Posts Tagged ‘allafrica com’

CIVICUS 2020 report “People Power Under Attack” – Africa

December 14, 2020

Africa: Civic Rights Were Eroded Across Africa in 2020

The most common violations of civic space registered by the CIVICUS Monitor were the detention of journalists, followed by disruption of protests, censorship, intimidation and the detention of protestors. Almost half of CIVICUS Monitor updates in 28 different countries mentioned the detention of journalists. 14 December 2020. Fundamental civic rights, including freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression, deteriorated across Africa in 2020. [See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/10/24/today-civicus-launches-its-worldwide-monitor-to-track-civil-space/]

In an allAfrica.com guest column Sylvia Mbataru and Ine Van Severen – CIVICUS researchers who contributed to People Power Under Attack 2020 – unpack what the report says about Sub-Saharan Africa. They conclude that civic space has been reduced in four West African nations (Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Niger and Togo) and has improved in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.

Over the past year the CIVICUS Monitor has documented several drivers of civic space violations in Africa including mass protests that were met with violent repression, and electoral processes, mostly presidential elections. Violations in the context of elections often involve the arrest of opposition members and pro-democracy activists, internet shutdowns, detention of journalists and crackdowns on protesters.

In three of the four West African countries that were downgraded – Côte d’Ivoire , Guinea and Togo – constitutional changes were adopted in recent years, leaving incumbent presidents Alassane Ouattara, Alpha Condé and Fauré Gnassingbé all claiming that new constitutions allowed them to run for further terms. The process of changing constitutions or bypassing term limits led to mass protests that were met with excessive force, the adoption and use of restrictive legislation, and punishment for dissenters criticising those in power, in particular pro-democracy activists.

Niger has also been downgraded by the CIVICUS Monitor. Even though a peaceful political change of power seems likely in the elections later this month, serious questions remain about Niger’s democratic prospects as human rights violations continue and civil society is subjected to restrictions.

These countries in West Africa have not been alone in efforts to muzzle dissent, exclude opposition and crack down on protests in the context of elections.  This bleak picture is further seen in Eastern and Southern Africa.

In Burundi, ahead of the May 2020 elections, state security forces and members of the youth league of the ruling party threatened, intimidated and killed opposition party members, and stifled the media and civil society organisations.

In Tanzania, as the country prepared for its August 2020 vote, the government embarked on a major crackdown to suppress dissent, including by enacting new laws and regulations to stop opposition members from actively campaigning, prevent civil society organisations and independent observers from observing the electoral process, weaken civil society and the media, and limit the use of online platforms by journalists and voters.

Despite this difficult picture, the year also proved the resilience of people and civil society in exercising their civic freedoms, leading to fundamental democratic changes. In Malawi, although the period surrounding the disputed May 2019 election was characterised by violations including internet shutdowns and repression of protests, civil society successfully contested the results, leading to a new election and a change of government in June 2020 .

However, many other African countries are moving away from holding free and fair elections. With several countries gearing up to hold elections in the coming months, civic rights violations are being reported in countries across the continent.

In Uganda, opposition members and their supporters are being violently prevented from holding rallies and journalists are being arrested and violently attacked while covering events held by opposition candidates and civil society; human rights defenders are being threatened by state authorities, including by having their bank accounts frozen and their operational licences withheld.

In Ethiopia, civil society groups have expressed concern at the crackdown on dissenting political views ahead of the general elections slated for 2021. Similarly, in Zambia, civil society has denounced an escalating trend of judicial harassment, repression and attacks on human rights defenders ahead of the August 2021 general elections. In Benin, electoral laws have been adopted that make it difficult for opposition candidates to stand in the 2021 presidential  election, which might lead to President Patrice Talon running almost unopposed.

The situation is so bleak that for the first time in a decade, according to the 2020 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance, overall governance in Africa has declined. The Index highlighted that, “in terms of rights, civil society space and participation, the continent had long before embarked on a deteriorating path and the pandemic simply aggravated this existing negative trajectory.”

With even more elections on the cards in 2021 – in Djbouti, Chad and Somalia among others – governments should prioritise the respect of fundamental freedoms, including the right of people to express themselves without intimidation and to assemble peacefully to express their dissent. Africa’s leaders should adhere to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Government, ensuring that free and fair elections take place. 2021 must be the year in which Africa’s dismal trends are reversed.

https://findings2020.monitor.civicus.org/africa.html

https://findings2020.monitor.civicus.org/africa.html

Human Rights Defenders Conference in Mogadishu

January 27, 2015

It may not be the most important news, but the simple fact that a Conference on Human Rights Defenders in Somalia is being held in Mogadishu at all is not what one expects. A delegation of the African Human Rights Commission led by Reine Alapini Gansou arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia on Monday for the one-day conference.

The conference is a wider and nationwide consultative meeting that will be focusing improving protection capacity and promoting the right to defend human rights in Somalia and to achieving a safe working environment for Somali HRD’s, especially most-at-risk HRDs including the journalists and the civil society members.Hassan Shire, the chairperson of the Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network said in a press briefing at his hotel.

allAfrica.com: Somalia: Delegation From African Human Rights Commission Arrive in Mogadishu for HRDS Conference.

Egyptian Human Rights Defender Maheinour El-Massry receives the Ludovic Trarieux Award

July 7, 2014

On Wednesday June 25, it was announced that the “Ludovic Trarieux” human rights award was granted to Maheinour El-Massry, Egyptian lawyer and human rights defender. She currently serves two years in prison for violating the Protest Law. The defender was imprisoned under three consecutive presidents in Egypt: Mubarak, Mohamed Morsi and Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) expresses its pleasure and reiterates its demand to release Maheinour El-Massry along with all those who are being imprisoned under the notorious Protest Law. For more on the award see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/ludovic-trarieux-international-human-rights-prize

via allAfrica.com: Egypt: ANHRI Welcomes the News of Granting Prisoner of Conscience, “El-Massry”, Ludovic Trarieux Award.

