Uganda’s blasphemy law is unconstitutional

Author: Nimrod Muhumuza
Lawyer and LLD candidate, Dullah Omar Institute, University of Western Cape

Laws prohibiting blasphemy are astonishingly widespread worldwide with many countries criminalising conduct deemed blasphemous with disparate punishments ranging from prison sentences to lashings or the death penalty. A comprehensive report prepared by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom found that 71 countries prohibit views deemed blasphemous. These laws have dire consequences for those who find themselves on their wrong side as the most recent and much publicised case of Asia Bibi in Pakistan has demonstrated.

South of the Sahara, the report found that only four countries criminalise blasphemy. Uganda did not make that list. This is despite the provisions of Chapter III, sections 118-122 of the Penal Code Act. Sections 118-121 proscribe conduct that involves the destruction or damage or defilement of any place of worship with the intent of insulting the religion; disturbing religious assemblies, trespassing on burial places hindering burial of a dead body. The utility and legality of these provisions is not inherently the protection of religions and religious ideas and their constitutional validity will not be canvassed at this point.

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Effectiveness of intervention measures to address female genital mutilation in Ethiopia: A discussion

Author: Henok Ashagrey
Legal Researcher at the Secretariat of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Despite certain signs of progress, interventions to address harmful practices in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (Ethiopia) are still ineffective. To be effective, these interventions require more inclusivity, stronger cooperation between levels of government, and a focus on changing societal values.

Harmful practices are a principal factor in the violations of women’s rights in Ethiopia. For example, in the North Shewa rural region in the North of Ethiopia, where I come from, harmful practices against women and girls, particularly female genital mutilation (FGM), are accepted as valid cultural practice. The practitioners of FGM justify their acts on religious and cultural grounds.

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Female genital mutilation/cutting in Africa: Legal and educational deterrence

reprohealthlaw blog

Congratulations to Satang Nabaneh of the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights, at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa, and Adamson S. Muula, of the Africa Center of Excellence in Public Health and Herbal Medicine (ACEPHEM), Department of Public Health, College of Medicine, University of Malawi in Blantyre, whose article, recently published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, suggests that female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM) can be progressively deterred in African countries, by legal and educational means, where there is a will to apply them:

Satang Nabaneh and Adamson S. Muula,Female genital mutilation/cutting in Africa: A complex legal and ethical landscape,”  InternationalJournal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 2019; 145: 253–257,  PDF at Wiley Online. Submitted text at SSRN.

Abstract:  While international and regional human rights instruments have recognized FGM/C as one of the most prevalent forms of violence against…

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Some rays of light on the plight of irregular migration within Africa

Author: Cristiano d’Orsi
Research Fellow and Lecturer at the South African Research Chair in International Law (SARCIL), University of Johannesburg

In 2018 alone, hundreds of witnesses confirmed more than 1 000 migrant deaths on the African continent. But researchers estimate that these numbers represent only a fraction of the overall number of deaths of people on the move in Africa.[1] According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), during the first three months of 2019, 98 migrants died in Africa (28 in North Africa and 70 in the Horn of Africa, mostly from drowning in the Red Sea whilst hoping to reach Saudi shores).[2] In 2018, the number of fatalities on the continent amounted to 1 401, mostly presumed to come from the Horn.[3]

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Citizen media and the freedom of expression

Author: Adebayo Okeowo
Advocacy Coordinator, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

If you have ever found yourself whipping out your phone to film or photograph police officers brutally beating up peaceful protesters, and you subsequently share that video or picture on social media, you have just contributed to citizen media. You are also someone who can be referred to as a citizen journalist. This is just one of the several scenarios in which civilian witnesses are – knowingly or unknowingly – helping to document evidence of human rights violations.

Citizen media encapsulates videos, pictures or audio produced by non-professional journalists, especially using their mobile phone as a tool. Citizen media started gaining prominence when an increasing number of civilians became equipped with smartphones and had access to social media.

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Kenyan High Court upholds human and constitutional rights to maternal dignity and reproductive healthcare

reprohealthlaw blog

Many thanks to Naitore Nyamu, an LL.M. student in the graduate program in Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights, for contributing a detailed abstract of this progressive Kenyan ruling for Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts,online edition.

J O O (also known as J M) v Attorney General & 6 others [2018] Petition No 5 of 2014, (High Court of Kenya at Bungoma), March 22, 2018.  Case summary by Naitore Nyamu.   Court decision.

The case summary by Naitore Nyamu explains how, on 5 August, 2013, a low-income pregnant woman sought healthcare for delayed labour and suffered neglect, privations and expenses from an ill-funded county hospital, and humiliating personal abuse from its nurses.  She later filed a constitutional petition alleging various violations of her rights as stipulated in the Constitution of Kenya 2010…

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The impact of Internet shutdowns in Africa

Author: Tomiwa Ilori
LLD Candidate, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

In the past, authoritarianism like any other form of illegitimacy has always been paranoid of disruptions. The internet, since its decentralisation in the last century, has blurred boundary lines, projected a classless society and looked to upset apple carts in political spaces. It is typical that this form of “magic” that could redefine state power rattled many governments. African governments soon began to show overt signs of paranoia and not too long, Africa became the first continent to experience an internet shutdown in Egypt on 28 January 2011. Since then, several governments in Africa have constantly violated digital rights with the justification of national security which supposes that both are mutually exclusive.

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