human rights in africa

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Limit(less) - LGBTQ African Immigrants
Documenting LGBTQ African Immigrant Stories in North America and Europe

The #LimitlessAfricans Kickstarter is now live! Please donate and share with your network to bring my work on LGBTQ African Immigrants to Europe

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I read something in the paper that really confused me the other day. It said that 80 percent of the people in New York are minorities… Shouldn’t you not call them minorities when they get to be 80 percent of the population? That’s a very white attitude, don’t you think? I mean, you could take a white guy to Africa and he’ll be like, ‘Look at all the minorities around here! I’m the only majority.’
—  Louis C.K.

Fatou Bensouda (b. 1961) is a Gambian lawyer and international criminal law prosecutor. She has served as minister of justice in her native country, and has held the position of Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, uncovering war crimes and human rights violations.

She has received multiple awards for her work, most notably the International Jurists Award in 2009 and the World Peace Through Law Award in 2011. She is seen as one of the most influential people on the African continent today.

abcnews.go.com
Violence warned over US dropping conflict minerals rule
By ABC News

Increased violence and corruption in central Africa could be the result of the recent decision by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission not to enforce a rule requiring American companies to report their use of conflict minerals, warn Congolese civic groups, rights groups and U.S. senators.

“The conflict minerals rule has played a critical role in reducing violence in mining areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, who recently signed a letter with five other Democratic senators urging the SEC to uphold the rule.

The conflict minerals reporting rule, part of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations law, has largely been successful in ensuring that minerals worth trillions of dollars don’t benefit armed rebel groups blamed for human rights abuses, a coalition of groups from Congo and southern Africa told the SEC in a series of public comments earlier this year. In an opposing view, some business groups in the U.S. dismissed the regulation as ineffective and an unnecessary burden.

In April, acting SEC chairman Michael Piwowar said his organization will no longer enforce the 2012 rule that requires companies to verify their products do not use tantalum, tin, gold or tungsten that have been mined or trafficked by armed groups in Congo and other central African countries. Although the SEC is independent from the Trump administration, Piwowar was designated as acting chairman by Trump, and the SEC’s action appears to be in line with the president’s view that the government should reduce regulations of company operations.

In addition to the SEC action, Republican legislation to roll back the Dodd-Frank law, expected to pass the House in coming weeks, would repeal the conflict minerals rule. The bill’s prospects in the Senate are unclear.

Armed rebels and criminal gangs have been funded for decades by the illicit trade in Congo’s minerals, estimated to be worth $24 trillion, according to the U.N. The minerals are essential ingredients in smart phones, laptops, tablets and other high-tech products.

Dropping the conflict minerals rule implicitly supports conflict in the Great Lakes region, Leonard Birere, president of the Coalition of Anti-Slavery Civil Society Organizations in Goma, Congo, told The Associated Press in an email.

“The activity of the armed groups in the mining sites had decreased substantially as well as their capacity for violence” due to the conflict minerals regulation, Birere said.

Some leading American companies also support the conflict minerals regulations. “Apple believes there is little doubt that there is a need to enhance gold trading due diligence,” the company wrote in its 2016 conflict minerals report to the SEC…

Congolese groups have a nuanced understanding of the conflict minerals rule. When the regulation was introduced in 2012, many U.S. companies pulled out of Congo.

“All sectors of our economy were suffocated or very nearly ground to a halt,” wrote a group of 31 civic organizations in eastern Congo to the SEC. But eventually the rule helped to cut off funds for armed groups and reduce child labor in mines, according to the coalition, the Thematic Working Group on Mining and Natural Resources.

The crackdown on illicit mining succeeded in reducing opportunities for armed groups to exploit the illegal trading of minerals, according to a report last year by the U.N. panel of experts monitoring sanctions on Congo.

Eastern Congo has experienced insecurity for decades from a myriad of rebel groups. More than 16,000 U.N. peacekeepers are based in the Congo with one of the world’s most aggressive mandates to defeat militia groups.

The conflict minerals rule “undoubtedly contributes to reducing the rate of crime and human rights violations, including rape of women and exploitation of children in mining areas,” 41 Congo-based non-profit organizations related to natural resources wrote to the SEC . “All these efforts and progress will be destroyed if the U.S. government decides to contradict itself.”

