Human Rights

News : Human Rights

Zimbabwe:Visually Impaired Potential Voters Demanding Braille Ballot Papers

[263Chat] Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has petitioned the High Court seeking an order to compel the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to print ballot papers in a manner accessible to some visually impaired potential voters so that they can exercise their right to vote by secret ballot during the forthcoming 2018 general election. (AllAfrica)

Uganda:40 Women Rescued in Thailand

[Observer] Over 40 Ugandan women have been rescued from a human trafficking racket in a Wednesday sweep in Thailand by Thai authorities. (AllAfrica)

South Africa:Man Who Called Colleague 'Swart Man' Living in Apartheid Past - Concourt

[News24Wire] A man who called a colleague "swart man [black man]" over parking space at work has shown that he has not made a break with the country's apartheid past, the Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday. (AllAfrica)

Zimbabwe:I Can Impregnate Any Woman, Says Chamisa

[The Herald] MDC Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa yesterday said he was young and could impregnate any woman to prove how energetic he was in yet another show of sexism. (AllAfrica)

East Africa:Regional Court to Judge Schools Ban for Pregnant Girls

[Thomson Reuters Foundation] Dakar -Sierra Leone introduced the ban in 2015 after a rise in rape, abuse and poverty during the deadly Ebola outbreak. (AllAfrica)

Sudan:Security Ban Press Conference by Condemned Woman's Lawyers

[Radio Dabanga] Omdurman -The defence attorneys of Noura Hussein, a 19-year-old Sudanese woman sentenced to hang for killing her husband after he allegedly raped her, were prevented by authorities from holding a press conference in Omdurman on Tuesday. (AllAfrica)

Namibia:Why We Must Refuse to Do Business With Apartheid

[Namibian] WITH GREAT SORROW we learned this week that Israeli forces had killed 59 peaceful Palestinian protestors on Monday. Since the beginning of March Israel has killed more than 90 unarmed protestors and wounded around 10 000. Surely the world cannot watch in silence and allow such atrocities to continue. (AllAfrica)

South Africa:'Radical Right' Afriforum Doesn't Speak for Progressive Afrikaans Speakers - ANC MP Juli Kilian

[News24Wire] ANC MP Juli Kilian came out swinging against the conservative Afrikaner interest group AfriForum and condemned the DA for not raising its voice against the controversial organisation which denies that apartheid was a crime against humanity. (AllAfrica)

Mali:5 Year-Old Girl With Albinism Djeneba Diarra Beheaded in Suspected Ritual Murder

[This is Africa] A five-year-old girl with albinism Djeneba Diarra was beheaded in a suspected ritual murder for her body parts in Mali. Her murder has caused an outrage in her home village and on social media. Prominent campaigner on albinism, Malian musician Salif Keita has commented on the murder of Djeneba, and pledged to fight for her justice. (AllAfrica)

Zimbabwe:Let's All Guarantee Peaceful Elections

[The Herald] The life of the eighth Parliament is soon coming to an end, with the nation expecting President Mnangagwa to dissolve the august House thereafter, in accordance with Constitutional provisions on duration and dissolution of Parliament, Section 143(1, 2). (AllAfrica)

Zimbabwe:Watchdog Condemns Opposition Primary Elections Violence

[] The Zimbabwe Peace Project notes with concern incidents of violence reported in some areas where the opposition MDC-T is conducting processes to select candidates for the impending elections. (AllAfrica)

Zimbabwe:Nelson Chamisa Thinks Women Are Chattel for Politicians to Barter With

[This is Africa] Nelson Chamisa, Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, made such inappropriate gender remarks during his recent election campaign that Zimbabweans are questioning his leadership ability (AllAfrica)

South Africa:Why Some Young Women Struggle to Get the Child Support Grant in South Africa

[The Conversation Africa] The expansion of the South African welfare system of social grants, in the form of a range of unconditional cash transfers, is one of the success stories of the African National Congress (ANC) government since it was first elected in 1994. (AllAfrica)

Africa:Amnesty 'Edit-a-Thon' to Document Women Activists' Lives

[Thomson Reuters Foundation] London -"The more women human rights defenders are fairly represented the better the protection" (AllAfrica)

Zimbabwe:Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 70 Years On

[The Herald] Harare stands in a unique position regarding the Middle East, especially Israel and Palestine. (AllAfrica)

