Ugandan Police Stop Gay Pride Parade

By Samantha Netzband 

Impunity Watch, Africa Desk Reporter

KAMPALA, Uganda– Police stopped gay pride marches just outside the capital of Kampala on Saturday September 24th.  This was after a statement on the 22nd from Simon Lokodo, minister of Uganda’s ethics and integrity cabinet, who told organizers they would be prosecuted if they marched.

The Gay Pride parade in Entebbe, Uganda

Activists marching in August 2015. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

Gay rights activist Frank Mugisha said more than 100 LGBTQ participants tried to participate in the activism activities.  Before activists could march, they were herded onto buses by police and bused back to Kampala.  Homosexuality is currently illegal in Uganda and Lokodo is known for his harsh anti-LGBTQ stance.  In the past, the march has been allowed to proceed without government intervention.

The crackdown on the gay pride march comes after a lawmaker tried to push through a harsher law on homosexuality.  The law would have allowed a sentence of death as punishment for homosexual acts.  This law was eventually determined to be unconstitutional by the courts in Uganda.

Despite the triumph in the courts the climate in Uganda has been similar to the blockade of the gay pride march.  A few months ago Lokodo authorized a violent raid at a pride celebration.  LGBTQ citizens are also continually outed, threatened, and killed for their sexual orientation.

For more information, please see: 

BBC – Ugandan police block gay pride parade – 24 September 2016

Citizen TV – Ugandan police stop gay pride parade – 24 September 2016

Fox News – Uganda: Police stop gay pride parade deemed illegal – 24 September 2016

Out – Uganda Official Orders Pride March Organizers to Cancel Parade – 22 September 2016

Kuwaiti Attorney Files Suit Challenging DNA Collection Law

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait — Kuwaiti attorney, Adel Abdulhadi, filed a challenge against the constitutionality of the country’s DNA collection law.

Kuwaiti attorney challenges constitutionality of DNA collection law (Photo courtesy of Thomson Reuters)

In his filing, Mr. Abdulhadi argued that the DNA collection law violates “fundamental human rights and personal freedoms protected and sacred by the Kuwait constitution.” He stated that “compelling every citizen, resident and visitor to submit a DNA sample to the government is similar to forcing house searches without a warrant.” He asserted that the law means “every single person is now considered a suspect until proven innocent.” Mr. Abdulhadi further stated that the government has already started collecting DNA samples from individuals they suspect falsely claimed Kuwaiti nationality.

The DNA collection law, which was passed in July 2015, is expected to go into effect in November 2016. It is the first law of its kind around the world, and would require all Kuwait citizens, expatriates and temporary visitors to provide DNA samples for the government’s database. Furthermore, all Kuwait citizens applying for passport renewals will be required to submit DNA samples. Kuwait officials stated that the law is a security and counterterrorism measure in response to the suicide bombing at a mosque in Kuwait which killed 27 and injured hundreds of others. Officials further indicated that the law will help facilitate solving crime and terrorism cases. Mr. Abdulhadi criticized these explanations by stating “terrorism is in the mindset of the person, and you can’t minimize this by restricting the privacy of people.”

The DNA samples of over 1.3 million citizens, and 2.9 million expatriates and temporary visitors from other countries would be collected through saliva swabs or a few drops of blood. The samples would then be entered into a database and stored in a laboratory at the General Department of Criminal Evidence. Anyone who refuses to provide a sample could be fined $33,000 or sentenced to one year in prison. Furthermore, any individual who is caught faking samples could be sentenced to up to seven years in jail.

Several international organizations urged the Kuwait government to change or amend the law before it goes into effect. The European Society of Human Genetics declared that the law is a “serious assault on the right to privacy of individuals.” The Society further noted that the law will most likely result in Kuwait’s isolation from scientific research. The United Nations’ Human Rights Committee as well as the Human Rights Watch stated that the law “imposes unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on the right to privacy.” In addition, scientists and security experts criticized the law as a “huge attack on genetic privacy,” and voiced their concerns over the law while urging Kuwait to amend it.

For more information, please see:

Zawya (Thomsan Reuters)—Lawyer files challenge against constitutionality of the DNA law—22 September 2016

International Business Times—Kuwait lawyer challenges constitutionality of world’s first controversial mandatory DNA collection law—23 September 2016

Middle East Monitor—Kuwaiti lawyers challenge forced DNA sampling law—23 September 2016

New Scientist—Kuwait lawyers fight world’s first mandatory DNA sampling law—22 September 2016

ICTJ: World Report September 2016 – Transitional Justice News and Analysis

ICTJ ICTJ World Report
September 2016

In Focus


ICTJ Welcomes the Signing of Colombia’s Historic Peace AgreementICTJ Welcomes the Signing of Colombia’s Historic Peace AgreementThe International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) welcomes the historic peace agreement signed yesterday between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – an essential step toward building lasting peace in the country.

