Kim Simplis Barrow’s Reflections, Inspiration and Outlook for the New Year!


The New Year is a time to reflect on a year gone by and make plans and preparations for the upcoming year. One of the greatest blessings of humanity is the ability to recreate our lives,  overcome and learn from adversity.  Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow took the nation of Belize through a tsunami of emotions as she battled one of the toughest fight of her life. She brought cancer awareness to the forefront  while excelling at her duties as Special Envoy for women and children. Please read her message below as she shares her fight, struggles, fears and  successes. 

Kim Simplis Barrow and daughter Salima Barrow

Kim Simplis Barrow and daughter Salima Barrow

A YEAR I WILL NEVER FORGETby: Kim Simplis Barrow
2012 is coming to an end and for many reasons it is a year I truly don’t mind putting behind me. As I sit here reflecting on the year that was, there is no denying that 2012 was a challenging one for me as I spent a great deal of it fighting for my life. I battled cancer the best way I could and just when it seemed that the victory could well be in sight, there was another major struggle to overcome. When I suffered heart failure at the end of May, I couldn’t help but ask, “what the hell is going on?” I really needed answers. Answers I really didn’t get, but I continued to fight and I also continued to hope and pray and believe. It was a tough year as I completed chemotherapy treatments, radiation, and restored my heart to an acceptable beating pulse after a very grim prognosis.

Despite the many adversities I had to face, many days I smiled! I smiled at the everyday miracles I experienced. My faith in the human spirit, the goodness and beauty in everything was ever so present. I am forever grateful for all the support and constant prayers that came and continue to come my way.

Yes, during 2012 I struggled with my health but nonetheless, I can gratefully say – it was a successful year. Oh yes it was! My daily inspiration: our beautiful Belizean children! They are the ones who gave me the strength and courage to keep working on my Special Envoy projects. This year I saw the budding fruits of my labours as after many years of planning and advocacy a number of things came together. The Inspiration Telethon was a complete success and construction of the Centre has started. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Prohibition Bill and the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Bill were approved by the Cabinet and passed through both the House of Representatives and the Senate with unanimous support. They are now just a signature away from becoming law. The drafting of amendments to the Criminal Code to increase penalties for perpetrators of sexual assault has started and we’re expecting that it will be passed into law in 2013. A few weeks ago we received the good news that the Challenge Gobie Foundation reached its million dollar mark for us to start construction on the first phase of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.

And those are just the big highlights. There were many other victories: the annual launch of our Inspiration calendar and agendas, a very successful Annual Spirit of Christmas Concert that entertained over 300 children, the launch of several PSAs on sexual exploitation and child safety, increased public awareness on disabilities and cancer… just to name a few.

Overall, what I have learnt this year–indeed what I have lived this year–is that you don’t have to quit in the face of adversity, no matter how great a challenge! You should never give up no matter how horrible you feel, even if you are lying in the ICU! Life is many times ‘unfair’ and rough, we face unexpected events (cancer, job loss, death) but life doesn’t have to break us. WE MAKE LIFE!!!

That is my mantra: MY LIFE IS WHAT I MAKE IT! And in 2013 I intend to make it as rich and fulfilling as it can be; no matter the adversities, no matter the naysayers. I will continue to count my blessings, continue to cherish and support my loved ones, continue to appreciate my friends, continue my work on behalf of the children of this nation. And I will continue to look for the lessons as I face, head on, whatever challenge the new year may bring. I hope you will do the same!

Happy New Year to all! In the words of Afrobella I urge you to:

Slow down. Calm down. Look back at your year. Appreciate the journey you’ve made – the peaks and the valleys, the growth and the realizations. Be thankful for who you are, what you have, and the people who love you. Look forward to the upcoming year. Make plans that make sense for you, considering what you know you are capable of. Don’t limit yourself. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.

I wish you peace, happiness, prosperity and love in 2013 no matter, or perhaps, despite what challenges may come your way!

Happy Birthday Twocanview and Merry Christmas to All!


