In terms of laws for the protection of HRDs, the pioneer country in Africa has been the Democratic Republic of Congo, which started in 2007 to debate laws in provinces and at the national level. But it has been especially since 2015 that laws have been passed in several countries, mostly, but not exclusively, in West Africa. It is the region with the most national processes on laws, fifteen in total, but also with the most stalled or abandoned processes (seven of the fifteen).
In general, these national laws have been based on the UN Declaration on HRDs, as well as on the Model Law developed by the International Service for Human Rights.
Collectively, these laws succinctly outline a number of rights for human rights defenders, which overlap to a large extent with the rights that everyone has as a citizen of these countries. Some laws regulate their application, others do not. And several laws contain a series of “responsibilities” on the part of HRDs, as for example in the 2014 law of Côte d’Ivoire:
o Art. 10 : ” HRDs are obliged to exercise their rights and freedoms impartially and with respect for the rights of others, public safety and the general interest “.
o Art. 12: “… Human rights defenders must contribute to the preservation and strengthening of social and national solidarity…. “
These responsibilities assigned to HRDs could serve as a basis for delegitimising the action of HRDs.
As of mid-2021, the list of countries with protection policies in Africa is as follows:
•Law in force: Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali,
•Decree or sub-national regulation: Democratic Republic of Congo
•Discussions in force: Uganda, Madagascar, Niger, Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Togo.
•Previous debates, not currently taken up: Cameroon, Guinea, Kenya, Sierra Leone, South Sudan.