Implementation Area: Mombasa

Target Population: Young Human Rights Defenders

The republic of Kenya is becoming a model case for the global double trend of rising authoritarianism and shrinking civic space. While state pressure has grown continuously since the 2013, the crackdown on civil society has intensified over the last year amid mounting economic hardship mocking the provisions of the country’s new and progressive constitution. The Kenyan leadership currently uses a myriad combination of tools to squeeze civil society. Legal and practical forms of repression are compounded by increasing restrictions to CSOs funding, gradually suffocating independent thinking and activism in Kenya. The latest stint of repression has unfolded in the wake of arbitrary arrests of protesting citizens and deregistration of CSOs amidst deep-rooted social and economic problems including unemployment, lack of housing, lack of quality education and poor access to healthcare and medicines. Underlying all these issues is a growing distrust of state power and fear among the population that Kenya’s independence could be lost to systemic corruption. Among those arrested over the past 3 years have been activists, trade unionists, independent journalists and representatives of human rights organizations.

Most recently, the authorities have targeted Human Rights Organizations by labeling them terrorist sympathizers. The crackdown against these groups came as no surprise to civil society, which has been gradually squeezed over the past 4 years as the state monopolized the economic, political, media and public space. In fact, the post-independence authoritarian system that ruled Kenya in the 80s and 90S has been recreated with legal pressures mounting on traditional NGOs, civil activism is finding new ways in informal and unregistered groups and movements. State laws regulating the conduct of what would be deemed non-state activities in democratic societies have crept into a number of sectors, affecting economic, political, religious and labor rights, as well as the information sphere and civic space. In general, such legislation reflects a deep distrust of citizens’ activities.

There has been a constant attacks of the well-established Human Rights Organizations by the government especially at the coast region. This has slowed down the efficiency and effectiveness of the emerging  young human rights organizations in Mombasa with the fears that  they can be a soft target  by government due to lack of proper legal and financial muscles.

It is through this background that we implementing securing Young Defenders  project that seeks  to strengthen the voice and operating environment of young human rights defenders at the community based organization in Mombasa through enhancing  their  skills on their personal  security management, strengthen the  operation structure of their  organizations through physical and digital security training of the members of the organization and formation of the grassroots vibrant and united young HRDs network with more members and wider diversity to monitor, document and address all human rights violation at the county.