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One year ago on December 26th, 2011, Twocanview splashed onto the Internet scene with a hard-hitting poem ‘Jingle Bells’ by Fayemarie Anderson Carter (https://twocanview.com/2011/12/27/jingle-bells/) and an article ‘Reflection’ by Aria Lightfoot.  (https://twocanview.com/2011/12/26/reflection/)

The idea of Twocanview was borne to address issues in Belize normally too taboo to discuss, or due to political affiliation, fear of retaliation or apathy, not addressed.  We are two Belizean women, giving a bird eyes view of our beautiful country Belize.   We chose the name Twocanview as a play on the word toucan, Belize’s national bird.

What was the year like?

Twocanview’s articles brought out very strong mixed emotions from readers and from writers of Twocanview alike.  We were enthusiastically encouraged to continue by some; some readers were deeply offended, even those we were not talking about; our Belizeanness were called into question; one person threatened to ‘bring down’ Twocanview (the most hilarious threat);  we were blocked and reported as spam;  we were called insignificant;  we were ignored;  we were taken very seriously;  we were prayed for;  we were called evil and one fanatical church lady called for my personal arrest when I reach Belize.  Some opposition members accused us of being an arm of the government and the government had no idea what to make of us.  Maybe starting a controversial blog months before a major General Elections could make a lot of people ‘naaavous’ and suspicious.

As the year progressed, many people calmed down, and many of our readers developed a level of trust for us.  We received many tips on stories and many times people reached out for us to address issues and helped to add credence to our articles.  Faye and I have been very clear and consistent in our writing. We are anti-corruption, pro-Belize and we are adding our voice to the discourse to move Belize forward. We firmly believe that Belizeans want the same things, regardless of political affiliation, social or financial status.

Over the year, we promoted a successful writing contest with the winner, Andre Alamilla, receiving over 1000 dollars in gift and prizes through the generous contribution of our readers. We were also featured in the Independent Newspaper;  we had the opportunity to interview the Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow and also met several past and present members of House of Representatives.  Several writers contributed to Twocanview with opinion pieces of their own and Twocanview also sponsored a child through Restore Belize hoping to make a difference if only in one child’s life.

In our first year,  Twocanview wrote 355 articles, received 1,132 comments from readers,  had more than 48,000 hits. About 800 email subscribers, 40 blog followers and almost 400 Facebook likes.   The most read story in one day was “The mishandling of the Jasmine Lowe investigation” (https://twocanview.com/2012/06/08/the-mishandling-of-jasmine-lowes-investigation-by-aria-lightfoot/) which had over 4250 views in one day and reprinted by two small newspapers.  Our blog has been viewed in Belize, USA, Canada, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.  Even though we do not blog daily or weekly we still get about 50-100 daily viewers.

The year has seen some ups and downs. Faye and I have disagreed on how to address certain issues and as passionate women, we made our stand.  Our writing is real and emotional and driven by our love of country.  We have also received very good, not so good, rude and interesting feedback from professors, co-bloggers and just about anyone with an opinion.  The last few months we have had less articles due to school and work obligations for myself and Faye began pursuing other projects.

What is in store for 2013?

As I become acclimated with working full time, I plan to continue blogging in the New Year. The membership has been renewed and in 2013 Twocanview, will continue to bring to readers perspective on issues we think are of national importance. Belize is too important to us.  We will not go quietly into the night and promise to continue our advocacy of good governance for Belize.  We wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Please continue reading and spreading the birdflew.

“We Keep Going Forward” Towards What Destination? by Jeremy A. Enriquez


A Journey through Garifuna History:
After 210 years in Belize, “We Keep Going Forward” Towards What Destination? by Jeremy A. Enriquez
Published in Amandala, (www.amandala.com.bz)
Sunday Nov. 18, 2012

Reprinted on twocanview.com with the Permission of Jeremy A. Enriquez

Jeremy A. Enriquez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeremy A. Enriquez provides a very important and many times missing part of Belizean History.  Our plight as African descendants (Garinagu and Creoles)  has a very important interwoven historical significance.  Please read as Jeremy present the Garinagu important contribution to the development of Belize.  A.L.

