For several weeks, South Africa has been facing one of the most serious avian flu epidemics in its history.

For several weeks, South Africa has been facing one of the most serious avian flu epidemics in its history.

The country, which is one of the continent's largest poultry producers, reported its first cases in April. But since then, the situation has not improved and the disease has decimated millions of chickens.

The consequences of the epidemic are already being felt on the economy, with egg shortages in supermarkets. Some traders did not hesitate to increase prices, or to ration their sales.

Furthermore, Namibia announced a few days ago that it would suspend the import of chickens and eggs from South Africa and turn to other suppliers, in Europe or Latin America.

Avian flu is infecting more and more mammals around the world.

Across the Atlantic, Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Chile have announced hundreds of deaths among their marine mammals, including sea lions.

The avian flu virus causes muscular, neurological and respiratory damage. Although cases of human infections are rare, the WHO fears that the virus may adapt to infect humans more easily.

Nigeria: mass arrests target LGBTQ+ people

Nigeria is one of more than 30 of 54 countries in Africa where homosexuality is criminalized
Mass arrests target LGBTQ+ people in Nigeria, while abuse against them is ignored, activists say.

Law enforcement authorities in Nigeria are using the country's law banning same-sex relations to target the LGBTQ+ community while ignoring abuses against them, rights groups and lawyers say, following news mass arrests of homosexuals.

Mass arrests
Nigeria is one of more than 30 of 54 countries in Africa where homosexuality is criminalized in laws with broad public support, even though the Constitution guarantees freedom from discrimination and the right to private and family life. .

Mass arrests and detention of queer Nigerians that continued this week were carried out without proper investigation and could expose them to further danger amid anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments in Africa's most populous country, officials said. rights groups.

The country's paramilitary agency announced on Monday the arrest of more than 70 youths - 59 men and 17 women - in the northern state of Gombe, accusing them of "organizing homosexual birthday parties" and having “the intention of organizing homosexual birthday parties”. sexual marriage.

"The Witch Hunt"
Following a similar detention of more than 60 people at a gay wedding in the southern Delta state in August, arrests show "a slight increase in the number of people." this trend of witch hunts and gross human rights violations,” Isa Sanusi, director of Amnesty International Nigeria, told the Associated Press.

The arrests also suggest that states are imitating each other "to achieve distinctions" under the law, according to Anietie Ewang, Nigeria researcher in the Africa division of Human Rights Watch. She said concerns highlighted by the organization in a 2016 report – regarding the abuse and stigma gay people face in Nigeria – remained.

A law condemned internationally
Nigeria's 2013 Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which has been condemned internationally but supported by many in the country of more than 210 million people, punishes same-sex marriage with up to 14 years old. years in prison and forced many gay Nigerians to flee the country, according to human rights activists.

Arrests under the law have been common since it took effect, but the largest mass detentions have taken place in recent weeks, during which some of the suspects have been falsely accused. and subjected to inhumane conditions, according to lawyers and rights groups.

After dozens of people were arrested at what police said was a gay wedding at a hotel in Delta State, the suspects were paraded on camera in a live broadcast on social media, despite a ruling last year by a Nigerian high court that pre-trial media parades violate the country's constitution. 

One of the people who marched said he was at the hotel for another engagement. Another suspect said he did not identify as gay and was arrested on his way to a fashion show.

In Gombe, where the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) said its personnel had arrested people who "intended" to organize a gay wedding, the main suspect identified as Bashir Sani denied this. allegation.

“There was no wedding, only an anniversary,” he said in a program broadcast by local media.

Among those arrested were the photographer and the disc jockey at the event, Ochuko Ohimor, the suspects' lawyer, told the Associated Press.

This is part of a trend that shows how the anti-gay law is being "exploited" without due process, said Okechukwu Nwanguma, who heads the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, which advocates for police reforms in Nigeria .

The failed trial of 47 men arrested in 2018 and accused of public displays of same-sex affection at a Lagos hotel is evidence of such a flawed process, lawyers say. A local court dismissed the case in 2018 due to what it called "lack of diligence in prosecuting" after police failed to present some witnesses.

Harassment, blackmail and extortion are increasing
“They (law enforcement authorities) exploit the law to target people, whether they are gay or not…There is a tendency to target them based on assumptions or allegations, and not based on any investigation,” Nwanguma said.

Such blanket arrests and media parades are not only discriminatory, but also pose a high risk of further endangering people based on their real or perceived sexual or gender orientation, said Sanusi of Amnesty International.

“Since the enactment of the Gay Ban Act in 2014, attacks, harassment, blackmail and extortion against the LGBTQ+ community have increased at a worrying rate. The Nigeria Police should prioritize the safety of all, without fueling further discrimination,” he said.

Police spokesmen at the Nigeria Police Headquarters and Delta State Command did not respond to questions.
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