You Saved My Life. Now Let’s Help Others

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By Moses Akatugba

My name is Moses Akatugba. For 10 years I was on death row in Nigeria. I was arrested, tortured and imprisoned when I was just 16 years old. I was sentenced to death.

Police officers beat me with machetes and batons. The pain I went through was unimaginable.

This May, my execution was halted and I walked free. Your Write for Rights letters saved my life. Thank you. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The Devastating Impact of Child Marriage on Girls Around the World

Shelter for survivors of forced marriage in Kaya city, northeast Burkina Faso.

October 11th marked the fifth year that the global community recognized International Day of the Girl Child, which the United Nations established to acknowledge girls’ rights and highlight the unique challenges girls face around the world. The list of challenges for girls is not short. Girls around the world are more likely to experience exclusion, discrimination, and gender-based violence than their male counterparts. They are also more likely to have unequal access to education and economic opportunities in the future.

The good news is that the world is paying closer attention to the rights of adolescent girls and, as a result, there have been some improvements over the decades. We have seen progress in girls’ education, and many countries have enacted laws to promote gender equality. At the same time, there are challenges for girls where change is insignificant or where progress is uneven: chief among them is early and forced child marriage. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Dying for Freedom: Activist on Hunger Strike in Angola

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They gathered to read a book. They met because of a hope, dream, desire of speaking freely in the press and on the streets about the need for change; to live a life without fear of violent repression of protest marches; to see an end to corruption. Instead they were arrested, tortured, held in solitary confinement, denied access to their families, legal counsel and medical attention. They are the #Angola15. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Angola: Where Peaceful Protest is a Crime

Rafael Marques de Morais

Police and security forces in Angola use the courts, dogs, batons, torture, and murder to attack citizens exercising rights guaranteed in their constitution and under international law. Journalist Rafael Marques is witness to nearly all these tactics as he documents corruption and rights violations in the country he calls home. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

“I Didn’t Know You Could Get Pregnant From Having Sex.” Breaking Barriers to Women’s Rights in Burkina Faso

Young women hold hands in a shelter run by Nuns, these young women have courageously fled forced marriage or early and unwanted pregnancies. Ouagadougou. July 2014

Young women hold hands in a shelter run by Nuns, these young women have courageously fled forced marriage or early and unwanted pregnancies. Ouagadougou. July 2014

Imagine not knowing that sex could make you pregnant. Imagine finding out how to prevent a pregnancy only after you’d had your third or fourth child.

Now imagine knowing about contraception but being refused it just because you don’t have permission from your partner or in-laws. And even if you have permission, with clinics and pharmacies so far away from where you live, you simply can’t afford the journey there, let alone the contraception itself.

This is the reality for many women and girls in Burkina Faso, where most are already married and have more than one child by the time they are 19. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Chad and the Arc of Justice: The Trial of Hissène Habré

Former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre is escorted by prison guards into the courtroom for the first proceedings of his trial by the Extraordinary African Chambers in Dakar on July 20, 2015. (SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre is escorted by prison guards into the courtroom for the first proceedings of his trial by the Extraordinary African Chambers in Dakar on July 20, 2015. (SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

By Sarah Milburn and Gladys Melo-Pinzon 

Something remarkable began in Senegal on Monday a week ago. An African court in one country is trying the former head of state of another country, bringing badly-needed support to the continent’s formal human rights commitments and to the principle that no one – not even heads of state – should be above the law. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Nigerian President’s Harmful Misunderstanding of U.S. Human Rights Restrictions

US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the US Department of State July 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the US Department of State July 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

By Nate Smith, Military, Security, Police Co-Group Chair, Amnesty International USA 

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari visited Washington, DC recently, soliciting U.S. support for his country’s struggle against the armed group known as Boko Haram. The struggle is a mighty one. As Amnesty International reported in April 2015, the armed Islamist movement in northeast Nigeria has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, and it must be held to account. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The Human Rights Reports that could: Analysis of the 2014 Department of State Country Reports

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to how the 2013 Human Rights Reports were the foundation of U.S. foreign policy and a statement to the world that the U.S. is watching to make sure that foreign governments protect the human rights of their citizens (Photo Credit: Mladen  Antonov/AFP/Getty Images).

(Photo Credit: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images).

By Adotei Akwei and Larissa Peltola*

After months of anticipation by the global community, the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014 finally arrived on June 25, a mere six months into 2015. This beguiling page-turner, which provides us with a summary of the state of human rights around the world, highlights virtually every country yet somehow manages to gloss over, or omit altogether, the human rights violations occurring in the United States (#closeGuantanamo).

Amnesty International USA, along with several other human rights groups, continues to welcome the reports as a potentially valuable roadmap to guide U.S. foreign policy. They offer a detailed look at the human rights situation in particular countries and often indicate developing political and human rights crises, but sadly, they have historically been ignored by the very government that produces them.

The Obama administration has repeatedly stated that human rights are a priority of its foreign policy. If that is the case, then we urge the administration to look at the reports of the countries flagged below and assess whether those countries should be receiving security or financial assistance, or whether supporting governments that treat people so poorly is a sensible investment of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Human Rights Victory! Swaziland Prisoners of Conscience Freed!

Thulani Maseko, appears in court in the traditional animal skin garb of a Zulu warrior, in Mbabane, Swaziland.  Maseko delivered a blistering attack on the Swazi judiciary and political system in a trial that has focused fresh attention on human rights issues in a country who's authoritarian system gets little scrutiny in international forums because of the country's small size and strategic insignificance.

Prisoners of conscience Thulani Maseko (above) and Bheki Makhubu walked free from a Swazi prison on June 30, 2015. (c) AP/Press Association Images

Tuesday, June 30th was a very good day. Two activists in Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, walked free after serving over a year of a two-year prison sentence. Bhekithemba (Bheki) Makhubu, editor of The Nation magazine, and Thulani Maseko, an human rights attorney, were released after an appeals court determined there was no case against the men.

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My First Week of Freedom After 10 Years in a Nigerian Jail

Moses Akatugba

By Moses Akatugba, Nigeria

When I called my mother from prison to tell her I’d been pardoned after 10 years in jail, she fainted. I was told they had to pour water on her to revive her. Later, when she saw me for the first time after all those years in jail, she grabbed me and held me so tight. She wouldn’t let go for almost 15 minutes. The whole time she had tears of joy streaming from her eyes. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST