NCHRD-U’s Training on Security Management Helps HRDs in Lango Sub-region to Counter Risks

Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Uganda encounter various security risks such as intimidation and violent attacks in the course of duty. To counter these challenges, the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders - Uganda (NCHRD-U), with support from the DGF, implements interventions to enhance the security of HRDs in the country. In October 2019, NCHRD-U conducted a tailored training for HRDs from Lango subregion in Northern Uganda to equip them with knowledge and skills in managing personal and organisational security. The training was pertinent and timely as they were encountering serious security risks in their work, which largely focuses on transitional justice and human rights concerns in the region. HRDs testify that the training has inspired changes in the way they handle security issues at both individual and organisational levels.

Rashida Odong, the Executive Director at Women Peace initiative in Lira District, narrates that during the training, NCHRD-U took them through various topics including how to manage their security as HRDs and that of their families and workplaces, and how to secure information on paper, computers and online platforms, among others. Rashida admits that the training was a revelation for her. She instituted many changes in policy and practice at her organisation after the training. “I developed a risk matrix for myself and my organisation; I am very careful with my movements, and all our computers have locks and strong passwords,” she says. Lucy Akello, Executive Director, Health and Rights Initiative in Lango sub-region, says that they are now more equipped to navigate through the security challenges of office break-ins, and attacks against individual staff by some people in the community. “We have developed security plans for ourselves and the organisation. We have installed security cameras and acquired back-up tools for the organisation’s information,” she reveals.

Tamali Auma, working as the Rapid Response Coordinator for Action Alliance, says the training enabled them to realise their vulnerabilities and to change many practices at their office in Lira Town. “We realised that we needed to separate the community interaction centre from the organisation’s offices, and we did so. We were also not so keen on registering people who came into our office premises, but now we register everyone,” she says. The organisation has installed more cameras and deploys security guards.

Besides the training, NCHRD-U has developed a case management handbook that outlines a systematic process of handling cases of HRDs at risk. It is a useful reference resource for HRDs across the country. With the training on managing security and the case management tool provided by NCHRD-U, HRDs from Lango sub-region are better equipped to navigate through the risky operational environment in their noble work of defending human rights.