Accra, Ghana
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is an independent non-governmental organisation created to ensure the practical realisation of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth. We push for an adherence to the Commonwealth's Harare Principles and the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. CHRI was established in 1987 after several Commonwealth countries voiced their concern about a lack of focus on Human rights within the Commonwealth organization. CHRI currently has three offices; in Delhi, London and Accra. The Africa office was opened in Accra in 2001 and is at the forefront of the fight to uphold basic human freedoms in the region. We work in three main areas of human rights: Human Rights Advocacy; Access to justice and The Right to Information.

Friday 3 June 2011

African Commonwealth Human Rights Weekly Update (28/06 - 03/06/2011)

31/06/2011 – Kenya plans to appeal ICC decision
Kenya has declared its intention to appeal the decision of the International Criminal Court which rejected their request that trials of six men accused of crimes against humanity be held in Kenya’s national court.

The ICC ruled that the application did not contain sufficient evidence that the government could deliver justice locally, stating that it ‘did not provide concrete evidence of ongoing proceedings before national judges, against the same persons suspected of committing crimes falling under the ICC's jurisdiction.’

Kenya had earlier challenged the jurisdiction of the ICC, saying its own authorities would investigate and prosecute the cases on Kenyan soil.

01/06/2011 - Free weekly newspaper marks its third year
@Verdade, (truth, in Portuguese) is an extraordinary newspaper. With an aim of increasing access to information, it is distributed free of charge in Maputo and four other towns to people who could otherwise not afford to buy a newspaper.

‘@Verdade was designed and set out to be a tool for development,' says Erik Charas, the papers founder and developer. ‘The development of the citizen, the human being who is entitled to be an active participant of their country's economy simply by being informed. By being able to take or make informed decisions. By being able to speak and be heard. By being allowed to dream, to want and to do. And to change things.’

And three years on, signs show that the newspaper is working as an agent for change in a country that continues on its road to recovery following a sixteen year civil war. A study by Paul Collier, Jenny C Aker and Pedro C Vicente about the 2009 national elections found that access to @Verdade had increased political participation by 10%.

02/06/2011 – Nigerian police raid ‘baby farm’

An alleged ‘baby farm’ in the southern city of Aba was raided by Nigeria police this week. Thirty two pregnant girls, mostly of school age, were found locked up at the Cross Foundation clinic. Their babies were to be sold for illegal adoption or for use in ritual witchcraft.
Human trafficking is the third most common crime in Nigeria after financial fraud and drug trafficking. The UN estimates that at least ten children a day are sold across the country. Traffickers are seldom caught.
The police carried out similar raids on such clinics in neighbouring Enugu state in 2008.

02/06/2011 – Rwanda disputes claims of repressing free speech
This week saw the publication of an Amnesty International report stating that the genocide ideology and sectarianism laws enacted in Rwanda following the 1994 genocide have been used to stifle free speech and political opposition. The report stated that the policies are overly vague, broad and are being used by the government to punish journalists, human rights workers and political opposition.
Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama stated that Rwanda is already in the process of reviewing the policies. The government has labelled the report ‘inaccurate’ and ‘highly partisan’.

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