Monthly Archives: February 2014

Comments Off on Press Release on the Implication of the Same Sex Marriage [Prohibition] Act 2013 on Human Rights Defenders in Nigeria

The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Mrs Reine Alapini-Gansou, has taken note of the promulgation on 13 January 2014 in Nigeria of the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, and is deeply concerned about the consequences this law may have on sexual minorities who are already vulnerable as a result of social prejudice.

The Special Rapporteur is concerned by some provisions of the Act, in particular Sections 4(1) and 5(2) which prohibit and provide for penalties against defenders of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. These provisions undermine the work of human rights defenders and are against any public debate on this crucial issue.

The Special Rapporteur is concerned by the increase, following the enactment of the law, in cases of physical violence, aggression, arbitrary detention and harassment carried out against human rights defenders dealing with sexual minority rights issues.

The Special Rapporteur strongly condemns such acts which are a violation of the right to life, physical integrity, and freedom of expression and assembly of human rights defenders.

The Special Rapporteur would like to remind the Government of Nigeria of its international obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

The Special Rapporteur calls on the Government of Nigeria to ensure that human rights defenders are able to conduct their activities in an enabling environment that is free of stigma and reprisals.

The Special Rapporteur would also like to encourage the Nigerian political authorities to continue their efforts towards ensuring the physical integrity and safety of human rights defenders in Nigeria.

Banjul, 05February2014

Category: press releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
23rd January 2014

“CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM ON SUDAN AND SOUTH SUDAN”
Third Session, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 20th – 22nd, 2014

This week, over 100 civil society activists and advocates from all over the world
attended the Third Session of the Civil Society Forum on Sudan and South Sudan. The
Forum was held at Bole Ambassador Hotel in Addis Ababa during the period 20 to 22
January 2014. The three-day forum covered a wide variety of issues plaguing Sudan,
South Sudan and the surrounding region. Advocates in attendance were experts from
Sudan, South Sudan, Africa and the rest of the world. The Forum culminated in rich
intellectual discourse, recommendations for future advocacy work, and civil society
resolutions as a pre-summit contribution to the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African
Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
The Third Session of the Forum consisted of panel discussions, open sessions of
questions and comments, and special presentations. While calling for an immediate end
to the suffering of civilians and the expeditious signing of a ceasefire arrangement in
South Sudan, the Forum also recommended that the IGAD Secretariat and the
Chairperson of the AU Commission strengthen oversight and reduce ambiguity in the
Final Draft Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities Between the Government of the
Republic of South Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army In
Opposition.
The Forum’s panel topics included: A discussion of stakeholders in peace, particularly
focused on the AU and civil society; Civil society’s role in the technical assistance of
Sudan; An update of the humanitarian situations in South and West Kordofan States,
Blue Nile State, and Darfur; An update of the situation in South Sudan; Conflict analysis
and the building of peace within the region; Opportunities on future civil society
advocacy work on Sudan and South Sudan within the AU and IGAD; and Special
advocacy and awareness projects. Speakers included world-renowned peace activists
and experts on the two countries including Dr. Suliman Baldo, Professor Mukesh Kapila,
Mr. David Deng, Mr. Abdul Mohamed, Professor. Mashood A. Baderin.
At the end of the discussions, the Forum adopted 10 resolutions to be presented before
the 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly (January 30th – 31st 2014). Resolutions
were adopted on different topics including: the armed conflict in South Sudan, State-
Building and Reconciliation in South Sudan, the Critical Situation of Women in Sudan
and South Sudan, Refugees and IDPs in the Two Sudans, Press Freedom in the Two
Sudans, the Role of the United Nations in Sudan, South Sudan, and the Disputed
Territory of Abyei, Civil Rights and Political Freedoms in Sudan, the Situation in Darfur,
the Situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and Democratization in Sudan. Forum
contributors trust that adoption of the proposed resolutions will help assist, protect, and
serve the people of Sudan and South Sudan.
The Third Session of the Forum also witnessed the official launching of the People To
People Initiative on Sudan.
Participants and observers, including AU-accredited ambassadors and officials
expressed the views that “this gathering of bright and enthusiastic experts and peace
advocates has again produced high-quality materials for contribution to the AU work on
Sudan and South Sudan. Future forums of this kind are encouraged to continue to be
convened in order to enhance advocacy, raise awareness and mobilize the public
opinion of African policy decision-makers on matters concerning Sudan and South
Sudan. There is need for continued civil society commitment to fight for peace,
democracy, good governance and prosperity for the people of Sudan and South
Sudan.”
Contact: Ms. Brenda Prempeh, Programme Manager, Advocacy, Darfur Relief and
Documentation Centre (DRDC) brenda@darfurcentre.ch Cell phone in Addis Ababa,
+251919904345

