With support from the Open Society Foundation (OSF), via Green Advocates (the Secretariat), a baseline assessment for Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) Frontline Grassroots Human Rights Defender (HRDs) is being conducted in member states and Equatorial Guinea. The project aims to lay the basis for the establishment of a Support, Protection and Response Mechanism for Frontline Grass Roots Environmental, Land and Human Rights Defenders across West Africa. The project will also create an opportunity for networking, solidarity actions, experience sharing among grassroot defenders; provide training, capacity building and other support, including security protection, psychosocial, and cyber and data security to advance the work of defenders in the region among other things.
The Platform hosted its first People’s Forum in Makeni, Sierra Leone from 18 to 21st March 2019. Sixty participants from indigenous communities and civil society groups from eight West African nations (Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Niger) with a representative from the Democratic Republic of Congo serving as observer, as well as development were in attendance.
A three-day virtual conference of West African Frontline Defenders will convene from 14 to 16 March 2021 for the purpose of learning, sharing, debating and validating the findings of the baseline assessment report and all its components. It should derive effective strategies on community protection and addressing threats from non-state actors and set up plans for a sustainable approach for engaging and protecting frontline grassroot defenders from West Africa in the future. Additionally, the conference will also seek to build a Secured Communication Platform and offer capacity building and training in digital security to secure defenders’ communications – create a Resource Portal for securely profiling defenders.