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Apply for ISHR’s Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme

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From ISHR (International Service for Human Rights):

Hi all,

I wanted to share the call for our big summer training programme, the Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme (HRDAP) – deadline 11 December 2017.

As you may know, HRDAP is a two-week training taking place in Geneva in English. As well as receiving training modules on all the UN human rights mechanisms from a range of experts, participants will have the opportunity to build networks in Geneva and around the world, carry out lobbying of UN member States and UN staff, and learn from peers from all regions working on a variety of human rights issues.

HRDAP brings together defenders from across the globe, in particular LGBTI defenders, defenders working in migrant rights, in business and human rights, and defenders working to reclaim civil society space for WHRDs in restrictive environments.

 

While the focus is Geneva, the learnings are much more widely applicable. And I think it’s important to emphasise the value of an advocate getting two weeks away from their national context, surrounded by other individuals facing similar challenges in different places, helping to build solidarity and understanding. A few former ‘HRDAPers’ are on this mailing list and can hopefully back me up on that!

Please do share this call with defenders you think would benefit from the programme! And please get in touch if you know of strong candidates who’ve applied so we can be sure to consider them closely.

Many thanks,

NEWSLETTER: November 2017

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We’re proud to bring you our latest newsletter, filled with highlights of the last month’s news from around Africa, as well as the excitement and opportunity that next year brings in the form of the 4th Regional Conference.

The registrations for the conference open tomorrow, the 17th of November. Click here tomorrow to register for the conference: http://www.panafricailga.org/register/

Download the newsletter here: November Newsletter 2017

Update on Egypt: Horrifying new law to be passed

By | Egypt, News | No Comments

Since the 2 October arrests, the situation in Egypt continues to worsen. There will now be a bill passed into Egyptian law that will make Egypt one of the most anti-LGBTI countries in the world. According to an article on intomore.com, Egypt will be “enacting one of the world’s most sweeping and extreme pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation following a harsh crackdown on the local queer community.

On Wednesday, member of parliament Ryad Abdel Sattar introduced a bill that would criminalize homosexuality in the North African nation, where sodomy isn’t prohibited current under law. Being found guilty for engaging in “perverted sexual relations” results in a one- to three-year prison sentence. Any subsequent conviction means five years behind bars. But the legislation goes much further than that. Similar to Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law, the bill attempts to totally extinguish LGBTQ life in Egypt. “Individuals that incite same sex relations… even if they don’t perform the act itself, will be punished to prison for a period no less than one year and no more than three years, as well as shutting down the venue,” the bill reads, specifically calling out spaces that “host” or “facilitate” LGBTQ events.

Multiple violations of the law, as in the prohibition against sodomy, entail a five-year sentence. The law also targets any media, whether audio or video, which is viewed as promoting homosexuality. Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation banned any mention of LGBTQ issues in news, radio, or television broadcasts earlier this month, unless the subject of discussion is repentance for sin. The bill’s ban on media promotion would likely function similarly, blocking any remotely positive mention of queer people. Anyone found guilty of circulating pro-LGBTQ propaganda will recieve a punishment of up to three years in jail, even if they aren’t queer or transgender.” Read more here.

Lastly, the extremely broad law prohibits Egyptians from carrying “any symbol or sign of the LGBTQ community,” a clear response to the hoisting of a rainbow Pride flag at a Mashrou’ Leila concert last month. The legislation also states that it’s illegal to “produce, sell, market, or promote such products.” Any violation results in a prison sentence of between one and three years.

Pan Africa ILGA continues to call on other countries to put pressure on Egypt to uphold the human rights treatise it is a signatory to. We stand with our Egyptian brothers, sisters and siblings.

As part of the efforts of the Alliance of Queer Egyptian Organizations (AQEO) in Advocacy and Lobbying, they’ve shared an overview and analysis of the context in which the Egyptian Parliament will be presented with a bill to criminalize homosexuality for consideration and voting, thus constituting one of the worst laws criminalizing sexual orientation around the world.

Also attached with this email a video produced by AQEO to promote the rejection of this law on a large scale.

Please post and share in your circles.

Overview of the new Anti LGBT+ Law in Egypt

Update on the Tanzanian arrests

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An update on the situation in Tanzania following the arrest of 13 activists. PAI is outraged at the lack of response to international pressure to release the 13, and we will continue to agitate for the rights of the detainees. You can help by signing the petition and sending the emails to be found in our last post on the situation.

