Posts Tagged ‘african region’

THE THREE WOMEN: audio from AfricanDefenders

December 1, 2019

AfricanDefenders & DefendDefenders launched on 29 November 2019 their audio campaign about African women human rights defenders and courage, simply called THE THREE WOMEN”. The story by Gentrix Barasa and beautiful Illustrations by Primordial M. Here is the first episode (https://twitter.com/hashtag/IAmTheThreeWomen) in the context of the 16 Days Campaign Against Gender Based Violence:

THE STORY OF MARTHA. A woman could be heard screaming from a distance in the town square. The distinct sound of a whip hitting her body could be heard reverberating throughout the town. A small crowd of onlookers were gathering around quietly, curious to see what was going on and to find out why this woman was being beaten. Nuru was rushing home so she could prepare lunch when she spotted the crowd of onlookers. Despite being aware that she would get in trouble with her father if she was late, she was drawn towards the woman.

“What is going on?” she asked the man standing beside her.

“Oh, Martha started with her nonsense again. They should beat that devil out of her.”

The men in the town, especially the elders, did not appreciate when women challenged societal norms. In their mind, Martha was turning their wives and daughters against them with all this talk of women’s rights and liberation. They had complained to the mayor of the town, Mr. Tapiwa, when they caught wind of the women’s march that Martha was organising.

“This one is from Tapiwa,” one of the policemen said before hitting Martha.

“I heard she is secretly a man,” Nuru heard a woman whisper, “why else would she behave like this? This is not how women are supposed to behave.”

“I heard she is just trying to break our marriages, so we are miserable and alone like her,” another whispered.

“She is a witch. She does not even have children and she is trying to tell us how to bring up our daughters.”

“I heard she is a prostitute. She is just trying to corrupt us,” the whispers continued.

“I feel bad for her, but she should know that activism is not the work of a woman,” a man chimed in.

The police eventually stopped harassing and beating Martha, before taking off. The crowd slowly dispersed, without offering her any help. Eventually, Nuru was the only one left.

She looked around nervously as if trying to make sure no one was looking. As much as she felt sorry for her, she was scared to go against the people of the town. She did not want to be an outcast like Martha. When she was sure no one was looking, she reached out for Martha’s hand helping her to her feet.

“Why did they do this to you?” Nuru asked, while watching the older woman wince in pain as she started walking.

“I was fighting for your rights.”

“What do you mean my rights?”

Martha gestured at a nearby bench for them to sit on.

“Don’t you want to live in a world where you have choices?” Martha asked.

“I do have choices. I make choices every day,” Nuru said defensively.

Martha looked at Nuru, slightly raising an eyebrow. “Did you know you could own property, get an education, be equal to your father and brothers?” Martha continued.

Nuru stared into the distance with a look of longing. She had always wanted more for herself, but she had come to accept her life. Also, she was too scared to go against her father. “My father would never allow it, “she finally said.

Martha reached into her bag and retrieved a card. “This organisation can help you to learn more about your rights and can find you a good school. It is not his place to allow it. It is your right.”

Nuru hesitantly took the card and quickly pocketed it, afraid someone would see.

“I heard you are organising a march tomorrow.”

Martha nodded and handed her a flier with all the information about the march. “You don’t have to come to this if you don’t want to, but at least think about what I told you.”

Nuru nodded while gathering her things. She was still not quite sure if she would dare to go against her father, after all, who would take care of the house? “You are really nice,” Nuru said. She felt like Martha needed to hear some kind words. Then, Nuru took off.

Despite a restless night and the pain from the beating, Martha got up early the next morning to get ready for the march. The beating was the worst she had gotten since she started being outspoken about women’s rights. She had received calls and text messages all morning from people backing out of her march. It had worked – the beating had served as a warning to anyone planning to participate. Martha felt ashamed to admit it to herself, but they were really close to breaking her. She had tried so hard to not let them win, but that beating might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

She held out hope that at least one other person would show up, but she had been standing there for an hour. At that point, it was apparent that the march was a complete failure. In that moment, it was hard to remember why she was fighting so hard for this. As she sat down on the side of the road, with the sign Don’t tell me how to dress – tell them not to rape, next to her, a single teardrop ran down her face. With a sigh she reached out for the sign, resigning to go home. Instead of feeling the wooden base of the sign, she felt a hand touching hers. She looked up in panic, expecting to see the policemen from the previous day. Instead, it was Nuru.

