The ICJ asks Multichoice Group to immediately suspend Emmanuel TV for broadcasting violent “conversion therapy” by Pastor TB Joshua

The ICJ asks Multichoice Group to immediately suspend Emmanuel TV for broadcasting violent “conversion therapy” by Pastor TB Joshua

In a letter of 3 May, the ICJ called on the Non-Executive Chair of the Multichoice Group, and the board of directors to immediately suspend Emmanuel TV on any of the DSTV platforms for broadcasting of televangelist Pastor TB Joshua’s multiple video clips ostensibly depicting a violent ‘conversion therapy’ and hate speech against LGBT persons amounting to human rights abuses. 

One of the videos, shows Joshua slapping and pushing a woman at least 16 times, and telling her: “There is a spirit disturbing you. She has transplanted herself into you. It is the spirit of woman.”

By broadcasting Joshua’s channel, which openly advocates hatred against, and causes harm to, LGBTI persons, Multichoice Group’s actions are inconsistent with human rights law and standards, the South African Constitution and domestic legislation, which all proscribe discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The ICJ therefore urged Multichoice to urgently take the following steps to remedy this situation: 

1. Immediately suspend Emmanuel TV on any of the DSTV platforms including Channel 309. 

2. Immediately remove the offending video clips and provide an undertaking not to air them or similar offensive materials again. 

3. Offer an apology from Multichoice Group to the LGBT persons. 

4. Undertake an updating of the MultiChoice Group’s internal policies to bring them in line with human rights standards, the South African Constitution, and local laws on non-discrimination. 

To read the full letter, click here.


Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, ICJ Africa Director, Kaajal.Keogh(a)

Tanveer Jeewa, Legal and Communications Officer, Tanveer.Jeewa(a)

South Africa: the ICJ calls on the authorities to ensure that justice is rendered for killings of four gay men

South Africa: the ICJ calls on the authorities to ensure that justice is rendered for killings of four gay men

Homophobia is against African notions of ubuntu.

Over the past month, the killings of four gay men have made headlines in South Africa.  Lonwabo Jack, a 22-year-old gay man, was killed on his birthday, 18 April. Earlier in April,  two more gay men,  were killed – Nathaniel Mbele in  Vanderbijlpark and Sphamandla Khoza in Durban.

Lonwabo Jack’s killing occurred just two days after advocates for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) led protests in front of Parliament in Cape Town demanding that the South African government address the countrywide homophobic violence that continues unabated.

The group Justice for Lulu, founded after Andile “Lulu” Ntuthela, a 40-year-old gay man, was killed in the Eastern Cape on 10 April. The group handed a memorandum to Parliament calling, among other things, for  an urgent debate on hate crimes. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance of South Africa (GLASA), in turn, called for the government to speed up the adoption and enactment of the Prevention and Combating Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill B9 of 2018.

These hate crimes and attacks on the LGBTI community have been ongoing for many years. Homophobia is endemic in South Africa, despite the comprehensive and progressive legal framework, including legal protection for the human rights of LGBTI persons.

As attested to by the ICJ’s recent report, “Invisible, Isolated, and Ignored: A report on Human Rights abuses on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression in Colombia, South Africa and Malaysia”, and illustrated by these ongoing attacks, these legal protections do not translate into real protection of human rights in practice.

“South Africa is a heteronormative society where patriarchy is deeply rooted; this contributes to violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons. The view that homosexuality is un-African is held by many. Political and cultural leaders have in the past publicly espoused anti-gay sentiments and this encourages discriminatory attitudes and violence against people based on their real or imputed sexual orientation, gender identity or expression”, said Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Director of ICJ Africa.

Section 9(3) of the South African Constitution provides that the State may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on the ground of sexual orientation, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) grants protection against prohibited discrimination, and entitles every person to equal protection of the law.

Additionally, the African Charter entitles every individual to respect of their life and the integrity of their person, and prohibits torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading punishment and treatment.

In its Resolution on ‘Protection against Violence and Other Human Rights Violations against Persons on the basis of their real or imputed Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity’, the African Commission strongly urged “States to end all acts of violence and abuse, whether committed by State or non-state actors, including by enacting and effectively applying appropriate laws prohibiting and punishing all forms of violence including those targeting persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation or gender identities, ensuring proper investigation and diligent prosecution of perpetrators, and establishing judicial procedures responsive to the needs of victims.”

Notwithstanding South Africa’s legal obligations, LGBTI persons face significant barriers in accessing justice and effective remedies for human rights violations; particular challenges affect the criminal justice system, resulting in many cases concerning the protection of human rights of LGBTI persons not reaching the courts.

These barriers to access to justice and effective remedies for human rights violations include experiences of discrimination within the criminal justice system, as well as societal homophobia and transphobia. This is in contravention of South Africa’s duties under international, regional and national law to afford every person equal protection of the law.

The Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill needs to be adopted as a matter of urgency. It is important as measure of deterrence and to ensure that perpetrators of hate crimes be brought to justice.

The ICJ condemns the killings of members of the LGBTI community and calls on the South African government to acknowledge the discrimination, hatred and violence that LGBTI persons face every day in South Africa and to act decisively to address these harms.