Water No Get Enemy
Fela Kuti
Water No Get Enemy

Soulful Afrobeat vibes from the mid-70s.

Born in 1938 to a prominent Nigerian family, Fela quickly immersed himself in music, and was able to travel to London to study it at The Trinity College. Following this he began to work as a trumpeter and bandleader, and by the late 60s he stood out as one of west Africa’s most innovative and energetic musicians. His career saw him release dozens of Jazz, Highlife and Afrobeat records, right up until the 1990s before his death in 1997. Throughout his life he also gained a reputation as a political activist, pushing for an end to imperialist oppression across Africa, and greater human rights for its citizens.

As much as I like Radiohead’s music and have stood by their political stances in the past, Thom’s response to the Israeli concert boycott was very disappointing. I’m sorry if Roger Waters and Desmond Tutu (for fucks sake) calling you guys out “hurt your feelings”. But this issue is much larger than your bands feelings. By performing in Israel, you further legitimize their ongoing erasure of Palestinians as well as the human rights violations and military occupation.

Cultural boycotts work. Global disengagement with South Africa was the main reason apartheid ended. Thom’s unwillingness to even address the issue or acknowledge the occupation were extremely disappointing.

Silence creates vulnerability. You, members of the Commission on Human Rights, can break the silence. You can acknowledge that we exist, throughout Africa and on every continent, and that human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity are committed every day. You can help us combat those violations and achieve our full rights and freedoms, in every society, including my beloved Sierra Leone.
—  FannyAnn Eddy
Violence warned over US dropping conflict minerals rule

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Increased violence and corruption in central Africa could be the result of the recent decision by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission not to enforce a rule requiring American companies to report their use of conflict minerals, warn Congolese civic groups, rights groups and U.S. senators.

“The conflict minerals rule has played a critical role in reducing violence in mining areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, who recently signed a letter with five other Democratic senators urging the SEC to uphold the rule.

The conflict minerals reporting rule, part of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations law, has largely been successful in ensuring that minerals worth trillions of dollars don’t benefit armed rebel groups blamed for human rights abuses, a coalition of groups from Congo and southern Africa told the SEC in a series of public comments earlier this year. In an opposing view, some business groups in the U.S. dismissed the regulation as ineffective and an unnecessary burden.

In April, acting SEC chairman Michael Piwowar said his organization will no longer enforce the 2012 rule that requires companies to verify their products do not use tantalum, tin, gold or tungsten that have been mined or trafficked by armed groups in Congo and other central African countries. Although the SEC is independent from the Trump administration, Piwowar was designated as acting chairman by Trump, and the SEC’s action appears to be in line with the president’s view that the government should reduce regulations of company operations.

In addition to the SEC action, Republican legislation to roll back the Dodd-Frank law, expected to pass the House in coming weeks, would repeal the conflict minerals rule. The bill’s prospects in the Senate are unclear.

Armed rebels and criminal gangs have been funded for decades by the illicit trade in Congo’s minerals, estimated to be worth $24 trillion, according to the U.N. The minerals are essential ingredients in smart phones, laptops, tablets and other high-tech products.

Dropping the conflict minerals rule implicitly supports conflict in the Great Lakes region, Leonard Birere, president of the Coalition of Anti-Slavery Civil Society Organizations in Goma, Congo, told The Associated Press in an email.

“The activity of the armed groups in the mining sites had decreased substantially as well as their capacity for violence” due to the conflict minerals regulation, Birere said.

Some leading American companies also support the conflict minerals regulations. “Apple believes there is little doubt that there is a need to enhance gold trading due diligence,” the company wrote in its 2016 conflict minerals report to the SEC.

The SEC’s action risks rolling back efforts to “combat human rights abuses and potential cases of conflict financing,” Carly Oboth, a policy adviser at rights group Global Witness, told the AP.

Another activist group claims the SEC chairman does not have the authority to drop the conflict minerals reporting rule.

“One commissioner cannot remove the reporting requirement unilaterally. Companies are still legally required to file conflict minerals reports and disclose their due diligence,” said Sasha Lezhnev, associate director of policy at Enough Project. “We plan on issuing a new company rankings on conflict minerals this year, and one of the criteria will be whether companies submitted complete SEC reports disclosing their full tracing, auditing, and other due diligence steps on conflict minerals.”

