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The Africa Report: 25 June

EWN’s Africa Correspondent Jean-Jacques Cornish reports on the day’s top African news

Global human rights movement Amnesty International has condemned the hanging of four criminals in Nigeria and reports that homophobia in sub-Saharan Africa has reached dangerously high levels.

DOZENS DIE IN GOLD MINING ACCIDENT

In news from the Central African Republic, at least 37 gold miners have died after heavy rains caused the pit they were working in to collapse on Sunday.

The pit was located in the area of Ndassima, approximately 400 kilometres east from the capital city of Bangui.

The mineral rich nation continues to be in a state of instability following the military takeover in March and the mining industry has not been immune from this, requiring extensive safety measures.

Authorities continue to search for more dead bodies whilst 10 injured miners have been rescued.

Reuters reports that the country has declared three days of mourning.

FIRST EXECUTIONS IN NIGERIA SINCE 2006

Although executions were never made illegal in Nigeria, on Monday, the first hanging occurred since 2006 leaving inmates traumatised.

There is knowledge of four convicted criminals having been hanged in the southern state of Edo, whilst a fifth prisoner escaped due to technicalities.

The four who were hanged were found guilty on charges of either armed robbery or murder.

The fifth man escaped execution because he was convicted under military law when the Nigerian Military Junta was in charge in pre-1999. This law declared that the fifth convict was to be killed by a firing squad.

The execution left many inmates traumatised after they heard the screams and sudden thud from the hangings and human rights groups such as Amnesty International have condemned the hangings as one of Nigeria's darkest moments.

HOMOPHOBIA REACHING DANGEROUSLY HIGH LEVELS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

On Tuesday, Human Rights group Amnesty International published a report detailing the rising levels of homophobia in sub-Saharan Africa.

38 countries in Africa have criminalised homosexuality whilst many others seek to impose harsher punishments on those engaging in consensual same-sex conduct.

Some of the countries identified by Amnesty International in their "Making Love A Crime" report include South Sudan, Burundi, Nigeria and Liberia.

Although South Africa is recognised as the first African state to constitutionally recognise the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, Amnesty International criticises government for failing to adequately protect LGBTI individuals from violence.

The rising levels in sub-Saharan Africa are argued to be so high because of governments attempt to divert attention from other human rights failings. Criminalising homosexuality is thus used as a cover-up.

Amnesty International found that it homophobia in sub-Saharan Africa is fueled by key politicians and religious leaders who claim that the "authentic African identity" in relation to Islam and Christianity does not recognise the existence of LGBTI persons.

Homosexuality was first criminalised during the colonial era as a result of so-called Christian moral structures that were imposed on colonised societies.