NGOs Welcome Release of Refugees

Human rights organisations have welcomed the release of more than 300 Zimbabwean refugees, saying their arrests have been unreasonable.

In a joint press statement, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and the AIDS Law Project (ALP), point out that, "Dropping the spurious charges of loitering strengthens our conviction that homeless people are being targeted just because they are homeless and vulnerable."

Ireland Wants Kidnapped Aid Workers Released

The Irish government says senior officials have arrived in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum to negotiate the release of an Irish aid worker and her Ugandan colleague kidnapped in Darfur.

Unidentified gunmen and seized Sharon Commins of Dublin and her colleague, Hilda Kuwuki, from the Darfur base of the Irish aid agency GOAL. No group has claimed responsibility for their abduction.

The delegation plans to meet with leaders of Sudan, the United Nations and other aid agency officials, and international diplomats with experience in kidnappings.

Shame on Lotto

My name is Robin Opperman, and I am the Director of the Umcebo Trust. We run a non-profit art and craft trust, based in Durban. We applied in the most recent Lotto round of applications, and submitted end of February. We received the standard acknowledgements and within the past two weeks were very excited to receive correspondence from Lotto asking for elaboration on a number of issues related to our application.

NGO Urges Government to Criminalise Torture

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (Zimrights) has called on the country’s government to enact laws that make torture a criminal and cruel offence that cannot be pardoned.

Marking the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the forum’s director, Okay Machisa, pointed out that government should sign, ratify and domesticate the Charter against Torture.

Trading PBOs - Should You Use a Separate Organisation?

Because the old 10(1)(f) exemption prohibited trading, and the new 2000 laws restricted it severely, NGO’s which wished to generate revenue to sustain their activities were forced into setting up dual structures: one organisation which was tax exempt and received donor funding, and another which did the income-generating work, and then donated the funds to the tax exempt organisation.

Changing Landscapes

We celebrated 15 years of democracy at the election polls in April, giving rise to an opportunity to reflect on where we have come from, and where we are going. Like the often turbulent years of human adolescence, our country has experienced dynamic change and development since the first democratic elections in 1994. A key component of our democracy, the non-government organisation (NGO) sector, which delivers thousands of vital services to the broader community, has also experienced transition in the past decade and a half.

NGOs Urged to Push for Policy Implementation

NGOs have not done enough to lobby for speedier implementation of policies. This is according to former Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO) chairperson, Phillip Makgalemele.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 2009 NGO Week in Botswana, Makgalemele said: “I am hopeful that in the coming months, there will be intensified lobbying... ."

Calls to Criminalise Torture

Ugandan civil society organisations have asked their government to enact a law criminalising torture before the 2011 general elections.

“We call upon the Government to affirm its commitment to eliminate torture in Uganda by enacting the prevention of torture Bill into law," says Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, Meddie Kaggwa. 

Kaggwa says the current laws on torture are inadequate, and although torture is covered in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002, it only applies to authorised officers.

US$202 million for Zim NGOs

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has concluded his tour of Europe and the United States without raising a penny for the inclusive government although he acquired US$202 million for NGOs, which are mostly British or US-based entities.

International news agencies quoted British Prime Minister Gordon Brown as pledging full support once the reform programme "gained momentum"on the ground . Nearly all the countries visited by Tsvangirai said their money will be channelled through NGOs.

AI to Monitor Zimbabwe for 100 Days

Amnesty International (AI) says it will closely monitor the human rights situation in Zimbabwe for the next 100 days, to test the commitment of the unity government to real reforms in the country.

The announcement follows a meeting between AI's secretary-general, Irene Khan, and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, in the United Kingdom, after wrapping up a six-day visit to Zimbabwe last week.


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