Category Archives: HUMAN RIGHTS

Tens of thousands march in southern India to protest citizenship law


An article by Vinod Babu and Manoj Kumar from Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Over one hundred thousand protesters, many carrying the Indian tricolour flag, took part in a peaceful march in the southern city of Hyderabad on Saturday [January 4], chanting slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new citizenship law.

Demonstrators hold placards and flags as they attend a protest rally against a new citizenship law, in Hyderabad, India, January 4, 2020. REUTERS/Vinod Babu

The protest, dubbed the ‘Million March’, was organized by an umbrella group of Muslim and civil society organizations. More than 40 percent of Hyderabad’s estimated population of nearly 7 million are Muslims.

Demonstrators were still pouring into the protest site late on Saturday afternoon, according to a Reuters witness, despite police saying no march would be allowed and that permission had only been granted for a 1,000-person gathering.

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Questions related to this article:

How effective are mass protest marches?

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The Indian government has faced weeks of acrimonious and, at times, violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was passed by Modi’s government in December.

The Hyderabad protesters held placards with slogans including “Withdraw CAA immediately,” and “India’s only religion in Secularism.”

The Reuters witness said the protest remained peaceful, and estimated that more than one hundred thousand people were in attendance.

The new law eases the path for non-Muslim minorities from the neighboring Muslim-majority nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to gain Indian citizenship. But, if combined with a proposed national register of citizens, critics of the CAA fear it will discriminate against minority Muslims in India and chip away at India’s secular constitution.

Modi’s government maintains the new law is necessary to help minorities facing persecution in Muslim-majority nations, and it has called the pan-India protests politically motivated.

At least 25 people have been killed in protest-related clashes with police since early December.

Elsewhere, protests against the CAA also went ahead in several other Indian cities on Saturday with hundreds turning out for protests in cities in the southern state of Karnataka.

Hundreds of men and women gathered at a rally in the tech hub of Bengaluru, with some accusing Modi’s government of trying to divide India along communal lines, to distract from a sharp domestic economic slowdown and job losses.

Zimbabwe: MDC Leadership Engages National Peace And Reconciliation Commission


An article from Pindula News

The MDC leadership today met with Commissioners of the , an independent Constitutional Commission, at the party headquarters at Morgan Richard Tsvangirai headquarters in a frank and honest debate regarding the work and mandate of the Commission.

[Note: The Movement for Democratic Change is the main opposition political party in Zimbabwe.]

President Nelson Chamisa welcomed the Commissioners to the party headquarters and said the party appreciated the heavy workload of the Commission.

In his welcome remarks, he said that he hoped for an open, frank and honest discussion between the party leadership and the NPRC in a manner that would further the interests of the people of Zimbabwe and entrench a culture of peace and tolerance in the country.

President Chamisa sought leave of the Commissioners to attend the funeral of one his drivers in Mbare. He left Vice President Hon. Tendai Biti to chair the MDC leadership’s two-and-half-hour fruitful and candid engagement with the leadership of the NPRC.

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Question related to this article:

Truth Commissions, Do they improve human rights?

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The MDC leaders raised issues to do with the independence and autonomy of the Commission, the continued culture of impunity in the country in spite of the existence of the Commission as well as the disturbing fact that the NPRC had not referred anyone for prosecution, even in cases where the culprits of violence and conflict had been identified.

The party leaders cited Gukurahundi, the electoral violence that has been committed by Zanu PF over the years and the non-prosecution of perpetrators of violence in cases such as the State-sponsored violence of August 01, 2018, in which six people were killed as well as the State-driven violence of January 2019 in which more innocent people were callously murdered.

The NPRC insisted that it was an independent Commission and that it would roll out a national visibility programme in 2020, even though they said they required more resources to execute their Constitutional mandate.

The party leadership and the NPRC agreed to continuously engage to solve conflicts and promote peace and reconciliation in the country.

As a party, the MDC has been a victim of Zanu PF and State-sponsored violence in which thousands of people have been brutally killed, with no action taken against the culprits.