Download PDF: Sudan Civil Society Forum Press Release Jan 2014

Comments Off on SOUTH AFRICA: HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH REPORT 2014

South Africa: human rights watch report 2014

South Africa continues to struggle with the legacy of apartheid and the challenges relating to addressing increasing demands from its citizens for the realization of economic and social rights as well as respect for fundamental civil and political freedoms. Although the government has been relatively successful in the provision of social services, financial mismanagement, and corruption—especially at the local government level—have seriously undermined progress in effective and efficient delivery of social and economic services.

Growing disaffection with local government, increasing poverty levels, and unemployment contributed to a resurgence of threats of violence against, and attacks on, property belonging to refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng provinces.

Xenophobic Attacks

In May and June, xenophobic attacks on the businesses and homes of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants displaced hundreds of people in Gauteng. More than 60 foreign-owned shops were forced to close following violent looting and destruction by community members in the Orange Farm and Diepsloot areas of Gauteng. In June and September, similar attacks against Somali nationals in KwaZakhele and New Brighton in Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape Province, left several shops looted and burnt. Due to the level of xenophobic violence, police had to relocate some of the foreign nationals to temporary shelters.

At time of writing no one had been arrested and charged with xenophobic violence. Instead, police arrested 21 people in Gauteng and charged them with public violence and arrested about 100 others in connection with the violence in Port Elizabeth. Official statements by members of both local and central governments have denied that violence against foreign nationals has been motivated by xenophobia or other forms of intolerance. Such statements have undermined the development of an effective, long-term strategy by the police to prevent xenophobic crimes by dealing with its root causes. On the other hand, some intervention strategies planned by local authorities in the affected areas, such as awareness campaigns and peace dialogues, sought to address xenophobia.

Inquiry into Killing of Marikana Miners

The investigation into the deaths of 44 people including the police killing of 34 miners between August 11 and 16, has been obstructed by delays of the work of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, created to investigate the killings. The commission was asked by the government to conclude its investigation in four months, but its work slowed due to loss of vital documents (including video evidence), the deaths of witnesses, and an ongoing legal battle over state funding for lawyers representing the families of the miners killed, injured, and arrested.

The commission, which adjourned in May, resumed in July, but lawyers representing the injured and arrested miners requested another postponement, as they called on the government to cover the miners’ legal fees. The presidency and minister of justice opposed the application for funding and the lawyers took their case to the North Gauteng High Court. In July, the High Court rejected the application for state funding, with Judge Raulinga ruling that the right to state funding was not absolute for the Marikana miners. Delays in submission of video evidence led to another extension of the inquiry to October 30. On October 31, President Jacob Zuma extended the term of the Farlam Commission to April 30, 2014.

Serious concerns remain about the ongoing conduct and capacity of the South African Police Services (SAPS), both in terms of the use of force in general, as well as the ability to deal with riots in a rights-respecting manner.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

South Africa played an important but inconsistent role in advancing the human rights of LGBT people internationally. On the domestic front, South Africa faced challenges in responding to widespread violence (including rape and murder) against lesbians and transgender men in the country.

In 2011, South Africa was instrumental in introducing a precedent-setting resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council on combating violence and discrimination against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but has not played a decisive leadership role on this issue at the UN since then.

