The Commonwealth Wire

Rights Commission condemns Mkapa over 'name calling'

The Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG) has condemned former President Benjamin Mkapa's remarks in which he labelled those holding different opinion against the government are fools and loafers. A statement released by CHRGG chairman Bahame Nyanduga said former President's remarks were against the right of every citizen to express his/her opinions.

Government trashes HRW report

The Minister for Justice Johnston Busingye has trashed the recently released Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that made allegations of extrajudicial killings in the country. He described the report by Human Rights Watch as an attempt to seek attention and said the organisation had been deliberately fooled when developing the report.

LGBTIQ visibility through Colombo PRIDE

For 13 years, Colombo PRIDE has been an exercise in increasing the visibility of the LGBTIQ community and thereby bringing to the attention of the public, the issues faced by the Community throughout Sri Lanka. Colombo PRIDE therefore, has been about forming a collective LGBTIQ identity, emphasising the existence of the community and providing the LGBTIQ persons, their family and friends a safe space to proudly be themselves, without fear of persecution or violence and to meet other people in similar circumstances.

Nottingham University promotes human rights in mining communities

The University of Nottingham, England, is partnering Global Media Foundation (GLOMEF) a media advocacy organisation to promote human rights in communities affected by mining activities. The 12-month project is titled: "Change from below: building the capacity of local communities to advocate their rights," and was necessitated by research conducted on child miners at Kenyasi.

Stop threatening rights groups

The government of Tanzania should end its hostile rhetoric toward civil society groups and threats to obstruct their work, 18 national and international nongovernmental organizations said yesterday. The comments have targeted groups helping pregnant girls finish their education and those working to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

S/Africa accuses Swaziland of abuse of human rights

South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) claims that Swaziland is abusing human rights and suppressing dissent and political activity. The ANC reportedly recommended the party’s supports for the call for the unbanning of political parties in Swaziland and the release of all political prisoners, and that Swaziland is placed before SADC for intervention.

Opinion: Protecting prisoners: Reforms must secure rights of inmates

The focus of public and judicial concern over the situation prevailing in India’s prisons has in recent times been related to overcrowding and long spells of incarceration faced by indigent inmates too poor to obtain bail. Other issues range from prisoners’ rights, health, hygiene and access to legal aid, to the condition of women inmates and their children. According to the model jail manual published in 2016 by the Union Home Minister , the state is under an obligation to protect the residuary rights of prisoners after they surrender their liberty to a legal process.

Cornwall's topless rules are being appealed to Ontario Human Rights Tribunal

The City of Cornwall has been named, along with several other incorporated entities, in a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The complaint centres around a policy requires women and girls over the age of 10 to wear tops while using the municipal aquatic centre, outdoor pools, or parks. The complainant in the case believes the policy is discriminatory towards women and violates her human rights, and is looking to the tribunal for redress.

Burundi: Rights Group Attacks 'Dictatorship' and "Repression" of Govt

International Federation for Human Rights and six other human rights organizations produced a report highlighting president and his government’s authoritative and repressive policy. This report, which analyzes the President’s dictatorship against his opponents, youth militarization, and civilian terrorization, has been banned by the government.

Women activist condemns mobile phone ban among girls in Dholpur

A diktat by a Panchayat in Dholpur district allegedly bans girls from wearing jeans and using mobile phones.  Women’s rights activist, Pramila Nesargi condemned this decision. She said that everyone has the right to know what is going on around the work and added that they do not have the right to questions women’s clothing style. Rajasthan Women Commission called for an inquiry into the matter.

Nigeria optimistic for seat at UN Commission for Human Rights

Nigeria says it is optimistic of clinching a seat in the UN High Commission for Human Rights. Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, who disclosed this to journalists on the sidelines of the 31st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the 29th AU Summit in Addis Asaba, said the country also had the backing of the AU.

Bill on Internet Rights soon in Parliament

A private member’s bill seeking to protect the rights of internet users in Cameroon will soon be tabled at the National Assembly for scrutiny. Arrangements for the tabling of the bill, an initiative of Bamenda-based non-governmental organisation, A Common Future, are far advanced. Should the bill sail through, issues such as internet shutdown and surveillance by government should be brought under control.

A brutal sexual assault sparked riots in an Indian prison

Riots in Indian prisons are so routine they rarely make the news. But this week, rolling television coverage of a protest at Byculla women’s jail in Mumbai has transfixed a nation. About 200 female inmates rioted, some climbed to the roof of the prison, others burned newspaper to protest the death of an inmate who had died in custody the previous day.

Opinion: Attacks On Citizen Rights In SA: Five Trends And Countrywide Threats

South Africans are witnessing a nationwide crackdown on their civic rights. Citizens’ ability to speak out, organise and take action on social issues in South Africa is becoming increasingly restricted. Incidents of police using restrictive and excessive measures to curb protests or  intimidation of whistle-blowers are just two of the examples.

Legs Held Apart, Lathi Inserted Into Private Part — The Horrific Murder That Sparked The Byculla Jail Riot: Report

Prisoner Manjula Shetye, who was the warden of her barrack, noticed some food items missing. She went to report this. She was then allegedly severely assaulted by the jailers.  She was taken to the hospital only later after she collapsed in the bathroom. Six of the jail staff were placed under suspension. This is not the first such incident in India; last year, three persons were suspended over a death of a female inmate.

Human rights committee condemns minibus drivers’ riots

The Malawi Human Rights Consultative Committee (MHRCC) has condemned riots by minibus drivers and conductors who were protesting against implementation of new road laws in the country. Police units and vehicles were torched by angry protestors in some areas such as Machinjiri, Zingwangwa and Ndirande. Reacting on the matter, MHRCC has faulted the riots arguing ‘dialogue’ would have been a better course of action.

LGBTI network welcomed into Commonwealth

The Commonwealth Equality Network (TCEN) has become the first lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex (LGBTI) organisation to be officially accredited by the Commonwealth. TCEN is network of civil society organisations from 39 Commonwealth countries working to challenge inequality and end discrimination against LGBTI people. Thirty-six countries in the Commonwealth continue to criminalise consensual same-sex acts and in many others, LGBTI people experience discrimination and violence.

Final Report on the ‘Policy and Legal Framework Relating to the Proposed Counter Terrorism Act of Sri Lanka’

Counter-terrorism legislation in Sri Lanka has been used in the past to facilitate human rights abuses including arbitrary arrest and torture of detainees. In response to widespread domestic and international calls to repeal the much-criticised Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Government of President Sirisena has committed to replace it. However, a Report from the Institute for International and Comparative Law, University of Pretoria & Foundation for Human Rights, South Africa, has found that the replacement policy, Policy and legal framework relating to the Proposed Counter Terrorism Act of Sri Lanka (PLFCTA), does not provide for a human rights compliant framework for combating terrorism.

Human Rights Watch raps India for '20 internet shutdowns in 2017'

India has received an earful from the Human Rights Watch, who in its recent report stated the nation has shut down the internet in various regions 20 times in the first five months of this year, all in states where violent protests took place. Asserting that arbitrary and overbroad internet shutdowns violate India's obligations under international human rights law, the HRW report highlighted how in July 2016, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution condemning measures by countries to intentionally prevent or disrupt online access and information, and called for free speech protections under articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Call for new Lesotho Government to comply with human rights obligations

Amnesty International has called on the new Lesotho government to comply with the country’s international and regional human rights obligations and commitments. It says the mountain kingdom must end the practice of arbitrary arrests, politically motivated prosecutions and take effective measures to end the practice of torture and other ill-treatments.