South Africa's Legal Battle Over Gay Marriage
May 17 (GIN) - Gay rights are again in the
spotlight with South Africa’s highest court
hearing an appeal to a ruling that recognized the
right of lesbians to marry.
The case, brought by the home affairs department, argues that The Supreme Court of Appeal did not
have the right to allow gay weddings.
Last year, in a landmark case, Judge of Appeal Edwin Cameron said the definition of marriage should read: "Marriage is the union of two persons to the exclusion of all others for life."
The court also declared that the intended
marriage between two women was capable of lawful
recognition as a legally valid marriage, provided
the formalities in the Marriage Act of 1961 were
South Africa's constitution is seen as one of the
world's most liberal in terms of gay rights. In a
previous judgement, the constitutional court
ruled that gay couples should be allowed to adopt
According to the AFP news agency, some 200 gay
rights activists packed the courtroom, wearing
orange and yellow t-shirts with the slogan:
"Marriage. Anything less is not equality."
CAUGHT IN ANTI-CORRUPTION SWEEP, FORMER EDUCATION
MINISTER INTENDS TO FIGHT BRIBERY CHARGE
May 17 (GIN) - Nigeria's former education Minister Fabian Osuji has gone to trial in the capital. He is one of six high government officials that have been charged with corruption.
Mr Osuji is accused of paying a $400,000 bribe to
some members of parliament to ensure the passing
of an inflated budget for his department. He
denies the charge.
The embattled minister said he is being made a
scapegoat because he is close to Vice-President
Atiku Abubakar, seen as a possible successor to
Mr Obasanjo. The ex-Education Minister is also
contesting a statement credited to President
Olusegun Obasanjo to the effect that he was a
thief and that it was only in Nigeria that
thieves go to court.
President Olusegun Obasanjo is on an
anti-corruption crusade as he attempts to win
international debt relief.
Defense lawyers argue that huge publicity
surrounding the trial means it will not be fair.
GOVERNMENT ISSUES APOLOGY FOR RIGHTS ABUSE
May 17 (GIN) - The final report of the National
Reconciliation Commission, appointed to
investigate past human rights abuses in the
country between 1957 and 1993, has just been
The commission, set up in 2002, considered the
impact of socio-economic disparities and colonial
policies on the rise of widespread human rights
abuse in the country. It addressed the roles of
the armed forces, universities, political
parties, the media, and other institutional
It also discussed Ghana’s post-independence
history where four military regimes ruled for
more than 22 of the 27 years between 1966 and
Ghana's Attorney General and Minister of Justice,
J. Ayikoi Otoo, publicly endorsed the report's
recommendations and offered an official "apology
to all those who had been wronged."
Modest reparations and a range of institutional reforms were recommended.
Former National Security Chief, Captain Kojo
Tsikata (Rtd), whose innocence was not
acknowledged in the final report, accused the NRC
of subverting the reconciliation process to serve
a partisan political agenda
The government committed to establishing a
reparations fund before December 2005.
RIGHTS GROUPS DENOUNCE OFFICIALLY-APPROVED TORTURE
May 17 (GIN) - Ugandan security forces used
torture against political opponents, alleged
rebels and criminals, according to a new report
issued by Human Rights Watch and the Foundation
for Human Rights Initiative.
The organizations have called on the Ugandan
government to enact legislation to punish those
who torture and who maintain and use "safe
houses," or unofficial detention centers.
They also call on the government to change laws
that allow detention of treason and terrorism
suspects for 360 days after preliminary charges
are filed, without bail.
Torture often occurs when suspects are held by
agencies other than the regular police, the
investigation found, including the Joint
Anti-Terrorism Task Force (JAT), the army,
Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), and
the Violent Crime Crack Unit (VCCU), the report
"Torture persists in Uganda because no one is
investigated or punished for it," said
Livingstone Sewanyana, director of the Foundation
for Human Rights Initiative, based in the capital
In a written response to Human Rights Watch and
the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, the
Ugandan government said, "Allegations concerning
mistreatment of opposition politicians, e.g. FDC
and Reform Agenda are unfounded."
A briefing paper showing the organizations’
findings was submitted to the U.N.Committee
Against Torture which will offer it’s
reccomendations to Uganda on Friday.
TOMB FOR PRESIDENT KAMUZU BANDA WILL COST MILLIONS
May 17 (GIN) - A multi-million dollar mausoleum
is being built for Hastings Kamuzu Banda,
Malawi's autocratic first president, who died at
the age of 101 in 1997.
There is talk that the mausoleum will include a
library, a dancing arena, a viewing bay for
Banda's remains and a research centre where
people can find out information about Malawi's
The idea of building a mausoleum is an old one
but construction only started following last
year's election victory of President Bingu wa
Mutharika and has resulted in some controversy.
Opponents of the project say that the
government’s money would be better spent
combating an acute food shortage.
While some, including members of Dr. Banda’s
family, feel that he is being given the respect
he deserves, others complain that money is being
NO MORE U.S. STUDY FOR AFRICAN CLERICS
May 17 (GIN) -- In a meeting in Lagos, Africa's
Anglican bishops have decided to stop sending
African clergy for theological training in
African Anglican leaders are also studying the
creation of a separate, "African" theology
rejecting gay clergy and same sex marriages. They
stopped short of calling for an outright split in
the Anglican church, as some had feared.
Africa accounts for about half of the world's 76-point-five million Anglicans.
OUTLAWED BIAFRA SEPARATIST GROUP IN RALLY
May 17 (GIN) - Riot police arrested over 100
people at a rally calling for an independent
Biafra, according to witnesses and police. The
rally took place last over a week ago in
Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi state, in the
oil-rich southeast of Nigeria.
The gathering was described as a Christian
revival meeting and was called by the outlawed
Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign
State of Biafra (MASSOB). It was interrupted by
truckloads of policemen firing tear gas into the
meeting hall and shooting into the air, witnesses
Since then, an alleged plot to by the government
to assasinate key members of MASSOB has surfaced.
An attempt to declare an independent Biafra in
1967 resulted in nearly three years of civil war.
This time MASSOB insists the movement is
non-violent and will remain so despite
INCUMBANT PARTY SCORES BIG WIN IN NATIONAL POLLS
May 17 (GIN) -- Ethiopia's election enjoyed a high voter turnout, around 90%.
Although there is no official confirmation yet,
spokesman for the ruling Ethiopian People's
Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and
Minister of Information Bereket Simon, said they
had won more than half of the seats in
parliament, but lost seats in the capital and for
the city council.
While conceding it had lost all of Addis Ababa's
23 parliamentary seats as well as the capital's
city council, the Ethiopian People's
Revolutionary Front (EPRDF) said it would soon
form a new government with a parliamentary
majority.The opposition and the chief European
Union election observer have criticized the
ruling party for announcing results before
counting is over.
High turnout kept some voters in line for more
than nine hours to cast their ballots, and
polling in Addis Ababa lasted until Monday
Kemal Bedri, chairman of the National Election
Board, described the elections as one of the best
Final election results will be announced on June 8.
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