Eritrean Independence: Form over substance

Legogang MaxeleguAuthor: Lebogang Maxelegu

Assistant Researcher at the Centre for Human Rights, in support of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.

Eritreans observed the 54th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Armed Struggle for Independence on 1 September 2015. While the success of the armed struggle in attaining independence from Ethiopian rule should have been a cause for celebration for the whole nation, it was instead characterised with mixed emotions.

On the one hand, the ruling party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) and some Eritreans, embraced and glorified the country’s protracted 30 year war with Ethiopia-describing it as one of Africa’s formidable revolutions.  On the other hand, many Eritreans, in particular those who  fled, have by implication of their seeking refuge in other countries, expressed their discontentment with the current  socio-political landscape in which widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations are perpetrated with impunity.

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The National Migration Policy and its implementation framework: A precursor for a more effective migration governance in Nigeria

Uche Hilary-OgbonnaAuthor: Uche Hilary-Ogbonna

Humanitarian Affairs Officer, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (UN OCHA) Abuja

Legal frameworks are the bedrock for any effective management system. They underscore the importance of articulating a set of aspirations in concise directives and regulations, offering guidance to the myriad of field operatives and interventions in the varied sectors of migration management, development or the society at large. For the migration sector in Nigeria, it has been a long, tough journey to the adoption of the National Migration Policy and its implementation framework. The Policy is widely considered a breakthrough piece of legal document which came to fruition on account of years of toil by a host of government functionaries, development actors, the academia and civil society organizations.

The Policy comes at a very important time in the global migratory scene with the rise in international migration across the Mediterranean resulting in multiple deaths. With over 170 million citizens, Nigeria is important in migration management as a country of origin, transit and destination for migrants. Nigeria faces challenges such as effective diaspora engagement and remittances, inter-regional, rural-urban migration flows, migration of highly skilled and unskilled labour, data generation, as well as trafficking in persons to mention a few.

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State response to political killings in Cameroon and its impact on the rule of law

emmanuel_a_nkeaAuthor: Emmanuel A. Nkea
Barrister, Cameroon Bar; Judge Emeritus, High Courts and Gambia Court of Appeal; Partner, SCP Security Law Firm, Tiko, Cameroon

Political killings and related violence have found expression in public discourses and have shaped the political-legal landscape in Cameroon since the re-introduction of multi-party democracy in 1990. The post-1990 constitutional state that Cameroon has become recognizes the universality of human rights; especially the right to life and security of the person. While these progressive laws further distinguish Cameroon as a state with outstanding legal commitments towards the universality of human rights, they have failed to find expression in the implementation process.

Creating such a strong visibility of human rights within the law is not enough. How the law is implemented determines its real worth and effectiveness. Accountability for crimes in a fair and expeditious trial remains the hallmark of an efficient criminal justice system.

This post examines how the state responded to cases of political killings and related crimes in Cameroon from the dimensions of legal and policy frameworks; legal processes; legal innovations; and institutional issues. It focuses on three key actors; the courts, the Legal Department, and the Police, and uses such assessment indicators as prosecution, conviction, and acquittal rates.

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Of stereotypes and the ‘unsound mind’ clauses

Patricia_MwanyisaAuthor: Patricia Mwanyisa
Human Rights, Justice and Rule of Law Programme Officer, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)

Recently, during my studies I delved into the concept of stereotypes and their effects, albeit from a gender perspective. This academic encounter has become an important one to both my personal and professional frames of reference. I have discovered that my prior use and appreciation of the term stereotype was presumptuous, without depth and assumed familiarity. I had nonchalantly used the term often, in writing and conversation without fully appreciating the intricacies of this concept.

Quite worrying one might say, coming from a professional working on human rights, justice and equality issues – but I believe that my nonchalance is common among many of us. We tend to have a general over familiarisation with issues that form part of the realm in which we work and operate without necessarily appreciating the rudimentary theories underpinning particular terms or concepts.

So I think I deserve some credit for acknowledging my deficiency, and urge that we do not rush to deem as catastrophic such inadequacies in all circumstances because it is impossible to know everything about everything, even in your most familiar of territory. To be expected to know and fully understand each and every detail about a subject is a naïve expectation on the part of peers and an arrogant unintelligent assertion on the part of any such declarants. The universally renowned great mind Michelangelo, is remembered for his famous quote “ancora imparo” reportedly made at the age of 87 which means ‘I am still learning’ – well, so am I. So I ask for your indulgence as I share some of my learning on how stereotypes perpetuate inequality and marginalisation – you might just also learn that we all are still learning and need to keep learning.

