As the Africa Summit in Washington, D.C. Nears, Activists Push for Gay-Rights

As the Africa Summit in Washington, D.C. Nears, Activists Push for Gay-Rights



By: Ashley Repp

News Desk Reporter, Africa 

Africa, as a continent, is home to the strictest of anti-gay laws in the world, and as an issue of human rights, many African nations are facing backlash for their laws and called to address such violations of human rights.  Activists are now calling on prominent world leaders, including President Barak Obama, to push for gay rights to be on the agenda for the African summit in Washington next week.  Activists see this summit as a rare opportunity for the human rights of the African gay, lesbian, and transgender population to be discussed and supported.  The LGBT community in Africa faces some of the worst discrimination, and many human rights activists demand change.

In Africa, 37 African countries have laws on the  books criminalizing homosexuality.  Some nations allow imprisonment of homosexual and transgender people, while some countries, including Nigeria, Mauritania, and Sudan, go so far as to allow for the killing of such individuals.  And while Uganda recently removed the law allowing for the death penalty in cases dealing with gay and transgender people, it still has some of the strictest anti-gay laws.  Creating a safe space for those in the LGBT community in Africa will be a difficult battle, considering how persistent some governments and communities appear to be in maintaining anti-gay laws and culture.  Just last month in Nigeria, over a dozen individuals were assaulted by a mob in order to rid the community of homosexuals.

Many of the LGBT community in Africa live in constant fear of violence, harassment, and punishment.  Discrimination of members of this population is rampant and permeates nearly every facet of life in many African nations.  As a result of the discrimination, the LGBT community bears the burden of poverty due to unemployment or inability to find a job because of known or presumed sexual orientation, abandonment   by family and community, and legal punishment.  With what is effectively rejection by society, members of the African LGBT community have few options and even fewer rights.

Although Obama has already increased sanctions against Uganda for its new anti-gay laws, the summit next week will be a unique opportunity, if the chance is seized, for the leaders of the countries with the strictest anti-gay laws, to be addressed in person for the human rights issues created by anti-gay culture, law, and policy.  And with tensions rising within nations between groups that support and promote the upholding of the tradition anti-gay rhetoric and culture, and those who support LGBT human rights, the time could not be more ripe for a multi-national discussion on the issue.


For more information, please visit:

Time- Advocates issue report on the dreadful state of LGBT rights in Africa, as world leaders and leading figures from the continent prepare for the US-Africa Leaders Summit- July 29, 2014

ABC News- Activists Want Gay Rights on Africa Summit Agenda- July 29, 2014

BBC News Africa- Cameroon lawyer wins award for defending gay rights- Mar 18, 2014

The Washington Post- Here are the 10 countries where homosexuality may be punished by death- Feb 24, 2014

As Awareness Grows, Women With Obstetric Fistula May Finally Have Hope


By: Ashley Repp

News Desk Reporter, Africa


Nearly half of African girls are at risk for obstetric fistula.  This serious condition is defined by tears between the  birth canal and urinary tract, that causes the affected individual to constantly leak urine and feces.  This condition occurs at particularly high rates in Africa due to poverty, child brides, female genital cutting, sexual assault and rape, and unattended births.  Young girls are highly susceptible, as in rural parts of Africa, girls are often married and become pregnant before their bodies are sufficiently developed to handle the birth of a child. Furthermore, in rural regions with scare resources, unattended births compound the already dire situation that many women face.  In such conditions, women and girls giving birth may experience  exceptionally long labors that can not be properly or quickly addressed by medical personnel.  The child often dies in the situation of an unattended and prolonged labor, and if the mother does not die, she often sustains serious tears, or fistula.

Once a woman sustains a fistula, the condition is debilitating, humiliating, and there are few qualified individuals readily available to perform the surgery necessary to repair the tears.  As such, few women are able to receive medical care and are burdened by the stigma and pain associated with fistula.  Because of the constant fecal and urine leakage, affected women are often ostracized by their communities and families.  Husbands often abandon their wives; families of a rape victims who become pregnant and are then affected by fistula, are often ostracized for being “damaged” and “impure.” Communities may also abandon affected women, with the aim of avoiding the smell that  accompanies the fistula condition, and any possible fertility and birth “curse” that may follow affected women.  Abandoned by family and community, many of these women are left to suffer and die alone.

As debilitating and traumatizing as this disease is for women in rural and resource scarce areas, repair of the fistulas is relatively simple with involvement of qualified medical personnel.  As more awareness is called to the condition and the situations that underly the high occurrence of the condition, money, interest, and facilities can be focused to address at least some of the cases of obstetric fistula in rural Africa.  Attention given to the issues of child brides, sexual assault, and unattended births, may play a role in reducing the number of women who are affected by fistulas every year.


For more information, please visit:

Voices of America- Many African Females at Risk of Obstetric Fistula- June 25, 2014

Mercy Ships- Mercy Ships Provides Free Obstetric Fistula Surgeries in Africa- May 22, 2014

Aid For Africa- Fistula Foundation

Aljazeera- Fistula surgery transforms lives in Kenya- May 23, 2014

Bodies Recovered from Captured Libyan Base

By: Danielle L. Cowan (Gwozdz)
Senior Desk Operator, Africa

TRIPOLI, Libya – At least 35 bodies have been recovered from a Libyan military base that was overrun by Islamist-led militants.

Rival militias have been battling for control of Benghazi (photo courtesy of AFP)


The special forces base in Benghazi was captured on Tuesday, after two days of intense fighting.