27 October 2017
JOHANNESBURG

PRESS STATEMENT
The Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa confirms that three of its lawyers who were arrested in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania on Tuesday 17 October 2017, and placed in unlawful detention from Friday 20 October 2017, were deported earlier this evening from Tanzania. It bears emphasis that no criminal charges were brought against them from the date of their arrest.

The remaining 9 are still being detained.

ISSUED BY ISLA

Tanzania arrests and detains 13 more activists on trumped up charges of ‘promoting homosexuality’! – Reprisals for Challenging the Government

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The government of Tanzania continued its clampdown on civil society and its affront to the rule of law, as thirteen activists were arrested on Tuesday, 17th October and charged with ‘promoting homosexuality’. These arbitrary arrests follow the arrest of 20 people on the 15th September in the Zanzibar territory, signalling a pattern on the part of Tanzanian government agents of violating the rights of its citizens on suspicion of homosexuality by illegally arresting, detaining and mistreating them. The group included local activists and lawyers who were attending a litigation strategy meeting to challenge Tanzania’s ban of the supply of HIV/AIDS prevention materials.

In a statement to MambaOnline, Amelia Motsepe, a representative for the Johannesburg-based Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA), explained that two members of the group are South African, including Sibongile Ndashe, ISLA’s Executive Director. In her interview with MambaOnline, Motsepe said, “We do fear for their safety. We are not even sure in which police station they are.” Motsepe further denounced these arrests for being “irregular”, “malicious” and said that the offence of ‘promoting homosexuality’ does not exist in any statute in Tanzania.

MambaOnline goes on to report that the government is threatening to perform forced anal examinations on the detainees. These examinations have been used before in Tanzania and other countries in Africa, and are not only a flagrant violation of human rights, but are a form of torture. The Independent Forensic Expert Group (IFEG) has explained that “Anal examinations to ‘detect homosexuality’ have no scientific value, are unethical, and constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and possibly torture. Sexual identity and orientation is not a disease or a crime and health professionals have no business diagnosing it or aiding State officials in policing and punishing people on the basis of their sexuality”. The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) joins the IFEG in condemning this cruel, inhuman and degrading practice as unethical and a clear violation of the UN Convention against Torture which Tanzania has ratified.

“The right for human rights defenders (HRDs) to promote, and protect human rights include the right to complain about and criticise the policies and actions of the government and its agents. Tanzania’s arrest and ill-treatment of HRDs for doing their job is an act of tyranny and a violation of fundamental rights and freedoms,” says Monica Tabengwa, Director of Pan Africa ILGA,

Pan Africa ILGA condemns these actions in the strongest terms and calls on organisations to join us in compelling the Tanzanian government to:

  • Immediately cease any plans to perform anal examinations on the arrested.
  • Immediately release those detained.
  • Uphold its constitution and the international treaties it is a signatory to by ceasing its unlawful arrest of its citizens on suspicion of homosexuality or incitement of homosexuality.

We call on all our members and human rights organisations to:

  • Sign the petition.
  • Sign and send the letter below to put pressure on the Tanzanian Government.

 

For more information on the current situation, the press statement released by the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa and the Community Health Services and Advocacy group:

PRESS STATEMENT by ISLA and CHESA 
Dar-es-Salaam, 20 October 2016 – On Tuesday, 17 October 2017, a legal consultation convened by the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) and Community Health Services and Advocacy (CHESA) was raided by the Tanzanian Police. The consultation was convened in order to get more instructions and evidence on a case that we plan to file before a court. The case concerns a challenge to government’s decision to limit the provision of certain health services that it had previously provided.

Thirteen people were detained and released on bail with no charges made. On Wednesday, the Regional Commissioner of police issued a press statement, referring to the “arrests” and stated that twelve people who were promoting homosexuality had been arrested. This mischaracterisation of a legal consultation where lawyers and their clients were discussing a very specific case to be referred to the court is unfortunate. The police had a copy of the concept note and the agenda of the consultation. Three lawyers were part of the group that was detained include ISLA’s executive director, Sibongile Ndashe. The bail was revoked on Friday 20 October 2017 with the view of starting the investigation afresh. All thirteen people are back in custody.

