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Human Rights Watch accuses Cameroon security forces of serial abuses against LGBTI people

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International rights group, the Human Rights Watch (HRW), has accused Cameroonian security forces of serial abuse against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and not protecting them from violent attacks but instead embark on massive raids where they are arrested.

HRW which made the accusation in a report on Saturday, said there has been an upsurge in violence and abuse against LGBTI people in Cameroon as authorities continue to arrest and detain them or anyone suspected to be an LGBTI person.

Ilaria Allegrozzi, the HRW Central African Researcher who authored the report, said “Cameroon police are failing to protect LGBTI people from mob violence, conducting arbitrary arrests and detentions, perpetrating violence against LGBTI people and failing to bring perpetrators of mob violence on LGBTI people to book.”

“The law criminalizing same-sex relations is a repressive, draconian backward law which does not only violate Cameroon’s obligation under national and international laws, but also contributes to create a climate of violence, to institutionalize an atmosphere of hate against LGBTI people,” Allegrozzi said.

“And the criminalization of same-sex conduct renders LGBTI people vulnerable to violence at the hands of ordinary citizens as well as law enforcement officials,” he added.

The HRW report cited a case on April 10 where a crowd of about eight men armed with machetes, knives, sticks, and wooden planks, attacked a group of LGBTI people attending a party at a private home in Messassi, a neighborhood in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde.

HRW said in the report that a local official took two of the victims to gendarmeries for protection from the mob but that the gendarmes beat and humiliated the LGBTI persons and released them after a $24 bribe was paid.

But a legal practitioner and a member of the Cameroon Bar Council,
Shashan Mbinglo, has countered the HRW by saying same-sex relations in the central African country has been criminalised and therefore an offense.

“They (HRW) will say our law is discriminatory, unfair but they forget that our laws are founded not just on principles of justice, fairness, equality as obtains globally, but on traditions and customs peculiar to us.

“The laws do not permit, the laws do not accommodate, the laws are against what the LGBTI stand for. Most of them (LGBTI persons) think it is normal to come out on social media forgetting that they expose themselves to assault and attacks,” Mbinglo said.

Under the Cameroonian laws, anyone found guilty of engaging in same-sex relations risk up to five years in prison if convicted.

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Sudan recalls Ambassador from Addis Ababa after accusing Ethiopia of executing soldiers

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Sudan has recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia after accusing the Ethiopian army of executing seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian who had been held in captivity.

The Sudanese military had said on Sunday that the Ethiopian soldiers had executed the captives and displayed their bodies in public while negotiations were ongoing for their release, promising that there would be “an appropriate response” to the execution.

“It is an act that contravenes all laws and customs of war and international humanitarian law, the Ethiopian army executed seven Sudanese soldiers and a citizen who were their captives.

“This treacherous act will not pass without a response,” the Sudanese military said.

The Ethiopian government however, denied complicity by its military in the killing of the Sudanese soldiers, blaming the Sudanese forces for crossing into its territory and provoking a clash.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Addis Ababa, issued a statement expressing regret over the incident but said Ethiopia has been misrepresented.

“The Government of Ethiopia categorically rejects the misrepresentation of these facts by the Sudanese defense forces that unjustly put the blame on Ethiopia, while it was the Sudanese army unit that crossed (over) the Ethiopian border, provoking the incident.”

But in an announcement late Monday, Sudan said it would recall its envoy from Addis Ababa as well as summon the Ethiopian ambassador from Khartoum.

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Uganda’s Government changes position, invites striking art teachers for negotiations

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The Ugandan government has made a turn on its decision to sack all arts teachers involved in the industrial action.

The change in position comes barely days after the government threatened to dismiss the teachers. Minister Raphael Magyezi had revealed that the government had reached a final position to have Arts striking teachers sacked if they do not get back to class.

The government backed down and invited the leaders of the tutors’ union for negotiations to end the ongoing strike that has paralysed learning in public schools for two weeks now.

Art teachers across Uganda downed tools last week, threatening to throw the country’s education sector into yet another crisis, a few months after schools came out of two years of a shutdown that kept thousands of learners at home.

The general secretary of the Uganda Professional Science Teachers Union, Mr Aron Mugaiga, had advised the leadership of the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) to encourage their art counterparts to return to class.

“I urge members to go back and teach because if they continue with the industrial action, the lost time will never be recovered when the government affects their pay enhancement. I believe the doors for negotiations are still open,” Mr Mugaiga said.

The ongoing strike is just five months after Uganda reopened schools following a two-year closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has already caused outrage as more than eight million children in public schools miss out on learning.

Over 300 percent pay increment was allocated for science teachers in Uganda’s budget for the 2022/23 financial year, which starts in July but the allocation does not include arts and humanities teachers.

It is not uncommon to see prolonged industrial actions in Africa. Elsewhere in the continent, Nigeria, University teachers have been on strike since February over salary related agreement the academic union had with the government in 2009.

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