CHRI Human Rights Update

Your round up from CHRI on 22/02/2016

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Today’s top news:

· Uganda challenger Besigye claims poll fraud over Museveni win

· UK ‘lobbied to water down’ UN criticism of Bahrain human rights abuses

· Australian democracy faces ‘corrosive’ decline — human rights centre report

· Pope Francis calls for worldwide ban on death penalty

The Commonwealth

Chairperson of Commonwealth Observer group in Uganda urges restraint and respect for legal process

The Commonwealth

Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Observer Group to Uganda’s 2016 General Elections, has encouraged government and opposition parties to engage in dialogue and exercise restraint following the announcement of results by the Electoral Commission. Last week’s interim assessment of the group found the elections were marked by a lack of a level electoral playing field, increased prevalence of money in politics, alleged misuse of state resources, and issues regarding the secrecy of the ballot and the competence of the Electoral Commission to manage the process.

Commonwealth Countries

Africa

Ghana Regional Minister calls on media and Civil Society to publicly condemn corruption

GBC

The Upper West Regional Minister, Alhaji Amin Amidu Sulemani has called on the media as well as Faith Based and Civil Society Organizations to publicly condemn corruption and suggested that there should be a reward for those who are able to expose corruption. He spoke at the Upper West Regional Dialogue on National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) in Wa.

Telecom Bill under fire due to privacy concerns (Ghana)

Ghana Web

Kofi Bentil, a lawyer and VP of think tank IMANI, said the Postal Packets and Telecommunications Bill directly infringes on citizens’ constitutional right to privacy and has threatened legal action. Under the new rules, National Security would be able to listen, record, monitor, intercept or tamper with telecommunication messages without the need for a warrant.

Opinion: ICRC’s Praise is a motivation for the Army (Ghana)

News Ghana

A human rights activist describes how, given its antecedent and a longstanding commitment to impartiality, the commendation for the Nigerian Army detention facilities from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a plus for the Army.

ECOWAS Court to hear more than 40 cases soon, most involve human rights violations

All Ghana News

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice is scheduled to adjudicate on 45 cases from 10 Member States for the first quarter of 2016, records provided by the Registry Department of the Court indicates. According to correspondence from the Court, most of the cases are human rights violations against Member States.

Human Rights Commission attends retreat for Ghana’s petroleum sector

News Ghana

Representatives from Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) joined politicians and industry officials at a retreat to come up with strategies that will ensure the sector contributes towards the transformational agenda being pursued by President John Dramani Mahama.

Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women Speak Out in Kenya

Huffington Post

The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) presented its new report, “Research on the Lived Realities of Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women in Kenya” in Nairobi this month. The report addresses the often overlooked experiences of queer women.

Opinion: Kenya Police On Right Path to Reforming Service

All Africa/ Daily Nation

The Daily Nation says the police must be commended for initiating the process of developing three key strategies, namely anti-corruption, human rights, and a code of conduct for officers.

Pressure on police following extra-judicial killing in Kenya

Standard Media

Human rights activists and family members have continued to question how Michael Otieno Abonyo died in custody this month. The case prompted activists to storm Kondele Police Station yesterday. Only last week the case involving 14-year-old schoolgirl Kwekwe killed in a police raid ended.

East African Business Council Code of Ethics to be launched next Monday

All Africa/ The Citizen

The East African Business Council (EABC) is meeting on Sunday ahead of the EAC Heads of State summit the next day. Policymakers and chief executive officers of companies from Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda will discuss intra-regional trade and pre-launch of the EABC Code of Ethics, an initiative to enhance ethical business practices in areas of human rights, labour standards, environment and anti-corruption.

Kenya High Court judge wants convicts to be empowered to challenge court decisions

All Africa/ Daily Nation

High Court judge David Majanja said at a paralegal training course for the inmates of Homa Bay Prison that convicts should be empowered to challenge decisions that go against them in court, especially if they know they are innocent.

Dadaab refugees trapped between al-Shabab and Kenya’s crackdown

IRIN

Dadaab, in northeastern Kenya, is what’s known as a closed camp. The Department of Refugee Affairs issues special movement passes for refugees to travel outside. But that dispensation was scaled back in the wake of an attack in April last year by the Somali jihadist group al-Shabab on Garissa University that killed 147 students.