 

Amidst the challenging socioeconomic realities of Garifuna communities and the constraints of Garifuna leadership to collectively define, promote and pursue development opportunities for their people, the annual revelry that defines Garifuna Settlement Day has served to reaffirm among Garinagu their cultural survival against all odds throughout the two centuries that they have lived in Belize. The mere survival of Garifuna culture after the attempts by the British superpower to exterminate it is still quite an exceptional feat to celebrate.

Following the unsuccessful defense of their homeland territory of St. Vincent against the British invaders in 1797, the Garinagu were rounded up loaded in ships and exiled almost two thousand miles away to the most barren sections of the island of Roatan, then another British territory. About two decades earlier, the British had considered returning this rebellious group of fierce warriors to Africa but that would have been too costly. Roatan was a strategic decision. It ensured that the Garinagu would be permanently separated and kept very far away from their homeland and from other British territories such as Jamaica, Barbados, Dominica or Trinidad and Tobago where slavery still existed. This forced deportation was to ensure that the Garinagu fomented no other rebellion. Those who were allowed to remain in St. Vincent were legally banned from all expressions of their ancestral culture until its extinction.

This year marks 210 years since the Garinagu first arrived in Belize. They came in 1802 as the first group of free people to settle in Belize: – decades before the Mestizos settled the north in the late 1840s and before the Mayas returned in the 1880s in flight from brutally oppressive labor conditions in Guatemala.

Technically, the Garinagu were not welcomed in Belize as the settlement was still a slave society. There was fear amongst the English settlers in Belize Town that the Garinagu, as free blacks who were well known for the fierce war that they fought at St. Vincent only five years earlier, might not be completely loyal to them and might even foment rebellion among the slaves. Consequently, a strict ban was imposed to prevent them from staying in the settlement for more than forty eight hours and a hefty fine was set for anyone who hired or employed any Garifuna within the settlement. In compliance with the law, Garinagu formed their own settlements south of the Sibun River border where they have remained ever since. Seeds of discrimination and mistrust were also planted by the masters among the slaves to ensure that the two groups of Afro-descendants – one enslaved and the other free – remained separated. Such seeds have largely remained firmly rooted in the collective psyche of the royal descendants such that to date there remains the lack of genuine interest in the roots of their common bond and the systemic exclusion of Garinagu from higher offices in the public, judiciary, diplomatic and other services.

Today, relative to all Afro-descendant people throughout all the Americas and the Caribbean, the Garinagu remains one of the very few who have kept their unique African-indigenous hybrid ancestral language, their ancestral spirituality, food, music and other aspects of their traditional culture all intact. For that reason on May 18th 2001, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, proclaimed the Garifuna language, music and dance a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. These alone are exceptional accomplishments to proudly celebrate.

Besides all that, however, within the bubble of Belize’s rather colonially-oriented and city-centric versions of its historical awareness and discourse, there seems very little knowledge and appreciation of the critical contribution of the Garinagu in shaping the nation’s economic, territorial, and cultural history.

Shortly after the first group of Garinagu arrived in Belize in 1802 and perhaps as early as 1799, as a rare group of free blacks in the region during the time of slavery, they became the primary agents for two of the most prevailing European interests: – (i) the commercial interest of Belizean woodcutters to expand Belize’s lucrative mahogany interests further south beyond the legally established Sibun River boundary, and (ii) the evangelizing interests of European, later American, priests to expand the Catholic faith to various ethnic groups all over Belize.

By the late 1790s, the major economic activity in the Belize settlement was the harvesting of mahogany for export. Mahogany had replaced logwood which had declined in demand since the 1770s when the use of synthetic dye became more popular. Prior to the arrival of the Garinagu, the Belizean logwood contractors were forced to grapple with two major economic challenges that threatened the very existence of the settlement. Firstly, virtually all the stands of mahogany within Belize’s legally established territory had been depleted. In order to satisfy the steep demand for mahogany in Europe, it was critical for the Belizean contractors to expand their operations south of the Sibun River – a territory which was outside the limits of Belize’s boundary as established in 1786 by the Convention of London.

