Right to participate and citizenship: Liberians yearn for an inclusive vote in 2023

Urias-Teh-PourAuthor: Urias Teh Pour
Executive Director, Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), Liberia

For the first time in the political history of Liberia, Liberians in the diaspora are making a strong case for their inclusion in the 2023 general and presidential elections. This call has come at the time when the Alien and Nationality Act of 1973 which prohibited dual nationality has been amended. The amended Act, Alien Nationality Law of 2022, provides that ‘any person who acquires another in addition to his or her Liberian citizenship shall not [be] deemed to have relinquished his or her Liberian citizenship.’

The passage of this law led to a wave of calls for the democratisation of electoral politics, considering the huge population of Liberians living abroad and their aspiration to participate in elections to elect their leaders at home. The Liberia Demographic Survey of 2021 projected Liberia’s population at 5.18 million. There are approximately 1.2 million Liberians and people with Liberian heritage scattered all over the globe, with the majority living and referring to the United States as their home. Some statisticians have predicted that the on-going population and housing census would exceed the projected number.

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A critique of the Resolution (PAP-Res. 06(VI)/06) and Recommendation (PAP-Rec. 08(VI)/06) of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) on migration in Africa.

Eva-AbugabeAuthor: Eva Abugabe
MPhil candidate, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Introduction

The PAP[1] in its sixth session of the First Parliament in 2006 resolved to ending migration in Africa.[2] Based on PAP-Rec(08(VI)06), the PAP acknowledged migration as a regional priority due to increasing refugee crisis, migrant remittances, movement of labour, the African Diaspora and brain drain, feminisation of migration, xenophobia and human trafficking.[3] In PAP-Res (06(VI)06), the PAP furthermore demanded continuous agenda setting in its debate, regional and national collaborations in learning best practices including encouraging governments to address the challenges by observing good governance and promoting investment in economies, infrastructure and creating employment.[4]

The article[5] critically analyses the PAP’s resolutions and recommendations against regional and international human rights instruments. It aims to position the PAP as an active protector of human rights while making it more visible to Africans, its primary constituents. Its thrust is to also evoke deliberate interventions and broadly contribute to the actualisation of the Africa We Want Agenda, Agenda 2063[6] and to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development[7] specifically target 10.7 of Goal 10.[8]

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Ballot or bullet? Time for African youths to make a choice

Murithi-AntonyAuthor: Murithi Antony
LL.B student, University of Embu

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and curse; therefore, you shall choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants…”

– The Holy Bible, Deuteronomy 30:19 (Amplified Version)

Introduction

The message in the Book of Deuteronomy generally is directed to the new generation that was born in the desert during the 40 years of wandering in which the generation of exodus passed away. The Book puts forward foundational truths, which if the young generation shall abide by, they will succeed. It states that there is life and death, and advises them to choose life, but leaves the option to their discretion. This can to a large extent be equated with the happenings of contemporary African societies whereby the current youth generation, which was born in the desert of problems, neo-colonialism, tribalism, corruption and violence have an opportunity to change the status quo through voting and advocating for peace. Similar to how the Israelites were given choices, the current generation also has a choice to either vote and take charge of their future; or abstain from voting, and choose political, social and economic death. I tell them: “Choose to vote, in order that you may take charge of your destiny, and your generation shall find a better place to live in.”

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The place of liberal feminism in the struggle for gender equality in Kenya.

Davis-ThuraniraAuthor: Davis Thuranira
Student, Kenyatta University, Kenya

Major Premise

The framers of the constitution[1] provided adequate mechanisms to counter gender discrimination and foster equality among all sexes and gender in the country. As a matter of fact, several legal provisions incline to an ideology of equality that seeks to overhaul the existing societal structure which anchors discrimination and unequal treatment of women.

Equality, non-discrimination, inclusiveness and protection of the marginalized are among the key principles featured under Article 10[2]. The provision universally applies to all persons and demands compliance by the state, including its organs, while exercising its constitutional mandate. The state is required to invoke its authority by giving effect to the two-third gender rule. Additionally, these principles and others that support gender equality are emphasized in the constitution since such are the basis for any democratic society that the constitution envisions. The applicability of these principles is mandatory, and the courts have on several occasions emphasized that the principles are not aspirational as argued by critics but realistic, practicable and binding on everyone. In the case of Rono v Rono[3], the Court of Appeal authoritatively asserted that the Constitution shields women from customary succession laws that bar women from inheriting property. The Court held that both male and female children are treated equally before the law and that discriminatory rules are invalid and unconstitutional to the extent that it treats women as inferiors to men. Read the rest of this entry »


Contextualising and Advocating for Sexual Minority Rights within Kenya’s Transformative Constitution

Laureen-Mukami-NyamuAuthor: Laureen Mukami Nyamu
Student, Kabarak University School of Law in Nakuru, Kenya

Human rights are inherent to all human beings regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion or other status [1] moreover they are universal but the universality of human rights is not enjoyed by sexual minorities due to discrimination. This discrimination stems from religious, socio- cultural, institutional and discriminatory laws and policies. These factors hamper the full enjoyment of human rights by sexual minorities.