Human rights committee calls for more inclusive stakeholder forums (Malawi)

All Africa/ Nyasa Times

The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) has advised the President Peter Muthatika led government to make stakeholders forums more inclusive, and reduce the influence of a quasi-religious body, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC). The PAC arranged the 5th all-inclusive stakeholders’ Conference on Economic and Political Governance last week. A Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) researcher and activist called for the president’s resignation at the sidelines of the event.

Malawi cabinet commended for approving Access to Information bill

Star Africa

Media Institute of Southern Africa, MISA Malawi, has commended government for approving the draft Access to Information Bill. The approval paves the way for the Bill to be tabled in Parliament, which starts sitting Monday, February 22, 2016.

Women’s Action for Development focusing on GBV (Namibia)

All Africa/ Namibia Economist

Non-profit international donors are starting to pull out of Namibia as it was rated a middle class country, limiting and affecting resources for Women’s Action for Development (WAD). Despite this, the organisation’s projects this year include Human Rights, Gender Related laws, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Substance Abuse.

Nigerian army sets up office to handle human rights violations

Jurist

The Nigerian army on Saturday set up a human rights office at its headquarters in the capital city of Abuja to continue training officers about respecting rights of citizens. The move comes after army officials including chief of staff Tukur Buratai met with Amnesty International regarding their recent report on the country’s human rights violations.

People accused of being Boko Haram are disappearing in northeast Nigeria

Washington Post

Threats to civilians come from all sides and extrajudicial killings have not abated despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of victory over Boko Haram. But many people are equally afraid of the soldiers and the self-defense Vigilante Group of Nigeria.

CSO explains ‘massive fraud’ in Nigeria’s 2016 budget

All Africa/ Vanguard

The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), has blamed the alleged massive fraud uncovered in the 2016 Budget proposals before the National Assembly, on the non-reconstitution of the Boards of Federal Government agencies, parastatals and commissions, whose tenure expired or were dissolved by the Federal Government.

UNHCR pledges continuous support to Nigeria’s North-East

Naiji 247 News

Mr Volker Türk, Director, International Protection, who led a delegation from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on Saturday pledged continuous support to Nigeria’s North-East by strengthening the protection of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to ensure they enjoyed full human rights.

How the Death of Two Ugandan Mothers is Helping Entrench the Right to Health Care

Huffington Post

In 2011 lawyers at the Centre for health, Human Rights and Development began gathering evidence to hold the Ugandan government to account for Nalubowa and Anguko’s deaths. The case is now before the country’s Constitutional Court, and has already contributed to a reduction in maternal deaths (these have fallen from 440 deaths for every 100 000 live births in 2010 to 343 by 2015).

Women can now stand for Paramount Chieftaincy in Sierra Leone

Awoko

According to Chief Ishmail, those traditions that restricted women from contesting are full of stereotype ideas.

Human rights body concerned that racism still a problem in South Africa

Times Live

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has formally acknowledged receipt of a petition on racism from the African National Congress (ANC‚ adding at the same time that it is deeply concerned that 20 years after democracy racism still remains a key issue for the country.

SAHRC officials are in the Western Cape this week to probe a rash of complaints, many of which relate to racism. The commission is expected to look into reports of police brutality, housing and farmworker-related issues.

Refugee Centre Remains Closed in Defiance of Court Order (South Africa)

All Africa/ Ground up

The Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Centre is still closed to new applicants despite a recent court ruling ordering the Department of Home affairs to open the offices by 9 February.

Women coming together for change in rural areas (Swaziland)

Swazi Observer

Women In Network (WIN) is a new pro-community development project carried out by COSPE and the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) and funded by the European Union. It supports women’s rights, human rights, and quality of life.

