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  • ACTSA letters on Zimbabwe in the Guardian & FT

    By ACTSA | November 29, 2017

    ACTSA has had two letters on Zimbabwe published. The first, in the Guardian, relates to the political situation in the country. The second, in the Financial Times, relates to the economic situation in the country.

    Topics: News from ACTSA | No Comments »

    Angola has a long way to go on human rights

    By ACTSA | December 12, 2016

    10 December was Human Rights Day. ACTSA’s Senior Campaigns Officer Sunit Bagree argues that Angola has a long way to go to improve human rights in the country.

    According to this year’s Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), Angola has improved in terms of participation and human rights over the past decade. Despite this, however, only Swaziland performs worse than Angola among Southern African nations. Indeed, there’s still a great deal to be concerned about when considering civil and political rights in Angola. If one also assesses economic and social rights in the oil-rich country, the picture doesn’t improve.

    When it comes to human rights, much of the international attention this year has focused on the 17 youth activists who, in June 2015, attended a meeting to discuss politics and governance concerns only to be arrested and charged with preparatory acts of rebellion and criminal conspiracy. In a trial that attracted widespread criticism both domestically and internationally, these activists were sentenced in March to terms of between two and eight-and-a-half years. Three months later they were released from prison into house arrest, and in September they were granted amnesty by the Supreme Court. However, all but one of the 17 activists reject the amnesty, saying that they want their convictions overturned.

    But this case, while undoubtedly important, is only one example of repression in Angola. For instance, this year has witnessed allegations of a wave of extra-judicial killings in the capital, Luanda, by state organisations, in particular the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC). One report, by the journalist and human rights defender Rafael Marques de Morais, claims that over 100 extra-judicial shootings took place from April to September alone. According to de Morais, government sources have said that this is the direct result of pressure from the Interior Minister on the SIC to crack down on crime.

    There are also real fears that five new laws relating to the media, known as the Social Communication Legislative Package, will seriously restrict the right to freedom of expression. Human Rights Watch has argued that the laws provide ‘the government and ruling party expansive power to interfere with the work of journalists, and potentially to prevent reporting on corruption or human rights abuses’. The new laws, which were rushed through the National Assembly in November, give officials the power to raid the home or office of any person or organisation suspected of publishing information, even if this information is only published online (e.g. a social media post). Many journalists already engage in self-censorship, and this is only likely to increase as a consequence of the new laws.

    As for economic and social rights, drastic budget cuts (due to the sharp fall in the price of oil) over the past 15 months have resulted in outbreaks of diseases, shortages of essential medicines and huge increases in the price of basic food items. More broadly, the country’s leadership has largely failed to diversify the economy, and at the same time it has allowed corruption to thrive. Thus the strong economic growth experienced by Angola since the end of the war in 2002 hasn’t had a significant impact on the living standards of the vast majority of its citizens. Poverty and unemployment remained stubbornly high in the boom years. And some social indicators have been simply shocking for a long period of time, such as the country’s under-five mortality rate, which is actually now the worst in the world.

    In March, President José Eduardo dos Santos announced that he will step down from public office in 2018 after almost four decades in power. Some believe the President will not do this, especially if he thinks his interests will not be protected should he retire from public life. Others believe that his advancing age (he will turn 76 in 2018) and recent manoeuvring of close family members into key positions (two of his sons are on the central committee of the ruling MPLA and his daughter heads the state oil firm Sonangol) suggest that he will finally step down.

    Angola will hold national elections in 2017. Most expect the ruling Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) to win. It won the last election in 2012 with 72% of the vote. If President dos Santos is re-elected as President by the National Assembly (the President is not directly elected) will he step down in 2018? If so, his successor’s commitment to inclusive institutions and the full spectrum of human rights will go a long way in determining whether all Angolans can be genuinely free and achieve their potential.

    Topics: Features, News, News from ACTSA | No Comments »

    ACTSA calls on UN to tackle human rights abuses in Zimbabwe

    By ACTSA | April 1, 2016

    ACTSA has called on the UN to urge the Government of Zimbabwe to improve its human rights record in a submission to UN Human Rights Council for Zimbabwe’s forthcoming Universal Periodic Review (due to take place on 2 November 2016).