“What are you doing here?” Martha asked in a confused tone, quickly drying her tears.

“We want to fight for our rights.”

“We?” asked Martha, even more confused. She then saw a group of women behind Nuru.

“We came to stand with you and all the women and girls in town,” Nuru said.

Martha smiled. She stood up grabbing the rest of the signs and handing them out to the group. They started chanting the slogans on the signs, marching towards Mr. Tapiwa’s office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE THREE WOMEN

The State of the African Regional Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

October 21, 2019

African rights bodies are frustrated at every turn by the lack of cooperation and support from African Union (AU) member states who desperately try to undermine their independence and autonomy, according to a new report published by Amnesty International. The new report, The State of African Regional Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms, found that the continent’s rights bodies are working in harsh conditions whereby their decisions are blatantly ignored and their pleas for proper funding and human resources persistently fall on deaf ears.

[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/10/11/the-ngo-forum-and-the-65th-session-of-the-african-commission-on-human-and-peoples-rights/]

Africa’s human rights bodies are being wilfully subverted. The African Union’s Executive Council must resist these efforts and take its responsibility to monitor and enforce compliance with the decisions of the human rights mechanisms seriously,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Director for Research and Advocacy.

The report offers an assessment of the performance of three of Africa’s regional human rights institutions between January 2018 and June 2019: the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission); the African Child Rights Committee; and the African Court.

It found that out of the continent’s 54 countries, five (Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia) have not submitted a single report on the human rights situation in their countries since they ratified the Africa Charter for Human and People’s Rights. Many countries that submitted their human rights reports to the African Commission during the reporting period did so after delays in excess of a decade. Gambia and Eritrea set records by submitting their reports 21 and 19 years late respectively.

In the timeframe in review, the African Commission sent 83 urgent appeals to states over concerns of human rights violations. Of these only 26 (31 percent) received a written response. The African Commission further requested 27 country visits, of which only 13 were authorized in principle, and just five materialized.

Despite facing many stubborn challenges, African human rights bodies registered a relatively impressive record in developing new norms and standards including developing a draft treaty on the rights to social protection and social security. The African Commission also published seminal studies on transitional justice and on human rights in conflicts. The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court) issued 25 decisions. However, only Burkina Faso had fully complied with the court’s decisions by the end of the reporting period. Some countries, including Tanzania, partially complied, while Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Libya and Rwanda didn’t comply at all.

Both the African Commission and the African Court face a chronic backlog problem because of a slow pace in determining cases. They must urgently develop plans to speed up determinations and ensure strict adherence to time limits for parties, especially state parties,” said Netsanet Belay.

The report also highlights an onslaught on human rights defenders in Africa. Between January 2018 and June 2019, appeals for protection of HRDs accounted for 71 percent of all appeals issued to state parties by the African Commission. HRDs in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Egypt were the worst hit, the Africa Commission issuing 11 and 10 urgent appeals respectively to their governments. These were closely followed by Burundi with seven urgent appeals, Cameroon and Algeria each with six, and Uganda and Sudan, each with five appeals.

