CODESRIA Policy Briefs No. 2, December 2021: Shrinking Civic Space and Women Human Rights Defenders in Africa: by Awino Okech and Marianne Mesfin Asfaw
This policy brief examines the closure of civic space for women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in Africa. Closing civic space is used to describe the growing phenomenon of governments, political elite and non-state actors using a range of legal and extra-judicial tactics to control dissent. These actions include but are not limited to arbitrary arrests, indefinite pre-trial detention, enforced disappearances and expanding the ability of the police to arrest people on terrorism charges.1 This policy brief begins by examining the key features of closing civic space to determine the major trends across the continent. The second section offers a close examination of the key features of how closing civic space affects WHRDs drawing on examples from Africa. Finally, we outline policy recommendations to address the safety of WHRDs in this environment.
Marianne Mesfin Asfaw, Association for Women’s Rights (AWID)