Secondly, the plan for expansion of the woodcutting operations was constrained by a severe labor shortage in Belize. In the 1790s, several of the slaves (who comprised seventy five percent of the population of the Belize settlement) had escaped to nearby Spanish territory in Mexico or Peten. Given the frequent and heavy losses of slaves, and constant threats of slave rebellion, the woodcutters desperately needed a reliable source of labor. They would either have to import more slaves and risk further losses or hire labor from among the Garinagu. By that time the Garinagu had made themselves well known in the region for their intelligence, independence, resilience, discipline, strong physique, hard work and excellent maritime skills. Consequently, they became eagerly sought after as the prime source of labour for the mahogany industry.

Emboldened by their resistance against Spanish invaders in September 1798, and with the prospect of a new and reliable source of labor, the Belizean contractors decided to ignore the established Sibun River boundary of the Belize settlement and expand their operations further south. In 1802, they sought and were granted permission by the Superintendent of the settlement, R. Basset, to import 150 Garifuna labourers from Roatan to be employed as woodcutters. With some government assistance, many of them were shipped and many more managed to find their way to the southern coast of Stann Creek and Toledo Districts.

The early influx of Garinagu in 1802, and the subsequent major influx in 1823 to seek refuge from civil wars in Central America, provided a major boost in the pool of labor to expand the operations for the Belizean timber contractors. For decades, the eager, hardworking and skilled Garifuna woodcutters penetrated the dense forests south of the Sibun River all the way to the Sarstoon River. The ill-feelings they harboured against the British following their deportation a few years earlier had been set aside as they focused on own their economic survival. It was not unusual for Garifuna women and children to accompany the men to the lumber camps. The stable pool of labor from the Garinagu derived great economic benefits for the Belizean contractors and the settlement. Along with the booming mahogany trade, the communities that the Garinagu established helped to lay the foundation for the expansion of Belize’s territory from the Sibun to the Sarstoon River, until it was formally incorporated as part of Belize in the Anglo-Guatemalan Treaty of 1859.

Given the tremendous involvement of the Garinagu to ensure a lucrative supply of mahogany, it is unfortunate that Belize’s history hardly admits that one of the two black men symbolized in Belize’s Coat of Arms is the Garifuna man. The other is the enslaved African Creole man whose forced labor harvested all the remaining stands of mahogany north of the Sibun. The tremendous labor of both groups formed the backbone of the economic history of Belize – shoulder to shoulder, under the shade of the tree.

As for the Garifuna women, their primary productive work was in agriculture. It was they who produced much of the foodstuffs, chickens and pigs for sale in Belize.

Over decades, the tough rigors of their work in forestry, their strong maritime culture, their harsh history of battle against European powers and subsequent deportation, their Catholic background, as well as their productivity, natural intelligence, facility for language and resilience had all molded among the Garinagu the pioneering spirit and work ethic that made them and their descendants prime candidates for the Catholic church to establish its schools throughout the remotest areas of Belize.

They were the first group of Catholics to arrive in Belize. The first Catholic church was established in 1832 amongst those residing near Mullins River. The earliest date recorded in which a Catholic priest conducted missionary work in Punta Gorda was in 1841. In May 1845 Jesuit priests built a church and established its first mission in P.G. long before there was any mission other parts of the country.

