ISHR and Outright International celebrate the adoption by United Nations Third Committee Member States today of a resolution on elections and democratic processes that, for the second time, specifically includes sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds of discrimination in people’s right to participate in public affairs.
In the statement, ISHR highlighted its satisfaction about the ongoing processes towards the adoption of a defenders’ protection law in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It however called on the Senate of the DRC to ensure that the law is in line with international and regional standards and doesn’t restrict the rights of defenders by requesting their registration.
“Article 7 paragraph 3 provides for the registration of defenders with the National Human Rights Commission in order to obtain an identification number, which is contrary to the definition of a defender and the idea that any person can be a defender on a continuous or occasional basis,” said Adélaïde Etong Kame, ISHR Africa Programme Manager.
Additionally, the government of Mauritania seized this opportunity to mention the work currently done in the country towards the adoption of a law promoting and defending the rights of defenders. The Minister of Justice of Cape Verde also took the floor to express the willingness of their country to strengthen their work with the Commission ensuring that work is currently being done to submit their first ever periodic report.
Finally, ISHR shared its concern about the current restrictions faced by women defenders in Sudan following the start of the war in April 2023 and the rejection of the observer status applications of three NGOs which explicitly mentioned working on the protection and promotion of the rights of LGBTIQ persons.
“Through the adoption of resolution 275, the African Commission recalled that the African Charter prohibits discrimination against any individual. The Commission recognises that LGBTI persons are rights holders under the Charter and should therefore have access to all human rights including the right to freedom of association without any discrimination. The Commission should therefore uphold this principle in all its decisions,” Etong Kame concluded.
On 15 June 2022, the National Assembly of Niger passed a law on the rights and duties of human rights defenders. This makes Niger the fourth African country to adopt such a law. However, for the law to produce the desired effects, it must be widely known and understood by all stakeholders. The establishment of an independent and inclusive protection mechanism will ensure the full implementation of the law.
The adoption of the draft law approving the status of Non-Governmental Organisation in Angola by the National Assembly considerably limits in its provisions the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms and shrinks civic and democratic space. We are calling the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders to help address this situation.