A year ago today, the PAI Family lost our sibling, Jacobus Witbooi. We’d like to commemorate today with these messages:
“Today marks one year since Jacobus left us, it’s been a tough year without you. Your joy and smile that embraced us is what kept us afloat. Your hard work and dedication is what has been the courage for us all to continue with the good works you had started. You may not be with us today but your spirit lives on within us.” – Richard Lusimbo, PAI Co-Chair
“Its been a year since you passed away. I hope you know how much you meant to us. You were just like a candle full of light and comradeship. Your life was a blessing, your memory a treasure. You are loved beyond words and missed beyond measure. May you continue to rest in eternal peace. Much love. Always.” – Nate Brown, PAI Finance Manager
“Jacobus, no day goes by without missing you, everything that you embodied, your colorful presence, beauty, humor and commitment to improving the lives of others less fortunate. I have held on to you for a year now but now I must let go, let you fly away so you can join the other angels! Rest In Power brother…I will always remember and be inspired to do more!” – Monica Tabengwa – PAI Director
A video made by Iranti-org on the passing of Jacobus: https://www.iranti-org.co.za/content/Profiles/Jacobus-Witbooi.html
While attending Africa Week at the Parliament of the European Union last week, PAI’s Programme Manager, Anthony Oluoch, was interviewed by RTBF, a radio station in Brussels on the topic of LGBTI rights in Kenya and Africa in general. Listen to the podcast in French and English here.
02 May 2017
Joburg, South Africa: Pan Africa ILGA Welcomes New Staff Members
Pan Africa ILGA welcomes Anthony Oluoch and Sivu Siwisa who are joined us on 2 May 2017 as our new Programmes Manager and Programme Officer: Communications, respectively.
Anthony Oluoch is a Kenyan lawyer who has worked within the LGBTI movement for the past 7 years. He worked as the Legal and Human Rights Officer at the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya where he was instrumental in the design and initial implementation of what was then, a strategy towards decriminalization of adult consensual same sex conduct. He then joined Gay Kenya Trust, an organization that works towards equality and non-discrimination for all including gay and lesbian individuals in Kenya. He currently sits on the advisory panel of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award and the board of the IDAHOT Committee.
Sivu Siwisa is a Black Queer Non-Conforming Feminist and LGBTIAPQ+ activist with a huge appetite for communications, advocacy, movement building and organising. They are a Communications Specialist by training, and are committed to using feminist frameworks to create communications tools and strategies for social justice work across the continent. Sivu has worked for South Africa’s leading advertising agencies as a Copywriter and has also worked at Gender DynamiX as a Media and Communication Officer. They were instrumental in the inception of the Alternative Inclusive Pride and has been an active contributor in organising of Khumbulani Pride. Sivu was named Brand South Africa’s 40 under 40 for their gender activism work and was also named as one of Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans to look out for, for their contribution to Civil Society.
Mr. Oluoch and Siwisa join PAI at a time when the organisation is growing, with the aim to meet its strategic goals for the next three years. They both bring with them a wealth of experience, strength and a vision towards making PAI a regional body that benefits all her members.
ILGA and Pan Africa ILGA are among the 31 human rights groups demanding investigations on a series of attacks on Ugandan non-governmental organizations and human rights defenders
(Kampala) – The Uganda Police Force (UPF) should promptly, thoroughly, and transparently investigate a series of attacks on Ugandan non-governmental organizations and human rights defenders and hold suspects accountable, 31 Ugandan and international human rights groups said today in a letter to the police inspector general. The severity of one of the recent attacks, in which intruders beat a security guard to death, demonstrates the urgency of addressing these attacks, for which no-one has been held responsible.
Between April and May 2016, intruders broke into the offices of at least three groups in Kampala – the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), and the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda). The break-ins followed more than two dozen previous break-ins at the offices of non-governmental groups since 2012. Although the police inspector general formed a committee of eight officers to investigate the break-ins in July 2014, no one has yet been brought to justice.
“The lack of accountability for attacks on non-governmental organizations has apparently led to an atmosphere in which attackers felt free to kill a security guard, in order to accomplish their aims,” said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Uganda Police Force needs to live up to its obligation to actively investigate these cases and bring those responsible to justice.”
At HRAPF, the assailants beat to death security guard Emmanuel Arituha, ransacked the offices of the director and deputy director, and stole documents and a television screen. They did not, however, take computers, laptops, or other electronic equipment. Colleagues remembered Arituha as “always smiling and very committed to his work.” At the time he was killed, he had been helping to pay his two younger siblings’ school fees.
At FAWE, intruders stole a server, laptop and desktop computers, cameras, and projectors. At HRNJ-Uganda, camera footage shows a visitor apparently providing a dish of food containing sedatives to the security guards, allowing four intruders to search the premises after the guards fell asleep. More than two weeks after the most recent attack, police have not made any arrests.
Organizations whose offices were broken into in 2014 included Human Rights Network-Uganda; Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, Uganda Land Alliance, Action Group for Health, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS, and Lira NGO Forum. The groups are all known for their work on sensitive subjects – including corruption, land rights, freedom of expression, and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people – and for criticizing government policies.
In a further attack on the premises of Uganda Land Alliance in July 2015, another security guard, Richard Oketch, was beaten to death. No one has been arrested for his murder.
