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The American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) is an international development program that promotes justice, economic opportunity and human dignity through the rule of law in more than 100 countries. For more than 25 years, the ABA ROLI and its partners including government ministries, judges, lawyers, bar associations, law schools, court administrators, legislatures and civil society organizations have continuously strengthened legal institutions, supported legal professionals to foster respect for human rights and to advance public understanding of the law and of citizen rights. In line with its mission, the ABA ROLI is implementing an 18-month project entitled Promoting Freedom of Expression, Rule of Law and Access to Justice in East Africa, with a focus on Tanzania and Uganda. The project was developed as a response to an emerging trend of States curtailing legitimate work of human rights defenders, limiting freedom of expression and narrowing the space for civil society and the media. This has been under guise of safeguarding state sovereignty and security, where governments are placing unnecessary and debilitating restrictions on the human rights fundamental right to civic engagement, media freedom and civil society space particularly freedoms of assembly, association and expression. In 2020, as Tanzania and Uganda geared up for elections, the operating environment was flawed with violations of the fundamental rights in particular the freedom of opinion and expression especially for political opposition aspirants. For Uganda and Tanzania, this manifested through arbitrary arrests, blocking of accessibility of campaign venues, harassment and brutality against journalists, destruction of media equipment, among others. As a result, there has been state-sanctioned censorship as well as self-censorship among human rights defenders, journalists and media houses. The increasing closing civic space and the implications of this pattern of actions calls for a specialized interrogation and analysis into the causes and consequences of this pattern of violence and repression on the one hand and the identification of innovative strategies and measures to address the situation. The research will ably provide media practitioners, human rights defenders, CSOs and policy makers with evidence based research to support advocacy and legal strategies to improve the operating environment. To this end, ABAROLI seeks to recruit a consultant to undertake a study incorporating a situation and trends analysis particularly focused on civic space in both Tanzania and Uganda. Given the common trends in the region, the report will also seek to make linkages to regional trends and highlight strategies that can be taken at the regional level to promote reforms and positive change. The research will cover aspects which include among others; legal and policy framework on laws curtailing civic space/ freedom of expression; international best practices, contextual operating environment for citizens, HRDS, media focused on FoE and Assembly and recommendations; regional context and overview with a focus on challenges and opportunities for advancing/protecting FOE/civic space through regional approaches and mechanisms.

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