    The submission covers a range of issues, including: human rights defenders; freedoms Read the rest of this entry »

    Topics: News, News from ACTSA | 1 Comment »

    Are Human Rights less of a priority for UK and Southern Africa?

    By ACTSA | December 10, 2015

    In November a committee of the UN approved a motion recognising the role of human rights defenders and the need for their protection. This will go to the UN General Assembly in December. It was agreed by 117 votes for, 14 against and 40 abstentions.

    Those against, led by China and Russia argued the terminology is loose, who is, who defines a human rights defender? They argued no individual or group can be above the law and why should human rights defenders be singled out for protection.

    Some members of the UN see human rights as largely a western Read the rest of this entry »

    Topics: News, News from ACTSA | No Comments »

    We will not forget Itai Dzamara

    By ACTSA | December 8, 2015

    Human Rights Day will be celebrated on 10 December, as it has been every year since 1950. In a sad irony, this year, the day before will mark 9 months since the enforced disappearance of Zimbabwean human rights activist Itai Dzamara.

    Dzamara was at a barbershop in Harare when Read the rest of this entry »

    Topics: Features, News, News from ACTSA | No Comments »

    “Refugees Welcome Here”, National Day of Action, Saturday 12 September – Assemble noon at Marble Arch

    By ACTSA | September 7, 2015

    National day of action, Called by Stand up to Racism, BARAC, Stop the War Coalition, Migrant Rights Network,  War on Want, Peoples Assembly Against Austerity, Unite Against Fascism, Movement Against Xenophobia, Love Music Hate Racism and Black Out London.

    Saturday 12 September 2015, 12pm, Assembly point Marble Arch 2pm Rally,Downing Street

    This event has been called to show solidarity with refugees fleeing war, persecution, torture and poverty, losing their lives or struggling to find a safe haven. This includes the death of 200 refugees Read the rest of this entry »

    Topics: News | No Comments »

    August E-Update

    By ACTSA | August 25, 2015

    Hello,

    Welcome to August’s issue of ACTSA’s E-update with a brief rundown on key issues from across southern Africa, in addition to a summary of what we’re getting up to at the moment.

    Hope you find it interesting and informative. Gives us feedback by emailing info@actsa.org

    News in brief

    Swaziland:  Unfair Trial, Arbitrary Detention and Judicial Impropriety in Swaziland Read the rest of this entry »

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    SADC People’s Summit Communique

    By ACTSA | August 20, 2015

    More than 500 representatives from a range of Southern Africa civil society organisations met in Botswana on 15 and 16 August and developed and presented a communique to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government. The communique was received by the SADC Deputy Executive Secretary. It covers seven thematic areas:

    1.Tax Justice and the Fight against Illicit Financial Flows

    2. African Solidarity, Migration and People’s  movement

    3.Governance, Democracy and Human Rights

    4.Cross-border traders, small-scale farmers

    5.Trade Negotiations and Agreements

    6.Climate Change

    7.Agricultural Finance,  Seed Sovereignty and Climate  Justice

    The whole document is available here: Gaborone SADC People’s Summit 2015 Communique Document

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    ACTSA joins with others to criticise Foreign Secretary comments on migrants and call for action to eradicate poverty

    By ACTSA | August 11, 2015

    ACTSA has joined with other NGOs to co-sign this letter in the Guardian in response to Phillip Hammond MP’s comments on ‘marauding migrants’

    Topics: News from ACTSA | No Comments »

    Zambia: Vedanta in the dock

    By ACTSA | August 3, 2015

    An action has been launched in the High Court in London by the law firm, Leigh Day, on behalf of 1,800 Zambian villagers against Vedanta Resources Plc and Konkola Copper Mines.

    The action alleges that the villagers’ water sources and farming land were poisioned from the copper mining operations of both companies. Vedanta Resources Plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange and has a controlling share in Konkola Mines, which is the largest copper mine in Zambia.

    Vedanta and Konkola copper mines were the subject of a report by ACTSA, Christian Aid and SCIAF in 2007, “Undermining development? Copper mining in Zambia”

    Read more on the current case here

    Topics: News | 1 Comment »

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