It is extremely alarming that governments across Africa have singled out human rights defenders to try to silence them and bring an end to their activism through brutal attacks, harassment, unlawful arrest and detention. Attacks on human rights defenders are an attack on the rights of all the people whose freedoms they are fighting for.
Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Director for Research and Advocacy

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https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/10/africa-states-frustrate-continental-rights-bodies-efforts-to-uphold-human-rights/

Today, 30 August, International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance

August 30, 2019

Many NGOs pay today attention to the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Here the example of AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network) which published the following on 27 August:

For each disappeared, more activists stand up! Stop enforced disappearances against human rights defenders

On 13 April 2015, Sandra Kodouda, a Sudanese human rights defender (HRD), was abducted in Khartoum, Sudan by a group of unidentified men. Three days later she returned home with a dislocated shoulder and clear signs of physical abuse. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/04/17/update-sandra-kodouda-in-sudan-injured-but-back-from-illegal-detention-by-niss/]

Some months later, on 10 December 2015, Burundian HRD Marie Claudette Kwizera was abducted in Bujumbura, Burundi by individuals believed to be members of the Burundian National Intelligence Service (SNR). Marie is still missing.  

The cases of Sandra and Marie are not unique – it was just one of the few cases of enforced disappearance of African HRDs that made the headlines. Every year, African activists disappear without a trace, and without any media coverage. More importantly, no investigation is carried out, and no accountability is ensured. The alleged perpetrators continue to walk the streets, or, in most cases, rule the country, without any repercussions. Meanwhile, the victims are often tortured and many are killed, or live in constant fear of being killed, and the family and friends of the victim are left in the agony of not knowing the fate of their beloved. 

In international human rights law, an enforced disappearance occurs when a person is abducted or imprisoned by state agents or by a third party with the authorisation, support or acquiescence of the state, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the person’s fate and whereabouts, which place the victim outside the protection of the law. When used systematically, it constitutes a crime against humanity according to the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons Against Enforced Disappearances (ICPPED). 

Yet, it is a longstanding, systematic, and widespread tactic, often used by governments to silence HRDs, and as a strategy to spread terror within society. During the 1990s in Algeria, it is estimated that at least 7000 critical voices were abducted by government forces alone during the civil war. In Egypt, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms’ campaign, “Stop Enforced Disappearances”, has documented more than 1000 cases of enforced disappearances of HRDs under Al-Sisi’s regime. During the current revolution in Sudan, hundreds of peaceful protests were abducted, disappeared, allegedly by the security forces. The fate and whereabouts of most of the victims remains unknown.

Despite threats and reprisals, the families and the communities of the victim continue to stand up and call for justice. For instance, every year,  Burkinabe students commemorate Dabo Boukary, a student activist who disappeared during student protests in 1990. In Burundi, the impactful campaign “Ndondeza” (where are they?) continues to put pressure on the government and to call for justice. For each person that disappears, more activists stand up.

On 30 August, we commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance. We call on states to investigate cases of enforced disappearance and to ensure accountability; to ratify and implement the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances; and to ensure adequate reparations to the survivors, and their families.

We continue to stand in solidarity with HRDs that have disappeared, been tortured, and/or killed. We continue to demand #JusticeForActivists.

For each disappeared, more activists stand up! Stop enforced disappearances against human rights defenders

Possibility to apply for the African School on Internet Governance scholarships

May 21, 2019

Objectives of AfriSIG. AfriSIG’s primary goal is to give Africans from multiple sectors and stakeholder groups the opportunity to gain knowledge that will enable them to participate confidently and effectively in national, regional and global internet governance processes and debates. AfriSIG seeks also to give fellows the opportunity to participate actively at the AfIGF as speakers, moderators, and rapporteurs. The dates and location of this year’s AfIGF are still to be confirmed.

Curriculum

The School will run throughout six days, and will be structured to include intensive learning and knowledge sharing that covers: An overview of internet governance concepts, issues and institutions; Internet architecture, infrastructure, standards and protocols and management of internet names and numbers; Internet governance and social issues: gender, human rights and development; Cybersecurity, multistakeholder approaches and emerging issues in internet governance such as algorithms and the “internet of things”; The highlight of the school is a practicum in which participants have to tackle an actual internet-related policy challenge and come up with an agreed solution or statement.

Eligibility

The School will accept applications from a wide range of professionals including human rights defenders and NGO leaders.