Each incident has been reported to the police in a timely fashion, but police efforts to investigate and collect evidence such as witness statements, DNA, and CCTV footage have been limited and lacked follow-up. In some cases, the police did not respond to the complaints or, more commonly, provided no substantive update on the status of investigations.
“Human rights defenders already work in a challenging and often repressive environment in Uganda,” said Adrian Jjuuko, executive director of HRAPF. “We’re determined to continue our work on behalf of the Ugandan people, but we need the police to stop disregarding these threats to our property, our physical security, and even our lives.”
As a state party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Ugandan government should ensure the right to life and the right to liberty and security for all persons, as well as the right to freedom of association, both of which are severely impeded when organizations cannot conduct their work in a safe and secure environment. As set out in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, countries have a duty to protect human rights defenders “against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure, or any other arbitrary action” as a consequence of their work to uphold human rights.
The organizations that sent the letter to the police inspector general called on him to clarify the steps the police have taken to investigate the most recent break-ins, as well as the previous wave of break-ins in 2014. The letter also asked the inspector general to outline how the police will protect human rights defenders, including HRAPF and others whose offices have been attacked, from further acts of violence.
“The lack of accountability and persistent impunity for attacks on human rights defenders and their offices sends a message that authorities condone and tolerate such attacks,” said Sarah Jackson, Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes at Amnesty International. “Ending impunity is essential to protecting and ensuring a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders.”
Signatories to the letter include:
Amnesty International, Kenya
Centre for Human Rights – University of Pretoria, South Africa
Chapter Four Uganda, Uganda
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, India
Community Development and Child Welfare Initiatives (CODI) Uganda, Uganda
EHAHRDP/Defend Defenders, Uganda
FOKUS – Forum for Women and Development, Norway
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, Uganda
Freedom House, United States
FRI – The Norwegian Organization for Sexual and Gender Diversity, Norway
Health GAP, United States
Human Dignity Trust, United Kingdom
Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, Uganda
Human Rights Network for Journalists, Uganda
Human Rights Network, Uganda
Human Rights Watch, United States
International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), Switzerland
Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), Uganda
Legal Aid Service Providers Network-Laspnet, Uganda
NGO Forum, Uganda
Pan Africa ILGA, South Africa
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, United States
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), Uganda
The African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV), Uganda
The National Coalition on HRDs, Uganda
Uganda Land Alliance, Uganda
Uganda Network of AIDS Service Organisations (UNASO), Uganda
Unwanted Witness, Uganda
Link to ILGA statement http://ilga.org/uganda-investigate-break-ins-at-groups-offices/
The Pan Africa ILGA Board and staff would like to extend their heartfelt appreciation and thanks to all those who participated in the 3rd PAI Regional Conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 14-18, 2016.
The event brought together 180 participants from 34 countries in Africa. It attracted a diverse range of expert presentations including by key political figures, judges, human rights commissioners, human rights defenders and activists, donors and other regional and international allies.
The conference was about being part of a community; of belonging to a community of LGBTI citizens who came together to claim their rightful place in the continent; their right to belong in Africa and in their respective countries and communities, as FULL and EQUAL citizens.
The theme of the conference was ‘African Bodies: Breaking Ground Building Bridges”: As we celebrated our diversity and unity we also remembered those who laid the foundations, those who took the initial steps, and whose lives and livelihoods have been lost and/or destroyed, whose bodies have suffered indignity for our cause, and honoured those whose bodies continue to be the battleground of the struggle against inequality, discrimination, segregation and human rights violations!
Because We are proudly Africans, We refuse to be silenced or intimidated by bigotry, hate or intolerance, We shall continue to fight for social justice, equality, inclusion and recognition.
The 4th PAI Regional Conference will be held in 2018 in Gaborone, Botswana, we will be looking forward to more collaboration and community with you! Thank you one, thank you all!!
PLEASE VIEW OUR THANKYOU VIDEO HERE
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) with the legal support of Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) has today filed an application in the High Court, challenging the refusal by the Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB) to reserve their name and therefore by extension denying them registration.
SMUG seeks to improve the human rights situation for sexual minorities in Uganda through advocacy, policy reform, economic empowerment, health, counseling, among other services. In 2012, SMUG sought registration as a company limited by guarantee so that it can assume the benefits and obligations of a registered organisation under Ugandan law. The URSB however denied reservation of their name on the grounds that same sex relations are criminalised under Section 145 of the Penal Code.
In the case filed at the High Court, SMUG challenges the refusal to reserve its name and consequently to register the organisation as a violation of the rights to: equal protection of the law; freedom of association; expression; assembly; and conscience; rights of minorities to participate in decision-making processes; affirmative action in favor of a group of persons marginalized by history, tradition and custom; fair treatment in administrative decisions; as well as the right to participatein peaceful activities to influence the policies of government through civic organisations. These are all rights that are expressly protected in the Constitution of Uganda and which accrue to everyone regardless of their status.
The High Court has before ruled that Section 145 of the Penal Code only criminalises specific sexual acts, and not the person. On this basis, the application asserts thatthe Registrar General could not rely on Section 145 do deny registration to an organisation providing legitimate support services to a marginalised community.
The application seeks orders compelling the URSB to reserve the name Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and consequently to register the organisation.
International human rights law and Uganda’s Constitution protect all organisations doing legitimate work including those working with marginalised groups, and the Constitution requires all organs of the state to uphold the Constitution and uphold fundamental human rights. This is the basis of this application.