By Emily McGranachan, Member of Amnesty International USA’s LGBT Human Rights Coordinating Group
While pundits in the U.S. lament the political stalemate on Capitol Hill, legislatures elsewhere have had a banner year. Take Uganda, for example, where no fewer than three major pieces of controversial and internationally scrutinized legislation were signed into law between August 2013 and February 2014: the Public Order Management Act (POMA), the Anti-Pornography Act (APA), and the now-nullified Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA). This flurry of activity in the lead-up to Uganda’s 2016 elections legalized repressive and discriminatory policies.
Thanks to these three laws, restrictions on the rights to free expression, association and assembly for all Ugandans have intensified.SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
The idea for such a summit is laudable, considering the critical issues that will be discussed – issues that will continue to be key challenges for both Africa and U.S. policy towards the continent and as part of addressing the chronic need to raise educate the public about the realities of the different countries that make up Africa, unknown success stories and it’s untapped economic potential.
Unfortunately, unless a major change is made, the summit risks simply becoming an AU heads of state road trip with a photo-op at the end to confirm that they visited Washington before returning home.
This IDAHOT, Amnesty International reaffirms our core belief that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to exercise their full human rights, and we stand in full solidarity with LGBT people whose fundamental rights are endangered.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people face disproportionately high levels of discrimination when accessing health care, education, housing, and employment. In almost 80 countries, consensual same-sex conduct remains criminalized; even where homosexuality has been decriminalized, LGBT people are frequently subject to arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, imprisonment, torture, and other violence.
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.
Satellite image of likely LRA camp in Kafia Kingi. Click to see full image . (Photo Credit: Digitial Globe 2013).
Now where will the US go on the ICC? While international justice has seen many milestones over the last months, including the surrender of “The Terminator” Bosco Ntaganda, one of the most well known fugitives from the International Criminal Court (ICC) remains on the loose. Joseph Kony, the Lord Resistance Army’s (LRA) notorious leader, has so far evaded arrest. However, as of today, attempts to locate his whereabouts have gotten a considerable boost. In fact, thanks to satellite imagery, we might know the exact coordinates of his recent location.
Child soldier with adults, Sanghe, Democratic Republic of Congo, June 2002.
By Angela T. Chang, Advocate, Crisis Prevention and Response Team, Amnesty International USA
When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed — that’s slavery. When a little girl is sold by her impoverished family—girls my daughters’ age—runs away from home, or is lured by the false promises of a better life, and then imprisoned in a brothel and tortured if she resists — that’s slavery. It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world.
– US President Barack Obama, September 2012
Despite these strong words by President Obama against the use and recruitment of child soldiers a few months ago, he got reprimanded earlier this week for falling flat in delivering on tangible actions to address this issue.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child released a new report on Tuesday, calling out the U.S. and the Obama administration for failing to adhere to its international human rights obligations by continuing to waive sanctions on military assistance, per the 2008 Child Soldiers Prevention Act, to countries that are known to recruit and use child soldiers – a clear violation of children’s rights and a war crime if the children are under the age of fifteen. Yes, you read that right. Seems confusing and backwards? That’s because it is.
At the local level, Americans are demonstrating a strong commitment to advancing human rights. In recent elections, voters legalized marriage equality in nine states and passed the DREAM Act to expand educational opportunities for undocumented residents in Maryland. In addition, legislators in four states abolished the death penalty. The message to the nation’s leaders seems to be this: human rights still matter, and the task of “perfecting our union” remains incomplete.
As President Obama prepares to give his second inaugural address, he should embrace an ambitious rights agenda: enhancing our security without trampling on human rights; implementing a foreign policy that hold friends and foes alike accountable for human rights violations; and ensuring human rights for all in the United States without discrimination.
Measured against international norms and his own aspirations, President Obama’s first term record on human rights merits an “incomplete.” While he made the bold move of issuing an executive order to close Guantánamo on his second day in office, he has yet to fulfill that promise. The U.S. government’s reliance on lethal drone strikes is growing steadily, but the administration has provided no clear legal justification for the program. Congress has abrogated its responsibility to exercise meaningful oversight of this most ubiquitous element of the “global war on terror,” a paradigm which is in and of itself problematic. Although President Obama has on occasion stood up for human rights defenders abroad — in China, Iran, Russia and Libya — his administration has often muted criticism when it comes to U.S. allies, in the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
Six years ago, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda. Today, the effect of the failure to arrest him can be seen in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where he and other members of armed groups remain free to commit further human rights violations against civilians.
The DRC is one of several situations featured on our new Demand Justice website. It was launched on International Justice Day earlier this week in order to provide us with a more powerful tool to mobilize activists around the globe to bring Bosco Ntaganda and others to trial.
If convicted war criminals, such as Thomas Lubanga Dyilo had a Twitter account, he probably would not share our new site. If war crimes suspects Joseph Kony and Omar al-Bashir were active on Facebook, they would hardly “Like” our Fugitives from International Justice infographic. Why not? SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanda Dyilo listens at the International Criminal Court. MARCEL ANTONISSE/AFP/Getty Images
Today, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced a historic decision, finding Thomas Lubanga Dyilo – the alleged founder of a vicious Congolese armed rebel group – guilty of war crimes for his use and abuse ofchild soldiers during the armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between 2002 and 2003.
Lubanga’s conviction sets a historic precedent for international justice and accountability for those who commit the most unspeakable of crimes. Crimes like rape. Torture. Enslavement. Crimes common among Lubanda’s Union of Congolese Patriots and its armed wing, the FPLC.
In the span of just a few days, Invisible Children’s #Kony2012 campaign has generated an avalanche of attention on Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony.
The world should know who Kony is. But Kony is but one fugitive from justice among many, operating in a region faced with systemic human rights challenges requiring effective and transformative action.
Awareness is an important first step. But we need to stop all the Konys of the world.