Another day, another report; today I came over an interesting planning report for the OSIEA, that they made a draft for in March 2016. It shows the OSIEA views on the current affairs and how they preserve their work in the East African Region. With that in mind, I will let their written words speak for themselves.
But before doing so I will show what the OSIEA says about themselves and their organization:
“The Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA) works through two strategic priority areas critical to addressing open society challenges in the region: 1) participation of citizens and 2) human rights” (…) ”A “constitutional moment” is sweeping Eastern Africa. Ongoing constitutional review and implementation processes in Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, and South Sudan offer an opportunity to debate and institutionalize the values that underpin an open society. The engagement of citizens as active participants can build national ownership to advocate for and uphold a system to prevent arbitrary government and guarantee rights” (OpenSocietyFoundations.org).
With that in mind this is their consideration about the status of Human Rights, Democratic values and such in the East African Nations, also what they plan to focus on in the coming time in the region.
Important quotes from the Draft Report:
“Civic space is fast closing. New and existing laws and bureaucratic requirements are being enforced to severely restrict civic space. Civil society organizations are increasingly vulnerable to criminal and civil sanctions for a whole range of minor violations. Human rights actors, and activists, are increasingly at risk of being silenced, and there are few that dare to speak out forcefully. Governments and political elites are de-legitimizing human rights work, for example on international justice and grave crimes. Human rights activists and organizations are typified as unpatriotic, pursuing the agenda of their ‘western’ donors, and out of touch. At the same time, civil society, often new and or younger actors, are claiming new spaces for activism, such as the online space, although still facing pushback” (OSIEA, 2016).
“Rise of the ‘developmental state’. Even though they are failing to provide development to the citizens, regimes in the region are popularizing the ‘developmental state’; the proposition is that government’s primary focus should be to deliver developmental goods- education, health, security, infrastructure, etc.- and that democracy can come later. Citizens are being asked to prefer ‘development without liberty’. It is autocratic leaders making this argument, not the people, who see it for what it is- a smokescreen for dictatorship”.
“States are weakening, becoming more authoritarian, and smarter. States are increasingly losing their monopoly on the use of violence also as terrorism becomes a daily realty and insurgent groups become more active in the region. States are heavily increasing spending on security to the detriment of public goods. The response of the weakening states is increased militarization and surveillance of citizens, clampdown on dissenting voices, economic blackmail of critics, and lack of respect for the rights particularly of suspects accused of security related crimes. Government critics are at higher risk of being labeled supporters of terrorism to silence them. The fight against terrorism is becoming a convenient excuse for authoritarian rule. Regimes are becoming smarter by co-opting civil society language, demanding for evidence base of reports and proposals, accepting without conviction and movement, and managing through public relations. There is more militarization of internal political disputes”.
OSIEA Focus in each country:
Tanzania: “OSIEA’s programming in Tanzania will mainly focus on [constitutional and legal reforms, electoral reforms, natural resource governance, anti-corruption, right to information, protection of human rights defenders, disability rights, LGBTI, food security, and heath and rights]”
Kenya: “ In Kenya, OSIEA’s priorities include [protection of civic space, protection of human rights defenders, anti-corruption, international justice and grave crimes, counter terrorism and countering violent extremism, food security, disability rights, LGBTI rights, and health rights.]”.
Uganda: “OSIEA’s priorities are [protection of civic space, protection of human rights defenders, anti-corruption, international justice and grave crimes, natural resource governance, counter terrorism and countering violent extremism, food security, disability rights, LGBTI rights, and health rights.]”.
South Sudan: “OSIEA will focus on [international justice and grave crimes, protection of human rights defenders and journalists, protection of civic space, constitutional and legal reforms, access to justice, food security, and maternal health, etc.]”.
Sudan: “OSIEA will focus on [civic engagement, legal and constitutional reforms, international justice and grave crimes, documentation and advocacy on human rights, protection of civic space, protection of human rights defenders and journalists, disability rights work etc.]”.
Burundi: “OSIEA will focus on [protection of civic space, protection of human rights defenders, legal and constitutional reforms, and international justice and grave crimes]”.
Rwanda: “OSIEA will focus on [support for independent and critical voices, protection of human rights defenders and journalists at risk, documentation and advocacy on human rights, land reform, food security, women rights programming, LGBTI rights, and devolved governance]”.
Somaliland: “We see openings around [promotion of human rights principles, freedom of information and expression, equality and non- discrimination especially for women, media policy, land and oil governance, higher education, protection of human rights defenders, and food security.]”.
With all of this in mind, the picture and snap shot of reality from OSIEA isn’t a pleasant one as the addressing of the current situation show the fall of liberty, civil society and more power to the government for the sake of development. This happens as a shaken decision from the Authorities to secure the power and take away liberties to the citizens and Civil Society Organizations (CSO). The Authoritarian governments are on the rise using smart methods to silence the opposition and the ones that question them.
The draft report proves the importance of organizations like this that has grants and programs to support other CSO and NGOs in the region. As their mission cannot only be carried out by themselves.
What the Governments of East Africa would think about reading these comments on their actions would feel disgraced by their assessment therefore the draft might redrafted and rewritten to have a more hopeful choice of words to fit the program and not show as much disregard for the governments where the OSIEA tries to work and grant other organizations money. Peace.
OPEN SOCIETY INITIATIVE FOR EASTERN AFRICA (OSIEA) – ‘2017-2020’ [Draft for Board Discussion, March 2016]