The party leadership insisted in the meeting that peace and reconciliation alone were not enough as justice had to be seen to be done particularly against the perpetrators of violence and genocide against the people.

Luke Tamborinyoka

Deputy National Spokesperson

PAYNCoP Gabon Pleads for Youth Involvement in the National Commission for Human Rights


An article by Jerry Bibang

The National Coordination of the Panafrican Youth Network for Peace Culture (PAYNCoP Gabon) took part, from 26 to 27 November 2019, in a sensitization workshop on National Human Rights Institutions.

Organized by the Ministry of Human Rights and the National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH) with the support of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and the United Nations Regional Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Central Africa, this meeting brought together several experts including those of the United Nations System, the Government, the National Commission for Human Rights as well as those of the Organizations of Civil society.

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(Click here for the original French version.)

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“The goal is to operationalize the CNDH through the sharing of good practices and contributions from each other,” said the Representative of UNOCA at the beginning of the workshop.

During the work, PAYNCoP Gabon advocated for a greater involvement of civil society organizations, especially those representing young people. In this sense, the National Coordinator suggested changing the age criterion which sets the minimum age of 40 to be a commissioner at the CNDH.

“If it is possible to be a deputy or Minister at 35 in Gabon, why set the age of commissioners of the CNDH at 40 ?” questioned Jerry Bibang. “This provision constitutes a factor of exclusion and a violation of the right to participation of young people in the management of public affairs,” he explained. It is opposed to regional and international legal instruments that encourage the participation of young people including the African Youth Charter and resolution 2250 (youth, peace and security) of the United Nations Security Council, he added. before insisting that the youth component should be taken into account in the current reform of the National Commission on Human Rights.

The various proposals of the workshop aim at modifying the text creating and organizing the CNDH of Gabon in order to bring it up to international standards, in particular the principles of Paris. The draft text to be amended will be submitted to the competent authorities.

USA: Exoneration of Scott Warren is a triumph for humanity


An article from Amnesty International

In response to the humanitarian volunteer Dr Scott Warren being found not guilty of the charges against him in a court in Arizona today, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

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Questions related to this article:

The post-election fightback for human rights, is it gathering force in the USA?

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“Sense has prevailed today with the jury exonerating Dr. Scott Warren for a simple reason: humanitarian aid is never a crime. The Trump administration is wrong to try to prosecute people who are only trying to save lives. By threatening Dr. Warren with a decade in prison, the US government sought to criminalize compassion and weaponize the deadly desert against people who make the perilous journey to the United States in search of safety.”

This was the second trial Dr Warren has faced on charges of “harbouring” two migrants, for providing them with humanitarian assistance in the town of Ajo, Arizona, where he lives. The first trial resulted in a mistrial on 2 July, when eight of 12 jurors sought to acquit him on all charges but could not reach a unanimous decision.

In July, Amnesty International issued a report  documenting the Trump administration’s misuse of the criminal justice system to threaten, intimidate, and punish those defending the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers on the US–Mexico border.

PAYNCoP Gabon Partners with the National Youth Council to Stop Violence against Youth


To CPNN from Jerry Bibang, PAYNCoP National Coordinator (translation by CPNN)

In the face of renewed violence against young people in Gabon, the National Coordination of the Panafrican Youth Network for the Culture of Peace (PAYNCoP Gabon) and the National Youth Council of Gabon (CNJG) joined forces on Saturday, October 26, to firmly condemn this phenomenon which harms Gabonese youth. Their press conference had the support of several youth organizations in Gabon.

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(Click here for the original in French.)

Questions related to this article:

Rights of the child, How can they be promoted and protected?

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In the statement, read by Fernandez Ona, President of the CNJG, the young leaders recalled the international legal provisions relating to the protection of the child in particular Article 16 of the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child that states: “The States Parties to this Charter shall take specific legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child against all forms of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, and in particular any form of or physical or mental abuse, neglect or abuse, including sexual abuse, when entrusted to the care of a parent, legal guardian, school authority or any other person having custody of the child.”