Uganda asks UN to cut ties with edible oil producer Bidco Africa

News Ghana

The Bugala Farmers Association has called on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to sever its ties with Bidco Africa, a Kenya-based edible oil producer accused of land-grabbing, human rights violations and environmental disasters in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

Uganda challenger Besigye claims poll fraud over Museveni win

BBC

The main opposition leader in Uganda, Kizza Besigye, has rejected the result of Thursday’s elections, in which President Yoweri Museveni won a fifth term of office. Mr Besigye, under house arrest since Friday, said Ugandans had seen “the most fraudulent electoral process” and described the poll as a creeping military coup. The election has been marred by sporadic violence and opposition allegations of electoral fraud, with social media sites and messaging apps blocked.

U.S. Calls for Besigye’s Release As Museveni Celebrates Win (Uganda)

All Africa/ Daily Nation

The US government has asked the Uganda government to release opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye from a security siege at his home. Dr Besigye, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate in the Thursday elections, was apparently placed under house arrest since Friday to prevent him from announcing his vote tally.

Ugandan Election Underscores Double-Standards of U.S. Foreign Policy in Africa and Need for Change

Huffington Post

The Obama administration’s continued support for the Museveni government underscores the double standards at the heart of American foreign policy in Africa.

Election observers say police brutality could spark further violence (Uganda)

All Africa/ The Observer

Local observers have warned that police heavy handedness could lead to post-election violence; after the arrests of ten opposition party politicians on Friday demonstrations erupted in different places around the city centre.

Opinion: Uganda elections failed democracy test

Standard Media

From the time the campaigns began in earnest, the main opposition candidates Kizza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi had been subjected to constant police harassment, intimidation and countless arrests.

Tanzania forum considers strategies to end child marriage

All Africa/ Tanzania Daily News

The Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) led discussions in Dar es Salaam to discuss and find ways of curbing child marriage in Tanzania, a country where an estimated more than 28 per cent of girls marry before attaining the age of 18 years.

Party youth chairman asks international community to take interest in Zambia’s polls

The Post

UPND Central Province youth chairman Milner Mwanakampwe has appealed to the international community to take keen interest in political events ahead of the general elections in August. He said the current happenings in the Zambian political sphere needed the attention of international human rights observers.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Eugene Sibote reminded officers at an orientation programme that it was their constitutional mandate to maintain law and order while upholding citizens’ human rights.

Over 400 children detained in prisons in Zambia

All Africa/ Times of Zambia

The latest Human Rights Commission (HRC)’s Child Justice report revealed more than 400 children are held in prison facilities awaiting trial.

Asia

HRW: Charging Editors Is Dramatic Backslide in Bangladesh

Human Rights Watch

Bangladeshi authorities should immediately withdraw all criminal charges filed against the editors of the Daily Star and Prothom Alo, the country’s leading newspapers, Human Rights Watch said on Saturday.

Bangladeshi trafficking victim deposes through videoconferencing

The Hindu

Setting a legal precedent, an international victim of human trafficking on Saturday deposed before an Indian court for the first time, and recorded her statements through videoconferencing.

Experts stress on keeping religion away from politics (Pakistan)

Daily Times

The Lahore Literacy Festival (LLF) 2016 on Sunday, hosted a session titled “Lurching Rightwards — South Asia In The Balance” with Former US ambassador and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Vice President Sherry Rahman, human rights activist and Dhaka’s BRAC University Professor Dina Siddiqui and former Indian foreign secretary Salman Haidar.

India: Outspoken Activists Charged with Sedition

Human Rights Watch

In mid-February 2016, police arrested a student union leader, Kanhaiya Kumar, and a former teacher, S.A.R. Geelani, in apparently politically motivated cases. On February 15, a member of Delhi state legislature from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and others were filmed physically assaulting Kumar’s supporters in a New Delhi court while police stood by.

Chattisgarh authorities must protect human rights lawyers from harassment (India)

Amnesty International

Isha Khandelwal and Shalini Gera, members of the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JagLAG), say they are being evicted from their home and office in Jagdalpur following police pressure on their landlord.

Rights activists in India, Pakistan urged to collaborate

The Express Tribune

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) secretary general IA Rahman on Sunday criticised the government’s approach to conflict management. He said conflict in the country would escalate if the government continued to curb civil liberties in dealing with the conflicts it faced.

Security lockdown in north India state as caste violence flares

South China Morning Post

Indian authorities issued shoot-on-sight orders and deployed thousands of troops in Huryana, a northern state neighbouring New Delhi Saturday, after escalating caste protests left five people dead. Other reports say the death toll rose to 19.