Progressive legislation is not enough, the criminal justice system needs to be sensitized and educated to eliminate experiences of societal homophobia and transphobia. We echo the demands in this joint statement by multiple human rights organizations in South Africa.

Whatever one’s real or imputed sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, nobody should have to live in fear, everyone should be able to have trust in the police and judicial system. The homophobic acts and sentiments in South Africa are against African notions of ubuntu. Society cannot be free, until all its people are free, and treated with dignity.


Nokukhanya (Khanyo) Farisè, Legal Adviser (Africa Regional Programme), e: nokukhanya.farise(a)

Tanveer Rashid Jeewa, Communications and Legal Officer, e: tanveer.jeewa(a)

Cambodia: authorities must end increasing crackdown on human rights defenders

Cambodia: authorities must end increasing crackdown on human rights defenders

Today, the ICJ condemned an ongoing and heightened crackdown on civil society activists and human rights defenders in Cambodia, and called on the Royal Government of Cambodia (“RGC”) to cease arbitrary arrest and other harassment of individuals for merely exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

From end-July to early this week, at least eleven activists have been arrested and detained on spurious charges in an invigorated attempt by authorities to silence critical dissent in the country.

“The Cambodian authorities in recent days have ratcheted up their abuse of domestic laws to target human rights defenders and perceived critics of the government. We fear that without a robust international response, the situation will only deteriorate further,” said Kingsley Abbott, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser.

“They are now targeting youth in particular, in an apparent bid to curtail their use of social media to amplify dissatisfaction with the ruling regime. Instead of attacking them, the government needs to stop and listen to their people,” he added.

Several arrests have been linked with the detention of prominent union leader, Rong Chhun. On 31 July, Rong Chhun, President of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, was arrested at his home in suspected retaliation for comments he had made alleging loss of community land in relation to demarcation of the Cambodian-Vietnamese border. He was thereafter charged with “incitement to commit a felony or disturb social security,” under articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code. He is currently in detention in Phnom Penh’s Correctional Centre 1.

On 13 August, Hun Vannak and Chhouen Daravy, founding members of the Khmer Thavrak youth activist group, were arrested in relation to a rally they had held outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court in support of Rong Chhun. Daravy was reportedly slapped, then grabbed and hit before being pushed into a vehicle during her arrest. Security officials also reportedly beat and kicked at people in the rally to disperse the crowd, injuring about ten individuals.

On 6 September, Buddhist monk Venerable Koet Saray and Mean Prommony, Vice-president of the Khmer Student Intelligent League Association, were arrested in apparent connection with a rally they had been organizing to call for Rong Chhun’s release. On 7 September, Khmer Thavrak activists Tha Lavy and Eng Malai were arrested. Tha Lavy was arrested on arriving at a protest at Freedom Park. Eng Malai was arrested the day she had left the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Cambodia office, where she had raised her security concerns.

Simultaneous arrests of environmental rights activists and a rapper evidence a wider crackdown beyond the case of Rong Chhun. On 4 September, three members of environmental rights group Mother Nature Cambodia, Thun Ratha, Long Kunthea and Phuong Keorasmey were arrested. They were thereafter charged with incitement under articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code. On the same day, rapper Kea Sokun was arrested in Siem Reap province and similarly charged with incitement, in apparent connection with a popular song he had released on YouTube, concerning land at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border.

On 7 September, the Ministry of Interior issued a statement denouncing Khmer Thavrak and Mother Nature Cambodia as unauthorized organizations, calling on the responsible authorities to prosecute them.

The ICJ is concerned that the groups are being targeted for allegedly operating without being registered in accordance with the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations. The requirements under this law are non-compliant with international law and standards that protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, as the ICJ has previously pointed out.  The law impermissibly restricts the ability of civil society members to exercise their rights to freedom of association and expression.

The ICJ recalls the responsibility of Cambodia, as expressly stated in the UN Human Rights Defenders Declaration, to “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 present Declaration.” These rights include, among others, freedoms of expression, opinion, peaceful assembly, association and political participation.

“Far from protecting these rights, the government has been systematically violating them,” said Abbott.

“The recent arrests signal yet another sign of further regression that needs to be called out by the international community, including by partners, missions, UN agencies and financial institutions.”

On 7 September, the UN Special Rapporteur on Cambodia expressed concerns about the recent arrests and also highlighted that she “has been closely following reports that seven different CSOs have been searched or informed of pending visits by the authorities since last week.” Similarly, over the past few days, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders has expressed concern about the crackdown, stating “peaceful protest is not a crime”.


Kingsley Abbott, Senior Legal Adviser, ICJ Global Redress & Accountability Initiative e:

See also

ICJ and 31 organizations jointly urge Governments to call for respect of human rights in Cambodia, 22 July 2020

Cambodia: State of Emergency bill violates the rule of law’, 8 April 2020

Misuse of law will do long-term damage to Cambodia, 26 July 2018

Cambodia: deteriorating situation for human rights and rule of law (UN statement), 27 June 2018

Cambodia: the ICJ condemns Senate’s approval of draft Law on Associations and NGOs, 24 July 2015

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