The Tanzanian Constitution enshrines the right to seek legal redress when fundamental rights have been violated (Art 30(3)). The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights, which Tanzania is a signatory to, also recognises an individual’s right to an appeal to competent national organs against acts violating his fundamental rights as recognised and guaranteed by conventions, laws and customs in force (Art 7(a)). Tanzania is a signatory to a number of international human rights treaties that recognizes these and other related rights.

We view this as an attempt to intimidate citizens from approaching judicial institutions when their rights have been violated, to create an environment where lawyers are afraid to provide legal representation and to ultimately create an environment where it is unthinkable to hold the state accountable for human rights violations. There is no legal basis for these proceedings. We call upon Tanzanian authorities to discontinue the ongoing persecution of lawyers and their clients. Allow citizens to access legal representation without intimidation and allow the foreign nationals whose passports have been seized to leave the country.

Issued by CHESA and ISLA

 

 

To show your support, please add your logo, signature and name at the bottom of the following letter, and send to the following authorities. Feel free to adapt, as you deem appropriate.

 

October 23, 2017

To the Hon. George Mcheche Masaju

Attorney General of the United Republic of Tanzania

Email: g.masaju@bunge.go.tz; ag@agctz.go.tz

 

To the Hon. Bahame T.M. Nyanduga

Chairperson, Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance

United Republic of Tanzania

Email: bahame.nyanduga@chragg.go.tz

 

To the Hon. Adv. Pansy Tlakula

Chairperson, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Email: pansy.tlakula@gmail.com

 

To the Hon. Soyata Maiga

Vice- Chairperson, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Email: cabinetsoya@afribone.net.ml; soyatam@yahoo.fr

 

To the Hon. Solomon Ayele Dersso

Commissioner, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Email: Solomon.dersson@gmail.com

 

Your Excellencies,

We are writing regarding the recent arrests of thirteen persons, including three lawyers and their clients that were recently carried out by the Tanzanian Police.

On Tuesday, 17 October 2017, a legal consultation convened by the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) and the Community Health Services and Advocacy (CHESA) was raided by the Tanzanian Police. The consultation was convened in order to get more instructions and evidence on a case that the two organizations planned to file before a court concerning a challenge to government’s decision to limit the provision of certain health services that it had previously provided.

Thirteen people, including two South African citizens, one Ugandan citizen, were detained. Among the arrested persons are ISLA’s executive director, Sibongile Ndashe, and CHESA’s director, John Kashiha. No one was charged but all were granted bail.

On Wednesday, the Regional Commissioner of police issued a press statement referring to the “arrests” and stated that twelve people who were promoting homosexuality had been arrested. On Friday 20 October 2017, the bail was revoked for everyone for no reason. They were advised that a fresh investigation process was starting and everyone was taken to custody.

The mischaracterization of a legal consultation where lawyers and their clients were discussing a very specific case to be referred to the court as “promotion of homosexuality” is unfortunate and concerning. The police had a copy of the concept note and the agenda of the consultation.

Even more alarming is that three lawyers who were part of the group, including Sibongile Ndashe, were arrested together with their clients.

The Tanzanian Constitution enshrines the right to seek legal redress when fundamental rights have been violated (Art 30(3)). The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights, which Tanzania is a signatory to, also recognizes an individual’s right to an appeal to competent national organs against acts violating his fundamental rights as recognized and guaranteed by conventions, laws and customs in force (Art 7(a)). Tanzania is a signatory to a number of international human rights treaties that recognizes these and other related rights.

The arrest of the thirteen people mentioned above is an attempt to intimidate citizens from approaching judicial institutions when their rights have been violated. Furthermore, the arrest of lawyers while they are advising their clients on the steps to be taken to seek legal redress is clearly aimed at creating an environment where lawyers are afraid to provide legal representation and to ultimately create an environment where it is unthinkable to hold the state accountable for human rights violations.

We are strongly convinced that there is no legal basis for these proceedings, as demonstrated by the press statement released by the Regional Commissioner of police, and that the arrests are arbitrary and politically motivated.

Therefore, we call upon Tanzanian authorities to immediately release the thirteen individuals who are currently arbitrarily detained; to allow citizens to access legal representation without intimidation; to discontinue the ongoing persecution of human rights defenders, lawyers and their clients and refrain from such future actions; and to allow the foreign nationals, whose passports have been seized, to leave the country.