Human rights group chides Malaysian universities for silencing students

The Star

Human Rights Watch said on Monday that university rules in Malaysia, such as the “broadly worded” University and University Colleges Act (UUCA) were used to stifle university students’ freedom of expression and assembly. Six Universiti Malaya (UM) students who were penalized for holding a press conference without the university’s permission.

Indian NGOs upset over Malaysian MP’s seminar participation in Sri Lanka

Times Online

Indian NGOs in Malaysia said MP Kasthuri Patto, who apparently shook hands with the Sri Lankan Prime Minister and other leaders, has shown insensitivity towards Tamil people. He was attending a seminar organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat in partnership with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Parliament of Sri Lanka.

British MPs praise Maldives’ democracy after Indian Ocean country funds fact-finding visit

Telegraph

Three British MPs on an all-expenses trip funded by the Maldives have extolled their hosts’ democratic values at a time when the country is buffeted by international condemnation for its human rights record.

Pakistan rights watchdog barters autonomy for funds

The Express Tribune

In exchange for limiting its role, officials at the ministry of human rights say the government has assured that funds for National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) will be released soon.

Opinion: Disability in Pakistan

The News

Pakistan is currently completely unaware of the number of persons with disabilities (PWDs) within its jurisdiction, let alone the difficulties they face on a daily basis owing to the lack of a proper framework for the protection and promotion of their rights.

Rape victims in Pakistan are risking everything for justice

Independent

In Pakistan, despite fear preventing many women from reporting sexual violence, the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recorded 423 rapes and 304 gang rapes last year.

Sri Lanka Buddhists divided over bill to control monks

In Depth News

A bill tabled in the Sri Lankan parliament in January to create a legal framework to control the behaviour and conduct of Buddhist monks has created deep divisions within the majority Buddhist community in the country.

Caribbean

#JaVotes2016: Seaga Puts On His Green Shirt Again After 11 Years

The Gleaner

The 5th prime minister of Jamaica and former leader of the Jamaican Labour Party, Edward Seaga, returned in the parties green shirt to deliver a speech at a political rally where he expressed the need for a functioning and effective justice system to uphold human rights and for the government to be free and fair so that ‘no one will have to take to the streets to cry for justice’.

Europe

Deportation of woman, 92, ‘against human rights’ (UK)

BBC

The lawyer of a 92-year-old Myrtle Cothill facing deportation from the UK says he will take her case to the European Court of Human Rights if needed. She had been ordered to fly home to South Africa on Tuesday but the Home Office has halted proceedings pending a medical report.

UK ‘lobbied to water down’ UN criticism of Bahrain human rights abuses

RT

The UK has been shown to have, together with Saudi Arabia, pushed and lobbied for lighter criticism of Bahrain’s human rights abuses. A statement sent out by the UNHRC to condemn Bahrain’s actions and violation was continuously softened through the work of the two nations seemingly protecting Bahrain.

UK government letting British companies “off the hook” for human rights abuses — new report

Amnesty International

UK companies, including BT and Vodafone, may be getting away with human rights abuses abroad because the government’s system of handling complaints against them is grossly inadequate, Amnesty International UK warned in a new report published today.

The 80-page report — Obstacle Course: How the UK’s National Contact Point handles human rights complaints under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises — exposes the system as not fit for purpose.

Court of Session rejects challenge to prosecution policy on assisted suicide (UK)

UK Human Rights Blog

The Inner House of the Court of Session has rejected a reclaiming motion (appeal) from a decision of the Outer House in which it was held that the Lord Advocate’s refusal to publish specific guidance on the circumstances in which individuals would be prosecuted for assisted suicide did not violate Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Why Villiers and Foster need to be careful a Brexit doesn’t backfire

Belfast Telegraph

The European Union is important for peace and stability in Ireland and its connection with the rest of the UK. It was partially because of the EU that being part of the UK was widely accepted as the government in Westminster could be overruled and the human rights in Ireland could be protected. This needs to be considered before promoting a Brexit.