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World Report


AFRICAIn the Democratic Republic of Congo at least 17 people were killed in violence in Kinshasa, as the political opposition escalated its calls for President Joseph Kabila to step down. In Kenya human rights organizations called on the country to investigate extrajudicial killings and disappearances. The country’s director of prosecutions snubbed journalists who protested against violent attacks and harassment in the line of duty, including the recent death of reporter Joseph Masha after suspected food poisoning. In Uganda, pre-trial hearings began in the case of former LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo commenced. Kwoyelo’s lawyers questioned the legality of the presiding judge on the grounds that she is not a judge in the International Crimes Division of High Court, but the Judge overruled the objection. The court further ruled that the participation of victims at the trial will be in accordance with the Rome Statute and ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence. UN human rights experts say that women have suffered more violence than anyone else in South Sudan. The UN has also launched a 19-day mission regarding the human rights situation in South Sudan. In Zimbabwe opposition political partiesvowed to defy President Robert Mugabe’s threats against demonstrations.

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AMERICASIn Colombia, the government and FARC rebels agreed to a historic peace deal, bringing an end to 52 years of conflict. The agreement will be signed in late September and voted on in a national plebiscite on October 2. The International Criminal Court welcomed Colombia’s peace deal, but called for “genuine” prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The FARC also began demobilizing child soldiers this month. In Argentina the ex-head of the air force was sentencedto 25 years in prison for the abduction and disappearance of a married couple of young activists during the country’s military dictatorship. In Guatemala, President Jimmy Morales’ family is under investigationover corruption charges, an issue the country has struggled with in the past and sunk Morales’ predecessor. In Peru, a court sentenced 16 former soldiers for the 1985 massacre of 69 people in Ayacucho during the armed conflict with the Shining Path. In Mexico, the chief of criminal investigations for the country’s attorney general resigned amid an internal affairs inquiry into his office’s handling of the case of 43 college students who vanished nearly two years ago. International human rights officials are demanding an investigation into the brutal sexual assaults of 11 Mexican women during protests a decade ago — an inquiry that would take aim at President Enrique Peña Nieto, who was the governor in charge at the time of the attacks.

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ASIANepali attorney general said that there would be no amnesty granted for crimes committed duringNepal’s decade-long conflict, which are considered serious by international law. Nepal Army Colonel Kumar Lama was acquitted by a British court in what victims and rights groups maintain is a temporary setback in the push for justice. Myanmar is scrapping its ‘Midnight Inspections’ law, which forced people to report overnight guests and was often used by authorities to barge into houses and target activists. In the Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte was accused of ordering members of a death squad to kill criminal and opponents in a senate committee hearing. Since Duterte became president, 1,900 have died in extrajudicial killings. Sri Lanka has vowed to cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms, deeming them helpful for institutional reform. Tamil human rights activists, however,delivered a letter highlighting their worries about Sri Lanka’s transitional justice process to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

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EUROPEAn Ohio man was arrested after authorities say he was part of a Serbian volunteer army company that participated in crimes in Bosnia. The Constitutional Court in the country’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska ruled that a referendum on the Day of Republika Srpska could proceed. The referendum is designed to challenge last year’s ruling that the holiday is unconstitutional on the grounds that it contributed to the outbreak of war in 1992. In Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipraspledged to do “whatever is necessary” – including taking legal action – to get Germany to pay damages for the wartime atrocities of Nazi troops. Germany has dictated tough austerity terms in return for Greece’s three European bailouts, and maintains that it settled reparations with Greece in 1960. InPoland, the conservative government says anyone who uses language that implies Polish responsibility for Nazi German atrocities will face jail or a fine.

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MENAIn Tunisia, the head of the Anti-Corruption Commission reported that almost $1 billion has been drained from the state budget, calling the problem an “epidemic”. Top U.S. and Russian diplomats, along with more than a dozen of their Arab and European counterparts, met in New York on September 20 but left Syria no closer to peace. The same day of the meeting, an aid convoy was attacked, killing 20 civilians. U.N. investigators said they found it increasingly difficult to interview newly arrived Syrian refugees in Europe and urged countries to allow access to them to help document suspected war crimes. Lebanon’s national dialogue sessions, which were intended to resolve a number of deadlocks including the presidency, were suspended over a lack of progress. On the 34th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, a march was organized in Beirut in remembrance of the victims of the massacre of thousands of civilians by militias allied with Israel in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. In Yemen, calls for an independent investigation into alleged breaches of humanitarian law escalated when the Dutch government requested an inquiry at a meeting of the UN human rights council in Geneva. In Egypt, parliament ended a legislative year without passing the transitional justice law, or the unified media law and the local municipality election law, despite constitutional obligation.The country also froze the assets of five prominent human rights defenders as part of an ongoing crackdown against the government’s critics.

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Media and Transitional Justice: A Dream of Symbiosis in a Troubled Relationship

In transitional contexts, reporting does not simply present the facts, but instead shapes the parameters for interpreting divisive political issues. Coverage in such polarized contexts can mitigate or obscure the substance of transitional justice efforts to establish what happened, who the victims were, and who was responsible for the violations.

The Case for Action on Transitional Justice and Displacement

As the refugee crisis deepens, does action on transitional justice issues have to wait for peace? A new paper explores what sort of consultation and documentation work can be done now, while conflict is ongoing, to shape outcomes moving forward.

