the support of the communities within which the HRDs live and the support of the law enforcement agencies. 

In a recent training on Human Rights Defenders in Busia, KNCHR heard the testimony of Alex Ekirapa, a HRD living with a disability. His was one of discrimination, where he attested to not receiving equal treatment and attention as his able bodied HRDs both in the Community and with state agencies. While he acknowledges efforts by the society as a whole to ensure they work in a favorable environment, more effort needs to be put in training especially security agencies in handling persons with disability.  

During the meeting held on 21st April 2015, Bunyala HRDs coordinator, Mr. Alphonce Otiato, praised their working relationship with police. “After periods of misunderstanding, finally ours is a cordial relationship and security agencies are willing to offer support when requested,” he said.

The training by KNCHR is aimed at empowering HRDs with knowledge and information for them to use and share with citizens in their daily work. The overall goal is to have an enlightened citizenry that is able to claim for their rights and where they cannot, the fearless voices of HRDs become their go between. 

One of the HRDs explaining a point to the participants

“Our presence is being felt. We have been emboldened. We know that behind us there is the KNCHR. Our relationship with administrators has improved, especially our relationship with the police. County commissioner also works very well with us,” said one of the participants.
Another HRD, narrated an incident in which she had successfully intervened when staff at a local district hospital had refused to attend to a man who had been knocked by a motor cycle. Together with another HRD, she sought audience with the Hospital’s administrator and urged him to have the man attended to. The man was then attended to and discharged.     

Yet another HRD from Matayos sub-county also narrated an incident in which police officers had forced a complainant to give them a bribe of sh. 1,000 before they could arrest a man who had allegedly defiled the complainant’s daughter. The police officer who took the money returned it after the intervention of the HRD. 

It is evident that the HRDs movement in the grassroots still goes strong and KNCHR will continuously support their efforts to ensure that the gains already made are not lost.   

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