Swaziland: Human Rights Abuser Dlamini set to become Prime Minister, again

October 25, 2013

An Opinion post in allAfrica.com of 23 October alerts us that Swaziland‘s King Mswati III is expected to reappoint Barnabas Dlamini, as his Prime Minister, despite his appalling civil rights record. The king has summoned his subjects to the Cattle Byre at Ludzidzini for ‘sibaya’, a people’s parliament which he claims is the supreme policy making body in Swaziland. At the meeting on Monday 28 October 2013, King Mswati is expected to announce his choice of PM. [The king rules Swaziland as absolute monarch and chooses the PM and the government, as well as the majority of members of the Senate.] ..Dlamini’s record shows him as a hard man with little regard for human rights. He supports the king in his desire to stop all dissent and brand oppositions as terrorists. He banned four pro-democracy organisations. His Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini told Swazis affiliated with the political formations to resign with immediate effect or feel the full force of the law. Under the Suppression of Terrorism Act STA members and supporters of these groups could face up to 25 years in jail. Under the draconian provisions of the STA, anyone who disagrees with the ruling elite faces being branded a terrorist supporter.

via allAfrica.com: Swaziland: Human Rights Abuser Set to Be P.M. Page 1 of 2.

Controversy surrounding the death of LGBT activist Eric Ohena Lembembe; Cameroon blames the victims and continues persecution

September 25, 2013

On 23 September Amy Bergquist of the Advocates for Human Rights writes in her blog: The International Justice Program doesn’t get to travel to Geneva very often, but thanks to the United Nations’ live webcasts, we can usually see and hear all the U.N.’s human rights action as it happens. On Friday morning, I was eager to watch the U.N. Human Rights Council’s consideration of the Universal Periodic Review of Cameroon. I was especially moved when one of our colleagues from the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAIDS) took the floor to speak on behalf of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association and recounted his July 15 discovery of his tortured and murdered colleague, Eric Ohena Lembembe, Read the rest of this entry »

Killing of gay rights activist Lembembe highlights plight of Cameroon’s remaining LGBT activists

September 2, 2013

JULIA HANN wrote for allAfrica.com on 28 August that the torture and murder of Cameroonian gay rights activist Eric Lembembe on July 11 has shattered the hopes of those who were quick to herald a “global momentum” in the international gay rights movement. Just two weeks before his death, Lembembe, Read the rest of this entry »

UN Mission in Central African Republic Concerned About Reported Human Rights Violations By Rebel Groups

August 1, 2013

The United Nations political mission in the Central African Republic [CAR] is concerned about purported human rights violations in the country. A spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told journalists in New York on the 24th of July that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the CAR, Babacar Gaye, met yesterday with local human rights defenders and NGOs, who informed him of systematic killings of civilians, rape and other violations by soldiers from the Séléka coalition. Violence erupted in December 2012 when the Séléka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks.  A peace agreement was reached in January, but the rebels again seized Bangui in March, forcing President François Bozizé to flee. Meanwhile, the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic, known by the acronym BINUCA, condemned last week of reports of multiple extrajudicial executions accompanied by torture and mutilation. Among the identified victims is Ngombet Jerome, an accountant at the Association of Women Lawyers of Central AFJC, a local NGO. “These executions were carried on, in all likelihood, at routine checks in the open countryside and in the city of Bangui,” BINUCA said in a statement. BINUCA also called on authorities to immediately open an investigation to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice, and to continue the process of securing Bangui, the statement added. Speaking publicly earlier this month, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos urged national authorities to urgently re-establish the rule of law so that assistance and access can continue unimpeded, warning that the political crisis gripping CAR has affected its entire population of 4.6 million.

via allAfrica.com: Central African Republic: UN Mission Concerned About Reported Human Rights Violations By Rebel Groups.

 

Zambian Civil Society Groups Request Review of Human Rights Policy

March 6, 2013

Just an example of how politics and elections interact with the role of human rights defenders, always a touchy subject:

After the Zambian Police arrested and charged Zambia’s opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, on 27 January 2013, seven 7 Civil Society Organisations in Zambia have called upon the Zambia’s Human Rights Commission, Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union, the Commonwealth and “other human rights defenders” to review Zambia’s human rights record and denounce the violations by the Zambian Government. The organisations have also called upon the Electoral Commission of Zambia to cancel by-elections in Livingstone and Mpongwe in accordance with Section 28 of the Electoral Act No. 12 of 2002. Reading the statement during the Press Briefing at FODEP House in Lusaka on behalf of the 7 organisations the Young African Leaders Initiative  President Andrew Ntewewe, called on the Deputy Inspector General of Police to immediately resign for violating fundamental political rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution of Zambia when he banned political rallies in the Livingstone. With a strong sense of exaggeration the organisations have advised the Zambian Police Command to resist the temptation of “turning the Police Service into a unit similar to NAZIs Gestapo under Hitler in Germany”. The 7 organisations have lambasted the Zambia Police for their continued unprofessionalism in handling matters that border on freedom of expression, assembly, movement and association. The organisations that appended their signatures to the statement included; Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), Operation Young Vote (OYV), Anti-Voter Apathy Project (AVAP), Southern Centre for Construction Resolutions of Disputes (SACCORD), Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue (ZCID) and the Zambia National Womens Lobby Group (ZNWLG).

via allAfrica.com: Zambia: Civil Society Groups Request Review of Human Rights.