Garifuna men were well known to provide many of the best school teachers in the colony. To be employed as teachers they had to possess a reasonably solid and above average education, qualities of leadership, good character, a pioneering spirit and the physical and mental stamina and adaptability to survive harsh, rugged life in these remote settings. They were also recognized by the Jesuits to possess a natural ability to teach and the mental aptitude to learn different languages. From the 1870s to the 1970s, Garifuna men were trained and deployed by the Jesuits as teachers/catechists to spread education and the faith to rural communities all over Belize. Primary education was the tool used to facilitate indoctrination into, and spreading of, the Catholic faith. It is not surprising then, that as a natural progression from the foundations laid by their ancestors, a number of Garifuna men became priests and a number of women became nuns. Bishop O. P. Martin, formerly a Garifuna teacher, became the first Belizean Roman Catholic Bishop. Although the Garinagu became steeped in Catholicism, however, the secrets and practices of their ancestral spirituality remains firmly rooted, even among their priests and nuns.

Interestingly, as the brightest and the best Garifuna leaders were deployed to serve other people and other communities throughout the length and breadth of Belize over several decades, this brain drain has arguably diluted the likely powerful development impact on their own Garifuna communities to result in the impoverished and vulnerable socioeconomic conditions that these communities face today.

Despite the solid economic and cultural contributions that Garinagu has made to Belize’s development, the legacy of embedded colonial value system has continued to keep them marginalized and often treated as second class citizens in their own country. This same colonial mindset and value system is also evident in the condescending behavior towards indigenous peoples who seek to maintain their own ancestral cultural values. Such state of affairs is yet to be uprooted in order to transform our society into a truly inclusive Belizean one. At the same time as Garinagu remain proudly inspired by the tremendous contribution of their ancestors, someday when the current generation becomes the future ancestors, the new generation will ask: How dedicated and effective were the elders in promoting and pursuing opportunities that ensure the wellbeing of current and future generations? Given the power of ancestors in Garifuna culture, what sort of ancestor will you be? Wawansera Mémeba Lau Lubafu Bungiu hama Áhari – We Keep Going Forward with the Power of God and the Ancestors.

Where does the truth lie? by Aria Lightfoot


John McAfee

 

John McAfee gave an interview to the wire. Please see link here: McAfee Claims Innocence.  http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/11/threatlevel_1112_mcafee

So who is telling the truth Belizeans?

The alleged drug crazed McAfee with a thirst for attention and who previously vowed to bring the name of Belize down or the  powerful   alleged “rights violating” GSU ?  It is an interesting development in our small country  of Belize.  Power games being played.

Now here is what I don’t get. Why does McAfee still want to remain in Belize? He  claims he is deathly afraid of being killed and he stated that even the Prime Minister is out to get him…but yet he remains in Belize because Belize is “the nicest place on earth”?  He claims the murder of his neighbor was a case of mistaken identity.  However, how many mistaken identities happen in the home of the deceased?  I could understand a street assassination of mistaken identity but Faull was killed in his home with a single gun shot to his head.   Anyone see the inconsistencies here? And when does a suspect get to decide whether he will speak to the police?  He has been shamelessly wielding his special privileges and highlighting our corrupt system in our faces.

The media, namely Love FM seems reluctant to report the news of this event. Patrick Jones Facebook page which is normally a daily page of carnage and bloodshed was mum.  What is up with their silence? Is Love FM intimidated? and if they are…maybe they should stop reporting news.

The international media is all over it. NBC, Wall Street Journal and several internet blogs has picked up the news.  They seem to know more information than Belizeans. Vidal had no problem fingering McAfee as the suspect…late rumblings have changed it to a “person of interest”.   Would McAfee be crazy enough to create this stir himself? Is he being set up?  Games Games and more Games.  We cannot live in  country with two sets of laws. One where we enforce  strict compliance upon the poor and then look the other way for the rich. We will send our country in anarchy and Guatemala is happily waiting to take it over if we do.

 

Big Up Our First Lady!!!!!! Sneak Preview of Upcoming Issue 10-02-12


First Lady of Belize, Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow

The First Lady of Belize will be featured in the upcoming October issue of Ms. Magazine! She is being hailed as “The Michelle Obama of Belize”.  If you enlarge the picture below, you can actually read the article 🙂 Twocanview is so proud of our First Lady and extend our heartfelt congratulations!

