Why #WeAreAfrica and You are Too

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US President Barack Obama speaks during a town hall style meeting at the University of Johannesburg Soweto in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 28, 2013. (Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama speaks during a town hall style meeting at the University of Johannesburg Soweto in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 28, 2013. (Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

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A Healthy Justice System

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As Amnesty International reported yesterday the African nation of Togo became the 94th country in the world to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, and the 15th member of the African Union to do so.
In announcing his government’s plans to push for full repeal of capital punishment at the end of last year, Justice Minister Kokou Tozoun was clear and direct:

“This country has chosen to establish a healthy justice system that limits judicial errors…and guarantees the inherent rights of the individual.  This (new) system is no longer compatible with a penal code that maintains the death penalty and grants the judiciary absolute power with irrevocable consequences.”

The vote for repeal, which passed unanimously in the Togo national assembly, is the latest act in the gradual but unmistakable trend towards worldwide abolition of the death penalty. Though only dimly visible in the U.S., where support for capital punishment is shrinking more slowly, this trend is very clear on a global scale, and it is particularly apparent in Africa. Burundi repealed the death penalty earlier this year, and Mali is reportedly considering abolition as well.