South Africa

In May 2011, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development established a National Task Team to address gender and sexual orientation-based violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons. The Task Team, with representatives from government departments, independent bodies, and civil society, was tasked with developing, implementing, and monitoring a joint intervention strategy to address gender- and sexual orientation-based violence against LGBTI persons, especially in the courts and the criminal justice sector.

The Task Team became dormant and ineffectual, but has been moved to the Constitutional Development Branch of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and reinvigorated with new leadership, additional resources, the adoption of clear terms of reference, and the development of a national coordinated strategy to combat hate crime and ensure that bias crimes against LGBTI people are monitored and fast-tracked through the criminal justice system. If effective, this will go a long way to demonstrate the government’s commitment to fight sexual and gender-based violence by conducting genuine and timely investigations and prosecutions of perpetrators of such violence.

Freedom of Expression

The controversial Protection of State Information Bill (the Secrecy Bill) remains a major concern in light of its restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of information, press freedom, and democratic accountability. The bill, introduced in March 2010, has been criticized as inconsistent with South Africa’s constitution and international human rights obligations. In April 2013, the bill was amended, and a slightly modified new version was adopted by the National Assembly. However, major concerns remain about the bill, as well as the lack of protection for whistleblowers and journalists exposing information as a matter of public interest. Under the new version of the bill, journalists or whistleblowers can potentially be arrested for reporting information deemed classified by the government that exposes corruption, mismanagement, or malfeasance—even in the face of a compelling public interest.

On September 10, President Zuma said he would not sign the Secrecy Bill, which he returned to parliament for redrafting. Zuma cited concerns with section 42 that relates to failure to report possession of classified information, and section 45 that relates to proper classification of information, stating that these lacked coherence and clarity and were therefore unconstitutional. Civil society groups welcomed the development but urged the government to address other draconian aspects of the bill including sections that provide harsh sentences and penalties for possession of information deemed by the government as classified.

Local civil society groups called on the government to amend the bill to ensure that it conformed to international standards on freedom of expression, including by providing a public interest defense. On November 12, parliament adopted a revised version of the bill but failed to address civil society concerns on its other draconian aspects. The bill was returned to the president for assent. At time of writing, he had not signed the bill.

Women’s Rights

The controversial Traditional Court’s Bill that was withdrawn from parliament in 2012 went through a new consultation process during the first half of 2013. Following public hearings on the draft bill, the government sent the report of the consultation to South Africa’s nine provinces to determine whether they supported the bill. The bill has been criticized for giving traditional leaders the authority to enforce controversial versions of customary law that infringe upon women’s rights such as the practice of ukutwala (forced marriage), as well as discriminatory social and economic practices, such as denial of access to land, and inheritance.

Disability Rights

Despite progressive legislation on disabilities and ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, children with disabilities, especially those living in institutions in rural areas, have limited access to mainstream education and are particularly vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse. Disability advocates have raised serious concerns about the quality of institutional care provided to children with disabilities and the lack of government oversight.

Rights of Asylum Seekers

In defiance of court orders, the Department of Home Affairs refused to reopen three of its seven Refugee Reception Offices, closed in 2011. The closures, which were part of the department’s plan to move asylum-processing to the country’s borders, have limited asylum seekers’ access not only to the asylum procedure, but also to work permits, adequate shelter, and assistance while their refugee claims are pending. On June 20, the Eastern Cape High Court once again ordered the government to reopen the Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Centre and ensure that it was fully functional by October 1. At time of writing, the reception center had not been reopened.

South Africa’s Foreign Policy

South Africa since the end of apartheid has been an important and influential voice in debates over international responses to human rights issues in Africa and globally. It has twice been elected non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council; it is a member of the trilateral forum, IBSA, composed of India, Brazil, and South Africa; and the BRICS grouping of emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Its role in the African Union (AU) and as a mediator and contributor to peacekeeping forces on the continent has also grown rapidly. In November, South Africa was elected to the UN Human Rights Council.

South Africa

The post-apartheid South African government has successfully created domestic standards based on the ideals of fairness, justice, and human rights that have to a greater extent shaped the country’s approach to its foreign policy. South African foreign policy has consistently reflected a desire to fully integrate the country into the global system. At the same time, its foreign policy remains sensitive to the country’s apartheid history, leading to the country’s desire to be seen as an internationally responsible actor, a bridge between developed and developing countries, and a representative of Africa’s interests in global affairs.

