More than 50 global human rights groups, including Malawi’s Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), have written United States (US) President Barack Obama to support African civil society organisations (CSOs) during his visit to Kenya and Ethiopia.
Obama is due to visit the two nations later this month and the groups are requesting him to publicly meet African pro-democracy activists to address human rights challenges in the nations hosting him.
Signatories to the letter include a host of African and global CSOs led by America’s Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Centre.
In the letter delivered to the White House on Tuesday, the groups observe that Obama’s willingness to meet the activists would afford protection and send a message that Washington stands with them.
Reads the letter in part: “We believe it is imperative that you take the opportunity of your visits to meet publicly with pro-democracy and human rights activists.”
Commenting on the initiative, Cedep executive director Gift Trapence said in an interview the letter has come at the right time to urge the two governments to respect their citizens’ human rights by respecting international human rights obligations they are party to.
Obama’s visit will coincide with a two-day human rights forum to be hosted by several organisations in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, aimed at raising attention about alleged crackdown on CSOs, including issues related to shrinking civic space, repressive anti-NGO laws and the declining respect for basic civil liberties.