Costs and Scholarships

Applicants can apply for a scholarship to attend the school. However, given the limited number of scholarships, self-funded and sponsored applicants are encouraged to apply. The full course fee, which covers accommodation, meals, course material, and tuition, is USD 2,000. This excludes travel. Scholarships will cover air travel, shared accommodation and meal costs for the duration of the School. Successful applicants have the option of staying in a single room, but they would need to cover the additional cost themselves. The deadline for applications is Saturday, 1 June 2019.

For more information, visit the AfriSIG website

To apply please complete the form here

Apply for the African School on Internet Governance scholarships

German Africa Prize goes to Kenyan Ushahidi IT pioneer

April 7, 2019

The winner of the 2019 German Africa Prize is Juliana Rotich, founder of software project Ushahidi, which was introduced to monitor violence in Kenya following the 2007 general elections.

Juliana Rotich (Getty Images)

Juliana Rotich became known in professional circles in 2007 as the co-founder of the open source platform Ushahidi (a Swahili word meaning ‘testimony’), which began in Kenya as an internet platform developed to map reports of post-election violence and which went on to revolutionize the international flow of data and information.

A 16-member independent jury selected Rotich from a list of 18 African nominees. The 42-year-old was informed at a meeting on Thursday 4 April 2019 at the German embassy in Nairobi, attended by Deputy Ambassador Michael Derus and the General Secretary of the German Africa Foundation, Ingo Badoreck. The award pays tribute to the Kenyan entrepreneur not only for her business achievements and technological innovations but  also for her outstanding sense of social responsibility. For more on this another regional awards for Africa see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/german-africa-award]

The Ushahidi logo

In an interview with DW in 2013, Rotich explained the philosophy behind Ushahidi: “One of the things that we are doing is that we have a partnership with civil society organizations, peace networks and youth networks. And these are organizations that are doing peace work in terms of messaging and encouraging the population to be peaceful and to conduct themselves in a peaceful way. So in that respect we are part of a partnership. Ushahidi’s key role in this partnership is the technology. And this is the crowdsourcing technology that allows people to report but also provides a way for digital humanitarians to volunteer and help to sift through the information, categorize it and make it available on the website.

Today Ushahidi is used in over 160 countries as a tool for crisis response and for independent election monitoring, for example in Nigeria and Afghanistan. It has also been used following natural disasters in Chile, Haiti and New Zealand. Juliana Rotich is regarded as one of the leading figures of the digital revolution in Africa and beyond.

From Ushahidi she went on to found BRCK, an innovative technology company which is now the biggest Wi-Fi provider in sub-Saharan Africa. The central product is a battery-operated modem which can function for up to eight hours without electrical power. It is used in 150 countries.

See also: https://www.huridocs.org/2018/09/tools-for-human-rights-documentation-our-2018-snapshot/

https://www.dw.com/cda/en/german-africa-prize-goes-to-kenyan-it-pioneer/a-48200177
https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001346880/kenyan-bags-german-africa-prize

Call for Nominations for the African Human Rights Defenders Shield Awards

January 11, 2019

The Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network has re-opened nominations for the 3rd edition of the African Human Rights Defenders Shield Awards. The award will honor exceptional individuals who have contributed to changes in their community by peacefully promoting and protecting human rights. See: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/african-human-rights-defenders-shield-awards.

Six awards will be presented:

– Pan-African Shield Award (Overall);
– East and Horn of Africa Shield Award;
– West African Shield Award;
– Southern Africa Shield Award;
– Central Africa Shield Award;
– Northern Africa Shield Award.

To make a nomination please fill out one of the online forms below. Nominations will be open until 15 March 2019. Both individuals and organizations are eligible for the award. Nominations made during the previous nomination period (June to September 2018) are still valid and will be automatically taken into consideration for the 3rd edition of the Awards without need to re-apply. The awards will be presented to the winners at the margins of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights 64th Ordinary Session 2019.

