American Jewish World Service Calls for Recall of U.S. Ambassadors to Uganda and Nigeria

Urges Secretary of State Kerry to reevaluate diplomatic relationships in the wake of escalating human rights concerns, new anti-LGBT laws

NEW YORK, NY – American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading Jewish international development and human rights organization, called on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry today to recall the country’s ambassadors to Uganda and Nigeria back to the United States in order to evaluate future diplomatic relationships with the countries. This action follows a deterioration of fundamental freedoms and human rights culminating in the passage of new laws which violate the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

In recent years, the Ugandan government has routinely blocked political demonstrations and closed civil society meetings, banned the wearing of miniskirts and other revealing clothing, and forced non-governmental organizations working on sensitive issues such as corruption, governance, and oil resources to operate in a hostile and restrictive political environment. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is yet another example of the deterioration of human rights in the country.

“If the Ugandan and Nigerian governments are going to treat their citizens as criminals, the United States must stand up for human rights worldwide,” said Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS. “We urge Secretary Kerry to recall the U.S. Ambassadors to Uganda and Nigeria to Washington to evaluate the future of our diplomatic relationships with these countries. We must send the message to both governments that these actions have consequences.

“As Jews, we know all too well that the stripping away of human rights from specific groups of individuals is often a precursor to targeted destruction. We cannot continue to conduct business as usual while people lose their freedoms just because of who they are and whom they love. We must act now to put an end to this injustice.”

National legislatures in both Uganda and Nigeria have passed bills criminalizing homosexuality within the past few weeks. In Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan has signed the bill into law, while Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has not yet signed the bill, although a spokesman indicated last week that he intends to.

Uganda’s bill, passed by the Parliament in December, contains many cruel and unconscionable provisions including life imprisonment for repeated same-sex sexual behavior. It also criminalizes the so-called “promotion of homosexuality,” which includes funding organizations that provide health and other services to LGBT people or promoting the legal and human rights of LGBT people.

Over the past five years, AJWS has granted more than $1,000,000 to support social justice organizations in Africa that promote equality and work to end discrimination and violence against people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, so that they can access the full spectrum of opportunities in society and live in health, safety and dignity.

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