ISHR appalled at killing of LGBTI activist, David Kato

27.01.2011

The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) is appalled at the killing of prominent Ugandan human rights activist, David Kato.

Mr Kato was a defender of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons, and worked as advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda. He was killed in his home in Kampala on 26 January.

 

The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) is appalled at the killing of prominent Ugandan human rights activist, David Kato.

Mr Kato was a defender of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons, and worked as advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda. He was killed in his home in Kampala on 26 January.

ISHR says the killing highlights the urgent need for better protection for human rights defenders, especially those most vulnerable to attack and intimidation, including defenders working on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.

ISHR calls on the Ugandan Government to urgently investigate this crime and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.  The Government must undertake all measures possible to protect and promote the work of human rights defenders.  It has a responsibility to create and sustain a climate where everyone can defend human rights free from attack and hindrance.

Moves by the Ugandan Government to increase the penalty for homosexual acts to life imprisonment or even the death penalty, through the Anti-Homosexuality Bill under consideration since late 2009, have heightened the risks for LGBTI campaigners in the country.

'Uganda and other States criminalising homosexuality should rethink their policies and comply with international human rights law, by extending adequate and equal human rights protection to LGBTI persons and human rights defenders working on the issue,' says ISHR director, Bjorn Pettersson.

'More work needs to be undertaken at the international level too. As recently as November, at the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, a reference to sexual orientation was removed from a resolution on extrajudicial executions.

'Fortunately, sanity eventually prevailed, and the reference to sexual orientation has now been reinserted into the resolution. But the fact that some UN member States apparently don't think LGBTI persons need to be protected from extrajudicial executions says a lot about the challenges faced by LGBTI defenders,' he says.

On Human Rights Day 2010, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pledged to speak out, at every opportunity to rally support for the decriminalisation of homosexuality everywhere in the world.

'...Today, many nations have modern constitutions that guarantee essential rights and liberties. And yet, homosexuality is considered a crime in more than 70 countries,' he said. 'Together, we seek the repeal of laws that criminalize homosexuality, that permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, that encourage violence.'

ISHR urges the United Nations, its member states, and African human rights mechanisms to condemn such attacks on human rights defenders – and to reaffirm their active commitment to implementing the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Related links:

CNN news story, and video interview with David Kato before his death

News release by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)

News release by International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association