CLICK:

https://twitter.com/karendesuyo/status/247419253039456256/photo/1/large

Children who have lived in the Shadows…The US is providing a light…read more


Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process

Over the past three years, this Administration has undertaken an unprecedented effort to transform the immigration enforcement system into one that focuses on public safety, border security and the integrity of the immigration system. As the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to focus its enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety, including individuals convicted of crimes with particular emphasis on violent criminals, felons, and repeat offenders, DHS will exercise prosecutorial discretion as appropriate to ensure that enforcement resources are not expended on low priority cases, such as individuals who came to the United States as children and meet other key guidelines.

Individuals who demonstrate that they meet the guidelines below may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and may be eligible for employment authorization.   You may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if you:

1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;

2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;

3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;

4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;

5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;

6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and

7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.   Individuals may begin to request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals on August 15, 2012.  Please do not file before August 15.  If you file early, your request will be rejected.  Individuals can call USCIS at     1-800-375-5283       with questions or to request more information on the deferred action for childhood arrivals process or visit www.uscis.gov.

Find this page and read more at www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals

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Last updated: 08/14/2012

Special Rapporteur defends Caleb Orozco and demands action from GOB


Excellency,

We have the honour to address you in our capacity as Special Rapporteur on the  promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders pursuant to General Assembly resolution 60/251 and to Human Rights Council resolutions 16/4 and 16/5.
In this connection, we would like to bring to your Excellency’s Government’s  attention information we have received concerning the alleged attack against Mr. Caleb Orozco.  Mr.  Orozco  is  the  President  of the  United  Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), an organisation which works on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGTB) rights in Belize.

According to the information received:

On the afternoon of 8 February 2012, Mr. Caleb Orozco was attacked on George Street, Belize City. Allegedly, Mr. Orozco was first threatened by unidentified men shouting anti-gay slurs. According to reports, one of the men then threw a beer bottle at him, hitting him in the face. It is reported that Mr. Orozco suffered damaged teeth and bruising to the face as a result of the attack.

According to  the  information  received,  Mr.  Orozco  has  filed  a police report; however, it is reported that the police have not identified the perpetrators.
According to the information received, Mr. Orozco has frequently appeared in national media in relation to UNIBAM’s advocacy work to remove a provision of the  Criminal  Code that  allegedly criminalizes same-sex sexual  activity. Furthermore, it is reported that he has been portrayed in an extremely negative light in the media by individuals and organizations who oppose his work.

Concern is expressed that the alleged attack against Mr. Orozco may be directly related to his legitimate human rights work and his legitimate exercise of his right to  freedom  of expression, particularly his  advocacy for  LGBTI rights  in  Belize. Further concern is  expressed  for the  physical  and  psychological  integrity of Mr.  Orozco, particularly in  light  of the  negative portrayals  of Mr.  Orozco  which  have allegedly appeared in the media.

While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we wish to  remind your Excellency’s Government that Belize, as a State party to the International  Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), has a duty to guarantee equal protection before the law and to prohibit discrimination on any ground. The words “or any other grounds” in article 26 of the ICCPR have been interpreted to include sexual orientation. Furthermore, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has found in numerous cases  that  discrimination  on  the  grounds  of  sexual  orientation  is  not  permitted  under  international human rights law.
We would  like to  refer  your  Excellency’s  Government  to  the  fundamental  principles set forth in the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and in particular articles 1 and 2 which state that “everyone has the right individually or in association with others, to promote and to strive for the  protection  and  realization  of human  rights  and  fundamental  freedoms at  the  national and international levels” and that “each State has a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms, inter alia,  by adopting such steps as may be necessary to create all conditions necessary in the  social, economic, political and other fields, as well as the legal guarantees required to  ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction, individually and in association with others, are able to enjoy all those rights and freedoms in practice”.