An Islamist and jihadist alliance announced the capture of the main military base in the eastern city in a statement Wednesday, which was confirmed by an army official.

Libyan special forces fled from the Benghazi military base as militants overwhelmed them with rocket fire. A special forces spokesman told Reuters that militants have since assumed control of the military camp.

Libya has been facing violence since 2011. The violence came from militias uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.

The new parliament is said to be holding an emergency meeting this week.

A Red Crescent spokesperson told AFP that “up to now we have managed to recover 35 bodies. But there are more to be found.”

Further, the spokesperson said that “Special forces under the command of [Colonel] Wanis Abu Khamada withdrew after several attacks.”

Many western governments – including the United States, UK, France, and Germany – have already asked their citizens to leave the country. Several have also evacuated their embassies.

At least 97 people have also been killed in fighting between militias battling for control of Tripoli’s main airport in the past week.

The government has blamed clashes between the armed groups for starting a fire at a Tripoli fuel depot, and for preventing firefighters from putting out the blaze.

The special forces are one of the units of Libya’s regular armed forces that support rogue Libyan general Khalifa Haftar, but they have not placed themselves under his command.

Hafta began his offensive against radical Islamist groups in Beghazi dubbed “Operation Dignity” in mid-May.

The militias reportedly agreed on a ceasefire on Wednesday to allow the blaze to be brought under control.

For more information, please visit:
BBC News – ‘Dozens of bodies’ at captured base in Benghazi, Libya – 30 July 2014
Alakhbar English – Libya Islamists capture Benghazi base – 31 July 2014
War News Updates – Diplomats Flee Libya As The Violence Escalates Out Of Control – 30 July 2014
Gsbuzz – ‘Dozens of bodies’ at captured base in Benghazi, Libya – 30 July 2014


PILPG Update: PILPG Releases Report on Power-Sharing in Iraq

July 30, 2014

With the recent, rapid changes on the ground in Iraq and subsequent calls from the United States for a new power-sharing arrangement to govern the country, PILPG recently hosted a roundtable discussion on the topic, “Power-Sharing in Iraq: Impossible or Inevitable?”  The roundtable brought together experts to discuss whether, and under what circumstances, a power-sharing arrangement might be achieved in Iraq. Participants also discussed the potential geo-strategic and security implications that a power-sharing arrangement in Iraq would have.

The roundtable generated a number of key findings that the international community may consider when assessing the likelihood and implications of power sharing in Iraq.  The report, Power-Sharing in Iraq: Impossible or Inevitable?, sets forth the key findings that emerged from the roundtable.

The full text of the report can be viewed here.
About the Public International Law & Policy Group

The Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) is a global, pro bono law firm providing legal assistance to governments involved in conflicts.  To facilitate use of this legal assistance, PILPG also provides policy formulation advice and training on matters related to conflict resolution.  PILPG was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

PILPG’s primary practice areas are Peace Negotiations, Post-Conflict Constitutions, and War Crimes Prosecution.  To provide pro bono legal advice and policy formulation expertise, PILPG relies almost exclusively on volunteer assistance from more than sixty former international lawyers, diplomats, and foreign relations experts, as well as pro bono assistance from major international law firms.  Annually, PILPG is able to provide over $20 million worth of pro bono international legal services.

In July 1999, the United Nations granted official Non-Governmental Organization status to PILPG.

The Managing Board of PILPG includes:

Paul Williams – President
Michael Scharf – Managing Director
James Hooper – Managing Director

To learn more about the Public International Law & Policy Group, please visit ourwebsite.

The Public International Law & Policy Group provides to members of our list serve e-mail updates relating to certain developments concerning the work of PILPG.  If you do not wish to receive these general updates please click on the unsubscribe link below.

Boko Haram Blamed for Suicide Bomb at Nigeria College

By: Danielle L. Cowan (Gwozdz)
Senior Desk Operator, Africa

ABUJA, Nigeria – At least six people have been killed in a suicide bombing at a college in northern Nigeria’s biggest city, Kano.

Destruction from the bombing at the college (photo courtesy of Reuters)


The bomber is reported to be a female and had blown herself up as students waited in line to check off their names on the admission’s list.

In addition, the government states that a 10-year-old girl has been arrested in a neighboring state for wearing a suicide belt.

This attack has been the fifth one in the city of Kano since this past Saturday. Three of these five attacks have been carried out by female bombers.

Boko Haram, the militant group, has been blamed for all of these attacks.

These female attackers are said to be a new trend in the attacks.

No one knows if the female attackers are being recruited or forced kidnapped girls to carry out these suicide missions. Currently, Boko Haram is holding 200 girls that were abducted from school.

A witness stated that bodies were strewn around everywhere from the blast at the college.

An additional seven people are said to have been wounded from the blast.

This year alone, the militants have killed over 2,000 people in their attacks.

In 2013, Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, imposed a state of emergency in the northern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa, vowing to crush the insurgency.

For more information, please visit:
BBC News – Nigeria Kano blast: Boko Haram blamed for six deaths – 30 July 2014
AllAfrica – Nigeria: Kano Blast – Boko Haram Blamed for Six Deaths – 30 July 2014
GH Headlines – Nigeria Kano blast: Boko Haram blamed for six deaths – 31 July 2014
Hallmark News – Nigeria Kano blast: Boko Haram blamed for six deaths – 31 July 2014
Africa News Desk – Kano Blast – Boko Haram Blamed for Six Deaths – 31 July 2014