Wednesday, March 26, 2014

African, Caribbean and Pacific States condemn western sanctions against Uganda and Nigeria

Following the enactment of recent anti homosexual legislation in Uganda and Nigeria, the response of the European Parliament to isolate them from the Cotonou Partnership Agreement and the response of Member States of the European Union, the United States of America and Norway in deciding to either withhold aid directed to the Ugandan Government or redirect aid away from the government to civil society organizations, the Parliamentary Assembly of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States has issued a strongly worded declaration condemning the actions of the countries involved and expressing support for both Uganda and Nigeria.

The Parliamentary Assembly during its 35th Session in Strasbourg on 14 and 19 March 2014 point out in their declaration that 76 countries consider homosexuality a crime, and it continues by pointing out that one of the universally held cardinal principles of democracy is acceptance of differing opinions on matters of principle and that democracy and human rights do not allow forceful imposition of unilateral points of view by one country over another sovereign country.

The declaration states that the new laws in Uganda and Nigeria were enacted by democratically elected Parliaments following widespread consultation in each case, and reiterates the right of sovereign governments and their democratic institutions to reflect and respect the will of their people. Interestingly the declaration points out that the former British colonial governments in Uganda and Nigeria had enacted legislation to punish homosexuality with a 14-year prison sentence under section 145 of the Uganda Penal Code Act and with a 7-year sentence under section 214 of the Nigerian Criminal Code respectively.

The declaration asserts the right of a society to determine its own moral values and norms and accuses the European Parliament of double standards in addressing democracy and human rights issues as manifested in the reaction to the issue of sexual orientation and homosexuality in ACP Countries.

The declaration continues by calling on the EU to respect the democratic processes of sovereign States and to refrain from taking action which could undermine partnership with the ACP Group, and to desist from tying sexual orientation and homosexuality to development aid and cooperation. It also reaffirms its rejection of any attempt to pressure the ACP countries into accepting values contrary to the wishes and aspirations of their peoples.
The declaration also expresses regret that some ACP countries are being punished for observing and upholding the generally acceptable norms in their societies and urges the EU to accept that there is no common ground between it and Uganda and Nigeria on the question of sexual orientation and homosexuality.