The organisers of the Jo'burg Gay Pride have decided to end the event, listing the disruption by One in Nine protesters last year as a factor.
The parade ran for seven years and attracted crowds of more than 20 000, according to Jo'burg Gay Pride Festival Company board member, Samantha Durkin.
Fellow board member, Fulvio De Stefanis, argues that, "The interruption of last year's Joburg Pride march by the activist group, One in Nine, was also a factor in our reasoning."
To read the article titled, “Jo'burg Pride organisers call it a day for LGBTI parade,” click here.Source:Mail & Guardian
Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, has snubbed civil society leaders that have sought an audience with him over what has been viewed as the deteriorating political environment in the wake of a state onslaught against NGOs and human rights defenders.
NGOs under the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition banner, recently wrote to the four principals in the coalition government expressing their concerns over the resurgence of political violence and harassment of human rights defenders.
They requested to meet with the principals fearing a repeat of a violent crackdown reminiscent of the run-up to the 2008 polls that saw some civil society leaders being arrested.
To read the article titled, “Mugabe Snubs CSOs,” click here.Source:All Africa
The Kalahari Khoisan tribe is taking Botswana's government to court to reaffirm a previous ruling that granted the tribe legal rights to its ancestral land.
According to international advocacy group, Survival International, Botswana's government has been denying the Khoisan right to return to their land despite a landmark decision in 2006 that reversed the eviction of around 1 000 tribesmen from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).
Botswana is arguing that the verdict only applies to the 186 individuals named in the original case, requiring others to obtain permits that grant access to the territory for up to one month.
To read the article titled, “Kalahari bushmen tribe to challenge Botswana government in court again over land dispute,” click here.Source:The Huffington Post
Rights lawyer, George Bizos, says the national police commissioner, Riah Phiyega, is not helpful to the Farlam Commission of Inquiry.
Bizos, who is representing the Legal Resources Centre and Bench Marks Foundation, says that he will submit to the commission that Phiyega had failed to provide the relevant answers.
He accuses Phiyega of protecting police who shot dead 34 protesting miners in a wage strike on 16 August 2012, adding that, "Not only have you come here without answers, but you've come here to avoid personal accountability."
To read the article titled, “Phiyega wasn't much help – Bizos,” click here.Source:News 24
A Tanzanian human rights activist has called for the provision of free medical care to people living with albinism and increased number of teachers who can teach students with special needs.
The call was made by the Under the Same Sun executive director, Vicky Ntetema, during the launch of a series of educational programmes that will be broadcast on radio in the Lake Zone region and Rukwa next month.
Ntetema emphasises that what the country needs most is for people to understand albinism and this can be best done if studies about albinism are included in the teaching curriculum right from nursery school.
To read the article titled, “NGO touts free medical care for albinos,” click here.Source:All Africa
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will receive the judgement in the case of Ficksburg protester Andries Tatane and will consider urging the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to appeal the court ruling.
SAHRC’s Kayum Ahmed, points out that the Commission will be in the position to determine whether or not to appeal to the NPA to make the process forward, after receiving the judgement.
Ahmed’s comment after the Ficksburg Regional Court acquitted all seven policemen accused of murdering Tatane.
To read the article titled, “HRC could push for appeal in Tatane case,” click here.Source:SABC News
The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) has ruled that the Zimbabwe government is responsible for the torture of human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba, in a landmark ruling that sets a new precedent against impunity in Africa.
The ACHPR has now given Zimbabwe 90 days to act on the decision, including launching an investigation into the torture that Shumba was subjected to in 2003.
Shumba was arrested by the police and CIO officials in Zimbabwe in 2003, while attending to a client. During his detention he was kicked, beaten and severely tortured and ill-treated for several hours. He was threatened with death, electrocuted, burned with chemicals and suffered other serious abuses.
To read the article titled, “Zim govt found responsible for torture in landmark ruling,” click here.Source:All Africa
Four aides to Zimbabwe's Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, have been charged with breaching the official secrets code as their lawyer was accused of obstructing justice.
A magistrate on Tuesday ordered them all back into custody despite a high court order instructing the police to free the lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa.
Mtetwa, a top human rights lawyer, is accused of shouting at the police while she attended to calls for legal help when Tsvangirai's aides were arrested.
To read the article titled, “Rights lawyer Mtetwa and Tsvangirai aides charged,” click here.Source:Mail & Guardian
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has welcomed the Western Cape High Court's ruling that a refugee reception office (RRO) be re-opened by the Department of Home Affairs.
The SAHRC says it has been receiving complaints from asylum seekers on this issue and in September 2012 was approached by 80 asylum seekers, including children, seeking relief from actions of department of home affairs.
In the same vein, the People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) says hundreds of asylum seekers had been unable to get documentation since June 2012 and lived in fear of being detained and deported to countries where their lives and freedom were at risk.