As a Ukip MEP, I’m Disgusted by Government Cynicism Over Migration

Huffington Post

A UKIP MEP has criticised the government for its handling of migrants and ‘mass migration’ in general. He is claiming that the governments is letting people who ought to be deported stay and people who ought to stay get deported.

British MPs praise Maldives’ democracy after Indian Ocean country funds fact-finding visit

Telegraph

Three British MPs have, during a fact finding mission to the Maldives, praised the country for its democracy. However, their statements come as the Maldives have received a large amount of criticism for their human rights records, causing questions concerning how impartial the MPs were during their all-expenses paid trip paid for by the Maldives.

Charitable Aid: A Valuable Export That Must be Better Supported

RUSI

The UKs ‘soft-power mission’ can be greatly supported by charities and NGOs, however, these need to be better supported by the British government.

Updated — PM reacts as Archbishop clarifies position on gay conversion therapy amid storm of criticism

Times of Malta

‘Gay conversion therapy’ has received a lot of criticism in Malta, however, a paper concerning the legislation to outlaw such therapy has been created, claiming that outlawing the therapy is a violation of human rights.

(also on Church position paper on conversion therapy in no way equates same-sex orientation as disease)

Minister challenges advice on magisterial appointment

Times of Malta

There is some controversy surrounding the appointment of Dr. Farrugia Frendo as a magister. The problems arise with the experience needed to receive such appointment.

‘Lawyers do not make good ministers’ — former judge backs Cabinet technocrats

Malta Today

Former Judge Giovanni Bonello has in a radio show backed the Maltese PMs call allowing ‘technocrats who are not MPs to be appointed as ministers.’, claiming that lawyers often lack the managerial skills required.

Pacific

Australian democracy faces ‘corrosive’ decline — human rights centre report

Guardian

The Human Rights Law Centre is saying that Australia is seeing a decline in the state of democracy in Australia after laws trying to weaken civil society, the rule of law and free press go through.

Let’s talk about sex to save lives

Fiji Times

A report made by the UNFPA, UNESCO and WHO, on sexual and reproductive health in Asia and the Pacific has shown how young people 15–24 are sexually active, however, there are a lot of social and religious norms and rules hindering their sexual and reproductive rights and health, causing teenage pregnancy and STIs etc. to become more often it otherwise would.

Australian Minister: ‘Baby Asha’ will be sent back to Nauru

CNN

The baby Asha which caused a lot of debate concerning the deportation of children and Australian immigration policy was released from Brisbane hospital which had previously protected her from deportation on health grounds. She will be sent back to the Nauru detention camps, however, the date has not been set.

Asylum seeker pair leaves Nauru ‘black hole’ to be reunited with family in Canada

ABC News

A pair of Asylum seekers have managed to leave Nauru for Canada after being accepted by the Canadian government. They tell how horrible the living conditions are in the Nauru camps and how happy they are to have escaped them.

Banning Kiwi backpackers could breach Human Rights Act

Stuff

Accommodations who ban people from using them based on their nationality may be breaking human rights regulations, the case reported concerns New Zealanders being banned from accommodations.

Can Europe’s Migrant Crisis Be Solved With Help From Down Under?

Sputnik News

The Australian migration policy has proven to be very effective, even if it has received a lot of criticism concerning human rights. Maybe, it is a way for Europe to handle its migration crisis argues the article.

Government seals diplomatic relations with Pakistan

Solomon Star News

The Solomon Islands and Pakistan have entered into new diplomatic relations. The Solomon Islands were praised for their work for human rights and development.

Rapidly growing panic over Zika virus, Ebola virus might hold the clue to fight Zika virus: WHO

Microcap Magazine

The Zika virus is becoming a more and more pressing issue to handle, it is spreading to more and more countries, recently to Tonga and Samoa, but a clue to the cure has been found.

Other

Does the international criminal court help to end conflict or exacerbate it?

Guardian

Alex Vines, head of the Africa programme at Chatham House and former UN sanctions inspector, finds that, though the court needs to broaden its focus beyond Africa, it is better to have a flawed ICC than no ICC at all.

Pope Francis calls for worldwide ban on death penalty

Malta Today

The pope has called for a ban on the death penalty around the world referring to the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’.