Sierra Leone:Sierra Leone - Where the Victim Is Re-Victimised

[Fahamu] Five human rights organisations working on advancing the rights of women and girls in Sierra Leone, are urgently calling on the leadership of Sierra Leone, and all political actors to take immediate action to address the increase in incidents of sexual and gender based violence across the West African country. (AllAfrica)

Africa:How My Book United the Left and Right-Wing Media

[Fahamu] Mainstream and alternative media unite to shut the truth up (AllAfrica)

Rwanda:Call to Protect Children's Rights in Armed Conflicts

[New Times] Rwanda Peace Academy, Save the Children, and Rwanda National Police, among other stakeholders, on Thursday discussed how to scale up training for officers deployed in peacekeeping missions, especially on the component of protection of children's rights. (AllAfrica)

Tunisia:Bill On Racism Must Encompass All Forms of Discrimination

[Tunis Afrique Presse] Tunis/Tunisia -The draft organic law to combat racial discrimination must encompass different forms of discrimination, president of the Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities (ATSM) Yamina Thabeut said on Thursday. (AllAfrica)

Gambia:Major Boost for Digital Rights in the Gambia

[MFWA] The enjoyment of digital rights has received a major boost in The Gambia with a ruling by the country's Supreme Court declaring as unconstitutional the law on False Publication on the Internet, among other repressive pieces of legislation, namely defamation and aspects of Sedition. (AllAfrica)

Africa:How to Be an Ally On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia Under the Theme 'Alliances for Solidarity'

[This is Africa] May 17th is the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) and this year the global theme is "Alliances for Solidarity". The theme aims to strengthen alliances towards the LGBTQI+ community so as to ensure safety, lobby for legal change, and/or campaign to change the hearts and minds of the masses. (AllAfrica)

Liberia:Liberian 'Gay Community' Seeks Equality

[Observer] Today, Thursday, May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, a single most important date for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) communities as they mobilize worldwide to draw the world's attention to their plight and demand equal justice wherever they may be. (AllAfrica)

Ethiopia:Govt Rights Commission Breaks Silence On Displaced Ethnic Amharas, Says It Dispatches Team to Investigate

[Addis Standard] Addisu G. Egziabher (PhD), Head of the Ethiopia Human Rights Commission, a government led rights commission, told state affliated media that the commission has dispatched a team to "investigate" the displacement of hundreds of ethnic Amharas from the Kemashe zone of the Benshangul Gumz regional state. The commission broke its silence for the first time since October 2017, when the victims were first displaced following ethnic-based local attacks against them. (AllAfrica)

Kenya:Kenya Court Rejects Plea for Equal Property Rights in Divorce

[Thomson Reuters Foundation] Nairobi -A Kenyan court on Monday rejected a plea for a change to the laws on how property should be split in divorce cases, a ruling activists said was a blow for women's rights in the country. (AllAfrica)

Nigeria:220 Nigerians Killed in 2 Weeks - Rights Group

[Vanguard] Umuahia -A coalition of civil rights groups, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, INTERSOCIETY, has alleged that over 220 killings and other violent deaths arising from what it called non-traditional crimes have been recorded in Nigeria in the last two weeks, lamenting that Nigeria was fast receding to total regime collapse and anarchy. (AllAfrica)

Central African Republic:Crucial Court for Victims

[HRW] Recent violence in the Central African Republic makes the country's new Special Criminal Court especially important as a means to offer justice to victims of brutal crimes committed during the country's conflicts, Human Rights Watch said today. (AllAfrica)

Namibia:MP Accuses Women of Falsely Claiming Gender-Based Violence

[Namibian] NATIONAL Council member Melania Ndjago yesterday accused some women of using gender-based violence as a tactic to get back at men who want to leave them. (AllAfrica)

Gambia:Ex-President Tied to 2005 Murders of Ghanaian and Nigerian Migrants

[HRW] Accra -A paramilitary unit controlled by then-Gambian president Yahya Jammeh summarily executed more than 50 Ghanaian, Nigerian, and other West African migrants in July 2005, Human Rights Watch and TRIAL International said today. (AllAfrica)

