How Nigerians Are Fighting Back Against Oil Companies

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By Joe Westby, Amnesty International Corporate Campaigner and Onyekachi Okoro, Media for Justice Program, Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD)

“People are dying silently. The oil companies bring sickness to our communities,” a man from a polluted community in Nigeria’s Bayelsa state told us.

But when it comes to oil spills in the Niger Delta, it’s not what you’ve suffered or what you know; it’s what you can prove.

This simple fact has hampered communities from obtaining justice, even when their lives have been turned upside down by pollution. Because the oil companies have significant control over determining vital data about oil spills, the affected communities lack reliable and impartial information, meaning they can’t effectively tell their side of the story.

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Tech and Human Rights at #SXSW

A cellphone can be both a powerful tool and a huge risk for human rights activists. Images and videos captured through mobile phones can reveal police brutality or even war crimes, as the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa have shown.

However, information saved on activists’ cell phones can also expose dissident networks or other sensitive data. During the recent protests in Ukraine, police reportedly used locations revealed through cell phones to track protestors.

The “digital arms race” between activists and repressive governments is the main focus of our SXSW panel Caught in the Act: Mobile Tech and Human Rights on Tuesday, March 11.

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ACT NOW: Take Action to Fight Back Against Nigeria’s Anti-LGBT Law

With the stroke of a pen, the President has essentially turned Nigeria into one of the world’s least tolerant societies (Photo Credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images).

With the stroke of a pen, the President has essentially turned Nigeria into one of the world’s least tolerant societies (Photo Credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images).

In January, Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act into law. This act imposes a 14-year prison sentence for attempting to marry a partner of the same sex.

Nigerians convicted of same-sex public displays of affection, or of participating in organizations or meetings related to LGBT issues face ten years of jail time.

In the weeks since President Jonathan signed the law, Nigeria has seen a sharp increase in anti-LGBT mob violence and the arrest of dozens of LGBT people.

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What Everyone Ought to Know About Uganda’s Anti-Gay Law

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NOTE: This text is from a New York Times Letter to the Editor in response to the article “Ugandan President Signs Anti-Gay Bill.”

The new antigay law in Uganda is alarming and, sadly, not shocking. You note that it follows the passage of similar legislation in Nigeria and fits within a growing trend that Amnesty International reported on last July.

The developments in Uganda and Nigeria underscore the depth to which many African leaders are determined to go, not only to discriminate against a segment of their populations, but also to incite hatred and potentially acts of violence. It is a failure of their obligations, internationally and regionally, to protect the rights of people living within their borders and a failure of governance.

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