More Publications

Upcoming Events

October 06, 2016

The Obscured Role of Women in Nonviolent Movements Location:Washington, D.C. View Details

November 03, 2016

Global Leaders: Conversations with Alon Ben-Meir, International Organization for Migration Location: New York, NY View Details

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Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism: Running for Cover: Syrian Conflict Will Be the Subject of Media, Law, & Politics Dialog

Running for Cover: Syrian Conflict Will Be the Subject of Media, Law, & Politics Dialog

running-for-cover-syrian-conflictAccountability in the Syrian conflict will be the focus of a daylong event hosted by the Newhouse Center for Global Engagement in Syracuse University’s  S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications next month. “Running for Cover: Politics, Justice and Media in the Syrian Conflict” will take place Oct. 6, 2016, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, Newhouse 3. The event will be streamed live at Follow on Twitter at #SUSyria.

The event will analyze the international community’s response to the Syrian conflict and its effects, as well as the challenges to reporting the war, developing political solutions, and seeking justice for victims. The interactive event is designed as a “fishbowl” conversation among academics, policymakers, human rights advocates, journalists, and the audience. Participants will explore how the international community captures news and images from the conflict, investigates alleged war crimes and human rights violations, and protects refugees. They also will discuss lessons learned from this conflict that might inform the response to future conflicts.

“Our aim is to critique the failures of the international response to the Syrian conflict and introduce ways in which we can collectively achieve positive change,” says Ken Harper, director of the Newhouse Center for Global Engagement and chief organizer of the event. “We are crafting the event to be less of a ‘sage on the stage’ and more of a ‘guide on the side’ experience. We hope it’s a useful event that speaks to the seriousness of the situation and honors those suffering with an honest conversation.”

A series of five panel discussions will cover a range of topics. An empty chair will allow audience members to join and rotate through each panel. Syrian activists on the ground and around the world will be invited to participate anonymously via social media.


Opening Remarks

Newhouse Dean Lorraine Branham and Ken Harper

The Geopolitical Situation in Syria

Panelists will address the historical context of the conflict and offer a critique of the political, military, and humanitarian responses of the international community, including an assessment of where we stand now.  

Facilitator: Sherine Tadros, Representative and Head of New York (UN) Office, Amnesty International.

Panelists: Lamis Abdelaaty, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Maxwell School; Bassam al-Ahmad, Executive Director, Syrians for Truth and Justice; Consultant, International Federation for Human Rights; and former Spokesperson, Violations Documentation Center in Syria; William Banks, Founding Director, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, Syracuse University; and Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Chair of Political Science, Maxwell School.

Accountability for Atrocity

This panel will explore the various justice options available to the people of Syria and the surrounding region who are victims of the atrocities committed during the Syrian conflict, and the likelihood of those options being utilized by the international community.

Facilitator: David Crane, Founding Director, Syrian Accountability Project, SU College of Law.

Panelists: Bill Wiley, Head of Operations, Commission for International Justice and Accountability and Radwan Ziadeh, senior analyst, Arab Center Washington DC, and founder and director, Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies.

The Media’s Role

A once well-funded international press corps has been depleted to the point where accurate reporting on one of the most complex conflicts of the 21st century is almost impossible. This panel will look at how the conflict has been reported and how reportage can be improved.

Facilitator: Hub Brown, Associate Dean for Research, Creativity, International Initiatives, and Diversity, Newhouse School.

Panelists: Roy Gutman, former Foreign Editor, McClatchy and Newsday; Ned Parker, Enterprise Reporter, Reuters; Reza, Photojournalist, National Geographic, and Founder, Reza Visual Academy; and Ben Taub, Contributing Writer,

Social Media in Reporting War

Social media has forever changed the way we report on and bear witness to conflict and atrocities. This panel will explore the intersection of social justice and oppression. Is social media aiding transparency and accountability in Syria or is it a tool of oppression?

Facilitator: Jennifer Grygiel, Assistant Professor of Communications, Newhouse School.

Panelists: Ammar Abdulhamid, President, Tharwa Foundation; Andrew Beiter, Education Director, I Am Syria; and Fadi Hussein, Co-Founder, Instant Reporting Team.

Next Steps

Now what? This panel will discuss current and new initiatives from NGOs, media, governments, and the academic community that address the complex challenges of the Syrian conflict and outline action items for moving forward. 

Facilitator: Ken Harper

Panelists: Beiter; Gutman; Wiley; and Elijah Shama, Founder, Reporters Without Borders SU Chapter.

Closing Remarks

David Crane

PLUS … An exhibit featuring photos of those directly affected by the Syrian conflict will be on display inside and at the entrance to the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium. Images are provided by Pictures of the Year International and Ed Kashi of VII Photo Agency and Talking Eyes, as well as from the special gallery “Exile Voices,” which comprises images taken by children at Kawergosk Refugee Camp in northern Iraq as part of the Reza Visual Academy.

For more information, visit

The conference is co-sponsored by the International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies programs in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism Carol Becker Middle East Security Speaker Series. Additional support comes from Impunity Watch and the Syrian Accountability Project (SU College of Law) and the Alexia Foundation.  

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