Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
Being gay or lesbian in Uganda is illegal and those who are risk being locked away for up to 14 years. Now, a new parliamentary bill wants gay people to face even stiffer penalties and is proposing life imprisonment and even death sentences in some cases.
Pepe Julia Onziema and her partner, who asked that her identity be hidden, spend most of their time together — indoors. They are a lesbian couple living in Uganda where homosexuality is against the law. Pepe is also a gay rights activist in Kampala and is openly vocal about her sexuality and because of that she is often victim to discrimination and harassment.
“Myself I am at risk,” Onziema told Reuters Africa Journal “I can’t move on the streets as I used to, I can’t go to a shop … I have been picked off the streets, detained for sometime, ridiculed, intimidated, some money taken away from my wallet…”
David Bahati, an MP for Uganda’s ruling party, proposed the bill. “Homosexuality has become a huge issue in this country we know that it is not our values, it” not Ugandan, it’s a threat to our traditional family and the children of Uganda…”
In Guinea this week, at least 157 people were killed when security forces opened fire on a demonstration against military junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, according to a local rights group.
Much has changed since I visited the country in April and May this year. Then, the young Camara — or “Dadis” as most Guineans refer to him – did not look particularly dangerous despite his images staring out from walls, buildings and roundabouts all over Conakry, and cassettes of his speeches on sale in the markets.
from Global News Journal:
By Patrick Worsnip
What's more important -- the right of a sovereign state to manage its affairs free of outside interference or the duty of the international community to intervene when massive human rights violations are being committed in a country?
The United Nations -- nothing if not a talking shop -- has been debating that question this week in the General Assembly. It goes to the heart of what the U.N. is all about.
At issue is a declaration issued four years ago by a summit of more than 150 world leaders asserting the "responsibility to protect" -- R2P in U.N. jargon -- populations threatened with genocide or other mass atrocities. It was a somewhat belated response to widespread criticism of the United Nations for failing to stop massacres in Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990s.
The carefully crafted declaration said the responsibility began with the government of the country concerned. If that failed, it foresaw a sliding scale of international action, ranging from advice through mediation to -- in a last resort -- intervention by force. And such a use of force could only be authorized by the Security Council, meaning the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China would all have to agree.
Cautious as it was, the summit document was seen by many advocacy groups as a step on the road to fulfilling their dream that if a government was committing atrocities against its people, the United Nations would march in and stop it.
In the real world, U.N. officials say, that is not going to happen, at least under the peacekeeping rules that have applied in recent decades. These do not authorize U.N. forces to go to war against the national army of a sovereign state -- a move that would amount to invasion. Witness the six-year-old conflict in Sudan's western region of Darfur -- branded by some as genocide -- where a U.N./African Union peacekeeping force is only now being slowly deployed with the consent of the Khartoum government. The only time that R2P has been invoked in practice -- and even then retrospectively -- was in former U.N. secretary-General Kofi Annan's mission to mediate in post-election violence in Kenya last year, U.N. officials say.
This week's debate was to take stock of R2P and discuss how to take it forward, although no immediate action is expected. It came against the background of a determined attempt by radicals led by General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto, a former Nicaraguan Sandinista government minister, to kick the issue into the long grass.
For D'Escoto and those who agree with him, R2P is code for an attempt by big Western powers to impose their will on the weak. In a contentious "concept note" issued to all U.N. members he declared that "colonialism and interventionism used 'responsibility to protect' arguments." One member of a panel of experts D'Escoto convened to launch the debate, U.S. academic Noam Chomsky, said R2P-type arguments had been used to justify Japan's 1931 invasion of Manchuria and Nazi Germany's pre-World War Two move into Czechoslovakia.
While some radical states, such as Venezuela, echoed D'Escoto's line in the assembly debate, human rights groups expressed relief that most cautiously supported a strictly defined interpretation of R2P and backed proposals by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for developing it. Ban has proposed periodic reviews of how countries have implemented R2P and regular reports by himself on the issue. "To those that argued this week that the U.N. was not ready to make a reality of the commitment to end mass atrocities, the majority of the General Assembly gave its answer: you are wrong," said Monica Serrano of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Despite that, there have been clear signs of concern among developing countries that unless tightly controlled, R2P could be used in support of future Iraq-style invasions of countries that have angered the big powers.
What's your view?
The United Nations has joined Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government in appealing for more than $700 million in humanitarian aid for the ruined country.
But while Western countries may show willing when it comes to emergency aid, they are still reluctant to give money to the government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, his old rival.