ProtectDefenders.eu's temporary relocation program for human rights defenders in danger is one of the hallmarks of the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism. Since its launch more than two years ago, the program has been expanded and consolidated and, to date, more than more than 800 individuals have accessed financial and logistic support to find refuge away from risk, while developing productive and empowering activities during their relocation, which improves their abilities to continue their work as defenders.
That has been the case of Charles Bangbe, a South Sudanese human rights defender currently in exile in Uganda. He used to work for the South Sudan Employees Chamber, a civil society organization that protects the rights of workers. Being a new State, South Sudanese Public Services were ran by former combatants who liberated the country from the old Sudan. In 2015, the County was given authority to handle land disputes. Because of Charles' legal background, he was appointed to represent civil society on the panel charged with sorting out land matters. His firm position against unfair treatment of the victims in the cases handled made his organization and himself a target of land grabbers. The grabbed land was discovered as the commission continued its work but Charles Bangbe was looked at as a thorn to the commission members as he was blocking any unfair resolution upon the matters. As a result of his work, Charles Bangbe started receiving threats, which increased progressively to the point of being shot by an unidentified armed man who then left knowing that his target had died. He was taken urgently to a hospital in Juba, then transferred to Kampala where he has been living with his family since then.
Once in Kampala, he received DefendDefenders multifaceted emergency protection support in form of a relocation/settlement grant, medical assistance as well as support on initiating the process of asylum seeking with the Office of the Prime Minister and UNHCR. The defender and his family also received counselling given the traumatic experience they underwent following the incident. In addition, they received security tips to help keep them safe while in exile. Charles Bangbe was advised to apply to the ProtectDefenders.eu Temporary Relocation Programme for more sustainable assistance and, with the support of DefendDefenders, he was provided assistance to sustain his family for a period of one year.
Since his temporary relocation began, Charles Bangbe started a small income generating activity for the family as a way of longer sustainability after the funding ends, which is run by the wife in Kampala. He has also been able to fully register all his family members with the Office of the Prime Minister Directorate of Refugees through direct technical advice from DD and began plans to construct a small family house after purchasing land on the outskirts of Kampala so that he could solve the challenge of paying rent after the grant has run out. Moreover, he has reportedly continued his human rights back at home after an assurance that the family is taken care of and out of harm’s way.