Tag - Africa ( 76 )

News | Kiai tells Malawi conference that civil society is “under attack” in Africa

Nov 25 2013

Blantyre, Malawi – Maina Kiai told a conference of civil society leaders in Malawi today that African civil society is “under attack” from all angles and facing a crisis of shrinking space, as underscored by recent developments in Kenya and South Sudan. “Governments across the region are moving rapidly to squeeze civil society out of its rightful place in the public sphere,” Kiai said after the speech. “They see civil society as a competitor, challenging their authority. And they are attacking from all angles – cutting off their ability to seek funds, imposing improper registration requirements, and harassing people who speak out.” Kiai, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association, spoke of the attacks during a keynote address on the first day of the ACT Alliance regional consultation on civil society space in Blantyre. The consultation was convened to explore ways that civil society groups in the region can ensure their ability to operate in a so-called “enabling environment.” Such an environment includes a functioning democratic judicial system, vibrant freedoms of expression, assembly and association, and the ability to secure funding and participate in public affairs. Kiai pointed to numerous examples of shrinking civil... Continue reading →

News | Maina Kiai blogs for the Guardian on elections

Oct 29 2013

A piece by Maina Kiai has been featured today in the Guardian's Poverty Matters blog. As he prepares to present his latest report -- which is on the freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association in the context of elections -- to the UN General Assembly in New York, Kiai argues that the international community should stop endorsing flawed elections that amount to "civilian coups." He calls upon UN member states to improve their efforts to facilitate and protect assembly and association rights during all phases of elections. Click here for a link to the... Continue reading →

News | Uganda: “Public assembly must be protected, not attacked”

Aug 09 2013

Three United Nations independent human rights experts today expressed serious concern at the passing of the Public Order Management Bill in Uganda, which prohibits protests of more than three people without prior police authorization, and authorizes police to use guns when policing public events. The UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, human rights defenders and freedom of expression urge Uganda to repeal the law passed on 6 August to prepare a new version to comply with Uganda’s international human rights obligations. “Police intimidation has no place in a free, open and democratic society,” stressed the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya. “The use of fire arms must be strictly safeguarded. The Law fails to limit firearm use; it must ensure they can only be used after exhausting all other possible means, in compliance with the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Official,” she stressed. “Several provisions of the law constitute an undue restriction on the ability for individuals to take part in public assembly,” added the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai. “Requiring prior authorization from the... Continue reading →

News | “Zimbabwe must respect fundamental freedoms in run-up to constitutional referendum,” warn UN experts

Feb 27 2013

Maina Kiai and two other United Nations Special Rapporteurs urged today the Government of Zimbabwe to respect international human rights norms and standards pertaining to freedoms of association, of peaceful assembly and of expression in the run up to the constitutional referendum on 16 March and subsequent elections which may take place next July. As Zimbabwe is entering a critical electoral period, the three international human rights experts have received increasing numbers of reports about acts of intimidation and harassment, physical violence and arrests against civil society actors, mostly working on human rights issues. “In the context of proposed constitutional reforms and the elections, it is disturbing and shocking to learn that civil society organizations that have been operating for years, including election monitoring groups which aim to promote free and fair elections, have been searched by police,” said the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai. “Search procedures must not be applied selectively, and the right to privacy needs to be respected. Otherwise, the independence of associations and the safety of their members will be seriously at risk,” he emphasized. For several months, a number of civil society... Continue reading →

News | Senegal: “Make everyone heard in the run-up to Presidential elections,” urge UN experts

Feb 24 2012

Two United Nations independent experts urged on Friday the Senegalese authorities to respect without any delay the freedoms of peaceful assembly and of expression, and to take all necessary measures to ensure free, fair and transparent Presidential elections, which reflect the will of the Senegalese people. They also called on all parties to refrain from using violence before, during and after the elections. “The current electoral process provides a major opportunity to ensure that all persons, including those who embrace minority or dissenting views or beliefs, to participate in the democratic debate in Senegal,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, and the Rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion, Frank La Rue. The first round of the Presidential elections is due to take place on Sunday, 26 February. Since the publication of the list of Presidential candidates last January, several demonstrations, sometimes non-peaceful, have taken place in Dakar and in other cities. “All attacks against the freedom of peaceful assembly must immediately end,” Mr. Kiai underscored. “The authorities must respect international law and standards related to the freedom of peaceful assembly as well as national legislation which... Continue reading →

News | Ethiopia: UN experts disturbed at persistent misuse of terrorism law to curb freedom of expression

Feb 02 2012

A number of UN human rights experts on Thursday expressed their dismay at the continuing abuse of anti-terrorism legislation to curb freedom of expression in Ethiopia. A week ago, three journalists and two opposition politicians* were given prison sentences ranging from 14 years to life imprisonment under Ethiopia's anti-terrorism laws. This follows the sentencing of two Swedish journalists to 11 years in prison on 27 December 2011. Another 24 defendants are scheduled to appear before the court on 5 March 2012, for various charges under the anti-terrorism law, several of whom may face the death sentence if convicted. “Journalists play a crucial role in promoting accountability of public officials by investigating and informing the public about human rights violations,” said Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, who emphasized that “they should not face criminal proceedings for carrying out their legitimate work, let alone be severely punished. Ethiopia has an obligation to fully guarantee all individuals’ right to freedom of opinion and expression under international human rights law.” Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, said that “the anti-terrorism provisions should not be abused and need to be clearly defined in Ethiopian... Continue reading →