Posts Tagged 'Human Rights Watch'

Cameroon: Rights Abuses in ‘Homosexuality’ Prosecutions


Human Rights Watch has released a 55 page report titled “Guilty by Association: Human Rights Violations in the Enforcement of Cameroon’s Anti-Homosexuality Law,” which documents 10 case studies of arrests and prosecutions under article 347 bis of Cameroon’s penal code, which punishes “sexual relations between persons of the same sex” with up to five years in prison. The report finds that most cases are prosecuted with little or no evidence.

Visit Human Rights Watch to download the report as well as to read a summary of the report.

Ambassador Robert P. Jackson, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon released this statement to the Cameroonian press as a response to the report.

We commend Cameroon for its ongoing efforts to enhance socio-economic development and modernize its economy, as outlined in the Vision 2035 strategy.  We consider these goals to be fully achievable and well within Cameroon’s reach.  Just as achieving these goals will be a national accomplishment, undertaking them must be a national effort, involving the full participation of every Cameroonian.  It follows that in order for every citizen to make a meaningful contribution, he or she should enjoy the full measure of his or her fundamental freedoms, as guaranteed in the universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As we approach the International Day Against Homophobia (“IDAHO”), we would like to underscore that human rights pertain to all persons, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or other differences, including sexual preferences.  Under no circumstances in this day and age should hate crimes, violence, or discrimination be socially acceptable or legally permissible.  Imprisoning people on the basis of unproven accusations or text messages violates the freedoms guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  A pluralistic society can only thrive when each member acknowledges and respects the diversity within it. Incidents of torture and physical abuse, as documented by Human Rights Watch, are a sobering reminder of the work that remains to be done if we are to achieve, in practice, what we so often propose, in theory:  “On Est Ensemble.”

‘Traditional Values’ code for human rights abuse?

Repost from CNN.com by Graeme Reid, Human Rights Watch

The U.N. Human Rights Council recently passed a resolution on “traditional values of humankind” as a vehicle for “promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms.” It sounds innocuous, but its implications are ominous. Indeed, it is an immediate threat to the rights of many vulnerable groups – including women and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people. And it flies in the face of the founding principles of universality and indivisibility enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This is the third Russian-sponsored traditional values resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council. The second, in 2011, called for a study, and the resulting draft study is highly critical of “traditional values” as a framework, criticizing the concept as “vague, subjective and unclear.” The third, though, adopted on September 27, affirms traditional values as a valid framework for human rights.

Underpinning this is an argument that homosexuality is a moral issue and not a rights issue at all. A pernicious development is the recent proliferation of laws in Eastern Europe and Central Asia that seek to curtain freedom of speech by clamping down on “homosexual propaganda” under the pretext of “protecting children.” These laws are vaguely defined and have the effect of outlawing any supportive messages or activism around LGBT issues. Continue Reading

Serbia: Revoke Ban on Belgrade Pride Parade

Repost from Human Rights Watch

(Berlin) – Serbia’s ban on the Belgrade Pride Parade, scheduled for October 6, 2012, violates the country’s international legal obligations and should be immediately repealed. On October 3, the Interior Ministry announced that based on an assessment of security risks, it was blocking the peaceful demonstration and all other public gatherings on the same date.

“The government of Serbia should protect the freedom of assembly and expression of the Serbian lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and their straight allies instead of forbidding them to assemble and march on the streets of Belgrade,” said Boris Dittrich, LGBT rights advocacy director. “Pointing to security risks without any visible effort to come up with a reasonable plan to make the Belgrade Pride Parade happen is succumbing to threats of violence. Basic human rights are being thrown overboard.” Continue Reading

Uganda: Growing Intimidation, Threats to Civil Society

HRW report Curtailing Criticism: Intimidation and Obstruction of Civil Society in Uganda(Nairobi, August 21, 2012) – Research and advocacy organizations in Uganda that deal with controversial topics are facing increasing harassment by Uganda’s government, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Groups have recently faced forced closure of meetings, threats, harassment, arrest, and punitive bureaucratic interference. The Ugandan government should end its hostile rhetoric and repeated obstructions of nongovernmental organizations, Human Rights Watch said.

The 50-page report, “Curtailing Criticism: Intimidation and Obstruction of Civil Society in Uganda,” documents increasing government attacks on organizations whose focus includes oil revenue transparency, land acquisition compensation, legal and governance reform, and protection of human rights, particularly the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Both government ministers and district-level officials have engaged in obstruction, Human Rights Watch said. Continue reading ‘Uganda: Growing Intimidation, Threats to Civil Society’

Global Post begins series on the global battle over LGBT rights

Turkey Pride photo:Jodi-Hilton, GlobalPost

photo: Jodi Hilton/GlobalPost

Global Post an international news publication has begin its series “The Rainbow Struggle: A Global Battle Over Gay Rights“.  A team of four writers and photo journalists will present 12 reports on the international struggle for LGBT equality. The first installment was launched today “The Rainbow Struggle: A primer for the global gay rights battle” and it features quotes from Senior Advisor to The Council for Global Equality, Julie Dorf,  as well as from Council member Graeme Reid of Human Rights Watch.