Also, the 2040 Agenda of the African Union on the Rights and Welfare of the African Child, in its aspiration 7, urges the States Parties to provide protection against all forms of violence against children. In the same vein, the Constitution of the Republic, in its Preamble, reaffirms the need to ensure and protect the physical and moral integrity of youth.

“In spite of these normative devices, it is sad to note the recurrence of cases of violence against young people on the national territory,” said Jerry Bibang, PAYNCoP National Coordinator. “The violence is multiple and varied, including physical, sexual, economic, verbal and psychological violence,” he added, respectfully urging the Government to take concrete measures to eradicate this phenomenon.

PAYNCoP Gabon and AFRICTIVITIES inform civil society organizations about the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)


by Jerry Bibang, National Coordinator of PAYNCoP Gabon (translation by CPNN)

As part of the celebration of the African month of justice, the Citizen Movement for Good Governance in Gabon (MCB2G) and the Panafrican Youth Network for Peace Culture (PAYNCoP), in partnership with Africtivists, organized, Saturday, August 10, a public conference on the theme “African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Access to Justice: Mechanism for this fundamental right.”

(click on photo to enlarge)

Hosted by Paulette Oyane Ondo, lawyer and human rights defender, the meeting at the Glass Cultural Center brought together several NGO leaders and associations working for the defense and promotion of human rights.

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Question(s) related to this article:

How can human rights be defended?

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In his remarks, Jerry Bibang, the MCB2G General Coordinator and National Coordinator of PAYNCoP Gabon emphasized the context of this meeting: “the activity that brings us together today is part of the implementation of the program entitled ‘Local Initiative for Justice’, which aims to set up a framework for dialogue, exchange, discussion and debate around human and peoples’ rights issues. The program, organized by Africtivistes, consists of 5 major sessions that will be held successively in Gabon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Cameroon. ”

Through this program, “the Africtivists and all the stakeholders wish to publicize the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), which remains little known to the general public,” he added.

In her remarks, Maitre Paulette Oyane Ondo began with a historical reminder before addressing the composition, functioning, mechanisms and conditions of referral to the ACHPR. For the lawyer, the Commission, created in 1987 in Ethiopia, essentially promotes, protects, guarantees and respects human rights in Africa. Its basic tool is the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The commission also acts as a jurisdiction between states or in case of a difference between a state and an individual or a group of people living in Africa. If the commission is accessible to all, there are, however, conditions for it to take up a case. The first condition is that the country involved has ratified the African Charter on Human Rights; and the second is that the complaint is related to a violation of the basic text. The lawyer took the opportunity to highlight the lack of involvement of Gabonese civil society with the ACHPR, before answering the many questions of the participants.

On the sidelines of this event, the public also was presented the Africtivistes platform by Boursier Tchibinda, one of the members of this pan-African organization as well as a presentation of the MCB2G, by Joanie Mahinou, the Deputy General Coordonatrice of this NGO.

Global Human Rights Movement Issues Travel Warning for the U.S. due to Rampant Gun Violence


An article from Amnesty International

Amnesty International today issued a travel warning calling for possible travelers and visitors to the United States to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the country due to rampant gun violence, which has become so prevalent in the United States that it amounts to a human rights crisis. It aims to hold up a mirror to the U.S. using the model of the United States Department of State’s travel advice for U.S. travelers to other countries.

“Travelers to the United States should remain cautious that the country does not adequately protect people’s right to be safe, regardless of who they might be. People in the United States cannot reasonably expect to be free from harm – a guarantee of not being shot is impossible,” said Ernest Coverson, campaign manager for the End Gun Violence Campaign at Amnesty International USA. “Once again, it is chillingly clear that the U.S. government is unwilling to ensure protection against gun violence.”

The travel advisory addressed growing gun violence, mostly hate crimes, including racism and discrimination, highlighting that the traveler’s race, country of origin, ethnic background, sexual orientation or gender identity may place them at higher risk after recent attacks linked to white supremacist ideology.