The Constitution of Kenya 2010 is transformative in the realm of human rights by recognising the bill of rights as an integral part of Kenya’s democracy, social, economic and cultural policies and by having an elaborate Bill of Rights that remedies the subversion of human rights which was a characteristic of the repealed constitution. [2] This article will contextualise and show advocacy of sexual minority rights within the constitutional framework and provide a way forward as regards sexual minority rights. Read the rest of this entry »


War, global health and human rights: drawing inspiration from the Russia-Ukraine crisis

Abasiodiong-Ubong-UdoakpanAuthor: Abasiodiong Ubong Udoakpan
Data Protection Advisor, Researcher and a Human Rights Lawyer

Introduction

The first principle of health is life and war is a direct threat to life. For millions of people worldwide, avoiding and not only surviving war is the predominant objective in their daily existence. Sadly, the situation in Eastern Europe creates a global crisis for public health, therefore, ending the war would be a major step towards the promotion of the health and well-being of persons in this region. The challenge presented by this ongoing regional conflict also marks a crucial opportunity to prioritize human rights and public health concerns in ongoing foreign policy and diplomatic efforts by concerned nation-states. Ergo, this article seeks to explore the human rights threats that are associated with the Russia-Ukraine conflict especially as it relates to public health.

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The role of African governments in the implementation of the Revised Declaration on freedom of expression online in Africa

freedom_of_expression

Authors: Imani Henrick, Bitebo Gogo, Ogah Peter Ejegwoya & Ayowole Olotupa-Adetona

The rights to freedom of expression, access to information and opinion are three distinct yet interconnected rights. The right to freedom of expression includes overt or covert communication through any medium including the Internet while access to information is being able to get information through any means. Both rights can be limited under international human rights standards. However, the right to opinion which is broader than both rights cannot be limited under international human rights standards.

This article identifies the role of African governments in implementing freedom of expression online. In doing so, it focuses on the provisions of the recent Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (Revised Declaration) 2019.

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A quest for better protection: Sudanese women today

DuniaMekonnenTegegnAuthor: Dunia Mekonnen Tegegn
Human Rights Lawyer and Gender equality advocate

Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) is regarded as a prevalent and critical hindering factor for human development and peace-building in Sudan. Prior to the revolution, Sudanese women used to face a daily risk of being arbitrarily arrested in public or private places for “indecent or immoral behavior or dress.” Public Order Police Officers in Sudan had the power to decide what is decent and what is not. In most cases women are arrested for wearing trousers or knee length skirts.[1]  Though in 2019, the transitional Sudanese government rescinded the public order laws that governed women’s presence in public spaces, resulting in arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment, Sudan still needs to change other aspects of the public order regime that has a discriminatory effect on women.

Sudan is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Though the Sudanese government approved the ratification of CEDAW and the African Protocol on Women’s Rights following years of demands from Sudanese women, the ratification of CEDAW came with reservations on the articles number 2, 16 and 1/29, which is a clear violation of the rule that prevents reservations that defeat the essential elements and goals of human rights covenants.

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Towards eradicating female genital mutilation in Nigeria

DuniaMekonnenTegegnAuthor: Dunia Mekonnen Tegegn
Human Rights Lawyer and Gender equality advocate

Nigeria is home to over 180 million people, 49.4% of whom are female. Along with the rest of the population, the Nigerian female population will experience dramatic increases in size by 2050. As far as violence against women is concerned, federal law addresses sexual violence, physical violence, psychological violence, harmful traditional practices, and socio-economic violence. The law also cites spousal battery, forceful ejection from the home, forced financial dependence or economic abuse, harmful widowhood practices, female genital mutilation/cutting (“FGM/C”), other harmful traditional practices, substance attacks (such as acid attacks), political violence, and violence by state actors (especially government security forces) as offenses.

A 2019 survey on domestic violence found that 47% of respondents had suffered from domestic violence or knew someone who had; 82% of respondents indicated that violence against women was prevalent in the country. Police often refused to intervene in domestic disputes or blamed the victim for provoking the abuse. In rural areas, courts, and police were reluctant to intervene to protect women who formally accused their husbands of abuse if the level of alleged abuse did not exceed local customary norms.

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Child marriages in Zimbabwe and the failure by the State to fulfil its obligations to protect the rights of children

Nqobani-NyathiAuthor: Nqobani Nyathi
Researcher, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Introduction

Recently, there have been reports about a 14-year old child who died during childbirth. The reason why such a tragedy happened and may continue to happen is the State’s failure or unwillingness to eradicate child marriages. This article seeks to outline Zimbabwe’s legislative framework regarding child marriages and its obligations in terms of international law.

The legal position

Child marriage is illegal in Zimbabwe as held by Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court. In January 2016, the apex court rightly found that the legislative provisions legalising child marriages were inconsistent with the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The Constitution has fairly strong provisions promoting and protecting the rights of children, including the right to be protected from sexual exploitation or any form of abuse. The Court also observed that historically there has been a “lack of common social consciousness on the problems of girls who became victims of early marriages.”

The fact that child marriages had to be declared illegal through litigation exposes this lack of common social consciousness. Zimbabwe had been clinging to the archaic law legalising the marriage of children in terms of both the Marriage Act 81 of 1964 and the Customary Marriages Act 23 of 1950.

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