Electronic system to protect human rights defenders unveiled

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Electronic system to protect human rights defenders unveiled
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As the 2026 general elections draw nearer, human rights defenders have launched a groundbreaking electronic system to document and report violations against them, including journalists.

Called the "Online Human Rights Defender Referral Network and Case Management System," this system empowers users to employ mobile phones and other electronic devices capable of recording voices, capturing photos, and shooting videos to document and report violations.

Robert Kirenga, the executive director of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, recognises the pressing need for a robust, accessible, and efficient support infrastructure due to the escalating challenges faced by human rights defenders and journalists.

"The Online Human Rights Defender Referral Network and Case Management System is designed to enhance support and protection mechanisms for human rights defenders across the nation,"he said.

Especially during elections, this system, established by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda, instills hope for those who have endured violations.

To ensure protection, the reporting party remains anonymous within the system.

By granting human rights defenders access to a wide range of support mechanisms, this network aims to enhance their safety, security, and well-being.

The system follows a structured case management approach comprising case intake, case registration (validation) and screening, assessment of needs, development of a case plan, implementation of an action plan, referral to special services, monitoring and review, and eventual case closure.

Dorothy Esther Kiyai, the Protection Officer at the Coalition, emphasises the system's importance in documenting electoral-related violations against human rights defenders before, during, and after the 2026 general elections.

"We have developed a digital and case management referral network system for human rights defenders. Evidence is crucial when documenting and reporting violations. The system will assist us in producing evidence-based reports on violations faced by human rights defenders or arrests,"she explained.

Kiyai stresses the need to provide evidence of the challenges and importance of protecting human rights defenders, supporting the advocacy for a human protection bill that safeguards their rights.

The system facilitates the collection of reports substantiating the working environment of human rights defenders and aligns with relevant policies.

At a critical time leading up to the 2026 general elections, Hassan Shire, the Executive Director of Pan Africa Human Rights Defenders emphasise the necessity of protection, particularly for numerous cases that require special attention.

The launch of this pioneering initiative by NCHRD-U reaffirms its commitment to standing in solidarity with human rights defenders and advancing the cause of human rights in Uganda.

By harnessing the power of technology and collective action, the Online Human Rights Defenders Referral Network and Case Management System heralds a new era of support and resilience for defenders nationwide.

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