Selected developments in human rights and democratisation during 2015: Sub-Saharan Africa
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This brief overview of selected developments with regard to human rights and democratisation in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015 paints a mixed picture of progress and challenges both at the national and regional levels. The contribution discusses elections held in 2015, accountability for mass atrocities, the protection of LGBTI rights and gender equality. With regard to elections, some may be seen as reflecting the will of the electorate, while others clearly were just meant as a show to endorse a predetermined outcome. With regard to accountability for mass atrocities, heads of state do their utmost to avoid judicial scrutiny. LGBTI rights remain a controversial issue, with some states playing on homophobic sentiments to win political points, at the expense of human rights and the rule of law. In 2015, the AU Executive Council challenged the independence of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights by directing the Commission to withdraw the observer states granted to the Coalition of African Lesbians. However, at the national level, there have been encouraging judgments, for example with regard to the right of freedom of association of LGBTI groups. Gender equality also remains a contested issue, as illustrated by a case of the Ugandan Supreme Court dealing with the gender equality implications of the bride price.