Sincerely,

[name and signature]

Dispatch: Protest in Solidarity with Egyptian LGBTI Against Human Rights Abuses

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Tens of Egyptian citizens are being arrested following a concert by a Lebanese band, Mashrou’ Leila, taking place on Friday, 22nd September, at one of Cairo’s biggest malls. These arrests followed a campaign by local media, which published several pieces across news and social media platforms inciting hate speech against members of the LGBT community in Egypt. As a result, there have been increased attacks against and arrests of citizens who suspected of attending the concert. People have been arrested randomly from the streets based on their perceived sexuality as well as increased entrapments of LGBT individuals by the morality police via gay dating apps and websites in addition raiding homes of LGBT individuals. The have been charged on counts of “inciting immorality” and engaging in acts of “debauchery”.

Pan Africa ILGA stands in solidarity with The Alliance Of Queer Egyptian Organizations (AQEO) and the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE) and joins Human Rights Watch, ILGA Europe and the COC Netherlands in a statement condemning these unwarranted arrests and attacks as human rights violations especially the rights to freedom of expression in Egypt.

 
Activist Ahmed Alaa confirmed in a Buzzfeed video that he raised a rainbow flag at the concert in prior to his arrest.

Since the hate campaign began, 56 individuals and counting have been arrested in Cairo, Giza, Ismailia, South Sinai, Damietta and Beheira Governorate, facing charges of “habitual debauchery” and “promoting debauchery”, in accordance with Article 9A, Law number 10 of Egypt’s anti-prostitution and debauchery law 10/1961. Other charges faced are those of “promoting debauchery” and “aims to disrupt the provisions of the Constitution and the law through inciting ‘deviancy’” And a few others. A number of these individuals have already been prosecuted and found guilty and 15 defendants have received prison sentences, ranging from 6 months – 6 years. Police raids of homes of suspected homosexuals and their allies continue to occur, and the detainees experience ill treatment and invasive medical examinations as well as lack of easy access for lawyers to read and review reports, deprivation from food, denying family visits police officers encouraging harassment by other prisoners to the accused individuals. Political parties and community leaders have supported the media campaign and Members of Parliament and Al-Azhar religious scholars are pressuring the state to end “attempts to corrupt the youth”.

LGBT activists from Egypt and MENA region stated that these arrests follow “the escalating violent attempts to suppress and divide civil society organizations, restrict their resources, and increase security measures to silence advocates for human rights and freedom of speech and expression in Egypt, the Egyptian state and media have exceeded all expectations in spreading fear, discrimination and encouraging hate speech inciting Egyptian citizens against each other.”

In addition, a number of Egyptian human rights organizations condemned the crackdown on individuals based on their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. In their statement, the signatories said, “The state has no right to interfere in the private lives of people, except in cases involving violence, minors or non-consensual acts. While the police continue to hunt down dozens of gay people, or men who have sex with other men, using vague legal provisions to punish individuals who have not committed any crimes, the judicial system has failed to invest the equivalent amount of effort into investigating and prosecuting cases of female circumcision, child marriage and domestic violence, all of which are serious crimes committed against hundreds of thousands of girls and women each year.”

 

Call to action

Pan Africa ILGA join LGBT activists from Egypt and MENA region signatories of its statement in the following call to action:

  • “We call for human rights organizations, civil society, the international community, journalists, media experts, lawyers and all individuals who are interested in protecting human rights values to join their voices to ours and sign this statement.
  • We remind the Egyptian state of its important responsibility of protecting the security of Egyptian citizens and guaranteeing the freedom of speech and expression as stated by the Egyptian Constitution and International Conventions.
  • We call for media organizations to respect the values of professionalism during their coverage and defend human rights and avoid hate speech and demeaning terminology against Egyptian citizens, and refrain from giving a space to sources who intentionally spread fear and hate.” (Press release issued by the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality “AFE” )

 

PAI, in collaboration with other South African and African human rights groups, is in the process of planning protests in a show of solidarity with the Egyptian LGBT community and their allies who will be protesting in different cities worldwide on October 19, 2017. Join the online protest in solidarity with the Egyptian LGBTI community. For now, should you wish to show your solidarity, send your organisation/group’s logo to germaine.delarch@panafricailga.org to be added as a signatory to this dispatch.