Global Post describes the series as “From the streets of New York City to the townships of South Africa, the LGBT rights movement and its opposition are engaged in an unprecendented international battle. Throughout October and November, we will present 12 in-depth reports from key locations at this pivotal time in history, telling highly personal, often overlooked stories from the fight.

You can read the first installment of this series here

Calling on Cameroon government to end the persecution of gays and lesbians and repeal laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relations

Press Release from Amnesty International

The Cameroonian authorities must end the persecution of gays and lesbians and repeal laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relations, five human rights organizations said today in an open letter to the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch joined the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), L’Association pour la Défense des Droits des Homosexuel(le)s (ADEFHO) and Alternatives Cameroun in urging the government to release all individuals detained under the discriminatory law.

“This use of criminal law to punish private sexual activity between consenting adults contravenes international human rights laws that Cameroon has signed and ratified,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “We are receiving an increasing number of reports that individuals are being targeted not only because of their sexual behaviour, which is the subject of these discriminatory laws, but because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This use of criminal law to punish identities, as well as behaviours, is deeply concerning,” he added.

The organizations also ask that the government take steps to ensure the end of detentions, arrests and harassment of individuals on the grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Continue reading ‘Calling on Cameroon government to end the persecution of gays and lesbians and repeal laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relations’

Hungary: Ruling on Gay March a Human Rights Victory Hu

press release from Council member, Human Rights Watch

Hungary: Ruling on Gay March a Human Rights Victory

Protect Demonstrators from Violence, Guarantee Rights to Expression, Assembly

(New York, February 18, 2011) – The Budapest Metropolitan Court’s decision on February 18, 2011, to allow an extended route for a gay pride march was an important victory for freedom of assembly in Hungary, Human Rights Watch said today. The Budapest police had denied permission to extend the route for the march, planned for June 18.

“The court’s decision was a victory not only for the  community of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people, but for the right of all Hungarians to freedom of assembly,” said Boris Dittrich, acting director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights program at Human Rights Watch.

The Metropolitan Court of Budapest overturned the February 11 decision of the Budapest police to deny an application by Rainbow Mission Foundation, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organization, to extend the route of the 2011 Budapest Gay Pride March to the parliament building.

Rainbow Mission Foundation made a formal request to the police in September 2010 to hold the gay pride march in June 2011. Because the police did not deny the request within two days, it was automatically approved under national law. In February, the organizers of the event decided to extend the route to end at Parliament Square, but the police denied their request. The court refuted the police claims that the extended route of the march would unduly obstruct traffic.

In 2008, the police had denied a permit for a gay pride march on similar grounds but withdrew its objections following a letter from 15 LGBT organizations and the rejection by Gábor Demszky, the Budapest mayor at that time, of the claim that the parade would unduly obstruct traffic. Approximately 450 lesbians, gays, and supporters gathered in the city center for the event.

During the march, though, several LGBT people were subjected to physical and verbal abuse, and crowds of counter-demonstrators threw explosive devices, eggs, cobblestones, and bottles at the participants. As a result 10 people were injured and 45 detained.

The right to the freedom of assembly is enshrined in Article 11 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In Bączkowski and Others v Poland in 2005 and Alekseyev v. Russia in 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously that banning a LGBT pride parade violated the right to freedom of assembly and association.

On March 31, 2010, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted a set of recommendations (CM/Rec (2010), 5 addressed to member states, including Hungary, on measures to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. The recommendations are minimum standards. Relevant articles are:

  • Article 14. Member states should take appropriate measures at national, regional and local levels to ensure that the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, as enshrined in Article 11 of the Convention, can be effectively enjoyed, without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Article 15. Member states should ensure that law enforcement authorities take appropriate measures to protect participants in peaceful demonstrations in favor of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons from any attempts to unlawfully disrupt or inhibit the effective enjoyment of their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
  • Article 16. Member states should take appropriate measures to prevent restrictions on the effective enjoyment of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly resulting from the abuse of legal or administrative provisions, for example on grounds of public health, public morality and public order.

“Instead of trying to obstruct the fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and expression, the police authorities should fulfill their obligation to protect the demonstrators,” Dittrich said. “The court has done the right thing. The police should follow suit.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on LGBT rights, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/en/category/topic/lgbt-rights

For more information, please contact:
In New York, Boris O. Dittrich (English, Dutch, German): +1-917-535-3863 (mobile)

Additional Information:

Amnesty International

EU Observer

Uganda: Promptly Investigate Killing of Prominent LGBT Activist

(c) AP, David Kato

repost from Council for Global Equality member organization, Human Rights Watch

David Kato Was Fearless Voice for Human Rights

January 27, 2011

(Kampala) -­ Police in Uganda should urgently and impartially investigate the killing of the prominent human rights activist David Kato, Human Rights Watch said today. Kato had dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender persons (LGBT) in Uganda, facing threats and risks to his personal safety.