South Africa’s history has also led it to view foreign policy through the lens of its own history of achieving locally informed, negotiated solutions to political situations and conflicts where the achievement of peace and justice were sought as mutually reinforcing imperatives.

These different competing strands of foreign policy have often manifested in an inconsistent and sometimes contradictory application of South Africa’s foreign policy ideals, and a failure to consistently align foreign policy with the human rights principles articulated in the country’s constitution.

In the past year, South Africa took positions on political crises in various countries that have at times been at odds with its human rights principles. In August, South Africa, which played a key role in mediating the political crisis in Zimbabwe, endorsed Zimbabwe’s flawed July elections which led to President Robert Mugabe winning a seventh term.

In Syria, South Africa’s expressions of concern at the political situation and escalation of violence, including the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, have been tempered by reluctance to condemn abuses committed by President Bashar al-Assad against his own citizens. Instead, South Africa has repeatedly emphasized the importance of all parties involved in the Syrian conflict engaging in an inclusive national dialogue to reach a negotiated settlement. Conversely, South Africa has strongly condemned the July military takeover of power in Egypt and ongoing abuses by the military. South Africa has also strongly supported the AU’s decision to suspend Egypt from the regional body for an “unconstitutional change of government.”

South Africa has consistently worked to bring about peace and stability and an end to abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the deployment of South African forces to the intervention brigade under the auspices of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in the eastern DRC. South Africa has also played key roles in peace and reconstruction initiatives and the restoration of rights in South Sudan and Somalia.

Category: Post gallery

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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Header31 January 2014

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) is deeply concerned about the increase of civilian deaths resulting from actions of members of the South Africa Police Service. Some of those deaths have resulted from people exercising their constitutional rights to express their frustration at the government’s failure to respond positively to poor service delivery, especially in previously marginalized communities. 1200 protests per month since 2008, has attributed to negative feelings that the advent of democracy has not delivered basic rights and needs. This says a lot to a country that was during the Apartheid era severely oppressed and accompanied by tolerance for impunity and police brutality. For the record, over the past few weeks, there were 4 killings in Mothutlong, North West; 1 in Durban Deep Roodepoort and 4 in Relea in Limpopo province.

The right to life is protected as non-derogable in the Constitution. This means that while other human rights are not absolute, limitation on the right to life is not permitted by any means. That was recognized by the Constitutional Court (in the Makwanyana case). The Regulation of Gatherings Act (RGA) is a piece of legislation which saw the secrecy and atrocities of apartheid era exposed through the guarantee of freedom of expression in the assembly of people and demonstrations. These killings must stop and HURISA is calling the Minister Nathi Mthethwa and the National Commissioner Ria Piyega to protect civilians from further killings and ensure that a similar Marikana massacre is not repeated in the country. All perpetrators of violations of civilians’ Constitutional rights should be prosecuted and justice should be seen to be done by victims and the affected communities. The Minister and National Commissioner must prioritize a human rights approach training for police to enable them to have a better understanding and facilitation of civilians in demonstrations through the use of RGA. We also

  • call on all stakeholder’s involved in exercising the right to march and demonstrate, including conveners, communities, municipal police, to work together to review the implementation of the RGA and identify challenges, shortcomings  for improvement of the legislation  in an open and democratic society based on freedom, equality and human dignity.

We further

  • Call on all the government departments, national agencies and officials responsible for delivery of economic and social rights, especially for poor communities to accelerate their action in fulfillment of their Constitutional obligations. The government should continue to root out corruption in state institutions as most of the demonstrations are aimed at the expression of resentment delay in the provision of basic services, such as clean water, proper sanitation, health, housing and constructive engagement with communities to address poverty, crime and the high unemployment rate.

HURISA is committed to provide training for stakeholders and affected communities on the provisions of the RGA in efforts to end the death and injury to people participating in marches and demonstrations

Category: Post gallery

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