Congolese groups have a nuanced understanding of the conflict minerals rule. When the regulation was introduced in 2012, many U.S. companies pulled out of Congo.

“All sectors of our economy were suffocated or very nearly ground to a halt,” wrote a group of 31 civic organizations in eastern Congo to the SEC. But eventually the rule helped to cut off funds for armed groups and reduce child labor in mines, according to the coalition, the Thematic Working Group on Mining and Natural Resources.

The crackdown on illicit mining succeeded in reducing opportunities for armed groups to exploit the illegal trading of minerals, according to a report last year by the U.N. panel of experts monitoring sanctions on Congo.

Eastern Congo has experienced insecurity for decades from a myriad of rebel groups. More than 16,000 U.N. peacekeepers are based in the Congo with one of the world’s most aggressive mandates to defeat militia groups.

The conflict minerals rule “undoubtedly contributes to reducing the rate of crime and human rights violations, including rape of women and exploitation of children in mining areas,” 41 Congo-based non-profit organizations related to natural resources wrote to the SEC . “All these efforts and progress will be destroyed if the U.S. government decides to contradict itself.”

___

Associated Press writers Marcy Gordon in Washington and Andrew Meldrum in Johannesburg contributed.

The silence in Sinai: Covering Egypt's 'war on terror'

For the past three years, Egyptian forces have been fighting ISIL offshoot Wilayat Sinai in the Sinai peninsula, but the government of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has managed to keep a tight lid on the story.

Journalism that deviates from official accounts has been criminalised under an anti-terror law. And a narrative is being pushed out across all forms of pro-government media that the army’s operations in Sinai are successful, just, and even heroic.

The government in Cairo wants Egyptians and the international community to believe it has the insurgency in Sinai completely under control. It is a carefully crafted narrative that - without independent scrutiny - is near impossible to verify.

“Whenever you have a war going on like this you tend to have restrictions on the media,” explains Joe Stork, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch.

“Media access is closely controlled. But it’s not just journalists. There’s no independent or potentially critical perspective allowed into Sinai. Or in the case of people who already live there, you know, their views, their testimonies, their accounts are not allowed out of Sinai,” he says.

In April this year, a video surfaced that shattered the government-managed media narrative and renewed allegations of torture, forced disappearances and killings at the hands of the Egyptian Army.

It appeared to show a group of government-backed militiamen executing two captives.

Researchers and activists recognised at least two of the civilians in the video. Back in November 2016, images and videos of their deaths were circulated online by government and pro-government groups. The men were the same, but there was a very different narrative about how they’d been killed.

“The military spokesperson described the men as ‘terrorists that were killed during an anti-terror operation in northern Sinai’. But the leaked video clearly shows that at least two of the men are unarmed at the time and our analysis indicates that the arms were later planted next to their bodies to make it look like there was an exchange of fire,” says Sherine Tadros, head of Amnesty International’s United Nations office in New York.

The government has chosen to remain silent about the video, but many Egyptian media outlets did not.

The Egyptian government has an interest in maintaining its narrative of successfully fighting terror. Between 2011 and 2015, Cairo received $6.5bn in US military aid.

The Egyptian military has reported more than 6,000 deaths in northern Sinai since mid-2013. That figure greatly exceeds the number of militants in the area: estimated at no more than 1,000, according to the DC-based think-tank, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

The inability to verify what is really happening has created a void for the ISIS-affiliated Wilayat Sinai to fill with its own propaganda. Its latest release portrays its fighters as disciplined and methodical, patiently aiming and then firing at Egyptian soldiers, who are made to look panicked and vulnerable.

“When you are prohibiting and stopping access for journalists, reporters and researchers to investigate and report on what’s happening there, you are creating a knowledge gap. And when you are doing that this gap is also being filled with the terror groups’ propaganda,” explains Nancy Okail, executive director, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

The Egyptian government did eventually allow Egyptian journalists in April to survey the Sinai. However, it silenced critical voices like that of Ismail al-Iskandarani, a prominent Sinai researcher and journalist who was arrested in December 2015 on charges of spreading false news and being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He has been in jail without trial for a year and a half now.

“Ismail al-Iskandarani is the perfect example of how the regime is not tolerating any independent views. The reason that he caught the government’s attention is that he was critical of the military’s way of handling the insurgency,” says Egyptian writer and researcher Maged Mandour.