To read the article titled, “SAHRC welcomes refugee ruling,” click here.Source:News24
There are good people across our society, in government and in civil society, who are deeply committed to our Constitution. They work hard and are committed to changing the reality of unemployment, poverty, inequality and violence. The biggest obstacle they identify is the lack of planning, the silo-mentality, the territorialism and egoism. These factors hinder coordination and cooperation within and between departments and spheres of government. It has negative impact on policy and budget development, preventing the implementation of policies that could shift this reality. The result is a widespread perception that government does not care.
Our Constitution enshrines the right to transparent, open government, meaningful public consultation and participation. Despite this, people who are poor struggle to access basic information about budgetary and other decisions directly affecting their lives. Bureaucrats and politicians often treat them with contempt, fobbing off any responsibility.
Without consulting and listening respectfully to those affected, government often makes disastrous short-term trade-offs. This happened in the municipalities of Makhaza in the Western Cape and Moqaqa in the Free State, both of whom had built unenclosed toilets.
Before the local government elections in 2011, the South African Human Rights Commission ruled that both these municipalities violated the rights to dignity, privacy and clean environment. Both were ordered to enclose the toilets within clear timeframes, in a manner that upheld human rights. They were required to submit regular progress reports to the Commission. This week the Commission issued a subpoena against the Moqaqa Municipality, for failing to report this year on progress on enclosing these toilets.
In these findings, the Commission had broken with tradition by requiring a systemic, structural response from national government. It had ruled that the Department of Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency (DPME) had to provide a status report on the right to sanitation in every single municipality across South Africa, including a plan to redress the problems within clear timeframes and without budget trade-offs with other socio-economic rights.
The Commission used its mandate to conduct public hearings on the rights to water and sanitation in every province. These hearings were held in some of the poorest areas. We invited local, provincial and national government representatives to attend, listen and respond to people’s experience of the failure to provide access to the rights to water and sanitation. Many communities said this was their first experience of direct engagement with government.
The hearings illustrated the interconnection, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights. Government heard that DPME’s statistics did not include many people who are poor and often have no services at all. People spoke of how the lack of water and sanitation led to severe health problems for their children; how it undermined the right to education, particularly for their daughters who dropped out of school when they reached puberty and began menstruating; how women and girls regularly brave the danger of being raped in the open fields they have to use; how those who try to assert the right to peaceful protest are tear-gassed and beaten.
Communities shared how businesses - both local and global - contracted to provide and maintain services such as water provision, escape regulation or censure for non-delivery, poor maintenance or corruption of local bureaucrats and politicians.
There was little evidence of a consistent and comprehensive programme of capacity building that could develop the technical and other expertise that poor municipalities lack. Municipalities are responsible for critical competencies without the necessary capacity, resources and power. When municipalities fail or are corrupted by local or global business, (who can have bigger budgets than South Africa’s (SA) budget), many throw up their hands in horror.
Moral outrage is not enough - the structural problems and causes need to be addressed in a systemic fashion. Those who do not enjoy human rights including the right to decent work, water, sanitation, health, housing, education, clean environment or the rights to public participation and peaceful protest remain trapped in SA’s townships, informal settlements and former homelands. In contrast, they believe that those who are wealthy have direct lines to those in power.
The Commission has invited government ministers and their departments including Human Settlements, Water Affairs, Environmental Affairs and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to attend the national hearing on 19 March 2013 at the Pan African Parliament. They were each given a copy of the Commission’s findings and recommendations from our provincial hearings. They will have the opportunity to respond to these within the next month. The Commission's final report will then be able to include government’s concrete responses, including the allegation that they do not care.
A few years ago, in the run up to the last local government elections, government’s Human Rights Day celebration cost South Africans R10 million. It was a day filled with speeches from government leaders. There was food and entertainment. Many leaders re-iterated how much things had improved. The gathered masses applauded the presentation of national or provincial averages, even though these fail to capture the entrenched inequalities that remain mapped out along Apartheid-era Bantustan and township divides.
There was no space for poor people to ask those with power about the problems experienced in accessing human rights...about when the broken pipes that seeped sewage into their homes would be fixed...when their village that was next to a dam would get the water that mines use and pollute.
Since that Human Rights day celebration, we have all seen images of SA’s police killing Andries Tatane, the miners in Marikana and dragging Mozambican, Mido Macia to his death. The brutal killing of human beings, who are black, poor or working class, speaks to the internalisation of Apartheid-era contempt for those killed, from Sharpeville to Soweto.
Our Constitution, with its far-reaching Bill of Rights means nothing for lives snuffed out so casually. It means nothing to those who everyday experience the brutality of poverty and violence. This year (2013), the Commission commemorated Human Rights Day by taking what people said across SA’s provinces to those in power. It is an opportunity to demonstrate collective commitment to realising the rights in our Constitution - it is not too late.
- Pregs Govender is deputy chairperson at the South African Human Rights Commission. This article first appeared on the SAHRC website.