In early August, Obama hosts the first ever U.S.-Africa summit in Washington, D.C. Nearly every sitting head of state from the continent is invited to discuss primarily bilateral business opportunities through trade and investment. However, from the beginning, the White House stated the intent to also focus on human rights and good governance. It is time for Obama to honor that commitment. Help us urge the inclusion of civil society in all summit sessions.
Pat yourselves on the back, stamp your feet, give a (potentially) inappropriate shout of glee wherever you happen to be at this moment, or at the very least, indulge in a slow clap.
35,544 Amnesty USA activists stood with the women and girls in Mozambique who marched in the streets of Maputo to demand the revocation of a proposed revision to the criminal code allowing a rapist to avoid punishment if he married the survivor.
The Mozambique government listened and it has been removed from consideration!
Imagine if you reported a rape, only to discover the law is on the side of your rapist.
A couple months ago, we shared the story of Amina Filali, a 16-year-old girl in Morocco who was forced to marry the man who raped her. Months after being married, Amina committed suicide by swallowing rat poison. Amina’s death caused an outcry in Morocco and throughout the region.
In January, nearly two years after Amina’s death, the widely-criticized clause in Morocco’s Penal Code sanctioning the marriage was finally abolished.
But elsewhere in Africa, the struggle is far from over.
This month, Mozambique is considering draconian revisions to its criminal code that will allow accused rapists to escape punishment if they marry the sexual assault survivor.
To say this is a violation of the rights of the survivors is a gross understatement. The law not only minimizes the trauma of the survivor and ignores their rights to bodily integrity and not be subjected to torture, cruel, inhumane and and degrading treatment, it encourages impunity and escape from legal repercussions for heinous criminal violations.
The rights to freedom of assembly and expression are guaranteed in the Angolan Constitution. Nevertheless, the Angolan government has become increasingly oppressive against peaceful protesters, journalists, and opposition politicians.
A new generation of young Angolans have come together to speak out against the regime and call for political change. A wave of protests that began in early 2011 continues to thrive in the face of government restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression.
Remember those who feel forgotten. Stand with those who feel alone. Speak for those who have been silenced. Know that alone I have power; together we are invincible.
Amnesty USA was approached by the U.S. producers of the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom because, as Harvey Weinstein reiterated at the Washington, D.C. premiere, he felt it was critical the story of President Mandela be exposed to as many people as possible in the hopes of inspiring social activism to make positive change in the world. Since this is exactly what Amnesty does – urge people to take action to create change – it was a natural fit.
So, you may have heard there’s an election tomorrow in Zimbabwe. It’s been taking up a lot of my time recently as we gather information about the situation on the ground and talk with civil society organizations preparing for election observing.
Currently, the atmosphere is much as it was prior to the initial presidential and parliamentary elections of March 2008 – largely calm with some incidents of intimidation and violent clashes between political party supporters reported.
It wasn’t until after a contested run-off election for the presidency was announced for June 2008 that Amnesty documented the sharp increase in electoral violence – including at least 200 deaths and thousands tortured and displaced.
Since January 2009, the US State Department requires a comprehensive and holistic human rights agenda including pressuring for the recognition and protection of the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. In light of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling regarding the unconstitutionality of DOMA, it was great to see President Obama raise the issue in Senegal yesterday. I hope he continues to push the issue as he moves on to South Africa and Tanzania later this week.
In four African countries, homosexuality is punishable by death. But being killed by your government is often the least of the concerns of the LGBT community. In 2011, Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was murdered. That same year, Noxolo Nogwaza was raped, stabbed and beaten in South Africa-apparently based on her sexual orientation. Noxolo was a gay rights activist in her community. Her killer(s) have not been caught despite our pressure for a proper investigation of her murder. Currently, two men are in prison in Zambia facing criminal penalties, subjected to forcible anal examination by the government, on allegations of homosexuality.
We often hear the egregious acts of violence perpetrated against women in South Africa. Yet the headlines often forget to mention the violence carried out against members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community. Violence directed at individuals perceived to be LGBTI has steadily increased, yet there has been a consistent failure of police authorities to address these acts of targeted violence.
April 24, 2013 marks the two year anniversary of the brutal death of Noxolo Nogwaza. The 24-year-old was raped, repeatedly beaten and stabbed, apparently because of her sexual orientation. Two years after her death, no progress has been made into the investigation of her murder and her killer(s) remain at large.
To mark the two year anniversary, Amnesty International, together with Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee (EPOC), a local community-based organization, are organizing a Day of Commemoration in honor of all LGBTI individuals murdered due to their sexual orientation. A short memorial service will be held and participants will be given the opportunity to write messages of hope/condolence which will remain at the site as a memorial.
Zimbabwe voted Saturday on whether to adopt its first constitution. Until now, the country operated under a vastly revised document called the Lancaster House Agreement, the de-colonization plan between Rhodesia and the UK. Despite poor turn-out and general apathy for the process, poll monitors initially indicated the constitution would be adopted with a substantial “yes” vote and the Zimbabwe Election Commission just affirmed.
There were incidents of intimidation reported; however, as the day progressed, so did arrests. On Sunday, four officials in the MDC-T political party were arrested. Beatrice Mtetwa (A personal hero of mine-if you’ve ever met her, know of her work, or met any of the multitudes of people she defends in the battle for human rights and dignity, you understand why.) was also arrested for obstruction of justice when she arrived at the police station to serve as their attorney. The irony of arresting a woman fighting for justice for obstruction by those who consistently obstruct it is not lost on me. As of this writing, she is still detained by the police-in defiance of a judicial court order demanding her release. Beatrice and the others appeared in court this morning for a bail hearing and Beatrice will remain in jail until another hearing tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. Harare time.