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Question(s) related to this article:

What is the state of human rights in the world today?

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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The action called attention to the extent to which all aspects of life in the United States have been compromised in some way by unfettered access to guns, without comprehensive and uniform regulation of their acquisition and use. By prioritizing gun ownership over basic human rights, the U.S. government is willfully and systematically failing on multiple levels and ignoring its international obligations to protect people’s rights and safety.

Amnesty International has been calling for common sense reform regarding the use and possession of firearms, including comprehensive background checks, national regulations for registering and licensing firearms, required training, a ban on high capacity magazines/assault weapons, and mandatory safe-storage laws. Amnesty International USA’s campaign to end gun violence has focused efforts on passing S.42., the Assault Weapons ban, and the Disarm Hate Act.


A report by Amnesty International, “In the Line of Fire: Human Rights and the U.S. Gun Violence Crisis” examined how all aspects of American life have been compromised in some way by the unfettered access to guns, with no attempts at meaningful national regulation.

Last month, Amnesty International published a report examining how survivors of gun violence in the United States suffer years of trauma and pain due to a destructive combination of government policies which ignore their needs.

UN chief welcomes power-sharing deal between Sudanese military and opposition


An article from UN News

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Friday he was “encouraged” by reports of a newly-inked power-sharing deal between the Forces for Freedom and Change – a coalition of opposition and protest groups – and Sudan’s ruling military council.
The two sides have reportedly agreed to share power for three years, and then hold elections for a return to full civilian government. Mr. Guterres welcomed the decision to establish transitional governing bodies, and congratulated the African Union, Ethiopia and the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), for their role in mediating the talks.

Video from Deutsche Welle

News of the deal reportedly brought thousands of people onto the streets to celebrate and raised hopes that a peaceful transition of power can take place, following months of turmoil since December’s civilian revolt began.

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How effective are mass protest marches?

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The Secretary-General, said a statement from his Spokesperson, is now encouraging all stakeholders to “ensure the timely, inclusive, and transparent implementation of the agreement and resolve any outstanding issues through dialogue.”

The statement also noted that Mr. Guterres welcomes the parties’ commitment to conducting an independent investigation into the violence perpetrated against peaceful protesters, including the events on 3 June, when security forces and militia fired on pro-democracy protesters in the capital Khartoum, leaving dozens dead and many more injured.

The UN chief expressed his solidarity with the people of Sudan, and reiterated the commitment of the United Nations to assist in the transition process.

Following a series of strikes and protests early in the year, long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by his top generals in April. Hopes were high that the military and opposition could reach a deal, but since the military-led violence of 3 April, talks were at an impasse until the latest round of negotiations began in the capital Khartoum earlier this week.   

Just last Sunday, there were nationwide demonstrations demanding the transfer of power to civilian hands, in which at least seven were reportedly killed, with more than 180 injured.

On Wednesday, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on Sudanese authorities to lift restrictions on the internet and launch independent investigations into all acts of violence against demonstrators, and allegations of excessive force, including attacks on hospitals. Ms. Bachelet said her office had received numerous allegations that excessive force had been used by security forces against protestors.

Kazakhstan: Protests of presidential vote bring 500 arrests


An article from The Public’s Radio-Kazakhstan

Police detained hundreds of people in Kazakhstan amid unauthorized protests of a presidential election Sunday that opponents alleged was a fake exercise in democracy.

Kazakh police block demonstrators during an anti-government protest during the presidential elections in Nur-Sultan, the capital city of Kazakhstan, Sunday, June 9, 2019 
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Officers, some in riot gear with shields and helmets, broke up the demonstrations in the capital, Nur-Sultan, and in Almaty, the Central Asian country’s main commercial city. Some 500 protesters were taken to police stations, a government official said.

Three police officers were injured in the clashes, Deputy Interior Minister Marat Kozhayev said. There were no immediate reports of charges following the arrests.

The snap election was called after the unexpected March resignation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, 78, who had led the country since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Many people assumed Nazarbayev would run for re-election during a regularly scheduled presidential vote next year.

