Grantee profile

Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network

Founded in 2013, initially as an informal network, the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (The Network) is a sub-regional platform which coordinates regional efforts in 16 Southern African countries, including South Africa and Zimbabwe, to protect human rights defenders (defenders) at risk. The Network was incubated out of the offices of the International Commission of Jurists in South Africa who acted as the network’s fiscal sponsor until late 2018 when the Network became a fully independent entity registered as a non-profit organisation in South Africa. It provides rapid response support to defenders in a coordinated and cost-efficient way. Established to respond to a need for regional solutions to the increasing threats and violence against defenders, it is made up of members of civil society and defender communities. The organisation works to strengthen the capacities of national level groups of defenders–including through providing training and undertaking advocacy and strategic litigation to improve the situation of defenders. In 2019, a specific fund was created within the Network to provide holistic protection to defenders including relocation, legal, medical and psychosocial support. The Network particularly focuses on support to women and to grassroot level activists who are usually overlooked by mainstream support mechanisms.