English | French | Portuguese

PS Note that the name of the awards has changed by adding the word “shield” (see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/09/04/call-for-nominations-2014-african-human-rights-defenders-awards/)

https://africandefenders.org/hrd-award/

 

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Bikes and digital power for human rights defenders in Africa

April 27, 2018

Africa remains a continent of contrasts, also with regard to human rights defenders. Just to illustrate:
(1) Bikes for human rights defenders: Girls Empowerment Network (GENET) in Malawi has donated 30 bicycles to child protection groups in Dowa district to assist in its ongoing girl child protection programs. Speaking in an interview with the Malawi News Agency Mana after giving out the support at Kayembe Primary school, GENET Programs Officer, Twambilile Kayuni said their organization thought of providing the support as one way of easing transportation challenges among girl child protection groups in the area. “As GENET, we thought it critical to ease the challenge of transport among our village child protection groups so that when any violence has happened to a child they should be able to rush to the scene and take action“. She added that the bicycles have been given to all schools in the area, human rights defenders, mother groups, Area Development Committees (ADCs) and chiefs in order to assist in their child protection duties in a more coordinated manner…Group Village Headwoman Siwinda said:”In my area many girls were being forced to marry but now with the coming of GENET through COMIC relief and OXFAM Malawi things have changed and as of now many girls have gone back to school,” said GVH Siwinda.

Report on Human Rights Defenders in States in Transition in Africa

March 17, 2018

recently published its report on ‘Lessons Learnt: Human Rights Defenders Working in States in Transition.’ A State’s transition towards democracy will invariably present particular challenges for human rights and their defenders. But it will also present opportunities. ISHR seeks to ensure that defenders have the tools that will enable the development of national laws and mechanisms that are compatible with, and give effect to, international human rights obligations. ISHR hopes that this report will be used by defenders to reflect on the strategies, successes and shortcomings of other campaigns and programmes in order to appreciate the impact they’ve had in various African States.

https://mailchi.mp/ishr/ishr-african-commission-monitor-july-31701?e=d1945ebb90

https://www.ishr.ch/sites/default/files/documents/final_sitroadmap_compressed.pdf

Follow the African Commission on Human Rights through Kumulika

March 13, 2018

Clément Voulé, ISHR’s African advocacy director and Adelaide Etong, ISHR’s Africa advocacy consultant

Clément Voulé and Adelaide Etong (pictured above) introduce the new format of the Kumulika publication. To allow for a better understanding and overview of the developments at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission) during an entire year, the publication will now be issued once a year.

Through this yearly publication, ISHR will take a new approach to providing analysis and up to date news on what is happening, the developments and the outcomes of the sessions and the NGO Forum.

Last year the African Commission celebrated its thirty years of existence. The last session of the year was an opportunity to think back and reflect on how its work grew over the years and the challenges it faced while implementing its mandate to promote and protect human rights in Africa. It also allowed the Commission to acknowledge the importance of the work done by civil society organisations in support to the implementation of its mandate. These past thirty years NGOs have provided invaluable information on country situations and advocated tirelessly for the establishment of several special procedures of the Commission.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/04/22/ngo-forum-preceding-the-april-session-of-african-commission-on-human-and-peoples-rights/

Click here for the 61st session’s summary 

In memoriam: Corinne Dufka remembers Peter Takirambudde

December 1, 2017

On 1 December 2017 Corinne Dufka of Human Rights Watch wrote a column aboutPeter Takirambudde who passed away on 16 November in his native Uganda. He was head of HRW’s Africa division from 1996 to 2008 during multiple crises, including in Sudan, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. After leaving Human Rights Watch, Peter founded and directed the Botswana-based African Human Rights Consortium, which helped train members of civil society from across the continent in human rights investigation and advocacy. Peter was also a lawyer and a well-respected law professor, including at the University of Botswana-Gaborone, where he served as head of social sciences, and at the University of Lund in Sweden. He received a bachelor’s degree from Makerere University in Uganda and a doctoral degree from Yale University.

As noted by Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch’s executive director, “We remember him fondly for his deep intellectual engagement with African human rights issues, his always-incisive analysis, and his principled and passionate defense of the rights of people throughout the continent. He made a very important mark establishing Human Rights Watch in Africa, and we remain deeply indebted to him.

The full text below:

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