James Pirtle is a trial lawyer and owner of The Sentinel Law Group, PLLC, a Seattle law firm and he is an attorney on the ground for Legal Advocacy Worldwide (LAW), a non-profit devoted to financing direct legal advocacy on behalf of the oppressed abroad, including the state-sanctioned persecution of the LGBT community in Africa. This blog chronicles how his involvement in the defense of Thomas Kwoyelo, a former child soldier in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda, developed into a broad international human rights practice with crusading Ugandan attorney John Francis Onyango. This blog begins with their involvement in the Kwoyelo case and continues with updates and developments in the human rights cases. Read from the bottom up to see how it all unfolds.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Blog Post 22 - African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

The last several months have been fairly active.  I'm delighted to announce the formation of Legal Advocacy Wordwide (LAW), a new non profit corporation set up to fund our human rights cases in Africa.  What sets this organization apart is that we are not just observing and reporting on events, we are involved in direct legal advocacy.  I want to specially thank the director of the organization, Dylan Doty, for his tireless efforts in getting everything set up.  The distinguished Board of Directors also includes Professor Ned Markosian, Professor Won Kidane, Washington State Representative Roger Goodman, Lt.Cmdr Greg Reilly, Melissa Nunes, and Amber Asbjornsen.  Melissa has been helping me from the beginning of my involvement in this work and Amber (my sister) is an experienced fundraiser and if you look closely you will see that she posts all of my blogging on this site.

In June, The Seattle Weekly ran a front page story about my involvement in the Kwoyelo Case:  There are some factual inaccuracies and the story is a little sensational but it has helped generate interest and publicity for the work.  In fact, we have been in touch with the RFK Center and they have expressed interest in being involved in future human rights cases.

As for the cases, Thomas Kwoyelo still languishes in Luzira Prison.  The Supreme Court of Uganda does not have a quorum and there is no indication when they will.  Having essentially exhausted legal recourse in Uganda, Francis and I have decided to petition the African Commission on Human and People's Rights for a declaration and order that our client deserves his freedom.  This article has several quotes taken from our petition:  I will keep my loyal readers updated as events unfold.

We have also filed suit against Uganda for violating the freedom of assembly rights of an LGBT group that was holding a conference in Entebbe.  They were raided and scattered by the government even though there was no activity taking place in contravention of existing morality laws.  We are expecting the state's response to this suit within a week or two.

So, as I mentioned, things have been rather active.  But we are pushing on and I think now have the infrastructure in place to really start making a difference.