With regard to article 7 of the Declaration on human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders has stated that the right to develop  and discuss new human rights ideas is enshrined in the Declaration on Human Rights  Defenders as an important provision for the ongoing development of human rights. This  includes the right to discuss and advocate for human rights ideas and principles that are not necessarily new but that, in some contexts, may be perceived as new or unpopular because they address issues that might challenge tradition and culture. In this connection, the  Special  Rapporteur has  encouraged  States  to  do  the  necessary to  guarantee the principle of pluralism and recognize the right of defenders to promote and advocate for  new human rights ideas or ideas that are perceived as new. She has further encouraged States to take additional measures to ensure the protection of defenders who are at greater risk of facing certain forms of violence and discrimination because they are perceived as  challenging accepted  sociocultural  norms,  traditions,  perceptions  and  stereotypes,  including about sexual orientation and gender identity.

We would also like to recall resolution 17/19 of the Human Rights Council, where the Council expressed grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the  world,  committed  against individuals  because of their  sexual  orientation  and  gender identity.

Furthermore, article 12 paras 2 and 3 of the Declaration which provide that the  State shall  take all necessary measures  to  ensure the  protection  by the  competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats,  retaliation,  de facto  or de jure adverse discrimination,  pressure or any other  arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the Declaration. In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association  with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts  of violence perpetrated  by groups  or individuals  that  affect the  enjoyment  of human  rights  and  fundamental  freedoms. In  this  regard,  the  Inter-American  Commission  on Human Rights (IACHR) has granted precautionary measures for LGBTI human rights  defenders in cases where they are faced with substantial threats to their physical and  psychological integrity, as provided for under article 25 of the rules of procedure of the  IACHR.

We would  also  like to appeal  to  your  Excellency’s  Government  to  take all necessary steps to secure the right to freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with fundamental principles as set forth in article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom  of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the  form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”
In addition, we would like to call the attention of your Excellency’s Government to General Comment no. 34 of the Human Rights Committee, which urges States to “put  in place effective measures to protect against attacks aimed at silencing those exercising  their right to freedom of expression”; stresses that under no circumstance “can an attack on a person, because of the exercise of his or her freedom of opinion or expression,  including such forms of attack as arbitrary arrest, torture, threats to life and killing, be compatible with article 19” of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and affirms that “[a]ll such attacks should be vigorously investigated in a timely fashion,  and  the  perpetrators  prosecuted, and  the  victims,  or,  in the  case of killings,  their representatives, be in receipt of appropriate forms of redress”.

We urge your  Excellency’s  Government  to  take all necessary measures  to guarantee that the rights and freedoms of the above mentioned person are respected and, in  the  event  that  your  investigations  support  or suggest  the  above allegations  to  be correct, the accountability of any person responsible of the alleged violations should be ensured. We also request that your Excellency’s Government adopt effective measures to  prevent the recurrence of these acts.
In view of the urgency of the matter, we would appreciate a response on the initial  steps  taken  by your Excellency’s Government  to  safeguard  the  rights  of the  abovementioned person in compliance with the above international instruments.
Moreover,  it is  our  responsibility under  the  mandates  provided  to  us  by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to our attention. Since we are expected to report on these cases to the Human Rights Council, we would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters, when relevant to the case under consideration:

1. Are the facts alleged in the summary of the case accurate?
2. Has a complaint been lodged by or on behalf of the alleged victim?
3. Please provide the  details,  and  where available  the  results,  of  any investigation, and judicial or other inquiries carried out in relation to this case. If no  inquiries have taken place, or if they have been inconclusive, please explain why.
4. Please provide  the  full  details  of any prosecutions  which  have been undertaken. Have penal, disciplinary or administrative sanctions been imposed on the alleged perpetrators?
5. Please indicate what protective measures have been or will be taken to protect the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Caleb Orozco, in order to ensure that he can exercise his legitimate activities in defence of human rights.

We undertake to ensure that your Excellency’s Government’s response to each of these questions is accurately reflected in the report we will submit to the Human Rights Council for its consideration.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration.

Frank La Rue
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of  opinion and expression

Margaret Sekaggya
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Gay Rights Activist Physically Attacked