The government should ensure that members of Uganda’s LGBT community have adequate protection from violence and take prompt action against all threats or hate speech likely to incite violence, discrimination, or hostility toward them, Human Rights Watch said.

“David Kato’s death is a tragic loss to the human rights community,” said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “David had faced the increased threats to Ugandan LGBT people bravely and will be sorely missed.” Continue reading the statement

read more about this tragic story at Box Turtle Bulletin

An LGBT Response to the State Department’s UPR Report

By Julie Dorf, Senior Advisor

The best part of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s livid reaction to the U.S. report to the United Nations on our country’s human rights record was that it put this relatively obscure international human rights instrument–known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)–into the mainstream news this week. CNN and the New York Times would otherwise never have covered the UPR submission of the United States at the UN’s Human Rights Council without a scandal to report. Brewer was furious at the inclusion of a very brief mention of the pending federal court case reviewing Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 law on immigration, through which the federal government argues that they, not the states, are responsible for immigration law.

Both the left and the right had predictable reactions to the 25-page U.S. report released last week. The left made long lists of issues not covered adequately in the report, which is limited in length by the UN process itself. The US Human Rights Network, Human Rights Watch, Center for Women’s Global Leadership, and many other important groups raised important issues that got short shrift in the official U.S. government report. The right predictably questioned the U.S. engaging in the UN process at all. The Heritage Foundation uses the report to criticize the Obama administration for joining the newly formed Human Rights Council in the first place, calling it “a mutual praise society for repressive regimes.” And the gay community’s The Advocate published a piece criticizing the Council for Global Equality for our participation in the UN process when weeks prior we submitted our own report of the U.S. record on the human rights of LGBT people. The Advocate’s James Kirchick claimed that when the American LGBT community uses this global human rights mechanism for advocacy, it “effectively minimizes the appalling way in which the world’s genuine human rights abusers treat their gay citizens.” (See the criticism here, and our rebuttal here.)

In fact, the U.S. report is more honest and self-reflective than anything we would have gotten from prior administrations, even if it does attempt to position the Obama administration as doing everything it possibly can on the many unresolved human rights problems in this country. We know that further leadership is required of our government, and it is our role as advocates to keep the pressure on.

For the LGBT community, the report includes a relatively extensive paragraph (page 9, paragraph 34) outlying the administration’s support for most of the legislation still pending in Congress that would move us toward the goal of equality for LGBT Americans. It contextualizes the LGBT community’s struggle by writing, “In each era of our history there tends to be a group whose experience of discrimination illustrates the continuing debate among citizens about how we can build a more fair society. In this era, one such group is LGBT Americans.”

The State Department report says: “Debate continues over equal rights to marriage for LGBT Americans at the federal and state levels, and several states have reformed their laws to provide for same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. At the federal level, the President supports repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.” It is here that we must register our disappointment. Although we understand the real political constraints facing the administration, we want our President to support full marriage equality for all LGBT Americans, as well as the Respect for Marriage Act. Unfortunately, Obama has felt compelled to articulate and re-articulate his opposition to marriage equality and his support for civil unions. LGBT Americans deserve a government that stands up on “controversial issues” not only to the Governor Brewers of the United States, but to state laws and ballot measures that restrict the human rights of LGBT Americans—including our right to form family.

Our nation has a long history of intense power struggles between the states and the federal government. On immigration, the federal government has voiced its opposition to the Arizona law. The Council would have liked to see a similar call-out about California or Arkansas–states that also overstepped their authority by taking away rights from same-sex couples of existing relationship and family protections through their ballot measure process. The Arkansas adoption ban was overturned in the courts, and a case is currently pending challenging California’s Proposition 8 in federal courts, which was not mentioned in the report.

Thank you Governor Brewer for helping to bring the public’s attention to the UPR report this week, and to the continued need for us to stay vigilant about the proper role of the state and the federal government in the implementation of our human rights values and obligations, as we continue to perfect our nation’s union.

Ugandan Human Rights Activist Focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Advocacy in the United States, Visits Washington, D.C., Louisville, and Salt Lake City

U.S. Department of State

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 9, 2010

Ugandan Human Rights Activist Focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Advocacy in the United States, Visits Washington, D.C., Louisville, and Salt Lake City

One of Uganda’s most outspoken and prominent human rights activists, Ms. Valentine (Val) Kalende, is visiting the United States under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program to focus on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) advocacy. Ms. Kalende will have discussions with members of government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, faith groups, and the media, as well as with local and federal government officials. In turn, she will talk with U.S. interlocutors and broader audiences about the Ugandan human rights situation and challenges faced by members of the LGBT community.  Read full statement


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