#ColorsRNotShame #RainbowIsNotCrime #ThisIsEgypt  الألوان_مش_عار#

You can also make your voice heard by signing this petition drawn up by activists from Egypt and MENA region.

 (See Egyptian law and history of LGBT sentiment at the bottom of this page for the Egyptian context)


For more information, contact:

Alliance of Queer Egyptian Organisations (AQEO)                         Pan Africa ILGA
egypt@afemena.org                                                                                germaine.delarch@panafricailga.com

       

 


Signatories:

                 

 


Egyptian law and history of anti-LGBTI sentiment

Egypt has no law against or ban on homosexuality or cross-dressing in its criminal code. Nevertheless, the law of debauchery directly criminalizes sexual relations between men, whether in monetary terms or not.

An anti-LGBT sentiment has been present since the 1980s under Hosni Mubarak’s regime. The Mubarak-led administration did not support LGBT rights legislation in Egypt and objected to the attempts beginning in the 1990s to have the United Nations include LGBT rights as part of its human rights mission.

Criminal sanctions against gay and bisexual men arise from a supplemental law combatting prostitution and “debauchery”. Since 2000, these laws have formed the basis of a systematic crackdown on gay or bisexual men and anyone deemed to support LGBT rights, with the “Public Order and Public Morals” code increasingly used to criminalise homosexuality.

The most notorious enactment of this crackdown was the “Cairo 52” where 52 gay men attending a Cairo boat party were arrested and charged with violating these public morality laws. These arrests elicited international outcry from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, amongst others.

Egypt has ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Moreover, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (African Commission) adopted Resolution #275, which holds each member state accountable to protect people from violence on the grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Egypt is also signatory to the core international human rights treaties such as the UDHR, ICCPR and CAT, which oblige states to protect, fulfil and promote all fundamental rights for all, without discrimination on any basis whatsoever. In particular, these treaties enjoin states to protect all individuals from violations of their rights to life, liberty including the right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment; and to be allowed a fair trial and freedom of expression. The Egyptian Constitution also protects these same rights under Articles 51, 52, 54, 56, 58 and 59.

As such, Egypt is in contravention of its own Constitution as well as the various international human rights instruments which it has undertaken to uphold through ratification. In its statement, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) “expresses its deep concern at the rapid referral of these cases to court, without enabling defendants to exercise their constitutional rights to contact their families and choose their lawyers.”

 

 

Call for Proposals: European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights

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The African Centre for for Democracy and Human Rights announces the call for proposals of the new European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

The overall indicative amount made available is EUR 25 000 000 (5 000 000 EUR for each lot).

Guidelines and relevant documentation can be found here.

The specific objectives of this year’s call are to support civil society and human rights defenders working outside the EU in five key areas of human rights corresponding to the five recurring lots of 2014-2017 EIDHR global calls for proposals:
·         Lot 1: Supporting Human Rights Defenders in the area of land-related rights, indigenous peoples, in the context of inter alia ‘land grabbing’ and climate change.
·         Lot 2: Fighting against extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
·         Lot 3: Combating forced labour and modern slavery.
·         Lot 4: Promoting and supporting the rights of persons with disabilities.
·         Lot 5: Supporting freedom of religion or belief.

The deadline for submitting Concept Note is 9 November 2017 at 16:00 (Brussels time).

Human rights and freedom of expression violations in Egypt

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PAI stands in solidarity with the Arab Foundation for Equality in condemning the escalating human rights violations against the LGBTI community in Egypt, perpetrated by government and the media, and we call on our members and human rights organisations in Africa and the rest of the world to pressure the Egyptian state to desist from these abuses.
 
In a statement from the Arab Foundation, “During the past week, the Egyptian state arrested Egyptian citizens for raising a rainbow flag during a concert organized by a band, “Mashrou’ Leila”, on Friday, September 22, 2017. The local media supported these arrests by publishing numerous articles and interviews encouraging hate speech against groups and individuals that have gender non-conforming identities and sexual orientations, especially targeting LGBT people in Egypt. These provoking articles invaded most news and social media platforms.” To read more: http://afemena.org/2017/10/03/statement-human-rights-and-freedom-of-expression-in-egypt-trapped-between-security-services-and-the-media/ 
and 
PAI will publish a press release in the next few days.