Kenya:Moms Petition Parliament for Right to Breastfeed in Dignity

[Capital FM] Nairobi -Kenyan moms marched to Parliament on Tuesday to push for passage of pending legislation requiring businesses to provide conducive spaces mothers can use to breastfeed their babies. (AllAfrica)

Sudan:Darfur Youth Initiative - Dozens of Villages Burned in New Jebel Marra Campaign

[Radio Dabanga] Jebel Marra -In a memorandum to the National Commission for Human Rights and Unamid this week, the Youth Initiative Against Displacement and Resettlement in Darfur has condemned the latest government campaign which as seen thousands of people displaced in Darfur's Jebel Marra this month. (AllAfrica)

'Every Year, I Give Birth': Why War is Driving a Contraception Crisis in Sudan

Under a huge baobab tree in Sudan’s Nuba mountains, I met Sebila, a 27-year-old mother of three. In March last year, her village had been attacked by Sudanese ground troops and bombed by government war planes. The assault forced Sebila and many other villagers to flee deeper into rebel-held territory.

She was just back in the village for the day with her children, two toddlers in tow and carrying a baby, to dig up sorghum she had buried. Sebila said food here is scarcer than it has been for years, because of poor rains and conflict fighting. “It’s exhausting, trying to feed them all [my family],” Sebila said of her children.

Aid obstruction in the rebel-held territories of Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile has been in force for nearly six years, and has had a devastating impact on the communities here. For Sebila – and all the women living across these territories – it has meant no access to contraception. “Every year, I give birth,” she told me. “It would be better if I could space it [out].” But Sebila cannot space her babies out, or have any control of her body. Like all women living in rebel-held territory here, she has zero access to contraception.

 In the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan, access to family planning and maternal healthcare is severely limited by blocks on humanitarian supplies.

© Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

It has also meant a severe lack of maternal healthcare. There is no local midwife, and Sebila lives five hours’ drive from a hospital, in a region where cars are a rare luxury. Women told me of waiting hours for transport while in obstructed labour, or being held propped up, bleeding and falling in and out of consciousness, between two men on the back of a motorcycle to reach a hospital. Multiple and closely-spaced births can carry serious health risks for both mother and infant, and can be life-threatening without proper treatment.

Yet there is no coordinated international aid effort under way in the Nuba mountains. Funds are in place, but both the government and the rebel group are preventing supplies getting in. The conflict has left already-stretched health services in the region in a pitiful state. Most facilities are little more than a table with some basic medicines, and there are only five doctors and one blood bank for perhaps close to a million people.

Despite many rounds of peace talks since fighting began in 2011, the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North have failed to agree on how to allow aid – needs-based and impartially delivered – into the affected areas. Instead they are still arguing about whether aid can come through a third country, or, as the government insists, only from inside Sudan. Some aid groups have found ways to provide occasional help, unauthorised by the government but supported by the rebels, but this is no substitute for the large-scale effort needed. 

This has very serious consequences for reproductive health. None of the women I met in the Nuba mountains had any access to family planning. One clinic provides a three-month injectable contraception, but local rebel regulations require women to get their husband’s permission first. Despite evidence that gonorrhoea and syphilis are on the rise and hepatitis B common, condoms are scarce. Most of the women I met had never seen a condom, let alone any other form of contraception.

It is also feared that the number of women and girls dying in childbirth in the rebel-held areas of Southern Kordofan – already much higher than other states in Sudan – is rising yet further. And two major aid efforts, including a UN polio vaccination campaign for children, have failed.

Sudan has a long history of aid obstruction going back to the start of the conflict: denying travel permits; rejecting visas; blocking work permits; and expelling aid workers. Meanwhile, citing mistrust of the government, the rebels have still not agreed to an offer by the US to provide aid via Khartoum, and have instead called for yet more negotiations. 

Although aid saves lives, and warring parties in conflict have an obligation to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians, preventing it from reaching people is rarely punished. The UN security council briefly threatened punitive action against Sudan in 2012, but never acted. The health crisis unfolding in the Nuba mountains should prompt a change of tack. The UN security council, the African Union and the EU should investigate and consider travel bans and asset freezes on rebel and government leaders found to have deliberately blocked such deliveries. 

International aid is often a lifeline to civilians trapped in conflict. And it would help women like Sebila to access contraception, avoid risky childbirth, and feed their children.

(Human Rights Watch)