Bringing the African human rights system into classrooms: Some lessons drawn from a lecture delivered at the Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs (DR Congo)

Author: Dr Kihangi Bindu Kennedy
Professor of international law at the Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs

 

Author: Trésor Makunya
Doctoral candidate & Academic Associate, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Ever since the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (1963), and later, the African Union (2002), their efforts to maintain peace and stability, uphold the constitutional order and ensure the respect and the promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)[1] have yielded unsatisfactory outcomes. Although major reasons for such a debacle have been underscored or echoed by prominent scholarship,[2] bringing these debates into law classrooms when training ‘society-conscious lawyers’ is one of the ways to contribute to the ongoing debate over the relevance of the African Union (AU) to Africans.[3] In this article, we highlights some lessons learnt from the discussions that followed a lecture we delivered at the Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs (ULPGL-Goma) on Wednesday 16 January 2019 to undergraduate law students. The lecture provided theoretical knowledge, analytical and practical skills on the AU and its human rights system which tend to be overlooked, the focus usually placed on the United Nations (UN) and the European human rights systems.
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The impact of state surveillance and censorship of sexuality on the lives of LGB Ethiopians living in Addis Ababa

Author: Selamawit Tsegaye Lulseged
African Union Human Rights Observers Mission in Burundi (formerly)

Dialogue regarding same-sex sexual act and eroticism is a recent phenomenon in Ethiopia. As is true for most African countries, in Ethiopia, there is a strong heterosexual culture that bases its legitimacy on the hegemony of masculinity. The social construction is based on the values of family that depends on traditional gender role and religious dogmas. In many discourses, lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) individuals are mentioned in relation to pedophilia, mental sickness and people who chose deviant sexual behavior. Thus, same-sex sexuality is not only something that is pushed under the rug, but also subjected to state scrutiny and embargo.

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Malawi: The duty to make abortion law transparent

reprohealthlaw blog

Congratulations to Godfrey Dalitso Kangaude, LL.M., a doctoral candidate in Law at the University of Pretoria, and Dr. Chisale Mhango, former Director of Reproductive Health Services in Malawi’s Ministry of Health, for their recent publication in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.   We are pleased to circulate the abstract and links below:

Godfrey Dalitso Kangaude and Chisale Mhango, “The duty to make abortion law transparent: A Malawi case study,” International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 143.3 (Dec. 2018): 409–413     PDF at Wiley onlineSubmitted text at SSRN.

Abstract:    Despite adopting a progressive legal and policy framework informed by internationally recognized human rights norms and values, Malawi has not complied with the obligation to explain its abortion law in accordance with legal and human rights standards. In 1930, the colonial government adopted a Penal Code derived from English criminal law, containing provisions regulating access to abortion…

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REPROHEALTHLAW Updates – January 2019

reprohealthlaw blog

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DEVELOPMENTS

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Legal access to abortion expanded in July 2018, to comply with Article 14 of the (Maputo) Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. “Women can now legally access abortion – in cases of sexual assault, rape or incest, or when the continuing pregnancy would endanger the mental and physical health of the woman or the life of the woman or the fetus.”  Details from Safe Abortion.

El Salvador: Court frees another woman jailed under anti-abortion laws, BBC News (Dec. 18, 2018).   BBC News article

[U.N. Human Rights Committee]  General comment No. 36 (2018) on  article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights…

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Voting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) against all odds: An account of the 30 December 2018 elections in one of the polling centres

Author: Trésor Makunya
Doctoral Candidate & Academic Associate, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

The presidential and legislative elections at both national and provincial level that Congolese including those living in the diaspora have been waiting for almost two years finally and against all odds, took place on Sunday 30 December 2018. Although elections are always regarded as part of the DNA of a democratic state, these elections were particularly of utmost importance because, if properly conducted, it is expected that they mark the first peaceful alternation of presidential power.[1] Since 2015 when the incumbent president Joseph Kabila demonstrated his desire to maintain his grip on power, many young people, most of whom were from prodemocracy groups, have been killed through excessive use of force by law enforcement officers, arrested or jailed when they protested to urge President Kabila to abide by Article 70 of the 2006 DRC Constitution that sets a  maximum two presidential terms and to finance the electoral commission so as national elections may take place in December 2016. Since then, President Kabila has been enjoying a de facto third-presidential term, just like members of the national assembly whose five years-term has been prolonged for two years now. Equally surprising was the fact that elections of governors, of senators and members of provincial assemblies were yet to be organised since respectively 2007 and 2006. Such an unthinkable prolongment had rendered provincial assemblies and the senate illegitimate in the eyes of voters although they had continued to enjoy a semblance of legality. This is the background against which around 39 million Congolese woke up (or were expected to wake up) early that morning and go overwhelmingly to polling stations.

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Zambia’s “deportation” of Zimbabwean opposition leader Tendai Biti: is someone to blame?

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

Zimbabwean opposition figure Tendai Biti was on Thursday August 9 2018 charged with inciting public violence and declaring unofficial election results[1] as fears grew about a government crackdown following the disputed July 30 election.[2] The court appearance followed dramatic events in which Biti fled to Zambia, was denied asylum and was handed over to Zimbabwean security forces in defiance of a Zambian court order.[3] UNHCR quickly expressed concern.[4] A joint statement by the heads of missions in Zimbabwe of the European Union, the United States, Canada and Australia urgently called on Zimbabwean authorities to guarantee Biti’s safety and respect his rights.[5]

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A new hope to Ethiopian Women’s Rights CSO’s?

DuniaMekonnenTegegnAuthor: Dunia Mekonnen Tegegn
Human rights lawyer, Ethiopia

A number of scholars have discussed the implication of the Civil Society Proclamation (CSP) in terms of realizing human rights recognized under the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE). However, the quality of attention given to the direct implication of this proclamation on women’s rights organizations and on measures that are focused on gender equality is not significant.

This article argues that the CSP of Ethiopia is and has been unconstitutional and violates the rights of women to freedom of association that is recognized under the aspirations and provisions of the FDRE Constitution. It goes beyond the rhetoric and provides a practical overview of the myriad of challenges the women’s rights movement faced in its effort to tackle down gender inequality in the country.

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