I have learnt that stereotypes are a component of stigma. They assign negative attributes to socially salient differences forming what social identity theorists call in-group and out-group categorisation. People tend to stereotype as a means of screening people into either the in-group (us) or out-group (them) which in eventuality determines whether a group is accepted or rejected.

This categorisation (stereotyping) of other(s), provides people with a feeling of comfort and confidence based on what they are accustomed to, for predictability and personal security’s sake. Whilst it may be argued in some quarters that categorisation is useful in, for example, target marketing or planning of community and development projects among other mass planning purposes; unfortunately the cumulative effects of general categorisation and consequent stereotyping in most circumstances reinforce and perpetuate inequality.

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Reacting to the growing attitude of African leaders in using politics as an engine to flout judicial authorities

Sheriff Kumba JobeAuthor: Sheriff Kumba Jobe
Currently pursuing a professional course (BL) at Gambia Law School

As a young person growing up in The Gambia, enjoying relatively peaceful personal development and knowing little or nothing about the Continent (i.e. Africa), I was optimistic of what the future holds for us. My optimism has somewhat changed after recently following some developments unfolding in the Continent. I became more skeptical when I listened to the African-born Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda making exposition to the Darfur situation. She frustratingly advanced that:

“Innocent civilians continue to bear the brunt of insecurity and instability, in particular as a result of what appears to be an on-going government campaign to target them. The people alleged to be most responsible for these on-going atrocities are the same people against whom warrants of arrest have already been issued.”

These words made me more concerned that the political and legal atmosphere in Africa is becoming unsafe for human shelter. The friction between the two has become too chaotic and toxic for a peaceful and orderly coexistence. The breeze blowing to my observation is not only hostile to the citizens of the Continent but also to the legal frameworks and judicial institutions created for the implementation and protection of our rights.

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Respecting the rights of urban refugees in East Africa through a human rights approach to urbanisation

michael_addaneyAuthor: Michael Addaney
Student (MPhil Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa), Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria



Gertrude Mafoa QuanAuthor: Gertrude Mafoa Quan
Candidate Attorney; LLM (Multidisciplinary Human Rights) student at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria



The city is the new refugee camp…
~ International Rescue Committee

Article 1 of the 1951 United Nations (UN) Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Convention) defines refugee as ‘a person who is outside his or her country of nationality or habitual residence due to a well-founded fear of persecution base on race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion and is unable or unwilling to avail him or herself of the protection of that country or to return there for fear of persecution’. Due to contextual issues, article 1 of the 1969 Organisation for African Unity’s Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (1969 OAU Convention) added a second paragraph to the 1951 Convention to incorporate people that have been displaced due to liberation wars and internal upheavals.

Meanwhile, there is no internationally recognised definition for urban refugees. However, the Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK) defines an urban refugee as a refugee who satisfies the international requirements for obtaining a refugee status and has self-settled in a city or town. Recent decades have experienced rapid population growth with most cities witnessing urban sprawl. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported in 2009 that an estimated 58 percent of the world’s 10.5 million refugees now reside in cities.

Despite it being mostly rural region, UN Habit has projected that Sub-Saharan Africa and for that matter countries in Eastern Africa will have more than half of its population residing in urban areas by 2026. Characteristically, there has been increasing flow of refugees to urban areas in this region too. According to official UNHCR 2015 statistics, four Eastern African countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia) host more than 1.5 million refugees. These refugees are mostly from 9 countries (Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo).

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Extraction and right to food in Mozambique: Empty promises to empty plates

Nastasia Thebaud-BouillonAuthor: Nastasia Thebaud-Bouillon
Student (LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa), Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

Piece of land used to mean peace of mind in Mozambique. But the day extractive industries came in the North and started resettling communities, everything disappeared: piece of land alongside peace of mind. The cocktail was simple: a promise of new land, a better house and employment. The result was far from that; eviction without proper compensation, and relocation to empty bare lands with no opportunity to grow food for their subsistence. Not to mention that these resettlement lands were far from market opportunities.

Research conducted in Mozambique in April 2015 shows that mining has not brought the development and services communities expected in Tete and Cabo Delgado provinces in Northern and Central Mozambique. Extraction has often been conducted more to the detriment than to the benefits of host communities. This is mainly due to the lack of capacity of authorities in dealing with foreign multinational companies.

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