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How effective are mass protest marches?

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The protesters alleged the election to choose his successor would not be free or fair, and had called for a voter boycott.

Nazarbayev loyalist Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the upper house speaker who became acting president when Nazarbayev stepped down, was expected to win easily.

Seven candidates were on the ballot, including a genuine opposition figure for the first time since 2005.

The opposition candidate, Amirzhan Kossanov, said he had no complaints about possible campaign violations before Sunday’s contest.

“But the most important result, the peak of the election political process, is counting of the votes,” Kossanov said.

The national elections commission reported that about 77% of the electorate turned out to vote. Previous presidential elections had reported turnouts of more than 90%.

Kazakhstan recently has experienced rising opposition sentiment. Previous anti-government rallies took place in the spring to protest the early election, which opponents saw as an orchestrated handover of power.

One of the most prosperous former Soviet republics, large Kazakhstan stands at a crossroads between neighbors China and Russia.

[Note: According to Garda News, Canadian diplomatic authorities indicate large-scale demonstrations are expected in Nur-Sultan and Almaty on Sunday, June 30.

Czech Republic: Prague crowds demand PM Andrej Babis step down


A report by Emmanuelle Chaze from Deutsche Welle (reprinted by permission)

Hundreds of thousands of anti-Babis activists flooded the center of Prague on Sunday [June 23] in the culmination of anti-government protests.

“Judging from the aerial photos, it looks like we’re about 250,000,” said Mikulas Minar, head of Million Moments for Democracy, the NGO organizing the protest, as crowds were filling Prague’s central Letna square earlier on Sunday.

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Carolina, a flight attendant from the south of the country, told DW she had traveled to Prague to take part in the protests because it “has simply become too much.”

“That’s why people from all across the country came here today, to show that it isn’t simply the people in the capital that are angry.”

Hannah, 31, a saleswoman, said she no longer agrees with the government: “Even in his own party (ANO), there are people against Babis who didn’t want him as a prime minister … now I think it is our turn to show that we disagree with how things are done.”

Previously, some 400,000 people signed a petition calling on billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis to step down amid allegations of fraud. The rallies were triggered after Babis appointed a close ally as the country’s new justice minister at a time when prosecutors are deciding on a potential indictment against him.

Many Babis opponents also claim the 64-year-old politician had collaborated with the communist secret police before the 1989 Velvet Revolution.

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How effective are mass protest marches?

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Corruption and anti-corruption

Babis has built his reputation as the founder and head of his business empire Agrofert, which started in the early 1990s and grew to become the Czech Republic’s biggest private employer, encompassing over 250 companies.

The billionaire entered politics in 2011 by founding the ANO (YES) party on an anti-corruption platform, becoming finance minister and deputy prime minister in 2014. He was forced out of the Cabinet in 2017 over allegations of tax fraud and suspicious business dealings. However, the crisis brought down the government and triggered a parliamentary election, which saw Babis’ ANO place far ahead of its rivals.

During the campaign, Babis was hounded by charges of defrauding the EU for around €2 million ($2.28 million) in 2007. He has denied any wrongdoing.

In April this year, police said Babis should stand trial over the alleged fraud. Babis rejected the move as a political plot against him. When Justice Minister Jan Knezinek resigned over the probe, Babis replaced him with his own longtime adviser Marie Benesova.

Last month, Babis found himself fending off another crisis when preliminary results of a European Commission audit were leaked to the public. According to the draft document, Babis has a conflict of interest as his companies benefit from EU funding. Specifically, it found that Agrofert should not have received €17.4 million in EU subsidies. The prime minister dismissed it as “an attack on the Czech Republic.”

He also pledged not to resign.

Risky vote of no confidence

The opposition has called a no-confidence vote for next week. To oust Babis, the opposition would need to have his coalition partners, the Social Democrats, side against him, or have the Communist Party revoke their parliamentary support for the government.

However, some observers believe Babis could also turn to the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy party to stay in power.

A state attorney is set to decide whether Babis will go on trial over subsidies later this year.