Statement of Human Rights Defenders on the need for an integrated and comprehensive approach to the Protection of Human Rights related to sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions at the Human Rights Council.
To Foreign Ministers of African Union member states: We, the undersigned African civil society organisations and international organisations with a presence in Africa, working on human rights and international criminal justice, are pleased to congratulate the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU), on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary. We commend the Organisation for its key achievements during the past 50 years and to express our continued commitment in working with the AU towards promoting and protecting human rights, peace, and justice on the Continent. In this regard, we wish to take this occasion to applaud the AU and the African continent for:
Abuja: It has become necessary for me to address you on the recent spate of terrorist activities and protracted security challenges in some parts of the country, particularly in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi, Kano, Plateau and most recently Bayelsa, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa states. These unfortunate events have led to needless loss of lives and property of many innocent Nigerians including members of our security forces.
Johannesburg: The Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission, Adv. Lawrence Mushwana has been inaugurated as the new Chairperson of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. Adv. Mushwana took over the reins from Dr Mousa Burayzat, Chairperson of the Jordanian National Centre for Human, Rights during the session in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday. This is a historical occasion in that this is the first time that Africa heads the office of the Chairperson of the ICC.
Brussels: 2013 is the European Year of Citizens. But it takes more than just a year to tear down barriers for our citizens. It takes concrete actions. This is what the Commission is delivering today with its second EU citizenship Report: 12 concrete actions to make life simpler for EU citizens; to boost their rights wherever they work, live travel or shop across our Union. Over the past year, my colleagues in the Commission and I have listened to citizens: we have carried out public consultations on citizens' rights (I remember it was exactly a year ago that I launched this consultation from this podium).
Kinshasa: Serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law were committed in November 2012 during fighting between government forces and rebels of the Mouvement du 23 mars(M23) over the town of Goma in North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and during the subsequent retreat of the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) to South Kivu province, a UN report has found. The report by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) details victim and witness accounts of mass rape, killings and arbitrary executions, and violations resulting from widespread looting. It noted that particularly systematic and violent abuse was committed by some FARDC elements as they retreated from the towns of Goma and Sake in North Kivu province and regrouped in and around the town of Minova in South Kivu.
Johannesburg: The entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 2002 is likely the most significant event in the coming-of-age of international criminal justice. Many have thought this because it established the first ever permanent court tasked with adjudicating international crimes. Certainly this is an enormous development. But the greater significance of the Rome Statute may be its recognition that the primary location in which international criminal justice is to be secured is the state most directly affected. Only if that state is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out investigations and prosecutions is the ICC authorised to intervene. It is this – the principle of complementarity – that is the real hallmark of international criminal justice today.
Accra: The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has adopted a model law to inspire and guide African legislators to enact access to information legislation to usher in an era of greater openness. The African Commission officially launched the ‘Model Law on Access to Information for Africa during its 53rd Ordinary Session in Banjul, The Gambia. A statement to the Ghana News Agency in Accra at the weekend said the model law aims to guide national legislators in ‘converting’ or ‘transforming’ the open-ended formulation into detailed legislative provisions.
Last month South Africa (with Argentina, Brazil, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela) submitted a joint document to the UN's Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice for the revision of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, in force since 1955. The proposal followed a UN General Assembly resolution of December 2010 and discussion at a workshop in Argentine in December last year. South Africa was also a co-sponsor of two resolutions (with BRICS and Russia, respectively) that were adopted by the Commission.
Pretoria: Government encourages all Angolans who sought refuge in South Africa as a result of the civil war in Angola, which ended in April 2002, to voluntarily avail themselves for repatriation. South Africa recognises Angola as a democratic State that has made significant transitions since the end of the civil war. Cabinet has declared that 31 August 2013 be set aside as the cessation date in South Africa for the affected Angolan refugees. The repatriation is in line with the cessation declared by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and supports the efforts to enhance regional integration.